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Early Draft Tie-In

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With many series or films, any licensed material is developed concurrently with, or even before, the product itself. Naturally, many works change over the course of development, but often times the developers of the licensed materials don't get the memo in time. And since these merchandising companies may be contractually obligated to release said tie-ins by a certain deadline, instead of attempting to quickly go back to change their product, they simply release them as is. This will often result in confusing fans as to why a certain character's name is wrong in the book or why a doll has the wrong hair color.


This may lead to a Development Gag. Related to Orphaned Reference, especially when the tie-in includes an element that was completely removed from the final product, such as an entire character or plotline, and Early Adaptation Weirdness. Compare Delayed Release Tie-In, when a work has merchandise come out despite a Release Date Change or cancellation of what it was promoting.

Examples (sorted by the original media):

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    Anime and Manga 
  • The PlayStation Vita game for Yuki Yuna is a Hero, Yuki Yuna is a Hero: Memories of the Forest, features an unused character design for Karin, which has reddish hair instead of brown.
  • The first Fruits Basket anime accidentally Gender Flipped a major character. Akito was revealed late into the series to have been Raised as the Opposite Gender. The anime, having been produced before the reveal, does not have this twist, so Akito is male presenting as male instead of female presenting as male.
  • Early promotional pictures of the Saint Seiya anime showed Shun holding a single chain in his hands, instead of having two chains coming out from his armor's forearm guards like in the manga and in the final anime design. That picture not only was kept around anyway, but the original action figure was based on it and featured the single chain.
  • The first manga "adaptation" of The Vision of Escaflowne was based on preproduction materials and released before the main show even went on air. As a result, it is markedly different from the final product.
  • Pocket Monsters: The Animation is a novelization of the Pokémon anime that consists of almost nothing but this. It was written by Takeshi Shudō, a director of the Original Series (i.e., the first season), and contains multiple ideas that either aren't consistent with the anime or would later be retconed by it and/or the games. This ranges from what would have been major plot reveals, such as the series taking place in the future and Pokémon as aliens co-existing with humans and animals, to random trivia like Misty's sisters wearing wigs to mask their real hair colors.
  • The Legend of Zelda manga portrayed Link as a blond instead of a brunette like in the game. This could be a case of Adaptation Dye-Job or it could be a reference to concept art that depicted Link as a blond.
  • A few 1998 Sailor Moon dolls put out by Irwin Toys in Canada referred to Haruka, Michiru, and Setsuna as "Corrinn", "Nerissa", and "Celia". When the characters finally appeared in the dub, their Dub Name Changes were "Amara", "Michelle", and "Trista".
  • In a similar vein as the above Sailor Moon example, there was a Dragon Ball Z toyline in the West that named Mr. Satan "Mr. Savage" while the English dub would call him Hercule.
  • Another toy example: the Digimon toyline in the West featured a toy of Beezemon's Blast Mode from Digimon Tamers but called it "Bluster Mode". Whether this is an example of this trope or another one is anyone's guess.
  • Pretty Cure:
  • A figurine playset for the first season of Ojamajo Doremi contains a magical stick item that could be a prototype for the Peperuto Poron. It consists of a circle with a music note and a center that resembles the part of the Peperuto Poron where spelldrops are put into. Oddly enough, the figurines of the girls are holding their final wands.

    Films — Animation 
  • Frozen:
    • A lot of merchandise use stock art of older models of the sisters. Elsa's face is more angular and Anna's is rounder than in the the final version.
    • The novelization contains a difference near the end that was from a developmental change. Kristoff was going to have a larger role in the climax, knocking Hans out after the guy has a villainous second wind and tries to attack again. The novelization kept the scene.
    • There's a plush Elsa doll with a voice box; one of her given lines is "But I am still your queen", which comes from an earlier version of the scene where Anna asks for Elsa's blessing to marry Hans. When Elsa refuses in the cut version, Anna responds that she doesn't need Elsa's permission anyway, because Elsa isn't her mother, prompting this quote.
    • An early coloring book followed the "Life's Too Short" version of the story, in which Elsa tells Anna she won't thaw the Endless Winter, as opposed to what happens in the final cut, in which she instead says she can't.
  • Frozen II: In the final version of the film, Anna and Elsa, particularly the bond between them, together form the fifth spirit, the bridge between magic and humanity. According to a podcast interview with Jennifer Lee, earlier drafts only had one sister, Elsa, as it, and some books published around the time of the film's release still refer to her as such.
  • The Simpsons Movie: Russ Cargill underwent a complete design overhaul late in production, but a tie-in Burger King figure retains his original design.
