Compressed Adaptation

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
"They cut out all my scenes!"
Dug Finn, Dragon Half

While Adaptation Distillation will condense things down effectively, a Compressed Adaptation will leave out whole chunks, hoping that the story stays together while being swiss-cheesed, and/or combine certain scenes - much to the chagrin of many of its fans, of course.

A relatively long story has to be adapted to a fresh medium with enough of a time constraint that the entirety of the original plot could never reasonably fit, whether it's a movie, OAV, or short TV series. Here, instead of making a Pragmatic Adaptation and changing the focus altogether, the writers basically decide to start cutting out scenes to fit the story into the allotted time. Sometimes it works. Other times, you get a jarring mess that only people who already know the original story can follow.

Oftentimes, when choosing what to cut in a multi-work condensation, the First Installment Wins and stays more intact than later installments crammed into the adaptation. This can become self-perpetuating in future adaptations.

hours is the standard limit that most filmmakers try to abide by, because if it's any longer than that, it's very likely that not many people will want to watch it (which means it will make less money for the producers, especially since you can't show it as often in the same theater). Let's face it: you just can't do in a two-and-a-half-hour-long movie what you can in an 800-page novel.

This is basically the opposite of Overtook the Manga: instead of there being not enough manga for the anime, there's too much manga for the anime, so instead of the anime being filled with Filler, it gets compressed.

Note that this can still overtake the manga in the sense of being produced before the manga is done; this may result in a Gecko Ending. Contrast the opposite, Adaptation Expansion. Might cause a Continuity Lock Out or Adaptation-Induced Plothole.

Examples of Compressed Adaptation include:

Anime and Manga

  • .hack//G.U. Trilogy turns three 20+ hour games into a 90 minute movie.
    • A lot of the first game made it in, but once they got through with that, they winged it and pretty much revamped the plot from there on.
  • Akira
  • The X movie.
  • The Storm Riders.
  • 3x3 Eyes. Four OAVs for two manga volumes (not too bad)--then three OAVs for three more manga volumes (not good).
  • Angel Sanctuary
  • Earthian
  • The (1st) anime adaptation of Mahou Sensei Negima had only 26 episodes and a very half-assed ending which, to be honest, could conceivably have been true from what had come out so far...if they never consulted the author. The manga is currently at 300+ chapters.
The first adaptation managed to combine Compression with Filler. They managed to stick a good half-dozen episodes between the end of the manga's third volume and the beginning of the fourth, then compressed the entire events of the next three volumes into two episodes.
  • Eiken: Eighteen volumes of manga, and a two-episode OVA.
  • Lampshaded in the Dragon Half OVA, where one villain from the manga realizes that all of his backstory was left out of the adaptation, as seen in the page quote above.
  • Dragon Head (live action manga-based movie)
  • Macross: Do You Remember Love? The two-hour movie is a "re-imagining" of a 30-episode series, and it cuts out what would be the first half-hour or so because there's not enough time to fit in even an abbreviated version of the full story.
  • The plot of Gankutsuou (The Count of Monte Cristo IN SPACE!) covers roughly the last two-thirds of the novel; everything prior to Albert's first meeting with the Count is addressed in flashbacks. Interestingly enough, this is exactly how Alexandre Dumas originally intended to write it.
  • Narutaru: Kind of. While the first half of the manga was adapted faithfully, the entire second half wasn't at all and the series was Left Hanging. The subject matter of the manga from there on in—or too small an audience for the first half of the anime—might have had more to do with it than the amount.
  • Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou: 141 chapters of manga, and four-episodes of OVA that cover 18 of those chapters and a very small amount of original material.
  • Some of the last Death Note anime episodes suffer from this very heavily, with one episode equaling a whole volume of the manga in one occasion. This was in part due to these parts of the manga being drawn out for a little too long (they wanted to make it exactly 108 chapters.)
Entire subplots are cut out, like Mello using the Death Note to threaten the president (which ultimately results in the president's suicide and him being replaced with a somewhat spineless successor who decides to disband the SPK)- the aforementioned episode that jumps over 9 chapters. In another case, Mogi is temporarily held by Near when Demegawa's mob invades SPK headquarters, and is falsely said to have died, which helps lead to Aizawa cooperating with Near. The anime also significantly plays down the debate over the political and social implications of what Kira is doing.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure had an OVA series that not only adapted just Part 3 of the story, but started in the middle of the arc. The second OVA series is a prequel which jumped back to the beginning of the arc, recapped it up to where the first one started, then jumped back to after the first one ended.
  • Hajime no Ippo put canon into the ending of the second-to-last episode. Also done in the second series, Hajime no Ippo: New Challenger.
  • The Higurashi no Naku Koro ni anime is a compressed adaption of the sound novels. They removed a lot of elements, such as TIPs, the poems, and Fredrica Berkenstel, among other things. The manga is better, but also counts.
  • This is sadly the case with many anime that are based off of visual novels. The ero-OVA series, Moonlight Lady did this, and ultimately suffers for it, as the plot was riddled with more holes than you could shake a stick at.
  • Done with Amagami. Fortunately, every character is given their own arc in the anime.
  • Lunar Legend Tsukihime went through this treatment and ended up with massive, massive plot-holes.
    • And the Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works movie, if anything, copped it even worse. It was less a movie in its own right and more a montage of scenes from the game. It managed to keep most of the major scenes and plot points, but at the cost of cutting out almost all characterisation, backstory, the main love story between Shirou and Rin and all the segues, not only making it amazingly jarring to watch but also almost completely incomprehensible to anyone who isn't already familiar with the story.
  • The 1986 movie version of Fist of the North Star roughly adapts the initial 72 chapters of the original manga (or the first 49 episodes of the TV series) into a 2-hour film. This was mainly done by rearranging the order of events and focusing the plot on the franchise's now-iconic rivalry between Kenshiro and his brother Raoh, reducing the role of every other villain to extended cameos (with only Shin and Jagi getting sufficient development due to their importance to the plot). However, Toki (the second of the four Hokuto brothers) was left out completely with not even a hint of his existence, and while Rei still appears, his love interest Mamiya does not, and he dies without his final challenge to his nemesis Yuda.
  • Inuyasha: The Final Act covers the last 20 tankōban volumes of the manga in only 26 episodes. (By comparison, the first Inuyasha anime series covered the first 36 manga volumes in 167 episodes.)
  • The Dragon Ball 10th Anniversary Movie The Path To Power takes the Pilaf arc and the Red Ribbon arc, tears out large chunks of them and stitches them together for an 80 minute movie. Several Red Ribbon officers get Demoted to Extra and we end up with someone who is a Composite Character of White and Murasaki, but it works.
  • The 8th One Piece movie tries to squeeze about 40 episodes of material into a 90-minute movie. It makes a gallant effort, but even without the filler and just about every single plot point not directly related to the story arc, it still leaves a bit to be desired.
  • The Puella Magi Madoka Magica manga. Roughly 40 pages for each 20-minute episode is not as much space as you might think. It manages to keep more or less all of the same events; they just go by very quickly.
  • Most of the OVAs based on the Memories Off series.
  • Ayashi no Ceres anime.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam F91 - Originally planned as a full series, cut down even further. They had 13 full episodes originally scripted which then had to be cut down to a 2 hour movie, thanks to even more staff issues. When watched, a viewer can actually see' the points where they took an episode and made it the "ultra-condensed version."
  • The Ookamikakushi anime is based on a (roughly) fifteen-hour Visual Novel with at least ten arcs in total, each designed to explain the mysteries of Jougamachi and why certain characters act the way they do. On top of that, the first few arcs have multiple endings resulting from branching choices. The anime attempts to adapt all that, minus the bad twelve episodes.
    • Unusually, the frantic pacing typical of a Compressed Adaptation is totally absent here. There are glaciers that move faster.
  • The Wandering Son anime had to compress 4 volumes into a Twelve-Episode Anime. That meant skipped important parts, compressing scenes together, and removing most of the comedy.
  • Dracula: Sovereign of the Damned, the TV anime adaptation of Marvel Comics' The Tomb of Dracula, attempted to compress a 70-issue comic into an hour-and-a-half movie. The resulting plot makes very little sense.
  • The Neptunia anime did this fairly well, managing to fit a compressed version of the second and third game plots and most of the characters into twelve episodes, mostly done by rearranging canon events and using some original story to make it all make sense. They also folded several characters into one like Arfoire, who fulfilled the roles of at least three different characters.

Comic Books

  • There exists a comic book adaptation to The Thrawn Trilogy. Some scans from the first three issues of the first book, Heir to the Empire, are here. Despite somewhat odd art for this particular book, it's not terrible. Converting a Timothy Zahn novel into six comic issues means leaving out a lot, but Mike Baron was apparently afraid to alter the book, so while details and a lot of dialogue get left out, most of the rest stays in. It's a very dense set of comics, stridently averting decompression and sometimes using a Wall of Text or two.
    • A lot of things lose their pacing and impact. There's a point in the comics where the Imperials are near a ship, they talk about cloaking, Thrawn says it's good, and then they jump into hyperspace. In the novels, well, here's a dramatization.

