Spared by the Adaptation

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"Pssh, yeah, like I'm gonna die in a place like that!"

Lt. Virgil, Xenosaga: The Animation.

Both an adaptation trope and a death trope, Spared by the Adaptation refers to cases where a character who died in the source material does not die in the adaptation.

The reasons behind these occurrences vary. Perhaps Media Watchdogs, Executive Meddling, and/or the creator wanted to make it Lighter and Softer than the original. Maybe the character was a fan favorite and the crew wanted to appease the fan base. Maybe the death stood out as especially pointless, and people in charge took it as a given that life is cruel and unfair so they didn't need to kill a beloved character just to make that point to the audience yet again. Maybe the events where it happens are cut for other reasons. The sky's the limit as for why this happens, which probably explains why it happens so often.

Likely to occur during a Gecko Ending where the adaptation is made before the original is even finished.

Compare with Schrödinger's Cast where a character's fate is different from the source material, but the source material is still ongoing (which may create the need for the adaptors to do a drastic rewrite if the character in question, or their averted death, becomes important later on in the source material).

Contrast with Death by Adaptation, where a character dies in the adaptation, but not in the source material.

As a Death Trope, all Spoilers will be unmarked ahead. Beware.

Examples of Spared by the Adaptation include:

Anime and Manga

  • The manga adaptation of Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories spared Repliku from his heart-wrenching fate, but not his angst, and it played it for comedy! Poor kid can't catch a break, eh?
  • Happens in several of the Death Note spinoffs.
    • Soichiro, Ukita, Demegawa, and Misa in the Live Action Adaptation.
      • In the noveltization of L Change The World, it is vaguely suggested that Mello might exist in the movie continuity. If he does, then he falls under the trope too.
    • L subverts this in the live action movies. He avoids being killed by Rem, but only because he wrote his own name and time of death in the death note. He outlives Light, but dies 20 days later (23 days from when he wrote his name in).
    • Though neither avoids death per se, Light and Sayu have their fates softened and avoided, respectively- Sayu isn't kidnapped, and thus doesn't go temporarily insane, and Light dies in Soichiro's arms rather than alone, though he's still batshit insane to the end, much to Soichiro's dismay.
      • Oh, and just to rub salt in the wound, Light dies begging Soichiro to believe that he acted as Kira to put justice, which Soichiro had taught him about since childhood, into effect.
    • Soichiro is also not shown to die in the second rewrite special...leading to plotholes regarding his absence as well as how Light was able to acquire Mello's true name.
  • Duclis, a tiger-like creature from Slayers has two completely different backstories and fates in the novel and anime; in the anime, he's the friend and assistant to the prince Pokota who goes on a massive Roaring Rampage of Revenge in the name of their kingdom with the help of Zanaffar, a great beast. Despite all the chaos that occurs, he manages to survive, and flees. In the Light Novel series, he's a member of a cult that worships the world's almighty Big Bad, Shabranigdo, and he, along with almost all of the other members of the cult, winds up getting killed by Lina and her party.
    • And in a twisted meta-version of this trope, the eigth novel has Fibrizo the demonic lord only imprison Lina's companions and threaten their lives, which triggers Lina's second use of the Giga Slave. This is a far cry from the anime season it was based on, in which Fibrizo crushes the physical embodiments of the life forces of Lina's party members before imprisoning them.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!
    • Maximillion Pegasus in the anime. After his defeat, Evil Bakura plucks out his Millennium Eye. In the anime, this merely knocks him out and he is almost immediately Put on a Bus as his henchmen get him to a hospital to recover. Not only does he survive in time for the filler arcs and movies, but he is also a recurring character in Yu-Gi-Oh! GX.
    • Bandit Keith is another example. In the manga, he threatens Pegasus with a knife demanding the prize money. Pegasus uses his Millenium Eye to create a Penalty Game by turning Keith's hand into a gun and "killing" himself with it. In the anime, Keith's uses a gun instead for the same reason only to fall into the trapdoor and into the ocean. He returns later under the control of Marik.
      • Although in Yu-Gi-Oh R, Keith is also revived by Tenma.
    • Gozaburo Kaiba still dies eventually, but survives a lot longer than he does in the manga, where he committed suicide during Seto Kaiba's backstory; in the anime, this is changed to a heart attack, but he downloads his mind into a computer, returning as the true Big Bad of the Virtual Nightmare Arc.
  • The Village Elder and Sanai in Samurai 7.
    • Subverted with Heihachi. Surprising fans of the original movie, he was spared from being the first samurai to die, but he finally meets his end in episode 25.
  • Scheris and Kimishima in the S-Cry-ed manga adaptation.
  • In the Code Geass manga spinoff Nightmare of Nunnally, both Lelouch and Euphemia survive, though the former starts Walking the Earth while the latter becomes the new Emperor of Britannia.
    • Lelouch also survives in Suzaku of the Counterattack, another manga spinoff.
  • The title character in Ponyo, which is a loose adaptation of The Little Mermaid.
  • Alcyone in Magic Knight Rayearth, who dies due to wounds inflicted by Umi in the manga but vanishes in the anime. But then came MKR 2... where she is Brainwashed and Crazy thanks to Debonair. She dies in the last episode, though.
  • Shou Tucker in the 2003 anime adaptation of Fullmetal Alchemist. Notable because Dr. Marcoh dies instead.
    • There are a few subversions, such as Basque Grand's death being given a passing mention in the manga, but in the 2003 anime, he gets some characterization and dies onscreen. Then in Brotherhood, he doesn't get the same characterization, but dies onscreen and goes down fighting.
  • Chun-Li's father is still alive (albeit hospitalized and in a coma) the last time we see him in Street Fighter II V.
