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This phenomenon works thusly:

  1. In the original work Alice and Bob, there is a specific explanation for some plot point. For example, Alice always knows what to get Bob for his birthday because she has latent Psychic Powers.
  2. Alice and Bob is adapted to a new medium—say, film.
  3. The fact that Alice always gets Bob the right gift stays, but her latent psychic powers don't. There is no longer any explanation for why she does this.

This isn't limited to major elements of the work; often times minor things will get thrown in to satisfy the fans who might be looking for it but the explanation is left out because it's not important to the adaptation. This can reduce something to the point of a Hand Wave, but it isn't all bad. If something was not that important to the original work, this helps with the Conservation of Detail and prevents the audience from getting overloaded. However, if done poorly, it can accidentally create an Adaptation-Induced Plothole.

This is a kind of partial Adaptation Distillation where the explanation is removed in the distillation process but the element it explains isn't. If it's important and done excessively, might lead to Continuity Lock Out. See also Adaptation-Induced Plothole.

Examples of Adaptation Explanation Extrication include:

Anime and Manga

  • In the manga version of Berserk, it's shown very clearly as to why Guts doesn't like being touched because he was anally raped as a child and three scenes show his severe dislike of this: first being when a general taps him on the shoulder after a battle, second when Casca is warming Guts when he fell ill after fighting Griffith, and third when he was carried by Pippin for laughs. In the anime adaptation, these scenes occur... but it's never explained why he doesn't like being touched because the rape portion of his flashback doesn't occurs in the anime.
  • In Brave Story, Wataru (the main character) and Mitsuru (The Rival) are both racing to reach the place called the Tower of the Goddess and recieve a wish from her. In The Film of the Book, it's never explicitly explained why it's important who gets there first, or if it is. In the book, it's much more clear: Whoever makes it last will be sacrificed to keep the land of Vision in existence.
  • Happens twice in the film version of Howls Moving Castle:
    • In them both, Sophie decides to stay at her hat shop as the eldest child. In the book, it's because she's (Wrong) Genre Savvy about Youngest Child Wins. In the movie, she simply says she's staying because she's the eldest—leaving the audience to assume something involving inheritence, possibly.
    • At the end of both, when she has to return Howl's heart, she wants to know if Calcifer will still be alright. He says he will. In the book, it's explicitly because Sophie can imbue things with magical powers just by talking to them, so she gave Calcifer a life of his own outside of Howl's heart. In the movie, it's Hand Waved with Calcifer simply thinking Sophie is special somehow.
  • The Negima: Another World OVAs don't even bother to explain the whole age-changing pills deal, confusing viewers who see Chisame and Chachamaru are now lolis... just because. To be fair, those OVAs were bundled with the current manga volumes so you'd expect viewers to know about them already.
  • If you only watch the anime adaptation of Shakugan no Shana, you might wonder where the Snake of the Festival came from, and what motivated Yuuji to betray the Flame Hazes. This was foreshadowed early in the novels.
  • In the manga of Yuru-Yuri, the girls decide to find (often silly) solutions for increasing Akari's popularity, after she had barely appeared in the last few chapters. In the anime adaptation they do this in the first episode already, even though Akari appears to be the main character, which makes it look like they are merely bullying poor Akari for no good reason.
  • The Idolm@ster - Some events in the anime series make a lot more sense if you've played through the game and unlocked the backstories for the idols.
  • The Fate/stay night anime only follows the Fate route from the visual novel, which never explains the reasons behind Shirou's Martyr Without a Cause tendencies, causing him to come across as an unbelievable idiot.

