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Human-Focused Adaptation

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"In a world full of cartoon characters and action figures you loved, spend more time with these human characters you don't, like Keno, an obnoxious little twerp, this boring science guy, and this completely random lady who calls herself April O'Neil."

So a Live-Action Adaptation of your favorite childhood Funny Animal cartoon is coming out. You go to see it, and... what's this? Who's this guy? Where's the cartoon character? Why should we care about this guy? Can you move it along and get to the cartoon character now? Oh, there he is! And now they're back to that guy again. Looks like it's gonna be another Human-Focused Adaptation.

Family movies that are live-action (and sometimes even animated) adaptations of cartoons that otherwise probably wouldn't work as a live-action blockbuster, or actually would, normally seem to focus more on a newer human character and his love life, rather than the character from the series the movie is adapting. More often than not, the plot has an Unlucky Everydude with a crappy job and a crush on his hot co-worker, having a run-in with the cartoon character of the day, or having said cartoon character as a pet. Hilarity Ensues, and the cartoon character's hijinks somehow bring Everydude and his love interest together, and they live Happily Ever After.

These subplots mostly, if not always, seem to do with the unlucky new guy in love. This even applies to already existing human characters who never had a love interest, and are either given a completely new one, or they take an existing character and pair them up, accuracy be damned.

This is probably caused by a combination of the costs (both time and money) of CGI and the beliefs that a human character might be more relatable or that people want to see a love story—no matter how much it has to be shoehorned in. This trope, while common to live-action, is not exclusively a live-action trope. There are many examples within anime, comics, and Western animation itself. If any adaptation reduces the importance of major non-human characters to focus on more humanistic or traditional characters, it should count as being this trope, regardless of the medium. Note that this doesn't always mean "non-human characters are barely in it" but that the ratio is shifted considerably. The amount of human importance may shift from 10% original to 60% adaptation, it still leaves 40% of the movie to the non-human characters. It isn't always about "making it relatable" but being a Pragmatic Adaptation if you are going to make something in a different medium.

Related to Adaptation Decay, Most Writers Are Human, Developing Doomed Characters, Romantic Plot Tumour, Just Here for Godzilla, Spotlight-Stealing Squad, Demoted to Extra, Adapted Out, and Adaptation Species Change. Often results in a Secondary Character Title. Contrast No Focus on Humans.

Examples by Medium Adapted Into:

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    Anime and Manga 
  • Kirby: Right Back at Ya! gives a lot of focus and screentime to the humanoid-looking Tiff and Tuff, though since Kirby is basically a baby in this continuity, pretty much everyone at some point gets more focus over him. Kirby sometimes doesn't even do anything until the climax of the episode.
  • Since 2005, anime (except OVAs and movies) starring a Sanrio character (such as My Melody, Jewelpets, Sugarbunnies, and Mew) would mostly focus on new human characters. note  Examples include:
    • Jewelpet focuses more on humans in the first season, Twinkle and Lady.
    • While Onegai My Melody starred My Melody alongside Kuromi, My Melody's friends and family are supporting/minor characters. The anime is mainly focused on a group of high school girls.
  • The first two seasons of Sonic X have Chris Thorndyke taking the spotlight and filling roles which, in the actual game versions of the stories Sonic X was adapted from, were filled by Tails and Amy. But Season 3 inverts this trope by having Chris in Sonic's world as a side character.
  • Series based on real-world card games are more likely to be about the people who play them rather than the lore of the cards themselves:
    • Duel Masters is about the adventures of Shobu Kirifuda (and later Joe Kirifuda) as he faces off against opponents, with the cards used primarily as plot triggers.
    • Shadowverse is about human kids playing the titular card game. This is in contrast to the adaptation of sister series Rage of Bahamut, which is instead set in the world of the game and bases its story primarily on the lore.
  • Kamisama Minarai: Himitsu no Cocotama is an instance of the "human girl owns the creatures as pets" type.
  • Rilakkuma and Kaoru puts greater focus on Kaoru, the human Rilakkuma and friends live with that is typically The Ghost in media featuring them.
  • The manga adaptation of So I'm a Spider, So What? inverts this. The light novels feature pretty lengthy segments dealing with characters apart from Kumoko, the titular spider, most of whom are humans or humanoid beings living on the surface far apart from her. The manga cuts or significantly reduces their presence in favor of a laser-tight focus on Kumoko's adventures through the underworld. This resulted in an odd situation when the series got an anime adaptation, which decided to go for a Truer to the Text approach and have the human story and the Kumoko story running in parallel—leaving many fans who had primarily or solely experienced the series as a manga very confused and accusing the show of this.

