Inspiration works in strange ways. Sometimes, our favorite characters look exactly right the first time their creators debut them, but other times, it takes a whole bunch of people decades (or centuries) to figure out that Dracula probably shouldn't be balding, or that the Iron Giant shouldn't look like one of the possessed toys from the end of Poltergeist. To whit ...

Gollum Was Accidentally Gigantic For A While

9 Incredibly Dumb Early Versions Of Iconic Characters
New Line Cinema

When he was writing The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkien introduced an amiable fellow named Gollum who offered the hero, Bilbo Baggins, a magic ring in exchange for solving a riddle. In later editions, Tolkien changed Gollum into an aggressive ring-junkie to avoid contradicting his new trilogy, The Lord Of The Rings. Thus was born the conniving, possessive little wretch we all know and love!

Well, not quite little. Since Tolkien never specified Gollum's size, the artists all assumed he must have been a giant, and also ridiculous. Here's Gollum reimagined as a sad eggplant in the Swedish edition of The Hobbit:

ruy
Raben & Sjogren


Instead of a riddle, he forces Bilbo to sit through his minstrel show.

The Soviet version wasn't any more flattering:

tl '
Detskaya Literatura


He has the sickly, deformed look of he who has fallen prey to material greed and capitalism.

The German artist, meanwhile, drew a morbidly obese toad and called it a day:

9 Incredibly Dumb Early Versions Of Iconic Characters
Dressler


"GIVE ME BACK MY PRE-- shit, I'm stuck again. Can you call the fire department?"

It got to the point that, when Princess magazine wanted to publish The Hobbit as a serial in the '60s, Tolkien's only condition was that he could "see the illustrations and that Gollum should not be made a monster." The results are debatable, considering he ended up looking like Darrin from Bewitched wearing flippers and a turtleneck:

9 Incredibly Dumb Early Versions Of Iconic Characters
Fleetway Publications


Bilbo's afro is presented without comment.

Most Batman Villains Started Out Looking Hilarious

9 Incredibly Dumb Early Versions Of Iconic Characters
Warner Bros.

In this age of gritty movie adaptations, it's easy to forget that comic books are frequently the dumbest things in existence. This was especially true in the '50s, when "looking like a cheeseball goofus" was the status quo, particularly for Batman villains. For example, before he was an ice-blue Terminator, Mr. Freeze looked like Yul Brynner playing astronaut in his backyard:

BUt MR. ZERO AGAIN BRINGS HIS GUN INTO PLAY... THAT WILL STOP YOU COLD, OFFICERS! MH
DC Comics


"And by 'that' I mean my warm, friendly smile!"
"Gosh dang it, he's right!!!"

Meanwhile, here's modern Deadshot (Will Smith's character in the Suicide Squad movie), seen wasting a bitch:

9 Incredibly Dumb Early Versions Of Iconic Characters
DC Comics


And he had the nerve to give Carlton that speech about guns.

And here he is in 1950, looking like a rapist at a costume party:

AY HAT' bonr <HOOT AND AS DAYS PASS. ANMORT DEADSHOT'S FAM GIVE UP' GRONS RADLDLY... No : OPERATE IN TE SHADOW OE ATMAN BUT SOON OADSHOT.. WILL TAKE H
DC Comics


Up to precisely 1950, hats were more valued than human lives.

While not strictly a Batman villain, Boomerang is another Suicide Squad member who has been on the receiving end of a Batarang. Until shockingly recently, he was Captain Boomerang, and dressed like he'd just accepted the vacant position teaching Hogwarts' Defense Against the Dark Arts class:

THE GAG IS THEY DON'T EXPECT you TO SURVIVE SUICIDE souad IS ONLY TOO LUV. WANNA WATCH YER BACKSIDE WITH THIS LOT RIGHTI BUT STAY CLOSE JO THE BOOMER,
DC Comics


You'll never guess his nationality.

But the weirdest one by far is Catwoman. You already know her as a woman in a hooded leather catsuit with ears, which is an entirely different kind of confusing. Back in the day, though, she put a cat's face on top of her preexisting human face. Fur and whiskers and everything.

As ToE onoo CLaNGS coi THE ANDAS TuE DO O A7 Y BUT 46 TNE CAT ACRE To S/RL PEELS ORE THE IFWEBY STREEY F1OOR at o THE LOET ON ANTHER WHIPS BLOVO 14S P
DC Comics


The world wasn't ready for a full-bodied furry yet.

