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Lost in Imitation

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"Dracula would make a marvelous movie. In fact, nobody has ever made it... all the movies are based on the play."

New adaptations of an original work — generally a work which has inspired countless imitators — tend to resemble the imitations more than the original. Sometimes the changes are subversive, or done because the original themes are no longer accepted by the audience, but often it's just because the writers think that it's what the audience is used to seeing at this point. It is especially prone when there is a Pragmatic Adaptation in play, with a belief that a truly 100% faithful adaptation is not possible in another medium. Done properly, though, you have Character Development like no one's business.


Usually started by a Trope Codifier. May involve Dueling Movies, where The Film of the Book of an imitator inspires a studio to film the original. Also often a result of Adaptation Displacement.

Lost In Imitation can propagate itself in time, in which case what was not lost in the imitation will suffer from severe Popcultural Osmosis. Compare Truer to the Text, in that what is actually Lost In Imitation is actually being more faithful to the source material. But there are pitfalls there, removing the expected elements while still keeping much of the same framework may lead to being accused of changing it for the sake of being different.

A common cause of the Unbuilt Trope. Compare Ret-Canon, "Seinfeld" Is Unfunny, Audience-Coloring Adaptation. Since the first imitators change things from the original work, this is strongly related to Sadly Mythtaken and Beam Me Up, Scotty!.



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    Anime and Manga 
  • Since the 70's, almost all of the works in the Lupin III franchise have been more heavily influenced by the Lighter and Softer TV adaptations, rather than the original Darker and Edgier manga. The 2012 Fujiko Mine anime was the first series to actually revisit the source material's violent and hyper-sexual tone.
  • Sailor Moon is best remembered for its anime adaptation, the epitome of idealism, where The Power of Love and Friendship always triumphs over evil. The original manga had the Sailor Senshi fight their enemies much more straightforwardly (see Unbuilt Trope). Furthermore, Usagi wasn't always the main character; Minako had that role for its predecessor manga Codename: Sailor V.
  • Most video games and promotional images of Puella Magi Madoka Magica wield the franchise's core characters as a much more cohesive group than they were in the original anime. This is justified in The Rebellion Story, the anime's sequel movie, for plot-related reasons, but really, the ones we know as the "main five" were simply the only five who had any real role in the plot, with others appearing for only a few seconds in flashbacks, montages and credits. Originally, animosity between the Puellae Magi was a recurrent theme and they only teamed up on occasion, and never without some reluctance.

    Comic Books 
  • In X-Men adaptations, the need to keep the sprawling cast of the comics relatively simple tends to lead to villains who are unassociated in the comics working for whoever the main villain of the adaptation is. This has a tendency to become their default status in other adaptations:
    • In X-Men, almost all adaptations to feature Sabretooth have made him The Dragon to Magneto, despite the comic version of him never having worked for or with Mags. The rare exceptions are Wolverine and the X-Men, in which Sabretooth was simply a Weapon X operative, and X-Men Origins: Wolverine, in which Magneto does not appear and Sabretooth is Wolverine's brother. The '90s show did have him take a job from Magneto to infiltrate the Institute, but he otherwise doesn't work for him. (When he finds out about the scheme, Wolverine points out that Sabretooth usually doesn't do someone else's dirty work.)
    • In comics, Mystique is the leader of the new Brotherhood and has rarely worked for anyone else. Most adaptations have her working for Magneto or Apocalypse. In the 1990s series, she worked for Apocalypse. In X-Men: Evolution, she worked for Magneto until he ditched her, then operated on her own, then joined Apocalypse. In the movieverse, she worked for Magneto until he ditched her in X3 (came after Evo ended). She once again works for Magneto in Wolverine and the X-Men.
    • Magneto's reliance on Mystique and/or Sabretooth as The Dragon can also be explained by most adaptations featuring a significantly powered-down version of the Master of Magnetism. In the comics, he's a top-tier threat: strong enough to fight an entire team of X-Men to a standstill (if not stomp them outright) and has a combo plate of powers that let him perform feats well beyond what magnetic fields are theoretically capable of. The only adaptation that portrays Magneto as being just as powerful as his comic book counterpart is Wolverine and the X-Men.
    • In the comics, the Juggernaut is Professor X's step-brother and isn't even a mutant, getting his powers from a magic gem, and he originally worked alone or with one partner. Since he's one of the X-Men's most iconic villains he tends to be one of Magneto's henchmen in adaptations, usually not mentioning the nature of his powers and his relationship to Prof. X or actually making him a mutant and/or not related to Xavier at all. It's even partially made it back to the comics: while he's still Xavier's non-mutant stepbrother, writers more familiar with the adaptations than the comics often have him mention being a former member of the Brotherhood. He finally did appear as a member of a short-lived incarnation of the Brotherhood, albeit one largely unconnected to previous versions aside from using the same name; this hasn't stopped artists from drawing him fighting alongside Magneto (which he has never done) in flashbacks.
  • In the Guardians of the Galaxy comic books, Rocket Raccoon does not speak with any sort of discernible accent, but was given a cockney British accent in Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3. This proved popular enough that he was given the same one in The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes!, and a New York / Joe Pesci-ish accent in Ultimate Spider-Man. When it was revealed that Bradley Cooper would not be using an accent in the Guardians of the Galaxy movie, some people complained, even though that's how Rocket sounds in the source material.
  • Spider-Man:
    • The Symbiote originally had minimal influence over Peter's mind at best — the reason he gave it up was because it had a habit of taking his (sleeping) body out at night to websling and because he discovered it was alive and planning on merging with him on a genetic level — which freaked him out. In fact, the original comics symbiote had no emotions of its own, but developed them as a result of spending so long bonded to Spider-Man, even sacrificing itself (well, almost) to save its former host after being rejected. Though Eddie Brock, who hated Spider-Man, was able to use it to go against him as Venom, the symbiote still tried to jump ship and return to Spider-Man when Spidey made the offer. In the '90s animated series, the symbiote was portrayed as having its own, extremely aggressive personality, which was starting to overwrite Peter's as the bond grew stronger, and all adaptations since have taken this up.
    • The series also had Spidey start off using the black suit by finding himself staring at his reflection in a skyscraper window as he hangs upside down, having no idea how he got there. That scene can now be found in every version of the black suit saga except the original comics.
    • Also, none of the adaptations since — Ultimate (comic and cartoon), Spectacular, or film — have kept its origin from Secret Wars (1984), where it essentially came from an alien vending machine. Spectacular and 3 had it come from space, as in the '90s animated series; the Ultimate comic had it as a product of his father's research into a cure for cancer; and the Ultimate cartoon had Doctor Octopus create it.
    • The symbiote also initially made Spider-Man weaker since it was feeding off his adrenaline (even going as far as Puppeteer Parasite while Peter slept). The '90s show was the first to show the symbiote actually augmenting Spidey's powers along with his aggression, with the other adaptations following suit. The Marvel Adventures comics go-middle-of-the-road by having it augment his strength but gradually reduce his stamina.
    • Another Spidey-related example is the Green Goblin's split personalities Talking to Themself. In the original version, Norman was simply unaware he was the Goblin, which lead to a Split-Personality Merge. In the '90s animated series, there is a scene where Norman and the Goblin talk to each other in a mirror. This was carried over into the movie.
    • The iconic bridge scene from The Night Gwen Stacy Died gets adapted a lot — Spider-Man: The Animated Series, Ultimate Spider-Man, the movie — and they always replace Gwen with Mary Jane and let her live. The child-friendly cartoon series actually came the closest to adapting the tragedy by having Mary Jane fall into a dimensional time and space rift (alive but in an And I Must Scream state of floating through a no-man's-land outside reality and definitely believed dead by Peter, with an arc about grieving her loss). When the The Amazing Spider Man 2 FINALLY gets the right girl, and kills her off for real, they have to replace the iconic setting with a clock tower because people have already seen the familiar set up with Mary Jane too many times. They also replace Norman with Harry. Don't expect a 100 percent faithful adaptation anytime soon.
  • The film adaptation of The Avengers has been so successful that it has influenced a number of other works and adaptations.
    • Avengers, Assemble! uses the same cast from the film, with the inclusion of The Falcon. The character designs usually come straight from the Marvel Cinematic Universe or from the Ultimate Marvel universe, which inspired the films.
    • Likewise, it's becoming increasingly common to feature Captain America, Black Widow, and Hawkeye as founding members of the Avengers, even though they were not founders in the comics and indeed replaced actual founders Ant-Man and The Wasp in the movie. Captain America was retroactively given founder status in the comics, as he essentially replaced the Hulk so early in the team's history.
    • The movie team itself has become the public face of the entire Avengers franchise. The Marvel Universe LIVE uses the movie team (complete with their designs) along with The Falcon and Captain Marvel for some added diversity.
    • Hulk is often a significant member of the team, another effect of the 2012 film. While the Hulk was a founding member of the team, he only lasted three issues, since he was hardly a team player.
  • Of all things, the comedic The Super Hero Squad Show gets to provide one of these: its version of The Falcon has Feather Flechettes. Every animation since it has had them, though sadly the comic has yet to take them up. (The movies lack them too — as a military man, MCU Falcon is a Superhero Packing Heat.)
  • Iron Man:
    • Tony's Arc Reactor from the first Iron Man movie is now standard issue for pretty much any adaptation, even though in the comics, his chest piece in the armor was originally just a magnet to keep the shrapnel from his heart.
    • Likewise, the cartoons all use Pepper Potts and James Rhodes as his two confidantes, which originated in the movie. Though they have both had close associations with Stark in the comics, the two generally had very little interaction (in fact Pepper had more or less been Put on a Bus by the time Rhodey first showed up, and by the time she came back as a regular, Rhodey was on his own as War Machine).
    • The people who captured Tony in his origin story were originally unconnected to any major Iron Man villains. Adaptations usually tie them with a famous villain (or sometimes, replace them): in the '90s animated series, Tony was held captive by the Mandarin. In the Invincible Iron Man animated movie, he was captured by a group trying to prevent Mandarin's return. In Marvel Adventures, he is captured by AIM. In the movies, the group is called Ten Rings, hinting at Mandarin, and they were hired to kill Stark by Obadiah Stane. Though linking Tony's origin to the Mandarin dates back to a 1991 Retcon of his comic book origin shown in issues 267-268 of his series.
    • Iron Man 2 was the first adaptation to portray Black Widow with an American accent rather than Russian. All subsequent depictions of the character (save The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes!, which was in development at the same time as Iron Man 2) have followed suit.
      • This actually makes sense, since as a spy she would have trained to speak English with an accent appropriate whatever country she was sent to infiltrate.
  • Some adaptations of The Joker since Batman: The Animated Series have drawn from Mark Hamill's performance as the character, particular either the high pitch, slight rasp or both, and definitely the laugh. It can be jarring for even older fans to watch the 1989 film again and note that Jack Nicholson's laugh for the character was very different: more "weasel" than "hyena", and often a lot more lower-pitched than the Joker is "supposed" to laugh. Nicholson himself drew from the "hoo-hoo-hoo" laugh (not unlike that of Tigger of Winnie-the-Pooh fame) popularized by Cesar Romero on the TV series.
  • Comic-style Chitauri have yet to appear outside the comics, ever. The Ultimate Avengers films, and everything that followed including the live-action Avengers movie, treat them as your basic Alien Invasion — no sign of being shapeshifters who never show their true forms. It makes sense, though: The comic Chitauri are the Ultimate Marvel version of the Skrulls, only actually threatening, at a time when the Skrulls were mostly remembered for the early appearance that ended with them getting tricked out of invading when they were convinced monster movies were real, and winding up turned into cows. Some people ate their meat and got super powers later on. With Secret Invasion the comic Skrulls Took a Level in Badass, making "like the Skrulls, except competent" something that's no longer needed. When you need shapeshifting aliens, you use the real deal; when you just need bad aliens, the Chitauri are a name comic fans recognize.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
    • Most people would not know that the original turtles all wore red bandannas and had tails; those two details were altered when the first action figures were made, and have since become standardized. It wasn't until Turtles Forever that the original characters' designs were seen outside the comic books.
    • The Shredder wasn't the major villain in the original Mirage run. He died in the first issue, and only came back once in canon as a worm colony clone. It was only through the Fred Wolf series that he took on the arch-nemesis position, and any other appearances and allusions to Shredder in the Mirage comics (such as the Shredder Shark monster) came out much, much later.
    • Also, Baxter Stockman is never known to have ever met Shredder in the Mirage comics, but the 4Kids cartoon, which was usually much more true to the comics, has him working for Shredder just as he did in the Fred Wolf show.
    • The turtles didn't originally say stuff like "Cowabunga!" They were much more formal. Just read Leonardo's opening narration, and you'll get an idea.
    • Splinter started out as an ordinary non-mutated rat in the Mirage series, while his original owner Hamato Yoshi was killed by Oroku Saki. The 1987 cartoon made Splinter a mutated Yoshi instead. The 1990 and 2014 film series, as well as the 2003 cartoon, went back to the rat origin (though the 2014 film series omits Yoshi altogether), while the 2012 cartoon once again has Yoshi becoming Splinter.
    • And to top it all off, the original comics were not at all kid-friendly. They were nothing short of bloody and ultraviolent.
  • When Robin was introduced in Batman: The Animated Series, he was redesigned so that his elf boots and scaly shorts were replaced with pants and a pair of more practical black combat boots, bringing him closer to the then-current Tim Drake look, despite the character being Dick Grayson. Virtually every cartoon to feature Robin since then (The Batman, Teen Titans, Batman: Under the Red Hood, Young Justice) has used a similarly "modern" design rather than using his classic look. Also, the new black-and-red costume Tim Drake got when he finally appeared in the cartoon (since his comic look was stolen by Grayson) eventually made it back to the comics.
    • Likewise when he graduates to Nightwing. Nearly every DC Comics adaptation following Batman: The Animated Series featuring Dick's adult identity (a Bad Future in Teen Titans, a not-so-bad future in The Batman, the second season of Young Justice and Son of Batman) uses a variant of the costume from New Batman Adventures: a blue bird Chest Insignia with serrated wings on an otherwise unmarked black outfit. Make the bird red (and of course add the infamous nipples) and you have his Robin outfit from Batman & Robin. Nightwing has never worn this outfit in the comics, the closest being a black outfit with a blue stripe that went down the arms and formed a sort of arrow on the chest. His New 52 outfit was kind of like this, but with a red, more stylised bird. Teen Titans and Young Justice also follow NBA in not including the bat-symbol mask. (Exceptions: Batman: The Brave and the Bold uses the original seventies costume; Batman: Under the Red Hood uses the blue-stripe version.)
    • No adaptations have ever shown any variation of the costume design he wore for the first 20 years he was Nightwing. The first variation was a circus style with a high collar similar to Deadman's, which makes sense as Dick is also a former circus aerialist. It was mainly navy blue with lighter blue highlight and a yellow wing design at the shoulder blades. A second variation had more standard collar and closed chest and hit had small glider wing attached to the armpits.
  • Lex Luthor's bodyguard Mercy Graves from Superman: The Animated Series proved popular enough to not only become a Canon Immigrant, but has also been featured in a number of subsequent adaptations such as The Batman and Young Justice. Even when Mercy herself doesn't appear, it's become pretty standard for Luthor to now have a female bodyguard or assistant whenever he appears in an adaptation. In another example, The Batman Race Lifted Mercy into an Asian woman, an idea that was later used in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
  • Ever since Smallville cast Phil Morris to play the Martian Manhunter's "John Jones" identity, just about every subsequent adaptation (such as Young Justice and Supergirl (2015)) has made the Manhunter's human form a black man.
  • Superman:
    • As this page analyzes, “If you ask the average person on the street, ‘Where does Clark Kent change into Superman?’, nine out of ten people will answer ‘In a phone booth’”. This particular part of Superman mythology was not originated in the comics, but in "The Mechanical Monsters", a Fleischer Superman Theatrical Cartoon. The page presents another 9 mentions until 1978 (another Fleischer cartoon, 1 Superman Sunday Newspaper, 1 Continental Insurance Superman Ad, some references to the radio series, and one reference to the Superman Broadway Musical, and four cover in the comics). But then mentions the joke in Superman (1978) works because, for some reason, everyone "knows" Clark Kent uses a phone booth to make his quick-change into Superman. How could this be if the joke was made only ten times in Superman Canon? Because the joke was made far more often than that in canon. The author of the article admits (toward the bottom) that he didn't bother to find all the instances of Superman changing in a phone booth in the comics; he's (mostly) only citing appearances in other media. It may have originated in the serials, but the comics were quite happy to pick it up and run with it.
    • Richard Donner's original Superman: The Movie and its sequel, Superman II remain the main template for live-action adaptations to the extent that recent Superman movies like Bryan Singer's Superman Returns and Man of Steel still use the same familiar tropes and characteristics from these movies with Singer using the first two movies (made in The '70s) as continuity. For instance, Superman's Rogues Gallery in movies can be restricted to Luthor and Zod, and it took Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice to introduce a new member of Superman's Rogues Gallery: Doomsday, who was himself a deformed clone of General Zod's body. There have been talks of bringing in Brainiac, Mxyzsptlk, Bizarro, Toyman, Parasite among many other villains, along with secondary characters like Supergirl into the movie continuitynote  but the first two Donner movies remain the main reference point.
      • That symbol on Superman's chest. The El family crest? A Kryptonian symbol meaning hope? Anyway it's from Krypton, right? For the first 65 years of Superman's existence in comics it was exactly what it looks like, a stylized letter S in a pentagonal shield and it stands for Superman. The Donner films first gave it a Kryptonian origin and most adaptations stuck with that. It wasn't until 2003's Birthright mini-series where the comics followed suit and gave it a Kryptonian origin.
    • This even extends to characterization. For instance Lex Luthor in the comics and the animated series is a genius inventor/criminal mastermind and Corrupt Corporate Executive. Despite appearing in five movies, played by three actors, we have yet to see Luthor invent any of the scientific contraptions, devices and superweapons his comics counterpart was known for.
  • In the original comics, Cheshire doesn't wear a mask. The Teen Titans animated series featured her briefly, but her appearance was quite memorable, and she wore a big grinning cat mask, its smile the last to fade when she was being stealthy. Since then, all her animated appearances (Young Justice, Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths) feature it.

    Fan Works 
  • Cupcakes is a particularly infamous My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfic that has inspired hundreds of fanworks. The problem is, most seem to be based less on the actual fic and more off of other fanworks. In the original fanfic, the creepiness comes from Pinkie being her normal, fluffy maned self. Ask Pinkamina Diane Pie helped cement the image of Cupcakes' Pinkie being a monotone, straight haired mane named "Pinkamena" (the fanfic actually came out before the episode "Party of One"). It also spurred a lot of works to have Scootaloo as Pinkie's assistant, despite the fanfic having Apple Bloom in that role instead.

    Fairy Tales 
  • References to fairy tales generally have more to do with the Disney adaptation than to the original story. The Seven Dwarves will have names, Cinderella only goes to one ball instead of two, and Snow White's wicked stepmother will not be put to death by the newlywed Snow White and the Prince but killed off in some other way (though her horrific execution had also been removed from earlier Bowdlerised editions).
    • In The 10th Kingdom, Virginia (who knows the child-friendly versions) has to have originals explained to her to understand what's going on. And, including the 1987 live-action movie, an animated movie by Jetlag Productions, and one animated series, this remains one of only four works that included the stepmother's other attempts on Snow White, including the poison comb.
    • In an episode of 30 Rock when Liz was going to a ball with Jack, Jenna insisted that Liz couldn't be Cinderella because "Cinderella is blonde. You could be Snow White and party with the little people." These hair colors, of course, reflect the Disney versions. Although, of course, Snow White had black hair in the fairytale.
    • Most modern adaptations of "Snow White" tend to portray Snow White with short hair, in many cases also wavy. It is rare to find a version of the princess that doesn't draw inspiration from Disney's version in the portrayal of the titular character, like giving her long, straight hair or with a dress that isn't similar to the German-inspired gown that makes the character so iconic. Walt Disney himself was inspired by Snow White (1916), which had a short-haired Snow White.
  • Good luck finding anyone who knows that Aladdin's mother is still alive, the vizier and the sorcerer aren't the same person, that Aladdin is also from China, or genies don't always live in lamps and grant exactly three wishes(to say nothing of the fact that the one in the lamp is the second genie in the story.). Or that Aladdin was originally Chinese. Granted, it was Chinese In Name Only. Notably averted in the British pantomime tradition.
  • In Pinocchio (1992), Pinocchio, Geppetto and the Cricket behave like their counterparts of the Disney film and the Blue Fairy looks similar to the latter version. Inverted with Mangiafuoco, who is actually nicer than his literary counterpart.
  • Once Upon a Time has a tendency to do this by adapting fairy tales to resemble the Disney Animated Canon versions, even having actors that resemble their animated counterparts. For example, in "Ariel", which adapts The Little Mermaid, not only do they use the names of the characters in the animated film (all characters were originally unnamed), but the mermaid was also cast as a redhead. "Quite a Common Fairy" and "The Price of Gold" included Tinkerbell and Cinderella's Iconic Outfits from the Disney films, respectively. The show wasn't originally meant to adapt the Disney incarnations. Eventually, however, the writers gave up and made it a full-fledged Disney crossover, introducing characters from Aladdin, Frozen, and 101 Dalmatians. This creates Early Installment Weirdness with characters like Mulan and Aurora, who aren't quite similar enough to their Disney counterparts.
  • In the UK, most cultural understanding of fairy tales and folk tales via the Disney version is supplemented by another medium in which they have also been popularly canonised — Pantomime. These are by no means more 'faithful' to any kind of original than the movies (and are themselves subject to including Disney-originated elements — at least in small-scale productions, theatres can get away with ripping off plenty of copywrited material without anyone suing). Ask most British people whose Aladdin's mother is or who Cinderella's Unlucky Childhood Friend is and they'll know the answers immediately (Widow Twanky and Buttons respectively), despite these points having no place in the original tales.
  • Several post-Disney retellings of Sleeping Beauty have followed Disney's lead in having the princess raised not by her parents in their castle, but as a peasant by the good fairies to try to protect her from the evil fairy's curse. Two (very different) examples include the Muppet Babies (1984) episode "Slipping Beauty" and Robin McKinley's novel Spindle's End.

    Film — Animated 

    Film — Live Action 
  • Alita: Battle Angel takes much of it structure, characters and plot details from the 1993 OVA adaptation of Gunnm rather then the manga itself.
  • 1992's The Last of the Mohicans starring Daniel Day-Lewis (the version people are most like to remember fondly) is explicitly credited as based on the 1936 screenplay. The book, not so much. To quote one critic:
    "Even in its 1936 version, which starred Randolph Scott, The Last of the Mohicans was thought to be badly dated, and so stodgy it required considerable modification to allow its hero and heroine a genteel kiss. Drawing upon the novel with merciful selectivity... Michael Mann has directed a sultrier and more pointedly responsible version of this story."
  • Professor Challenger has, similar to Quatermain, returned in various projects which seem to cash in on The Lost World: Jurassic Park and King Kong — which Challenger's debut, The Lost World (1912), influenced.
  • Vampire movies in general often follow the Classical Movie Vampire conventions created by Nosferatu (1922) and Dracula. This goes so far that any departure from the vampire tropes of these two films is likely to be seen as "breaking the rules" and may confuse the audience. Never mind that neither film is strictly consistent with traditional vampire folklore, nor that any two cultures' vampire legends are the same. The Wolf Man (1941) had a similar effect on werewolf conventions.
  • The 2007 film of I Am Legend is an adaptation of 1971's The Omega Man much more so than of the Richard Matheson novel from which it draws its name. Right down to ghouls instead of human-looking vampires (capable of speech, wearing clothes, rebuilding society, etc). All film adaptations since The Last Man on Earth have also kept the idea of Robert Neville being well educated and fairly urbane rather than the rough factory worker of the original story who learned all of his science through excursions to the library and was concerned more over a lack of sexual fulfillment than over the idea of the world ending.
  • Except for the Hungarian comic, there has never been a faithful adaptation, sequel or parody of Pierre Boulle's novel Planet of the Apes. All references are to the 1968 film. In the novel, the story is a message in a bottle found in space. There are three French astronauts (Merou, Antelle and Levain) and their test chimpanzee, Hector, that travel to a distant Earth-like planet named Soror in the year 2500. Upon arrival, Hector is killed by Nova and the men are captured by primitive humans (butt-naked and behaving like chimpanzees) who tear off their clothes. Hours later they are hunted by intelligent apes with 20th-century technology. Levain is killed, Antelle is placed in a cage in a zoo (where he somehow loses his intelligence), and Merou is sent to Zira's research facility where he proves himself to be intelligent and is taught the apes' language. Merou then becomes a celebrity, makes Nova his partner and has a child with her. But archaeologic evidence and brain surgery in humans reveal that humans created civilization in Soror and were overthrown by apes they used as slave labor, leading to mankind's degeneration. Zaius decides that Merou is a threat, since his son is intelligent and even Nova has become smarter in his presence, so the three leave in the same spaceship for Earth, and Merou finds it has also been taken over by apes in his absence. They then leave again in search for other planet to live. That message in a bottle? It is being read by two ape scientists that find the idea of intelligent humans ridiculous.
  • Both remakes of Carrie take more hints from The '70s movie rather than the actual source book. Noticeably Carrie's Roaring Rampage of Revenge happens right after the prank in the movies, but in the book she goes outside before she snaps.
  • Films based on the biblical Exodus tend to borrow a lot from Cecil B. DeMille's The Ten Commandments, most notably the Pharaoh being called Ramses (he's referred to only as "Pharaoh" in the Bible). It's also common to depict the Pharaoh as bald, apparently just because Yul Brynner was. (To be fair, however, most high-class Egyptians did deliberately shave their heads, though they often wore wigs.)
  • The book version of Mary Poppins was published in 1934 and set in the contemporary 1930s. The 1964 Disney version moved the setting back to 1910. Since then, the character of Mary Poppins has become intractably linked to The Edwardian Era.
  • The 1965 and 1974 film adaptations of And Then There Were None took more major cues from the 1945 film than the original book: Anthony Marston playing the titular nursery rhyme on a piano, Vera and Lombard falling in love and the two of them actually being innocent of the crimes they were accused of, and the Adaptational Alternate Ending of Vera only pretending to shoot Lombard and the two of them surviving after Wargrave falls for their deception and takes poison after delivering a Motive Rant to Vera were all absent from the book but were popularized by the 1945 film.
    • That said, Vera and Lombard surviving had its origin in the theatrical adaptation, which Christie also wrote.
  • Titanic (1997) took some inspiration from the 1953 film.
  • The Wizard of Oz takes inspiration from The Wizard of Oz (1902) play. Both versions are musicals. Both also include a scene where a snow storm sent by the Good Witch of the North destroys the poppy flower field. In the original The Wonderful Wizard of Oz book, a group of talking mice drag the Cowardly Lion out of the poppies on a cart, while the Scarecrow and Tin Woodman carry Dorothy and Toto out.

  • Arthurian Legend gives us the trope of Excalibur in the Stone, which is a very good example of how this can happen.
  • In Romanian folklore, vampires and werewolves aren't really distinct — the word in Romanian that comes from the Slavic for werewolf, vârcolaci, is a type of vampire (it eats the moon to cause eclipses). However, many other cultures do distinguish them — other than that both are often witches, for instance, French loup-garous and revenants don't really have much in common. Bear in mind also that the tenuous connection of vampires to Vlad the Impaler is non-existent in Romania (bar Pop-Cultural Osmosis) and was included by Stoker almost as an afterthought. This caused a minor scandal in Romania when somebody suggested building a theme park that would conflate Dracula and Vlad the Impaler, who is considered a national hero for doing his best to keep the Turks out of the country.

  • The Prince and the Pauper named a trope about a royal and a peasant switching places. But a lot of the themes of the story are lost in many adaptations, including the Disney version with Mickey Mouse. While a lot of adaptations do touch on the theme of "the higher and lower classes each have their own set of problems" and "Be Careful What You Wish For", the original novel has both prince Edward and pauper Tom instantly realize this was a huge mistake and try to own up to it, but no one believes them. Also, the two are in constant fear for their own lives - Tom from knowing that being found as impersonating the king would be a surefire death sentence, and Edward from being hopelessly unprepared to deal with the darker side of his country. Rather than a series of wacky misadventures, Edward and Tom inadvertently break the social conventions of the other class, and are both thought of as having lost their minds, with all of the trouble such a thing would entail. The Character Development of Edward realizing he needs to help the poor is only sparingly touched upon in adaptations, whereas the main theme of "laws benefiting the wealthy would be significantly unfair to those who lack the wealth to influence the government" is touched upon even less often.
  • Almost every adaptation of A Christmas Carol borrows something from the numerous adaptations that came before it. The things people most commonly know about Ebeneezer Scrooge are that he's a miser who cares only about money and that he hates Christmas. In the novel itself, while these flaws are present, the main character flaw that gets examined is that Scrooge has Stopped Caring about the poor (or really, anyone except himself). Adaptations tend to paint him as a Jerkass Woobie for the many tragedies that happened to him around Christmas, but the novel points out that this is really no excuse for how Scrooge is acting, especially when the Ghost of Christmas Present throws Scrooge's words back in his face about Tiny Tim. Finally, the whole story was an Author Tract (like many works of Charles Dickens) about the disparity between the rich and the poor in Victorian England, and how the rich really need to do more with their money to help the underprivileged instead of hoarding it. The class warfare aspect of the story almost never gets brought up in modern adaptations.
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory's first major adaptation, 1971's Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, has cast a shadow over later versions. The 2005 film, in its effort to be Truer to the Text, wound up drawing criticism from viewers unfamiliar with the book. But three '71-specific details stick like glue to parodies, adaptations, etc.:
    • Practically every parody portrays the Oompa-Loompas as orange-skinned, green-haired, Germanic clothing-wearing Little People, but in the original 1964 novel, they were actually African pygmies (males wore skins, females wore leaves, and the children were naked)! The '71 film changed their appearance to one that was "exotic" yet significantly different. Roald Dahl subsequently made an Orwellian Retcon to the book that made the Oompa-Loompas Caucasian Lilliputians and residents of the Fictional Country Loompaland, though their clothing preferences remained the same. Later adaptations tend to dress their Oompa-Loompas in uniforms/costumes of varying, often wacky designs rather than hold to the book's description and most hold to the change in their stature from Lilliputians to Little People, a pragmatic choice in terms of staging them for live theatre. The 2005 film hewed a little closer to the novel in this regard, but was subject to Your Size May Vary.
    • The 1971 film, unlike the novel, assigned specific nationalities to the four bratty kids: Augustus is German, Veruca is British, and Violet and Mike are American. The 2005 film, a 2005 stage musical (Roald Dahl's Willy Wonka), and the 2013 stage musical keep to these, though the specific cities they're stated to be from vary from version to version.
    • Finally, the conceit of a clean-shaven Willy Wonka comes from the '71 film. In the novel, Mr. Wonka has a pointed black goatee. While illustrators avoid this trope — some even give him more facial hair, usually a neat little mustache — almost all film and stage Wonkas are clean-shaven, to say nothing of the parody Wonkas. The principal exception is Douglas Hodge, the actor who originated the role in the 2013 stage musical (he wore a prosthetic chin tuft and mustache).
    • With regards to the 2013 stage musical, it struck out in its own, largely book-faithful, direction but threw in a few Internal Homages to and (due to Executive Meddling) one song ("Pure Imagination") from the '71 version. When that wasn't enough for fans of the movie, Pandering to the Base ensued as it was Retooled for its 2017 Broadway premiere, with most of the changes — Mr. Bucket suffering Death by Adaptation, the grandparents aside from Joe being Demoted to Extra, and the substitution of several original songs with their movie counterparts — serving as examples of this trope.
  • A major complaint from Tolkien fans about The Lord of the Rings movies was that Gimli's more comical and somewhat cruder depiction borrowed more from the accumulated exaggerated stereotypes of dwarves in modern fantasy than Tolkien's 'original' dwarves. Even so, however, Gimli was the butt of a joke or two in the original. Gimli and Legolas keeping score of their kills at the Battle of Helm's Deep comes straight from the books.
  • Dracula got hit with this hard, as referenced in the quote above. It is claimed to be the origin of all modern vampire stereotypes and the definitive line between the vampires of folklore and the vampires of literature, film, and fiction, but most of his archetypal image — slicked black hair with a widow's peak, black high-collared stage cape, tuxedo, off-tempo Eastern European accent — is 100% Bela Lugosi, as seen in the 1927 Broadway play and 1931 film, compounded by endless imitations. In the book, Dracula was a gaunt old man with dead-white hair and skin, a hawky face, and a flowing moustache, who grew young when he drank blood and spoke English more flawlessly than the native English speakers (to the point where it mildly creeps them out). Also, the origin of sunlight killing vampires outright was introduced by the silent German film Nosferatu. In Dracula, the only difference it makes is that they lose access to their powers until they get out of it.
    • Jesus Franco's rather unfortunate Dracula movie is one of few in which Dracula maintains his original mustache and de-aging.
    • Dracula's signature cape has its origins in stage adaptations of the story, added simply so the Count could twirl it dramatically to cover up his mystical exit by theatrical trapdoor, and to signify that he was biting someone without actually doing it onstage. Needless to say, it stuck. It was an Episcopal clerical funeral cloak. The "cape" portion of the cloak was flipped up in a collar so the actor's head couldn't be seen as he disappeared.
    • The stage play was the inspiration for a lot of the modern interpretation of Dracula — buying the rights to the stage play was cheaper for Universal, and so that's what they did. (In fact, both of Universal's Dracula films — the Lugosi and Langella films — both featured actors from stage versions of the play in the title role.) Arthur Holmwood and Quincey Morris? Dropped from the stage play, and so not featured in the movies. Ironically, legal research for Universal later established that the novel was never copyrighted in the States!
    • Francis Ford Coppola's film adaptation was possibly the most loyal to the original story, most notably Dracula's frequent appearances during daylight. The thick Eastern European accent introduced by Lugosi remains, though the character's Transylvanian origin makes this a bit justified. The film's major departures from the book and most other adaptations comes from making Dracula's character and backstory much more sympathetic. Ironically, the movie was criticized by some for breaking the "no vampires in sunlight" rule and then Handwaving it away.
      • Supposedly, Coppola wasn't planning on giving Dracula an Eastern European accent, but Gary Oldman said he would only play the part if they allowed him to do the accent.
      • Although Coppola is partly to blame for another part of the original novel being lost — his was one of the first films to focus on the idea that Mina Harker was a reincarnation of Dracula's lost love, an idea that has been repeated again and again through modern adaptations of Dracula, despite there having been no mention of any connection between Dracula and Mina in the original novel (short of him trying to turn her into his next bride).
      • The idea of Dracula pursuing the reincarnation of his long lost love stems from the 1973 TV version, except the woman in question is Lucy, not Mina.
    • The BBC's 1977 TV adaptation is the most accurate, except in dropping Arthur Holmwood and in the depiction of the count, himself.
    • In the novel, Mina Harker was A) in love with Jonathan for the entire book, B) was FORCED to drink Dracula's blood and C) repeatedly came up with the successful ideas to counter Dracula after the men's initial plans failed (in fact, keeping her out of it caused her to be bitten as she didn't realize she should prepare). None of this generally ends up in any adaptation. MAYBE she likes Jonathan in the beginning, but that's about it.
    • The book's Dracula doesn't even live in Transylvania. Jonathan travels across Transylvania, and finds Dracula's castle right after crossing the border. It is presumably in Wallachia, where the historical Vlad Dracul was actually from. However, much like Moby-Dick's real color, this is only mentioned briefly after a respectable part of the book spent in Transylvania, so it is no wonder most people remember Transylvania and forget the crossing of the border.
  • Adaptations of The Prisoner of Zenda such as Dave and Moon over Parador always present the identical characters as strangers who just happen to look alike. However, in the original novel, the two are distant cousins who look alike due to features introduced by adultery of a previous generation of their families, which crop up every couple of generations.
  • Moby-Dick: Just about every adaptation or, more frequently, parody features the great whale as an all-white behemoth, despite the fact that he's described to retain only a white forehead and a white hump in the original novel. It doesn't help that that the book repeatedly refers to Moby Dick as the "white whale" almost exclusively. By the time they actually find it and the reader realizes that only parts of it are white, the image of a completely white whale is too powerfully engraved. Most book covers depicting the whale also make it completely white. Let it be noted that the reader should know that as early as chapter 42 (of 136 chapters), called "The Whiteness of the Whale", in which even the book itself recognizes the falseness of calling it a "white whale", justifying that, the whale being a creature that lives under the water and only lifts its body out of it slightly to breathe, the forehead and the hump are the only parts of it you see most of the time.
  • The original The Legend of Sleepy Hollow short story is about an annoying Connecticut schoolmaster who invades a Dutch community and gets run out of town by the prank of a clever local. The story was actually about cultural tensions in the new American society. Since the Disney version of the story, however, most adaptations focus on the ghost story exclusively, although it did manage to keep the subtle implication that the ghost was, indeed, a "Scooby-Doo" Hoax.
    • The Tim Burton film is clearly based more on the Disney version than the original story. Though Crane has a cowardly personality, he is ultimately the hero of the story. The villagers, on the other hand, are mostly turned into corrupt villains, and the prankster Brom Bones is a bully. The scene where Ichabod rides across the covered bridge is a direct reference to the Disney adaptation, complete with the frogs seeming to croak "Ichabod". The shot where he ends up on his horse backwards is also borrowed from that version.
    • Many modern depictions of the Headless Horseman show him carrying a jack-o-lantern, typically filled with flames. Again this image is from the Disney version. In the original story, throughout the climactic chase scene, the object the Horseman carries is thought by Ichabod to be his actual severed head. Only the next morning, after Ichabod's disappearance, is it revealed to have been a pumpkin instead: the strongest evidence that the Horseman was really Brom Bones in disguise.
  • Traditionally, Robin Hood is a brilliant archer who steals from the rich and gives to the poor, a noble outlaw fighting corrupt officials, and sometimes even a brave Saxon fighting against the Norman oppressors... or is he? This myth largely originates in 19th century Romantic adaptations of the Robin Hood legend (such as Howard Pyle's The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood and Walter Scott's Ivanhoe), many of which were developed specifically for children. In the original ballads, Robin is a trickster outlaw who steals for himself, couldn't care less about helping the poor, doesn't care about class differences (likely because by the time the stories were born the Norman population had already long assimilated), and can be pretty callous and cruel. Pretty much the only thing Robin's current and original image have in common is him being an outlaw and a great archer.
    • Robin Hood, in every version, symbolizes principled resistance to unjust authority. What form that takes varies with the era, but it's always there. Originally it was simply taking from the rich. "Robbing from the rich to give to the poor" wasn't specifically added until John Major's Historia Majoris Britannae (1521).
    • Robin Hood is one of those that seems to pick up elements with each iteration. For example, it's become common to include a Moor amongst Robin's men and to portray Marion as an accomplished fighter, herself. Also, Robin's role as a returning Crusader is "borrowed" from the title character of Ivanhoe.
      • The first such "borrower" was Douglas Fairbanks Sr. for his movie version in 1922. He spent the first several reels trudging along in chain mail on Crusade before receiving an Urgent Message from back home in Merrie Old....
      • The Moorish companion and the feisty Marian, alongside several other elements, can be traced down to the excellent Eighties series, Robin of Sherwood. The Kevin Costner version ripped several of these elements off (to the point where there was talk of a lawsuit) and brought them into the worldwide mainstream.
    • Lampshaded in Peter Is the Wolf: The characters there explain yet ANOTHER old version of the myth, and mention some of the issues, if not others. It's not treated as the original story, either. For one thing, Robin is a werewolf!
    • Robin's identity as "Robert, Earl of Huntingdon" dates from a 17th-century play by Anthony Mundy. "Robin of Locksley" isn't much older. Alan-a-Dale was added around this time as well.
  • Don Quixote is explicitly stated in the first paragraph of the novel to be "almost", but not even, 50 years old; later he's said to have graying hair and a black moustache. Yet any adaptation depicts him as a bumbling old man in or around his 70s, often with completely white hair and beard.
  • Most versions of The Wizard of Oz are based more on the 1939 film (The Wizard of Oz) than on the original novel (The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.)
    • The silver slippers in the book were changed to ruby for the movie in an effort to show off the new-fangled color film they were working with and by having Glinda be the witch who directs Dorothy to the Emerald City (in the book it's the Good Witch of the North, who appears only in that scene and was turned into a Composite Character).
    • Wicked splits the difference, claiming the slippers were crafted from silver treated with ruby dust. The stage version manages to incorporate both by having the shoes be silver, but shining a red light on them when they're enchanted. Wicked uses both The Wizard of Oz and Land of Oz as its inspiration. Elphaba uses her MGM design, Glinda is a Composite Character like in the film, the Emerald City is actually green-tinted, etc. while at the same time, the books go into book-exclusive lore and include usually Adapted Out characters like Princess Ozma.
    • Averted in The Muppets' Wizard of Oz: Dorothy is correctly given silver slippers, and Glinda is not the witch who first sends Dorothy off to the Emerald City.
    • There's also a long-running animated series based directly on the first three or four Oz books, and not based on the film. TinMan, a Sci-Fi Channel mini-series, also draws heavily from the book canon.
    • This might also be a case of pragmatism, as the original book is in the public domain, while the 1939 film version and all new concepts introduced therein, including the ruby slippers, are still under copyright. Plus, the Ruby Slippers were chosen because it looked more visually appealing since the film used colour.
    • Oh, and the iconic line, "You wouldn't have believed me"? That originated from the film, in which for whatever reason the writers decided to flanderize Glinda into a total jerkass, and for equally unknown reasons, most people took it as an actual reason why she wasn't informed of the real way to return home. Originally, the witch who sent Dorothy on her quest was different from the one who told her about the slippers' powers, and knew nothing about the subject.
    • Just try finding any Oz adaptation that mentions the Tin Woodsman's backstory. Even better, try explaining Ozma spending her first years as a boy to a modern audience. This does appear in adaptations, such as one of the anime adaptations, but is sometimes glossed over.
    • One of the few modern exceptions to this is Marvel's Oz comics, which are extremely faithful adaptations of the books. This means that only the first miniseries, "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz", has anything to do with that movie you might have seen, and even then resembles it only slightly. Of course, again, the movie is still under copyright, so it's not as though they could have used much from it in the first place.
    • Many derivative Oz works and adaptations revolve around Dorothy "returning to Oz" for the first time in years. This is because the MGM film never received an official sequel. In the original books, Dorothy returns to Oz in the third book Ozma of Oz and later permanently moves there with her Aunt Em and Uncle Henry in the sixth (out of forty official novels and fourteen creator-written novels) book The Emerald City of Oz.
    • In Oz canon, the Wicked Witches of the East and West are simply allies. The MGM film changed them into sisters, something that almost every adaptation keeps.
    • Most adaptations since the 1939 one, including The Wiz and The Muppets' Wizard of Oz, make Dorothy discontented with her life in Kansas at first and at odds with Aunt Em in some way or other, only for her journey through Oz to make her appreciate her family's love and teach her An Aesop that there's no place like home. In the book, while the Kansas farm is grim and gray (as are Aunt Em and Uncle Henry), Dorothy is a Cheerful Child, content with her home and family from the start.
    • In many adaptations, Glinda is treated as the head of Oz after the Wicked Witches are killed. This is because she's the sole "Good Witch" and authority figure in the MGM film. In the books, not only is there another witch but the second book introduces the true ruler of Oz, Princess Ozma. Ozma is often either Adapted Out or is otherwise Demoted to Extra in adaptations.
    • Dorothy is seldom depicted without her iconic brown Girlish Pigtails. Though Dorothy was depicted this way in the original book's illustrations, the third book switched to a blonde '20s Bob Haircut (likely to contrast with Ozma's brunette).
  • The version of Oliver Twist which most people think they know is notably different to the novel. Since the 1960 musical, the public perception of Fagin is as a Loveable Rogue rather than like the original who betrays his cohorts to the hangman to avoid sharing the spoils and manipulates Sikes into killing Nancy. The first two sound films, in 1933 and 1948, introduced the practise of removing characters and simplifying the plot: In the original, Oliver is not the grandson of Brownlow but (concentrate now) the son of an old friend of Brownlow's, the paternal half-brother of Big Bad Monks (who is often left out) and the maternal nephew of Rose (ditto...and when she is included she's often Brownlow's daughter to tie in with the traditional but non-original back story). Most surprisingly of all, Oliver spends the last two thirds of the novel completely safe with his family while they try and get his inheritance for him. Adaptations usually can't resist keeping him in peril to the end.
  • The novella The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is a mystery story about a lawyer who turns detective to discover why his client has made a will leaving everything to a mysterious ne'er-do-well, with the twist that they're the same person only revealed at the end. Since the twist is so famous, adaptations tend to focus on the drama between Jekyll and Hyde, often making Jekyll more heroic and giving him a love interest or two to further enhance the tragedy. Utterson, the viewpoint character in the book, often has his role reduced, combined with Dr. Lanyon, or omitted entirely.
  • Captain Nemo will invariably be portrayed as European in adaptations (usually French, as a result of confusing the character with the author) but he was an Indian prince in the books. Amusingly, Verne's first version of the character was a Polish nationalist who fought the Russians, but had to change it because of Executive Meddlingnote . In the 1954 Disney film, the one that has inspired most the later iterations, Nemo's nationality is a mystery, but his claim of being an escapee from Rura Penthenote  makes him compatible with Verne's original 'Polish rebel' idea.
    • The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen restored the Indian nationality and received much undeserved flak for it (not that the rest of the film doesn't deserve any, on the contrary). On the other hand, they depicted him as a Sikh but had a scene of him praying to Kali, a Hindu goddess, so by all means, get mad.
    • The 1916 film version, of all adaptations, got this right!
    • The 1973 Italo-Hispano-French series "L'Île mystérieuse" took some liberties with the source material, but Nemo correctly appeared as an Indian prince (played by Omar Sharif).
    • Fate/Grand Order, for all the Age Lifts, Race Lifts, and Gender Flipping it does, manages to keep Nemo as Indian. Portrayed as a little boy that can clone himself, mind, but still.
    • Another element common in adaptations that isn't in the original is the Nautilus being described as nuclear powered. In the original book, it's only described as powered entirely by electricity, which was enough of a Shiny New Technology in 1869 to be exciting and high-tech. Given what we know about submarines today, nuclear power would probably be needed to accomplish the feats the Nautilus was capable of, so it could be called a sort of Pragmatic Adaptation— but it's definitely not in the original text. Since the existence of atoms was not considered certain when the book was written, and those authorities who did accept them believed that they were immutable spheres with no sub-components, it should be obvious that nuclear power is not in the book.
  • How the Grinch Stole Christmas! was mostly black-and-white with some red added for emphasis, so the Grinch wasn't a specific color. As of the animated version, he is depicted as being green.
  • Sherlock Holmes
    • Most portrayals of John Watson are based on Nigel Bruce's bumbling Watson from the Basil Rathbone films rather than Doyle's more competent character. Notably averted by Jude Law in the 2009 movie, Martin Freeman in Sherlock and Lucy Liu in Elementary. Each of those Watsons provides the common sense to complement Holmes' genius. And while it was television rather than movies, give Edward Hardwicke and David Burke some love too.
    • Holmes inspired a long line of similar imitators. It was to the point that Holmes trademark hat, pipe and browncoat became visual shorthand for "detective" and Holmes himself is shown dressed this way in cameos and other popular depictions far more than he actually wore them in the original stories. Also, many adaptations forgot the quirkier aspects of his personality and focused on his famous detective skills. Indeed, he never explicitly wore a deerstalker in the original stories at all. The iconic physical depiction of Holmes comes from Sidney Paget's illustrations in the stories' first appearances in Strand magazine. In the books he did smoke a pipe (although the illustrations never depicted the famous calabash pipe which first became associated with Holmes due to a theatrical adaptation) but he smoked cigarettes and cigars almost as often.
    • Moriarty and Mycroft were not major characters in the books; they appear in only one and two stories respectively and were referenced in a few others, but are major figures in many adaptations.
    • Similarly, Irene Adler had only one appearance, her only known misdeed was to keep some memorabilia from a long-past affair that theoretically might be used as blackmail material against her ex-lover (which she never actually did), and her greatest feat was to realize that Holmes was after her and skipping town, something that earned her Holmes' respect. Adaptations tend to turn her into a criminal mastermind in her own right, a near equal to Holmes in intelligence, and, to some extent, a love interest of his (in the original work, she not only married someone else who almost never appears in adaptations, Holmes was the best man).
  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame:
    • Disney's adaptation of Victor Hugo's The Hunchback of Notre Dame owed far more to the silent 1923 and 1939 film versions than it did to the novel. This, perhaps, is why it's a fair bit easier to forgive its inaccuracies than, say, Pocahontas.
    • Almost every adaptation gives Esmeralda a Race Lift and makes her Roma by birth. This dates back at least to the 1939 film. In the books, Esmeralda was Switched at Birth with Quasimodo. Her personality is also usually changed so that she isn't as innocent and naive.
  • Virtually all modern adaptations of Beauty and the Beast portray the prince/Beast as an initially unpleasant person who was cursed as a direct result of his selfishness and has to learn kindness and humility to win over the Beauty. Most people don't even know that in the original Villeneuve story, the prince was a genuinely innocent victim who was cursed by an evil fairy after he refused to marry her note  and was kind and gentlemanly to Beauty from the start. As such, the newer versions pretty much eschew the original moral, which is that the Beauty character needs to accept the Beast as a suitable husband despite his appearance, since now she has good reasons to reject him.
    • Another example of how much the Disney film has influenced later Beauty and the Beast adaptations is the 2014 French film La Belle et la Bête's inclusion of a Dance of Romance scene clearly inspired by the Disney film's ballroom scene despite it being a remake of the 1946 French film that had no dancing scenes. Megan Kearney's webcomic adaptation also alludes to the iconic dance scene when Beauty and the Beast walk through the castle ballroom at one point... only for the Beast to confess that he can't dance because his animalistic legs aren't built for it.
  • Most movie adaptations of The Three Musketeers make Cardinal Richelieu the iconic villain and antagonist of the heroes, despite his ambivalent position in the first book and total absence in all following books. Athos and d'Artagnan even ponder if they were wrong in opposing Richelieu a few times.
    • Rochefort's promotion to The Dragon, where in the books, Milady filled the role. It is hard to find a film version in which Rochefort doesn't get killed by d'Artagnan in a climactic fight, rather then by accident during a riot. In the novels, d'Artagnan and Rochefort became friends after dueling each other. He also has no eyepatch in the books either; that started with Christopher Lee in the 1970s version.
  • Our conception of Frankenstein's Monster (not to be confused with Victor Frankenstein himself) is based largely on Boris Karloff's depiction of him as a largely silent and misunderstood giant, which, in turn, has largely been Flanderized into a flat-headed hulkish killing machine with green skin that was based on the advertising art (the film was black and white). Very rarely will we get to see him as the verbose and vengeful monster portrayed in Mary Shelley's original book. To be entirely fair, he was misunderstood in the book as well, but his reaction to it was indeed vengeful, rather than ever being Boris Karloff's gentle giant.
    • Subverted in Young Frankenstein, where the monster has been given an abnormal brain that causes him to be the stereotypical groaning monster. After Frankenstein gives him a brain fluid transfusion, he becomes verbose and civilized. The vengeful part is left out due to Frankenstein's Heel–Face Turn and subsequent displays of kindness towards his creation.
    • In addition, every adaptation has Frankenstein using some form of electricity to animate his creation. In the book, the framing device is the Doctor telling his story to a sea captain, and when he gets to how he created the monster he basically says, "And then I gave it life. I'm not telling you how, because I don't want anybody to repeat what I did." Obviously, that wouldn't have worked on the big screen. The only exceptions are the 1910 version by Edison Studios — that one uses a vat of chemicals — and the 1973 TV-movie Frankenstein: The True Story, which uses solar energy. Ever since the famous Universal version, however, electricity has been standard.

      While he maintains that he won't tell the sailor the exact details necessary to know how to pull off the trick (for the sailor's own good, and the good of humanity), the book makes it very clear that he used some potion inspired by the alchemical notion of the elixir of life as studied by Agrippa and others. In the novel, he does mention that when he saw a lightning strike at fifteen, he longed to harness that power, and he even brings up the work of Galvani, who made dead flesh move by running current through it. This does seem to suggest that electricity may well have somehow been involved in the process of creation. In addition, Shelley did write that her idea for the story came in part from discussions that touched on Galvani's experiments.
    • The existence of Igor, who became a staple of Frankenstein movies and the horror genre in general without having appeared in either the book or the film Frankenstein. Popcultural Osmosis took the hunchback character of Fritz from the first Karloff Frankenstein picture, and combined him with Bela Lugosi's character Ygor from Son of Frankenstein, the third and last Karloff Frankenstein film, a film that seems to have fallen out of the public consciousness despite being pretty good and being a major basis for Young Frankenstein.
    • The B-film Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man is the source of the image of the monster as stumbling around with his arms outstretched, as the monster becomes blind in the film.
    • The 2004 movie is one of the few screen adaptations of the source material that averts the stereotypical look of Frankenstein's creation established by the Karloff films, trying to be more faithful to Shelley's original description.
    • Mary Shelley's Frankenstein is also much more faithful to the original source material— except where it isn't.
    • And say what you will about Van Helsing, but they at least made an effort to make him more like he was in the book.
    • A lot of manga fans were surprised at Junji Itos take on Frankenstein for how "unique and creative it was." Hilariously, his take on it is one of the closest and most faithful to the original source material that you can find.
    • In Fate the long standing tradition of GenderFliping is in effect but Frankenstein is a Composite Character of the Bride and quite attractive, except to Victor Frankenstein who tried to kill her and cancelled his original plans of making a pair, despite the deviation and how she's a Hollywood Cyborg the book's events appeared to have played out. Also Mary Shelley's letters had indicated that the Monster was going to be named Adam, in Fate/Grand Order Victor's second attempt of Frankenstein was appropriately named Eve.
    • Penny Dreadful also attempts to stick fairly close to the source material, with 'Caliban' (the name given to the Monster to distinguish him from his maker) looking appropriately like a corpse that has been resurrected and who is even rather eloquent, as he similarly is in Shelley's original text.
    • A lot of this is from the 1823 play, which was more familiar to mass audiences than the book in its day. The monster being a silent brute and the assistant Igor suddenly being a major character both come from this, as well as the theme morphing into an unambiguous Creating Life Is Bad moral. It was hugely popular for decades note , but was obscure by the time the Universal movie came out and is almost forgotten now.
  • In the books and original cartoon specials of Madeline, Madeline's parents were alive and well, just like those of her schoolmates. But the 1998 live-action film portrayed her as a Heartwarming Orphan whose only mother figure was Miss Clavel. Afterwards, the cartoon series promptly Retconned her into an orphan too and made the animated feature Madeline: Lost In Paris revolve around her lack of family.
  • A minor aversion occurs in Hook, featuring Robin Williams as Peter Pan. Hook is supposed to be a sequel to Peter Pan set in the modern day. While it gives a few nods to Disney's adaptation of the stage play, it actually winds up being more faithful to J. M. Barrie's book (even sometimes quoting the book in the script), in that much of the characterization and dialogue that was left out of the Disney version has found its way into the live-action sequel (although some of the signature quotes are paraphrased).
    Tinker Bell: Peter, you know that place between asleep and awake... That place you still can remember your dreams... That's where I'll always love you.

    Hook: Prepare to die, Peter Pan!
    Peter: To die would be a grand adventure!
    • Note, however, that Hook's hook is still on his left arm (as in the Disney version) and not his right (as in the book). Dustin Hoffman, who is right-handed, insisted.
    • The Tinker Bell in Hook, however, bears only a passing resemblance to the play's version. The Disney version is much closer with the silent, jealous portrayal. After all, the theatre version was played by a spotlight.
    • The higher loyalty to the book makes sense in context of the movie. The old lady Wendy is supposed to be the original and real Wendy whose family stories the book was based on. The twist comes when she reveals to Peter Banning that all the stories were true and he is, in fact, the real Peter Pan.
    • The 1954 Broadway musical version of Peter Pan was apparently the first adaptation to call Neverland "Never-Never Land."
  • Any given adaptation of The Nutcracker will draw more from Tchaikovsky's famous ballet than the story itself. The music, plot, and characterization will usually come from the ballet, and the Mouse King and his story will follow the plot of the first act. Another good sign of this is the name of the protagonist; while she's named Marie in the story, most adaptations will call her Clara as the ballet does.
  • Any adaptation of Pride and Prejudice in which Elizabeth declares that she's only willing to marry for "the deepest love" is taking its cue from the 1995 BBC miniseries. She makes no such statement in the book, but the 2005 film and The Lizzie Bennet Diaries both borrow that line from the 1995 script.
  • The classic 1939 film of Wuthering Heights has influenced most subsequent adaptations in some way or other:
    • First of all, it set the precedent for only adapting the first half of the novel and focusing on Heathcliff and Cathy's love story, leaving out the second half that deals with their children. The majority of subsequent screen and stage retellings have done the same.
    • Almost every adaptation has followed this one's example of portraying Heathcliff, Cathy, Edgar and Isabella as young adults when Cathy first stays at the Lintons' house. In the book they're all still children at that point.
    • Any version that has Cathy wander the moors through wind and rain searching for the runaway Heathcliff is drawing on this film. While she does spend the night out in the rain in the book, she stays seated on a wall by the road watching for him to come back. The 2004 ballet adaptation and 2009 miniseries both give her rainy moor-wandering even more importance, by moving it from Heathcliff's initial running away to his elopement with Isabella years later, and having Cathy's resulting pneumonia be the cause of her death, replacing the novel's Brain Fever.
    • Almost every version since this one has ended by showing Heathcliff and Cathy's spirits Together in Death. Ironically, this was a Focus Group Ending for the 1939 version and director William Wyler hated it. In the book there are rumors that the two ghosts have been seen wandering together, but the reader never "sees" them.
  • Alice's Adventures in Wonderland: Part of the reason why the books are so commonly associated with mental illness and drug usage is because most adaptations Age Lift Alice. She's only seven in the original books, which explains her whimsical viewpoint and fantasies. However, her behavior and dreams become more unusual when she's aged into a pre-adolescent or teenager.
  • Jane Austen never mentioned her heroine Emma Woodhouse's hair colour in Emma but adaptations have standardised her as a blonde. She is fair haired in the 1972 mini series, the 1996 Gwyneth Paltrow film, the 2009 mini series and the 2020 Anya Taylor-Joy film. She (or rather 'Cher Horowitz', the character inspired by her) is also blonde in Clueless. A rare departure from this default look was the 1996 Kate Beckinsale tele-film.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Although the syndicated TV show Beastmaster has a credit on each episode claiming it's Inspired by... the Andre Norton novel, it's really an adaptation of the B movie — which diverged so wildly from the source text that Norton had her name taken off it. As such, it has absolutely nothing in common with the Andre Norton novel, and the only things different from the movie are that Dar doesn't wear a crown or use a sword (for the early part of the series); it takes place in the jungle instead of the desert; and Dar's loincloth doesn't have fringe on it. Oh, and Ruh's a tiger instead of a puma (probably because the black paint killed the one from the movie).

  • A musician well noted for being significantly innovative and well-regarded for their technique, style, sound, or choice of equipment to produce that style or sound, who becomes very influential to other musicians of a certain era, can fall victim to this as whatever made that musician unique or influential is exaggerated or misinterpreted by imitators. This can especially be true with innovators with a constantly evolving technique, style, sound or choice of gear, or one that has a certain amount of mystique to them.
  • The vast majority of covers of "Light My Fire" are based off Jose Feliciano's latin version rather than The Doors' psych-rock original.
  • "Fever" was originally a 1956 R'n'B hit for Little Willie John, but Peggy Lee's jazz version has been the default template for covers since 1958.
  • This happens a lot to songs that were Covered Up. For example, most cover versions of 'Hallelujah', while always crediting Leonard Cohen, almost always sound more like John Cale's version.
  • "Why Don't You Do Right?" is originally a sassy jazz number about a woman (sometimes interpreted as a Gold Digger) telling her lover to go out and make money for once. Ever since Jessica Rabbit sang it in Who Framed Roger Rabbit, everyone now sings it as a much slower and more sensual Bad Girl Song than it was intended.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • A minor example occurs for Peanuts. Lucy is usually depicted as less bombastic in modern derivations of the comic, including the merchandise, with 'crabby mode' Lucy items being rare because they're objectively less marketable. Most people forget Schulz intentionally made Lucy extremely argumentative from the get-go, making the gentler concessions only because she sounded more severe to the ear than on paper. Even in the animated adaptations, it's implied that Lucy is a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing.
    • In the comic strip, Charlie Brown and Linus are in different classes, while Peppermint Patty, Marcie, and Franklin all go to a different school. The animated adaptations (including The Peanuts Movie) usually depict all of the main cast as being in the same class (though there are specials where Peppermint Patty, Marcie, and Franklin are all shown to go to a different school).
    • None of the adaptations of Peanuts, save You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown, give Snoopy his Thought Bubble Speech from the original strip.
  • Name any given adaptation of The Addams Family, and you can bet it will be based on their iconic 1960s portrayals or their filmverse selves than the original New Yorker cartoons (The family's names and inter-familial dynamics are primarily based off the former two continuities).The 2010 play claims to have been based on the cartoons, but in reality it was a composite of their show and movie portrayals.

  • In the original radio series incarnation of The Green Hornet, the Hornet's valet, Kato, had no remarkable skills. He was not characterized as either a skilled fighter in general or a martial arts master in particular. However, after the producers of the 1966 television adaptation cast Chinese martial arts master Bruce Lee as Kato, they used every chance they could to show off Lee's martial arts mastery in the series. The television characterization of Kato has been so influential that it is now probably mandatory that Kato be a skilled martial artist in any subsequent adaptation of the property. In the 1990s NOW Comics Green Hornet series, all the Katos were skilled in martial arts, and rumors of various movie adaptations since the 1966 series have always mentioned some prominent martial arts star as having the inside track to being cast as Kato.
    • Some references to the Hornet and presumably Kato knowing judo and jiu jitsu did occur in the radio show and/or comic book tales, usually adapted from the former.
  • The 1981 film The Legend of the Lone Ranger introduced the idea of John Reid as a lawyer or law student prior to his taking on the role of the Lone Ranger, an idea carried forward by the 2003 WB pilot and the 2013 film — which met with similar rejection to the 1981 film.

  • The musical Jekyll & Hyde is based on movie versions of Stevenson's novel more than the text itself. Later Broadway revivals hew closer to the show's original vision, which was darker and edgier than the 1997 version and closer to the book, having Jekyll revel in the freedom Hyde gave him and paraphrasing directly from the book as he contemplated his dual natures.
  • The Phantom of the Opera:
    • Most depictions nowadays include a half-mask, either leaving the Phantom's mouth free (as done in Lon Chaney's silent film) or the diagonally cut mask because that's what was used in Andrew Lloyd Webber's famous stage version, though his entire face was deformed in the original novel, not just half, and the rest of his body was abnormal. The stage version only used a half-mask because the first actor to play the Phantom found it too difficult to sing while wearing a full mask. (A full mask is depicted on the poster.) His mask was also black, instead of white as in many adaptations.
    • Averted quite nicely in Maskerade, where the full face mask (and the stupidity of "recognizing someone because they are wearing a mask") is a plot point.
  • The musical and film My Fair Lady are actually much closer (particularly in the Revised Ending) to the 1938 film version of Pygmalion than to the stage play Pygmalion. For instance, the Zoltan Karpathy character was created for the 1938 film (and based on that film's producer). Indeed, the musical is officially based on both the play and film: as the credit in the program reads, it was "adapted from Bernard Shaw's play and Gabriel Pascal's motion picture Pygmalion." The best-selling original cast album only names the Shaw play on its cover, however.
    • Many later spoofs of the Pygmalion Plot are based on the lesson scenes in My Fair Lady, which gave Eliza's lessons far more significance than in previous versions of Pygmalion (Shaw considered the lesson scene he wrote dramatically redundant).
  • The King and I resembles the 1946 movie version of Anna and the King of Siam, though only Margaret Landon's novel is credited as a source.
  • Many adaptations of The Magic Flute (e.g. books, a graphic novel, and several English-language productions of the opera, including Kenneth Branagh's film version) have followed the example of Ingmar Bergman's classic film by making Sarastro into Pamina's father. In the opera's original, uncut libretto, Pamina and her mother the Queen talk at length about her father, who was clearly a different person than Sarastro.

    Video Games 
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • Neither Sonic's love for chili dogs nor his nemesis Eggman/Dr. Robotnik's famous line, "I HATE THAT HEDGEHOG!", come from the games. It was Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog that came up with both of them. In fact, when Sonic's co-creator, Yuji Naka, was asked in an interview what Sonic's favorite food is, chili dogs didn't even come to his mind. This didn't stop other Sonic adaptations from using them and the Robotnik line: later American Sonic cartoons featured them (due to them being produced by the same company as AOSTH and their writers being told to use previous cartoons as a basis for the characters), and so did the American Sonic novels and comics (due to them being adaptations of the aforementioned cartoons, rather than the games). The chili dogs eventually made their way to the games, but that was in 2008, way after the aforementioned adaptations were produced, so they're still an example of the trope.
    • Similarly, many of the lines that some think of as Sonic's catchphrases, such as "Way past cool!", "Let's juice" or "Let's do it to it!", were never used in a Sonic game. They, too, originated in the cartoons and made their way to later American adaptations based on them.
    • Sonic lives on a planet named Mobius... In just about everything but the actual games. In the games, he lives on a Fictional Earth that is mentioned by name as "Earth". This was the intention from the very beginning of the franchise. In western countries, Sega decided to say that Sonic lived on a World of Funny Animals called "Mobius". This is why all three 1990s cartoons, both the Archie's comic and Fleetway comic, and most Tie In Novels for the franchise throughout the '90s mention Sonic living on Mobius. By Sonic Adventure, "Mobius" was abandoned due to the games blatantly taking place on Earth. Despite this, the idea that Sonic lives on Mobius is near omnipresent amongst fans (likely due to Archie's comic continuing to use it even after the games stopped). "Mobius" as a concept still exists in adaptations. Sonic Boom and even the Japanese anime Sonic X have Sonic and friends living on unnamed planets devoid of humans (minus Eggman).
  • Pokémon:
    • Some adaptations feature a Pikachu who stays outside its Poké Ball. It was just another of the various mons in the original game, but ascended to Mascot Mook status from the anime, which itself had Pikachu walking outside the ball. The anime influence also extends to Pikachu's portrayal in manga. A large number, such as Red's Pikachu in Pokémon Adventures and Shu's Pikachu in Pokémon Getto Da Ze!, start off as jerks before warming up to their trainer.
    • It's also worth mentioning Pokemon Yellow, which was heavily altered from Red/Blue to resemble the Anime, including using Pikachu as the starter. Much fan-art to this day still includes Pikachu as the odd one out among the starters, despite excluding other unusual examples like Eevee.
    • The idea of having an Eevee as a starter itself came from the anime, and was later adapted into Yellow (as your rival's starter, meant to be yours) and the Orre duology. This eventually reached the mainline series games in Pokémon Let's Go, Pikachu! and Let's Go, Eevee!.
  • Cloud Strife from Final Fantasy VII was the epitome of I Just Want to Be Badass, who did his best to act cool and play up his reputation as a badass super soldier, acting like a loose cannon and only really getting serious wherever the villain is concerned. Even a certain death didn't effect him enough to stop him from going snowboarding immediately afterwards. When he appeared in the first Kingdom Hearts however, he ended up having the design and personality of Vincent Valentine (it's rumored, at least, that the part was originally written for Vincent, only for the team to decide he didn't fit the tone of the game), essentially becoming Cloud In Name Only. Now, Cloud is known for a reputation of being an "emo" hero with a perpetually somber expression and spending a lot of time brooding, with these traits also carrying over to his appearances in Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children and Dissidia Final Fantasy (though the latter does at least give him some of his actual mannerisms in battle). Outside of the source material, only his appearance in Dirge of Cerberus accurately depicts his original cocky, showy hero personality, enhancing it further with Cool Shades.

    Web Original 
  • Some people are puzzled as to why the antagonist of Marble Hornets is called "the Operator", because "he's exactly the same as The Slender Man". However, the Operator is actually a little different to the original Slender Man from Something Awful; Marble Hornets spawned so many imitators that their portrayal became the standard. Then again, the Slender Man was an Interpretative Character from the start, with creator Victor Surge creating multiple posts giving him differing appearances and modus operandi in each post.

    Real Life 
  • Looney Tunes created a stereotype of rabbits eating carrots when paying homage to a Clark Gable movie called It Happened One Night. In reality this is horrible for rabbits in anything but small amounts because of the high amount of sugar in them.

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