    Comic Books 
  • Part of the reason plans for a film adaptation of Atomic Robo fell through is because the studio execs kept insisting on this; they wanted Robo to have a cute child sidekick for kids to relate to as a viewpoint character, reducing Robo to a Supporting Protagonist. The writers pointed two big flaws with this: first, it wouldn't make sense for a kid to work for Tesladyne (not to mention it would make the protagonists Designated Heroes who'd be breaking child endangerment/labor laws) and second, what kid would prefer to watch another normal kid over a badass robot superhero? This incident was later referenced in the comic, with a story expressly mocking/deconstructing the idea of Robo having a kid sidekick and ending with him bluntly telling the sidekick that she can't possibly work with Tesladyne until she's an adult.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 
  • Many animated Tom and Jerry movies fall under this trope, even outside of the Tom and Jerry Direct-to-Video Film Series crossovers:
    • The most infamous example is Tom and Jerry: The Movie, whose title characters take a backseat to a little orphan girl, in a plot that seems like they were trying to remake The Rescuers as a musical with Tom and Jerry thrown in as an afterthought. It's quite telling that the titular duo are so unimportant to the story that they could be removed from the film without a trace and the plot would be largely unaffected and would still end with Robyn's father arriving to pick her up.
    • Tom and Jerry: Blast Off to Mars is mainly about Biff Buzzard and Buzz Blister traveling to Mars to investigate if any aliens reside there, while the alien invasion itself gets caused by Tom and Jerry's usual antics, once they find themselves on Mars.
    • Tom and Jerry: The Fast and the Furry gave less screen time to the cat and mouse than new human characters, in a plot that seems like they were trying to adapt the Wacky Races concept into a film.
    • Tom and Jerry: Shiver Me Whiskers mostly focuses on a trio of pirates who parted their ways to find the lost treasure of the Spanish Mane for themselves, while Tom and Jerry are thrown into the mix to later abandon them and find it.
    • Tom and Jerry: Robin Hood and His Merry Mouse recreates the Robin Hood narrative, with Jerry taking a backseat as his sidekick, and Tom taking a backseat as Prince John's henchcat, until the cat abandons him to join Robin Hood and Jerry.
    • Tom and Jerry's Giant Adventure recreates the Jack and the Beanstalk narrative that happens to feature Tom and Jerry as animals of a petting zoo owned by Jack.
    • Tom and Jerry: The Lost Dragon follows the concept of having Tom and Jerry as pets by Athena, the real main character of the story who enlists the cat and mouse's help to reunite a lost baby dragon with his mother.
    • Tom and Jerry: Cowboy Up!! is mostly about a cowgirl and her brother reuniting to spend time in their ranch, which is threatened to be taken over by a greedy land-grabber. The cat and mouse are depicted as their pets, who help them save their ranch.
  • While the original Curious George stories were about a mischievous monkey getting into stuff, the 2006 movie was more about Ted Shackelford's life, love, dreams, and career. Case in point, up until this adaptation George's human friend didn't even have a name, and was only known as "the man in the yellow hat". The television series based on the movie shifts the focus back to George for the most part.
  • The Lorax (2012) focuses its "past" timeline on the interactions between the titular nonhuman and the Once-ler, but the former barely appears at all in the "present" timeline, which constitutes the first third and last third of the movie. Also, the Once-ler is now clearly human rather than Ambiguously Human. However, this trope can be justified in light of the Lorax doing effectively nothing in the original story but reacting to what the Once-ler does.
  • The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part has an odd variant. Many of the primary characters are human, but minifigs are in general treated as a separate species from "real world" humans. Whereas the previous film had minimal mention of real humans aside from The Man Upstairs and the story being a metaphor for the relationship between Finn and his father was a genuine twist, the sequel downplays it by bringing Finn's family into greater focus than the first and makes the relationship metaphor more apparent. Primary focus is still given to the minifigs regardless.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In The Garbage Pail Kids Movie, the Garbage Pail Kids aren't the protagonists, instead, they are supporting characters. The real protagonist of the movie is a boy named Dodger, who befriends the Garbage Pail Kids.