  • In Breath of Fire IV Fou-lu either is absorbed into or absorbs Ryu in a Split Personality Merge in the original video game (depending on which of the Multiple Endings one ultimately selects). The manga adaptation went for a Third Option Adaptation which not only managed to incorporate both the Bad and Good Ends but ultimately ended with a failed Split Personality Merge and Fou-lu's ultimate survival (if in a Brought Down to Normal state). And the Fandom Rejoiced, yea and verily.
    • There is quite a lot of Wild Mass Guessing as to why this is the case—one persistent rumour is that the manga was deliberately set up for either a video-game or manga sequel to Breath of Fire IV (especially considering that Capcom is talking of reviving the franchise and directed the Comic Book Adaptation in the first place). This would fit with the other, rather extensive changes made to the manga's end—which, up till that point, largely followed the plot of the game save for some All There in the Manual stuff from the artbook that was included in the manga.
  • Professor Tomoe in Sailor Moon was killed in the manga, but saved in the anime (where he's just possessed). Since the next storyline required having Sailors Uranus and Neptune raising his daughter, he was quickly Put on a Bus at the start of the next season.
    • This also happens to the Ayakashi Sisters, the Amazon Trio (sort of...they become souls/dreams/some sort of spiritual light and go to Elysian rather than die outright), Queen Nehelenia and Sailor Galaxia. All of them are either purified or brought to Heel Face Turns by Sailor Moon.
    • Prince Diamond dies in the manga and the anime, but lives in the Musicals.
    • Nephrite in the live action show Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon.
  • In the Bokurano manga, Kana Ushiro dies alongside all of the kids. In the anime, however, Youko takes her place as a pilot and thus Kana survives the game.
  • Les Misérables: Shoujo Cosette, the otherwise good, detailed anime adaptation just lets two important characters live. Gavroche would be quite ok, but with Javert it's unforgivable, especially the way the do it. He's about to jump when the sun suddenly rises, and he... decides not to. Even worse than it sounds.
    • Even more egregious, they actually lampshade it in the next episode preview, saying one should not commit suicide over being depressed like that. They just wanted to soften it for kids, obviously.
  • The second Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann movie doesn't kill off the Mauve Shirt members of the Gurren gang (specifically, Jorgun, Balinbow, Kidd, Iraak, Zorthy, and Makken), re-drawing them into the scenes that occur afterwards.
    • Everyone who died in the show survives in the High School AU manga, and yes, that includes Kamina. His interaction with Nia has to be seen to be believed.
  • Genkai in Yu Yu Hakusho passes away in the last chapter of the manga, but lives until the end of the series in the anime (ignoring her death and resurrection in the Dark Tournament saga).
  • Joe Buttataki in the Soul Eater anime lives up the the end, even though in the original manga he is killed by Justin.
    • Mifune also survives the events of the anime, unlike in the manga where he is killed by Black Star.
  • The Ikki Tousen manga heads towards Knight of Cerebus territory later on with several characters in the series killed off, but the anime held dear to the cast, keeping them all alive.
    • With the exception of Ukitsu, that is.
  • The 3rd PSP game version of Macross Frontier does this to Michael who ends Only Mostly Dead twice in the UN Spacy route. But They Killed Alto instead! Those Bastards!
    • Bit of an ongoing theme due to his popularity. Even the movie version spared him.
  • The second Rei Ayanami still pulls a Heroic Sacrifice in Rebuild of Evangelion and ends up being swallowed alive by the Eldritch Abomination she was fighting - This time, however, her love interest and half-brother... sorta Shinji rips her directly out of the bastard and saves her life. Unfortunately, she's not fully saved just yet, as the Angel who swallowed her wasn't the Angel who got her killed in the anime, so all bets are on when that one eventually shows up....
    • In the manga Asuka seems to be this as of the most recent chapter. "Seems to" because Shinji managed to prevent her death and the hands of the Eva Series, but considering that Third Impact started in said chapter, it's yet to be seen whether this trope will be played straight or not.
  • In the original Cutey Honey manga, Panther Claw's attack on Honey's school was a bloodbath, killing pretty much everyone except Honey (including Alphonne and Miharu, whose deaths were Played for Laughs). In the anime version, the only casualty was Natsuko.
    • In most versions of the series, the plot is kicked off by the murder of Dr. Kisaragi, and Honey fights Panther Claw to avenge him. In Cutey Honey Flash, the Shoujo version, the plot is kicked off by the kidnapping of Dr. Kisaragi, and Honey fights Panther Claw to rescue him.
  • In the Mai-Otome manga, Erstin Ho survives.
  • The 60's anime of Kimba the White Lion is the only edition of the original story that doesn't have the title character killed off.
  • Satsuki and Nanami, two minor characters in NEEDLESS who were gutted alive by Mio, were only humiliated in the anime.
  • Raoh in the Fist of the North Star OVA.
  • In the Grenadier manga, Koto (a secondary character) is killed by the Big Bad (and fuels Rushuna's revenge against him). She survives in the anime.
  • Both Mei and Gabu in Arashi no Yoru ni.
  • Bardock is a very odd subversion in the 3-chapter Dragon Ball spin-off manga, History of Bardock. He survives Frieza's attack, but winds up going back in time. The manga gives no indication that he ever returns to his own time, meaning that he'll die long-before any of the events in the official series.
  • Tales of Symphonia: The Animation is extremely Compressed Adaptation due to having to fit forty hours of gameplay into ten episodes' worth of anime screentime, leading them to combine the Dragons' Nest and Rodyle's Human Ranch into the same encounter. Since it takes place in the Dragons' Nest and not underwater, this has the effect of nullifying any need for Botta to make a Heroic Sacrifice.
  • Icelina Eschonbach in the film version of Mobile Suit Gundam.
  • Technically done in Digimon Xros Wars: The Young Hunters Leaping Through Time; During the Massive Multiplayer Crossover finale, Grani turns up to help Dukemon; he even combines with him, giving rise to Dukemon: Crimson Mode. This only happened in their own series, Digimon Tamers, because Grani was about to die and he gave up his life energy to help his friend Guilmon. They even uncombine afterwards.
  • Due to the Bleach anime's cancellation, Chojiro Sasakibe, recently killed in the manga.