  • In the Picture Book Novelization of The Great Mouse Detective the scene where a drunk mook of Ratigan insults him and is then fed up to his cat is slightly changed: Ratigan thinks he heard someone insult him, and choose one random gangster (the same drunk fool from the movie) to make an example of (which is arguably even more evil).
  • The original picture book for Alice in Wonderland featured the Jabberwock scene that was cut in the final film.
  • The Lion King video game contains several levels and enemies inspired by concept art that never made it into the film. You can see a bit about it here, with Louis Castle of Westwood Studios (who worked on the game).
    • The scenes that were eventually truncated into the musical sequence "Hakuna Matata" became the game's level "Hakuna Matata", and the latter comes complete with a boss fight against a gorilla character who was cut from the film entirely.
    • A scene with Simba going through a cavern filled with steam geysers on his way back to the Pridelands that was completely cut from the film became the game's level "Be Prepared". The stage is so very, very blatantly different from any of the scenes which did make it into the movie - including the song the level takes its name from, which Simba wasn't even present for - that it's somewhat infamous for sticking out like a sore thumb.
    • The Elephant Graveyard looked different in early concept art, with a smaller number of bones overall and a greater emphasis on large ones, and with lime green lighting akin to the film's Villain Song "Be Prepared" - the Game Gear and Master System versions of the video game retain that, though the 16-bit versions were changed during development to match the film's grey and ivory toned piles of bones of all sizes.
    • On top of all this, the Master System and Game Gear versions of the video game serve as this for the 16-bit versions, containing various elements that were dropped from the latter, such as the hyenas using A.I. Roulette instead of a set pattern, and hippos being present in Hakuna Matata.
  • Deadly Tide was originally a licensed game for an animated film named Blue Planet, however the film fell into Development Hell and ended up being cancelled.
  • The toy line to The Good Dinosaur contains dinosaurs that were meant to be in the film but were scrapped.
  • The manga adaptation of Big Hero 6 contains multiple differences from the film due to being based on unused concepts. The Japanese version even has Aunt Cass as Hiro's and Tadashi's mother, which she was in earlier drafts.
  • In The Road to El Dorado, originally there was a scene of Chel escaping being sacrificed to the gods. This is why she is seen being chased by the guards when Tulio and Miguel first meet her. This was cut out of the film for being too dark, but was left in some promotional media like the tie-in book on tape.
  • Toy Story:
    • In Toy Story 2, Utility Belt Buzz's final scene was supposed to be him carrying Zurg's supposedly dead body and lamenting to the others that he now had to go bury his father. It was deemed too dark, however, it was too late to remove it in the novelization.
    • The "Nightmare Buzz" boss from Toy Story is based off of a Deleted Scene from the movie.
  • In the video game adaptations of WALL•E, WALL•E and EVE's roles are reversed in the airlock dump scene, with EVE being the one AUTO damaged and WALL•E never making it to the deck, and WALL•E fixing EVE in the dump. This is was changed very late in production when the scene was nearly complete, until director Andrew Stanton decided to change it at a test screening in Portland.
  • Joy from Inside Out originally wore a light yellow dress, but was changed to lime green late in production. The majority of the film's merchandise still has her in the yellow dress.
  • The novelizations for the BIONICLE movies feature deleted or altered scenes, and sometimes described the characters looking differently. Takanuva's very brief death is absent from the first novel, as he simply walks out of a dust cloud to the other characters' delight, instead of having to be resurrected by them. The third novel contains awkward innuendo which was cut from the film, and the fourth novel has a much serious and dramatic tone compared to the more comedic and lighthearted movie. The regular, non movie-based books also portrayed certain character with weapons that the prototype action figures carried but were removed from the final products, like Jaller Mahri's second sword or Nuparu Mahrii's blaster shield.
  • The novelization of Doug's 1st Movie retains the scrapped subplot of Roger having a crush on the disguised monster.
  • In Moana, Heihei was originally going to have a Sebastian-esque personality, before it was changed because it made him seem too unpleasant. Merchandise featuring him, however, makes him seem far more serious than the actual movie.
  • The movie storybooks and novelizations of Anastasia all feature a more bittersweet version of Empress Marie and Sophie's final dialogue after Anastasia leaves with Dimitri, where Sophie laments that it seems like just yesterday she came back to them, and Marie replies. "At least we had that yesterday. She has her tomorrow." In the actual film, they're unambiguously happy for Anastasia: Sophie calls her elopement "a perfect ending" and Marie replies "No, it's a perfect beginning."
  • The Robots video game has introductory cutscenes for each level taken from scenes in the movie with Rodney's father narrating, but the cross-town express scene shows Rodney sharing a pod with a knitting old woman instead of Fender.
  • Lilo & Stitch:
    • In concept art, Stitch's space suit has yellow knee pads which were eventually changed to a dark red for the final release. The yellow knee pads were used in a number of toys, video games and other products released around the same time as the film.
