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Pragmatic Adaptations in live-action film.


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Superhero Movies

    Marvel Cinematic Universe 
The MCU does a lot of this.
  • Iron Man:
    • The first movie changed Obadiah Stane to be an old friend of Tony's and his father's to heighten the sense of villainy and betrayal. Jarvis was changed from a butler with a fake English accent to an English-sounding talking computer, probably because another famous and popular superhero already had a British Servile Snarker.
    • The sequel went a little bit further, conflating Whiplash and Crimson Dynamo into a single character and changing Justin Hammer's age to closely match that of Tony Stark.
    • The third film took great liberties with its main villain, the Mandarin, while still having him faithful to the source material... in a way. Trevor Slattery's in-universe impersonation of the Mandarin was based in part on the same Yellow Peril tropes that inspired the original version seen in the early Iron Man comics, while Aldrich Killian is based on modern versions of the character and claims to be the true Mandarin. However, it turns out that both Slattery and Killian merely stole the real Mandarin's persona; All Hail the King reveals that the real one is not only still out there, but hungry for vengeance against those who stole his name. This was mostly to avoid the Yellow Peril stereotype and make it appeal to the ever-growing Chinese film industry.
  • The Mighty Thor film didn't use the pseudo-Elizabethan English that the Asgardian characters spoke for many years in the comics, which they themselves have already dropped this highly campy element. However, while movie Thor doesn't use the pseudo-Elizabethan English, he does still speak in the largely antiquated and hammy style of the comics to largely the same effect (just minus the "thou's" and "thy's"). It was also decided that Thor's iconic helmet would only make one appearance near the beginning of the film before being discarded due to looking a little ridiculous on the big screen. It also gets a brief nod in Thor: Ragnarok, in a way that's reminiscent of Gladiator.
  • The Avengers took a number of liberties with the source material to make it more (in the film's view) palatable for a mainstream audience. Among the major changes were having Hawkeye forego his classic purple costume in favor of his more realistic leather outfit from The Ultimates, as well as both he and Black Widow being made into founding members of the Avengers. The plot also combines elements of both the first issue of The Avengers from back in the '60s and the first storyline from The Ultimates.
  • Captain America: The First Avenger features the costume Cap wore in the comics, but it's for a propaganda show and he looks utterly ridiculous. When he gets his actual fighting suit, it's radically different and much more plausible: changes include a helmet instead of a cowl, mere decals instead of large head wings, body armor, and the red of his costume is in the form of red utility straps rather than gaudy decorative stripes.
  • Captain America: Civil War completely upends its comic book namesake, changing the Superhero Registration Act into the Sokovia Accords, the reasoning for the accords (from a panicking Nitro setting off his expanded powers to kill The New Warriors and 600 others in Stanton to a suicide vest worn by Crossbones going off and killing bystanders in a botched Avengers mission), giving new reasoning between Captain America and Iron Man's disagreements (both the Accords and the possible innocence of the Winter Soldier) and increasing the importance of Black Panther, Black Widow, and Scarlet Witch (who either had bit parts or weren't around in the comic story) while decreasing that of Spider-Man (who played a major part in the original comic).
    • The film scales down the Crisis Crossover elements of Civil War to focus on a (relatively) smaller conflict between various superheroes, along with the ideological conflict represented between Iron Man and Captain America.
    • Since there are next to no secret identities in the MCU, the Super Registration Act is instead about forcing heroes to work as agents of world governments.
    • Spider-Man does not publicly reveal his Secret Identity because of the change in the nature of the Super Registration Act and because he makes his debut in the MCU here — not to mention that he's still in high school when the movie occurs. He also does not change sides.
    • The New Warriors and Nitro (the original instigators) do not currently exist in the MCU. Instead, the catalyst for the Super Registration Act is an international incident involving the Avengers. Not to mention, the original catalyst — a bunch of teenage superheroes causing a catastrophe simply to get more viewers for their reality show — would sound a little too far-fetched for a live-action movie anyway. However, while Nitro isn't involved, the incident is someone blowing himself up, just instead of Nitro, it's Crossbones.
    • Elements of Ed Brubaker's Winter Soldier story arc are incorporated to tie Civil War into the previous Cap film.
    • Characters who had only minor roles in the original comic book event (e.g. Black Panther, Black Widow, Hawkeye) have bigger roles due to the differences between the MCU in 2016 and the Marvel Universe circa 2006.
    • Rather than ask us to believe all these heroes would literally go to war simply over a political issue, the film has the more concrete issue of the Avengers not having Hero Insurance and what to do with Bucky as the catalysts for the fighting.
    • Most importantly, none of the Avengers die. In the comics, Bill "Goliath" Foster and Captain America (and a bunch of C-list heroes and villains nobody cares about) died. The most serious casualty in the movie is Rhodey, who is paralyzed but mobile thanks to Stark Tech. Cap also does not surrender at the end of the fight, and instead remains a fugitive.
    • Also, in the comic, S.H.I.E.L.D. attempted to arrest Captain America for simply saying he wouldn't personally enforce a law that hadn't been passed yet. Here, Cap isn't a target until he actually breaks the law to help Bucky, and there is an earnest attempt to convince him to change his mind. Cap, for his part, doesn't break the law until he hears there's a kill-on-sight order out on Bucky – prior to that, he and Falcon were apparently just going to retire.
  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier heavily alters the title villain's origin to fit the context of the movie and its predecessor, while still maintaining much of his background. They also made The Falcon into a V.A. counselor and former soldier to better justify his inclusion in the plot. Some changes were also made to Arnim Zola to avoid him seeming too silly and "comic booky" to mainstream audiences.
  • Guardians of the Galaxy has both major and minor changes, most of which will only be picked up by fans of the original material. Examples include turning Drax's adversary from Thanos to Ronan (to give Drax a more obvious motive), a Race Lift and costume change for Korath the Pursuer, and Yondu as the leader of the Ravagers.
    • Comics!Star-Lord had a very long personal history before he joined the Avengers. The bits about him becoming an astronaut, journeying through the Solar System, becoming a grouchy cyborg, befriending Nova and fighting in the Annihilation War would have really bogged down the film, so his backstory gets whittled down significantly.
    • Similarly, there's no mention of Drax having originally been a human who was remade as an alien. Really, "has beef with Thanos" was all they needed from his backstory, so they stayed with that.
  • Avengers: Infinity War and its sequel, Avengers: Endgame, are more of an adaptation of The Infinity Gauntlet than the titular Infinity War comic, but even then makes significant changes to the former due to the changes in the MCU's continuity. For starters:
    • The first film is a loose adaptation of The Thanos Quest by Jim Starlin. In order to avoid having the plot exclusively focus on Thanos (as was the case in the original story), the movie adds in the Black Order and Outriders from Infinity, and has them attempt to claim the Infinity Stones that are on Earth while Thanos goes after the ones on other worlds. This gives the heroes someone to fight and provides an excuse for the narrative to focus on Earth while Thanos is off doing other things, since audiences likely wouldn't respond well to an Avengers movie where the Avengers are Demoted to Extras and don't really do anything for most of the film.
    • As the original Civil War event took place after the original Infinity trilogy, The Avengers were still an active team at the time of the original Infinity Gauntlet comic. However, a major plot point of Infinity War and Endgame is how the Avengers have to reunite after the events of Captain America: Civil War.
    • As characters associated with the X-Men note  and Fantastic Four note  franchises were, at the time of the duology's announcement, maintained by 20th Century Fox and were not returned to Marvel until after production for Infinity War wrapped up and Endgame began filming, they were not featured in this duology. To compensate for this, Infinity War and Endgame gave existing characters who play major roles in the MCUnote  who were either not present or had smaller roles at most in the original Infinity trilogy.
    • Thanos' motivation to killing half of life in the universe was changed from wanting to get Death to love him to his plan to stop the overpopulation of the universe.
    • Furthermore, at least some of the characters who appeared in the original Infinity saga that Marvel did have the film rights tonote  were Adapted Out, partly due to the changes in the MCU's continuity, and partly to keep the movies from getting too crowded.