  • Underdog: The main characters in the original cartoon, with the exception of some villains, were Funny Animal characters. The movie turns Underdog into a non-anthropomorphic beagle and gives him a human owner.
  • The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle gave less screen time to the cartoon moose and squirrel than new human characters, plus the human cartoon villains that are played by real people, and a young FBI agent named Karen Sympathy who enlists the duo's help to stop them. Rocky and Bullwinkle are on a very small part of the DVD cover (pictured above) while the villains are front and center.
  • The titular characters of Alvin and the Chipmunks take a backseat to Dave, with the main story following his dreams of being a famous songwriter, his efforts to save the chipmunks from being taken by Ian, him treating the chipmunks as pets, and even a romantic subplot with him and Claire. That said, the human in question, Dave, was a part of the franchise to begin with, acting as their father figure.
  • Looney Tunes live-action movies:
    • Space Jam puts its focus on bringing Michael Jordan into the Looney Tunes' world to save them from aliens by playing basketball. The first part of the movie plays like a Biopic of Jordan before the Looney Tunes show up.
    • Played with in Space Jam: A New Legacy: Lebron James not only has a story arc of trying to reconnect with and rescue his son Dom; but his story is tied in with Bugs Bunny and the other Looney Tunes along with featuring characters from Warner Bros.' entire filmography.
    • Looney Tunes: Back in Action introduces two human characters, DJ and Kate, who enlist the help of Bugs and Daffy to rescue DJ's dad from Mr. Chairman, who plots to turn humanity into monkeys to manufacture ACME's products. DJ and Kate are even given a romantic subplot. While Bugs and Daffy were still major characters, many other Looney Tunes characters are reduced to extras, with minor exceptions being Granny, Tweety, Sylvester, Elmer Fudd, Yosemite Sam, Nasty Canasta, Cottontail Smith, Taz, Marvin the Martian and Wile E. Coyote, who are given their own dedicated scenes. Averted in the video game adaptation, where Bugs and Daffy are the main focus and the human characters are nowhere to be found.
    • Additionally, a canceled Marvin the Martian film would have followed this, teaming Marvin up with a young boy.
  • Masters of the Universe: In the film this trope is done with Human Aliens taking a backseat to Earthlings. The first act of the movie focuses on the eponymous heroes, but once they journey to Earth, the story becomes more about the mundane Earthlings Julie and Kevin up until the final climactic battle, and then afterward returns to them for the conclusion.
  • Two Dr. Seuss live-action adaptations:
    • How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, while still mainly focused on The Grinch, has more focus put on the Whos (who are more or less Rubber-Forehead Aliens) than in the original, especially Cindy Lou, who gets half the movie to herself and has far less makeup than the other Whos, making her look even more human than the rest of them. Partly explainable as an attempt to stretch a short children's book into a feature length movie.
    • The Cat in the Hat in its film adaptation, again, due to the source being a short children's book.
  • Christopher Robin: While Christopher Robin was always a big part of Winnie the Pooh, the focus (especially in the animated series and movies) has always been on Pooh and friends, Christopher's stuffed animals. Here, not only is Christopher Robin now the grown-up, over-40 protagonist, the focus is on Christopher and his relationship with his estranged wife and daughter as he has become a workaholic and absent father, with Pooh and company being a reminder of his childhood and helping repair his father-daughter relationship.
  • The Smurfs has the Smurfs taking refuge with a married couple in New York after being teleported there. While the Smurfs do get a decent amount of focus and more screentime than most other examples of this trope, the movie does devote a lot of time on Patrick's various issues, mainly him coming to terms with becoming a father, to the point where Patrick and his wife sometimes act as a Spotlight-Stealing Squad.
  • The title character of Yogi Bear takes a backseat to Ranger Smith, of all people. Yogi and Boo-Boo are all but reduced to walking, talking plot devices, while most of the story focuses on Smith's efforts to save Jellystone Park from being demolished and turned into farmland. At least here the human was actually in the original series.
  • Three live-action adaptations of Casper the Friendly Ghost:
    • Casper, while still getting a lot of attention towards Casper and his uncles, the Ghostly Trio (mainly with the movie's villains), the movie puts a lot of emphasis on a widower name Dr. James Harvey who specialize on contacting spirits to have them transcend to the next dimension in hopes of finding the spirit of his late wife, Amelia, while his daughter, Kat struggles to fit in with others her age due to her father dragging her along; however, a major plot-point in the movie's third act revolves solely on Casper's origins.
    • Casper: A Spirited Beginning, despite it being marketed as a prequel/origin story of Casper, Casper's story arc along with all the other ghosts (despite them being shown heavily in the movie's marketing) gets completely sidelined in favor of a mundane story of a kid named Chris Carson trying to get the attention of his workaholic father: Tim, as Tim is too hellbent on tearing down an old mansion while trying to put a mini-mall in its place.
    • Casper Meets Wendy, despite the fact that all of our main characters are supernatural beings instead of just plain humans, along with the fact that Wendy's name is on the title along with Casper, it does follow the same trope of live-action characters taking more screen time that the animated characters, especially considering that despite both names being on the title, Casper's name is mention first.
  • The 1932 film adaptation of The Call of the Wild focuses on the character of Jack Thornton, played by Clark Gable, over Buck the dog. In the book, he only factors into perhaps a third of the plot.
  • Although the original is also about a human, the first Mr. Bean movie, Bean: The Ultimate Disaster Movie did something like this. The original series is simply about a near-mute, accident prone-fellow causing chaos and havoc wherever he goes, which tends to lend itself best to brief vignettes. The movie, of course, had to flesh this out, so it centered mainly on some American art expert who Bean stays with and his troubled relationship with his family.
  • Some of The Muppets productions fall under this trope:
    • Played with in The Muppets (2011) where the trailer makes it look like a human-focused romantic comedy, only for Kermit the Frog to show up and reveal the real nature of the film. It still technically qualifies for this trope, though; most of the screentime is given to Jason Segel, Amy Adams and new character Walter (who is a Muppet but not in-universenote  until the final act of the movie), although the humans' subplot takes a backseat to the main plot for most of the movie. That said, a concerted effort was made to give the Muppets enough screen time and have them qualify as main characters.
    • Referenced when Jason Segel hosted Saturday Night Live, and The Muppets were upset that they weren't asked to host.
    • The literature adaptations are notorious for this. The Muppet Christmas Carol is all about Michael Caine's Scrooge, although Kermit and Gonzo get major roles as Bob Cratchit and Charles Dickens respectively. In Muppet Treasure Island, the main focus is on Jim Hawkins and Long John Silver, played by Tim Curry. Originally the "Jim Hawkins" part was going to be played by Rizzo and Gonzo (being named Jim and Hawkins as two characters), before it was decided to make it into a Coming of Age Story with an actual human kid as Jim. And in The Muppets' Wizard of Oz Ashanti's amount of focus makes The Muppets themselves feel like an afterthought. In this case, all three are based on stories where the main characters were humans, and the trope is just a side-effect of staying faithful to the story.
    • The original Muppet outings tend to avert the trope by including major human characters but keeping the focus on Kermit and the gang. In The Muppet Movie and The Great Muppet Caper, said humans are antagonists or connected to them in some way, and The Muppets Take Manhattan doesn't even have a major antagonist, with Kermit getting amnesia the problem that the climax hinges upon. Other human characters are there for the Muppets to play off of and/or to provide cameos for name performers. Muppets Most Wanted takes a similar tack, but takes it even further: not only is the primary human character (Dominic Badguy) a villain, he's not even the main villain.
  • The Thomas & Friends film, Thomas and the Magic Railroad, contains a large amount of focus on a human man played by Peter Fonda and his granddaughter played by Mara Wilson, as well as the Conductor played by Alec Baldwin, leaving Thomas with under 12 minutes of screentime. While Thomas and the other engines are still in the film, this can largely be blamed on it also being an adaptation of Shining Time Station, which was a framing device for the series.
  • In Grumpy Cat's Worst Christmas Ever, the plot is about a girl trying to stop a couple of burglars from stealing an expensive dog from a pet shop, which was going to be used to keep the store from closing down. Grumpy spends most of the time being towed around and making wisecracks. Lampshaded, if nothing else, as Grumpy keeps trying to remind the audience that this is her movie when it very clearly isn't.
