Scott Pilgrim Takes Off Creators on Making Mammoth Changes: “It Felt Like the Only Way to Do It”

[Editor’s note: The following contains spoilers through the season finale of Scott Pilgrim Takes Off, “The World vs. Scott Pilgrim.”]

The tale of a young Canadian bassist with impressive kung fu skills has been told across multiple mediums: After originating as a series of graphic novels created by Bryan Lee O’Malley, Scott Pilgrim was subsequently adapted by director Edgar Wright as the 2010 movie Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. In addition, Scott Pilgrim (as played by Michael Cera) has also been featured in animated tie-in shorts as well as a video game, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Game, ensuring that fans of the Scott Pilgrim world are more than familiar with how his story usually goes.

Which is why, when O’Malley and writer BenDavid Grabinski took on the new Netflix anime series Scott Pilgrim Takes Off… they killed Scott off at the end of the first episode.

“Bryan didn’t want to do the same story and just redo the books. So it just felt like the only way to do it,” Grabinski tells Consequence. “Our hope is Episode 2 is a big shocking thing where you’re disoriented, and then by the time you’re in Episode 3, you get into the rhythm of the show and are like, ‘Oh, I get this. This is cool.’ There are going to be people who just want it to be the book, and I don’t know how to make them happy because the book is still there and the books are great. We just felt in our gut that this is something that would be the most rewarding version, if you really did love the books and the characters or the movie or any of it.”

Adds O’Malley, “we also had to make it work for a 15 year old who’s never even heard of Scott Pilgrim when they’re just turning on Netflix. We wanted to try to have our cake and eat it too.”

The story behind the decision begins with a fateful dinner between pals: Having met through mutual acquaintances in Los Angeles, O’Malley and Grabinski had been “writing buddies and fast friends” for over a decade, sharing their work with each other for feedback and exploring pop culture together. Notes O’Malley, with a laugh, “He got me into the Fast and Furious movies back when they were good.”

As the creator of Scott Pilgrim, O’Malley had learned about anime studio Science Saru’s interest in adapting the film only after Edgar Wright was approached about the possibility. “So the first person they talk to is Edgar, and then Edgar said ‘The first person to talk to is Bryan,’” O’Malley explains. “When it was just lingering on the table, for me to decide whether or not to do anything with it, Edgar was holding it there for me, as opposed to it just floating there on its own power. Edgar’s really been a great cheerleader and blocker for us — that’s what a good producer does.”