Films — Live-Action

  • In the comics, the events of Infinity Gauntlet happened BEFORE the events of Civil War. In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, they happened right after, leading to Debate and Switch and Conflict Killer situations that weren't present in the comics.
    • In the comics, it was Death who told Thanos that the universe needed to be balanced, and Thanos wiped out half the population of the universe because Death told him to. And Death is presented as a major case of Can't Argue with Elves in the comics, so she never answers for her actions. The MCU leaves Death out, leading to the infamous "why doesn't Thanos just use the Gauntlet to create more resources" plot hole.
  • When Stanley Kubrick adapted The Shining, he did this with several plot points. Kubrick cut out the explanation of who "Tony" is, the story of the dead lady in the bathtub, and the story of the fellow in the dog costume that Horace Derwent debases—but he left all of those moments in the movie, without explanation. He also revised the story's climax, cutting out the exploding boiler, but still took care to show the boiler in a couple of scenes.
  • David Lynch's adaptation of Dune is one big mess of this. Hardly anything is given a proper explanation, and the film even features a few setups to plot threads whose payoffs are not included. From beginning to end, a textbook example of how not to make an adaptation.
  • The Harry Potter films from the third one onwards are full of these, thanks to the adaptations focusing more on flashy scenes and less on creating stories that make sense in their own right without reading the books.
    • The movie adaptation of "Prisoner of Azkaban" never bothered to explain that the Marauders were James Potter, Remus Lupin, Sirius Black, and Peter Pettigrew. This makes Lupin's sudden knowledge of exactly what the Marauder's Map does inexplicable. (Besides, it leaves the map itself a silly unexplained plot device out of nowhere instead of something perfectly intertwined in the rest of the story.)
      • Harry dropping Sirius' nickname in the 5th film (as well as Pettigrew being called by his) also comes out of nowhere without the Marauder backstory.
    • The movies also never explain how Sirius Black escaped from Azkaban.
    • In Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire, the only witness who can corroborate Harry's account of Voldemort returning is Barty Crouch Jr. In the book, the malicious/incompetent Minister for Magic brings a dementor to defend him, which sucks out Crouch's soul. Harry is disbelieved for most of Harry Potter and The Order of The Phoenix. In the film, this isn't brought up, leading a savvy viewer to wonder why nobody believes Harry.
    • Additional one from "Goblet of Fire" is the fact that Harry gets his winnings from the Triwizard Tournament then gives them to the twins because "people are going to need a laugh soon." This gives them the funding for the (otherwise dirt poor) Weasleys to start the shop once they quit school. With the films they just suddenly manage to make enough in a few short months to have a big shop already established in Diagon Alley.
    • There's also the scene from "The Order of the Phoenix" where Harry & co. are rounded up by Draco and his goons in Professor Umbridge's office. In the book, Neville, Luna, and Ginny cause a ruckus as a distraction in the group's thought-out plan to sneak Harry into the office, but in the movie they outright skip the planning scenes and don't even hint at the trio's involvement. Draco simply brings them in, says "we caught 'em", without an explanation as to why they were caught.
    • The movies never explain that Sirius willed his house - and by extension Kreacher - to Harry. So there's no explanation in The Deathly Hallows Part 1, when Kreacher obeys Harry's every command (despite his clear distaste for Ron and Hermione). Of course, if the director of Order of the Phoenix had cut Kreacher entirely as he originally intended, it would have made the scene even more incomprehensible to people unfamiliar with the books...
      • According to Potter lore, J.K. Rowling intervened during the development of the fifth film, cryptically telling the director—and by extension, readers—that Kreacher would be pivotal to the at-the-time-unreleased seventh book and needed to be kept in the movie.
    • Strangely inverted at the end of the Half-Blood Prince: Snape reveals - with every bit of dramaticism Alan Rickman can muster - that he is, in fact, the half-blood prince whose annotated potions textbook Harry had been learning from on the side. While this does explain the way he's able to save Draco from a spell that Harry would think nobody would know, the film leaves out the follow-up scene in which Snape asks Harry for his potions textbook, which clues the audience in beforehand that Snape at least knows about the existence of the Half Blood Prince's book and instead, the audience is left wondering just why he's so damn serious about such a thing. That's because it's basically mentioned once in the movie; in the book the search for who the "prince" really is acts as the main subplot, getting quite nearly as much time as the main plot itself.
    • Also, if recalled correctly, there isn't a lot of explanation to why Dumbledore knew a horcrux would be lurking in that cave in the Half-Blood Prince film. Yes, a photo of the very cave is seen in Tom Riddle's childhood thus why Dumbledore would logically suspect its correct hiding place, but it's easy to miss and the "field trip" is not touched upon.
    • In the seventh film the question Lupin asks Harry to make sure he's not an impostor (what creature was in his office when Harry first visited) doesn't really make sense since Harry isn't shown in Lupin's office until the very end of the 3rd film and they spend all their scenes together out walking in the forest.
  • Jurassic Park the movie is occasionally criticized for the film claiming its moral is about the unpredictability of nature, when it was really all the programmer Nedry's fault. The book covers this by showing evidence from the park's own data that the populations were indeed out of control. Nedry wasn't the cause of the collapse, but he was the final crack to the foundation.
    • The movie does bother to show that one fairly important part of the park's control system failed for reasons entirely unrelated to Nedry: the dinosaurs are supposed to be kept from breeding on their by all being female, but evidence is found that for one reason or another, that hasn't been quite as effective as thought...
