Indecisive Medium

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A work in one medium, that heavily relies on the unique quirks of another, different medium, as if it would try to remind us every time that the story is just adapted from another form.

It might happen because the original work is so famous, that everyone will think about it in that format anyways: The Bible is a book, Romeo and Juliet is a theater play, and Super Mario is a video game. If you are making an adaptation of these, your audience won't be fooled into believing that they are watching an equal version to the original, so you might as well stylistically remind everyone that yes, this is a mere imitation of the real deal.

Another cause might be that the original format influences the plot so heavily, that it simply wouldn't work in the other format.

Yet, it isn't necessarily an adaptation trope, maybe the work is just heavily inspired by another medium, and this is why it may try posing as its member, without actually being adapted from it. For example, a tv series that is all about how awesome reading is, might have "chapters" instead of "episodes", or an anime about video games might have "levels".

Common versions, with their usual traits:

Examples of Indecisive Medium include:

Anime & Manga

  • Ore Imo, as Visual Novels are a recurring theme in its plot, had choice screens, a Bad End screen, and at the ending of some episodes, still pictures imitating the style of CGs you get at the ending of a Visual Novel route.
  • Every episode of Bakemonogatari begins with long written quotes from the original Light Novels.
  • Bakuman。's manga within a manga was preserved in the anime adaptation as a several minutes sequence of showing still, black and white manga frames, and reading its dialogues.
  • In the Clannad anime, some of the jokes based on gag options, were conserved as Tomoya having a random Imagine Spot about what option would he choose if this where a visual novel, and it was shown on screen with an actual scene from the original game. Also, there is this whole thing about the light orbs, that were basically completion points in the game.
  • In the Haruhi Suzumiya light novels, they would sometimes make it ambiguous as to whether Kyon was thinking or speaking. In the anime, they keep the ambiguity by not showing his mouth when he speaks.
  • Umineko no Naku Koro ni, in its anime adaptation, keeps the use of colored text so vital to the original Visual Novel despite the fact that the dialogue in the anime is audio-based rather than text-based.
  • In the first episode of the anime version of THE iDOLM@STER the Producer's lines are all subtitled and not voiced, leading several people to think that the adaptation of the game would be literal.


  • Hulk (2003)'s screen was divided into comic book panels for a scene or two.
  • Repo! The Genetic Opera appears to follow this trope, but the comic book panels were actually due to budget constraints.
  • There's a lot of scenes in Unbreakable where characters are pictured in door frames and such, to mimic the frame effect of the comic books that form an integral part of the plot.
  • The Laurence Olivier film of Henry V is purportedly actually a film of an Elizabethan-era performance of Henry V; at the beginning, we get to see some glimpses of the backstage. As the film goes on, it gets less and less theatrical, presumably corresponding to the audience's increased immersion in the plot.
  • In Kenneth Branagh's Henry V, The Prologue - which is about making theater magic by suspending your disbelief over the people prancing about on stage are pretending to be the real Henry V etc. - is said in an empty soundstage. Then at the very end: "Who, Prologue-like, your humble patience pray / Gently to hear, kindly to judge, our play!" and he throws open some doors showing a production utilizing the hyperrealism of film.
  • Arguably the point of the film adaptation of Sin City, or it would have just been a Film Noir.
  • The Doom movie kept whole scenes in first person POV, in tribute of the original game, that defined FPS.
  • Scott Pilgrim vs. the World does this twofold: as a film adaptation of a comic book whose plot runs on video-game logic, it has quite a few video-game elements (scores, extra lives, enemies that turn into coins when defeated, and so on) as well as displaying most of its flashback scenes in the form of animated comic book panels and making extensive use of comic-book style onomatopoeia.
  • Watchmen has the "Rorschach's Journal" sections that narrate parts of the graphic novel as internal monologue in the movie.
  • Fight Club is narrated by Edward Norton's character, to mimic the book's first person narration.
  • The Princess Bride was presented as a movie about a grandfather reading a book to his sick grandson, echoing the novel's Framing Device of annotations in which the "editor" recalled being read the book himself as a boy.
  • The Royal Tenenbaums parodies this with chapters showing sections from a nonexistent Book Of The Film, partly because the movie is inspired by J. D. Salinger's Glass family stories.

Live Action TV

  • The 1975 Wonder Woman series used comic book panels both over the titles and for some transitions within each episode.
  • The onomatopoetic "Biff! Bam! Pow!"s in the Batman '60s TV series.
  • The Adventures of Brisco County Jr had each episode broken down so that each act was a chapter in a pulp western. One episode even had a father (in-universe, mind you) reading one of these books to his son, in a manner not unlike The Princess Bride.
  • The credits of The Cape show comic book panels coming to life.
  • Heroes portrayed itself as a comic book in television form, calling its episodes "chapters" and its seasons "volumes."


  • Creatures of Light and Darkness by Roger Zelazny has one chapter that's written as an epic poem and another that's written as a script for a play.

Video Games

  • Odin Sphere is framed as a little girl reading a series of books about characters whose stories interconnect, so each character's tale starts with pages flipping and is separated into prologues, chapters, and epilogues. The 2d graphics are also a bit reminiscent of a picture book.
  • Max Payne was never a graphic novel, but the cutscenes are presented as a dynamic comic strip.
  • XIII. The whole game has Cel Shading to look like a 2D drawn comic book, onomatopoeic effects and speech bubbles appear during the gameplay,
  • The sides of most of the stages in Jump Super Stars and Jump Ultimate Stars look like a stack of pulp paper, mimicking the pages of Weekly Shonen Jump. Because of this, you can rip the sides away, allowing you to ring out your opponent. As your health goes down, you colors become more washed out as well, becoming greyscale when you only have a sliver of health. And, of course, the Inventory Management Puzzle that uses actual panels from the manga to determine your lineup.
  • In Comix Zone an author get sucked into the comic he's drawing by his own villain, who then draws mooks for him to fight against throughout the game, with fights happening within panels and all kinds of wall breaking.
  • Anachronox has Super Villain Rictus with a comic-book style intro and narrator cameo.
  • Tyrian 2000 displays an "INSERT COIN" message in its Attract Mode, though it never was an Arcade Game.

Web Comics

Web Original

  • In 2006, Bionicle had these non-canon on-line animations that, similar to the Hulk movie mentioned above, had shifting comic panels instead of normal transitions, adopted 3D Thick Line Animation to enhance the effect, and were also a series of mini-games.

Western Animation

  • Disney's Winnie the Pooh frequently featured the characters as illustrations in the original book, complete with hopping between the pages and walking on the letters of the text. Unlike StorybookOpenings, this happened all the way during the story.
  • Where on Earth Is Carmen Sandiego?, a Saturday Morning Cartoon based on a video game: The characters are aware that they are characters in a video game, and often speak directly to the player. Also, each episode begins and ends with a brief live-action sequence of the Player sitting at his/her computer.