Thrawn: "The freighter right outside this viewport is ready for the final cloaking test. Do it."
Technicians: *hit switch*
Freighter: *does not disappear*
Technicians: *look at clearly visible freighter, sweat*
Thrawn: "Excellent. This is exactly what I wanted. Good job, technicians. The mission is greenlighted! Let's get this taskforce going!"
First-Time Readers: "Wait, what? Isn't the cloaking device supposed to, you know, CLOAK? Buh?! It didn't cloak! What just happened?!"
Other Readers: "SO. AWESOME."
Thrawn: *smirk*



  • Many fans were outraged at the film adaptation of The Saga of Darren Shan. They try to squeeze content from the first three books (and even a huge spoiler from the ninth book) into the film. Scenes were removed with others added in their place, the age of the main character was changed (from about 12 to 16), one character was created to replace two and Mr. Tiny's alliance with the Vampaneze never existed in the book.
    • It doesn't stop there. They completely swapped the personalities of Larten Crepsley and Gavner Purl, having Gavner as being stuck-up and snobbish and Mr. Crepsley as the rash, sometimes crude, rough guy.
      • Evra Von was never as hostile in the book as he was in the film - he was actually very welcoming - and never had the obsession with music in the book either.
      • They changed the sex of Cormac Limbs from male to female and his name to Corma Limbs.
      • Many say that the only character they got correct was Mr. Tall.
    • Many original fans of the books can't stand Rebecca, the Monkey-Girl, claiming she was a cheap replacement for Sam and Debbie.
      • There's more: she completely contradicts something stated in the books. Darren is told he can't drink from certain animals, monkeys being one of them, and he takes a drink from Rebecca and it makes him stronger!
      • Having her instead of Sam also removes a defining moment for Darren. As, instead of the emotional scene where Darren drinks all his friend's blood to preserve his spirit as Sam's dying, it's replaced by a relatively crappy scene where Darren drinks a little bit in the middle of a battle with Murlough.
    • Something that annoys the supporters of the canon book pairing Larten X Arra was the relationship between Larten and Madame Truska in the film, and that it almost seems like he's cheating on Arra with Truska.
      • There isn't even a relationship between Truska and Larten in the book, besides a purely professional one.
    • Something that annoys many British and Irish fans is that they completely changed the country it was set in (presumably England or Ireland) to America.
      • Actually the books were written so that the plot could take place anywhere. Although Darren Shan (The author) is Irish.
  • The Harry Potter films. With the first two being of the "leave out whole scenes" variety, however, they were still mostly Adaptation Distillation. The later ones tended to combine scenes and leave out secondary plots altogether. The final two movies are next to incomprehensible unless you've read the books. So is Azkaban: for example, who are the Marauders? You'll have to read the book!
    • When it was announced that Deathly Hallows was going to be split into two films, a joke went around that the reason for the decision was to fill in all the important plot points (which didn't seem all that important at the time) that were cut in the previous movies.
    • Try watching Goblet of Fire with the book by its side to compare. The first 30–40 minutes cover over 250 pages of the book.
    • It could have been far worse. In the behind-the-scenes featurettes on the first film's DVD release, Chris Columbus mentioned that there was talk of taking scenes from the first three books, putting them together, and packaging it as Harry Potter: The Movie. However, someone realized that the point of the series is to watch the kids grow up within the seven years, and the "greatest hits" approach would be a travesty.
    • The Order of the Phoenix also suffers heavily from this, being the longest book adapted into the shortest movie (technically Deathly Hallows Part 2 was shorter, but it also had a lot less to cover.) The film tries to include as much as possible by way of Time Compression Montages, but it arguably goes a little too far with it to the extent that the film almost feels more like a two-hour-long trailer than a movie. Even then, it still cut out a lot. Even worse, the film was apparently intended to be three hours, but was pared down by Executive Meddling.
  • Battle Royale. The book is 600 pages and became a two-hour movie. Most of what was cut was Character Development explaining the backstories and motivations of the children.
  • Stardust: It's especially jarring in the final scene when the camera goes over everyone Tristan has met in his adventures, which isn't many compared to the book. One of the primary differences is that in the book, Tristran is gone for the better part of a year, whereas in the movie, Tristan (not a typo, they changed his name for the movie) is gone for about a week.
  • The Lord of the Rings. And it's still 11 hours long.
    • The Extended Edition does a better job of remaining faithful to the book. Still, it's more of an Adaptation Distillation and some major scenes are left out for continuity and pacing reasons.
    • The Ralph Bakshi animated version suffered even more from "Tolkien's Greatest Hits" syndrome, and no wonder: it covers the same events as the first two films of the Peter Jackson trilogy, but in less than half the time.
    • The Rankin-Bass version of The Return of the King handled it by focusing entirely on Frodo and Sam, with everything else in the background to give a sense of importance to the quest. Every other main character but Gandalf, Aragorn, and the other hobbits was cut entirely.
  • The film version of Avatar: The Last Airbender, simply titled The Last Airbender was already expected to suffer from this before its release, with fans assuming that it would be impossible to squeeze three seasons of the cartoon into three movies. Judging by the first film, it looks like the fans' fears were dead-on, as characters in the movie will spout endless amounts of exposition, line after line, in an effort to compress an entire season into an hour and a half of film.