  • Shang-Chi and the Ten Rings is also subject to this trope. Specifically:
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    Other Superhero Movies 
  • The Dark Knight Trilogy removes or attempts to justify the more fantastic elements of the Batman mythos, in order to keep the theme of it being "realistic" and happening in a world only slightly different from ours. Most critically, Joker wears make-up instead of being scarred by an acid bath (which also adds mightily to the theme that he has no Origin Story and is just doing everything himself), Bane doesn't use venom, and Ra's Al Ghul is only immortal in the figurative sense. The films also show some detail as to where Bats gets all those wonderful toys, which most adaptations don't bother trying to explain.
  • Say what you will about the Fantastic Four movies, but at least they had a legitimate reason for Johnny and Sue to go out to space; Sue's a genetics researcher, and Johnny's an astronaut. They're also on a space station, not a space ship.
  • The Spider-Man Trilogy changed I Love Nuclear Power to Genetic Engineering Is the New Nuke in regards to Spider-Man's Super Hero Origin, as it was slightly easier to Hand Wave a scientifically altered spider than a random million-to-one chance of an irradiated spider (and irradiating a spider wouldn't make it do that). The comic book's artificial webshooters were dropped because the movie didn't have time to believably show Peter inventing them (and because they felt that a single teenager being able to invent a wonder adhesive that 3M couldn't strained Willing Suspension of Disbelief). In fact, most of the first two films were this, and so was some of Part 3 in regards to the Symbiote.
  • The Amazing Spider-Man has another nice take on it: Peter steals an experimental web formula from Oscorp, which he simply needs to refine a bit and build web-shooters for (based on the already-existing technology) to serve his purposes. Peter Parker does not begin his career with the 'ubergeek' personality. Someone capable of building gadgetsnote  like him would actually be considered pretty cool, so he's more of a loner here; the only one at his school who really looks down on him is Flash Thompson. Uncle Ben's role is expanded, but this just makes his death sadder. The 'wrestling' bit is left out, too. These changes are all needed to keep the film from being a retelling of the origin story as shown in the first film of the previous trilogy.
  • Most comic book–inspired movies are like this, though many fans can't get past a They Changed It, Now It Sucks! reaction. The original example is Superman: The Movie and its sequels. The first half of the film maintains the backstory of the characters, and Supes looks just like he does in the comics, as do many supporting characters. The film makes stylistic changes and alters the backstory (e.g. Clark was never Superboy), yet is still very much in tune with the spirit of the comics up to that point.
  • The Watchmen film has numerous changes to the source material, most of them extrapolated from the comic. Two significant changes (Dan Dreiberg seeing Rorschach's death and subsequently beating up Ozymandias, and changing some of the dialogue for the ending) were most likely done to add a sense of Catharsis Factor to an otherwise bitter ending (though the graphic novel leaves the thread open). For the climax, they decided on a device that emulated Dr. Manhattan's energy signature, allowing the world to scapegoat him, rather than the alien squid. People are undecided as to which works better overall, but it's definitely the best they could have done with that ending in film. The moment where Rorschach snaps was changed, mostly to avoid comparison with Saw, but the new scene also allows us to see the moment his mind snaps without an overabundance of narration.
    • Interestingly, the HBO series also has an interesting approach to the graphic novel's climax: unlike the movie, we actually get to see a giant squid in the middle of Manhattan, averting this trope entirely; however, the scene itself is shown as part of a flashback rather than a piece of the main narrative.
  • The X-Men Film Series, which focus on the human–mutant conflict, greatly simplify the Marvel universe, cutting out the magic powers, scheming alien empires, and the like. Several characters who aren't mutants are made into mutants for simplicity's sake, the Phoenix Force is a destructive aspect of Jean Grey's personality which was psychically repressed by Prof. Xavier, and almost none of the characters are referred to by their "superhero" names except in passing. (That explanation for Jean's Phoenix powers was in fact the original one, before later comics retconned them by creating the Phoenix Force as a godlike cosmic entity.) Rogue is unable to fly, has no fighting/combat abilities, and does not have super strength or invulnerability. This is because, unlike in the comic books, she has none of the abilities that she acquired from Ms. Marvel (Carol Danvers).
  • In Wonder Woman (2017), Dr. Poison was originally Japanese, as she was written like a Imperial Japan caricature like most Axis villains Wonder Woman fought during World War II. Because the setting was updated to World War I where Japan wasn't with the Central Powersnote , Dr. Poison is not depicted as Japanese in the movie. Instead, she is a Spaniard to accommodate her actress. note 

Other Genres

    A-E 
  • In About a Boy, the ending of the book is centered around Kurt Cobain's (the character Elle's favorite musician, and the guilty pleasure of Will) suicide. In the movie, Will's guilty pleasure is changed to hip-hop music, as the novel was written in the early 90s and the movie made nearly a decade later. The end of the movie also focuses on a talent show instead, completely different than the novel version- yet it still plays out rather well.
  • The Live-Action Adaptation of Ace Attorney makes several changes to take the four-case game and make it movie-length. The most notable example is that most of Case 1-3 (which contributed virtually nothing to the DL-6 case) is cut out. What remains is put at the beginning of the movie with Edgeworth prosecuting against an unnamed defense attorney, intercut with Phoenix and Mia working at the canon Case 1-1. This allows the movie to establish Edgeworth's character earlier, as well as show his skill versus Phoenix's inexperience. The movie also ties Mia's murder closer to the DL-6 case, by having her be killed by Redd White (here a henchman for von Karma) for discovering vital evidence that will allow her to reopen the case. Finally, the events of the DL-6 incident are changed from three people slowly suffocating in an elevator (which would be hard to dramatically show on film) to the same characters fighting in the Evidence Room.
  • Adaptation. is this trope on MetaFictional steroids. In essence, faced with the task of adapting the un-adaptable Susan Orlean novel The Orchid Thief, a nonfiction book which is essentially simply about flowers, screenwriter Charlie Kauffman instead wrote a script about himself trying to adapt ''The Orchid Thief'', and ending up writing a script about himself trying to adapt the book instead. The film features Orlean as a major character, but largely discards the content of the novel.
  • American Psycho by necessity had to be streamlined, as most of the excruciatingly detailed murders (and the similarly detailed sex scenes right before) in the book would not have a hope in hell of being let through by the MPAA (for those who have read the book: the use of the rat in particular). In addition, the chapters in which Bateman talks about his music choices are generally combined with the murder scenes. This actually improves some scenes, most obviously the 'Hip To Be Square' scene, and helps play up the Black Comedy elements of the novel through the sharp juxtapositions. The book also has a meta-joke in which the characters' clothes are described in great detail but looking up the actual items reveals them to be horribly mismatched. This is ignored in the film as it doesn't translate well outside of text.
  • Given that Assassin's Creed (2016) places more focus on the modern day protagonist, Callumn Lynch, instead of his ancestor Aguilar, even cutting between Aguilar and Callumn during the Animus sequences, the Animus is completely re-imagined, with Callumn placed in a mechanical arm so his body is physically performing all the feats that Aguilar is doing, as opposed to the games depiction, where as Desmond and Layla are seen lying in their Animus, the Abstergo Employees are simply working at their desks and (presumably) so does the Initate, none of which are particularly cinematic.
  • The Made-for-TV Movie of Avalon High does this with Ellie (Allie in the film) being King Arthur rather than Will. Rather than Marco, Mr. Morton (Mr. Moore in the film) is Mordred, whereas Miles is Merlin as opposed to Mr. Morton. Presumably, this is to make the film more unpredictable. Also the students are the reincarnations of the actual characters as oppose to merely corresponding to them. Many scenes were cut out and scene settings were changed to make the movie more appropriate for younger children because the book has violent and some threatening scenes.
  • Battlefield Earth's movie adaptation wisely covered only the liberation of Earth that made up the first few hundred pages of the novel, excised a pointless subplot about an escaped criminal, jettisoned the book's Puppy Love romance and constituent characters, cut lengthy sections about gold mining, and generally streamlined the story. Critics and audiences ended up panning the film anyway since some of these changes made the bad guys even dumber and added plot holes like 1000-year-old, functional Harrier jets, but at least the director tried.
