- Original D&D is like the cool underground black and white comic that spawns an empire, like TMNT
- Basic D&D is the cartoon based off of that comic and is how most people are introduced - a cool after-school cartoon like Transformers or GI Joe that gets people interested in finding out what else is out there. (Expert is the second season where it gets really good, Companion is where it starts to get weak, and Masters/Immortals is the Japanese version that bears almost no resemblance to the original other than some names)
- AD&D 1E is the mainstream Marvel version of the comic - bigger and bolder and now in color but some still think it was better when it was an indie thing
- AD&D 2E is the live-action TV show that's a little cheesy and is revised to be more family-friendly (no more demons and the half-orc assassin gets replaced by a female character or a robot or something.)
- AD&D 3E is the 20-years-later-cool-re-imagining of the original show, like SciFi's Battlestar Galactica (It also falls apart in the end game, just like SciFi's BSG) and some of the original participants hate it at first, then get on board, fueling a sort of renaissance.
- AD&D 4E is The Movie, specifically The Action Movie. If the series had one big stunt or special effect per episode then The Movie has a big one in every scene. It uses a different cast, a different backstory, and a different special effects house. The differences spark an uproar among the fans and a schism too.
Discuss, Rip, or Ignore - that's sort of how they all sort out in my head.