    • A deleted scene shows Stitch wreaking havoc on an alien planet. Said planet is a playable level in the video game Stitch: Experiment 626.
    • Lilo & Stitch: Trouble in Paradise, another one of the video game adaptations, gives Lilo the power to curse people with Scrump, which she does not do in the final film.
  • In Megamind, Roxanne originally had a bright yellow scooter that she would ride everywhere, but this was cut from the film. Nonetheless, McDonald's toys featured Roxanne with her scooter.
  • Disney Store doll sets based on Ralph Breaks the Internet give to Snow White and Jasmine respectively a pair of glasses and an inhaler as their accessories. These are based on an alternate extended take of the Disney Princesses scene, where Snow White admits she's near-sighted and Jasmine that she is allergic to cats.
  • The Sherlock Gnomes novelization mistakenly refers to Ronnie as being female several times. This is because originally, Reggie and Ronnie were two female gargoyles as opposed to male gargoyles. The novelization also comes from an early draft of the movie which lacks the twist where Watson pretends to be the villain to get Sherlock to pay more attention to him, and instead, has Watson thrown into a box by the gargoyles, where he has been waiting for the heroes, among other additional scenes not present in the final film, such as Sherlock and Juliet riding a train to get to Traitor’s Gate, which is also mentioned in the Gnome Sweet Gnome and Juliet Saves the Day! tie-in books.
  • The tie-in game for Shrek the Third features a brief plot detour involving Shrek, Donkey and Artie going on a quest to find the holy grail. Nothing like this happens in the movie itself, but it was actually planned before being cut.
  • Uglydolls:
    • The spin-off video game, Uglydolls: An Imperfect Adventure, still has Ice-Bat and Wedgehead as male characters like their original toyline counterparts, while they were swapped to female for the movie. Wedgehead is also still a dark blue color, instead of the movie's yellow color. Despite this, Wage and Tray (flipped to female as well and changed from pink to purple, respectively) still have their changes for the movie, hinting that the video game was made before the change of the former two. This is despite the fact that the game's plot takes place after the events of the movie, however.
    • The novelization has Peggy as a female character. In the final movie, Peggy is a male character.
  • The Emperor's New Groove is not a musical, yet its soundtrack contains various songs, including an Yzma Villain Song called "Snuff Out The Night". This is because it was originally a musical called Kingdom of the Sun but was retooled from the ground up. Disney repurposed the Cut Songs on the soundtrack instead of letting them go to waste in archives.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Star Wars:
    • About a year before the movie Return of the Jedi was released, at least one licensed toy was labeled with the title of the forthcoming sequel Revenge of the Jedi. Theatrical trailers said the same thing. Apparently the title was changed because revenge is not part of a Jedi's character. Star Trek II: Vengeance of Khan changed its name to Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan to avoid similarities to the then-upcoming Star Wars film.
    • The novelization of The Empire Strikes Back is famous for having Yoda as a blue creature, not green.
    • The Marvel comic adaptation of Episode IV (A New Hope) includes a deleted scene of Han Solo chatting with Jabba the Hutt, who looks nothing (being based on a Nimbanel instead) like the Jabba who would first appear in Return of the Jedi, and would later be added to A New Hope in the special edition and later releases. The novelization also includes Luke's cut scenes with Camie and Biggs.
    • The novelization of A New Hope, released the year before the film itself, was based on an early draft of the screenplay (a preface broadly describes the overarching plot of what would eventually become the prequel trilogy, albeit without any mention of Anakin Skywalker, and introduces the curious early idea that the Rebels were fighting to restore the Emperor, whose wicked advisors had turned him into a puppet ruler).
    • The toyline for The Force Awakens includes an action figure of Constable Zuvio, a character whose scene was entirely cut from the final film. This has become rather infamous in the fandom for being a prominent example of why Spoiled by the Merchandise isn't always true, since his emphasis in the toyline suggested that he would be a notable character in the movie.
    • In some of the Rogue One toylines (such as the LEGO sets), Jyn is referred to as a sergeant, leftover from when Jyn was originally a rebel soldier in early drafts.
  • Transformers Film Series:
    • Averted in the toyline for the first film: The heads of Megatron and Starscream were changed late during production of the film, but the toy headsculpts were redone in time. The picture on the back of the boxes of Leader Class Megatron and Deluxe Class Protoform Starscream still show the original designs.
    • Played straight in many other pieces of merch such as books, where Megatron's original face design was still used.
    • The transformation scheme and overall design for Optimus Prime was dramatically changed in the film, as the toy for the film quite accurately reflected the original model. The general look of Optimus was similar enough to not be a big deal (all variations on the window chests, smokestacks on the shoulders and the grill for abs), but he got a significantly more accurate toy for the sequels.