  • The same is said about Freddy vs. Jason, where said "vs" action only takes place during one brief dream sequence and then the finale. The rest of the movie is either Freddy killing people or Jason killing people in the same town, which was satisfying to fans of both but a letdown all the same to fans who went in hoping it focused on the two beating the crap out of each other.
  • Similarly, Godzilla (2014) puts nearly all its focus on the human cast and their battle with the MUTOs, leaving the titular King of the Monsters with roughly 8 minutes of screentime. Those 8 minutes will blow you clear across the room and the rest of the movie itself is very well done and entertaining, but was a major letdown to a large portion of fans who were really hoping for it to be about Godzilla. That said the ratio of Godzilla to not-Godzilla run-time is more or less equal with the original film, so this is Older Than They Think. Still, the creators clearly listened to the criticism; the sequel gives vastly more screen time and development to the kaiju, none of whom are Canon Foreigners like the MUTOs, to the delight of many.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014) still centers around the turtles but there's a heavy emphasis on April. The sequel, Out of the Shadows is better about this.
  • The Neko Atsume game focuses entirely on the cats, with the only human being the implied human player. The live-action film based on the game is about a down-on-his-luck salaryman who is hired as a caretaker for a local residence often visited by stray cats, through which he finds peace and romance.
  • A Dog's Purpose is a family film about a boy and his dog from the dog's POV. Ethan is given more focus than Bailey and many shots focus on him rather than the dog. The book is a xenofiction book. Bailey is given much more emphasis and the book is clearly from his POV. The film also suffers from being a Compressed Adaptation, with a lot of the story being shortened or deleted.
  • The film of The Silver Brumby puts more emphasis on humans than the titular horse.
  • War Horse is a book about a horse's viewpoint of World War I. The film is about A Boy And His Horse.
  • Tim Burton's Live-Action Adaptation of Dumbo drops the talking animals of the original and focuses on human characters who either want to help the eponymous elephant or exploit him. In particular, there are two kids, whose father is employed by the circus, that befriend Dumbo.
  • Peter Rabbit introduces Mr. McGregor's great-nephew, Thomas McGregor, who kicks Peter and his family out of his great-uncle's manor to sell it and start his own toy store, after being fired and losing the promotion to the managing director's lazy nephew. The film also gives him a romantic subplot with Peter's mother figure, Bea, triggering Peter's hatred for Thomas and his fight for the manor even further.
  • Woody Woodpecker is about attorney Lance Walters, his family, and his attempts to build an investment home in the forest, despite its construction site causing deforestation for the local wildlife who inhabits there. That endangered wildlife is Woody Woodpecker.
  • Tom & Jerry (2021) introduces Kayla, a young woman who applies for a job in a fancy hotel to plan a wedding for a celebrity couple, which are perceived to be put at risk by Jerry's presence and usual antics. Her solution? Teaming up with Tom to get rid of the mouse.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (2020), subverted this trope as the focus is still mainly on Sonic, however, there's also plenty of screen time given to Tom, his efforts to hide Sonic from the human villains (Dr. Robotnik and his crew, who are enlisted by the government to track him down). There's also a lot of screen time given to Robotnik, and some additional focus on other humans, such as Tom's wife Maddie and her sister Rachel.
    • Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (2022), while largely focused on the main conflict between Sonic and Tails against Robotnik and Knuckles, still gives some screen time to the primary human characters. Most of them (besides game villain Dr. Robotnik and his lackey Agent Stone) take part in a subplot that ties its events to the main conflict, making this almost an aversion.
  • While the original Clifford the Big Red Dog stories were about a big red dog with a big red heart, the 2021 live-action movie was more about Emily Elizabeth's broken social life (including her relationship with her single mother and her uncle Casey) and the film also devotes the most screen time to her. While additionally following the concept of having Clifford being treated like a pet by Emily.