  • The Battle Royale movie adaptation adds an additional theme regarding The Generation Gap, which gives the Big Bad a more complex relationship with the class, and focuses on fewer characters. Also, whereas the book's version of Japan has a strong economy, the film's version of Japan deals with the aftereffects of an economic recession to better parallel the contemporary predicament of the actual Japan. On the other hand, the film cut out the backstories and development for several characters, glossed over their deaths, and completely changed some of the characters. No longer is Kiriyama a classmate without emotions who chooses to play to win — he's just some random guy who volunteered for fun. Kawada is in the same boat as he is no longer a classmate but a stranger who got forced into another Battle Royale. However, it is later revealed that Kawada, like Kiriyama, volunteered although he did so to avenge his girlfriend's death by subverting the subsequent Battle Royale.
  • Carrie (1976):
    • In the book, Carrie and Tommy first tie for prom king and queen with another couple, and then win in a run-off ballot. This dropped from the film because it would pad out the running time too much. Plus, Tommy and Carrie's win so Carrie can be humiliated on stage might seem a bit coincidental to film viewers, so Norma is given Adaptational Villainy to be complicit in the prank - rigging the votes so that Carrie and Tommy win.
    • The film lacks access to Carrie's internal monologues, where she fantasizes about revenge, so she ends up becoming a more sympathetic character than the Tragic Monster she was of the book. To keep her somewhat sympathetic, rather than running out of the gym after the blood is poured, she causes her revenge from the stage. This makes it a more immediate snap, and gives the impression she just lost control.
    • Everyone laughs when blood is poured on Carrie in the book. It's explained by other characters that the laughter was brought on mainly by shock. This would be hard to convey in a film, so it's shown that only the bullies laugh but Carrie hallucinates everyone else laughing too.
    • For budgetary reasons, the film couldn't show Carrie destroying the town with her powers. To better convey the tragedy and horror of her rampage, more named characters are killed off in her massacre at the prom. Chris and Billy's deaths are likewise changed to happening right after the prom rather than later in the night.
  • The first adaptation of The Children's Hour was censored considerably due to The Hays Code. One of the changes was probably due to said code but worked in this sense as well. In the play Martha is overly stressed and depressed over the recent events in her life and her feelings for Karen. She kills herself in the climax. As the 1930s film has Martha and Karen fighting over the same guy the angst was toned down, as liking your best friend's fiance isn't quite the same as being in love with her in a homophobic era. Thus the suicide aspect was scrapped in These Three. The Truer to the Text 1960 play keeps it but kills off Martha after Karen talks with Mary's grandmother instead of beforehand.
  • The Films of The Chronicles of Narnia have done this.
    • The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe was faithful to the book in many respects, but added a scene about the bombing of London - given all of half a line in the novel - which helped give some background to the Pevensies' situation and subverted the lack of angst on the kids' part. The Pevensies' characters were also much more fleshed out. Case in point, in the movie, upon hearing the prophecy, they initially try to leave, having just gotten away from a warzone; in the book, their reaction is basically, "Great, where do we sign up?". The Battle of Beruna, which occurs off-page in the novel and is only described to Lucy and Susan after the fact, is made a major focal point of the last third of the movie.
    • Prince Caspian was much more deviant than its predecessor. Angst? What Angst? is again invoked in the book, as the Pevensies seem to have had no trouble returning to their lives as children in England after growing up in Narnia and then no issues returning to Narnia to discover everyone they knew died thousands of years before and the lands and people they ruled have been conquered and almost wiped out. The majority of the book is Trumpkin retelling what has happened to the kids, and at the end of the book, not a word is mentioned when they hand Caspian the crown of Narnia and leave for London. Compare to the movie.
      • The kids (Peter being the worst) have not completely adjusted back to life in London and don't fit in with anymore thanks to having years of memories in a different world that no one knows about. Edmund even attempts to enlist in the British Army, in spite of being physically too young to do so.
      • When the four of them return to Narnia and realise they've come back centuries later because their old home (Cair Paravel) is in ruins they're grief-stricken and actually acknowledge that all their old friends (the Beavers, Tumnus)are dead.
      • They also spend the rest of the film dealing with the fact that Narnia has changed, and their reign and all their achievements are remembered only as legend now. The director even mentions that the heart of the film was about that feeling of returning to a place that no longer exists anymore.
      • Portions of the book are put in out of order to give the story better flow. For example, in the book, Caspian did not blow Susan's horn until he and the old Narnians are being seiged in Aslan's How, while in the movie, he blew it when he was first found by the Telmarines, causing the Pevensies to arrive much earlier.
      • When the Pevensies arrive at Aslan's How, Peter tries to take command and immediately clashes with Caspian. The entire castle invasion scene was added to highlight why they had to work together. Compare to the novel, in which Peter assures Caspian almost immediately upon his arrival that he's there not to take Caspian's throne but to help put Caspian in it.
      • Edmund and Susan both Took a Level in Badass. Edmund, to show how much he's matured, and Susan, because, as the directors put it, if she was going to stay in the kitchen (as her book persona tended to do) she should have been given a slab of bread and some butter, not a bow and arrow.
      • In the book, Miraz is just a generic tyrant; in the film, Miraz is styled as a Borgia, Medici type tyrant.
      • Susan and Caspian were Promoted to Love Interest, though secondary to the main plot.
      • In the book, the good Narnians specifically avoid recruiting the Always Chaotic Evil old Narnians who had previously sided with the White Witch, using the argument, "We don't want their kind of help." In the movie, you can see that minotaurs and other such creatures among the Narnians. While the former makes sense in the book's context of religious metaphor (the old Narnians being inherently evil and unable to change), this wouldn't go as well with the tone and main motives of the adaptation.
    • The Voyage of the Dawn Treader adds a plotline about the green mist, the "Dark Island", and the swords of the lost Narnian lords in order to turn the novel's string of individual adventures into a more unified storyline. It also seems to be setting up and Foreshadowing the villain of The Silver Chair, presumably to better tie an overarching plot together. At this point, however, it seems that a Silver Chair film is unlikely.
  • Cloud Atlas: The movie, while retaining the six-story structure and basic premise, has many differences from the novel, with several characters and plot threads, such as Ayrs's daughter or Sonmi's brief stay at a Buddhist monastery, being cut wholesale. The film also intercuts between the six narratives like a traditional film rather than show the first half of all six in sequence, then the second half of all six in reverse order.
  • Black Betty was changed from a small mini-van in the book version of The Darkest Minds to a much larger delivery van in the film, so that it the camera crew would be able to fit filming equipment inside it.
  • Dune (1984): In the David Lynch film, the Bene Gesserit Weirding way was changed to weirding modules that employed sound as a weapon. Lynch justifies this by explaining that he didn't want a Martial Arts Movie in the desert. The Talking Heads nature of the novel was replaced with a more moody and atmospheric environment, thanks to surreal direction and trippy visuals.
  • The well-known 1980 film, The Elephant Man, while generally held in high regard, has little to do with the events of the title character's life. However it has earned good standing with most Joseph Merrick aficionados.
  • Ender's Game's Age Lift of the main characters from 6-year-olds to 13-year-olds. It would be exceedingly hard to find one, let alone an entire cast full of competent 6-year-old actors who could pull off an entire movie by themselves. And even if the characters were adults played by adults, it would be hard to pull off a large quantity of nudity in a mainstream US film. Even if it was portrayed in a non-pornographic manner, it would be strongly frowned upon and would not be feasible to get the parents' permission even if the movie was made in a country that is more open to that sort of thing.

    F-L 
  • There's quite a difference between Field of Dreams and the book it's based on, Shoeless Joe. For instance, the movie omits lengthy subplots about Ray's twin brother Richard and an elderly ex-Chicago Cub named Eddie Scissons; and the movie uses fictional writer Terrence Mann as a replacement for J.D. Salinger from the book (undoubtedly for various legal reasons). Plus, the movie saves the bit about Ray's late father joining the team as a big reveal for the end, when it actually is revealed pretty early on in the book and is significantly less poignant.
  • Fifty Shades of Grey grappled back and forth with this due to several issues regarding E.L. James' unusual amount of creative control on what was allowed to be changed from her book. Some changes were inevitable, mostly toning down the explicit sexual content from the original book, completely doing away with Anastasia's infamously Narmtastic Inner Monologue, and both director Sam Taylor-Johnson and screenwriter Kelly Marcel proposed many script changes to also potentially tone down or at least address the book's also-infamous Unfortunate Implications. Some minor changes were able to make it through, but many of them were outright vetoed by E.L. James.