    • The toyline for Age of Extinction featured "Silver Knight" limited releases of almost every Optimus Prime figure released, which recolored in silver all the armor parts that are usually blue. He was supposed to get that color scheme after taking the sword from the knights' armory in the movie, but in the final release he only gets new forearm armor with no color change. The toyline also featured Slash, a Dinobot who turned into a Velociraptor and was supposed to bond with Hound, which was going to be in the movie but was ultimately cut.
    • In the toyline for The Last Knight, the Nitro Zeus figure has an easily detachable head using the same kind of pegs as the Titan Masters from the Titans Return toyline, and Cogman's head is also an Headmaster using the same tooling as Titan Masters. This refers to a scene shown in press previews but removed from the final movie where Cogman, after beheading Nitro Zeus, uses his Headmaster powers to control his body.
    • The comic prequel of Bumblebee features the titular character on Earth in the 70's, while the movie clearly shows that he arrived on Earth in 1987. The reason behind this discrepance is that the comic was done early in the movie's production when it was clearly supposed to be a prequel of the Michael Bay movies (where, as shown in The Last Knight, Bumblebee was on Earth since World War II), while the final product got multiple alterations to make it a Continuity Reboot.
      • As an additional note, most of the Bumblebee toys made for the film are based on an earlier character model that has the same front door wings as the Camaro Bee from the precedent movies, while the render used in the final movie has the front doors folded up and pointed downwards.
  • The Novelization of the first Night at the Museum film (not to be confused with the original children's book that the movie was based on) was based on an earlier draft of the script that had Akhmenrah unable to read hieroglyphics, requiring Larry to seek the help of his Love Interest to translate them.
  • It was intended that the character of Robin be introduced in Batman Returns. Reportedly, Tim Burton collaborated with DC Comics artist Norm Breyfogle to redesign the Robin costume so that it would coincide with the one planned for the film. Kenner Toys even went so far as to produce a corresponding action figure, but when Robin was eventually written out of the script, Kenner released the toy anyway, as the character newly rendered in the comic books.
  • The Star Trek: Generations action figures were this. Most notably a Kirk figure was made in a space suit which he doesn't wear in the film, as it was based on a Deleted Scene. More subtly, the whole crew wears a uniform designed for the film that was ultimately scrapped.
  • Dark Horse Comics released a comic adaptation of Army of Darkness that was based on the early script of the film.
  • The novelization of Back to the Future is based on its earlier drafts, with changes so drastic the novel (thanks to exposure courtesy of Ryan North's B to the F: The Novelization of the Feature Film) got its own trope page.
  • Supergirl had a headband during the 80s because she originally wore one in the Supergirl film. The headband was ultimately scrapped from the film, but it was too late for it to be removed from her comic design.
  • Kamen Rider OOO had a crossover movie with its predecessor series Kamen Rider Double early in its run, early enough that the movie was written based on an earlier draft of the show's events. The result is that the movie has the series Big Bad perform a test of a plan that actively goes against his goals in the show, another Greed is introduced who doesn't exist in the show, and Eiji is very noticeably out of character in terms of what he thinks about solving people's problems by giving them money.
  • The Golden Compass was originally planned to end in the same way as the book with Roger being killed by Lord Asriel, the energy of which opens up a gateway to another world. Due to its depressing nature, it was ultimately removed from the final film, but a number of scenes still ended up in the video game adaptation.
  • Bolg was originally supposed to appear in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey with a radically different design. He was cut and re-designed for The Desolation of Smaug, but this version of Bolg still appeared in merchandise, including action figures and a model for Games Workshop's Middle Earth Strategy Battle Game. (The Games Workshop model is still available, but was re-named "Gundabad Orc Captain")
  • Batman (1989) had a Comic-Book Adaptation based on the fifth draft of the screenplay.
  • The novelization of Maleficent is based on earlier scripts with major characterization and plot differences from the final film.
  • The novelization of Dora and the Lost City of Gold contains an alternate take of the scene in which the characters are trying to open the gates to Parapata in which Swiper has a Heel–Face Turn where Swiper reveals that he's been swiping because he is a poor 65-year-old man who lives in a studio apartment. In the final movie, Swiper gets poisoned by the frog that we saw Dora talk to us about at the beginning of the movie in the final video she filmed before she moved to California.
  • The first Modesty Blaise prose novel is Peter O'Donnell's novelisation of the script that he wrote for the film, because he was so unhappy with the changes made later.
  • In the Harry Potter film franchise, Peeves the Poltergiest was originally going to appear, played by the late Rik Mayall, but was cut from the final product. However, in the video games that were meant to tie-in to the movies, he appears as a recurring antagonist.