Comic Books

  • IDW's New-Trek-Movie-verse version of the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Operation: Annihilate!" spares Captain Kirk's brother George and George's wife Aurelan from being killed by the neural parasites. In the original, George Kirk was dead before the Enterprise ever arrived, and Aurelan didn't last much longer.
    • Dr Elizabeth Dehner also survives the IDW version of "Where No Man Has Gone Before", simply by not being there. (She gets namechecked as having turned down the Enterprise posting because of a past relationship with Dr McCoy.)
  • In Perry, after the death of Thora, Perry Rhodan entered a permanent relationship with Auris of La-Thor, which lasted until the end of the original comicbook series and beyond. In the originel pulps, her model Auris of Las-Toór and Perry Rhodan felt attracted to each other, but she was killed (in the fifth issue in which she appeared) before they could get anywhere romantically.

Fan Works

  • Many Bleach works invert this, mostly due to the seeming immortality of the main characters. Downfall and Hammered Down are interesting examples because the former has a large percentage of the backstory characters alive and well, others die, though - Hammered down starts plays this somewhat straighter.
  • Trisha Elric in the Doctor Who Manga
    • And According to Word of God Pip Perrup and Chef wind up getting this Trope, and also his universe Kills off Scott Tenorman though human transmutation, ya little crybabies
  • A good percentage of fix fics fall under this trope; mainly done if the character in question was a fan favorite.
  • Professor Quirrell in A Very Potter Musical. And Dumbledore.
  • Haku and the Third Hokage (at least so far) in Team 8. However, in the latter case, he lost an arm and was forced to step down as Hokage.
  • Iris and Colonel get this treatment invoked on them in Burning Stickman Presents...Something! by one of the main characters. Said protagonist is Trapped in a Video Game and is well aware of exactly which game he's in, so he takes steps to prevent their deaths and knocks the games' plot Off the Rails in the process.
  • Nihlus in Renegade. Since the MacGuffin on Eden Prime is a Tacitus, rather than a Prothean beacon, Saren is carrying it around with him; Nihlus notices and is about to turn and ask Saren about it when the latter tries to shoot him in the head. Thanks to the movement, though, it's not as deadly as it "should" have been.
  • The Arithmancer and Lady Archimedes spare quite a few of the cast of Harry Potter who don't survive the canon storyline -- Cedric Diggory, although he is terribly injured, Fred Weasley, Remus Lupin, and Tonks, to name a few. Bertha Jorkins got several more years than she did in canon, but it wasn't exactly a blessing.

Films -- Animation

  • Several Disney Adaptations, via Disneyfication:
    • The Talking Cricket (renamed Jiminy Cricket) in Pinocchio.
    • Esmeralda and Quasimodo in The Hunchback of Notre Dame. The musical on the other hand...
    • Ariel in The Little Mermaid.
    • Arguably Robin Hood in Robin Hood, though the Robin Hood mythos is so vast that it's not ironclad that he dies at the end normally.
    • And Chief in The Fox and the Hound (film). Not in the Disney books adapted from the film, though.
    • Captain Hook from Peter Pan. In the book, he is simply swallowed up by the crocodile, but in the movie, he immediately jumps out of the crocodile's mouth unharmed shortly after being swallowed up and later swimming away screaming for Smee with the crocodile still behind him.
      • There's an interesting story behind this. Originally, Disney was going to make Hook an evil, intimidating character who would die like his literary counterpart. However, they discovered that the slapstick scenes with the crocodile effectively ruined any sense that he was a serious threat. Therefore, they went all out and played him as an Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain. They kept him alive because they figured the audience wouldn't want to see such a humorous, non-threatening villain die.
    • Shere Khan from The Jungle Book. He retreats with a burning branch tied to his tail. Seconds after he's out of sight, it rains. In fact, he's still alive by the end of the sequel!
    • Mad Madam Mim from The Sword in the Stone. In the book, she was killed after Merlin became an infectuous disease, but in the movie, she is merely bedridden, and that Merlin actually had to use sunlight in order to cure her.
    • Both The Steadfast Tin Soldier and the Ballerina from Fantasia 2000. The main reason why they both lived in the Disney adaptation is because the writers of the film actually did not want to cause any Soundtrack Dissonance considering the fact that the musical piece accompanying this scene is an optimistic-sounding one.
    • John Luther "Casey" Jones from The Brave Engineer. In real life, he actually died in the train crash.
    • Pocahontas in Pocahontas II: Journey to a New World. In real life, she died during her stay in England.
    • Maleficent in the Disney Theme Parks version of Sleeping Beauty, whose cackling can be heard at the very last part of the ride, implying that she had survived being stabbed by the Sword of Truth and falling off a cliff. However, this was eventually removed and replaced with a scene where the fairies are still bickering over what color Aurora's dress should be. There was also a sequel storybook which also had Maleficent survive the above and still cause trouble.
    • Bambi: Every major character dies in the novel except for Bambi and his fawns.
  • Grendel's Mother in the 2007 Beowulf movie.
  • In 9, everyone except 9 died in the original short; in the full-length movie he, 7, 3 and 4 all make it out alive.
  • Ms. Li in Batman: Under the Red Hood. Mr. Li, her Spear Counterpart from the original comic, is killed by the titular Red Hood. Whether her survival is due to the plot changes or her being a girl is uncertain.
  • Anastasia in Anastasia (if you consider reality to be the source material, since it's so historically inaccurate it may as well be an Alternate Universe).
  • Ostap Bender from Mel Brooks adaptation of The Twelve Chairs survives the book instead of having his throat cut for all his trouble. An interesting case, as while the book itself explicitly stated him as dead, the character was later brought back for a sequel.
  • Gnomeo and Juliet survive in the film, Gnomeo and Juliet, which is an adaptation of Romeo and Juliet.
    • Lampshaded during the main character's conversation with a statue of Shakespeare when he refers to the downer ending as being "A Horrible Ending".