  • An interesting variation occurs within the My Little Pony: Equestria Girls franchise since, while it is a My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic spin-off centering on human characters, six of said human characters are human counterparts of the TV series' lead characters, while Sunset Shimmer (and, in the first two films, Princess Twilight Sparkle) is actually a pony from Equestria turned into a human.
  • The Transformers Film Series got no end of complaints that the humans took up more of the story than the title robots, but the truth is the franchise in general has almost always had at least some human characters, though they’re rarely as prominent as some claim. The movies were just the most visible and egregious example, spending large amounts of screen time on humans where most series treat the token humans as just that; supporting characters that exist mostly as obligatory Audience Surrogates and otherwise sit on the sidelines. Only a small few series have completely lacked human characters or Earth, the most notable cases being Beast Machines (set entirely on Cybertron) and Transformers: Cyberverse (in which mankind as a whole is The Ghost). For more specific examples:
    • TV Shows:
      • The original The Transformers set a precedent by quickly establishing a group of important human characters and having the entire conflict set on modern-day Earth, the Autobots were learning Earth culture through their human friends and exploration. Also, very few plots were because the Autobots stumbled upon a Decepticon plot, and Teletraan-1 intercepted human communications for possible Decepticon involvement. The Xenofiction angle was not nearly as dominant as often claimed, at least not at this point in the series.
      • The Japanese media jumps all over on this. Most of the time, the robots are given plenty of focus, but every once in a while, a series will focus obsessively on human characters. The first half of Transformers: Armada was almost more about the human kids getting into wacky misadventures than the robot war, and Transformers: Super-God Masterforce took it further by morphing into a Henshin Hero series where the actual Autobots are displaced by an increasing number of humans in Powered Armor. Part of this is due to Values Dissonance; Transformers is more of a cult series there thanks to Japanese audiences preferring mecha series where the robots are piloted by humans, finding the idea of the robots being sentient characters themselves weird.
      • Mostly averted with American made shows like Transformers: Animated and Transformers: Prime. In fact, they actually set a precedent for having human characters fans actually liked. On the other hand, Animated had various human villains fans greatly disliked and Prime had complaints that the one human villain, Silas and his organization MECH was a genuine threat, but almost too much to the point the Decepticons could take some pointers from them.
    • Movies:
      • The very concept of a Live-Action Adaptation means making the robots the only important characters a self-defeating endeavor, you might as well go all CG... which many fans openly say they would prefer. Some have tried to defend the films’ use of this by saying the costs of the expensive CGI meant at some point you need to have more practical characters on screen (the movie set records to rendering time, every frame with a Cybertronian in it took about twenty-four hours to render and Devastator melted a computer), so it would supposedly be impossible to make it more robocentric without setting parts of Hollywood on fire. Others counter that the CGI is probably only so ludicrously expensive and difficult to render because of how notoriously overly-detailed and needlessly complex the robot designs are, pointing out that many of the TV shows averted this while having good-looking CGI Transformers on a much smaller budget (or being ALL CG in some cases). As usual, it’s a big Broken Base issue.
      • Some issues were improved in Transformers: Revenge of The Fallen, with a better grasp of how to film the (non-existent) robots on set, there are longer scenes of dialogue and more complex action set pieces. But a lot of the movie still focused on the humans' love lives and goofy antics.
      • Transformers: Dark of the Moon took another step in the right direction; apart from Sam's role in the first act, the Transformers are treated as actual characters rather than plot devices to help Sam get the girl and satisfy his sex drive. Although human characters still get a lot of screentime (mostly in subplots that surround the main story), the main plot definitely focuses on the Transformers and their history, rivalry and emotions.
      • It's improved upon almost to the point of being averted with Transformers: Age of Extinction, since the human story intersects with the Transformers story, and they stick together because their fates intertwine. The Autobots, Optimus Prime especially, get almost as much screentime as the human leads, and much of the story involves long bits of interaction between Autobots and humans.
      • The point where the films completely shook this trope off was when Michael Bay left and the series was rebooted with Bumblebee, which went out of its way to avert or justify this trope. Not only are the robots given equal screen time and character development, but great effort is taken to make the human characters likable and interesting in their own right. Charlie, played by Hailee Steinfeld, has generally gotten a positive reception from fans due to both being very well acted and characterised, with her relationship with Bumblebee being an emotional highlight for the film. For reference, the film spends the first ten minutes focusing on Bumblebee, fighting on Cybertron and arriving on earth, battling Blitzwing. The next ten minutes are focused on Charlie, acquiring the Beetle that turns out to be Bumblebee, then from that point on, the scenes where Charlie is by herself, with humans, or with Bee as merely a car totals at about 13 minutes combined, and the bulk of the movie otherwise is the two sharing scenes together. Pointedly, the robot designs are much less cluttered and stylized in this movie, likely making the CGI less expensive and difficult to film.
      • Transformers: Rise of the Beasts leaves this trope well and truly in the past for the film series, with roughly the same or lesser amount of named human characters than Transformer characters, and with the main human's character arc mostly serving as a parallel to Optimus Prime's story.
    • This trope was spoofed in the first panel of this VG Cats comic.
      Starring a cast of two-dimensional characters no one cares about! With special guest stars the Transformers.
    • The perception of Xenofiction being the norm for Transformers may have been caused by the comics, which very strongly avert this trope. The franchise's comics have a trend where human Audience Surrogates will feature in the first spate of issues, only to get drastically Demoted to Extra or written out entirely. Both the Marvel and the IDW comics are widely seen as having grown the beard when they mostly abandoned Earth to focus solely on the robots themselves, which provides a telling insight on the fandom's feelings towards this trope.
  • By default, every Digimon adaptation with the sole exception of Digimon X-Evolution - though the existence of human Tamers for the mons was part of the original fluff for the virtual pets, said fluff didn't mention any specific human characters, and the majority of adaptations - most prominently the various anime - tend to focus much more on the interactions and struggles of the humans, relegating their Digimon partners to more of a support role. This is also averted by Digimon Fusion where Digimons actually managed to end up being more developed than some of the human cast.
  • Defied by BIONICLE. Greg Farshtey has stated this as the main reason why LEGO never allowed a theatrical movie to be made. They received several pitches for it, and all of them involved human kids somehow ending up in the BIONICLE universe - which is supposed to be a Constructed World in which humans do not and never will exist.
  • Bruce Banner usually gets the majority of the screentime in all the live-action adaptations of The Incredible Hulk, including the classic 70's TV show and his feature film appearancesnote . Beyond narrative reasons like trying to give the audience a character to get invested in, the practical reasons are very similar to the ones mentioned in the Transformers films. It'd be expensive to have a CGI monster onscreen for the entire movie, so having Banner breaks things up and prevents the budget from skyrocketing. The biggest exception to this is Avengers: Endgame as Bruce and Hulk have become one entity, Professor Hulk, with Bruce's mind in the body of the Hulk, meaning he's a CGI monster for the majority of his screentime, budget be damned.