  • Has happened a few times with the Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Avengers: Infinity War
      • Because Hasbro usually has to work from concept art (as the turn around time for toy manufacturing often requires the figures to be in production before the movie even begins filming), the Marvel Legends Cull Obsidian figure was made with the wrong costume.
      • There was a figure of The Incredible Hulk bursting out of the Hulkbuster armor, based on a planned scene where Banner was supposed to Hulk out during the battle of Wakanda. The scene was ultimately unused, but by then the toy was already in production.
    • Avengers: Endgame
      • Pretty much all of the early merchandise depicted the War Machine armor with the wrong colors, again due to working off concept designs that wound up being altered for the finished film.
  • In response to a backlash from fans towards Sonic's design, the release of Sonic the Hedgehog (2020) was pushed back from November 2019 to February 2020 in order to fix it. Several pieces of merchandise featuring Sonic's design from the original trailer (or even older versions of the design seen in leaked promotional material) still made it out into the wild during mid-to-late 2019, including Halloween masks and costumes.
  • The book about the making of of the first Diary of a Wimpy Kid movie shows pictures of a scene where Greg meets Fregley's mom, which is absent in the final film.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Star Trek:
    • Many of the original Star Trek: The Original Series Novelizations by James Blish were based on early scripts, and contained elements that didn't make it into the finished episodes.
    • The first couple of Star Trek: The Next Generation novels included concepts that, while used in the Pilot "Encounter At Farpoint", did not appear in the rest of the series. The first novel, "Ghost Ship", featured Deanna calling Riker "Bill" instead of "Will", Deanna wearing a micro-dress uniform instead of the normal bunny-suit, and her and Riker having a fully fledged psychic link. Picard tended to be intensely French in it to a degree he never was in the series proper. The cover art also appears to have a picture of the classic Battlestar Galactica only upside-down on it instead of the Enterprise.
  • Doctor Who had a retrospective example in the novelisation of "The Massacre of Saint Bartholomew's Eve". The original scriptwriter disliked the changes made to his story in development, and years later novelised his first-draft scripts.
    • On a similar note, James Goss's novelisation of Douglas Adams's "The Pirate Planet" is based on the first draft scripts, which are much longer, and very different, from what made it on screen.
    • The first Dalek comics based their artwork on photos taken at rehearsals, at which the Daleks had numbers on their domes so the director could tell which Dalek was which. The numbering was faithfully reproduced in the comics.
  • In an odd example of a website doing this, the official website of The Noddy Shop used song lyrics from what appeared to be the actual scripts for the show, with some of these using prototype names for the characters. On the lyrics page for "A What-If World" and "Partytime", Gertie was called "Crockodile", and in "Too Much Monkey Business", Gaylord is called "Swami".
    • The sign at the beginning of the promotional music video "Special" features a sketch of a prototype Johnny that has different-looking eyes, slightly different clothing and what appears to be bolts in his legs, meaning he was supposed to be a toy and not a living being like in the final product. However, the puppet in the video is the final character, so it's likely that Johnny's final promotional artwork wasn't ready yet when it was filmed.

  • Transformers:
    • The Decepticon Logo seems to be a stylized version of Soundwave's face, and the Autobot Symbol appears to be based on Prowl's, suggesting at some point that these two were intended as the leaders - This was obviously changed, but the logos remained.
    • Often, toy designs, colour schemes, and even whole alt modes are based on earlier designs or concepts that become changed in the finished comics, cartoons or movies.
    • In G1, characters had their character models drawn based on their toys... or pictures of their toys... or in some cases, concept drawings of their toys. This resulted in some of the biggest deficits in Show Accuracy/Toy Accuracy in the series. For a good example, Grapple's character model shows his crane arm going down his back, but the artists and animators interpreted it as a part of his leg, including the person who drew the back view of the model.
    • The artwork on the cover of the comic included with the Generations Thrilling 30th figure of Nightbeat shows the character as a retool of the Reveal the Shield Jazz mold instead of the Thrilling 30th Bumblebee. The Jazz retool version also appeared in early promotional pics for the wave of figures Nighbeat was part of, but at the end they chose the Bumblebee mold because it was cheaper to produce.
  • My Little Pony:
    • One of the My Little Pony (G3) cartoons prominently featured a pony named "Fiesta Flair". She was never released, which fans theorize is because she was deemed too stereotypically Mexican, and her design was reused for "Candy Apple".
    • Various ads have shown prototype versions of the ponies. The differences range from subtle to glaringly obvious. Most blatantly, some ads for the original six ponies show all of them with identical patterns of white dots on their flanks - the released version of Cotton Candy has those dots, but the other five which were shown alongside her have different imagery on their final designsnote . Apparently, at the time of those ads, the iconic "different ponies have different symbols on them" concept hadn't been thought up yet.