She didn't even change her dress. This disguise resides at the intersection of lazy and terrifying. But hey, at least we're reasonably sure she's never molested a feline, which we can't say about her incestuous also-supervillain brother.

Early Illustrations Of The Iron Giant Were Dopey As Hell

9 Incredibly Dumb Early Versions Of Iconic Characters
Warner Bros.

The Iron Giant is one of the few movies it's illegal to judge an adult for crying over, but it's hard to get emotional about the early portrayals of the titular titan for the original novel. In Dirk Zimmer's 1988 illustrations, he's less heroic Droid Jesus and more rictus-grinning hellbot. Here he is panicking at the discovery of his hilariously disproportionate feet:

MI
Harper & Row


More specifically, at the family of four now decorating the sole.

It's not totally clear what's going on here, but he appears to be walking through a river. Which can only mean a uniquely horrifying doom for any jet-skiers he happens upon.

O
Harper & Row


"You're going to catch your death of rust!"

But even those drawings are preferable to those of Andrew Davidson, who turned the childlike robot into a terrifying death machine who runs on lithium and souls:

EEB B B
Faber and Faber


That porcupine is freakishly large too, judging from those cars.

Be careful to maintain eye contact as you scroll, lest he leap off your screen and destroy you:

9 Incredibly Dumb Early Versions Of Iconic Characters
Faber and Faber


At least he has the correct number of nipples: four.

We're with Mansley here -- who cares how much he loves Superman, shoot that thing down immediately.

The Ring And The Grudge's Villains Were Originally Crappy/Naked Low-Budget Versions

9 Incredibly Dumb Early Versions Of Iconic Characters
DreamWorks Pictures

The Ring, that horror flick about Naomi Watts being haunted by archaic technology like videocassettes and landline telephones, is based on the Japanese movie Ringu -- but it turns out there was an even earlier adaptation of the same book. Ring: Kanzenban is a gratuitously pornographic no-budget TV movie that is somehow way more Japanese than the feature film:

TA a7-Oanenctiimtrniitl RING SILTH R thyearf eta IIDYAS UPAMCHATA W63137-868A1 115EN
Fuji TV


Anyone who watches this tape spontaneously gets crabs seven days later.

For reasons that will soon become clear, in this version, the vengeful TV ghost is an adult woman instead of a little girl. She's also way less creepy. Instead of crawling out of the TV under a curtain of follicular cautionary tales, she glides out naked and glowing, like the guardian angel of static and boners.

9 Incredibly Dumb Early Versions Of Iconic Characters
Fuji TV


This movie also doubled as the Japanese remake of Weird Science.

This at least explains why people kept watching the cursed video. Which, by the way, instead of being full of vaguely threatening images of wells and ladders and "fingernail" double entendres, features disco colors, random explosions, and whatever is going on here:

9 Incredibly Dumb Early Versions Of Iconic Characters
Fuji TV


Nothing scarier than dice.

Meanwhile, the "original" Japanese version of The Grudge, Ju-On, is actually the third movie of that series, which started as an incredibly awkward short film. It begins when our hero gets a phone call from, as far as he knows, a cat, and proceeds to have a conversation with it like there is nothing weird about that.

Is this a joke? (cat noises) told you, this is not.my.phone
Kansai TV


"Cat-calling" has a different, more literal definition in Japan.

Then the series' familiar naked ghost child appears sitting next to him, at which point the protagonist stares stupidly until the boy feebly vomits liquid eyeliner and makes even more cat noises

(cat noises)
Kansai TV


Audio conveniently provided by a forgotten feeding time.

So yeah. Their first crack at this was somewhat less chilling than the hundred-million-dollar franchise it has since become.

The Original Dungeons & Dragons Artwork Looked Like Middle School Notebook Doodles

9 Incredibly Dumb Early Versions Of Iconic Characters
Wizards of the Coast

There wasn't really a template for the first Dungeons & Dragons manual, since in 1974, role-playing games were not a thing. The publishers only had the budget for 1,000 games, which had to be hand-assembled, so a few things had to be rushed through or struck out entirely, such as rules that made sense or competent artwork. Something Awful's Zack Parsons and Steve Sumner leafed through the original guide, and if you thought nothing would make you long for the D&D movie, you're in for a treat. Most of the characters look confused, like they're not sure where they are or what they're doing there:

mygor traad
Wizards of the Coast

ENT 1/
Wizards of the Coast


The Ent just wants to know if it has a belly button or a vagina.