  • The official novelisation of Doctor Who's Development Hell episode, "Shada", gives the two helpful human characters, who fulfilled their plot function and were then put Out of Focus in the original, roles about as prominent as that of the Doctor and Romana. Their relationship with each other goes from being Implied Love Interest to explicitly romantic, with Chris's conflict being how he Cannot Spit It Out and admit he loves Clare - Chris even literally hijacks the Doctor during his climactic defeat of the villain to say "I love you" to her. Most of the middle of the book is also rejigged to be from Chris's point of view. Tropes Are Not Bad, of course, as it serves the purpose of allowing outsider perspectives on the Doctor's antics - the Fourth Doctor's character is very much defined by the eccentric ways he moves and goes about doing things, which is easy to represent on television, but in a book, his actions have to be relayed through a witness who understands him as little as we do. Other Doctor Who Novelisations often do this as well, although not to the same extent, and the writers' guidelines for the Doctor Who New Adventures specifically said that we should never see a scene from the Doctor's perspective.
  • Five Nights at Freddy's: The Silver Eyes largely dismisses the animatronics, focusing more on the human characters, their backstory (and that of the titular pizzeria) and their relationships, and while they do appear, it's not until the last quarter of the book (and an In Medias Res opening) that they act like they do in the games and become true threats to the heroes.