Films -- Live Action

  • Tad from Cujo
  • John Hammond in Jurassic Park. Ian Malcolm as well, which may have led Michael Crichton to make him Not Quite Dead in the sequel, though it's clearly implied that he dies in the first book.
    • It's actually an inversion (not counting the Malcom issue): In the book, Gennaro and Muldoon survive with Grant, Sattler, and the twins while Hammond and Malcolm are killed; in the film, Muldoon and Gennaro are eaten by rampaging dinosaurs and the survivors are Hammond and Malcolm.
    • Dodgson is eaten in the second book, but in the second movie, a different character plays his role (although it could be argued that after Nedry doesn't return, Dodgson tries to get the embryos himself...)
  • In the musical film version of Little Shop of Horrors, Seymour and Audrey both escape their fate of being eaten by the plant, which is killed. Partly subverted in that, in the stage musical, Audrey was a victim of Death by Adaptation, having survived in the original film, while the plant, who died in the original film, ends up surviving.
  • The Talking Cricket in The Adventures of Pinocchio.
  • Saruman and Wormtongue in the theatrical versions of The Lord of the Rings movies.
    • Not so much in the Extended Editions. (Which explains why the palantir is in the water when Pippin picks it up)
    • Additionally, in the books the Isengarders set one of the Ents ablaze and it's implied he burned to death. In the film, the Ent survives long enough to douse himself in the monstrous flood, turning an off-screen moment of villainy into a Funny Background Event.
  • Gwen Stacy and Captain Stacy in Spider Man 3 probably due in no small part to being demoted to extras.
    • Also justified that their killer in the comics, Norman Osborn, was already dead since part one.
  • The protagonist in the movie version of Spider.
  • Mari and Justin in the 2009 remake of The Last House on the Left.
  • The title character in the 2003 version of Willard.
    • The title character dies in the 1971 version and is heavily implied to have died in the original novel.
  • Roger in Who Framed Roger Rabbit?.
  • Norman Bates in the Psycho follow-up movies.
  • Judy in the 2010 remake of The Crazies.
  • The Village Elder in The Magnificent Seven. Chico is a partial example, as he's a Composite Character of two of the main characters of Seven Samurai: Kikuchiyo, who dies, and Katsushiro, who does not.
  • Many English film adaptations of Les Misérables don't include Jean Valjean's death, which can be seen as a good thing but has about half the impact of the original ending.
  • Both the kids and the would-be killer in the remake of When a Stranger Calls.
  • The Renfield-type character in Nosferatu, both the original and in Werner Herzog's remake.
  • Nobody ever has the heart to kill off Fagin in Oliver Twist remakes anymore.
  • Mister Arrow in Muppet Treasure Island, which actually becomes an important plot point later on.
    • Of course, this was averted with Billy Bones. Which is significant because he was the only character ever to die in a Muppet movie. Billy Connoly (who portrayed Bones) is quite proud of that fact.
  • Matt Hooper from Jaws; granted in the film he is a much more likeable character.
  • Mr. Coogar in Something Wicked This Way Comes
  • Charles Cheswick in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Word of God states that Cheswick was spared in order to make Billy's death all the more shocking.
  • Two characters in The Golden Compass movie: Tony Makarios, whose daemon is severed from him, and Roger. In the book, both are killed. There may have been plans for Roger to die in the following movie (though his death was in the end of the first volume of the book series, not the second,) but since that movie will apparently not be made, as it actually stands Roger survived in the film.
    • The script did, in fact, include Roger's death and that scene was filmed before being removed.
  • Wormtail in the Harry Potter films. He survives his book death with a Tap on the Head and is not seen again. Of course, this was done to Avoid The Dreaded R Rating.
    • Although it has been argued that said Tap on the Head (which did seem to be painful) killed him, or that Voldemort does at one point.
    • Grindelwald doesn't seemingly die either, since he actually cooperates with Voldemort in the film.
    • Colin Creevey is also not shown to die. (Although he does not appear either)
    • Subverted with Hedwig. In the book, Harry takes her with him when he leaves the Dursleys and she's killed in the following chase scene. In the film, he lets her go before the chase scene, only for her to return and die taking a spell for him.
  • In the original ending of The Vanishing, the movie's Downer Ending involves the protagonist Buried Alive by the killer; the remake, however, changes the entire ending, having him escape this certain doom, kill the villain, and even sell the story to a movie producer. Oddly, both versions of the movie were directed by the same man, so one assumes he didn't object to the change.
  • The originally filmed ending to First Blood was much closer to the novel by David Morrell, which had John Rambo forcing Trautman to kill him. However, due to Rambo's more sympathetic portrayal in the film, a new ending was filmed which had Rambo being arrested instead, making the sequels possible. Due to the relative obscurity of the novel, not many are aware that Rambo was supposed to die in the first film. Ironically, Morrell adapted the film's sequels into novels; as such, he took note of the Canon Discontinuity in the first sequel, throwing said discontinuity out the window just as quickly.
  • The fourth kidnapped cardinal in Angels & Demons.
  • Higgins in Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, since the subplot that killed him didn't make the movie, though early versions of the screenplay killed him in the final battle.
  • At the time the first Superman film was made, both Ma and Pa Kent were dead in the comics by the time Clark becomes Superman. In the film, however, only Pa Kent dies. In the Post-Crisis comics both Kents are still alive making Jonathan Kent dying on Smallville Death by Adaptation.
    • He's dead again.
  • The Guns of Navarone. Stevens shatters his leg, contracts gangrene, and pins down a German assault single-handedly to buy time for his teammates to escape and continue their mission in the book. Major Franklin is captured, and though there's no hint of when or whether he'll be repatriated, he's at least shown alive and knows that the team's mission was a success.
  • Most movie adaptations of Romeo and Juliet leave out the deaths of Paris and Lady Montague, probably because both contribute little to the story and slow down the ending.
    • Though this very often creates a plot hole when the prince says that he has lost "a brace of kinsmen" at the end. The movie makers obviously don't realize what "a brace" means; it means two: two kinsmen, namely Mercutio and Paris. Without Paris' death, the prince has only lost one kinsman!
      • The Prince's comment is made even more confusing in the Leonardo DiCaprio version where Captain Prince and Mercutio are black and Paris is white. And there is no evidence of any of them being of mixed race.
  • In the remake of Carrie, the title character survives and goes into hiding in Florida.
    • This, incidentally, was because they were planning on doing a TV series about Carrie going on the run and helping other troubled teens with powers like hers. It never happened.
  • Atreyu's horse, Artax, in the movie adaption of The Neverending Story. To be precise, it does die by sinking in a swamp through despair just like in the book, but it somehow comes back to life at the end of the movie. And it appears in the second movie, still alive.
  • The Godfather. Calo, Michael's bodyguard while hiding in Sicily, is killed by the same explosion that killed Apollonia in the novel. He survives the movie adaptation, but is later killed in Part III of the film series.
  • Charlie's brother in Lemonade Mouth. In the movie he's older, away at college until he returns near the climax. In the book, he's Charlie's twin and was stillborn.
  • Both film versions of " A Little Princess" have Sara's father survive.
  • Lt. Kamarov in The Hunt for Red October. Borodin dies in his place.
  • The 2011 film version of The Three Musketeers 2011 spares Milady de Winter, the Duke of Buckingham, and Constance Bonacieux. Cardinal Richelieu's survival is not an example; his deaths in previous adaptations are actually examples of Death by Adaptation (he survives the original book).
  • Cantor Rabinowitz in The Jazz Singer. In the 1927 original he passed away at his deathbed after listening to his son Jack sing the Kol Nidre so beautifully and telling his wife Sara, "we have our son again" (his ghost is then shown at Jack's side in the synagogue). In the 1980 Neil Diamond remake, however, when Cantor Rabinowitz sees his son Jess sing the Kol Nidre in his father's place (since said father can't sing due to high blood pressure), he becomes surprised, and after some conversation, the father forgives his son and gives a heartwarming embrace. He even hears the performance of Diamond's "America" at the end.
  • Played straight with lover Frank at first in the 1975 film adaptation of The Who's Tommy, but then subverted at the end of the film when the angry mob kills him and Nora Walker.
  • Blick in the 1948 film adaptation of The Time of Your Life.
  • In the film version of My Sister's Keeper, Kate dies and Anna lives. In the book, Anna sues her parents for medical emancipation so she won't have to give her kidney to Kate, who has leukemia. Then, she is hit by a car and her kidney is given anyway. In the movie, Kate agrees with the lawsuit, knowing that she will die.
  • In the Lighter and Softer Disney adaptation of Johnny Tremain, Rab doesn't die.
  • Thufir Hawat is shown in the crowd watching Paul's duel with Feyd-Rautha at the end of Dune. His death scene just before that duel was filmed, but was cut.
  • Esmeralda in the Lon Chaney version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
  • The Hellboy comic book kicks off with the death of Professor Bruttenholm, Hellboy's "father". In the film adaptation, he survives half the movie.
  • Echo the Ventriloquist drowns in The Unholy Three, but survives in both movie adaptations; rather ironic given that this was Lon Chaney's final role before his untimely death.