  • Filth is an adaptation of one of Irvine Welsh's novels, considered to be "unfilmable". The movie manages to stay relatively close to the source material and is faithful to the novel's spirit; however, it does cut several aspects of the book that wouldn't work in film in order to make a more cohesive work. Bruce's cruelty is (very slightly) toned down to make him less irredeemable (although he is far from sanitized) and The Self/The Tapeworm is played down, with his role being given to Bruce's psychiatrist, Dr. Rossi. It still makes a brief appearance in one of the film's most intense scenes.
  • Forrest Gump: While the screenplay stays fairly close to the novel's structure (mostly as it relates to Forrest getting involved in life events), the character of Forrest is, in the novel, fairly smart; he just has extreme difficulty articulating his thoughts. The book is also rather dark and mean-spirited in several instances, and most of the book's sexual content is left out of the film.
  • GI Joe The Rise Of Cobra:
    • Cobra Commander was given a new look because of the fact that Sommers thought that giving him a hood (or even a ski mask) would make viewers think KKK member when they saw him. Nor would they justify a form-fitting, featureless steel face-mask, since they wanted Joseph Gordon-Levitt's face to be at least partly visible.
    • Similarly, G.I. Joe becoming an international task force was done due to Paramount/Sommer wanting a high overseas box office pull for the film and thinking an all-US team of soldiers would not sell tickets outside North America.
    • In the comics, Cobra Commander's face and identity remained unknown. All that was known is that he was once a used car salesman. For the sake of drama, Cobra Commander had to have a visible backstory and connection to our main characters, thus giving a reason to cast Joseph Gordon-Levitt instead of just any actor who would wear the costume and be voiced by another actor (à la Darth Vader).
    • Destro a.k.a. James MaCullen XIV is actually manipulated by the Doctor who will eventually reveal his true identity and declare himself Cobra Commander into being the catalyst for forming Cobra. In the comics and animation, his association with Cobra began some time after the Cobra organization was formed (using Cobra Commander's own resources). But since this film depicted the origin of Cobra, in order to fit Destro into the movie, they had to increase his role in the formation of the organization.
    • Zartan is not a thuggish Dreadnok and the rest of the Dreaknoks don't even appear. He's not even much of a fighter and makes a point to stay out of combat situations, quite unlike the comic book and cartoon version. This film makes Zartan more of an actor-spy; much more suitable for his intended role to impersonate the American President.
  • The Giver skips almost all of the set-up chapters of the book to focus more on Jonas' relationship with the Giver. Several jobs, details, and titles are also shuffled around; most notably, Fiona and Asher are made a Nurturer and a Pilot respectively, setting them up to assist in Jonas and Gabriel's escape, and the relationships between them are also enhanced (in the book, Jonas largely grows apart from his friends as his training progresses, and they have no role in his escape). Hearing beyond is also introduced much earlier, and Jonas is able to listen to music before leaving.
  • Gone with the Wind is widely viewed today as an over-romanticized portrayal of the American South in the antebellum, Civil War, and Reconstruction periods. Nevertheless, it could have been a lot worse. Producer David O. Selznick was actually attempting a progressive for 1939 portrayal. Thus, he deliberately eliminated the novel's favorable depiction of The Klan. His decision looks better with each passing year, especially from a purely pragmatic perspective. Had he not, GWTW would have suffered the same banishment from the mainstream as The Birth of a Nation (1915).
  • A particularly good Made-for-TV Movie adaptation of Gulliver's Travels does this a lot. One excellent example is how they handled the Aesop that people covet immortality without seriously considering just what that might really entail. In the book, this is conveyed through the plight of the Struldbrugs, who have eternal life without eternal youth becoming decrepit and senile for eternity — and this along with the usual immortal problem of losing everything they knew, and social penalties designed to keep the country from collapsing under the weight of supporting them, or their abusing their immortality in an attempt to gain disproportionate power; however, this is conveyed in a monologue that doesn't translate well to television, so they dropped it and substituted a new scene with the same moral.
    • In the book, Gulliver returns home after each of four separate voyages. The 1996 TV movie adds a framing story that increases the overall tension: after finally returning home (the adventures all happened consecutively, keeping Gulliver from getting home), Gulliver has been committed to an insane asylum, and is testifying, by flashback, to convince them that his stories are true.
    • This is one of the very few adaptations that shows the third and fourth voyages — that is, the ones other than Lilliput and Brobdingnang. One might consider this "pragmatic", because it makes the movie stand out from all those other versions.
  • The novel of Hard Core Logo took a "scrapbook" approach (telling the story through character monologues and documents such as journal entries and phone messages) that would have been difficult to convert to film. The movie is a Mockumentary with an Unreliable Narrator. The movie script also added lots of Ho Yay and substituted a main character's suicide for the rather anticlimactic ending of the book, creating a more emotionally compelling work.
  • The Harry Potter films vary depending on the movie and on the director.
    • Peeves doesn't exist anywhere in the movies, whereas he's a recurring character in the books and somewhat so in the games, and so his roles and scenes involving him were either minced or cut entirely.
    • Professor Binns was also cut out entirely, with his only important scene in the books (namely, telling the legend of the Chamber of Secrets to the students) being given to Minerva McGonagall instead.
    • Dobby is introduced in both the second book and the second movie, The Chamber of Secrets, but he doesn't appear in the films again until Deathly Hallows Part 1. In the books, however, he's only absent from The Prisoner of Azkaban, before reappearing in The Goblet Of Fire and showing up here and there in every book afterward. In the Triwizard Tournament, he serves as the reason and apparent source alongside Neville for Harry to use Gilliweed in the second challenge, whereas the movie simply made Neville give a passing reference to the weed.
    • In the movie version of Prisoner of Azkaban, nearly the entire Quidditch season is cut. In the book, it was Oliver Wood's last year as captain of Gryffindor team, and the first year Harry actually won the House Cup. The movie only shows Harry being attacked by dementors while chasing the snitch. Also in the movie, the conflict between Harry, Ron, and Hermione over Harry receiving a new broom from a mysterious source is largely removed, giving Hermione a reason why she was alone to use the time-turner in the book.
    • Goblet of Fire showed how they cut down the book's Gambit Roulette. The Plan revolved around chance encounters, backstories, and things we don't know about until the book explains it. Voldemort himself, in the graveyard scene with Harry, spends several pages detailing much of his Evil Plan (and even then, there are depths yet to be revealed until we get to Dumbledore and Barty Jr). The movie omitted most of that: the explanation of how Barty escaped Azkaban is ignored, nothing is stated about how Barty assumed the form of Moody, nor the status of Voldemort before Wormtail found him. This leaves a few things unexplained, but considering the sheer mass of plot they had to work with, they did a pretty good job.
    • Despite Order of the Phoenix being the longest book of the series, it was adapted into the second-shortest movienote . On the one hand, everything related to the Quidditch B-plot was cut, but partially cutting it instead would have no doubt made things choppy and awkward. A nice touch was also significantly emphasizing Harry's Not So Different fears — which in the book take the form of fears of being possessed. It does, however, leave out a crucial scene from the Snape's Worst Memory chapter, where Snape calls Lily a Mudblood, destroying their relationship and sending Snape on his Start of Darkness, instead making it seem like he was only affected by James' bullying into becoming who he is. Deathly Hallows Part 2 shows this moment during The Prince's Tale scene though. Also, to replace Rowling's gobs of exposition for off-Hogwarts stuff (usually via Hermione in the book), OotP uses a high-end Spinning Paper visual to quickly fill the audience in for the important stuff away from the castle.
      • They wanted to cut out house-elf Kreacher from Order of the Phoenix — JKR herself stepped in and told them to leave him in. It wouldn't have hurt OotP at all, but would've left giant holes in subsequent films (particularly for The Deathly Hallows).
      • The spell that kills Sirius Black is changed from a nondescript jet of light to Avada Kedavra. In the book, a nondescript jet of light ("the next jet of light hit him squarely on the chest") was used to push him into an artifact that sent him into afterlife (or somesuch) with no hope of return. However, this had the unfortunate side effect of leaving many fans thinking, or hoping, it was a setup for him to get better and come back in later books, which it in fact was not. Avada Kedavra is instant death (kinda like getting shot in the head but less messy), which means there's no such ambiguity in the film.