Others look extremely bored and/or stoned:

poweul MEDUSA 1.73
Wizards of the Coast


"Dude, what was in that shit? I feel like I have snakes on my head."

This orc was chilling on the couch watching Community. He is totally not prepared for this battle he's found himself in:

ORC
Wizards of the Coast


This is us when we answer the door and don't want people to notice we've just woken up.

Here's a giant posing with his legs spread wide for maximum dick swing:

HI GIANT
Wizards of the Coast


"Find out why they call me giant! (It's strictly my height.)"

This wraith doesn't understand the point of it all and has lost all interest in this sword business:

tp s WRAITH
Wizards of the Coast


"But daaaaad, I don't wanna destroy all living creatures! I wanna go to the mall with Jared!"

Meanwhile, this mummy wants you to watch him nae nae:

/iD MUMMY
Wizards of the Coast


"Have you ever whipped with the devil in the pale moonlight?"

Keep in mind that these were the drawings that caused widespread moral panic among parents who believed the game was a secret gateway into Satanism. Because apparently the primary tools Satan uses to recruit children are apathy and bad dancing.

The Original Beast In Beauty And The Beast Looked Like Bebop From TMNT

9 Incredibly Dumb Early Versions Of Iconic Characters
Walt Disney

In the most widely available edition of the first published Beauty And The Beast story, the author is weirdly vague about the small matter of what the Beast actually looks like, describing him only as "frightful." This has posed a problem for illustrators over the years -- "frightful" could describe anything from a car accident to Ed Sheeran. As a result, the Beast's look has largely been left to each artist's interpretation. Disney went with the classy man-bear-lion design, but in the olden days, people got way more weird with it. In 1875, illustrator Walter Crane settled on a "warthog's head sewn onto a man's body" look, complete with fancy boots:

C
George Routledge and Sons


The way he drew Beauty was also controversial.

This bizarre game of Island Of Dr. Moreau Mad Libs really captured the imaginations of other artists. In 1913, Warwick Goble drew the Beast as a man with a horse's head:

e
Macmillan & Co.


And fabulous pantyhose.

This guy decided on a warthog face, but with an elephant's trunk and tusks:

9 Incredibly Dumb Early Versions Of Iconic Characters
Dover Children's Classics


Or a really awesome mustache. We're not sure.

We get a little more creative here, where instead of a random animal head, the Beast is some kind of terrifying fucking shadow goblin who spends his free time restoring antique furniture:

ortoL


"...hiss You'll never believe the deal I got on this chair hiss..."

And eventually, Hollywood came around ... at which point things took a giant step backward in terms of laziness. Special effects mostly consisted of rubber cement and prayer in the '60s, so for the 1962 film adaptation, they rewrote the story to make the Beast a werewolf so they could justify reusing all their old Lon Chaney makeup.

e
United Artists


And thus the entire industry that is manscaping was born.

Bigfoot Looked Hilarious In Early Descriptions

9 Incredibly Dumb Early Versions Of Iconic Characters
Universal Pictures

We've all seen the blurry, ape-like form of the mysterious Bigfoot, but according to the earliest witnesses, he looked, well ... a little different. He apparently wore a suit and tie, for instance, and had a fabulous mullet.

9 Incredibly Dumb Early Versions Of Iconic Characters
Ivan T. Sanderson


"Good evening."

Excuse us, she. "Witness" Albert Ostman was very explicit in his description to the artist that this was the female Bigfoot, having apparently gotten close enough to determine genital configuration. It's a very important distinction which the artist had to correct in his book on the topic, which was later made much clearer in the statues made from his drawings. That is, they gave her a bad wig.

9 Incredibly Dumb Early Versions Of Iconic Characters
via cryptozoonews.com


Make Bigfoot Great Again

In fact, Ostman allegedly encountered an entire family of Bigfoot (Bigfoots? Bigfeet?) in 1924 -- a mama Bigfoot, a papa Bigfoot, and two Littlefoots. They dragged him in his sleeping bag from the woods one night for some reason, then kept him prisoner in their cottage until, presumably after sitting in all their chairs and tasting all their porridge, he escaped after tricking Papa Bigfoot into eating an entire tin of snuff. Because Bigfoots are apparently Looney Tunes.