  • Honor Harrington is Horatio Nelson In Space! Except Honor lives through the In Space version of Nelson's final battle, as found in At All Costs. due to some last minute changes and going Off the Rails. She was suppose to die in At All Costs until David Weber was convinced to move the next generation plot up about 20 years.
  • Possibly the cook in the novelization of Titan A.E.. At the very least, their death occurs off-screen.
  • A Bambi read-along book never mentions the death of his mother. Now, she COULD have died, but it just jumps from Winter to Spring and Bambi being grown up with no deaths. She just disappears.
    • Another storybook, this time based on The Princess and the Frog, actually does not mention Ray the firefly's death at all!
    • Some storybooks based on Cars 2 actually leave out the deaths of Rod "Torque" Redline, Leland Turbo, and Tony Trihull. Also, one LEGO playset based on that movie had Leland Turbo's cube drawn in a way so it now shows his pitiful eyes, suggesting that he is still alive even as a cube.
    • In fact, a lot of tie-in Disney storybooks tend to leave out the deaths of important characters, which occasionally result in Plot Holes, since especially if the death is related to the plot. An inversion would be in some tie-in storybooks based on Atlantis the Lost Empire, King Kashekhim Nedakh's death is not mentioned at all, yet we still see his daughter ____ as a Queen at the end.
  • Youth adaptations of 11th-century Welsh legend How Culhwch Won Olwen cut out the death of Ysbaddaden the giant, skipping straight to the wedding. This is strange because Ysbaddaden's curse - that he will die once his daughter marries - is why he sends Culhwch on the impossible Engagement Challenge to begin with.
  • The novelization of Transformers 3: Dark Of The Moon has Wheelie, Brains, and Megatron surviving.
  • In the Mad parody/adaptation of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's The Wreck of the Hesperus, both the skipper and his daughter survive the wreck, with the latter still tied to a broken-off 20-foot-tall mainmast (!) and bringing back the former from his frozen state.