    • In Half Blood Prince, they figured out how to work around the non-visual aspect of everyone reading and talking about the attacks by the Death Eaters: they scrapped all the scenes with people reading about loved ones being attacked and/or killed, and created one with Harry being attacked at the Weasleys. It also gave Ginny Weasley more Character Development and a more proactive role. On top of that, the Death Eaters burn down the Burrow.
    • The Deathly Hallows films handle the Taboo differently (which is also mentioned by Ron much earlier than in the book). Instead of a blink-and-you'll-miss-it Idiot Ball moment from Harry which would look very anticlimactic on film, Xenophilius Lovegood calls the Death Eaters to ambush the Power Trio inside by yelling out Voldemort's name.
      • In the book, Harry at the wedding and him and Hermione in Godric's Hollow use Polyjuice Potion to take on the appearance of other people, as they do in the Ministry in both the book and the film. In the film, however, they appear as themselves. This is more effective, particularly in the case of the latter scene, as the visit to his parents' grave is a very emotional scene for Harry, and it wouldn't quite be the same with a balding, middle-aged man in place of Daniel Radcliffe.
      • Since the scene where Dumbledore and Harry talk about what the Horcruxes could be was cut from the HBP movie, Harry's scar acts as a "Horcrux sense" of sorts.
      • The climactic battle between Harry and Voldemort is expanded from the wordy confrontation in the book. Instead, Voldemort chases Harry around Hogwarts and they claw and tear at each other as they Apparate, before ending up back in the grand courtyard for their final duel.
  • The Help does this for the incident that got Skeeter's maid Constantine fired. In the book, it's revealed that Constantine had a daughter she had given up for adoption who had recently come back into her life. Said daughter was able to pass for white and did so at a party hosted by Skeeter's mother. Skeeter's mother was horrified because she knew she'd be humiliated if the other ladies discovered the truth, and ordered Constantine to cut contact with her daughter. Constantine refused and was fired. This took several pages of exposition to set up as well as being a compilation of moments rather than a single incident, and as such would not have translated well to film, so it was replaced with a scene where Constantine's daughter, here clearly African-American and known to the family, walked in in the middle of a social and talked back to Skeeter's mother in front of everyone. Humiliated, Skeeter's mother snapped at the daughter and then fired Constantine when she tried to step in. It hits all the major points of the book plot while simplifying it to something that can be shown in a single scene with little exposition.
  • Peter Jackson's adaptation(s) of The Hobbit have quite a few differences from the original; in the source material, Azog the Orc is actually already dead, having been killed by Dain long before the events of the story, and the hazards that the traveling party face are more localized. This makes for a somewhat incohesive film, though, so Jackson kept Azog alive thus and a primary driving force for Bilbo and the dwarves.
  • The Hunger Games: For the most part, the movie stays very true to the book, leading to a run time of two hours and twenty-two minutes, but to keep it from being longer some things had to be cut, most notably the character of Madge and the girl Katniss didn't save reappearing as an Avox. Katniss' search for water, the District 3 boy's digging up and reactivating the mines for the Careers and Cato's death scene were also significantly shortened and Peeta gets to keep his leg. On the other hand, though, we get to see other things during the games, such as parts of the TV broadcast, the Gamemakers in their control room, and the riot that Katniss sparks in District 11, things that we only read Katniss speculate about in the books. These are added because the films lack Katniss' narrative voice to explain them.
  • In the original In the Heat of the Night novel, Virgil Tibbs is a quiet, deferential African-American detective who never seems to lose his temper or ever seem annoyed working in a deep south town even as the racial slurs are thrown at him. For the film version, director Norman Jewison realized that this would never fly in the late 1960s, nor would the star, Sidney Poitier, want to play this type of character yet again. So, the film was rewritten with Tibbs being someone who does not hesitate to assert his status to bigoted Neanderthals with a hearty "They Call Me Mister Tibbs!" or instantly striking back at a bigot slapping him, a bold action for an African-American hero to do on film at that time.
  • The Innocents is based on The Turn of the Screw, which uses a Framing Device of an acquaintance of Flora's telling the story at a party to help keep in doubt whether the ghosts were real or not. The film drops this completely and focuses on the governess (who gets Named by the Adaptation to become Miss Giddens) from the beginning. Tricks are used to keep the ghosts ambiguous; Miss Giddens sees someone on the tower but doesn't see a ghost up close until after she's seen his picture. The film also makes Bly House more beautiful and welcoming at first...to make the descent into horror all the more effective.
  • James Bond:
    • Goldfinger. For instance, they condensed an extended golf game scene to just the critical point where Bond thwarts Goldfinger's cheating. Furthermore, the film changes the book's ridiculous plot to physically steal the gold of Fort Knox (which the movie Bond points out is impossible) which includes poisoning the soldiers through the water system before they can react to such a slow method and using a nuclear bomb to open a door with everyone suicidally close. The movie changes the scheme into a genuinely ingenious plan to have the poison as a gas sprayed from a quick aerial pass over the fort and then Goldfinger's troops raid the fort for just long enough to use a high power laser to open the vault building's door and place a nuclear bomb in the main vault. Then the villains get away and wait for the bomb to detonate. Whatever gold survives the blast would be radioactive (and thus worthless) for decades while Auric Goldfinger's own gold's value would jump at least tenfold. In the event, the fort personnel, who are warned about the scheme by Bond, play along to make it seem to work so they can ambush the invaders.
    • Casino Royale (2006) (the straight adaptation starring Daniel Craig, not the David Niven sendup from the 1960s) featured one in the change of the book's card game from baccarat to poker. While admittedly playing into the fact that Texas Hold 'Em is wildly popular these days, it allows the audience to understand what's going on without an explanation (as more people are familiar with poker than baccarat). An additional benefit comes from the nature of the game itself: baccarat does not involve bluffing or other forms of trying to read the other players—which poker certainly does—and becomes critical when Le Chiffre cons Bond by faking his "tell" and causes Bond to eventually realize that at least one of the people working with him is a traitor. Baccarat, depending on the specific version, is also purely based on chance and the skill of the player is therefore irrelevant. Poker, on the other hand, requires a great deal of skill to play at a high level and, as M explicitly pointed out, the only reason she was sending Bond in the first place after his series of high-profile misadventures thus far was that he was the best poker player they had among their agents.
  • Jaws eliminates a subplot from the book where Brody's wife has an affair with Hooper, mostly because Steven Spielberg found it pointless and that it made the characters too unsympathetic. It removes a potential Romantic Plot Tumor so the story can focus on the shark attacks.
  • Jurassic Park contained huge chunks of material and detailed exposition about the nature of the dinosaurs, the setup of the park, and the complex interplay of chaotic factors in the environment. It was impossible to include all of this in a movie, so they trimmed it down and presented it in the form of a park orientation cartoon. There are also a large number of exciting incidents that were cut because they added little to the actual plot. In this case, author Michael Crichton had a heavy hand in adapting his own novel for the screen.
  • James Ellroy's books are good examples since the outrageous number of subplots and characters make them unfilmable (Ellroy has admitted that he does it on purpose). The scenarists who made L.A. Confidential into a movie were aware of the difficulty, and ended up cutting part of the plot while keeping the complexity of the story, focusing the movie on the evolutions of the three main characters and reorganizing scenes from the book (with the climax of the movie being the first scene in the book).
  • The stage musical version of Little Shop of Horrors (itself a distilled adaptation of an overlong Roger Corman comedy horror) finished with a rave-up ending. The action breaks off when Seymour Krelborn confronts Audrey II, the Greek Chorus announces that this scene is being repeated in places up and down the country, and the cast file on and perform the final number — "Don't Feed the Plants!". The writers knew that this wouldn't work in a feature film, even if it was a musical, and so ditched it and wrote a new final number, "Mean Green Mother from Outer Space" against which the final confrontation could play out to its conclusion. At first, the writers wrote an even more extravagant ending, also set to "Don't Feed the Plants!" that was already filmed and ready to go. The film's final ending is a result of test audiences rejecting an ending in which the main character and his innocent girlfriend get eaten alive by Audrey II, and the plants go on to go Godzilla on New York. Director Frank Oz wasn't very happy about changing the ending, but he understood the logic behind doing so:
    Oz: "I learned a lesson: in a stage play, you kill the leads and they come out for a bow — in a movie, they don't come out for a bow, they're dead. They're gone and so the audience lost the people they loved, as opposed to the theater audience where they knew the two people who played Audrey and Seymour were still alive. They loved those people, and they hated us for it."