    • The G4 pony Cupcake (not Mrs. Cake, the other one) has a multicolored mane - it's yellow, pink, and purple. Stock photos of the toy show a prototype with the yellow in front and purple in the back, but the released version has purple in front and yellow in back.
  • Several pieces of BIONICLE media depict the characters based on the toy prototypes rather than the finalized models, such as all six Piraka on the cover of the book Dark Destiny, most characters in the Voya Nui Online Game, the Toa Metru having exposed chest-gears throughout the 2004-05 comics, Hewkii Inika being brown instead of gunmetal in the 2006 web animations, or the Bone Hunters looking like Rock Tribe Agori and the Thornax fruit appearing as an orb of glowing energy in the movie The Legend Reborn.
  • Molly McIntire from the American Girl toy line had brown eyes in the tie-in books that came with the dolls, yet the doll herself shipped with grey eyes for some reason — likely to differentiate her from Samantha. A later character, Ruthie Smithens, had the same thing happen years later, but this wasn't an example of an early draft as her doll was released years after the books she debuted in.
    • Some of short-lived modern AG character Tenney Grant's merchandise was mislabelled as "Girl of the Year" when she was not part of that line. Overwhelming evidence, from the early rumour mill to stills from a scrapped movie, suggests that she was supposed to be, but was quickly replaced by Gabriela (who had a reused character design and a thrown-together collection as opposed to Tenney's unique design and large, elaborate collection) after AG was publicly called out for the lack of diversity in the Girl of the Year line.
  • To promote Sonic Adventure in Japan, a few commercials feature Sonic plushes. These were prototypes of the Sonic Adventure plushes. They're different from the released products, most noticeable in that Sonic's smirk is different.
  • Some Monster High tie-in merch, such as the Hallmark itty bittys and the Funko Pops, that came out around the Continuity Reboot still use the Generation 1 character designs, despite bearing the Generation 2 logo.

    Video Games 
  • Pokémon:
    • In the original concepts for Pokémon Red and Blue, Blaine looked completely different, with no moustache, no sunglasses, balding hair and a military uniform. The design that ultimately became Blaine was originally going to be a completely different character, the Silph chief. While the final game removed the Silph chief and gave his design to the Cinnabar Island Gym Leader, the original design survived in a few places: the instruction manual still features the artwork of his original design, and in the anime Blaine was drawn based on that design, minus the military uniform.
      • Concept art for Pokémon Let's Go, Pikachu! and Let's Go, Eevee! feature a Mythology Gag related to Blaine's early design: a small sketch reveals that Blaine is actually completely hairless and wears a fake moustache, but sometimes takes both the mustache and the sunglasses off and wears fake balding hair to go around without being recognized.
    • The first Pokémon manga, a 4-koma anthology, featured Red with straight hair, similar to his prototypical Capsule Monsters design.
    • Many of the early artworks and illustrations released in Japan when Pokemon Red and Green were released showed many details from preliminary concepts for the game, such as Poké Balls splitting in half when the Pokémon inside is released and Pikachu's and Charizard's prototypical designs (with Charizard having a larger lower jaw and Pikachu being abnormally large and having a white belly). Even the unused female character was shown off, once in an origami book's comic and another promotional art of her, Red, and Blue with a Squirtle, Bulbasaur, and Charmander respectively (her design was recycled for Blue in Pokémon Adventures, later again in the remake games for the female protagonist Leaf with a redesign, and reused again in Pokémon Let's Go, Pikachu! and Let's Go, Eevee! as the bonus boss Green).
    • Ho-Oh as shown at the end of the first episode of the anime is from a very early design that differs from the finalized Pokémon Gold and Silver design.
    • Gold and Silver were originally going to include a character disguised as Professor Oak. Although this character didn't appear in the games themselves, Impostor Oak still managed to make repeated appearances in the trading card game. Appropriately, the anime features an Impostor Oak - James of Team Rocket, who spent an entire episode of Johto attempting to impersonate Oak.
    • Gary's sudden personality change in Johto is lifted from earlier versions of Gold and Silver's script. In an earlier version of the game, Blue is a much more humble person who mentions that Red knocked him down a peg. He now works as an assistant to his grandfather Professor Oak. In the final game, Blue still keeps his cocky spark and he works as the Viridian gym leader. Even after the script for the games changed, the anime's script didn't. As a result, Blue and Gary are very different in terms of character and occupation.