Ostman described the Bigfeet as about seven feet tall and 300 lbs., with "wide jaws, [and] narrow forehead, that slanted upward round at the back about four or five inches higher than the forehead." Weirdly, they had surprisingly stylish hair, about six inches long with curled bangs on the women, explaining the statue's Baloo-meets-Dolores-Umbridge appearance.

Cthulhu Was Drawn Like The Sad Chubby Kid At Recess

9 Incredibly Dumb Early Versions Of Iconic Characters
Fantasy Flight Games

H.P. Lovecraft's tentacled god of wrath is such a terror that we can't actually show him to you, because according to the author, you would go insane. Here's Lovecraft's description of him, and this is merely a figurine, mind you:

The figure, which was finally passed slowly from man to man for close and careful study, was between seven and eight inches in height, and of exquisit
Orion


"It was hella creepy, is my point."

Aaaaand this is how he drew it:

3 U a Were O Rgla Z RN.Rarlo, H. usfe Samltun bare gre haata't A rfon C 2 hi's Z2 tivee ofe's rtthn le Hienfr 173Y
H. P. Lovecraft


In his house at R'lyeh, dead Cthulhu waits dreaming of getting his lunch money back.

You can't be a genius at everything, and Lovecraft was clearly more talented with words than pictures. The fearsome sea-beast looks more like he's taking a fearsome dump after eating a sea-beast. In Lovecraft's defense, this is clearly a quick "Here's what I'm talking about" sketch he was using to convey how he imagined the Great Old One, and was never meant to be an official illustration, but when the best visual approximation you can make of the sleeping lord of madness is Dr. Zoidberg playing Bejewled on a YMCA toilet, it loses some of its nightmarish impact.

Dracula And Frankenstein's Monster Looked Like Ugly Dudes

9 Incredibly Dumb Early Versions Of Iconic Characters
Columbia Pictures

When we picture Frankenstein's monster, and most of us probably think of Boris Karloff's green skin and cranial hardware. That's the most iconic version of the monster, and it's the one we've stuck with for the past 80 years or so. However, according to Mary Shelley's original novel, that's way off -- Frankenstein's monster was actually yellow. As in "golden god." According to his daddy, "I had selected his features as beautiful. Beautiful! Great God! His yellow skin scarcely covered the work of muscles and arteries beneath; his hair was of a lustrous black, and flowing." Essentially, Johnny Depp with jaundice. But you'd never know it from some of the weird portrayals over the years, in most of which he looks like a weird hobo.

9 Incredibly Dumb Early Versions Of Iconic Characters
IDW Publishing


OK, still basically Johnny Depp.

Thomas Edison's 1910 Frankenstein movie -- yes, Edison made a Frankenstein movie -- is probably the hoboiest, played by a similarly abominable Chris Farley / Christopher Lloyd hybrid, which you'll notice is the mathematical opposite of Johnny Depp:

9 Incredibly Dumb Early Versions Of Iconic Characters
Edison Manufacturing Company


The forehead and hair were pillaged from the grave of one "O. Winfrey."

Frankenstein's creation wasn't the only literary monster to get a bizarre makeover. Dracula, as originally portrayed in illustrated versions of Bram Stoker's novel, looks like an elderly, confused Jude Law with ferocious gout:

a 14.
Archibald Constable & Co. Ltd


"Dracula, get down from there."
"I CAN FLY LIKE THE EAGLE!"
"Dracula it's time for your pill."

He was arguably improved in the first film adaptation, reimagined as the sexy Merlin no one ever asked for:

9 Incredibly Dumb Early Versions Of Iconic Characters
Fantasztikus Filmregency


He looks like the sort of person who buys blind tickets to Coachella.

The thing is, Dracula was never supposed to be handsome. In 2012, a guy used police sketch software to visually translate Bram Stoker's description, and, well ...

9 Incredibly Dumb Early Versions Of Iconic Characters
Brian J Davis/The Composites


Let's just say we're thankful he's in a coffin during school hours.

He's not exactly the relentlessly erotic seducer of women we've been making him out to be all these years. That's why he has to use magic to convince anyone to go anywhere with him -- he has the kind of face the FBI watch list makes room for.

In her house in Montana, tired Manna waits tweeting.

Also check out 27 Insane (But True) Early Versions Of Famous Characters and 7 Bizarre Early Versions of Famous Characters.

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