DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) are harmful lesions leading to genomic instability or diversity. Non-homologous end-joining (NHEJ) is a prominent DSB repair pathway, which has long been considered to be error-prone. However, recent data have pointed to the intrinsic precision of NHEJ. Three reasons can account for the apparent fallibility of NHEJ: 1) the existence of a highly error-prone alternative end-joining process; 2) the adaptability of canonical C-NHEJ (Ku- and Xrcc4/ligase IV-dependent) to imperfect complementary ends; and 3) the requirement to first process chemically incompatible DNA ends that cannot be ligated directly. Thus, C-NHEJ is conservative but adaptable, and the accuracy of the repair is dictated by the structure of the DNA ends rather than by the C-NHEJ machinery. We present data from different organisms that describe the conservative/versatile properties of C-NHEJ. The advantages of the adaptability/versatility of C-NHEJ are discussed for the development of the immune repertoire and the resistance to ionizing radiation, especially at low doses, and for targeted genome manipulation.