  • An early Universe Bible for Donkey Kong Country named "Donkey Kong and the Golden Banana" shows an unused plot where a Kremling steals the special Golden Banana of "Grandpa Kong" (the prototypical Cranky Kong) and Donkey Kong has to retrieve it. The Golden Banana appeared in the Donkey Kong Country cartoon. The Golden Banana was later used in Donkey Kong 64.
  • The Planescape: Torment novelization is based on an early draft.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • Splats the Rabbit, an unused enemy from Sonic the Hedgehog, appeared in Sonic the Comic, Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog, and early merchandise. Splats didn't make it into the games themselves until Sonic Mania - around 25 years after said appearances in tie-in materials.
    • The first promotional manga for Sonic the Hedgehog, named Sonic the Hedgehog Story Comic and dating to summer of 1991, contains a lot of this. For one, it shows Sonic with prominent fangs, which were allegedlynote  cut from his finalized design to make Sonic look less scary. His shoes also have buckles like in his original concept art as well; no other media from that era depicts his shows with buckles, though most media from Sonic Adventure onwards does. The manga has Sonic being in a band, which was cut soon alongside several other elements (Sonic's human girlfriend Madonna, the original non-badnik enemies, etc) for various reasons, and it also uses the developmental names for various zones rather than their final names.
    • An in-character interview released in a Japanese magazine not soon after the release of Sonic the Hedgehog has Sonic as a rock star, despite the fact the concept was changed before release. This idea was later made reality by the short-lived Sonic Underground cartoon and also existed to an extent in Sonic the Hedgehog (SatAM).
    • A TV in the background of Wayne's World cameoed Marble Zone from the first game in an early format. It shows the infamous scrapped UFOs.
    • The Shogakukan manga, much like the Story Comic, refers to Spring Yard Zone as "Sparkling Zone" and Scrap Brain Zone as "Clockwork Zone". These are their prototypical names.
    • As indicated by Sonic the Hedgehog 3's standalone sound test option, Flying Battery Zone was originally supposed to be the fifth level in the game, taking place in between Carnival Night Zone and Ice Cap Zone, with cutscenes showing a cannon from Carnival Night launching Sonic into Flying Battery and Sonic using the door from Flying Battery as a snowboard for Ice Cap. However, to keep the levels even between Sonic 3 and Sonic and Knuckles (and possibly also in part because no proper transition cutscene between Mushroom Hill Zone and Sandopolis Zone was made), Flying Battery Zone didn't make it as a playable zone for Sonic 3. It was later used as one of the zones for the game's sequel/Expansion Pack Sonic and Knuckles, taking place in between Mushroom Hill and Sandopolis. Nevertheless, the bag for the Sonic 3 McDonald's happy meal tie-in shows Flying Battery as one of the zones for its activities.
    • The ultimately cancelled Sega Saturn title Sonic X-treme had a fair amount of merchandise, including the Blue Bunny Sonic ice cream having an X-Treme edition wrapper for a while.
  • The Prima Strategy Guide for Paper Mario: Sticker Star mentions various enemies that aren't in the game, such as 4-Fold Goombas and Shiny Dry Bones.
  • An unofficial strategy guide for Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped was based on an early build of the game and features various beta elements, such as different time requirements for relics and different amounts of fruit in levels.
  • Sands of Destruction's opening shows Morte looking serious and pensive, praying in a church of some sort before walking out solemnly. The anime version of her is also quite somber. In the game proper, however, Morte is more of a Genki Girl Mad Bomber who jumps up and down with happiness when she wins a fight. The game's opening also shows Rhi'a walking around with Naja, and the anime has them working together in the World Salvation Committee, with Rhi'a angry and indignant that Morte wants to end the world; in the game, Rhi'a joins the World Annihilation Front out of curiosity and sees the end of the world as its unavoidable fate, whether at Morte's hands or not. The anime was created midway through the game's production cycle, and it's obvious they were working with old scripts: the locations and characters are all there, and even in mostly the same order, but characters' personalities - especially the girls - and the precise chain of events are quite different.
  • In the promotional Splatoon manga, Goggles' Splattershot has an Inkzooka, like the E3 demo of the game. In the final game it has Bomb Rush.
  • The cinematic trailer for Overwatch (the one with the two kids in the museum and Reaper trying to steal Doomfist's gauntlet) shows a group shot of Overwatch members featuring a bunch of early concept arts for various characters, including a red armored guy and a guy in a yellow hazmat-like suit, which were Reinhardt and Junkrat's earliest designs.
  • TRON Deadly Discs: Due to Mattel getting an early and incorrect draft of the script, the Tron sprite in the game was shown as a red-orange figure cutting down hordes of blue Mooks. In the actual film, the colors are reversed, with Red Is Violent and Blue Is Heroic. The simple color goof in 1982 makes for accidental, but Harsher in Hindsight Foreshadowing come 2010's TRON: Legacy.