  • Jurassic Park (Stern) inverts this because of rights issues. While the franchise it's based on devotes a fair chunk of its focus to its human characters, here the only one seen visually is Dennis Nedry (as Wayne Knight's likeness was the only one they could afford), with everyone else either omitted entirely or only heard through voiceover. Naturally, this means that the game is dominated by the dinosaurs.

    Video Games 
  • Kingdom Hearts:
    • A rare video game example in Kingdom Hearts. The Disney and Final Fantasy characters seem secondary to the original cast. Part of this is that Disney laid down so much Executive Meddling behind the scenes in the first game that the production team decided that in general, original characters were the only ones they could tell new or interesting stories with, and not have to worry about Disney pitching a fit at characterization or portrayals of their properties.
    • Inverted with the Lilo & Stitch portions of the series. They focus exclusively on the aliens despite the film and franchise being about Stitch living in Hawaii with Lilo and Nani.
    • Played straight with Sora's adaptation into Super Smash Bros. Ultimate: the focus is put squarely on the original characters, with the Disney and Square Enix characters not appearing in the stage, Spirit Board, or Final Smash included with him.
  • Pokémon:
  • Bombergirl takes the focus off the usual super-deformed robots, instead focusing on human(oid) girls with similar abilities. Girls that have bomb fuses for tails, but still humanoid nonetheless.
  • Inverted with Pet Alien: An Intergalactic Puzzlepalooza. The original Pet Alien primarily focused on the human Tommy Cadle and his interactions with the aliens and other humans in his life. Meanwhile, Puzzlepalooza focuses exclusively on the aliens to the point where Tommy is Demoted to Extra and none of the other human characters show up at all.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • The My Little Pony has an interesting history with this trope, especially considering its nature:
    • The original show had a human girl named Megan who, along with her siblings in the shows, helped the ponies in their fight against whatever apocalypse was threatening them at the moment. Granted, she was very seldom the main character of an episode, but she was still around for most. The unrelated books and comics for the series also frequently included humans, typically either normal people or magical beings like witches, but were mainly based around the ponies with humans as extras or villains.
    • Most of the sequel series (My Little Pony Tales, My Little Pony (G3), and My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic) avert this, being Slice of Life series that focus solely on the ponies.
    • My Little Pony: Equestria Girls, the first appearance of this Trope since G1, is about an alternate universe where human versions of G4 ponies attend high school. It can be considered Downplayed, however, since the characters have either been transformed or re-imagined as human beings rather than introduced to brand new human characters.
    • This was one of the earlier ideas bussed around for the 2017 feature film. Take the Smurfs movie, do a find-and-replace on all names and key terms from that franchise, and you have basically what Sony wanted to make. No, really. Fortunately, it appears someone either felt that this idea would not go over well with the show's fanbase, or they themselves had the misfortune of having to sit through the Smurfs movie, and this concept was nipped in the bud, with Lionsgate taking over the production instead. My Little Pony: The Movie (2017) is focused on the ponies.
  • Downplayed with Pet Alien. The original Pet Alien toyline focused exclusively on the aliens, with the human boy Tommy being a secondary character who adopted some of them in the toyline shorts. In the animated series, while the aliens are still prominent characters, Tommy is now the central focus character, most of the supporting cast are humans who weren't in the original toyline and many of the aliens from the original toyline are absent altogether.
  • Pound Puppies has an inversion. The show originally focused on an orphan girl named Holly who helped the eponymous talking dogs, while her Wicked Stepmother served as the main villain. The remake now focuses mostly on the dogs.
  • While Littlest Pet Shop (2012) does have the human main character of Blythe, the trope is downplayed as she is merely a main character and the pets receive a good amount of focus. Blythe was also a character in the toyline (as part of the "Blythe Loves Littlest Pet Shop" series), meaning she had a basis.
  • The animated adaptation of Darkstalkers has Harry Grimore as the main protagonist, next to Felicia.
  • Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron was a xenofiction film from the POV of a horse. Its Spin-Offspring sequel Spirit: Riding Free is a Pony Tale about a girl named Lucky who owns Spirit and Rain's son.


Video Example(s):


He-Man Honest Trailer

The Honest Trailer for Masters of the Universe complains all the changes made from the original cartoon.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (12 votes)

Example of:

Main / AdaptedOut

Media sources: