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Serendipity Writes the Plot

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"If you're wondering how and why Metal Gear's developers, Konami, decided to make a stealth game, the answer is that they didn't. Metal Gear was originally intended to be an action title that would have been largely indistinguishable from all the other action games out there. But the computer they were developing the game for, the MSX2, wasn't able to handle more than a few enemies and bullets on screen at a time without crashing. Making an action game on the MSX2 would be like trying to win a street race in your grandma's PT Cruiser."

A plot detail, or even the entire plot, is formed due to a technical difficulty in real life. Perhaps budget cuts prevented a certain aspect of the work from being filmed/programmed/drawn, or perhaps at the time, technology wasn't advanced enough, or some other limitation to creating the feature existed. Whatever the reason, the creators are forced to compensate and alter the plot to accommodate the limitation.

This is an interesting trope in the development of works. If it is done right, it can lead to an interesting plot, iconic appearance, and/or an interesting feature of the work itself that would have never been achieved had the creators had the means to go with their original plans. If it comes out badly though, it will just give the work a very cheap look.

In films, this is usually the cause of Obscured Special Effects. In video games, this can sometimes go hand in hand with Insurmountable Waist-Height Fence, as this trope is usually a reason for it, and is also usually used to justify Graphics-Induced Super-Deformed.


A Sub-Trope of Real Life Writes the Plot. Related to Reality Subtext and What Could Have Been. Compare Accidental Art, Ascended Glitch, Throw It In.


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  • Coca-Cola:
    • The company's first television ad with newly signed spokesperson Jordan Spieth was intended to feature the golfer enjoying a Coke on the golf course during a hot day. However, the day the commercial was being shot, it began to pour rain and would not let up. This forced the creators to change the ad concept on the fly. The new ad? Spieth trying to pass time while waiting for the rain to let up so he can film a Coke commercial.
    • The famous ads featuring polar bears were originally created as part of a marketing strategy aimed at selling more Coca-Cola during the Winter months (when soda sales generally decline due to colder temperatures), but they were so well-received that the polar bears were made into the company's year-round mascots. The ads featuring Santa Claus were created for exactly the same reason, and proved to be so popular that they're credited with helping to codify the popular image of Santa.
  • The infamously strange Wilkins Coffee commercials arose from the fact that the ads were meant to be ten seconds long, not counting the product shot at the end. What was more, Jim Henson supposedly didn't like coffee much. His ultimate conclusion to "how would you convince me to drink coffee in under ten seconds?" was "threaten me with bodily injury", and so the commercial's main gag of Wilkins trying to kill or seriously harm Wontkins for not liking the coffee and that he'll do the same to the audience was born.
  • The green M&M from the M&M's ads was originally going to wear high-heeled shoes, but it was scrapped due to technical issues at the time, so she wore go-go boots instead, Later ads have her (and other female-based M&M characters like Ms. Brown) wear regular high-heeled shoes when the technology made it possible.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Some of the more infamous aspects of Hentai owe themselves due to Japanese laws forbidding showing genitals or (until the mid-1990s) pubic hair, causing artists to have to come up with ways to get around the regulations.
  • How did the production team of apocalyptic mecha anime Neon Genesis Evangelion get around sudden budget issues during their Grand Finale? The show had flirted with postmodernism and surrealism throughout; the end of the show went fully into it as reality itself broke down. Conveniently, this meant they could use a lot of clips and stripped down animation, along with Leave the Camera Running being abused at some notable points. The fan reaction was mixed enough that a new finale was created once the budget was available... but that's another story entirely.
  • Death Note: Higuchi was selected to be the third Kira based on a process of elimination - once Mido and Takahashi were established as Red Herrings and Shimura was deemed to not have the right personality, Ohba picked Higuchi to be Kira based on Obata's remaining designs for the Yotsuba Eight.
  • Dragon Ball:
    • Yajirobe was originally created simply because Krillin was dead during the King Piccolo arc (he got better), and Krillin's voice actor, Mayumi Tanaka, might be out of work for that whole period otherwise. So when Yajirobe appeared, he made sure to have characters point out that Yajirobe sounds a lot like Krillin, meaning Tanaka would still have a character to voice. It's perhaps not coincidental that Yajirobe basically vanished once Krillin came back.
    • While Akira Toriyama had the idea for the Super Saiyan transformation for a while, it wasn't until Goku attained it that he figured out what it would look like. Famously he chose yellow hair, mainly so that he and his assistant wouldn't have to ink in Goku's normally black hair. This also resulted in a bit of discontinuity with the Non-Serial Movie Dragon Ball Z: Lord Slug, which depicts Goku's Super Saiyan form as having black hair and a red aura as a result of being released before Toriyama himself had decided on this look but after he had started planning on introducing it soon.
  • Heavy spoilers for Fate/Apocrypha: Shirou Kotomine was created for various reasons such as being a foil to Jeanne d'Arc. His true identity is Shirou Tokisada Amakusa. The fact that he shares the same first name as the protagonist of a previous work in the franchise was a very happy accident.
  • Revolutionary Girl Utena had most of its signature elements arise from the fact that the show had No Budget. The heavy focus on dialogue, the Once an Episode shadow-puppet sequences, the long shots of silence, and the heavy use of Stock Footage (Utena's childhood flashback, the student council elevator ride, the cremations in the Black Rose arc, Akio's car, Utena and Anthy's conversations, Utena's transformation sequences, the drawing of the sword of Dios, the various setpieces that intercut swordfights, the bells ringing) all contributed to make a series that at times seemed to have about ten minutes of unique animation per 23-minute episode. There were also multiple Clip Shows despite the show running only 39 episodes, some of which, unusually, contained very significant character development. This forced the show to focus on character interaction, and created the oddly ritualistic feel to its conflicts (the chanting doesn't hurt).

    Comic Books 
  • The Vision was originally intended by Roy Thomas to be ghostly white, but he eventually had to settle on red instead because the printing technology of The '60s would have made the page transparent wherever he was drawn.
  • The Incredible Hulk:
    • Similar to the aforementioned Vision, the Hulk was originally colored grey. However, the printing technology of the time kept turning him green. Over time, Stan Lee decided to keep green as the Hulk's signature color.
    • Early in the Hulk's adventures, Lee would frequently alternate between calling the Hulk's Secret Identity "Bob Banner" and "Bruce Banner". When informed of this mistake by fans, Lee decided to establish that Banner's full name was Robert Bruce Banner.
  • Superman:
    • In the early days of the comic, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster decided to give Superman a nemesis who was his complete opposite, so they created a character called "The Ultra-Humanite"; while Superman was strong, handsome, noble, and solved problems with his immense strength, the Ultra-Humanite was a frail, bald-headed Mad Scientist who was wheelchair-bound, but utterly brilliant. Sometime later, illustrator Leo Nowak drew a story that introduced another evil scientist, who had a full head of red hair: Lex Luthor. But thanks to a miscommunication with the writer, Nowak mistakenly drew him bald. Nevertheless, his superiors liked it, and since it would be a tad redundant to have two bald mad scientists fighting Superman, the Ultra-Humanite gained a Body Surf gimmick and slowly got pushed to the sidelines before suffering a Comic Book Death, allowing Luthor to take his place as Superman's archenemy. Even later, when the Ultra-Humanite was brought back in the Silver Age as a more minor villain, the writers further differentiated him from Luthor by using his body-surfing abilities to put him in the body of an enormous albino ape—which has remained his default form ever since.
    • Believe it or not, Superman actually originally got his signature power—the power of flight—because of this. In the early days of the comics, he simply had superhuman strength, which he could use to jump incredibly long distances (hence his introduction, "Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound!"). When Max and Dave Fleischer first brought Superman to the screen for their Superman Theatrical Cartoons, they realized that it was easier to animate Superman simply striking a dramatic pose and levitating into the air than to animate him going through the motions of crouching, jumping, and landing on the ground. Hence, it was decided that Superman could fly—an idea that proved so popular that it was integrated into the comics.
  • In one issue of the Marvel UK Transformers comics, it was mentioned that the Dinobot Swoop was originally called Divebomb back on Cybertron. This bit of character backstory never reached Hasbro, who eventually named one of the Predacons Divebomb a few years later. Because there were now two Transformers who shared the name Divebomb, the Marvel UK team wrote a story that revealed that Divebomb stole Swoop's original name after he defeated him in combat back on Cybertron.
  • Many plot points in Geoff Johns' Green Lantern run were influenced by major changes introduced during the Ron Marz and Judd Winick eras, which Johns had to reimagine in order to bring the series back to its roots. In particular, his run introduced the "emotional entities" Parallax (entity of Fear) and Ion (entity of Willpower) as a cozy Hand Wave for why Hal Jordan seemingly became evil, and why Kyle Rayner briefly gave up his Green Lantern identity. Originally, "Parallax" was an identity adopted by Hal after his Face–Heel Turn, while "Ion" was an identity adopted by Kyle after he Took a Level in Badass and evolved beyond the need for his ring. In order to return them to Lantern status, Johns "explained" that Parallax and Ion were actually alien entities that possessed them.
  • The spinoff comic series for Avatar: The Last Airbender has this regarding the character Azula. As we remember in the series finale, she went brokebrained to put it lightly. One of the lingering fan questions is wondering what did and would happen to her: would she be redeemed or would she stay a villain? According to Smoke and Shadow, the writers got tons of mail from fans either demanding that Azula be redeemed or angrily rejecting the suggestion and saw both sides of that debate as having surprisingly good reasons which left the team in a bit of a stalemate. As such, the character is still fighting with her Split Personality, and Zuko lampshades it by telling his mother that he doesn't even know what it would mean for Azula to be happy.
  • Superdickery largely became a tradition in DC Comics books in the 1950s because the superhero genre was starting to fall out of popularity at the time, and writers were willing to do anything to get readers to pick up books that they might otherwise ignore. An easy way to grab readers' attention was to show the hero doing something wildly unsympathetic and out-of-character on the cover, forcing them to buy the book so that they could figure out what the hell was going on. Sometimes the bizarre covers made sense in context, other times not. And sometimes they barely had anything to do with the story.
  • All DC Comics stories officially took place in a Multiverse for around three decades of the company's history (roughly 1956 to 1985) as a result of superhero comics briefly going out of style after World War II. Due to lackluster sales, DC was forced to cancel many of their less-popular series (like Green Lantern, The Flash, Hawkman, and Justice Society of America), only to bring them back when Baby Boomers fell in love with many of the comic books with which their parents had grown up. Since new readers were too young to remember those characters when they debuted, the writers decided to reimagine them significantly for contemporary audiences, and didn't bother to acknowledge the old versions of them. Later, as a cozy Hand Wave for why nobody in-universe remembered the old versions either, the writers decided that their adventures took place in a parallel universe—allowing them to bring the characters back in limited doses without worrying about the continuity. Then, when the editors decided that explanation made things too complicated and turned off newcomers, the landmark crossover Crisis on Infinite Earths was conceived as an excuse to destroy the Multiverse and replace it with a single universe that was easier to keep straight.
  • In the Fall of 1963, the publishers at Marvel Comics wound up with a gap in their printing schedule after Daredevil #1 ran into delays, so they asked Stan Lee and Jack Kirby to come up with a replacement on the fly. Since they didn't have time to create a completely original character from scratch, they did the next best thing and made a crossover story about five pre-established superheroes from their anthology books battling a pre-established supervillain. In the resulting comic book, the rich playboy with the robotic suit from Tales of Suspense met the super-scientist with shrinking powers (and his girlfriend) from Tales to Astonish, the hammer-wielding Viking god from Journey into Mystery, and the radioactive monster from the recently canceled series The Hulk, and they all teamed up to fight the Viking god's evil brother. They needed a snappy title, so they named it after a popular spy series that was on TV at the time. Against all odds, audiences loved it—and The Avengers has been one of Marvel's flagship titles ever since.
  • During his time with Marvel Comics, Stan Lee often noted that one of the most difficult parts of writing a superhero story was coming up with a plausible Origin Story that could explain how the heroes got their superpowers. Eventually, he decided to get around this challenge by writing a comic book series about a group of teenagers who simply developed their powers through natural mutations; by explaining that the characters were "Mutants", he didn't think the audience would need any more explanation. But after writing the first few issues of his new series, Lee started to think about the full implications of his premise, and the series began exploring how the people of Earth would really react to the appearance of a bizarre new subspecies of humanity with unpredictable (and often dangerous) superhuman abilities. This aspect of the series eventually became the most popular and widely-known thing about it, and X-Men soon became famous for its frank discussion of prejudice, racism, and social justice.
  • Jean Grey's character history is infamously complicated—in large part—because Marvel Comics really wanted to celebrate the X-Men's 25th anniversary by reuniting the five original X-Men in 1988. But by that point, Jean had been famously killed off in The Dark Phoenix Saga in 1980, and Cyclops had moved on with his life and married a woman named Madelyne Pryor (who looked exactly like Jean by a complete coincidence) in 1983. To justify getting Cyclops and Jean back together, the writers "revealed" that Jean never actually died, and Chris Claremont was forced to "reveal" that Madelyne Pryor was actually a clone—and subsequently had her turn evil.
  • When the Incredible Hulk was first introduced in 1962, the writers at Marvel Comics struggled with many aspects of his characterization and visual appearance before eventually settling on his now-iconic portrayal as a misunderstood green-skinned monster with child-like intelligence who appears whenever Bruce Banner gets angry. As a result: in his earliest appearances, the Hulk was a brutish grey-skinned monster with roughly normal intelligence who appeared when the sun went down. Years down the line, the writers decided to explain the discrepancy by retroactively declaring that the "Grey Hulk" was actually a different character from the more iconic "Savage Hulk", and his consciousness came from a different aspect of Bruce Banner's shattered psyche. Later, other writers further explored this aspect of the character by toying with the idea that there are even more incarnations of the Hulk, each with its own slightly different personality. This resulted in some of the most popular and acclaimed stories in the character's history, like Planet Hulk (starring his "Green Scar" persona) and Immortal Hulk (starring his "Devil Hulk" persona).
  • When Scott Adams wasn't allowed to include Satan in Dilbert, he came up with Phil, the Prince of Insufficient Light as a standin. He soon felt that Phil was much funnier than what he originally intended.

    Fan Works 
  • The Beatles Real-Person Fic With Strings Attached was conceived in early 1980, and the author always intended to keep it up-to-date. Then John Lennon was assassinated in late 1980, forcing the author to keep the action of that book, and the planned sequels, during the period when he was still alive. Back in the day, she had to constantly explain that no, this book takes place before he died.
  • In Grim and Edboys, a remake/unofficial rewrite of Technomaru's The Grim Edventures of Ed, Edd n Eddy, the Kimono sisters are Adapted Out because the author didn't think the fit the style (plus, the Anime references would've gone over a lot of reader's heads). However, because they had a major involvement in the various chapters, and the author found it easier to give some of their lines to other characters rather than rewrite the chapters to have no trace of them, a subplot was added in which the two main villainesses (Eris and Pandora) disguise themselves as ordinary kids (Erissa Kanker and Dora Sanchez).
  • In Citadel of the Heart, although technically having occurred long prior in MF 217's other works, the Ultimorian Deity Mirror M's name is the result of this trope due to an Old Shame. In the past when the character was first conceived, he was a Bomberman OC who parodied various aspects of Digimon, named Marty based on the author's own name and his at the time very young, very naive mindset. As the result of the desire to keep the character present in his works, Marty's current name of Mirror M exists because he's literally a reflection of his former self; all of the Bomberman elements in his character were removed entirely, with the Digimon references only maintained as to follow a more traditional Bishōnen Line type of trope instead. The M in Mirror M is the sole reminder in his current characterization that his name ever had been Marty in the first place.
  • The Professional Wrestling series The JWL: David "Gangrel" Heath and Gertrude "Luna" Vachon divorced in Real Life in 2006, while both were still on the roster. Then it came out that Heath had found a new side gig, directing porn films for something called the NPO, the New Porn Order. This provided the excuse to release Heath. Vachon subsequently retired, and died in 2010.
  • In The Lion of Ivalice, the story serves as both an AU and a massive expansion of the canon Final Fantasy Tactics storyline, this time by having all 13 of the Zodiac Stones possessing people and manifesting as the Lucavi. At first, when the story was still in its early stages, the author was planning to create original Lucavi for the Stones that the game did not use. It was then pointed out by several reviewers that he may as well use the Espers from Final Fantasy XII as the Lucavi, since XII serves as a Prequel in the Lost Age to Tactics. He decided to roll with the idea, which turned out to be massively fortunate because in Part 2 of the fanfic, Meliadoul gets possessed by the Sagittarius Stone, which is the Zodiac Stone she possesses in the canon storyline. In a total stroke of good fortune, the Sagittarius Stone is also one of only two (the other being Ultima) whose zodiac sign corresponds with a female Esper, allowing him to use the female Shemhazai from XII instead of having to create an original monster.
  • Starbound: In chapter 6, Rokuna mentions finding her bust size embarrassing when Konata comments how well a Cleavage Window would complement her Pimped-Out Dress. Long before the chapter itself was written, author Economy was denied a request to give her one (which he asked for also to complement her hair color, which he changed to brown as his favorite from its original green) when someone was working on a cover image for the story. He did not want to contradict the finished product unnecessarily, and it just so happens that he also has a fetish for embarrassment (also evident from Kagami and Miyuki about their hair being updone against their will, and Mondo when Rokuna presents him and herself in swimsuits to most of their friends a chapter earlier). note 
  • In My Wizarding Academia Natsuo Todoroki was always intended to be a wizard. Then a reader told Emma Iveli that there is a very minor Japanese wizard named Todoroki in canon, giving more depth to the story involving the Todoroki family and magic.
  • Kazumi is killed off pre-story in Stars Above because Puella Magi Kazumi Magica was still ongoing at the time, and the authors wished to respect whatever plans its writers had for her.
  • There was once a Lucky Star fic called Cries Unheard, about a yakuza plot that involved destroying the girls' lives and driving them to suicide or hikikomori. It was never finished before being deleted, and one of its readers, the aforementioned Economy, was left traumatized from it before eventually wrapping up several of its loose ends himself with THIS IS IT! It is unknown what CU author bloodscorpion4ever's original intentions were, and only others who read CU itself would know if any details would have misaligned between fics, given how long prior it was deleted and that Economy had only read bits and pieces of some chapters while reading others in full. However, the fact that it had died also left room for TII's first act as A Day in the Limelight for the manga-only characters, who rarely get written about in general, and only one of whom appeared in any of Blood's prior-deleted previous stories and a current reboot thereof (as its main villain), in order to fulfill the role of who would first undermine the antagonists successfully.

    Films — Animation 
  • Pixar:
    • The animators made their first feature film about toys because the limits of CGI at the time made it hard to realistically depict organic shapes and natural surfaces. As the technology improved, they worked their way up to bugs, then furry/scaly monsters, then fishes, then human beings, and then humans with incredibly curly hair. Merida ends up an interesting case in that, for the first time in the history of the company, the entire imaging software had to be rewritten for it.
    • Most of Mr. Potato Head's dialogue in Toy Story 4 was recorded but unused for previous entries, and recycled to compensate for voice actor Don Rickles' death. It was even done at the request of the Rickles estate and his widow.
    • The Incredibles is actually a notable aversion, since Brad Bird has originally written it as a live-action work. As such Pixar had to figure out a bunch of new problems that would be trivial in a live-action, including an entirely human cast, simulating Violet's long hair, a great many explosions and destruction elements, and simulating cloth physics.note 
    • For Finding Dory, the animators were unable to give Hank the octopus all eight tentacles like an octopus should have, only seven. The character's backstory ended up being rewritten so that it's assumed he lost a tentacle in the ocean.
  • Frozen: Originally, Elsa was not going to be a heroic character; she was the Snow Queen, who was the antagonist of the original story. However, after the songwriters got to writing Elsa's Villain Song "Let It Go," coupled with Idina Menzel's performance of the song, they realized that the song contained themes too positive for a villain (such as self-empowerment), and that Elsa hadn't actually done anything bad yet, was entirely justified in how she felt to that point, and was deliberately isolating herself to prevent harm. So they re-wrote the story with her as a Classical Anti-Hero Deuteragonist. The drastic change can be seen in a point in the trailer, where Elsa creates a blizzard to stop Anna. This was from an earlier animation test featuring Elsa's old personality. In the film, after "Let It Go," Elsa never deliberately hurts anyone with her powers.
  • Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs:
    • The film was chosen as Disney's first feature-length animated film because the story only includes four realistically proportioned human characters (five if you count the Queen's hag form), only two of which need to be onscreen at the same time. This made it considerably easier to produce in the 1930s, when animating realistic human characters was still a relatively new and daring idea. It helped that the titular seven dwarfs could be animated with more exaggerated and cartoonish features, allowing the animators to use the same kinds of techniques that they'd perfected on Disney's earlier short films. Even so, the animators found the Prince considerably difficult to animate, forcing them to drastically cut down his screentime (he was originally going to have a much more prominent role).
    • Dopey was also supposed to speak, but he was made into The Voiceless as nobody could find a suitable voice actor for him.
  • Fantasia was conceived because one of Disney's animated short films went over-budget. The famous sequence "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" was originally going to be a standalone Silly Symphonies short, being envisioned as a "comeback" of sorts for Mickey Mouse (whose popularity had declined significantly by 1940). But as the short's animation gradually got more detailed and elaborate, it got so expensive to produce that it couldn't possibly make back its budget as a simple short film. Knowing that a full-length movie could make more money than a short film, Disney reimagined it as part of a feature-length anthology of animated short films, reusing the basic gimmick of a dialogue-free story set to Classical music for each one.note 
  • The original climax of Lilo & Stitch saw the heroes chasing down Gantu in a 747 they steal from a nearby airport. The sequence was completed mere days before 9/11 and the crew decided that showing a plane flying through a city was inappropriate under the circumstances. While trying to work out how to salvage the scene they realized they'd never actually shown how Jumba and Pleakley arrived on Earth. Changing the airplane to a spaceship and adding a short scene of the characters finding the hidden ship meant they could fill this plot hole and keep most of the completed animation from the airplane chase.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Michael Bay's Transformers films spend a surprising amount of their running time focusing on military personnel because of the high cost of the CGI needed to animate the titular robots, in heavy contrast to the military aspects — the vehicles are actually loaned to the production by the actual U.S. military as long as there's military promotion in the movies and the military is presented well. The further one goes into the series, the more on-screen time the robots in question have, as the budget gets bigger and CGI gets cheaper.
    • On a smaller scale, the Decepticon Bonecrusher's vehicle form is a mine sweeper. The reference photo they used for it had the sweeping mechanism appear to be several feet wide. When they got a real one on set for practical effects, they found out it was only about a foot wide. They felt the mistake made it look more menacing and built a new mechanism for the shots.
  • This trope is touched on in the classic black and white movie, The Bad and the Beautiful.
    • A horror movie producer couldn't afford decent special effects for the monster. He teams up with the director to use camera tricks to make the monster into The Unseen.
    • From the trivia in the movie's IMDB entry, "The scene showing the production of the fictional low budget horror film was based on how Val Lewton produced Cat People (1942)."
  • Jaws:
    • Steven Spielberg couldn't get the mechanical shark to work very well, so it became mostly The Unseen, with the entire concept of the sailors using barrels to track it as a way to keep filming as though the shark was there. The film is widely credited as working far better because of the increased tension and the greater impact of scenes where the shark actually did appear.
    • Hooper was originally intended to die in the screenplay (as he did in the Peter Benchley novel). However, some footage captured by Spielberg's secondary crew, of a real great white attacking a diving cage that was visibly empty (because the stunt diver had unsurprisingly fled for his goddamned life), was so awesome that the plot was changed to let Hooper slip out of it safely, allowing them to use the shot with the empty cage. Production executive Bill Gilmore joked "The shark down in Australia rewrote the script and saved Dreyfuss's character."
    • The mechanical shark "Bruce" (or as the cast and crew ended up calling it, "The Great White Turd") had a habit of breaking down. While the actors were waiting for Bruce to be repaired again, Spielberg didn't want to waste precious shooting time, so he added a new scene. Specifically, the scene with Quint's famous monologue about the U.S.S. Indianapolis. Considering that that scene is considered to be one of the best dramatic scenes ever, it's safe to say that this was a good thing.
  • James Bond:
  • In Rocky, Rocky and Adrian show up to the ice rink only to find that it is closed early for the holidays, and Rocky slips the custodian some cash to let them skate. The original script called for 300 extras, but Stallone had to hastily rewrite the scene when the film couldn't afford it.
    • Later, when Rocky complains about his shorts being the wrong color in the fight posters, the promoter clearly doesn't care, which marks the point when Rocky realizes he's not going to win the fight. This was a genuine prop error, as is a later scene where Rocky complains that his robe doesn't fit.
  • The opening of Spy Kids 2: Island of Lost Dreams was originally meant to take place at Disneyland. However, Robert Rodriguez discovered that Disney generally doesn't allow movies to shoot in their parks, not even Disney movies (note: The original Spy Kids films were distributed by Miramax Films, which is owned by Disney, and released under the Dimension Films name). This led to the scene taking place instead at a fictional amusement park with humorously impossible CGI rides. Rodriguez thinks this is mostly an improvement, although he still would have preferred it if Carmen and Juni had appeared undercover at the park wearing Mickey Mouse hats, they had to settle for propeller hats.
  • Back to the Future
    • The scripted climax of Back to the Future called for Marty to take the DeLorean to a Nevada nuclear test site and return to 1985 using the power of a nuclear blast. This was beyond the film's budget, so the now-iconic clock tower climax was created.
    • Back to the Future Part II: Crispin Glover's refusal to do the sequels impacted the plot heavily. For example, George McFly being dead in 1985-A was originally conceived as just an excuse to not show him very much.
  • While the Broadway version of Annie revolves around the Christmas season, the finale of the 1982 film is set on July 4th, America's Independence Day. The adaptation was necessary because principal photography was scheduled during the summer months.
  • A prolonged chase scene in a Hall of Mirrors had to be cut from 1994's The Shadow after an earthquake shattered most of the prop mirrors on set. A CGI scene of the hero shattering mirrors with the power of his mind was used instead.
  • The opening of Close Encounters of the Third Kind was originally scripted to take place in The Amazon Rainforest with Lacombe's team finding the airplanes in the center of Crop Circles. This was too expensive and it got changed to a desert so that the sequence could be filmed near Los Angeles.
  • In Clerks:
    • The entire plot could be considered this—director Kevin Smith happened to work at a convenience store at the time, the owners trusted him enough to film there in the off-hours, and said owners also happened to own the video store in the same strip mall. (One could also argue misfortune wrote the plot of Clerks II, as, despite Smith now being a decade older and a respected industry professional, the Quick Stop's owners refused to close the store for daytime filming, fearing the drop in customer retention closing for a month might cause.)
    • Some local hooligans jammed gum into the locks of the convenience store's giant window shade, forcing Dante to make a huge sign that said: "I ASSURE YOU WE'RE OPEN!" This gag is one of the film's most iconic images. But the truth is that Smith could only shoot in the store at night when the store was closed. Having the shades permanently down was a way to disguise the fact that it was dark outside during the daytime interior scenes.
    • This is also why the film is shot in black-and-white: there was basically no chance, given the budget, that exterior scenes (or scenes in the video store) would be shot at the point in the day when the scene was supposed to take place. In black-and-white, you can't really tell if it's 8 in the morning or 4 in the afternoon, so exterior scenes could be shot whenever. (That black-and-white filmstock was incredibly cheap in 1993 helped as well.)
    • The original script included a sequence (included in animated form as a DVD extra) of what Dante and Randall did at the funeral of Dante's ex-girlfriend. However, Smith didn't have the budget to rent a set and a bunch of extras in nice clothes, so just shot Dante and Randall entering the funeral parlor and immediately cutting to them being chased out. Smith felt that this was much funnier.
  • The sequence in The Fugitive where Kimble loses his pursuers in the confusion surrounding the St Patrick's Day Parade was added to the script after the filmmakers realized that their scheduled dates for location filming in Chicago included the day that the real-life parade would be held.
  • In the first Tomb Raider film, the amphibious duck vehicles in Siberia were included in the movie because the director thought they looked cool. Similarly, the procession of monks was not written in the script, but the procession happened to take place as they were filming and the monks consented to appear in the movie. In the second film, most of Lara's outfits have long sleeves, because the concealing makeup used to hide Angelina Jolie's tattoos in the first movie was not as effective as the filmmakers would have liked.
  • National Lampoon's Vacation was intended to take place at Disneyland, but Disney rejected the filming request and thus Wally World was created, represented by Six Flags Magic Mountain.
  • Monty Python and the Holy Grail:
  • Casablanca
    • In the unproduced stage play that it was based on, the story ended with Rick Blaine and Ilsa Lund running away together to America. The movie only got its iconic Bittersweet Ending because the Hays Code forbade movies from showing characters getting away with adultery.
    • Ingrid Bergman, once finished with the role, got a much shorter hairstyle for her next film, an adaptation of Ernest Hemingway's For Whom the Bell Tolls. This saved the film's now-iconic song "As Time Goes By" from the cutting room floor. The film's composer Max Steiner felt that the song didn't work for the film, but replacing it would have required reshoots that Bergman's haircut rendered impossible to do.
  • The movie Cube came about due to something like this:
    "We only have money for one set, one room."
    "That one room could represent a bunch of rooms that look identical."
    "Well, a bunch of identical rooms would be a maze."
    "So, why does this maze exist? Why are our characters trapped in it?"
    "I think that's the plot."
  • Apocalypse Now:
    • Marlon Brando infamously showed up on the set overweight despite the script listing his character Colonel Kurtz as having a "lean and hungry" physique. Coppola was then forced to shoot Kurtz wearing a black t-shirt, only standing in the shadow and never below the shoulders to hide his figure, thus giving Kurtz the appearance of a man who has almost become one with darkness.
    • The sacrifice of the bull being intercut with the death of Kurtz at the film's conclusion was not part of the original script — but after witnessing the ceremony, Coppola filmed a recreation of it, liking the symbolic resonance of it.
  • Some films based on works that were originally in a fantasy setting have the characters transported to Earth in order to save money on elaborate fantasy sets. Masters of the Universe, Beastmaster II: Through the Portal of Time and The Smurfs are just a few examples.
  • Im Juli:
    • When Daniel and Juli are traveling through Romania, only photos are shown instead of real film footage. The reason for that is the Romanian government didn't give permission to film in their country, so they had to take photos instead.
    • Originally, Daniel and Juli were supposed to sing The Cure's "Friday I'm In Love", but the rights were too expensive. When the music supervisor was able to secure the rights for "Blue Moon" instead, the script was changed at the last minute to include a conversation on oldies.
  • The Sunday brothers in There Will Be Blood were re-imagined as identical twins when actor Kel O'Neill, who was originally cast as Eli Sunday, dropped out of the movie, thus forcing Paul Dano (who had been cast as Paul Sunday) to play both roles.
  • Star Trek:
    • Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan:
      • Much of the plot happened due to the budget being severely slashed after Star Trek: The Motion Picture underperformed. Khan uses a single stolen Starfleet ship because this meant they only needed to build one new model, and they could modify the set of the Enterprise bridge to turn it into the Reliant's bridge. This also resulted in the action being relatively confined, and the film having to play up the rivalry between Kirk and Khan to epic proportions to make up for the two of them never actually sharing the set (Montalban was busy with Fantasy Island at the time).
      • The Kobayashi Maru was an attempt to smokescreen spoilers. Rumors were circulating that the film would feature Spock dying, and so a scene was created where Spock feigns his death during the training scenario. (Said scenario also reuses the Enterprise's bridge and the Klingon ship models and some footage from the first film, making it pretty cheap.) The idea was that anyone to hear about it would watch the first scene and assume that it was just a publicity stunt fakeout, making it a shock when he dies for real in the climax.
    • In Star Trek: Generations, the Enterprise-D's model and sets were built for TV and didn't translate well to the much larger and higher-resolution film screen. For that film, they attempted to work around it with lighting and camera tricks, but also destroyed the ship at the end to justify building a new Enterprise that would look better on the big screen for the next movie. A similar trick would be used for Star Trek: First Contact, where the brief appearance of the USS Defiant has it suffering a power outage on the bridge, allowing it to be shot in near darkness before its crew is evacuated to the Enterprise.
  • Terminator: The entire premise of the first film was created because of this trope. The idea was sparked from a nightmare James Cameron had about a metallic skeleton walking out of a fire. Cameron felt a robot that advanced could only come from the future; but due to budget constraints, the film had to be set in the present and the Terminator had to be disguised as a human for the majority of the film. The "only organic material can travel through time" rule was also made to save costs on expensive futuristic weaponry.
  • The American adaptation of Fever Pitch (UK title Perfect Catch) was supposed to end with Jimmy Fallon's character coming to terms with the Boston Red Sox's perpetual bad luck, with the idea of 'there's always next year'. In fact, the Boston Red Sox were chosen because they have a fan base but hadn't won in many years (sometimes explained as the 'Curse of the Bambino'). But in Real Life, the Red Sox went on to win the World Series for the first time in over 80 years. Therefore, the film ended on a much more happy conclusion. The crew wound up having to film an extra epilogue during the 2004 World Series with Fallon and co-star Drew Barrymore, and you can even see the two of them, in character, kissing each other during a live television broadcast of fans celebrating on the field after the end of the final game. It's explained in this interview.
  • Orson Welles suffered from low budget productions later in life. His 1952 film version of Othello had a scene where two characters have to fight each other. Unfortunately one of the costumes wasn't ready yet, so Welles decided to have the whole scene take place in a bathhouse, where the characters could be naked. It turned out to be one of the most original and talked-about scenes in the film.
  • While filming a chase scene in Tangier for The Bourne Ultimatum the crew found that the foot traffic was too heavy to be controlled or redirected. As a result, the actors had to force their way through the dense crowd, lending the scene extra authenticity.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • The plot of the franchise was heavily influenced by licensing issues involving Marvel Comics characters. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Marvel sold the movie rights to most of their most popular superheroes (including Spider-Man, the X-Men, and the Fantastic Four) to various movie studios, partly to recover from their infamous bankruptcy in 1996. After seeing how successful those studios were with their characters, they eventually got the idea to produce their own movies through their in-house studio Marvel Studios, allowing them to keep a greater share of the profits and ensure greater creative control. While going through the list of characters who they still had the movie rights to, they realized that the list included Iron Man, the Hulk, Thor, and Captain America, who were all core members of The Avengers. They instantly knew that an Avengers movie would be the ideal film to compete with 20th Century Fox's popular X-Men movies, but they also knew that it would alienate most casual moviegoers if they had to explain every character's origin story in the same movie — so they decided to give each character their own solo movie before having them all team up in an epic crossover.
    • Avengers: Age of Ultron:
      • The story was notably influenced by production difficulties that plagued Iron Man and Ant-Man. In the comics, Tony Stark had a loyal butler named Edwin Jarvis, but Iron Man came out around the same time as The Dark Knight, which prominently featured Michael Caine as Bruce Wayne's loyal butler Alfred Pennyworth; the producers knew that they would be accused of ripping off the Batman comics if they kept Edwin Jarvis in the movie, so they reimagined him as an Artificial Intelligence called "JARVIS". The comics also had Dr. Henry Pym as a founding member of The Avengers and the inventor of the rogue android Ultron, but the planned Ant-Man movie ended up stuck in Development Hell so long that it didn't come out until after the first two Avengers movies;note  but since the producers had already decided to use Ultron as the villain of their Avengers sequel, they were forced to reimagine his origin story so that Tony Stark invented him instead. All of this culminated in a story with JARVIS as Ultron's Good Counterpart, where he's ultimately reborn in a robotic body as the Vision after Ultron tries to kill him. note 
      • Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver's introduction was partly the result of an odd legal situation resulting from 20th Century Fox buying the movie rights to X-Men. In the comics, they were Magneto's children, and they initially fought with the evil Brotherhood of Mutants before doing a Heel–Face Turn and joining the Avengers. As a result, they're considered to be both X-Men and Avengers characters—meaning that Disney and Fox both own their movie rights, even though Fox exclusively owns the rights to Magneto and the concept of mutants. To get around this, Age of Ultron reimagines them as orphaned human test subjects who got their powers from HYDRA's experiments. They also abruptly kill off Quicksilver in the climax, possibly to avoid overlap with Fox's competing X-Men movies (which introduced Quicksilver around the same time, but left out Scarlet Witch).
    • Iron Man 3 notably reimagines "The Mandarin" (one of Tony Stark's most iconic enemies in the comics) as an English actor named Trevor Slattery, who's hired by Aldrich Killian to act as a figurehead for his crimes. The filmmakers apparently came up with that idea so that Marvel Studios could use the Mandarin without offending Asian viewers with the character's Yellow Peril connotations—but when fans reacted negatively to the change, the studio was promped to make the short film All Hail the King, which reveals that the Mandarin is real, and Slattery merely posed as him. Later, they ran into difficulties during pre-production on Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, since the name of Shang-Chi's original Archnemesis Dad Fu Manchu (whose early stories are in the public domain) is trademarked by author Sax Rohmer's estate; they realized that this gave them the perfect excuse to properly introduce the Mandarin (who was inspired by Fu Manchu anyway) by reimagining him as Shang-Chi's archenemy and father, believing that including a sympathetic Asian hero would balance out the presence (and modernize and humanize) an Asian villain .
    • Spider-Man didn't appear in the MCU until Captain America: Civil War in 2016 (nearly a decade after the series began) due to Marvel Comics selling the character's movie rights in the late 1990s; Sony Pictures only agreed to a rights-sharing deal with Marvel and Disney after The Amazing Spider-Man 2 underperformed at the box office. This ended up having a pretty profound effect on the MCU's portrayal of Spider-Man. Most notably, Tom Holland's interpretation of Peter Parker is considerably younger than most previous versions, providing a cozy Hand Wave for why his existence never came up for eight years.note  By a meaningful coincidence, he was also introduced to the MCU around the time that Chris Evans and Robert Downey Jr. were considering leaving the series due to behind-the-scenes disputes, which heavily influenced the decision to portray Tony Stark as Peter's mentor and surrogate father—allowing Tony to pass the torch to Peter before his death, effectively naming him his successor.
  • TRON: Legacy features Jeff Bridges as Kevin Flynn, as both his actual age (60 at time of filming) and as a 30-something man in flashbacks thanks to de-aging CGI. Programs in the Tronverse look exactly the same as their creators and Kevin Flynn created CLU when he was 30-something, so CLU is also played by Jeff Bridges with de-aging CGI. Since de-aging CGI is hideously expensive (and it doesn't always work that well), flashback scenes are often partially obscured by being depicted on fuzzy TVs, with blurs, or just by doing weird stuff with the screen. CLU also frequently wears a face-concealing helmet; fortunately, this makes him even more menacing. The program Tron appears briefly (again, as a digitally de-aged version of his creator's actor Bruce Boxleitner), but spends most of the movie Brainwashed and Crazy as "Rinzler" — again, making him even creepier. Plus, the fact that the computer world is artificial, but not perfect (which, in fact, it isn't, in terms of freedom...), lends credibility to the somewhat off-kilter and inhuman appearance of CLU, who uses Flynn's younger face as his own.
  • The original TRON also had its share of problems with the extremely primitive CGI of 1982. For one, the Solar Sailer's wings never quite looked solid. Secondly, there were all kinds of irregular shading and coloration on the backgrounds (which were actually hand-painted due to CGI being nowhere near ready to handle the task). Lisberger had a "Eureka!" Moment and realized that of course the Sailer wouldn't look solid and of course there would be glitches and bugs - the whole thing was set Inside a Computer System. So, he added a sound effect and the background became atmosphere while the Solar Sailer's translucent wings became an iconic image for the film.
  • Star Wars:
    • In the original trilogy, Luke Skywalker got a new green lightsaber in Return of the Jedi because his old blue one would have been too hard to see against the blue sky of Tatooine during the Sarlacc pit battle. Conveniently, the climax of The Empire Strikes Back already showed him dropping his old lightsaber into a bottomless pit on Bespin, giving the writers the perfect excuse to give him a new one. And with the third film already revolving around Luke becoming a full-fledged Jedi Knight, his new green saber was seen as a mark of his advanced status. After that, it became something of an accepted convention that Jedi apprentices wield blue lightsabers, while green ones are more common among more advanced Jedi. This carried over into the prequels, where Qui-Gon and Yoda both carry green lightsabers, while Anakin and Obi-Wan both carry blue ones as Padawans.
    • While making the first film, A New Hope, Grand Moff Tarkin is mostly seen from the waist up because Peter Cushing's boots were too small for him. So, he wore slippers while filming most of his scenes.
    • The existence of the porgs in The Last Jedi is owed to an actual species of obtrusive avian; the island used as the setting of Luke's home in the film is also the home of a species of puffins. Since they were a protected species that could not legally be relocated, and editing them out completely would've taken too much time, it was decided that a new alien species of bird would just be CGI'd over them.
    • On a related note, Han Solo being frozen in carbonite during the events of The Empire Strikes Back was written into the plot because of the main actors' contracts. Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher had already signed on for a third movie, but Harrison Ford had not, so one of the series' most iconic moments was created to leave the door open for a Return of the Jedi sans Solo without completely excluding the possibility of Han returning if Ford chose to come back (which, as we all know, he did).
    • The Prequel Trilogy (as well as a few early Expanded Universe works) introduced the idea that "Darth" is an honorific title used by the Sith Order (roughly akin to "Sir" or "Lord"), and that the Sith choose new names upon joining the Order to signify the loss of their old identity. That idea started out as a cozy Hand Wave for how Anakin Skywalker and Darth Vader could be the same person, which was a plot point that Lucas didn't come up with until after he finished the original Star Wars. If you watch the original film with this in mind, it's pretty clear that Vader and Anakin started out as two different people; when recalling Vader's downfall, Obi-Wan refers to him as "a young Jedi named Darth Vader" (implying that he was still called "Darth Vader" when he was still a Jedi), and he later addresses him as "Darth" to his face (implying that "Darth" is actually his first name).
    • The prequels introduced the idea that Yoda was the Grand Master of the Jedi Order before the rise of the Empire, and that he gave all new Jedi apprentices their first lessons in the Force. This likely started out as a justification for Obi-Wan being Qui-Gon Jinn's apprentice in The Phantom Menace, despite him referring to Yoda as "the Jedi Master who instructed me" in The Empire Strikes Back. Considering the many elaborate action sequences that Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon have in Menace, the writers may have chosen to give Obi-Wan a human master so that he could join in on the lightsaber battles, which would have been impractical for a puppet character like Yoda. note 
    • The minor Jedi character Stass Allie was created because Gin Clarke, who played Adi Gallia in The Phantom Menace, wasn't available to reprise her role in Attack of the Clones. The producers tried having a similar-looking actress wear Clarke's costume (intending her to be the Other Darrin), but they realized that she looked too different—so they decided that she was actually Adi Gallia's cousin Stass Allie. Later, The Clone Wars wrote in a storyline where Adi was killed in battle with Darth Maul and Savage Oppress to explain why she wasn't in Revenge of the Sith.
      • The same thing resulted in the creation of Agen Kolar. Hassani Shapi was unable to return for Attack of the Clones and was replaced by Tux Akindoyeni, who looked different enough to be a separate character. In contrast with Allie and Gallia, there was extensive confusion between Kolar and Koth from 2002-2005 with many sources misidentifying Kolar as Koth.
    • In The Empire Strikes Back, the scene where Luke was captured by the Wampa monster of Hoth suffered similar problems to Jaws, and so did the scene with a hand puppet followed by the creature being relatively unseen for the remainder of its screentime. note 
  • The VVitch is a period drama set in 1630s New England, but it was filmed on a shoestring budget of just $3.5 million, meaning that the filmmakers couldn't afford to replicate the period in lavish detail. To get around that, the plot starts with the central family being exiled from the Commonwealth of New England over a religious disagreement, and they spend the vast majority of the movie living in a remote farm at the edge of the forest. Though everything in their family dwelling is period-appropriate down to the last detail, it's a very simple dwelling, consisting of little more than a tiny ramshackle house and some stables. Luckily, it's a horror film about witchcraft, so the isolated setting fits the mood perfectly.
  • In American Graffiti, Bob Falfa wears a cowboy hat because Harrison Ford refused to get a period-appropriate haircut and consequently be sidelined from working in other projects while waiting for it to grow back out.
  • Due to budget constraints, the giant octopus in It Came from Beneath the Sea was only given six tentacles.
  • In Mickey Spillane's novel Kiss Me Deadly, the big MacGuffin is just a block of heroin, and the story ends with Mike Hammer burning the Big Bad alive. When it was made into a film in 1955, the Hays Code would have prevented both plot points (it forbade both graphic violence and explicit reference to drugs), so the plot had to be reworked to get past the censors. This resulted in the famous Plot Twist in which the Macguffin turns out to be a mysterious box of ominous blinding light, and the ending where the Big Bad is horribly incinerated offscreen by the contents of the mysterious box. Amusingly, this also indirectly influenced the plots of both Pulp Fiction (which borrowed the mysterious briefcase of golden light) and Raiders of the Lost Ark (which borrowed the ending where the bad guys are horribly incinerated after opening the Macguffin box).
  • Die Hard started life as a loose adaptation of a thriller novel by Roderick Thorp called Nothing Lasts Forever, which was a sequel to a 1966 Police Procedural novel called The Detective—which was made into a film starring Frank Sinatra in 1968. Because of this, the studio was contractually obligated to offer the lead role to Sinatra. When he turned down the chance to reprise his old role, the filmmakers chose to drop any pretense of Die Hard being a sequel to The Detective, instead opting to go in a radically different direction. Among other things, this resulted in the grizzled, aging NYPD detective Joe Leland being retooled into the young, snarky NYPD detective John McClane, and the female lead being retooled as the protagonist's wife instead of his adult daughter.
  • The direct-to-video science fiction film Auton was intended to star Nicholas Courtney, reprising his role as Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart from Doctor Who. (The filmmakers were able to negotiate licenses to use Lethbridge-Stewart and the Autons, but not anything directly related to the Doctor himself.) During pre-production, Courtney had to withdraw from the production due to health issues. In his place, the film features an entirely new protagonist named Lockwood, who's arguably more interesting than a reheated Brigadier would have been and went on to feature in two sequels that develop him in directions that would not have been possible with Lethbridge-Stewart.
  • The original script to Baby Driver had a scene where the main characters make a heist while wearing Michael Myers masks, but the studio couldn't get the rights to the character. Writer/director Edgar Wright then came up with a gag where the characters are supposed to have Michael Myers masks, but end up with Austin Powers masks due to one robber's Pop-Cultural Osmosis FailureMike Myers approved the use of his likeness because he liked the joke.
  • The Austin Powers franchise itself was on the receiving end of this trope. Namely, in International Man of Mystery, Myers and director Jay Roach initially wanted to include a Shark Pool containing sharks with lasers to parody the elaborate Death Trap of the James Bond movies. The problem? The movie didn't have the budget for that, but the special effects crew realized that they could use jets in the pool to create bubbles. When informed of this, Myers and Roach came up with the now-famous mutated, ill-tempered sea bass, and recognized that doing so would have made the Bond parody even more comedic than their original, over-the-top idea of sharks with lasers. Myers and Roach also came up with the In-Universe reason that Dr. Evil's henchmen were unable to acquire the sharks due to them being declared an endangered species, and that they could not circumvene the endangered species regulations.
  • The third act of Deadpool was planned to be more extravagant, but at the eleventh hour, Fox swooped in and slashed an additional $7 million off the budget. The filmmakers were forced to throw out a bulk of their planned action sequence, but devised a workaround in true Deadpool fashion: the now-signature joke of the hero accidentally leaving his bag of guns in the cab.
  • By the time the final script of The Social Network was completed, higher-ups at the studio decided that it was still too long and it needed to be trimmed down. Director David Fincher, however, liked the final draft as it was and didn't want to cut anything, so instead of trimming it down by cutting scenes, he trimmed it down by having everyone talk as fast as they possibly could. This upped the pace of the movie immensely and became one of the best-known aspects of the film after it was released.
  • In the 1970s, John Carpenter and Debra Hill worked on producing a suspense thriller from a script called The Babysitter Murders, about a group of teenage girls who are stalked and murdered by a serial killer in a peaceful suburban neighborhood. Due to budget constraints, they had to cut down the timeframe of the story (which was originally supposed to take place over the course of multiple days) to a single day, allowing them to keep scenery and wardrobe changes to a minimum. But they knew that the story would be much more effective if it took place on a day with some special significance—so they choose Halloween night, "the scariest night of the year". The rest is history.
  • Cats:
    • While never outright confirmed, this is widely believed to be a key reason for Macavity's more prominent role in the film compared to the stage show. In the stage show, Macavity doesn't appear until the climax of the story, when he kidnaps Old Deuteronomy. In the film, he makes multiple appearances throughout the story, and he also kidnaps Jennyanydots, Bustopher Jones, Gus, and Skrimbleshanks after their songs (supposedly because he's determined to ascend to the Heaviside Layer at all costs, and wants to eliminate his competition). It's widely believed that the filmmakers did this (in part) so that Rebel Wilson, James Corden, and Ian McKellen—who were among the biggest and most expensive names in the cast—wouldn't have to spend the entire movie in the ensemble, and each of them would have a plausible excuse to disappear from the film after their big solo.
    • Similarly: one of the biggest character changes from the stage show is Bombalurina's Adaptational Villainy. In the stage show, it's vaguely implied that she had some sort of involvement with Macavity in the past, but she's still a loyal member of the Jellicles, and she spends most of the show as a prominent ensemble player alongside her best friend Demeter, who's always by her side. In the film, on the other hand, she's apparently an outright minion of Macavity, and she only shows up to sing "Macavity the Mystery Cat" (which is apparently sung in praise of him rather than as a warning) before vanishing for the rest of the movie. This is widely believed to have been done to minimize the amount of time that Taylor Swift would need to be on-set for the film, since she was one of the biggest stars in the cast. Similarly: Bombalurina's close friendship with Demeter was likely omitted so that the filmmakers could promise Swift a solo number, since "Macavity the Mystery Cat" was a duet in the stage show.
  • The Karate Kid Part III was originally going to feature John Kreese as the main villain. Because Martin Kove had filming schedule conflicts due to shooting Hard Time on Planet Earth, Kreese was relegated to a secondary villain role, while the character of Terry Silver was created to fill the main villain role. Silver would go on to become a very integral part of the Miyagiverse, with the third season of Cobra Kai expanding on his and Kreese's backstory, while the fourth season brought him back as a main villain.
  • Orphan: The script originally dictated for the film to be set in fall, with a pivotal scene at a Halloween party. However, when the cast and crew arrived on set (Canada, in November), a snowstorm enveloped the whole area white, making it impossible for them to disguise the season. They ended up changing the setting to winter, keeping most of the key scenes but discarding the Halloween one for obvious reasons, then adding a couple of scenes (including the climax) at a frozen pond. Many reviewers have noted that the winter setting makes the film much creepier.
  • According to most accounts, Justice League (2017) was originally envisioned as a two-part film, but was cut down to just one (along with being significantly re-shot and re-edited) at the behest of the studio after most critics and audiences reacted negatively to Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, which was intended to set up its plot and establish its general tone and aesthetic. This is widely believed to be a key reason for many of the film's weirder storytelling decisions. To name a few:
  • Godzilla:
    • Godzilla may owe much of his iconic cultural status to legal wrangling over the movie rights to King Kong. The Godzilla series very nearly ended at two movies after the first sequel (Godzilla Raids Again) underperformed at the box office—but when American film producer John Beck went to Toho with a proposal for a movie about King Kong fighting Frankenstein's Monster, they decided to replace Frankenstein's Monster with their own monster Godzilla (possibly due to Universal Pictures trying to claim exclusive movie right to Mary Shelley's Frankenstein), resulting in Godzilla being unexpectedly revived for a third outing. The resulting film turned out to be a major box office smash hit, with its fun and light-hearted approach to the Kaiju genre being very well-received by audiences. Contrary to popular belief, however, King Kong was much more popular in Japan than Godzilla in 1962, and Toho had always imagined him as the hero of the movie—but they couldn't make any more King Kong movies due to Merian C. Cooper (the director of the original 1933 film) attempting to claim ownership of the character's movie rights.note  As a result, they did the next best thing and made more movies featuring Godzilla, gradually turning him into their flagship character.
    • Most of Toho's giant monster movies retroactively became part of the Godzilla universe through Canon Welding so that the studio could save money by reusing their props and monster costumes in other films. Rodan, Mothra, Baragon, Varan, Manda, and Gorosaurus (and many, many more) were originally introduced in standalone movies that had nothing to do with Godzilla, but they were repurposed as supporting characters in Godzilla's world so that their costumes wouldn't go to waste. In essence: one of the first cinematic universes in the history of film was created as a cost-cutting measure.
    • The story of King Kong vs. Godzilla was partially influenced by technological constraints. Since Godzilla and Kong were both portrayed by stuntmen in rubber costumes (due to stop-motion animation being beyond Toho's budget), both monsters had to be portrayed as roughly the same size—even though Kong is less than 50 feet tall in the original 1933 film, while Godzilla is well over 100 feet tall in the original 1954 film (meaning that Godzilla should be at least twice as big as Kong). To explain how Kong doubled in size, the film portrays him as being addicted to the juice of a berry that grows on his native island, which causes him to grow enormously.

  • The plot of J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle Earth cycle was pretty heavily influenced by Tolkien's struggles to get his early work published. Early in his career, when he was still primarily known for his academic work with linguistics and mythology, Tolkien published a series of original mythic works as a personal scholarly exercise, hoping to flesh out a fictional world where the many fictional languages that he developed could actually have been spoken. Many of those stories would up collected in The Silmarillion and Unfinished Tales of Númenor and Middle-earth—but since neither work was ever published during his lifetime, he decided to repurpose some of their characters (most notably the sorcerer Gandalf and the Elf king Elrond) when he wrote the much more light-hearted and whimsical fantasy story The Hobbit, which he actually was able to get published. Later, when The Hobbit turned out to be successful enough that his publisher expressed interest in a sequel, he took the opportunity to write a follow-up that incorporated even more characters and concepts from his unpublished mythic stories, resulting in a story that was (by his own admission) much more of a sequel to The Silmarillion than it was to The Hobbit. To tie the two works together, he retroactively "revealed" that Gollum's magical ring from The Hobbit was actually a soul-corrupting Artifact of Doom crafted by Melkor's lieutenant Sauron, which served as a justification for the story's abrupt tonal shift from a light-hearted fairytale to a weighty epic about the battle between Good and Evil. Against all odds, the basic premise of the humble Hobbits saving the world from the forces of Darkness turned out to be one of the most iconic and endearing aspects of the resulting story, and The Lord of the Rings has been a beloved classic of fantasy literature ever since.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Some TV shows do "Bottle Episodes" due to budget limitations. Some classic ones in Friends include "The One With the Blackout" (which was part of a NBC Thursday Night Crossover where all the New York shows, save Seinfeld had to deal with the effects of said blackout, something which director James Burrows admitted they used to make an episode on the cheap), and "The One Where No One Is Ready".
    • Speaking of Friends, during the filming of "The One Where No One is Ready", Matt LeBlanc dislocated his shoulder during a take of the bit where Joey and Chandler race to claim the chair in Monica's living room, forcing him to wear a sling for several weeks. Rather than delay production, the writers wrote the injury in the show by featuring an opening scene in the next episode where Joey injures himself offscreen from jumping on his bed.
  • In the same vein, some "Lower Deck Episodes" are done when the lead actors in a show's cast are occupied filming one episode, forcing the production staff to do another episode focusing on minor or original characters in order to stay on schedule. Doctor Who's "Doctor-lite episodes", in which the Doctor and his Companion generally only have a few minutes of screen time, are a good example.
  • Charmed:
    • Prue's telekinetic powers evolved from being directed by her squinting her eyes to being directed through her hands. This was done in order to save money on film used to zoom in on Shannen Doherty's eyes when Prue uses her powers.
    • The plot of Phoebe losing her active powers during season six was set up to save the money needed for the wire work used to make her levitate.
    • In the second season, it was revealed that the sisters' mother, Patty, had a forbidden romance with her Whitelighter, setting up a parallel to Piper and Leo's relationship. While nothing else was meant to come of this development, it came in mighty handy when Shannen Doherty got McLeaned. The writers needed to replace Prue with a new sister, and hey, that's a convenient excuse for why Patty might have kept her a secret...
  • Star Trek:
    • Star Trek: The Original Series: TOS is absolutely made of this trope.
      • An extremely low budget resulted in the invention of many modern sci-fi tropes; things such as deflector shields (thought up because producers and creators couldn't afford to create new models of a damaged Enterprise every time they did a space battle), transporters (because they couldn't create and film shuttle landings constantly), Rubber-Forehead Aliens (makeup technology was poor in the 1960s, and the show's creators had to scrounge), and even (according to "Common Knowledge"note ) the first interracial kiss shown on television (actors William Shatner and Nichelle Nichols were ordered to film an alternate version where they don't, but deliberately sabotaged every take to drain the budget). And that's not even mentioning things not affected by budgets, such as cloaking devices and hyposprays.
      • Inverted with the flat forehead Klingons. Because of low budget, Klingons only had a mostly ethnic makeup in the original series. In the movies and later series, which had better budgets and better makeup technology, they obviously had the ridged foreheads. In Enterprise, a Prequel to the Original Series, they actually introduced a storyline to explain the change.
      • Played straight with the model used to depict Romulan Warbirds in the original series. The designer apparently wrecked the model after filming its first appearance, and there wasn't time to fix it or come up with a new one, so they used the Klingon Warship's model instead. This led to the conclusion that Klingons and Romulans had formed an alliance, with warships sent over to the Romulans and cloaking devices sent to the Klingons. Consequences of this action influenced the storyline of the entire franchise forever.
      • The hypospray, a device for injecting medicine without breaking the skin, was put into the Original series since NBC regulations at the time forbade the showing of needles for drugs on-screen.
      • Many, many episodes were conceived simply because they they had access to sets and props from other television shows, allowing them to do stories set on alien worlds that coincidentally resembled periods of human history. Examples include: "Miri", "Patterns of Force", "A Piece of the Action", and "Bread and Circuses".
    • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine:
      • Jadzia Dax was a "joined species," an alien who was actually two entities sharing one body. Both entities (Jadzia, the "host," and Dax, the "symbiont") were intended to remain on the show for the entire run, but actress Terry Farrell decided to leave the show at the end of its penultimate season. So the writers killed off Jadzia, but kept Dax, transplanting the symbiont into a new host, Ezri (Nicole De Boer). The suddenness of Jadzia's death and Ezri's arrival worked greatly into the storyline, with Ezri's main conflict being her having to form new relationships with people who'd already been her (Dax's) friends—and, in Worf's case, husband.
      • During the planning for a revisitation of a classic TOS episode, the producers met in a pizza parlor to discuss which episode it would be. At this point, one of them noticed that Charlie Brill, who had played the villain in "The Trouble With Tribbles", was in the parlor with them, which settled the matter. Brill does reappear in "Trials and Tribble-ations", as the same character as before, and triggers the revisitation by using Time Travel to Make Wrong What Once Went Right.
      Ira Steven Behr: "It shows that God is a Deep Space 9 fan."
      • Nana Visitor got pregnant. The writers didn't like the idea of Kira having a baby with her lover Vedek Bareil, so Kira became an emergency surrogate mother for another character, Keiko O'Brien. Amusingly, this one overlaps with Reality Subtext: she had the baby with her then-husband Alexander Siddig, who plays station physician Dr. Julian Bashir; in-universe, Bashir is the one who performs the fetal transplant, and Kira openly grouses at him for putting her body through hell.
      • DS9 pretty much ran on this trope, to the point that "make it a virtue" was a behind-the-scenes Catchphrase.
      Ira Steven Behr: Make it a virtue! Every time we got stuck and something wasn't working, we'd say, "let's make it a virtue!" We should have had T-shirts made up.
    • Star Trek: Voyager didn't do so well its first three seasons, coming off as a re-hash of previous Star Trek incarnations. In a last-ditch effort to save the show from cancellation, the writers created Seven of Nine, whose tight suit would hopefully keep ratings afloat. But a combination of juicy writing material and a superb acting performance from Jeri Ryan resulted in her becoming a Breakout Character. She also brought along plotlines that gave the show a voice of its own to distinguish itself from the other Star Trek spinoffs (a focus on family and humanity) and brought in some much-needed villains that the audience could take seriously, the Borg. Her catsuit wound up being little more than an added bonus for male viewers, and a source of humor for less serious episodes.
      • During season 5, the set of the bridge was damaged after a fire, so while it was repaired, they quickly assembled a script that allowed most of the action to take place away from the bridge, "Bride Of Chaotica!", a holodeck story that was a Genre Throwback to sci-fi films of the 1930s such as Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers.
  • Doctor Who:
    • The TARDIS was originally going to be a big, magnificent vehicle. Except the show lacked the funding, so they said that it can disguise itself as anything it wants. Then that turned out to be too expensive, so it stayed as a police call box with a tongue-in-cheek handwave that the chameleon circuit feature was broken. "They said 'we've got a police box from Dixon of Dock Green — let's make a box that's bigger on the inside', and thus was born the single best idea in all of fiction," — Steven Moffat.note 
    • In the original script of "The Brain of Morbius", Morbius's new body was cobbled together by his devoted robot servant. But it was the cheap story of the season, so they couldn't afford a robot costume as well as Morbius's body. So it was heavily rewritten to make the robot a human mad scientist (played by Philip Madoc, resulting in a classic story).
    • In "The Sontaran Stratagem", after the scene where the Doctor uses a Logic Bomb on the ATMOS device and jumps out of the car, the latter was supposed to explode. Unfortunately, they didn't have the budget. So the writer decided to have reality ensuing and have the device just fizzle out harmlessly while the Doctor looks disappointed.
    • During filming of the 2009 Easter Special "Planet of the Dead", the double-decker bus used was damaged during shipping to Dubai, which was incorporated into the story (with the bus being damaged while traveling through the worm-hole to San Helios).
      Russell T Davies: I wasn't at all worried when I saw the photographs, I just thought "Oh well, that's what happens when a bus goes through a wormhole."
    • Originally, the First Doctor's regeneration into the Second was to be performed as a cliffhanger. William Hartnell would have his face covered by a cloak, and Episode Four of "The Tenth Planet" would end. In the first episode of "The Power of the Daleks", the cloak would be removed to reveal Patrick Troughton's face. However, the vision mixer discovered that the mixing board was acting up the day of filming in a way that allowed for a controlled overexpose of the image almost to a full white screen. She and the episode's director took advantage of this, quickly called Troughton in, and made the iconic shot of William Hartnell essentially "morphing" into Patrick Troughton.
    • Donna Noble's father Geoffrey Noble was originally supposed to be a supporting character in Series 4 of the new series, but he was said to have died offscreen between the events of "The Runaway Bride" and "Partners in Crime" because his actor, Howard Attfield, became too ill to continue after filming his scenes for "Partners in Crime", and died of cancer not long after. Forced to come up with a replacement character to fill the "father figure" role with almost no notice at all, the producers hired Bernard Cribbins, who had just appeared as a minor character in "Voyage of the Damned", and was retconned into being Donna's grandfather Wilfred Mott.
    • In a related vein: if Wilfred's role had been filled by Geoffrey, it's unlikely that the Doctor would have taken him on as a companion at the climax of "The End of Time", since Geoffrey would presumably have stayed behind to comfort his wife and daughter during the Master's battle with Rassilon (whereas the aloof Wilfred, who was clearly closer with his granddaughter Donna than with her mother, had earlier bonded enough with the Tenth Doctor to accompany him during his last adventure).
    • Matt Smith had to shave his hair off for his role in Lost River, but didn't grow it back in time to sport the Doctor's signature hairstyle, meaning he had to wear a wig over a bald-cap in "The Time of the Doctor". Instead of painstakingly hiding the wig, the Doctor actually takes it off in the episode, and even uses it to smuggle a TARDIS-key into the containment field. Once he enters the truth field and starts spouting truths whether he wants to or not, he mentions that he's wearing a wig multiple times.
    • The Third Doctor had a habit of holding Jo Grant's hand when they ran from the monsters together, because Katy Manning normally wore glasses and was Blind Without 'Em, and the first time she tried running without being guided by him she went hurtling into a tree. This became an iconic enough image that there is a Call-Back to it in the first episode of the revival series, "Rose", in which the Doctor asking Rose to take his hand is a big deal and serves to symbolize her becoming the companion.
    • The show lost budget between Season 4 and Season 5, by which time the producers had decided to concentrate on Horror and no longer had the benefit of "historicals" as cheap episodes (which could take advantage of Prop Recycling and a BBC crew skilled at Costume Drama). The result of this was the development of the "Base Under Siege" story format, iconically associated with the Second Doctor — tightly plotted, suspenseful horror where the Doctor enters an isolated place besieged by something malevolent and helps the people within fight back against it. This format meant they barely needed to show the monster, and sometimes didn't even need a monster at all — one story uses Deadly Gas, and another uses torrents of white foam.
    • The in-universe reason for why the Third Doctor spent most of his tenure confined to Earth because the Time Lords disabled his TARDIS, and UNIT recruited him as their Scientific Advisor. The real-life reason is because the BBC slashed the show's budget, and the producers didn't have the money to convincingly depict alien worlds quite so often. Notably, this influenced the development of two memorable alien races that were introduced during the Pertwee era: the Autons (who were written to look like plastic mannequins so that they didn't require expensive prosthetics) and the Silurians (who were written as humanity's reptilian Precursors so that they could appear in stories set on Earth).
  • The Tear Jerker ending to the final episode of Blackadder Goes Forth, in which the main characters go into the attack but are then obscured by a huge explosion before the image fades to a field of poppies, had to be thrown together in post-production. There was limited filming time, and the director had no experience with action scenes, and there was no money for a stunt co-ordinator in the budget. The resulting footage of Blackadder, George, Baldrick and Darling charging through No Man's Land while shells blew up around them looked distinctly underwhelming (they just fell over and lay on the ground looking not very dead), but the explosion effects were also so terrifying for the actors that Rowan Atkinson refused point-blank to do any retakes. The footage was deemed unusable, but while the film editor was cycling through it and trying to figure out what to do, he realized that slowing it down made it far more effective. As a result, they re-edited the footage, slowed it down, dropped the audio out and replaced it with the theme music played as a Lonely Piano Piece, and then at the moment, a large explosion obscured the actors from view, crossfaded to a still photograph of some poppies. The result was the most hard-earned Downer Ending to any situation comedy.
  • Jane Leeves' second pregnancy on Frasier came at the perfect time, plot-wise, for Niles and Daphne to have a baby in the final season, just ahead of schedule enough for Daphne to give birth in the finale.
  • Riverdale: Archie has a broken hand in season two and in the season one finale. This is because KJ Apa actually broke his hand while filming the season one finale scene where Archie punched through the icy lake, and In-Universe the hand broke in the same incident.
  • Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles:
    • The subplot in the first few episodes in which Cromartie, the main Terminator pursuing the Connors, gets blown up and has to rebuild himself with a different face (as seen in the page image for The Nth Doctor), was introduced because Garret Dillahunt, who the showrunners wanted for the role, had a scheduling conflict for the pilot. Cromartie's original "face" was played for one episode by Owain Yeoman.
    • The first season finale originally was going to have a massive fight scene between the FBI SWAT team and Cromartie. When the budget turned out to be too low for it, the writing team got creative. This resulted in a chilling, minimalistic sequence where Cromartie slaughters the FBI agents off-screen and tosses their bodies into the hotel swimming pool, seen from a point of view at the bottom of the pool. All while Johnny Cash's "When The Man Comes Around" plays.
  • Boardwalk Empire:
    • Season 1 ends with the Commodore deciding to go against Nucky. The plan for Season 2 was to give him a large part as the year's Big Bad; however, Dabney Coleman was diagnosed with throat cancer shortly before filming, and the treatment rendered him unable to speak for long periods of time. The season was then retooled with the Commodore being relegated after suffering a paralyzing stroke and Jimmy stepping up as the new leader of the conspiracy, a position for which he was not prepared in the least. This, in turn, had other, long-reaching repercussions: the writers found that they couldn't possibly have Nucky pardoning Jimmy if he was the one that tried to overthrow and then kill him, and so the season ended with Nucky killing Jimmy and the show sacrificing its second-billed star, Michael Pitt, after only two years.
    • In Season 3, Owen Sleater is killed during an attempt to murder Joe Masseria in a public bath. However, the day before shooting was to begin, a piece of plaster from the ceiling fell and they had to delay the scene for security reasons. Meanwhile, a preliminary cut of the episode with every other scene included was completed, and showrunner Terence Winter realized that the lack of the fight scene made the episode better, since now the viewers would learn that the hit had failed at the same time as the other characters: when Masseria sends Owen's body to them in a box.
  • Kamen Rider:
    • The original show famously switched main characters for nearly half its run, introducing a second Kamen Rider who took over the series as the original hero, Takeshi Hongou, went off to "fight evil overseas". As one can probably guess, this was caused by Hiroshi Fujioka badly breaking his leg during a stunt, forcing the emergency appearance of a second main character to keep the show going until his return. The existence of multiple Riders, however, would go on to massively shape both the rest of the show and the future of the franchise.
    • Kamen Rider Stronger's partner, Electro-Wave Human Tackle, was a Faux Action Girl who could barely handle anything more than two Mooks in most of her fights. The lack of intensity in her action scenes was due to her actress being asthmatic.note 
    • Kamen Rider Double was originally going to be set in a flooded city called Suito; but constraints of budget and technical ability made this change to Fuuto, an ecologically-friendly "Windy City" which runs on wind power. The wind turbines became an iconic image within the show, and both Double and the original Kamen Rider have a long-standing use of the word 'Cyclone', so it's very apt, especially since Double was intended to be a partial throwback to the Shōwa era Riders.
  • The Wire:
    • One brief scene in season 2 featured a number of neighborhood kids playing cops and robbers, with one kid declaring "It's my turn to be Omar!" Fast forward a few years, and that same kid, now given the name Kenard, appears again in season 4 and in season 5 assassinates Omar after seeing him hobbling on crutches and being disappointed at how the legend appears in person. Dennis Lehane revealed in an interview that this was actually a total coincidence and the producers had no idea the same actor had been cast for both roles until it was pointed out to them after the episode aired. In this case, it resulted from a lower budget than previous seasons that caused them to have to call up actors who'd worked for them previously instead of casting brand new ones but looked like an intentional case of Foreshadowing.
    • Minor supporting actors Robert Colesberry (Detective Ray Cole) and Richard DeAngelis (Colonel Raymond Foerster) both unexpectedly died during production, leading the writers to write in the deaths of their characters. note  They got in-universe funerals both times, with the police officers throwing a traditional Irish wake, and Landsman delivering a eulogy to the tune of "Body of an American". This ended up influencing the series finale: when Jimmy McNulty is thrown off the force in the final episode, his co-workers jokingly throw him a wake to celebrate the death of his career, complete with Landsman delivering a "eulogy" while "Body of an American" plays.
  • This trope is basically Power Rangers' MO. The show recycles footage from Super Sentai, so large parts of the plot are dictated by what appears in the Sentai footage (when it's not doing a straight-up adaptation, of course).
    • Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers is a particularly noticeable example, since it came out when the producers were still getting used to adapting Super Sentai footage. The show turned out to be a bigger hit than anyone expected, so they had to figure out a way to keep it going after they ran out of stock footage from Kyōryū Sentai Zyuranger for the battle sequences. Though they eventually commissioned more stock footage from Toei for Season 2, their shoestring budget still forced them to get creative with their limited footage; Season 3 featured the Rangers losing their powers and becoming ninjas (since they had to wear some sort of costumes for the fight scenes, and color-coded ninja robes were the only ones that the show could afford) and then getting turned into children and having a team of alien allies take over Ranger duties (so that they could replace Zyuranger stock footage with footage from Ninja Sentai Kakuranger).
    • Things also got complicated when the Sixth Ranger Tommy Oliver ended up becoming a Breakout Character; they quickly ran out of stock footage of his Japanese counterpart Burai the Dragon Ranger, since he had rather limited screen time in Zyuranger, but Tommy was far too popular to simply write out of the show. The solution? They wrote a story where Tommy's Green Ranger powers were drained by Rita Repulsa, forcing Zordon to grant him a new set of powers as the White Ranger, with footage of Kōshinsei the Fang Ranger from Gosei Sentai Dairanger cleverly spliced in to make it look like he and the Green Ranger were the same person. Luckily for the producers, this fit Tommy's Heel–Face Turn story arc perfectly: it became well-established that the Green Ranger was his Superpowered Evil Side created by Rita, with the White Ranger as his Good Counterpart created by Zordon.
    • Things smoothed out considerably after the producers took a leap of faith after three years and rebranded the show as Power Rangers Zeo and started using new costumes and stock footage from Chouriki Sentai Ohranger. The tradition of annually rebranding Power Rangers and giving the Rangers new costumes is well-established today, but it was considered a pretty big risk in 1996 since it meant abandoning the phenomenally successful formula that was the original Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers.
    • When Power Rangers Zeo began its run, using stock footage from Chouriki Sentai Ohranger for the battle sequences, the producers ran into a new problem. After putting so much effort into keeping the Rangers at six members so that they could keep the Breakout Character Tommy as part of the team (see above), now they had to bring the team back down to five members since Ohranger began with just five Rangers. Combined with harassment that David Yost faced from the production crew when he came out gay, culminating in him leaving the show, this led to Billy the Blue Ranger—the only remaining member of the original five Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers—voluntarily retiring from active Ranger duty to become the team's Mission Control and tech support, with the explanation that the mystical Zeo crystal only had enough energy to power five Rangers. It was an unavoidable difficulty, but it went a long way towards making Zeo feel like the End of an Era. Tellingly, when Zeo eventually brought back Jason as the Gold Ranger (the second Sixth Ranger in the franchise's history), they actually bothered to write him out before the season finale so that they wouldn't run into the same problem in the next season.
    • In Power Rangers Lost Galaxy, Valerie Vernon was diagnosed with leukemia and had to leave the show. Since the premise gave limited opportunities to have her character Kendrix the Pink Ranger Put on a Bus (it was set on a space colony), they decided to have her go out in a Heroic Sacrifice, leading to one of the few instances in the history of the show where a Ranger or one of their allies is killed in action. In turn, casting her replacement had its own effects on the plot; when plans to bring back the previous season's Pink Ranger fell through, they instead had last season's redeemed Big Bad return as the new Pink Ranger and go through a redemption arc.
    • The reliance on Sentai footage affected Power Rangers Time Force in a more negative way. It was originally planned to involve a lot more time travel, with the rangers jumping to different locations and time periods in different episodes. However they then realised that every single Giant Monster vs Megazord fight in the series was set within the same city and landscape, which severely limited the locations they could have the Monster of the Week appear in. This then led to the infamous intro with plenty of shots of different eras and dress styles being an outright lie, as most of this came from a single episode that was set in a movie studio, with that week's monster being a reality-warping director that sent each ranger to a different movie scene.
    • In Power Rangers Samurai, Eka Darville had joined a union since his stint as Ranger Red in Power Rangers RPM. The producers circumvented this issue by having Ranger Red appear in morphed form, handwaving an excuse for why he prefers to not unmorph and had Eka Darville provide voice-over work under a pseudonym. This played perfectly into the plot of the Samurai team being distrusful of him.
    • Power Rangers Megaforce was set to be the franchise's 20th anniversary, and Super Sentai had just recently celebrated its own 35th anniversary with Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger. However, the contract Saban had signed with Toei stipulated that they had to adapt every Sentai series in sequencenote , so they had to go through Tensou Sentai Goseiger before they could touch Gokaiger. On the other hand, their contract with Nickelodeon stipulated that each series had to be divided into two separate seasons of 20 episodes each. Saban used these two restrictions in concert by adapting both Goseiger and Gokaiger in the same series, using the split-season format to justify bringing in new costumes, villains, and a plotline designed to allow for veteran Rangers to cameo.
    • Power Rangers RPM differed from its source material Engine Sentai Goonger in a number of ways, most prominently by having its Big Bad Venjix be a sentient computer virusnote ; the season also ended with the implication that Venjix survived the final battle by downloading himself into the Red Ranger's morpher. Most fans assumed this Sequel Hook would never be resolved (in part due to the franchise changing ownership twice), but when Tokumei Sentai Go-Busters likewise featured a villainous computer virus, the writers seized the opportunity and had "Evox" turn out to be Venjix in a new form, which not only resolved the dangling plot thread but also helped tie the season more tightly to previous shows, even bringing RPM's mentor Doctor K in the final arc and help the Beast Morphers team defeat their common enemy once and for all.
  • The 13-episode live-action TV series about The Moomins has the overarching plot of the king deciding that the Moomins' bohemian lifestyle doesn't fit in a modern welfare state and that they, as an "ethnic minority" need to be integrated into "normal" society. The most startling change is that he decides their noses are too big and orders them off — which leads to one of the most memorable (and Nightmare Fuelish) aspects of this series, namely that the actors in the Moomin suits take off the overdimensioned Moomin heads/masks they're wearing, revealing their normal human heads underneath. This is not only what the series is remembered for today but is also a pretty effective demonstration of how the Moomins' individuality is threatened by the integration process... but really, the reason behind is probably just as much that the Moomin heads were big, awkward and difficult to deal with on the set — it's extremely clear that the actors can barely see when wearing them, leading to a lot of clumsiness and fumbling around. Removing the heads allowed the actors to move about much more freely.
  • Babylon 5 had the commander of the space station, Jeffrey Sinclair, played by Michael O'Hare, permanently replaced by John Sheridan at the beginning of the second season. This made some important overall changes to the overarching plot of the show since Sheridan had a very different personality and background. Originally it was hinted that this had been planned all along, but after O'Hare's death, it was revealed that during the course of the season he had been suffering from increasingly severe mental illness, which finally made it impossible for him to continue working.
  • Parodied in an episode of Israeli sitcom HaPijamot, elaborating several What If? cases. At the end of the episode, they show ‘the story that would have happened if we had No Budget’, showing Asian work immigrants playing the eponymous band, and ‘the story that would have happened if we had No Budget at all’, showing the set with no actors.
  • Originally, the puzzle board for Wheel of Fortune was intended to be entirely automatic, much like the board on the original Concentration. However, the set designers didn't have time to finish building it before they started taping the pilot, so the board was altered to have each letter be turned manually by a Lovely Assistant (originally Susan Stafford from 1975-82, then the far more iconic Vanna White from 1982 onward). The mechanical board was replaced with a set of monitors in 1997, but White stayed.
  • The creators of Lewis created a new pathologist character for the new series. However, then they decided they needed one more character from Inspector Morse to tie the continuity together — and it turned out that the only regular actor from Morse who wasn't dead, retired, or just plain unavailable was one Clare Holman, who had played pathologist Dr. Laura Hobson. The new pathologist character was summarily scrapped, her lines from the pilot were given to Hobson, and we got nine more years (and a delightful Lewis/Hobson romance) out of the delightfully snarky and levelheaded Laura. Nobody is sorry about this.
  • The Crystal Maze was intended to be a version of Fort Boyard for the UK. When the fort proved unavailable, Channel 4 asked their set designer if he could construct a similar setting. He replied he could, but it would be just as easy to have multiple zones with different themes. They liked the idea.
  • Some of the production staff of The West Wing have claimed that the show's ending was rewritten due to the sudden death of John Spencer (Leo McGarry), although series creator Aaron Sorkin has disputed this. Supposedly, the final season's presidential election storyline was originally going to end with Arnold Vinick winning—but when Spencer's death forced the writers to kill off Leo (who was Matthew Santos' running mate), they decided to have Santos win instead, since it would have been much too depressing for Santos to lose both Leo and the election.
  • Community:
    • Jeff and Annie's Will They or Won't They? dynamic wasn't initially planned as part of the show, but was written in after the showrunners realized that Joel McHale had much better chemistry with Alison Brie than he did with Gillian Jacobs (Britta), who was originally supposed to be his primary love interest. Conversely: the writers never planned on Britta and Troy becoming a couple, but wrote it in when they realized that Donald Glover had better chemistry with Gillian Jacobs than he did with Alison Brie (who was originally supposed to be his primary love interest).
    • It's fairly well-documented that Pierce's death happened due to Chevy Chase's creative differences with creator Dan Harmon, which ultimately led to him leaving the show after Season 4. Similarly: Star-Burns' (apparent) death late in Season 3 happened because Dino Stamatopoulos quit the show in protest after Harmon was fired by NBC, and refused to return unless he was reinstated; that's also why Star-Burns is revealed to be alive after all in Season 5, which was the season where Harmon returned.
    • The writers initially planned for Troy and Pierce to become best friends over the course of the show, establishing an odd Intergenerational Friendship between the two. This idea was scrapped when it turned out that Chevy Chase didn't get along with most of his castmates. But when Donald Glover and Danny Pudi unexpectedly hit it off and became very good friends off-set, the writers decided to make Troy and Abed best friends instead—leading to one of the most memorable and iconic relationships on the show.
    • The Season 1 episode "Modern Warfare" (the first "paintball episode") was one of the most popular and critically acclaimed episodes in the show's history, but it was also a production nightmare—since it left the entire set spattered with paint, which had to be cleaned up before the rest of Season 1 could be filmed. To avoid running into the same problem with the next paintball episode, the showrunners decided to make it the finale of Season 2, allowing them to drench the set with as much paint as they wanted. The result was "A Fistful of Paintballs" and "For a Few Paintballs More", an epic two-parter about a full-on paintball war between Greendale and City College, which is widely considered to be the show's best season finale.
  • Supernatural:
    • The third season's plot line of Dean being condemned to Hell was originally planned to be resolved by Sam learning how to use his demonic powers to rescue him. However, the 2007-08 WGA strike occurred during the third season's production, forcing the season to be cut short with no time to properly build up Sam's powers beforehand. The showrunners thus had to come up with an alternative way to get Dean out of Hell. Their solution? Have Dean be rescued by an angel named Castiel and start introducing angel mythology during the fourth season to plausibly explain why an angel would be interested in Dean's fate. That's right; the series' Breakout Character, the resulting legendary Ho Yay between Dean and Castiel, and the entirety of the angel lore that eventually took over the plot exists solely because of a writers' strike.
    • Dean's Big Eater tendencies came about because Jensen Ackles improvised a moment where he swiped food during a funeral. The writers decided that this would mesh well with his backstory of constantly having to live and the move and thus valuing free food wherever he could find it, turning it from a single funny moment to an outright character trait.
  • Breaking Bad: The series is legendary from a writing standpoint because, with the exception of Season 2, it was all written as they went along:
    • The series was envisioned as taking place in San Bernardino, California, with the crew simply choosing to shoot in Albuquerque because the city offered incredible incentives for filmmakers who worked there. After realizing how much of a pain it was to try to make New Mexico look like California, the crew decided to just have the show be set in Albuquerque, allowing them to make the now-iconic desert scenes.
    • Much like the above Supernatural example, the writer's strike cut the first season unexpectedly short with only eight episodes instead of the planned thirteen. Fans tend to rejoice for this, because if Season 1 had ended the way that Vince Gilligan originally planned, Jesse would've been killed at the end of it; the space between Seasons 1 and 2 made Vince decide that Aaron Paul had too much potential, and Jesse was ultimately spared. Additionally, while he didn't go into too much detail, Vince revealed in 2018 that the writers strike ultimately spared Hank's life as well.
    • Tuco was originally meant to last much longer as a Big Bad, but ultimately Raymond Cruz was too uncomfortable with the character to play him for too long. As a result, Hank kills him via Boom, Headshot! early in season 2, freeing up the story for Gus to come along as well as creating the storyline of Hank recovering from killing someone (the storyline that he would then carry for the rest of the show).
    • Season 2 has a subplot where Jesse gets kicked out of his late aunt's house, which happened because the house got new owners who didn't give them permission to film there. As a result, the season premiere featured a set of the kitchen with the RV blocking the view out the window, before they could work up to this development. They would regain permission prior to the filming of season 3, so wrote a subplot of Jesse using Saul to buy the house back from his parents.
    • Gus Fring was originally meant to be a one-episode character, but Giancarlo Esposito decided to play the character "as though he had a secret". It got the viewers' attention, so he was brought back for a second episode, which solidified him as an Ensemble Dark Horse - and gave Esposito all the cards when he told executives that he would only come back if he were made a main character. And thus, one of the most iconic television antagonists of all time was born.
    • In the season 2 finale "ABQ", the original plans were for Saul Goodman to clean up the scene after Jesse's girlfriend Jane overdoses. Bob Odenkirk was unavailable for filming because of a commitment to appear in How I Met Your Mother, so they brought in Jonathan Banks as Mike Ehrmantraut, because they admired his work in Wiseguy. Banks himself thought he would come on and do the role for just that episode, but had been impressed by working alongside Aaron Paul in that scene, and with the overall direction that Vince Gilligan had given for the episode once it aired, so Mike, like Gus, also became a more fleshed out character, and co-lead for Better Call Saul.note .
    • The season 4 finale "Face Off" ends on a very conclusive note, with Hector and Gus dead, the ambiguity of Walt staying in the meth trade, and The Reveal that Walt poisoned Brock, because they ultimately weren't sure whether or not they were going to get renewed for another season. When they did get renewed, they preemptively declared it the last one to avoid this problem repeating itself, leading to the much beloved season 5 and record-breaking finale.
    • One of the saddest moments came about by pure coincidence. In "Ozymandias", Walt kidnaps his daughter and is changing her in a gas station bathroom. When he tries to get her to say "dada", she instead says mama, causing Walt to realize that even his infant daughter had turned against him and make him leave her at a fire station. The scene was originally meant to have Walt make this realization on his own, but Holly's actress saw her mother just off camera and called out for her; Bryan Cranston stayed in character and rolled with it, creating one of the harshest scenes in the entire show.
    • In "Felina", the writers struggled with how Walt would ultimately get his money to his family, which ended up being solved by, of all things, a fan letter. A fan wrote to Vince Gilligan asking what would happen to Gretchen and Elliot Schwartz, characters who (by that point) hadn't appeared since season 2, and that gave them the idea to have Walt blackmail them into giving his son the money.
  • Better Call Saul: Much like its parent show, the same "write as you go along" approach was utilized.
    • The first few episodes of season 1 were filmed before the writers decided that Chuck had potential as a villain, so Michael McKean spent the first four episodes believing that Chuck genuinely believed in Jimmy's potential as a lawyer and acting accordingly. This makes the reveal that Chuck secretly despises Jimmy come out of absolute nowhere and add more shock value to the twist.
    • The Season 1 finale was written before they had any idea whether or not they would be renewed, which is why Jimmy seems to fully descend into the Saul Goodman persona at the end of the season. When they did get renewed, they realized they had more time to play with Jimmy before he fell completely, so Season 2 features him dialing back and rationalizing his brief episode as due to his grief for Marco's death.
    • Gene's phone call to Ed the Vacuum Repair Guy was originally meant to be a one-sided phone call, with only Gene's side being shown. However, when Robert Forster came back for El Camino, the crew decided to get him back in the role while they had him around, so the other side of the call was added. This was incredibly fortuitous, as Forster tragically passed away in between filming and release, meaning this scene is his last performance ever.
    • In season 5, the fixer Saul uses to get some dirt on Kevin Wachtell is Mr. X, a fixer played by Steven Ogg who had previously appeared in season 1 as a hired goon that Mike got into an altercation with. This was meant to be the re-introduction of Bill Burr as Patrick Kuby, but Burr was unavailable for filming due to commitments, necessitating the re-use of Ogg.
  • Lost: As filming was concluding on season 1, the crew realized that the rising tides of Oahu were eventually going to submerge the fuselage set completely, meaning that they needed a reason to get the survivors away from the fuselage permanently. They eventually settled for putting the real-world reason into the story, and thus the survivors had to move further up the beach and create a second camp to avoid a suddenly rising tide.
  • RuPaul's Drag Race: The Covid-19 lockdowns complicated matters for the entire franchise: forcing the Season 12 reunion and finale to be filmed via Zoom, halting production of UK Season 2 for seven months, etc. The one positive change that resulted from this involved the show's long-awaited Australian spin-off. It had to be filmed in New Zealand due to the country having fewer Covid restrictions in place, and the show responded by inviting New Zealand queens to compete as well. As a result, the show was retitled RuPaul's Drag Race Down Under (as opposed to just Australia) and the first season featured three Kiwis alongside seven Aussies.
  • WandaVision:
    • In the final episode, the townspeople confront Wanda after Agatha "wakes them up," forcing Wanda to see just how much mental pain she was inflicting on them by making them act out roles in her sitcom fantasies. Originally, they were going to swarm her like zombies and attack her, but this was dropped due to COVID-19 filming delays. Jac Schaeffer found this change to be more psychologically compelling as it gave the residents more of a voice.
    • Darcy's incredibly brief role in the last episode is also a product of the COVID-19 delays. Kat Dennings couldn't attend the new filming dates, the one scene she had already filmednote  wasn't being used, and they needed Darcy to have some kind of role in the story's resolution rather than be left hanging since her last scene in episode 7 was Vision abandoning her while she was stuck in an eternal traffic jam. So her brief appearance is limited to her ramming her vehicle into Hayward's car to stop him from escaping, then saying her one line (which Dennings filmed in front of a bluescreen), then skips out on the debriefing afterwards.
  • When Arrested Development was revived by Netflix in 2013, the showrunners had to work with a notably smaller budget, which meant that many of the signature comedic setpieces from the original three seasons (the banana stand, the model home, the stair car, etc.) had to be reimagined, scaled back, or left out entirely. Among other things: the banana stand is implied to have gone out of business, the Sudden Valley development is finally finished (only to wind up abandoned after the housing market crash), and Michael sells the stair car and gets a job driving a Google Maps camera car instead. But since Season 4 is set seven years after the first three seasons, this ends up feeling pretty appropriate, contributing the to general sense that nothing in the Bluths' lives in the same anymore.

  • Pink Floyd's "Have a Cigar" has a guest singer because both Roger Waters (who had blown his voice recording "Shine On You Crazy Diamond") and David Gilmour didn't like their own takes, so they invited Roy Harper, who was recording in the same studio.
  • Brazilian musician Tim Maia and his band were rehearsing tracks for a new album. Unfortunately, a nearby construction site was making a lot of noise. Their solution: rewrite the tempos so they'd match the pounding of the construction's machinery.
  • Pepe Deluxé, for their third album, Spare Time Machine, wrote the song "In the Cave" specifically to be performed on the Great Stalacpipe Organ. At the time, said organ was unavailable because it was under repair, so PD decided to delay the recording of "In the Cave", work the song into their next album, and just release Spare Time Machine as it was. The next album was Queen of the Wave, and "In the Cave" wound up dovetailing perfectly with the story of that album.
  • Starflyer 59's original, melancholic sound was not actually frontman Jason Martin's first choice for a musical style; he wanted to do faster, punk-influenced music. What made Jason slow everything down was the fact that he couldn't sing fast enough for the music he wanted to play.
  • The Beatles examples:
    • The boys had a problem with the recording of "A Day in the Life". The transition between John Lennon and Paul McCartney's parts of the song was initially left blank because they couldn't think of a way to change from one to the other, consisting mainly of a bar count and Mal Evans triggering an alarm clock to mark the beginning of Paul's section. Eventually, they settled on the now-iconic noisy orchestral glissando, but they were unable to remove the alarm clock from the song, and ultimately decided to leave it in. Considering that Paul's section begins with "Woke up, fell out of bed", that ringing alarm clock fits in perfectly.
    • It wasn't looking good for "Strawberry Fields Forever" making it to record at first. They had recorded two versions, in a different key and tempo, but while promising neither was quite the sound they were hoping for. Then George Martin discovered by accident that if one take was slowed down, it wound up in the same key and tempo as the other one. They were able to mix between the two takes and create the song we know and love today.
    • Lennon was drunkenly playing around with the master tape for "Rain" when he decided to play it backward. However, he got confused and only got a portion of it backward. Everyone liked the way that sounded, however, and it was the first use of backward recordings in rock history.
    • Generally speaking, as a band recording in a studio that even by the standards of 1960s technology, was not as advanced as either their peers in England or especially in America note  and were frustrated that, for example, the American-recorded records they loved had far punchier rhythm tracks than the Beatles' records. To compensate, they convinced the Abbey Road staff to muffle Ringo's drum kit and pump up the drums and Paul's Rickenbacker bass guitar with unprecedented levels of compression and limitation by the 1966 Revolver sessions. This sound (and experimentation with Paul's melodic bass playing and Ringo's tom-tom-heavy drumming techniques) proved very influential and paved the way for how bass and drums were recorded even in American studios (as well as The Beatles' music from then on).
    • The folksy, rootsy, acoustical feel of many of the songs which made up The White Album might have much to do with the fact that many of the songs were written by the band members while on a spiritual retreat in Rishikesh, India, written on the acoustic guitars they brought with them. "Dear Prudence" and "Julia" in particular came from lessons in fingerpicking guitar that fellow retreater Donovan taught John Lennon during their stay, and another traveling companion, Mike Love of The Beach Boys, helped Paul write the Beach Boys Affectionate Parody "Back In The U.S.S.R.".
    • Ringo Starr's drumming style was partially to do with the fact that he was a left-handed musician playing on a right-handed kit. This resulted in Ringo's "funny fills", as he was unable to get around the drums in a conventional way, always starting in the "wrong place" (usually from floor tom to overhead toms, instead of the other way around. He also disliked drum solos (although he obliged a short one in "The End" at Paul's request), preferring to play in the service of the song and as part of an ensemble.
  • Keith Urban is apparently having a track record for this regarding lead singles:
    • 2013's "Little Bit of Everything" has two examples. The opening riff is played on a ukulele because Urban heard producer Nathan Chapman playing one and asked if he could include it in the song. They also "stuttered" the ukulele riff at Urban's suggestion to mix things up. Also, the bass line is played on synth bass because the first two session bassists that Urban and Chapman contacted were unavailable.
    • On 2015's "John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16", Urban played the bass line himself because he was having a hard time getting the scratch track to sound right on acoustic guitar. His original intent was to have the bass line replaced with a session musician, but it remained in the song because he grew to like how it sounded.
  • Genesis examples:
    • The band developed many of the keyboard and bass guitar techniques and tones that came to define them in the early 1970s such as Mike Rutherford's use of fuzz bass and bass pedals, and Tony Banks' use of distorted electric piano and hand-over-hand fingering technique (as used in the beginning of "The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway" ) in the period between the departure of founding lead guitarist Anthony Phillips and the hiring of his replacement, Steve Hackett, as Banks, Rutherford, Peter Gabriel and Phil Collins often rehearsed many of the pieces later featured in Nursery Cryme as a bass/drums/keyboards/vocals quartet without an official lead guitarist to fill the traditional role. Even after Hackett's hiring, Rutherford and Banks continued to use these tones and techniques to fill out much of the sound of the band, while Hackett often opted for a textural, subtle approach that blended in the background (almost like a synthesizer at times), at least apart from instances where he was given space to solo or shine. This may also account for the tight musical camaraderie and confidence that the Banks/Collins/Rutherford trio developed when reduced to a trio.
    • Also, as they played bigger venues and audiences by 1970-72, where the PA systems weren't always the best, there was dead air in between many songs as the band spent long periods of time setting their guitars to alternate tunings, loading sounds into (or fixing) the Mellotron and other instruments, and setting up and disassembling props and set pieces. Gabriel also noted, to his consternation, that there were often four musicians onstage either surrounded by equipment or inadvertently looking down at their instruments or effects pedals (often sitting down and/or in shadow) hardly acknowledging the audience in front of them. Gabriel began filling the spaces by telling deadpan, weird, non-sequitur, often unrelated sci-fi or fantasy stories (or surreal comedy sketches with ex-child actor Phil) to keep the audience involved, which led to using masks, costumes and props to illustrate the complex lyrics. The costumes, masks, props, and stories also helped create an image, dry humor and mystique around the band and gave them a shock factor, which led to much publicity and attention they might not have gotten otherwise.
  • The Who's Pete Townshend developed his signature guitar-smashing quite by accident one night when he was frustrated with the low ceiling at the venue they were playing at.
  • One of the most popular songs in history, the David Bowie and Queen collaboration "Under Pressure", came into existence only due to an impromptu jam session after Bowie decided to drop in on Queen while they were recording the album "Hot Space".
  • While "Weird Al" Yankovic was recording Straight Outta Lynwood, he wanted the lead single to be a parody of James Blunt's "You're Beautiful", as he liked the contrast between the Gangsta Rap-inspired title and cover of Straight Outta Lynwood, and the soft, romantic ballad of "You're Beautiful". When Atlantic Records refused to let him include the parody, he was forced to write a new one to replace it, and came up with "White And Nerdy", a parody of Chamillionaire's "Ridin'". Suddenly the gangsta rap aesthetic was a perfect fit - and both album and single became Yankovic's most commercially successful up to that point.
  • In a non-technological side, The Kinks were, like the Beatles, the Who, etc. a burgeoning British Invasion rock band conquering America and the pop charts. However, the band members' intergroup fighting and squabbles onstage did not sit well with the American Musicians' Union, who in 1965 barred them from appearing on stage in America for five years. Faced with physically being prohibited from witnessing American culture or being able to fully promote their music "across the pond", the band deliberately developed a more Anglocentric image and style, concentrating on England, English subject matter and vocabulary, which would influence musicians from Progressive Rock to Britpop to abandon American influences and Americanization and embrace their own roots and identity.
    • Similarly, they may have lent to Elvis Presley retaining a very American identity, sound, and influence during his career, as the visa troubles his lifetime manager "Colonel Tom" Parker went through prevented Elvis from being able to tour or travel outside of America (aside from Elvis' stay in Germany when he joined the Army). The Beatles had to meet him by their being invited to Graceland in 1965.
  • Joni Mitchell contracted polio at age nine, and while recovering from polio took up singing, guitar playing and painting (not to mention smoking) through her childhood partly as physical therapy while trying to recover. Due to a weakened hand, she developed alternate tunings to comfortably play guitar, which in turn helped to characterize her sound.
  • Mariah Carey's duet with Boyz II Men, "One Sweet Day", was recorded while she and the Boyz were at the height of their fame, and they knew it'd be impossible to coordinate their schedules again to film a proper music video at a later date. So instead, they filmed the recording session and made that into the music video. This ultimately worked in their favor. Not only was the song a huge hit, spending 16 weeks at #1, but critics praised the simplistic video for pairing well with the song's selfless message. Since then, filming the recording session has become a popular go-to for serious ballads, conveying the message that the artist is at their most stripped-down and real.
  • Toni Braxton's big break came when she was hired to sing a demo version of "Love Shoulda Brought You Home," intended for Anita Baker for the soundtrack to the Eddie Murphy film Boomerang (1992). Baker loved the song, but she was pregnant at the time and on hiatus from performing, so she suggested they just use Braxton for it. It became her debut single and a star was born.
  • On the day Van Morrison was supposed to have his photo taken for the cover of Moondance, he had developed a large pimple on his forehead — the photographer, therefore, used a series of closeup shots where his forehead was out of frame entirely.
  • Bad Brains were still working on the album I Against I when lead vocalist H.R. was jailed on marijuana distribution charges - the song "Sacred Love" still needed vocals, so at the Record Producer's suggestion, H.R. sang them over the phone, unscrewing the mouthpiece of the telephone to minimize background noise. As a result, the vocals are a bit trebly and distorted, but they managed to make it sound like a deliberate effect.
  • The songs on Animal Collective's Feels were initially based around a series of looped recordings of member Avey Tare playing a friend's piano: The piano in question hadn't been tuned in years, so the band ended up tuning their instruments to the out-of-tune piano loops, resulting in some unusual guitar sounds. When they decided to also add live piano to the album, they had a professional piano tuner detune the piano they had in studio to match the out-of-tune piano from the recorded loops.
  • They Might Be Giants have explained that the simpler, staccato sound of their earlier work was due in part to having to write songs for their Dial-A-Song telephone service, which necessitated not only making vocals clearer and stripping down arrangements to sound good over a tinny-sounding 80s telephone, but also prohibited them from playing any long, sustained notes, as doing so would cause the tape on their answering machine to rewind.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • In 1993, WCW and SMW entered a partnership that was to include an angle where the former would be invaded by the later. However, WCW's executives were so offended by the trash talk used by the Smokey Mountain owner Jim Cornette that they abrogated the deal before the angle could take hold. Around the same time the UWFi invasion of NJPW became one of the most financially successful feuds of all time (at UWFi's expense), which meant WCW was ready to try the invasion angle again in 1996. By then Smokey Mountain Wrestling had closed down though, so rather than find another promotion WCW simply had three men attempt a hostile show takeover instead, resulting in one of the most imitated pro wrestling angles of all time, the nWo.
  • In WWE, one of the most infamous botches was John Cena and Batista's mutual elimination at the 2005 Royal Rumble. Batista was intended to win cleanly, but he wound up losing balance, sending both men toppling over the top rope and hitting the ground simultaneously. Because of a recent brand split, the referees for Smackdown declared Cena the winner, while Raw's refs sided with Batista, keeping the fans placated while Vince McMahon stormed down the ramp to restart their portion of the bout.
  • After being told by a promoter that there could only be one women's match a card, Monterrey area businessman Luciano García decided to start a Lucha Libre enterprise with cards featuring nothing but women's matches. Luchadoras were in short supply due to the fact established promoters were actively blocking them from working for his new promotion, leading García to look North of the border for talent and promote several international bouts between competitors from Mexico, USA, and Canada. While Lucha Libre Femenil would eventually kick its foreign dependence through healthy relationships with other area enterprises it won over, local rosters full of new luchadoras who could stand on their own, booking luchadoras from all around Mexico and coverage from TV Azteca, the occasional Canada\USA vs match had become tradition.
  • The Puroresu Love Period of All Japan Pro Wrestling came about due to the fact the highly successful style of booking pioneered by Giant Baba became impractical to them when it was taken up by Pro Wrestling NOAH, who had also taken most of All Japan's roster when Mitsuharu Misawa formed it, along with All Japan's television spot, causing AJPW's focus to turn less to impressing the purest fans who would rather watch NOAH anyway and more towards corporate sponsors. For the record, it worked, but when the earliest opportunity came, which happened to be the corporate wing becoming a pain to deal with coincidentally coinciding with NOAH's decline, Jun Akiyama was happy to take All Japan back to its roots.
  • The SHIMMER Title belts doubling as Ring of Honor's Women's titles and the joint academy the two promotions ran was the result of a fairly high roster crossover, with at least a half dozen wrestlers, a trainer and commentator between them as well as the fact ROH was selling the products of other promotions anyway to stay afloat since the 2004 RF Video scandal cost them their distributor. Whatever the cons, ROH no longer needed to sell other promotion's products after they were purchased by Sinclair Broadcast Group and SHIMMER was no longer sharing profits on DVD sales, which saw the collaboration between the two decreasing significantly.
  • The Spot Monkey style of Wrestling Society X obscured the fact much of the roster were veterans whose prior work revealed they did, in fact, know their Wrestling Psychology. Between a thirty-minute time slot that was further reduced by MTV's need for a musical guest and working against executives who were more interested in stunts and explosions than wrestling, the wrestlers basically needed to do everything they could as quickly as they could.
  • The sudden death of Brodie Lee in December 2020 was a major reason for the Dark Order's transition from a scary cult to a pack of lovable goofballs. Lee (real name Jon Huber) was one of the most respected and genuinely well-liked performers on All Elite Wrestling's roster, and was widely known as a mentor to many of the younger wrestlers in the Dark Order, which he led onscreen as the sinister "Exalted One". Hence, it felt pretty natural when the company put on a heartfelt memorial show where the Dark Order got to be heroes for one night, and it became immediately obvious to the audience that everyone at AEW was in mourning for Lee (including his kayfabe enemies and rivals). After that, it became near-impossible for audiences to root against the Dark Order—especially after they inducted Lee's two young sons into their ranks as honorary members.
  • According to most accounts, Adam Page and The Dark Order unexpectedly lost their dramatic 10-man tag-team match with Kenny Omega and The Elite in July 2021 because Page and his wife were expecting a baby at the time, and Page was planning to go on paternity leave. The match was supposed to determine whether Page would get to challenge his former mentor Omega for the World Championship at All Out that Summer, which was near-universally expected to be the climax to Page and Omega's long-simmering feud—but Page knew that appearing at All Out and becoming World Champion would have forced him to spend too much time away from his wife and his newborn child. This made it all the more gut-wrenching when Page lost the 10-man match, but also made it all the more cathartic when he unexpectedly returned two months later and actually did score a shot at the championship in a 7-man ladder match on AEW Dynamite.

    Puppet Shows 

  • The Archers: Robert Snell's actor was also employed for many years as a GP doctor, fitting Archers recordings around his surgery's schedules. When he couldn't make it, his character's wife would instead shout questions into the 'offstage' room he was supposedly sat in, and then complain that her husband couldn't hear her. Either that, or he would be constantly busy with his in-universe amateur dramatics.

  • James Naismith, a physical education professor at International Young Men's Christian Association Training School (the YMCA today) was looking for a pair of boxes for the game that he had just recently invented. When he asked a worker at the Y for some boxes, he was told that they didn't have any, but he did have some old peach baskets lying around that could be of some use. The rest is history.
    • A few years later in 1930 Montevideo, YMCA teacher wanted to play football but he only had the YMCA's basketball court. So he invented a way to play Football indoor, adapted the rules for the new space and Futsal would become one the most played sports in South America and then the world.
  • American football:
    • Some historians believe the rule to stop the clock on an incomplete forward pass in American football came because, in the early days of the sport, games had only one ball and an old man for the official, necessitating the stoppage while the ball was retrieved.
    • For the longest time in the NFL, the goals were on the goal line rather than the end line. This was supposedly done when the championship game was moved to an indoor arena one year and there wasn't enough space to put the goals on the end lines.
    • The famed West Coast offense came about because Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Greg Cook tore his rotator cuff in his rookie year and was unable to play after. Desperate, the team traded for Virgil Carter, a quarterback with limited arm strength but good accuracy, and then-quarterbacks coach Bill Walsh was tasked with designing an offense that could get the most out of him. Thus, Walsh modified the vertical offense he'd learned with the Raiders to emphasize short passes and horizontal routes, and thus the West Coast offense got its start.
  • The baseball rule that the first two foul balls are strikes came about at least in part because the supply of balls was limited and the balls were not as tough as they have become since, so by the end of the game the balls were often battered into irregular shapes, to the delight of hitters and the consternation of pitchers.note 
  • The reason why ice hockey games have three periods of twenty minutes is that the old format (two halves of thirty minutes) caused the ice to become so rutted and snowy from the players' prolonged skating that it negatively impacted puck play in the final minutes of the half. Changing the game to three periods gave the maintenance crew a second chance to clean up the ice and ensure consistent play.

  • Due to difficulties with getting the microphone to work, the costume designers of The Phantom of the Opera redesigned the mask from the full-face mask described in the book to a mask that covered up only half the actor's face. The resulting Fashionable Asymmetry has become the iconic design for the character, and leaked into just about every piece of media involving the Phantom. (This is also why the play's advertisement materials depict a very different-looking mask design.)
  • The Classical Unities, a concept supposedly created by Aristotle, was nigh-on ubiquitous in theatrical discussion until the 1800s—according to its proponents, Aristotle claimed that all dramatic plays should focus on a singular plot thread, keep the story confined to a single place, and resolve the plot within a day. Its proponents argued that by limiting the action to a small scope, this created a true reflection of reality, without the narrative needing to jump around or distract the viewer—and for centuries, a play that did not follow the Unities was seen as a failure on the part of the playwright. Part of the reason it became a Discredited Trope, and swiftly a Forgotten Trope as well, was that other historians realized that Aristotle was actually talking about this trope; it was never actually a rule so much as a budget limitation that forced many playwrights to keep the action relatively low-key, as opposed to epic poems that didn't suffer those limitations.
  • The difficulty that first faced George Burns and Gracie Allen was that in their double act, he was supposed to be the comedian and she was supposed to be the straight woman, but she was getting the laughs. Burns decided to fix the problem by becoming the comic foil and letting her be the comic. Gracie thus became the quintessential Cloud Cuckoo Lander and the act became a roaring success, going through Vaudeville, radio, and eventually television. It only ended when Gracie retired from show business.
  • Hamilton: During "The Reynolds Pamphlet", Thomas Jefferson traditionally hands a copy of said pamphlet to the orchestra conductor. When the show was peformed at the Adrienne Arsht Center the orchestra pit was too far away from the stage to make the joke work. The solution was to have the conductor reveal they already have a copy of the pamphlet which they wave in the air. This version was adopted for other venues where Jefferson can't reach the orchestra.
  • The German language developed a written standard (againnote ) during the time of Martin Luther, because his bible translation became widely read and - thanks to the printing press - relatively common for families to own. However, until well into the 19th century, most Germans simply spoke their native dialect even if they were familiar with the written form. Traces of this can be seen as late as Faust which famously has a rhyme that does not work in standard German but works in Goethe's native Hessian. However, theater-people understandably wanted productions to sound the same whether they'd be staged in Weimar or Hamburg, Vienna or Königsberg and as they did not want to rely on simple convergence of the dialects of diverse casts (then as now theater-folk often got around quite a bit in search of a job), they came up with a mandated standard, the "Bühnenaussprache". While it was in general oriented on North German conventions for pronouncing the written German language (Northern Germany at the time was still largely bilingual with Low German as the language of everyday life and some areas were even trilingual with Danish or Frisian thrown into the mix), but some choices were made due to acoustics - for example the "r" was to be rolled with the tip of the tongue and the common suffix -ig was to be pronounced with a voiceless palatal fricative to be easier to understand on the "cheap seats" in an era without microphones. Given that this standard of pronunciation is the one radio hosts and newscasters go for when not making a deliberate choice to speak local dialect and that it has changed very little since its inception, room acoustics of early 19th century theaters had quite an impact on the German language.

    Theme Parks 
  • One thing that's noticeable about the various B&M versions of Batman: The Ride is just how compact the ride layout is. This is because the original version at Six Flags Great America was replacing Tidal Wave, an Anton Schwarzkopf shuttle loop coaster, and had to be specifically designed to fit into the long and very skinny footprint of Tidal Wave's space in Yankee Harbor.
  • The original Superman: Ultimate Flight at Six Flags Over Georgia features tunnels and was designed to take advantage of the hilly terrain. This layout would be reused for the clones at Six Flags Great America and Six Flags Great Adventure that opened the following year, but those two don't feature the near misses with the terrain that the Georgia version has because they were built on old parking lot areas.
  • Splash Mountain at Walt Disney World is (somewhat infamously) themed after Song of the South, with Bre'er Rabbit, Bre'er Bear, and Bre'er Fox featured prominently. So why did Disney base one of their most popular and iconic rides on a mostly obscure and unpopular movie that they otherwise try to pretend never existed? Because they needed to repurpose the Funny Animal animatronics from "America Sings" after that attraction was closed down due to poor attendance. "America Sings" (a musical attraction featuring American folk songs) had a whole section featuring anthropomorphic animals dressed like stereotypical Southerners and singing traditional songs from the American South. By a complete coincidence, one of them was a female possum who looked identical to one who appeared in a musical number in Song of the South—which (rather conveniently) also featured animated anthropomorphic animals in the American South. note 

    Video Games 
  • As making traditionally animated cutscenes for Ace Combat 3: Electrosphere proved to be expensive and the game was a financial disappointment, the development team of Ace Combat 04: Shattered Skies was pressured to find a cheaper way to tell the game's story. The resulting framing device (a man narrating over a slideshow of still drawings) proved to be one of the game's most praised and iconic aspect.
  • American Truck Simulator had a section of the Big Sur, on California Highway 1, closed off after a patch to reflect the closure of that section in reality following a mudslide.
  • Banjo-Kazooie and Banjo-Tooie's iconic "blabber-talk" came about as a way to give characters personality without having to waste limited cartridge space on voice acting. Even when Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts and Spiritual Successor Yooka-Laylee came out on much more advanced hardware, this little element was retained.
  • Batman: Arkham Series:
    • The entire storyline of the series is essentially built around inventing new reasons to put Batman in fully explorable Gotham City locales that are big, but not so big that they would take too long to render with appropriate levels of detail. From the beginning, the staff at Rocksteady apparently knew that it would be nearly impossible to bring a life-sized virtual recreation of Gotham City to the screen with the levels of detail that they wanted, so they opted for smaller, closed-off environments that are nonetheless filled to the brim with secrets, puzzles, and Easter Eggs. Batman: Arkham Asylum takes place in Arkham Asylum while it's locked down during a hostage situation, Batman: Arkham City takes place in a section of Gotham that's been walled off and turned into a hellish prison camp, and Batman: Arkham Knight takes place in a quarantined section of downtown Gotham during a chemical attack by the Scarecrow. Even in the latter two games, which take place in the city proper, the storylines are written so that the developers didn't have to put extra work into rendering pedestrians and city traffic - Arkham Knight has the aforementioned quarantine and gas attack, while Arkham Origins has a winter storm warning in effect, meaning all civilians are staying inside for their own safety.
    • In Arkham Asylum, Batman's Detective Mode was so incredibly useful that there was pretty much no reason to turn it off - you could see enemies through walls, the important aspects of the environment were highlighted, and it made locating Riddler Trophies much, much easier without their green lights blending into the background. Rocksteady was upset that players were opting to ignore the incredible environments they'd created by keeping Detective Vision on, so the sequels nerfed it considerably - it darkens the screen so that it's hard to see anything, not nearly as many important details are highlighted orange like before, and, above all, enemies could now jam Detective Vision or (in the case of Arkham Knight) outright weaponize it against Batman.
  • How the plot of BioForge came to be: you're a cyborg (so you don't need fluid lifelike animations) and, due to a disaster, the base you're in is almost completely abandoned (no large amounts of on-screen characters needed).
  • For the Mata Nui Online Game, LEGO hired Templar Studios to create a browser Point-and-Click Game promoting their Bionicle toys, but only let them use side characters and random nobodies, while the main products, the Toa, were set to star in a PC game. Templar took the task immensely seriously, and the limitations allowed them to put heavy emphasis on atmosphere — Myst was cited as an inspiration — and world-building, and create likable characters out of the everyday villagers, who kept the outlandish world and lore grounded in familiarity. The Toa only made brief appearances, making them mysterious and memorable. The game helped catapult the toyline into success and is widely regarded by fans as the finest piece of Bionicle media — meanwhile, the PC game, which had very little of what made MNOG so beloved, was scrapped due to quality issues. As a result, Templar was asked to wrap up the Toa's plot along with the villagers', which made for a fulfilling climax. Not only that, many characters fleshed out by Templar became major players in later stories when LEGO realized their popularity.
  • Breath of Fire IV: Yuna got off scot-free for all his atrocities because Capcom was in danger of going out of business. There were actually two planned ways he would have died, but rushed development meant no time to actually program either.
  • Chrono Trigger:
    • A "temporal physics" law justifies the three-person-team combat system: no more than three people can jump in time at once (although the universe apparently allows single-person jumps, like the gurus and Janus.
    • In the Future there is a hoverbike race minigame you play against badass robot bike(r) Johnny "The Man". Since for this first part spiky-haired Crono is the party leader, he is chosen to represent them, and is represented with a special sprite of him piloting said hoverbike. However, apparently the cartridge had space for only one "bike pilot" sprite. So, the authors developed a rivalry between them (or, at least, from Johnny's part): when, later in the game, the leader position becomes a rotating role, when Crono is present in the party he is the chosen pilot, being him the front character or not. When he is absent, Johnny refuses to race, saying "Where's Pointy-hair? I'll only race againt him!"
  • In City of Heroes, you could not initially wear a cape. In real life, this is because the developers couldn't figure out how to implement decent cape physics. In the game, new heroes could not wear capes out of respect for Hero 1, who went on a suicide mission to stop the Alien Invasion that wiped out the beta. The city representative gave a mission where you could read the history of Hero 1 and visit his memorial. Upon completion, you get the option to wear a cape. By the time City of Villains arrived this was a bit of The Artifact. But Lord Recluse will not let you wear a cape until you prove you're bad enough to go to Paragon City, smash lots of property, take out a chunk of Longbow, beat up a hero and take his cape for yourself.
  • The protagonist of horror game Clock Tower is a weaponless, vulnerable girl who must flee or outwit enemies instead of fighting them. The developer wrote her as such because of the self-admitted sexist beliefs he held at the time. However, players reacted favorably to this new style of gameplay, as it heightened their fear and made for a deeper experience than other horror games of the era (which centered around shooting and/or hacking enemies to death). Today, Clock Tower is considered a forerunner of the survival horror genre-defining aspects of which are emphasis on flight-over-fight mechanics and the protagonists' helplessness.
  • This series of blog posts by the creators of Crash Bandicoot describes how the limitations of the hardware of the original PlayStation dictated almost every design choice, from level design to character design to even one of the mechanics the series is most known for (which in turn named the character). Basically, Crash turned out the way it is because technology sucked at the time.
  • Deus Ex:
    • The Unreal Engine would not have been able to handle a fully rendered city with 2000 technology, forcing the creators to Hand Wave the boxed-in sections in the New York levels with a justification that due to high crime rates, authorities have walled in ghettos and other undesirable areas. In Paris, the boxed-in city is justified with the nation being on lock-down due to terrorist attacks.
    • A very eerie example was the lack of the World Trade Center in the New York skyline. Due to memory limitations, the sections of the skybox including the World Trade Center had to be removed in favor of mirroring the other half of the skyline, and the creators justified it saying that they had been destroyed in a terrorist attack before the game started. Keep in the mind that the game came out in 2000.note 
    • A Game Mod of the game, The Nameless Mod, boxes its cities in as well and justifies it with a mention that Forum City is on lockdown due to one of the moderators being kidnapped. The maps are bigger than Deus Ex's were since the mod was designed with the thought that it would be run on more powerful computers, but you can see why the boxed-in method was needed if you "noclip" yourself away from the map and try to view it all at once - it can lag or even crash the game.
    • Half-Life 2 features highly constrained cityscape levels in City 17 for more or less the same reason (the outdoor levels are more open, and featured less detailed textures and fewer props to compensate). The result was a claustrophobic, hemmed-in feeling that fit perfectly with the early levels spend under the thumb of the Combine.
  • Deus Ex: Invisible War: The final level at Liberty Island was frozen over and much of it cut off due to the fact that the console version of the game would not be able to handle swimming and larger maps.
  • In Disco Elysium skills were originally intended to be represented with icons, but the game's concept artist quit before that could be finished, so that job fell to the art director, who is far better at drawing humans and thus made fantastical portraits instead. This eventually led to the skills exhibiting separate personalities and arguing with the Player Character and each other, turning them into a Cast of Personifications in their own right, which has become the defining feature of the game.
  • The first Dizzy game made use of an engine for rotating sprites in real time, allowing the hero to roll and tumble. However, the engine worked best on simple shapes, such as circles - and thus, Dizzy became an egg.
    • Seymour Goes to Hollywood was envisioned as Movieland Dizzy, but the creators felt the real-world setting was too far removed from the fantasy settings of the Dizzy games. So with 12 weeks to go until release, the character was given a more distinctive design, thus giving birth to Seymour.
  • Donkey Kong owes its existence to this trope three-fold:
    • The original arcade game had a chubby, mustachioed Mario (then known as Jumpman) wearing a hat and overalls due to technical limitations. The technology at the time would not have been able to show Mario's hair sticking up when he fell, a mustache would be easier to show than a mouth at that resolution, overalls were the only piece of clothing that could also be seen with 1981 graphics, and only square hit boxes were possible. These same traits would later come to benefit Mario again in his Nintendo 64 outings, which have aged considerably better than other early 3D games as a result.
    • The game also owes its mere existence to serendipity. In 1980, Nintendo attempted to release their latest arcade hit, a game called Radar Scope in the United States; however, while the game was popular in Japan, it flopped hard in the United States. Looking for a way to clear out their warehouse of returned and unsold Radar Scope machines, Nintendo looked to create a game that would run on the same hardware as Radar Scope so that the existing machines could be easily converted to run it, but would also be a surefire hit in America. The result was Donkey Kong.
    • Notably too, the original Donkey Kong was intended to be a Popeye game. Partway through development they lost the license, however, and Shigeru Miyamoto turned the concepts they had into original properties with Bluto becoming Donkey Kong, Popeye becoming Jumpman, and Olive Oyl becoming Pauline. Since Nintendo got not one successful and beloved franchise from this but two, it's safe to assume this worked out monumentally well for them.
  • Double Dragon was originally conceived as a sequel to Nekketsu Kouha Kunio-kun, but evolved into an original IP because the lead director (Yoshihisa Kishimoto) wanted to make a game that could be marketable in the west without having to spend time working on a second version for the foreign market as he did with Renegade.
  • Dragon Age:
    • None of the Qunari had horns in the first game, although their race is supposed to have them. This was because BioWare didn't have the time to create alternate designs for all the helmets just so your Qunari party member could wear them, so they opted to not give him horns at all and Hand Wave it by saying that Qunari born without horns are considered to be destined for greatness, while those who choose to leave the Qun cut off their horns as a way of showing their rejection (all the other Qunari in the game).
    • Similarly, golems are supposed to be 10 feet tall and appear that way in cut scenes, but Shale, a golem you can recruit, is much smaller and explains that it used to be the same size as the others until a previous owner actually chiseled down its legs because it kept getting stuck in doors. This is something of a Development Gag since the meta reason for this was just that — the character model kept getting stuck in doorways, but in the story, it helps explain Shale's disdain for humans after being treated that way.
  • According to an interview with the developers of Earth Defense Force, the reason oversized ants are the basic fodder enemy of the franchise is because the original game's extremely short development (4 months to make the actual game, 2 for debugging) meant there was no time to create original characters.
    Masatsugu Igarashi: Basically within four months there’s no time to design original characters, so you take something that exists around you everywhere. We picked up reference images from books and used them to create the enemies.
  • The designers of Façade admitted that they deliberately made Trip and Grace such self-centered, denial-prone people in order to justify and disguise some of the limitations of the AI. If the player says and does something the dev team didn't anticipate, Trip and Grace will choose to focus on their own needs instead, or just ignore the player's actions entirely.
  • Fallout: New Vegas's four expansions feature considerably smaller casts than the main game, and there's an abnormal number of characters who don't speak verbally, including Doctor 8, Christine, and ED-E. This was because one of the stipulations of the game's creation was an upper limit on how many voice lines they could record, and this gave them a lot more breathing room.
  • In Far Cry 3, Hoyt Volker was supposed to be the sole main villain. Then Michael Mando auditioned for the minor character "Lupo". He didn't get the part but they were so impressed by the audition that they decided to scrap Lupo and create an entirely new character for Mando to play, one which took over all advertising and even the cover of the game, and is still agreed to be one of the best villains of the franchise: Vaas Montenegro.
  • The miasma in Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles is the driving force of the entire game, but it was originally just designed to keep the whole team on screen at all times. Your party has to carry around a chalice that wards the miasma in its radius, and leaving the ward causes you to take damage, so nobody can wander off, so split-screen isn't necessary, so everyone gets to enjoy Scenery Porn.
  • Final Fantasy XIV was released as an Obvious Beta so horrible, that it was a Creator Killer for original producer Hiromichi Tanaka. After switching directors, the game made many improvements, but the engine was ultimately too taxed to handle anything more. Thus, it was decided to close the game and rebuild it from the ground up. In the days leading up to end of what would be known as version 1.0, a final storyline started involving The Empire planing a Colony Drop of the lesser moon Dalamud, which turned out to be a prison for the Primal Bahamut, a plot point which would have been touched upon later in the game's life. As the game's closing time drew closer, the moon would get closer and closer despite all the in-story efforts to stop it. The end of the game coincides with a final cutscene of Bahamut breaking free and causing The End of the World as We Know It, with the players only being saved from it by being sent into the future to a time when the world has started to recovered from "The Calamity".
  • Five Nights at Freddy's: The whole Uncanny Valley that is a characteristic of the series? Creator Scott Cawthon was originally a D-list indie developer who had little budget to create convincing animated characters, and his previous attempt at creating a children's game was lambasted because the characters look too lifeless to entertain actual children. When Cawthon did a complete turnaround and made a horror game, he didn't change his visual style one bit. The rest is history.
  • Most of F-Zero's science-fiction elements were a consequence of technical limitations. The use of hovering vehicles came as solution for sprite artists to not waste time drawing wheels (which would require several more individual sprites for each vehicle) and the concept of sky-high floating courses was to justify a perspective trick of the SNES's Mode 7, which turned a background layer (in this case, consisting of the racetrack and the environment "below" it) into the course itself. Because of this, Nintendo did not have to program in actual environmental elements around the racetrack, only needing the illusion of a city or whatever being viewed from top-down.
  • Grand Theft Auto was originally supposed to be a car racing game. But attempts at making the AI opponents more challenging resulted in the AI chasing after the player and crashing into them. Thinking that this was cool, the programmers retooled the game into a madcap crime simulator that spawned a mega-franchise.
  • Many plot and design elements of Half-Life: Alyx were clearly the result of the limitations of VR. The Gravity Gloves, though serving as a Call-Forward to their later Gravity Gun counterpart, meant that a lot of the difficulty involved in picking things up in VR was solved. The change in protagonist to Alyx made the shift to slower-paced puzzle-solving gameplay and small numbers of enemies much more suitable for a character who lacks Gordon's power armor and massive arsenal. Additionally, Alyx can only carry three guns and they're all one-handed, since one-handed guns are much easier to aim and code than their two-handed counterparts. And to compensate for the loss of powerful weapons, the game introduced a weapon upgrade system, as well as scattering the currency throughout the maps, which encourages the player to poke around the environments as much as possible (which is something of a selling point in VR anyway).
  • One level of Halo: Combat Evolved tasks you with infiltrating the Covenant starship Truth and Reconciliation to rescue human prisoners. Originally, this would have involved walking from the initial desert area of the level onto the ship by way of a ramp. But the team found that having both the desert area and the detailed ship rendered together in one continuous level would've been too much for the hardware. So they separated the two into two instanced areas, with the ship as seen from the desert being shown from a distance at night and its interior only being accessible by way of a "Gravity Lift" that pulls people up from the surface. The Gravity Lift would go on to be a common feature of Covenant structures in later Halo games, whether for other spacecraft or their turret towers.
  • Kingdom of Loathing:
    • After a bug involving an item that took meat away from players (coupled with the ridiculously high cap for meat) screwed up the game's economy, a number of "meat sinks" were introduced to deal with the "bug meat", including the Penguin Mafia and the various goods they offered. Much later in the game, a database error that wiped out several days' progress for many players led to the introduction of a "Time Arc", in which portals through time started opening up throughout the kingdom.
    • And on the creative side, there's another example. KOL celebrates holidays both via the in-game calendar and the real-life one, which aren't synced. Occasionally, that means that two holidays are being celebrated on the same day. One year Arrbor Day (where pirates plant trees to get wood to repair their ships) happened on the same day as Halloween. This combination of pirates, trees, and spookiness resulted in a special zone: the Shivering Timbers.
  • The King of Fighters XIV was the first in the series to make the leap to 3D models, as well as a huge starting roster and the greatest proportion of new characters in the series so far. The developers said that in light of this, they saved some development time and expense by designing three characters who wouldn't need facial expressions: Kukri (a mysterious man in blacked-out hood), Mian (a masked fighter who styles herself on Chinese opera) and King of Dinosaurs (a heel wrestler in an enormous costume).
  • The second game of the Legacy of Kain series, Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver, was much larger during development, which led to it being an Obvious Beta. Among other cut content, Raziel's final brother Turel would have been fought, the Human Citadel would have been non-optional and contained a hidden area where the vampire worshipping humans lurked, and the ending was entirely unambiguous, Raziel successfully killing Kain and then activating the Silenced Cathedral to destroy every Vampire in Nosgoth. Crystal Dynamics was running out of time and there was only so much room on the disk, so a lot of content was cut and left out to be included in future games. This would lead to a case of Tropes Are Not Bad though, because the series would go on to have an amazingly complex Kudzu Plot centering on Kain and Raziel's trips through time.
  • League of Legends had the "Burning Tides" gameplay/lore event of 2015, with one of the biggest updates being the mechanical and visual overhaul of Gangplank, the Big Bad of the whole event. How audiences saw the event is that they got accustomed to the pirate king and his shiny new captain look, but at the climax of the story where Miss Fortune's plan to assassinate him via bombardment goes off, he ended up being disabled from play, with the client simply listing that "Gangplank is dead." However, during the epilogue of the event, it was revealed that Gangplank had survivedwithout his ship, arm, and riches, but alive and really, really angry — and he was subsequently reenabled with his actual new default look, with the previous "Captain Gangplank" look was retroactively made into an alternate skin. As it turns out, Riot Games didn't intend for him to become disabled, and only did so because of an unforseen Game-Breaking Bug, taking the sudden need for repairs into an opportunity to merge gameplay with story.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • Like the Mario example above, much of Link's now-iconic appearance — his hat, tunic, and pointy ears — was simply a result of what could be easily rendered with the NES's 8-Bit graphics.
    • Ambidextrous Sprites in The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past were explained by a superstition about keeping one's shield towards Death Mountain.
    • The developers of The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask were tasked with completing the game in just one year, a very short amount of time compared to the development cycle of other Zelda games. Their solution: Set the game in a Bizarro Universe of the previous game's setting, where most of the characters are counterparts of people from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, who look exactly the same (allowing the developers to reuse the models) but who often have radically different names and personalities. Furthermore, they were able to store a more complex world on a cartridge with barely more memory than Ocarina of Time by means of the "Groundhog Day" Loop; resetting everything in the game except the Plot Coupons, the masks, the songs, and the non-ammo items meant that there were far fewer variables that the game needed to keep track of between play sessions compared to its predecessor (this is also the reason that non-Japanese versions of Majora's Mask that do let you save in the middle of the 3-day cycle at the Owl Statues have two save slots instead of three).
    • The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker had a somewhat rushed production that required the team to cut two dungeons they planned to include. This influenced the whole Nayru's Pearl arc of the game; turns out that Greatfish Isle, where the Pearl and the dungeon containing it would have been located, has been torn apart by Ganondorf by the time you reach it, and locating the Pearl requires you to instead explore the previously-visited Windfall and Outset Islands.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild boasts a persistent world, but runs into the problem of having to remember which enemies Link has slain and resources he's collected, which ones he hasn't, and what items he's left around the world and where. To cover this, the devs came up with the "Blood Moon", a Bad Moon Rising that appears every few nights and explicitly respawns all monsters but in the background also affects all items laying around and overall reverts the world to its untouched state. If one picks up enough items or kills enough enemies, the game will actually do an instant Blood Moon regardless of the time of day.
  • The LEGO Adaptation Games often have to fudge their storylines to accommodate for the gameplay requiring a second player at all times.
    • In LEGO Star Wars, the final battle of Episode III is a Duel to the Death between Obi-Wan and Anakin. The game gets around this by making the Final Boss the second player in a meta-Fighting Your Friend situation. Later on, in Episode VI, Darth Vader's death is delayed slightly so he can participate in the final battle with the Emperor.
    • In LEGO Harry Potter, Hermione is not held back by the potion puzzle, allowing her to fight in the final battle with Professor Quirrell in Year 1. Later, Year 2 has Ginny awaken from her coma so she can fight the Basilisk. Finally, Year 4 delays Cedric Diggory's death so he can fight Voldemort alongside Harry.
    • Averted with LEGO City Undercover. The original Wii U version was strictly a single-player only experience. In 2017, the game was ported to numerous other consoles, now boasting a two-player mode. Rather than altering the exisiting story to accomodate a second protagonist, Player 2 is completely absent from cutscenes and is represented by a second Chase McCain during gameplay.
  • Mass Effect 2 features the protagonist Shepard leaving the Systems Alliance Navy and joining the shadowy Cerberus organization, forcing the player to recruit a whole new party of allies (give or take a few familiar faces, like Garrus Vakarian and Tali'Zorah nar Rayya). Most of the characters who may or may not have survived the first game (like Urdnot Wrex, the Citadel Council, and either Ashley Williams or Kaidan Alenko) have drastically reduced roles, with some being relegated to brief cameos. According to Word of God, this was because the sheer number of branching story-lines brought about by the first two games' Multiple Endings were already taxing the software for the planned Mass Effect 3. By keeping the number of returning characters to a minimum, the developers were able to keep the number of possible story-lines to a somewhat manageable level.
  • In Mega Man 3, the developers wanted a rematch against the robot bosses of Mega Man 2, but there was not enough space for eight enemies' sprites. The solution? Make Mega Man fight eight times against a single enemy named Doc Robot/Dokurobo ("Skullbot") who mimicked their attacks and movement patterns!
  • Metal Gear:
    • The original Metal Gear on the MSX2 was originally envisioned as a top-down shooter. However, the hardware limitations of the platform meant that too many sprites on the screen would start to make the picture flicker. The game was thus re-tooled to focus on avoiding enemies and combat, and an iconic stealth franchise was born.
    • When Metal Gear Solid was remade for the Nintendo GameCube as The Twin Snakes, just about all of the dialogue was re-recorded, despite most of it being identical to the original PlayStation version (and it even uses all of the same actors to boot, courtesy of David Hayter.) While it would make sense insofar as mentioning the different buttons and such, Hayter mentioned in an interview that when the dialogue for the original was recorded, it was done in an apartment that was converted into a studio. If that was used for the remake, then the GameCube's sound card would pick up outside noises, including traffic.
  • Metroid:
    • With Metroid, the iconic Morph Ball came into being because the programmers had trouble making an animation of Samus crawling through small passageways. Thus, they made do with a much simpler animation of a rolling ball.
    • The similarly-iconic shoulders came about in Metroid II: Return of Samus because, it being a classic Game Boy game, they couldn't use alternate colors to differentiate between the starting Power Suit and the Varia upgrade as they did in the first game. This look has essentially become her defining outfit, to the point that Metroid Fusion and Metroid: Zero Mission are the only games in the series that don't give the massive shoulders with the Varia upgrade or even give her that upgrade from the start. And said games even have reasons for doing so: the former because Samus's Fusion Suit is made up of remnants from her removed Power Suit and the latter because Samus doesn't get the shoulders until she receives an ancient, but more advanced Power Suit towards the end of the game.
    • Metroid Prime, like Resident Evil, hides loading times behind the doors. The doors simply won't open until the next room is loaded. During normal gameplay, you usually won't notice this unless you listen to your Gamecube or Wii's disc drive suddenly spin up as you approach or shoot the door.
    • More like "Serendipity Designed the Character", but in the original game, the space-dragon Ridley is fairly small and somewhat hunched over, even while flying, due to limitations on sprite sizes at the time. This would later get Ridley Promoted to Playable in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate; modern Ridley is too big, but a hunched-over Ridley is just big enough.
  • In the Monkey Island games, Stan has an Unmoving Plaid pattern due to technical reasons in the first game, but it has been kept, even after the series became full-3D (and it required extensive effort to replicate under the conditions) and becoming a plot point in Tales of Monkey Island, simply because it is so iconic of Stan.
  • Mortal Kombat 9 Guest Fighter Freddy Krueger has a blurb in his story that explains why he's wearing a second claw-glove, even though he usually only wears one. This is to address the fact that MK9 lets all the characters switch their stance on command, meaning Freddy's attacks must be consistent regardless if he's leading with his left or right hand (as Front and Back limbs will change each time a character's stance changes).
  • According to Rand Miller, the game Myst was originally intended to solely be an exploration game where the player mainly took in the story and copious Scenery Porn. However the team needed to find a way to slow down the player enough to load the areas, so they implemented puzzles you had to solve to get to the Ages and wrote the story about how paranoid Atrius was about someone finding the books, resulting in the Myst series becoming one of the defining point-and-click puzzle game series.
  • The game Nancy Drew: The Curse of Blackmoor Manor was rendered in still frames (and the occasional FMV), which made it difficult for NPCs to appear during actual gameplay. So they wrote it into the script that Ethel appears out of nowhere after Nancy leaves the East Hall, spooking her. This scene was received favorably by players, who thought it heightened the game's scary atmosphere.
  • Overwatch faced a problem in 2021 regarding their resident gunslinger hero Jesse McCree, as he was directly named after a Blizzard developer who had been fired from the company amidst sexual harassment allegations. The Overwatch team made the decision to change the character's name to Cole Cassidy, but chose not to entirely retcon "McCree" out in favor of a storytelling opportunity in the New Blood comic, which was in production during the scandal. In the story, Cassidy was confirmed to be his birth name, but "Jesse McCree" was an alias he used while working under the criminal Deadlock Gang in his backstory, which continued being used during his time in Blackwatch. New Blood hinges around Cassidy being appointed to help rejoin and reunite Overwatch, and so he makes the decision to return to his birth name, representing his "rebirth" as a hero of the resurrected team.
  • Kanto in Pokémon Gold and Silver is rather empty compared to how it was in Pokémon Red and Blue (set three years prior in-universe), with dungeons and areas like Mt. Moon, the Safari Zone, and Cerulean Cave either scaled down or gone entirely. Even Cinnabar Island, an entire town, is destroyed. Of course, this is to be expected when putting two whole regions into a Game Boy cartridge, which is a miracle in itself. Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver, released for the more advanced Nintendo DS, added some of the missing areas back in.
    • In the similar vein, Sophocles' trial at Hokulani Observatory in Pokémon Sun and Moon is a sound quiz to help correct a power outage due to difficulties in development that cropped up. In Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon a year later, the trial is completely redesigned after the difficulties were resolved.
  • The reason Portal takes place in a Shared Universe with the Half-Life series is because the game had a small development team, so it originally reused most of its assets from Half-Life 2, allowing a handwave of Black Mesa plagiarizing Aperture’s technology. The final game uses mostly original assets, but still has some from Half-Life 2, such as the High Energy Pellets, which look and sound the same as the Combine's energy orbs.
  • Portal 2
    • Cave Johnson's assistant was originally going to be male and named Greg. However, since the part was so small, Valve didn't want to pay another voice actor so they changed the name to Caroline and had Ellen McLain voice her. Naturally, they had to come up with a reason as to why Caroline and GLaDOS have the same voice. Amusingly enough, for the Perpetual Testing Initiative expansion, they had J. K. Simmons record new lines as "Cave Prime", in which he references his assistant Greg. Greg is still The Voiceless.
    • Originally, the reason why GLaDOS (or PotatOS, rather) can't help you with tests after Wheatley takes over the facility was going to be the bird swooping in and eating parts of the potato, causing her to forget the test solutions and gradually making her dumber until her IQ is on par with Wheatley's. This ended up being too hard to program, so it was changed to Aperture's systems giving any AI who helps subjects solve the tests a painful shock as Wheatley finds out the hard way a couple of times.
  • In the original Prince of Persia, the game developers wanted to add another character; however, space on the game floppy was limited, and a new character could only be created if it was a Palette Swap of an existing one. After tinkering a bit, the development team came up with a dark copy of the Prince: the Shadow Prince. This later became central to the game's plot: the Shadow Prince is generated when the Prince passes through a magical mirror, and the Prince must rejoin his split self near the finale of the game.
  • The reason why Little Mac was made so little in the NES version of Punch-Out!! was to make it easier to see your opponent, as the developers couldn't translate the wireframe graphics from the arcade version properly.
  • Q*bert and his enemies were supposed to speak in full English. However, the Votrax speech synthesizer used made things sound almost unintelligible, so this was changed to a sort of alien language that gave Q*Bert his famous profanity. The only distinguishable sounds are "bye-bye" when you get a game over and "Hello, I'm turned on" when the machine is powered up.
  • Rayman was given Floating Limbs because this saved animation time and disc space for other content on the limited hardware of the time.
  • Resident Evil
    • Due to technical limitations, the early games had a loading screen for each area. The designers took advantage of this by making the loading screen the animation of a door opening. The door, in fact, that the player was entering through. As with Silent Hill's fog, these became so linked with the series that, even when they were able to effectively eliminate loading times for the first game's GameCube remake, they kept the door scenes in anyway. At least once, surprise attacks were hidden in these same loading screens (most notably the infamous "door of death" from Resident Evil 2). In Resident Evil Code: Veronica X the developers tried to manufacture this tension, with deliberately delayed door openings accompanied by thudding heartbeat sounds and throbbing rumble controllers.
    • The infamous live-action opening and equally bad voice acting from the original 1996 game was the result of having a budget so tight that the developers couldn't afford to hire professional actors.
  • Shinobi for the PS2 has the hero wearing an extremely long red scarf. This originally started with them goofing around with the parameters, and they set it to 200%. They realized this allowed the player to keep track of the character much better, so it was left like that.
  • The existence of the Soul Calibur in the eponymous Soulcalibur series is down to the infamous trademark lawsuits that have been filed due to Tim Langdell of Edge Games, which argue that any use of the word "edge" with relation to video games infringed on his company's name. When Namco attempted to release Soul Edge in the US under its original title, they were slapped with this, forcing them to sidestep with renaming the game "Soul Blade" and then later "Soulcalibur" for the following installment, which it retained from then onwards (an attempt was made during the development of Soulcalibur V to return the series to its "Soul Edge" name but it was rejected). The Soul Calibur was thus introduced as the antithesis to the already-established Soul Edge to anchor the newly-renamed series to its title.
  • One of the key traits of Space Invaders is how the aliens get faster as you destroy more and more of them. This was originally an unfortunate consequence of the low processing power being choked by a large number of enemies, but the creators liked it and decided to keep it in.
  • After the smash success of Spyro the Dragon, Insomniac Games was trying to come up with a plot for the foregone sequel. While looking at the Japanese box art for the first game, they noticed that the katakana for Spyro's name looked like it spelled out "Ripto". They now had the perfect name for the villain of their sequel, and thus Spyro 2: Ripto's Rage! was born.
  • Super Mario Bros.:
    • When the very first Super Mario Bros. was nearing completion, the playtesters deemed the Koopa Troopas, originally intended to be the basic enemy type, to be too tricky to beat for earlier portions of the game. However, very little space was left to program anything else into the code. So they came up with a simply-designed walking mushroom that only had two frames of animation, which were actually flipped versions of the same image. At the same time, this creature's resemblance to the Super Mushroom required them to change the item's look and behavior. Thus, a last-minute attempt to squeeze in something to make the game fairer led to the creation of the iconic Goomba.
    • The Fire Flower Power-Up launches bouncing fireballs because straight-flying fireballs were too impractical and hard to program otherwise.
    • The recurring character Waluigi was created for Mario Tennis so that Wario could have a tennis partner—allowing him to play doubles with Mario and Luigi, Peach and Daisy, and Toad and Yoshi. This is also why he doesn't generally appear in the Wario Land games, or any games that don't involve competitive team sports. Amusingly, though, this hasn't stopped him from becoming a very memetic fan favorite. This is also largely the reason Daisy became a prominent character at all; prior to that point, she was reserved to the original Super Mario Land. That said, the spin-offs have also made Daisy a fan favorite in her own right, even going as far as to be playable in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.
  • Super Robot Wars 2 was meant to have Aura Battler Dunbine in, but Banpresto couldn't secure the rights to it. Rather than simply give up on the idea entirely, the company decided to create an Original Generation Expy in the form of Masaki Andoh and the Cybuster. Since then, the number of Super Robot Wars games that are devoid of original protagonists can be counted on one hand and the Masou Kishin plot, in particular, is the longest one of them all, and still ongoing as well.
  • In Super Smash Bros., this is how Ganondorf's controversial portrayal as a Moveset Clone of Captain Falcon came about. Masahiro Sakurai originally had no plans to include him as a playable character in Melee, but late in development, felt obligated to do so as he was the most popular Zelda character in a poll he conducted earlier. He eventually realized that Ganondorf's build would fit Captain Falcon's animations easily, and so his model from a GameCube tech demo was ported into the game with this in mind. He remains this way in all future installments in spite of being portrayed as a sword-wielding Magic Knight in future Zelda games, although he also had his animations redone in Brawl to resemble certain hand-to-hand moves that he does in various games in his home series, while Ultimate gives him a sword (from the aforementioned GameCube tech demo) for his smash attacks but otherwise leaves him largely the same.
  • Star Fox's iconic Arwing fighter design was conceived largely because it could be made out of relatively few polygons. In addition, the "fly into the screen" approach was used because of the SNES's strength at drawing 2D backgrounds, further conserving limited processing power. Full details are provided in this Iwata Asks interview.
  • The Tenchu games take place at night because it was easier on the PlayStation's processor.
  • One reason why Touhou Project features a cast predominantly composed of girls is because ZUN, whose art is already considered mediocre at best, is even more terrible at drawing a decent looking male character. The Elegant Gothic Lolita costumes most characters wear also reduce the need to have to draw properly proportioned limbs and bodies, leaving only heads and hands. While ZUN's art has gotten better over the years and art in official mangas and spinoff games is left to other artists, by now the series has become so synonymous with "girls shooting each other with lasers" that any serious attempt to shake up the status quo would likely be met with backlash, which was why ZUN ultimately swapped the male Myouren Hijiri with his sister Byakuren in Unidentified Fantastic Object.
  • In Undertale, the Fallen Child looks near identical to Frisk because when Toby Fox asked Temmie to storyboard the intro, she got the number of stripes on Frisk's shirt wrong. This ended up a key plot point, as Asriel admits mistaking Frisk for the Fallen Child in the Pacifist ending.
    • In Undertale, player's choice is a HUGE aspect of the game, as just about everything you do affects the game world and the characters. However, Undertale's sequel of sorts, Deltarune, makes it clear from the very start that player choice does NOT matter, and that the story is completely out of your control. This is done partly for story reasons, but also because Deltarune is a way bigger and more complicated game than Undertale (one playthrough of the former will have significantly more content), so implementing that many branching storylines would be nigh impossible.
  • The Yamate Tunnel course in the Japanese version of Wangan Midnight Maximum Tune 5 was reconfigured for 5DX and beyond to reflect the closure of a road running along the course's real-life counterpart.
  • Yakuza: Like a Dragon was originally planned to be another Beat 'em Up like the rest of the series, but while in development an April Fool's prank video was released showing a Yakuza game done with turn-based RPG mechanics. The video was so well received that the team retooled Like A Dragon to have the same mechanics, with an in-universe justification of Ichiban being a big Dragon Quest fan and seeing their fights playing out in a similar manner.
  • The makers of Yoku's Island Express, Jens Andersson and Mattias Snygg, initially set out to make a game in one year without a dedicated animator. Hence, they decided to "make a game about a ball" because that would be easy to animate. While the scope and timeframe for the game's development expanded quite a bit from that initial idea, they continued to retain the focus on the ball, resulting in a Metroidvania controlled like a pinball game.

Hardware/Multiple games examples:

  • The red and white colors of the Famicom were due to those colors of plastic being the cheapest at the time.
  • Fog in video games is usually done because of the difficulty — or even impossibility — of rendering an entire area all at once. In order to make up for the limitation, the developers will usually Hand Wave it in some way. Some examples:
    • A well-executed and well-received case: Silent Hill's fog helps the game's atmosphere so much that the fog (or sometimes snow) was retained long after technical improvements had obviated the need for it. Tellingly, an HD re-release of the original games drastically increased the draw distance... and was considered the vastly inferior version because of it, to the point where the fog was patched back in for the PS3 version.
    • Spider-Man (2000) uses the fog as a major plot point. The sequel got around it by having all the rooftop levels at night or dawn.
    • Grand Theft Auto III has heavy fog that just adds to the overall aesthetic of "crappy New York-esque city".
    • The gas zombies in Dead Rising 2 are accompanied by green fog because it makes it easier to render the increased amounts of zombies.
    • Superman 64 has green "kryptonite fog" which allegedly explains why Superman isn't so super-powered in Lex Luthor's virtual world.
    • San Francisco Rush...well, it's San Francisco. It makes a little less sense in Rush 2: Extreme Racing USA, which features various US cities, although the Los Angeles course changes the fog to smog instead, reflecting LA's notoriously poor air quality.
    • Left 4 Dead and its sequel make use of fog to emulate horror movies that had fog smoking the set. The fog in game would not only hide objects and level geometry being drawn in as the player approached them, but it also helped make the zombies in the distance stand out more. Using mods that remove fog gives the levels a much cleaner look, but some objects that took advantage of being covered in fog look less impressive without it along with said objects popping in.
  • As indicated above, multiple disc games often make certain areas inaccessible after certain points in the plot, to save on space on each disc. Each disc usually has some big event occur at the end of the disc that will remove access to certain side areas that are no longer useful to the plot in the next disc. It's annoying if you needed a certain item for a side quest, but allowing the developers to not have to try and fit the entire world and everything in it on the last disc, freeing them up some space for ending cutscenes, boss data, and the very definite final dungeon.
  • The Nintendo Hard trope exists, in large part, because of the technical limitations that video games faced when the medium was still in its infancy (hence Nintendo being the Trope Namer). In a time when limited memory made it impossible to fit more than about an hour of material on a single game cartridge, the best way to prolong a game's running time was to make it as challenging as humanly possible, ensuring that it took at least several days (if not weeks or months) for all but the most skilled players to beat it. There's a reason games from the 1980s have a reputation for being difficult: their difficulty level may have been frustrating, but it was often the only way to make gamers feel like they'd gotten their money's worth out of a game. By the same token, arcade games tend to be much more challenging than console games for the same reason: the only way to make them economically feasible is to ensure that they're nigh-impossible to beat on the first try, requiring players to spend more money on replays. What's more, ensuring that a player can't keep playing a game for too long means that one person can't hog the machine unless they're willing to spend a lot of money.
    • With the decline of arcades and technology allowing for longer, more elaborate games, the Nintendo Hard trope has even found a new home in the Free-To-Play model of games that are particularly popular on smartphones. Many of these games are designed to be incredibly hard (or incredibly easy at the first few chapters to draw in players before Difficulty Spike rears its ugly head) so that players are encouraged to spend money to receive a "cheat" or shortcut method to the next level. Like arcade games, many F2P games would be incredibly short, and thus unprofitable, otherwise.
    • Likewise, indie video games have a greater tendency to rely on high difficulty for artificial length compared to their big-name developer counterparts. Partially because many of them want to recreate the difficulty of their favorite childhood video games, and partially because their lower budgets cause them to be short otherwise.
  • Probably one of the reasons games that were set in space were probably so popular in the early days of video games was how easy they were on both the part of the developers and on the hardware they ran on. A black screen with occasional white dots generated with a linear-feedback shift register is very easy to draw and requires basically no video memory.
  • Homebrew Visual Novels, especially the romance ones taking place in schools, often make the player character choose one among the several extra-class activities (like thematic clubs or sports teams) when it is clear later that he/she could have taken part of almost all of them at the same time. The official reason is "to focus more on the girl/boy the protagonist will end up dating", but could also be because of all the complexities at programming and loads of extra lines of dialogue and plot sections that should be added to take account of the role these activities would take place in the plot.
    • One example is Katawa Shoujo, where male lead Hisao rejects love interest candidate Shizune's invitations to join the student council if his choices bring him closer to Rin or Emi, but the other options are not all that time-consuming: Emi's "morning running team" runs at the earliest hours of the day and Rin's art club meets two times a week.
      • Also, in order to keep the downloadable game file in a bearable size, the girlfriends' character sprites usually come in only four variations (and even less for the other characters): school uniform, casual clothes, naked (or semi-naked) and a fourth outfit that varies according to the girl's activities (like a physical-ed uniform for Emi and an painting overall for Rin). This explains the students walking around outside classes in their uniforms, even if boarding schools don't mandate them to be worn all the time (for it could risk them being dirtied or damaged), and Emi sleeping on her P-Ed uniform instead on any kind of pyjamas.
  • When the Xbox was first approved for development, creative director Horace Luke was asked to start sketching concepts for what the physical product could look like. In the moment, he quickly discovered that all of the color markers on his desk were empty, except one: Green. The final version of the Xbox naturally evolved a lot from those initial sketches, but the black and green color theming was something that stuck ever since the beginning.

    Web Animation 
  • Zero Punctuation:
    • Yahtzee declared that older horror games are more frightening than the newer ones, because the older games had to have "fog" due to technical limitations, and the monsters weren't as well fleshed out, leaving the details up to the viewer's imagination. And when it's up to your subconscious, it's always scarier.
      Yahtzee: This was part of Silent Hill from the beginning. Konami wanted to make a full-3D survival horror game, but since they were making it on the PS1 they had to wind back the draw distance to about six inches and make up a story about supernatural fog. Result: instantly iconic horror, and by following the same principle, Silent Hill 2 still looks fantastic despite the PS2's datedness.
    • This was part of a column he wrote about several "rules" game developers should follow, one of which was something like "Thou Shalt Always Embrace One's Limitations", which is this trope in a nutshell.
    • He also thought that Driver: San Francisco was all the better for explaining the body-jumping mechanic and all Acceptable Breaks from Reality as part of Tanner's Adventures in Comaland. When a chase ends with the target escaping out of the gameworld's limit, the game hangs a lampshade on with Tanner having to make excuses for losing him without saying "He went past the edge of my dreamworld".
    • More directly, the show Zero Punctuation itself came about because of this trope. Yahtzee wanted to do some video-style Lets Plays, but lacked video capture equipment and software and wanted to do it on the cheap. So he decided to record his voice and draw a few doodles in MS Paint and compose it together into a video. After two videos someone from The Escapist saw his stuff, found it amusing, and offered him a deal. The rest is history.
  • The Machinima Water-Human has one of its characters, a giant beetle, become small in later episodes, which is explained by a Hand Wave. To create his original incarnation, the author used a cheat code that makes all the non-player characters large, so it would be impossible to have the large Large Beetle in one shot with normal-sized characters.
  • Link VS Cloud was the first DEATH BATTLE! to be done in 3D. However, this was less a stylistic choice and more practical, as the majority of Link's available 2D sprites were in a Top-Down View, which would've been unusual for a Death Battle since they are often similar to a 2D fighting game in appearance — meanwhile Cloud, whose debut game was 3D, had never been playable in a 2D game at the time of the video's release, so he had no 2D sprites to work with.

  • The webcomic Bob and George is made of this trope. Originally the comic was supposed to be a hand-drawn comic about teenage superheroes. The Mega Man sprite comics were originally just filler material. However, the author, Dave Anez, was a self-admitted lousy artist and the hand-drawn comic wouldn't pan out. After trying and failing multiple times he gave up. By then the "filler" sprite comic had become so popular that it became the main comic and a storyline was written to bring the title characters into the plot. Subsequent storylines would frequently change direction in order to fill in plot holes.
    • Bob and George were introduced to the sprite strip due to an accident; after a scene where the Author chases Mega Man, every other cast member gathers in the same room. Since the Author copypasted the sprites from a set of previous strips, he put in the Author twice. So he introduced a pair of impostors running around, and the rest is history.
    • Another prominent example is the existence of the Helmeted Author. Originally it was meant to be the normal Author character who was now wearing a helmet because it was impossible to render a helmetless sprite in certain positions. However, Dave later accidentally put both the normal and Helmeted Author sprites in one holiday comic. As a result, the Helmeted Author went on to become not only a separate character but a major recurring villain.
    • During the third game parody, the Author planned for George to inadvertently give Dr. Wily the idea for Doc Robot. However, a month earlier, Dr. Wily already mentioned that he built one. The Author soon realized his mistake, and closed the plot hole by giving Dr. Wily several robotic clones; the one who said he built Doc Robot was the real one, and George gave the clone the idea for Doc Robot. Several years later, Dr. Wily's robot doubles comes in handy after Bob claims to have killed Dr. Wily; Bob killed one of the doubles instead.

    Web Original 
  • From The Furious D Show, a blog about pop culture and the business behind it, Hollywood Babble On & On #528: The Curse of the Dark Castle.
    I think it was Stephen King who said that horror has to be cheap because big budgets require big explanations. If a company is spending tens of millions of dollars on special effects, a filmmaker is compelled to show the entire monster in loving detail. That kills the mystery, and with it, the horror. It's actually better to cheap out, because then the filmmakers have to use darkness, and mystery to hide the fact that they're made of rubber and string, hence escalating the potential for horror.
  • The author of the Chaos Timeline originally had planned to call the internet of this world "Weltnetz" but found out that German neo-Nazis use this term already for the existing internet, so he changed it to "Weltsystem".

    Web Videos 
  • A music editor decided to make the turrets from Portal sing. Some parts of the song didn't work out well, so the editor made a story about this crazy person who blew up Aperture Science Enrichment Center before he could finish. Watch it here!
  • The running gag of Tallales missing his Nice Hat in every episode past the third of World's Greatest Adventures was due to, well, losing the prop.
  • The Angry Video Game Nerd's review of the Atari 5200 is just him struggling to hook the thing up and get it to work, and constantly running into problems like faulty hookups, faulty controllers, lugging the heavy 5200 around the room, and even being scammed by a fake replacement controller he bought online. He never actually plays a game, because these were all real issues that he had trying to film the video for real and ultimately made that the focus of the episode since it already effectively illustrated the issues that made the console so unpopular (namely, its terrible form factor, frail controllers, and being the followup to a much more approachable machine).
  • Played for Laughs in JonTron's BUYING DUMB THINGS ONLINE video when he's brought a package by Amazon that is a shamelessly bad special effect and obviously being held up by strings with drone sound effects. Jon wastes no time poking fun at how they actually did try to use the drone for real to disastrous results:
    Jon: Oh hey there Mr. Postman Drone! The special effect that absolutely nothing went wrong with!
    (Cut to chaotic footage of the drone actually carrying the box, crashing and smashing apart over the caption (EXPENSIVE MISTAKE SOUNDS) while various people yell "No!")
    Jon: Don't do anything crazy like almost kill my crew again!
    (Cut to more footage of the actual drone crashing)
  • Board James: Behind the scenes, James Rolfe once mentioned not being able to find the original commercial for Tornado Rex online, and eventually finding its song inferior to the one he and his buddies thought up instead when he did find it.
  • RedLetterMedia: Discussed. They call it "shooting the rodeo". If you're a No Budget filmmaker, just go to whatever local event your small town is holding and film there for some instant production value.

    Western Animation 
  • VeggieTales came into being because the creators were limited to armless, legless, hairless characters thanks to rudimentary CGI. Phil Vischer's first choice was an anthropomorphic candy bar, but his wife suggested parents would appreciate a hero who promoted healthier eating habits; hence the talking fruits and vegetables.
  • After Goofy's voice actor Pinto Colvig left the Disney studio in the late 1930s, the film-makers needed to come up with a quick solution to hide the character's voicelessness before finding a replacement. They did this by creating an entire series around a world of mute Goofy look-alikes performing everyday tasks, while a narrator (voiced by John McLeish) explained what the characters were doing to the audience. The How to... shorts went on to become the most famous of all the Goofy series and continued even after Colvig returned to voice the character in the mid-1940s.
  • Beast Wars:
    • The series was an entirely CGI program, which made it quite expensive. As a result, it had a smaller cast than other Transformers shows, leading to a stronger focus on the characterization of the existing characters. It also ended up taking place on prehistoric Earth, which likely saved a mountain of cash on rendering actual humans and man-made locales.
    • Early on, the show's story editors found Waspinator's character problematic because his buzzing, drawn-out speaking pattern wasted precious screentime. Their solution was to kill him in every episode (so that he couldn't talk). The running gag became very popular with both the fans and writers, to the point of entirely defining Waspinator's character and sparing him from being killed off at Hasbro's insistence.
    • While writing the second season, the writers realized they'd have to kill off a lot of characters if they wanted to make room for new ones (due to the above CGI issue). This resulted in four very abrupt demises (Tigatron, Airazor, Scorponok, Terrorsaur) to make way for the Fuzors and Rampage. What was more, this made the writers aware that an order could come down at any moment to introduce more characters. Because of this, they resolved to kill off a character through an actual meaningful arc and buildup (Dinobot), giving the show one of its most famous moments.
    • The third season opens with the crashed Axalon being destroyed and falling into the sea, forcing the main characters to build a new base in the newly-unearthed Ark and spend much of the following season trying to salvage as much as possible from the Axalon. Why did this happen? Because Optimus Primal just got a new body... a very, very large new body. Now that he was about twice his original height, he simply couldn't fit inside the Axalon anymore, necessitating a relocation to a larger base.
  • ReBoot was the first ever 3D animated series. Mainframe knew the technical limitations it was under and instead of trying to hide the fact that the software was still rather primitive, the company set the series within a computer, explaining why everything was so pristine and polygonal. This also allowed for several computer-based jokes to get through, as well as reusing character models and assets (even from other shows).
  • Star Wars Rebels:
    • During Season 3 and 4, Freddie Prinze Jr. was undergoing neck surgery, resulting in Kanan having less screentime to allow him to recover.
    • Jacen's eye-color was supposed to be the same as Kanan's, but the animators mistakenly gave him Dume's instead. In a poetic way, it still works given that Dume is a part of Kanan through Force shenanigans.
  • In The Legend of Korra, the budget for the fourth book was cut by an amount equal to a fully animated episode. To fill the need for the thirteenth episode, the main developing team was forced to choose between firing most of the show's crew weeks earlier than planned or creating a Clip Show. They obviously chose the Clip Show over firing their friends and tried to emulate the feeling of the prior show's "The Ember Island Players".
  • Gravity Falls was a very high-concept show since its inception, but because of its creator's inexperience with running a TV series and his doubts over its longevity, he chose to keep the first season focused specifically between Mabel and Dipper's relationship while side characters and the over-arcing plot were kept downplayed. While this did benefit the show in the long run, it still led to criticism towards many of the side characters (specifically Soos and Wendy) who many viewers felt were uninteresting or lacked proper development. note 
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: In "The Break-Up Breakdown", the subplot involving Big Mac's pie for Sugar Belle accidentally being delivered to Sweetie Belle and making her believe she had a secret admirer was, according to one of the show's story editors, inspired by an executive who accidentally wrote "Sugar Belle" in some notes instead of "Sweetie Belle".
  • Gumby's distinctively large feet came about because they made him easier to stay upright, a real boon in the tedious medium of Stop Motion Animation.
  • The showrunners of Spider-Man: The Animated Series were initially forbidden from using the Green Goblin because Marvel executives wanted to save the character for a live-action Spider-Man film that was in active development at the time, and only relented when said film was scrapped. This is why Norman Osborn doesn't become the Green Goblin until Season 3, and why (unlike in virtually every other version) the Hobgoblin is introduced before the Green Goblin.
  • Since the famous 1987 animated adaptation of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was aimed at a considerably younger audience than the original underground comic books, many elements of the story had to be reworked to be more age-appropriate. One of the biggest examples was Splinter's backstory: in the comics, he was originally Hamato Yoshi's pet rat who witnessed Yoshi's murder at the hands of Oroku Saki, and he became a master of ninjutsu by mimicking Yoshi's movements as he watched him from his cage; but since the cartoon couldn't depict death, the showrunners rewrote Splinter's origin so that he actually was Hamato Yoshi. Instead of killing Yoshi, Oroku Saki gets him exiled from Japan by framing him for a plot to murder his sensei, forcing him to live in the sewers of New York, where he eventually gets mutated by mutagenic ooze along with the Turtles.note  This had the unintentional side-effect of making Splinter's enmity with the Shredder much more personal, since the two of them were former friends with a years-long blood feud. This idea was well-received enough that it was later reused in numerous other versions—including the IDW comic book (where Splinter and the Turtles are the reincarnations of Yoshi and his four sons), and the 2012 series (where the Turtles outright take the "Hamato" family name).
  • Mike Judge originally envisioned King of the Hill as a spinoff of his breakout hit Beavis and Butt-Head centered on Beavis and Butthead's crotchety neighbor Tom Anderson. But when he had to scrap this idea due to legal issues (the show was picked up by the Fox network, which didn't own the rights to Beavis and Butthead), he was obliged to retool Tom Anderson into Hank Hill, and moved the show's setting from New Mexico to Texas. For a while, though, he still held out hope that he'd be able to set the two shows in the same universe, and eventually wanted to reveal that Hank was actually Tom's son. But when this proved to be unfeasible for exactly the same reason, he was forced to create Hank's father as a completely original character—resulting in the introduction of Cotton Hill, widely considered to be one of the show's most interesting and memorable characters.

Alternative Title(s): Writing Around Limitations