  • One scene in The Last Airbender has a bunch of imprisoned, demotivated earthbenders at a labor camp who Aang must rally to defeat their captors. In the series, their prison was essentially a coaling station in the middle of the ocean, depriving them of earth to manipulate. In the movie, the camp is on the mainland, so the earthbenders just allow themselves to be imprisoned until Aang reminds them that they're standing on tons upon tons of weapons. Pretty much every reviewer cited this plot point as a sign of the movie's poor writing and/or inferiority to the source material.
  • In The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, after the kids become kings and queens of Narnia, the narration tells how they ruled successfully for years and years and were given nicknames: King Peter The Magnificent, Queen Susan the Gentle, King Edmund the Just, Queen Lucy the Valiant. In The Film of the Book, they're crowned with these names while still kids just after winning their victory, which makes them seem slightly ridiculous and over-the-top—especially in the case of Edmund, whose main contribution to the plot was betraying his siblings to the White Witch before he got better.
    • It's also explained in the book that the White Witch's Turkish Delight instantly addictive, making Edmund's betrayal over a supply of candy seem far less petty.
      • It actually makes a bit more sense in the movie, as you really get a sense of the WWII background. In war-torn England, candy was an insanely rare commodity; you couldn't just get a Butterfingers from the shop down the street.
        • And so we exchange one missing explanation for another.
    • Of course, the fact that the titles are bestowed by Aslan could possible Hand Wave it as him just having some deeper insight into their characters. Bit of a leap, though.
    • Why the adult Pevensies revert to kids after going through the wardrobe is never explained in the movie.
      • Nor in the book either, really.
        • It's explained in The Last Battle. No matter how much time a person spends in Narnia, they always return to our world at the exact minute they left.
  • In The Phantom of the Opera, Raoul is told to keep his hand up to his face, so that if the Phantom throws his lasso around Raoul's neck, it will go over his hand too, and can be pulled open before it strangles him. The reason is hinted at in the musical, and absent from the movie of the musical. Anyone who's only seen the movie wouldn't know what "keep your hand at the level of your eyes" means, and some assume that it's just a warning about the Phantom's ugliness.
    • We do however see the Phantom use the lasso more than once, and our main character suffers from not having followed this advice once the Phantom is able to lasso him successfully. The savvy viewer could easily spot the connection. It comes off as if he was given good advice but without explanation, and that if he'd known why he was supposed to do it, perhaps the Phantom wouldn't have gotten his chance.
  • Starship Troopers, adaption of Starship Troopers had the Mobile Infantry fighting battles that were extremely unsound tactically. Infantry, unsupported by armor or artillery, making direct frontal attacks on a numerically-superior enemy? Hollywood Tactics at their worst. However, it's also true to the book... sort of. The Mobile Infantry did operate without armor or artillery support, but only because their powered armor suits let the MI itself fill the traditional roles of armor, artillery, and even close air support (up to and including nuclear weapons.) When the powered armor was taken out of the movie, the justification for the MI operating unsupported went with it.
    • There is artillery in the book, but it's a separate unit from the Mobile Infantry, and so gets glossed over by the narrator, who's generally more interested in describing only his small piece of the action.
    • The film is a satire of patriotic propaganda, so that is most likely just a parody of Hollywood Tactics.
  • In Twilight, Bella runs into some nasty characters who are going to hurt and possibly rape her. In the book, she has gotten lost by this point and does not know where to run, so prepares to scream and fight. It also says that if she tried to run, she would probably trip over her own feet. In the movie, she's still clumsy, but not that clumsy, and is still in sight of a reputable book store. Why she doesn't just turn around is not addressed.
    • Also in the manga: in the book and movie, it's made pretty apparent that Edward is bothered by how Bella smells in their first biology class. In the manga, we get a few panels of him glaring pissily at her, which doesn't really indicate her smell being what's causing the issues and which leaves the panel where she sniffs her hair making her look like she has some nervous tick.
  • Inverted in Wicked. The tornado that carried Dorthy to Oz is never explained in the book, but in the musical, it is stated to be the work of Madam Morrible.
  • Happens in The Remake of The Haunting. After Elenor has been thrown out of bed, she asks, "Who's holding my hand?" In the original movie, this was spoken at the end of a rather tense scene in which Elenor is convinced that Theo is holding her hand. However, it is revealed a moment later than Theo is on the other side of the room, and that no one was holding her hand. It is used out of context and without explanation in the remake, as there is no one in the room with Elenor, nor did she imply at any point that someone was holding her hand before she asked the question.
  • In the third Spider Man movie, Peter gains his infamous black symbiote but other than adapting to his costume and making him more hostile, the nature of the symbiote is not explained that much. When it comes time for Eddie Brock to put on the costume, there is no explanation given as to why he now has spider-powers and the audience is left to assume based on the comics.
    • The movie also adapts the scene from the comics where Peter removes the symbiote in a church bell tower. In the comics, Peter did so because he knew from past experience about the symbiote's weakness to sonic vibrations and had no choice but to go to the tower. However, Peter doesn't figure out the symbiote's weakness until well-after he went to the bell tower - meaning he had no real reason to go there other than because of the comics. (The symbiote's weakness is clearly hinted at during this scene for viewers' benefit, but Peter doesn't put the pieces together until his final battle with Venom - which is several scenes after the fact.)