  • The Lord of the Rings is full of this, and indeed makes up a majority of the Director's commentary.
    • At the start of the first movie, several years during which Frodo has the Ring in the Shire are left out.
    • Arwen has a much more active role in the first movie than in the book. A grand total of three scenes featuring Aragorn and Arwen were added, none of which happened in the books and all of them eating up tons of screen-time. This was probably done in part to help prevent the movies from being a sausagefest, which for the most part the books were. Arwen was also intended to fight in the Battle of Helm's Deep, but the filmmakers thought this was a bridge too far. You can still see her very briefly in the background of wide shots, wearing pink and on a white horse.
    • Once the Fellowship separates, Frodo and Sam's journeys are recounted in separate chapters (taking up whole Books) from Aragorn and the rest without intercutting until they finally all reunite at the end. The films, like Ralph Bakshi's before them, take a more conventional approach, alternating between Frodo and Sam's story and that of the other characters.
    • The alterations of Faramir's actions and motivations in The Two Towers are a result of this. The Shelob scene that provided the cliffhanger in the book doesn't chronologically take place until the battle of Minas Tirith, so according to Jackson, something else had to form the climax of the second movie for Frodo and Sam, and the encounter with Faramir was exactly in the right place for that. Furthermore, it was noted that every other character in the films had an adverse reaction to being in the presence of the Ring, and for Faramir to let them go without a second glance at it felt somewhat off to Jackson and company. (This is more due to the films exaggerating the effect the Ring has on people; Faramir doesn't actually see the Ring in the book, but does briefly contemplate holding the hobbits prisoner once he finds out about it.)
    • All adaptations of The Lord of the Rings omit Tom Bombadil; most people see this as a painless way to save screentime, not to mention that his scenes were much more suited for the books than for movies, being as he relies heavily on backstory of Middle-Earth that doesn't translate well to film without exposition, and is seemingly a character with Story-Breaker Power that Gandalf had to explain how he didn't actually have.
    • The Scouring of the Shire was entirely cut out, both because it would have added another hour to the films, but also because it would have ruined the pacing of the end sequence; the story had already had one big, climactic moment and had shown the results therein, so introducting another conflict after that would have felt out of place.
      • As part of this, the films added a scene of Saruman and Wormtongue's death at the beginning of Return of the King, although this was ultimately cut from the theatrical release. It basically plays out much like it does in the book (apart from using different characters), except much earlier because their part of the story was already over.
    • The film spends time bringing Elves to Helm's Deep as reinforcements... then has them all die in the first part of the battle so that they have no actual impact. The new stuff with Faramir is internally consistent with the rest of the film narrative, but adds at least a half hour to the film when he had to cut original content for time. The theatrical release doesn't even finish off the Uruks, leaving the viewer wondering why they don't just regroup and attack again. The point of the extended cuts is to include as much cut content as possible without worrying about time restraints.
    • In the books Aragorn is (usually) quietly confident in himself and his status as the rightful heir to the throne of Gondor, willing to become King if that is his fate, and letting out some Badass Boasts about his heritage at certain times – just like heroic kings and princes of ancient and medieval literature. However, the filmmakers thought this could lead to Values Dissonance for a modern audience, so Aragorn becomes full of self-doubt and only fully accepts his royal heritage and destiny in the third film. One way this is enforced is by giving Aragorn the ancient sword of kings, Narsil/Andúril, only in the third film, while in the books he carries it from his first appearance (he uses a generic sword before that). Also, before the sword is reforged by the elves, Aragorn reveals the broken Narsil with him in his introductory scene, which Peter Jackson thought would look ridiculous on screen.
    • The movies' change from Denethor being well-meaning but ultimately quite flawed to a cartoonish jerk could be for the same reason: if Denethor was a good, competent Steward of Gondor, the audience would see no real reason for Aragorn to take back the throne beyond the Rule of Law, "he's the heir so he can if he wants". (As it happens in the book, Aragorn was also acclaimed as ruler by the people of Minas Tirith for saving the day and for healing the sick and wounded. The coronation was more of a formality.) It also creates a better context for his final acts, which are more consistent with a Denethor who's already starting to lose it than with one who seemed generally rational up to that point (particularly when it comes to his inability to recognize that Faramir is alive).
    • Éowyn makes no attempt to hide her identity from Merry (and therefore the audience) while riding to Gondor. It was obvious that we could tell it was Miranda Otto no matter how she disguised herself, so Merry would have looked quite dim for not figuring it out.

    M-R 
  • The Martian changes the Framing Device from Mark Watney writing a mission log mostly with a keyboard to the Mars outpost having a large number of cameras and Mark (and presumably the rest of the Hermes 4 team) keeping video diaries. It makes filming much easier even if it has the unfortunate side-effect of making the place feel like the Big Brother House almost literally Recycled In Space.
  • The film version of The Mask differs significantly from the original comic book version in that where the former takes a mostly clean-cut, slapstick approach, the latter is much more violent and dark overall. This was because no matter how many initial drafts that kept the original's tone, director Chuck Russell felt it just wouldn't work on-screen and asked the studio to take a more comedic approach. The film turned out to be a commercial and moderately critical success.
  • The original novel of Mortal Engines had a brief mention of plastic idols of "Mickey and Pluto the animal-headed gods of lost America" in the London History Museum. The movie adaptation being made by Universal replaced them with plastic statues of the Minions - identified in-universe as ancient deities, due to the fact that Disney own the former characters.
  • In Mortal Kombat, Raiden became a mentor to the others instead of a fellow combatant. This was seen as an acceptable change by the fans, and ended up carrying over to the game series' canon.
  • David Cronenberg's adaptation of the unfilmable Naked Lunch took story elements from the book and melded them together with parts of William S. Burroughs' biography.
  • The movie adaptation of Neko Atsume shifts the focus from the cats to the perspective of the yard's owner. In the adaptation, the yard's owner is a young writer struggling with writer's block and as a way to cope, he starts putting out food and toys in his yard for the local strays that hang around his house. He starts taking photographs of them and moving the toys and food around, thus replicating the gameplay in a believable fashion.
  • The Omega Man with Charlton Heston was based on the Matheson book I Am Legend. A Vincent Price film The Last Man on Earth had been based on the same book some years earlier and is still the most accurate adaption, however due to several minor changes Matheson didn't like the film. The Omega Man was such a different story to the book that it only contained the basic elements of the story; the book featured a man who roamed the city hunting vampire/zombies in the day while hiding in his house at night, while The Omega Man was about Charlton Heston trying to enjoy himself in the day while dressed in safari gear, while defending his penthouse fortress at night from an army of pale-skinned, sunglasses-wearing Luddites, who are led by a plague-infected TV news reader. However Matheson enjoyed the film as it was so far from the book that all the changes didn't bother him.
  • The book version of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest is narrated by the mute, mentally ill Supporting Protagonist "Chief" Bromden, so the whole story is filtered through his mental illness. The film adaptation doesn't require a narrator, however, so Bromden is Demoted to Extra, and we see the events of R.P. [McMurphy's struggle against the Battleaxe Nurse Ratched play out without any of Bromden's warped perspective.
  • For Paddington, the filmmakers took the first few chapters of the first Paddington Bear book A Bear Called Paddington and then crafted an original story, while staying true to the spirit of the books. Director Paul King said he was inspired by the line "Paddington soon settled down and became one of the family" and wanted to see how that would happen.
  • In the 2019 Pet Sematary film, eight year old Ellie is killed by a truck rather than three year old Gage. The director explained that they figured there are only a very limited number of things you can do with a three year old Creepy Child that had already been exhausted by the first film adaptation plus some other movies, and making the reanimated child a bit older allowed for much more.
  • Pollyanna (1960) made several changes to the book, all in the name of creating a better narrative for film.