  • Promotional posters for the original Darius depict several bosses that were Dummied Out from the final game, something lamented by developers of the game in an interview. This would end up working out though, as all of those bosses would be reintroduced in the game's Super Darius port on the PC Engine CD.
  • Early posters for Metal Slug and the Neo Geo Home cartridge cover's back artwork prominently features a golden Metal Slug tank. This is because the original Metal Slug was a very different game that was played entirely inside the tank and the 2nd player character in that iteration was a gold Metal Slug. The artwork was not changed to reflect the final game. While there is a golden Metal Slug in the final game, it is simply one of a Redshirt Army that shows up in the final stage and has no plot or gameplay significance.
  • The Play Arts Kai action figure for the Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance incarnation of Raiden seems to be based on the earlier version of the game titled Metal Gear Solid: Rising. He wears his sword sheath on his leg instead of his back and also wields a knife for dual-wielding that he uses in the trailers for MGS: Rising, but not in Revengeance.
  • A company named Moby Dick Toys made a line of Resident Evil action figures around 1999 and 2000. Most of the characters and monsters were from games that were already released by that point, but one of the figure was based on the outfit wore by Rebecca Chambers in the canceled Nintendo 64 version of Resident Evil 0, where she wore shoulder pads and a white beret. Her outfit was changed in the finalized version of the game released on the GameCube.

    Western Animation 
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • One of the early books refers to Princess Luna as "Selena", which was her original name.
    • Many pieces of merchandising used artworks based on concept art, with some design differences such as pegasi having five visible feathers in each wing instead of four, every pony having visible eyelashes on the bottom of their eyes rather than only on top and Sweetie Belle having oval-shaped eyes rather than round. The limited edition glow in the dark Zecora figure released in 2013 takes the crown, since the artwork on her box is literally a colored version of one of Lauren Faust's first sketches for the character which had narrower head and eyes than the definitive model.
  • The Flintstones: A Little Golden Book from 1959, a year before the series premiered, features a son in the family named Junior. In the series, Fred and Wilma were childless until they had a baby girl in 1962.
  • Darkwing Duck: The show started out with the title character as a secret agent along the lines of James Bond. His entire Rogues Gallery were originally agents of the criminal organization F.O.W.L. (Fiendish Organization of World Larceny), and overseen by the villain Steelbeak. During development, the show became more of a Superhero spoof, with most of the villains independent of F.O.W.L. and Steelbeak demoted to merely an agent. However, much of the merchandise (in particular, the video game by Capcom) kept the original idea of Darkwing's villains all working for F.O.W.L. and being led by Steelbeak.
  • The Simpsons:
    • In the original shorts appearing on The Tracey Ullman Show, Bart wore his usual orange shirt, however concept art for the series proper had him with a blue shirt. Despite him having an orange shirt in the series proper, a lot of merchandise had Bart wearing a blue shirt during the 90s. Urban Legend have mentioned that this was intentionally done to make real products different from bootlegs, however that is untrue and it's simply a mistake caused by early concept art.
    • The Simpsons arcade game has frames where Marge can be seen with huge, yellow rabbit ears under her hair. This comes from an unused idea for season 1 that Marge hid rabbit ears under a wig.
  • According to Britt Allcroft, Bertram from the Thomas the Tank Engine episode "Toby's Discovery" was supposed to be a tank engine, but due to financial difficulty in making a new model, Duke's model was repainted and given Smudger's face. Bertram's 2000 and 2011 Wooden Railway models depict him as a tank engine, while his 2016 model depicts him with his tender.
  • The first He-Man and the Masters of the Universe action figures were based upon early concepts of the characters (shown in the free mini-comics) that were changed by the time the Filmation cartoon series aired.
  • The The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius video game for Attack of the Twonkies uses Cindy's movie design with the Girlish Pigtails, instead of her cartoon design which has a ponytail and looks older.
  • A song for The Powerpuff Girls is called "Signal in the Sky", however the girls use a hotline installed in the Mayor's office instead of a Bat Signal. In two episodes they have a signal (most notably the first episode), but that was a Early Installment Weirdness related leftover from the original Whoopass Girls short.
  • The tie-in books for SpacePOP were written before the cartoon was made, and the first one has differences like Captain Hansome actually looking like his disguise, Rand being blue, and Chamberlin being very old.
  • Some pieces of merchandising for Gormiti: The Lords of Nature Return used artworks of the Forest Gormiti Florus and Sporius based on their brief appearance in the original concept pilot for the cartoon, that gave them completely different color schemes, and in the former case even a completely different head (final design is a green flower with 5 petals and no facial features, while the concept design is a red flower with 4 petals, eyes and mouth).


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