Live-Action TV

  • Battlestar Galactica: In the original series, Baltar is an example of this. In the film and pilot, he was executed by order of the Cylon leader. When it became a regular series, the producers allowed Baltar to live even re-editing the original pilot so that now the leader spares Baltar's life.
  • Vesper Lynd in the Climax! TV adaptation of Casino Royale.
  • Laffeyette in True Blood survives the TV series.
  • In the original British version of Queer as Folk, Phil goes home with a drug dealer, overdoses, and dies; in the American remake the equivalent character, Ted, has the same experience but survives.
  • Varya in The Meeting Place Cannot Be Changed.
  • Smallville has an in-universe example. When the "Warrior Angel" comic gets a live-action adaptation the love interest that dies in the comic gets to live. Naturally this enrages the Fan Dumb and one of the more obsessed fans tries to force the movie to follow the comic by attempting to kill the actress.
  • In Power Rangers Time Force, there were plans to kill off Eric like his Sentai counterpart, but it was decided to let him live.
    • Mighty Morphin Power Rangers had Tommy lose his powers (twice) instead of being killed like his Sentai counterpart. Additionally, Rito Revolto's Ninja Sentai Kakuranger counterpart did not survive the finishing move of Super Kakure Daishogun (AKA the Ninja Megafalconzord). In fact, that battle, Gasha Skull's last, was Rito's first!
      • Second actually. In his first fight, he destroyed the Thunder Megazord and Tigerzord, which used a combination of Dairanger, American, and Kakuranger footage (with Kakure Dai Shogun edited out). Three episodes later, the Kakuranger footage was reused, intact this time.
    • Trent of Power Rangers Dino Thunder is also spared his Bakuryu Sentai Abaranger counterpart's fate.
    • Also, Toxica and Jindrax from Wild Force get a Redemption Equals Life ending, turning against their leaders who'd used them as pawns, and rode off into the sunset together just before the Grand Finale. Their sentai counterparts never reformed, and were buried in their Collapsing Lair at the end. They are revealed to have survived in the teamup with Hurricanger, at the end of which they definitely die.
  • Richard in the miniseries of The Pillars of the Earth, thanks to the heavy truncation of the last couple hundred pages.
  • Originally, Shane in The Walking Dead dies very early on. He doesn't die in the TV series until the end of the 2nd season.
  • Denna the Mord-Sith has a fairly important death in the Sword of Truth books (Richard turns the blade of the Sword white and kills her because he loves her.) Less so in the series adaptation Legend of the Seeker, where she survives for a time after Richard escapes.
  • In the first Dexter book, La Guerta is killed in a confrontation with the Ice Truck Killer. She's still alive in the current season of the TV series.
  • In Game of Thrones:
    • Syrio Forel's death is moved offscreen and they Never Found the Body, leaving open the option to bring him back, though his death is more unambiguous in the books.
    • Doreah, one of Dany's handmaidens, does not die in the Red Waste, and another (Irri) later dies in Quarth instead.
  • In Pretty Little Liars, Toby Cavanaugh, Jenna Cavanaugh, and Mona Vanderwaal all are still alive.



  • When Agatha Christie wrote the play adaptation of Ten Little Indians a.k.a. And Then There Were None, she changed the ending so that Vera Claythorne and Phillip Lombard both survive. It's helped by the fact that there are different versions of the poem the murderer bases the killings on, with different endings (one of which sounds much cheerier than the "hanged themself" ending actually used in the original book).
  • Emilia in the Verdi-Boïto opera Otello, mostly because the Compressed Adaptation of Shakespeare's text leaves no time for minor characters to have death scenes.
  • When composer Ambroise Thomas adapted Hamlet, he actually wanted to keep the title character alive; he was originally supposed to kill Claudius, then sing that he was still depressed, but had a kingdom to rule. It was eventually impressed on him that the audience would not be pleased by this, but he still left Polonius and Gertrude standing in the final version.
  • Clarisse in the adaptation of Fahrenheit 451, though her "death" in the original book was rather vague.
  • The stage play adaptation of His Dark Materials, Lee Scoresby is absent from the later part of the story, and as such he doesn't die, and Lyra and Will do not meet him in the world of the dead.
  • There's a stage version of The Hobbit in which Thorin survives the final battle.
  • Captain Vere in the opera version of Billy Budd. In the book he's shot in a battle, in the opera he lives to old age and the whole story is his flashback.
    • ...although at least one production (in Hamburg) had him slitting his wrists in the Epilogue.
  • Fagin in the musical Oliver!
  • Some productions of Romeo and Juliet do this to Paris by cutting the scene where he gets killed.
  • In Thomas Lodge's novel Rosalynd, usurping Duke Torismund dies in a forest battle at the end. When William Shakespeare adapted Rosalynd into the play known as As You Like It, he spared the Duke, now named Frederick, by having him find religion and make an offscreen Heel Face Turn. This is probably because the Duke is the father of one of the heroines, who loves him very much and is deeply sad that he's so evil; killing him off would ruin the gleeful party atmosphere of the quadruple wedding at the end.
  • In the screenplay adaptation of The Shadow by E. Schwartz, the writer is brought Back from the Dead.
  • Elphaba and Fiyero in the Wicked musical.
  • In Les Misérables, Madame Thénardier lives and gets off scot free. In the original novel, she died in prison.
  • The musical Show Boat let Andy and Parthy survive into the final scenes. In Edna Ferber's novel (and the 1929 film, which mostly followed the novel) Andy is drowned in a storm and Parthy later dies during the Time Skip. Also in the novel, Ravenal is never seen again after leaving his family; he and Magnolia are ultimately reunited in all adaptations.
  • In Rent, Mimi survives her brush with death, unlike the Mimi of La Boheme.
  • Most early versions of the legend of Faust, including Christopher Marlowe's The Tragicall History of the Life and Death of Doctor Faustus end with the title character Dragged Off to Hell by Mepistopheles. Some early versions even describe Faust torn to pieces in graphic detail. Goethe's version, however expands the story and adds a second part, where Faust is able to find redemption and salvation.

Video Games

  • A number of Video Game Remakes and Updated Rereleases include a sidequest or One Hundred Percent Completion feature that allow you to save a popular character who was Doomed by Canon in the original game (usually in cases where the death was meaningless to the plot, and sometimes they even allow you to change the plot entirely by saving the character, giving you an entirely different endgame).
    • Among the characters who died in the original version of Persona 3 were Chidori and Shinjiro, both of whom developed strong fan followings. When the game was remade as Persona 3: FES, a sidequest was added to allow you to save the former, then when the game was remade again for the PSP, another sidequest was added to save the latter. The frustrating thing is that both of these are pure Guide Dang It and the latter is only possible if you chose the female main character, so it's missable from the very first choice in the game.
    • The remake of Dragon Quest 4 gives you the option of redeeming and recruiting Saro, the Tragic Villain Big Bad, and joining forces to fight The Starscream who was really responsible for the whole damn mess.
    • The Nintendo DS remake of Lufia II has Maxim and Selan surviving in the New Game+ ending, although it seems to be pretty explicitly an alternate timeline or simply a vision granted to Erim by Duel Blade.
    • The PlayStation 2 rerelease of Phantasy Star II allows you to restore Nei back to life, thereby thumbing your nose at her extremely cruel Plotline Death in the original. It involves a very convoluted and difficult process, but good God is it ever worth it.
    • The Wii release of Dead Rising, Chop Till You Drop, let you save the gun shop owner Cletus, whereas in the original game you had to kill him as part of a boss battle. Likewise, Dead Rising 2: Off the Record has a divergent plot from the original Dead Rising 2, where Rebecca Chang becomes Frank's love interest and survives the game, whereas Stacey turns out to be the Big Bad and is killed in the finale.
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-Earth: First, Gandalf faces off the Balrog and wins, continuing down the road alongside the rest of Fellowship. Then, possibly because of that, Boromir survives the skirmish on Amon Hen and accompanies Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas throughout Rohan, Helm's Deep and eventually returns home to Minas Tirith. Then Theoden can survive the battle of Minas Tirith and will continue leading Rohan's army.
    • According to Word of God when the game was in development, whether or not those two survived was meant to be up to the player's abilities. They can still die, but if you're careful they'll survive instead.
  • Greedo and Jabba in the Star Wars video game, Yoda Stories (at least in the Game Boy version).
    • In Star Wars Rebel Assault, the final mission is a retelling of the Death Star battle from Episode IV. At the end of this mission, many more starfighters are seen to have survived the battle (at least eight in the game, as opposed to two X-Wings and a Y-Wing in the film).
  • Rather Dashing in Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People .
  • The NES Rambo game based on First Blood Part II allows the player to save Rambo's Vietnamese love interest Co from the grasp of death by ignoring her completely after Rambo escapes from the Vietnamese prison camp. Since talking to NPCs serve as save points, it makes sense from a playing standpoint.
  • The NES version of Double Dragon II: The Revenge has a new ending where Billy's girlfriend Marian is restored to life, whereas in the original arcade version she remained dead.
  • The fate of Randam Hajile is left ambiguous in the original floppy disk versions of Snatcher. The later CD-ROM versions of the game killed off for good, but SD Snatcher actually kept him alive until the very end.
  • The first Reinforce is alive and a playable character in the Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's Portable games. However, Hayate's ending in the first game suggests that she will fade from existence in the near future.
  • Several of the video game adaptations of Alien³ allow Ellen Ripley (the main heroine of the series) to remain alive at the end of the game, and disregard the plotline about being infected by a facehugger. The NES adaptation ends with her simply leaving the facility after she completes the final mission (and presumably escaping via unknown means), while the Game Boy adaptation ends with her using Bishop's body to fix the controls of the EEV and travel back to Gateway Station.
  • While it's not a straight-up adaptation, all of Grimmjow's Fraccion in Bleach: The 3rd Phantom survive the raid on Karakura town. Subverted in that they do die later on (D-Roy and Nakeem in a raid on Soul Society, and the rest protecting Las Noches).
  • The Game Boy game Gremlins Unleashed plays around oddly with the trope. In the final boss against Spike in Gizmo's story, his defeat leads to his usual death animation. The ending cutscene after however shows him alive, humiliatingly captured by Gizmo. Similarly Spike kills Gizmo in his final boss battle, but the ending cutscene instead has him stuffing the still alive Gizmo's face with food as a nearby clock counts to midnight, implying an ill fate for the mogwi.
  • The Super Robot Wars franchise is the king of this trope. While many characters are usually brought back to life as hidden characters, there are a few who actually live due to this trope. Amongst those are Amuro Ray, who is saved from his Heroic Sacrifice in Chars Counterattack during Super Robot Wars Alpha 2, and Flay Allster who must be rescued and subverts the events that lead to her death in Super Robot Wars W.
    • There is one guy who just can't make up his mind on if he wants to live or die in these games: Gai Daigouji, who, in six games the Nadesico series's shown up in (Advance, Reverse, Judgement, Impact, MX and W), two he lives all the way through, three he's an optional character and one he STAYS dead!
      • Although the Evangelion cast has a much much happier and better existance in SRW, and most of the symapthetic characters live. Ritsuko always dies in any game that finishes the End of Evangelion plot. Only in L was she spared because nobody died in L on account of the Eva plot ending shortly after Asuka showed up. Kaji also usually doesn't make it, although he also survived L for the same reason, and unlike Ritsuko he made it through MX. Gendo always dies, but he arguably deserves it. Mitsato, and at least one of the Rei's always make it, and the Bridge Bunnies always survive although they're never seen again after getting Tanged in Alpha 3. And of course, 3rd Impact is always averted, and in a way that doesn't end with Shinji and Asuka alone in a world of Tang.
  • The Matrix: Path of Neo video game, which followed the plot of the movie trilogy, did this with the ending, where instead of Neo sacrificing himself to stop Smith, Smith merges all his pieces into a 500-foot-tall Mega-Smith, which Neo fights as the final boss. This was lampshaded with a tongue-in-cheek cameo by the Wachowskis explaining that artsy everybody dies plots are fine for films, but video games are about punching out Galactus using the Hulk.
  • In Peter Jacksons King Kong: The Game of the Movie, Hayes has a much larger role as The Lancer and survives the events of the game. In contrast, Preston has no significant role in the game other than being eaten by the first V-Rex fairly early on. There's also the unlockable bonus ending in which you can actually save King Kong from his fate atop the Empire State building.
  • The Hook point-and-click adventure game leaves out Rufio's death and you can see him alive and well on the ending screen. Surprisingly, the NES game averts this.
  • The remake of Final Fantasy VII might (might, mind you) be this for both Zack and Aerith. Possibly due to Sepiroth changing destiny and creating "another future", both of them are alive at the end. However, it is hinted that Aerith somehow sees this as wrong (in more ways than one, her comments seeming to indicate she knows how the story is supposed to end) so for the as-yet unreleased second part, there are no guarantees.