Live-Action TV

  • In the book A Game of Thrones, Khal Drogo removes Mirri Maz Dur's poultice, relies on the Dothraki healers instead, and the wound gets infected. This leads some credibility to Mirri, who criticized the Dothraki methods. In the TV series, they use her method, Khal Drogo gets infected anyway, and Danaerys still trusts her to heal him. It's even heavily hinted that Mirri wanted him to die. It all makes Dany seem naive and oddly trusting of someone she knows little about.
    • In the second season, The Hound offers to help Sansa escape while he's fleeing the city. She refuses, as she does in the books. This makes sense in the books, as, despite the occasional act of kindness, he does make some sexual comments to her, and the threat of rape in their last meeting was pretty strongly implied. However, in the TV series, he's been nothing but kind to her. It makes sense on some level, as running through a war zone with a drunken Blood Knight isn't exactly easy, but, considering her alternatives, it still seems rather odd that she didn't at least consider.


  • Jump Start Adventures 3rd Grade Mystery Mountain's Prolonged Prologue was edited down in later releases. However, the line in the beginning of the game spoken by Polly, "There's still an extra credit question, an it's super hard" went down along with it. This now means that at the end of the game, her demand for the extra credit question seemingly comes out of left field.
  • The Play Station port of Lego Island 2 had a few minigames removed due to space issues. One of these was a Fishing Minigame, which is forgivable due to being boring beyond words. However, all mentions of it were inexplicably left in. This means that the minigame preceding it still has the pond at the end, and Pepper still tells Johnny, Pippin Reed, and Kilroy that he had caught a big fish.

Western Animation

  • Early episodes of Batman the Animated Series show a giant penny on display in the Bat Cave, purely because he has one in the comics, which he got during his one and only encounter with Joe Coyne, aka The Penny Plunderer. The Penny Plunderer never appears in the cartoon, but a later episode averts the trope by giving a new explanation: Two-Face had tried to kill Batman by tying Batman to the penny and then launching it into the air, and "they let him keep it."
    • The "sequel" series The New Batman Adventures had a variation where certain stories from the tie-in comic Batman Adventures were treated as canon for adapting into subsequent episodes, resulting in plot elements being established as "already happened" without prior explanation like Robin having split from Batman to pursue a solo career as the superhero Nightwing and Bruce Wayne's first encounter with Jason Blood/The Demon Etrigan before "The Demon Within", where he and Jason already know each-other. The series did adapt the Robin/Batman split in "Old Wounds" but that was only an adaptation of first 2 issues of "The Lost Years" which also detailed Dick's journey to Nightwing, including where he got the winged glider costume.
  • Beast Wars inverted this with the "Transmetal 2" toy line, so named because they were the 2nd wave of Transmetal action figures. In the cartoon, they give this an explanation: the Plot Device of the Transmetal Driver is what creates the Transmetal 2 upgrades. However, some of the transformers adopted from the T2 line received their transmetal forms without the driver; thus they're not technically Transmetal 2's even though they're part of the same toy line.
  • X-Men: Cyclops and Havok being immune to each-other's powers. While it was evident the writers were laying the groundwork for a reveal down the line of them discovering they were long lost brothers, they never got around to putting it in the series.
  • Superman: The Animated Series: Sinestro's yellow ring: since the Green Lantern Ring was not stated to be weak to yellow, it's not clear what exactly makes Sinestro so fearsome to other Green Lanterns that he could defeat so many and steal their rings.
    • To be fair, the yellow ring's powers were shown to be pretty much equal to the green rings and it can be assumed that Sinestro is just the superior wielder of a Green Lantern Ring-type weapon.
    • It was also stated that Sinestro became more powerful with every Green Lantern ring he destroyed (probably a great many), implying that he could have been much stronger than any Green Lantern.
  • The animated adaptation of Soul Music keeps the highly symbolic scene at the beginning when Imp has to choose between going to Ankh-Morpork or going to Quirm. However, it then moves the Quirm College for Young Ladies to Ankh, thereby seperating this choice from the fact that, once things have happened differently, he's working near the College.