  • A given for any adaptation of a classic novel. The films of Pride and Prejudice and Brideshead Revisited are recent modern culprits. To see how much has been condensed, one only needs to see the everything-but-the-kitchen-sink TV versions.
  • Happens to just about every version of Les Misérables. Les Mis doesn't even get the everything-but-the-kitchen-sink TV versions. The most famous example is, of course, the musical, which gets its own section. Seriously, is there a Les Miserables movie out there that keeps the Bishop of Digne's backstory, Sister Simplice, and the Battle of Waterloo, and introduces all of the Friends of the ABC? Didn't think so.
    • There's a French series of films from the 1930s that include just about everything.
    • A lot of the book is made up of about a dozen pages of backstory for every one event that happens, and most of the backstory isn't needed to appreciate the book—after all, the fifty pages Victor Hugo spends talking about the Battle of Waterloo (which includes the events of the battle itself, the geography of the area, and a dissertation of whether or not Waterloo was justified) contain one event relevant to the rest of the novel, which could be included while easily taking out forty-nine pages and not missing a thing. Adaptation Condensation is, for a few things in the books, completely justified.
  • David Lynch's Dune. It follows the plot of the book reasonably closely, but compresses two-thirds of a long novel into half an hour.
  • Zack Snyder's Watchmen film is about two and a half hours. To demonstrate how much this means was cut, shortly before the film's release a slightly abridged "motion comic" adaptation was released by Amazon, which runs five and a half hours.
    • However, mostly the supplemental material and the minor characters were cut. The movie actually manages to cover the main characters and story rather well.
  • A few Alice in Wonderland adaptations have done this (the Charlotte Henry film for instance cuts the part where Alice grows too large in the White Rabbit's house). Most also reverse this and work parts of Through The Looking Glass into them (note: the Tweedles were NOT in the book).
  • The movie adaptation of A Series of Unfortunate Events attempted to cover three separate books, along with a subplot from later in the series, and many scenes made up just for the movie. Needless to say, a lot of the books' plot had to go.
  • The film trilogy of 20th Century Boys, though it's about as good as it could be as the films were written by the manga's author Naoki Urasawa.
    • Poor Chouno really gets short shrift in the third film. After a pretty large role in film two, he's only given a couple brief appearances to wrap up his personal story arc before disappearing completely. Though given all the other things that needed to be resolved, it's hard to blame them for not wanting to spend too much time on this comparatively tangential plot thread.
  • The movie adaptation of My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult. It leaves out the storyline with Campbell and Julia, and also makes Jesse nicer. The movie also focuses a lot on Kate, much more than in the book. It might as well be called Littlest Cancer Patient: All Grown Up.
    • It also leaves out the twist at the end, in which Anna gets hit by a car shortly after winning the case, which allows Kate to live and renders Anna's struggle for emancipation moot. In the movie, Kate just...dies.
  • The Godfather. Yet like LOTR, it's two three-hour long films (the third is an original story).
  • Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, the live-action adaptation of the Scott Pilgrim comic series, is a positive example of this trope due to the fact that most of the scenes in the comic that were cut out wouldn't have worked on film due to their slow pacing.
    • The movie cut large sections of plot (especially Volumes 3 and 6, which were arguably the best part of the comics), characterization, and even a few fight scenes.
  • Gone with the Wind eliminates large portions of the book - the backstory of Ellen and Gerald (Scarlet's parents) and the two children she has with her first and second husbands - and compresses most sections of it: before the war, during, Reconstruction, etc. Most notably, her miscarriage/Bonnie's death/Melanie's miscarriage and death all happen with a few weeks of each other, whereas in the book, these events took place over the course of a year. Despite this, the movie is still 3.5 hours long.
    • As in the Harry Potter example, the audience at the time of release could be expected to have read the book.
  • The Time Traveler's Wife compressed a 300-page book into a movie a little over an hour and a half long, removing some of the characters' stories and dropping others altogether.
  • Many films of A Christmas Carol leave out a number of scenes, although some, like the Alistair Sim version, expand upon the story. The 70-minute 1938 film omits most of the darker scenes, such as Scrooge's breakup with Belle, Ignorance & Want, and the looting of the deceased Scrooge's belongings.
    • an important scene from the book is rarely included in movie adaptions; a scene where a family who owes Scrooge money celebrates his death, even though their time to repay may only be slightly extended due to transferance. The Albert Finney musical version, however, manages to condense it all into a song where all of London thanks Scrooge for dying while tearing up his debt book and dancing on his coffin.
  • The MGM adaptation of The Wizard of Oz omits scenes that wouldn't have worked in live-action at the time, as well as shortening the journey to Emerald City. When the Wicked Witch originally died, it was midway through the story, so the adaptation ends around the point when the Wizard leaves his city and Dorothy behind.
  • Eragon. The movie adaptation literally butchered the entire plot. Even the characters who were supposed to be dwarves and elves were portrayed as just regular humans.