Web Animation

Western Animation

  • The second Firestorm's origin had Ronnie Raymond dying in an explosion. The revised origin from Batman the Brave And The Bold spared Ronnie.
  • The villains in the Broken Ear episode of the Tintin animated series.
  • Gordon and Waffle in Catscratch.
  • The Muskrat in The Mouse and His Child.
  • In the Christmas Special Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer, Grandma turns out to be Not Quite Dead, fulfilling the letter of the song (mostly) while sparing her. Instead she just went missing after Santa took her to the North Pole for medical attention, and her Easy Amnesia kept him from knowing where to return her.
  • In the comic book series it was based on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles baddie Zanramon was (apparently) accidentally killed by his own men as they tried to rescue him from the turtles, who were holding the Triceraton Leader hostage. In the cartoon, however, they manage to recover him alive, and Zanramon is left free to plague the turtles a second time. Curiously, however, after the cartoon aired its adaptation, the still-ongoing comic retconned Zanramon's death again, revealing that he had apparently not died at all!
  • WITCH has Yan Lin, Will's dormouse, Halinor, Cassidy and Nerissa either still alive or (in Cassidy's case) resurrected by the end of the series.
  • In the Sonic the Hedgehog episode "Game Guys", Ari gets sucked into The Void. In Sonic: Friend or Foe?, a book based on that episode, he escapes with Sonic.
    • Ultimately subverted when Ari escapes from The Void in a later episode.
  • On Teen Titans Terra was turned to stone, not crushed to death as in the "Judas Contract" comic story. Cyborg mentions that it may even be possible to reverse her condition. The last episode implies this may have happened through unknown means.
    • Beast Boy originally joined the Titans after his original team, the Doom Patrol, died fighting the Brotherhood of Evil. In the cartoon, the Doom Patrol is alive and well.
  • The Spectacular Spider-Man: Gwen Stacy didn't die. Greg Weisman admitted they never planed to kill her anyway, she would have survived even if the showed had continued. Of course, that was hardly the only change the show did to the Spider-Man mythos.
  • Cheshire's mother in Young Justice, largely because she was made into a Composite Character.
    • Also, Martian Manhunter' family and the entire population of Mars. (This is actually how it was in the Silver Age; Greg Weisman says that he never saw a reason to make J'onn the Last of His Kind, since that is just copying Superman's shtick).
    • Zatara...technically. He is now Dr. Fate's host.
  • The 1990s animated X-Men series did an adaptation of the Dark Phoenix saga. One of the most enduring, powerful moments in the original comic-book Dark Phoenix saga was when Jean Grey got Killed Off for Real. In the animated adaptation, she died, but the rest of the X-Men were allowed to bring her back to life by each sacrificing a small part of their life force. It was like instead of Jean dying, everybody else had a head cold for a week or two.
  • Queen Iolande's brother Ragnar was a minor villain in the Green Lantern comics, and got executed at the end of his first appearance for murdering a Green Lantern in an insane attempt to get his ring. In Green Lantern: The Animated Series, Iolande spares him and has him merely imprisonned, allowing him to eventually come back as a Red Lantern.
  • The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes did an adaptation of the Secret Invasion story arc, where one of the most famous moments was Skrull leader Queen Veranke getting shot in the head by Norman Osborn, thus leading to Osborn's rise of power. Here however, she is merely neutralized at the end of the invasion and taken to custody in 42.
  • In Hercules (film and regular series) Icarus survived his foolish attempt to fly to the heavens (where, in the original myth, he flew too close to the sun, causing him to fall into the sea and drown when his wings to burned); but not unscathed, as he is clearly short a few marbles. In fact, he has even tried to do it again in more than one episode, with similar results.
  • In the first Robocop movie, Clarence Boddicker and his gang don't survive to see the sequel, brutally killed by the protagonist in the climax. In the animated (and far more kid-friendly) 80s adaptation, however, they are still around and continually a thorn in Robocop's side.