    • Pollyanna as a character was found to be a bit insufferable by the director, so she becomes a little shyer and socially awkward in places. This helps emphasise that the Glad Game is merely for herself, and she comes across as a more rounded character (which was how Eleanor Porter saw her anyway rather than The Messiah). Her defrosting of the town becomes more incidental.
    • Nancy has a subplot where she has a boyfriend Aunt Polly doesn't approve of. Pollyanna covering for her early on is what prompts Nancy to warm to her - making it so that Pollyanna earns the friendships she makes during the film.
    • A subplot involving the townspeople organising a fundraiser to pay for a new orphanage building is added - giving Aunt Polly an arc where she learns not just to love Pollyanna but to realise what effect she's been having on the town. It also helps make the story less episodic, which doesn't translate well to film.
    • Mrs Snow is Abled in the Adaptation, becoming a hypochondriac who's convinced she's going to die soon. This allows for a moment where Pollyanna snaps at her for being obsessed with death - giving the girl more characterization. It also sets up a Heartwarming Moment when Mrs Snow gets out of bed to attend the bazaar and ensures that Pollyanna gets the doll she always wanted. Which then comes into play in...
    • The details of Pollyanna's accident are changed too. In the book, she was involved in a car accident and it's said she does learn to walk again. In the film, she falls while climbing into her attic window. As the attic room was given to her by Aunt Polly and she was sneaking back from the aforementioned bazaar (that Polly refused to take her to) - it gives far more of an emotional punch to bring about Aunt Polly's Heel–Face Turn. Additionally, the film ends without confirmation that Pollyanna learns to walk again - giving the more important lesson that it's her attitude that matters rather than her circumstances.
  • The film adaptation of The Prestige directed by Christopher Nolan has very little in common with its source material, the lesser known novel by Christopher Priest. The changes are so many, it would be pointless to list them all here, changing everything from the plot to characterization, going so far as to actually leave out the main characters from the book. Without detracting from the original work, all the changes make for a film far better than your usual adaptation, and despite the wild differences it's obvious the Nolan brothers love the novel and prioritized respecting its spirit and originality instead of the superficial details.
  • The Princess Bride is notable in that the screenwriter adapting it, William Goldman, was also the author of the source novel. Goldman's biggest change is probably pruning down the frame story, which in the original had included a detailed rundown of the Author Avatar's sports-obsessed childhood and an explanation that the Princess Bride story itself was distilled from a lengthy history of Florin. The film uses the simpler framing device of a kindly old man reading to his sick grandson.
  • The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie does away with the book's Anachronic Order, as 1960s audiences were not used to seeing such structures and the constant cutting back and forth would be confusing. The Brodie Set is whittled down to four girls while still keeping all the important character beats. With the more linear structure, Sandy's book fate of betraying Miss Brodie in secret and remaining by her side would be anti-climactic - so the film creates an intense argument between the two characters to serve as a climax (which also allows for some great acting from Maggie Smith and Pamela Franklin).
  • The 2005 version of The Producers takes some liberties with the 1968 version to make it more accessible to a modern audience. Since LSD, who plays Hitler in the Springtime for Hitler play, is so steeped in 1960s drug/hippy culture, he's not as prominent in the newer version. His role in playing Hitler is exchanged for the Camp Gay director Roger De Bris. Since people were more tolerant of LGBT people in 2005 than they were in the '60s, De Bris was allowed to be explicitly gay when they just implied it in the original and could have a bigger role.
  • Ready Player One takes many liberties with the plot of the original book, but the biggest pragmatic adaptation is allowing the High Five to get together in real life early in the story so that they can interact more on a personal level and add more scenes outside the Oasis.
  • Richie Rich nicely works around one of the wilder bits of the original comic book source, which is that the Rich family have gold, jewels and money literally built into their furniture and showing off constantly. In the movie version, Laurence Van Dough assumes this to be the case and that the Rich family vault is packed with mountains of treasure. When he gets inside, however, all he finds is family heirlooms, which the Riches consider truly worth keeping. When he demands to know where the money is, Mr. Rich honestly replies it's all in banks, real estate and stocks. After all, how wealthy would they be if they just hoarded all their money in a vault rather than actually invest and let their fortune grow?
  • The live-action Rurouni Kenshin:
    • It condenses the plots of three episodic arcs from the first half of the manga into the film's main story. Said arcs being the Fake Battousai (which is Kenshin's introduction), the appearance of Jin-Eh (who becomes the film's main antagonist), and the Kanryu/Megumi arc (which comprises much of the film's plot) . The downside though of this is that some characters featured in those arcs we're excised completely. Such as the Hiruma brothers, Aoshi and the Oniwanbanshuu (who acted as Kanryuu's bodyguards). Another omission were the backstories of some supporting characters, such as Yahiko, Sanosuke and Saito (who appears much later in the manga).
    • There's also the element of Sano's Zanbatou. It's significantly toned down from its manga counterpart, and even then it's so huge, Sano barely uses it. This means his fist-fighting skills get much more attention. As another point related to Sano, while in the manga he had a habit of eating fish and holding them in his mouth like a cat, the director thought this would look silly in live-action, so now Sano eats raw eggs.
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    S-Z 
  • The 2004 film adaptation of A Series of Unfortunate Events changes the order of some of the books' chronology. In the books, Count Olaf is exposed as a villain at the end of The Bad Beginning, after which the children go on to stay with their Uncle Monty and later Aunt Josephine. In the film, the children are taken out of Olaf's care after an apparent display of irresponsible parenting and go on to their respectful guardians before winding up back in Olaf's care where they finally expose him. In the DVD Commentary, Brad Silberling says this change was made for the sake of narrative, it wouldn't make sense for Olaf to be unmasked as early as the first act.
  • The original Seven Days In May imagines that in protest of a President signing a nuclear disarmament treaty, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and some government heads are plotting a full-on military coup of the United States with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs becoming leader. The 1994 HBO movie remake The Enemy Within has a character lampshading that in modern times, there's no way the American people would stand for a military takeover and fight back. Thus, the conspirators work with the corrupt Vice-President to make it appear the President is incompetent and invoke the Twenty-Fifth Amendment so he takes over as a puppet to the military.
  • She (1965)
    • The film dumps all of the first part of the novel—Leo's dying father turns five-year-old Leo over to Holly, Holly raises Leo to adulthood, Leo and Holly later examine the ring and potsherd left behind by Leo's father, Leo and Holly set off for Africa. In this version Leo and Holly are war buddies who find themselves in Cairo in 1918 after the Armistice. Billali and Ustane kidnap Leo on behalf of She, who pops up fifteen minutes in, much earlier than her first appearance in the book. And then it's She who gives Leo the ring and the map and sends Leo off on his quest.
    • In the book, Holly is said to be hideous, with a face like a baboon. The film drops this rather outlandish characterization, and he's played by the handsome Peter Cushing.
  • The Silent Hill movie drastically simplifies both Alessa Gillespie and the cult, explaining both in a single Info Dump. This is understandable, as explaining the game would have taken most of the movie.
  • For The Sound of Music, screenwriter Ernest Lehman knew that the musical's expressions of the strength of familial love and togetherness gave it the potential to become a very successful movie, but also that it first had to shed some qualities moviegoers might find saccharine. Among various alterations he made: Maria takes several months to bond with the Von Trapp children and teach them how to sing, instead of one afternoon. Some of the songs became relocated to spots that seemed to fit them better thematically, with "My Favorite Things" in particular changing from a duet between Maria and the Mother Abbess, to a song Maria sings to calm the children during a thunderstorm. Finally, the escape of the Von Trapps from Nazi Austria became more tense when the Captain actually failed to talk Rolf into letting him and the others go, requiring the family to make a quick getaway to the border.
  • Almost every film adaptation of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde focuses on depicting Jekyll's dramatic struggle between his two selves and his eventual downfall, since everybody knew the twist ending and the twist is told about in letters after the fact, not shown.
  • Super Mario Bros. dispenses with the cartoony world of the video game with a grungy science fiction world that was thought to be easier and more palatable for live action. Most of the characters look like humans throughout the film, where they are unmistakably inhuman in the game.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990) was praised for combining choice elements of the bright and silly 80's cartoon show (the colored masks, love of pizza, April as a reporter) with the darker and more mature comics (Raphael's anger issues, Casey Jones' violent vigilantism, The Shredder's murder of Splinter's master) into a movie that was engaging enough for adults but not too scary for kids with enough action and one-liners to satisfy both. 2007's TMNT was similarly praised with the main discussion now being which one is better.