Live Action TV

  • Being a half-hour program, and a family-oriented one at that, the various works adapted on Wishbone are compressed both for time and content. But as they take things out, but never add anything in, they still remain among the more faithful adaptations you'll find anywhere.



  • Wicked.
  • Les Misérables takes a 1400-page book with Loads and Loads of Characters and makes an two-and-three-quarter-hours-long musical with about ten principles and an ensemble of about 20. Granted, it works wonderfully, but even on stage it's very stylized to keep the action moving. It feels almost like a three-hour Montage covering almost all of the subtropes thereof.
  • Guys and Dolls takes an interesting track of combining two short stories by Damon Runyon, adding in characters from his other stories and giving them songs. It works incredibly well; he fact that they did not include a character called Big Nig helped immensely.
  • When David Mamet adapted The Voysey Inheritance, he cut out close to an hour of material from the original play, including merging the first two acts. It works.
  • Most 19th C. operas based on then-popular novels and/or plays skipped a lot. For example, in Verdi's Traviata, there is nothing in the script that indicated that Violetta has TB until the end—because in the original audientce everyone knew the play or the novel. Tosca La Boheme and the various versions of Manon were similarly compressed.
  • La Boheme's method of compression was similar to that of Guys and Dolls. Henri Murger's Scènes de la vie de bohème is more of a Picaresque collection of stories about Bohemian life with recurring major characters. The opera takes these characters and combines a few of the events from the stories to create a shorter single plot, with some differences from the novel. Mimì's personality became more pure, and Schaunard and Colline's girlfriends were written out... In fact, some of the most memorable events of La Boheme are taken from the story "Francine's Muff", the only chapter of the novel that has nothing to do with any of the four main characters.
  • Camelot, of course, couldn't help but subject The Once and Future King to this.

Video Games

  • This trope is the eventual fate of almost any game released for a handheld system that is primarily released through a major console. Handhelds typically have greatly reduced processing power and storage space, making Adaptation Distillation and Compressed Adaptation necessary.

Western Animation

  • The third and fourth seasons of Thomas the Tank Engine suffer from this, with many plot elements and full episodes never being adapted. This could be partially due to Executive Meddling, though.
  • The second and third installments of the original Bionicle trilogy of Direct to Video movies took this route. The comic and novel scenes (which mostly dealt with stories unrelated to the movies' plots) can be fitted in between movie scenes. Still, as the story writer put it in a DVD bonus feature, only if you read the comics and books (or in some cases, follow the story for years) do you fully understand what's going on.
  • Disney Channel's Have a Laugh—which alternates between showing the Classic Disney Shorts, "Blam!" (slapstick from said shorts set to Totally Radical commentary), and "Re-MICKS" (clips from the shorts set to music, using songs such as "Another One Bites the Dust" by Queen to "Play My Music" by the Jonas Brothers) -- sometimes airs three-minute versions of the shorts. Compare the original How to Hook Up Your Home Theater with the three-minute version, for example.