  • Both The Thing (1982) and The Thing from Another World are examples of this for the original novella.
    • The original novella Who Goes There? had 37 men accidentally recovering a shape-shifting alien monstrosity that proceeds to start eating the crew and creating perfect copies. Due to technical limitations, The Thing from Another World replaced the shape-shifting alien with a literal vegetable alien although its cast is still a similar size to that of the original story, and some elements of it are present in the narrative.
    • The Thing (1982) is said to be more faithful as it actually uses the shape-shifting alien, but it updates the setting to the year it was released and simplifies the cast to only twelve men (although most of them were in the original book). It also omitted the alien's telepathic abilities to avoid complicating the story and upped the Body Horror of the alien's assimilation abilities to better establish the Thing as a terrifying Starfish Alien. During production, the Thing at one point was meant to have a true form similar to the one found in the novella, but John Carpenter rejected it as he did not want the alien to be played by a person in a suit. This worked to the film's benefit as it invoked a Nothing Is Scarier in regards to the Thing's abilities and origin.
  • Irving Berlin's World War II revue This Is The Army gained a storyline when adapted into a movie, because Berlin knew that plotless Sketch Comedy didn't work so well on film.
  • The film of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy takes a much more linear approach to its story than John le Carré's original novel, which revolved around the fallout from a botched espionage mission, but only showed the actual mission through a gradual series of flashbacks. For the sake of the audience's attention span, the movie opens with Operation Testify, Smiley leaving the Circus, and the death of Control (all in chronological order); the book opened with a broken Jim Prideaux returning to Britain after Operation Testify, and only referred to the circumstances behind Smiley's ouster and Control's death. There are still a few necessary flashbacks, but not nearly as many as in the book.
  • Transformers:
    • Most of the cartoons have Hammerspace to explain the Transformers gaining or losing mass between forms. For the 2007 movie, director Michael Bay insisted upon avoiding this, which lead to changes such as Optimus Prime being a Peterbilt rather than a cab-over-engine tractor-trailer, which would have given him a much smaller robot form, as well as not using the magically-appearing/disappearing trailer (which has also been picked up in Transformers Animated). The third film gave Optimus a trailer; however it doesn't disappear when he transforms, and also transforms into his field armory. The fourth film re-introduces the cab-over-engine tractor-trailer form of Optimus.
    • The comet protoforms (taken from Beast Wars) work on a Fridge Logic they had with the Transformer spaceships, which is why would robots who can transform into vehicles need a spaceship? The comet protoforms keep the action focused on Earth, and while the Expanded Universe and Revenge Of The Fallen introduces the Transformer spaceships, they continue to downplay their role to focus on the planet-bound story.
    • Having humans playing a major role in the battle between the Autobots and Decepticons because this is a Live-Action Adaptation.
  • The 2005 movie Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story is similar. It's a mockumentary about the filming of the famous (and "unfilmable") book. The premise of the book is that it's an autobiography written by an author so distracted that he doesn't even get to his own birth in the first 3 volumes. The movie is about the making of a film adaptation of the book that gets so sidetracked and distracted that it, also, goes nowhere.
  • The Film of the Book for Twilight cuts out most of the filler and streamlines the story.
    • Perhaps most notable is that the first book is nothing but Bella and Edward's developing relationship, until a more typical vampire story is shoved into the last few chapters. The film makes Victoria, James, and Laurent present in the story from the beginning as they occasionally show up to kill a minor character. Though the attempt to do the same thing in the second film with the wolves tribe chasing Victoria off as she tries to kill Bella, never to be seen again until the next film, comes off more as a Big-Lipped Alligator Moment.
    • Eclipse shows the vampire attacks going on in Seattle, thus giving the audiences more of an idea of the danger that will be showing up. It also adds hints that Jane is secretly going against Aro's orders and letting the vampire army go to kill the Cullens, which makes the Cullens look a bit less stupid for being shocked that Aro was actually willing to abuse power in a corrupt manner. (Jane's allowing of the vampire army to attack the Cullens is confirmed in The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner.)
    • Breaking Dawn Pt. 2 treats viewers to a long fight scene near the end in which several major characters are killed before the Cullen clan emerges victorious, whereas the book just resolved the situation with the Cullens talking the Volturi into leaving. While the fight ended up being nothing more than one of Alice's psychic visions, it is still considered one of the best scenes that any of the Twilight films had to offer.
  • Who Framed Roger Rabbit differs significantly from its source material, the novel Who Censored Roger Rabbit?. For one thing, the book deals with comic book and comic strip characters, not cartoon characters, who all speak in physical, tangible word balloons. This is clearly unadaptable to film, wherein all Toon characters would have had to be mute, so they received the power of speech. Additionally, they became animated cartoon characters and the story was set in 1947, smack-dab in the middle of the golden age of American theatrical animation. Not to mention that Toons went from being just as vulnerable as humans but possessing an elaborate method of faking their own deaths for theatrics' sake (it's complicated) to really being as unkillable as they seem. When Gary Wolf later wrote sequels that adjusted the books' universe to more closely match the movie's, he left in the word balloons and other comic-strip elements from the first book, but adopted the movie's mostly-invulnerable Toons.
  • The Wizard of Oz:
    • Dorothy's silver slippers are changed to ruby slippers to take advantage of being in glorious full color.
    • The Wicked Witch of the West only comes into the story when the Wizard sends Dorothy to kill her. The witch in the movie becomes a major antagonist, who's out to punish Dorothy for the death of the Wicked Witch of the East. This adds a more incentive for Dorothy to return home quickly, and sets up the payoff in the climax nicely.
    • In the book, since the Wicked Witch hasn't been introduced yet, Dorothy and her companions encounter several natural obstacles (difficult terrain, a race of wild beasts, and a poppy field) on their way to Oz. In keeping with the increased significance of the Witch and generally adding to the overall cohesion of the story, all but one of these elements are cut, and the remaining element (the poppy field) is connected back to the Witch rather than being a random phenomenon. In addition, this allowed them to avoid several elements that would have been exceptionally difficult to portray with the limited special effects of the time (the race of talking mice being a major example).
    • Glinda of the book shows up only in the last part - giving Dorothy the information she needs to return home. To both cut down on the extended journey after the Wicked Witch's death and expand the role, she's combined with the Good Witch of the North that Dorothy meets when she first arrives in Oz (who disappears afterwards without showing up again). This does create a minor plot holenote  but the film hand waves it by having the shoes go to Dorothy magically (she just put them on in the book because hers were destroyed) and hints that the quest was needed to get them to work. Additionally, to connect the witches fighting over Dorothy, it's now Glinda who saves her companions from the poppy field. She does so by sending a fall of snow to counteract the Wicked Witch's spell. And as noted below, she shows up at the end in a Big Damn Heroes moment rather than having the protagonists go and search for her.
    • The last third of the book is cut completely, as it ultimately bears relatively little relevance to the rest of the story, and this would only become more significant given the elevation of the Wicked Witch arc (which deepens the connection between the original journey to Oz and the quest to the Wicked Witch's territory). To introduce an entirely new, largely unconnected arc right at the point where it appeared the film was drawing to a conclusion would likely have drawn the story out too much and ruined the pacing.
    • To make the Wizard and Dorothy slightly more sympathetic, the Wizard doesn't ask them to kill the witch but merely bring him her broomstick. Dorothy doesn't intentionally throw water on the witch, but it happens as a side effect of putting out a fire she started on the Scarecrow - thus making the witch engineer her own downfall.
    • Kansas in the book is a grey, dull place - where Auntie Em and Uncle Henry have had the joy sucked out of them years ago. The Scarecrow can't conceive why Dorothy would want to return home, since Oz is more beautiful. Dorothy's feelings might be harder to convey visually - so the film adds in a Framing Device to show that Dorothy has many friends in addition to her aunt and uncle, while also thinking Auntie Em was ill. This gives her more incentive to want to return home.


Alternative Title(s): Live Action Films

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