Existing gravity load designed (GLD) structures are vulnerable to seismic event due to their inherent weaknesses. The present study, focuses on the development of non-invasive and feasible strategies for seismic upgradation of these non-seismically designed structures. Three novel schemes, namely (i) single haunch upgradation scheme (U1), (ii) straight bar upgradation scheme (U2) and (iii) simple angle upgradation scheme (U3) are proposed for seismic upgradation of GLD specimens. The efficacy and effectiveness of these upgradation schemes are evaluated by conducting the reverse cyclic load tests on control and upgraded GLD exterior beam-column sub-assemblages. The performance of the upgraded specimens is compared with that of the control GLD beam-column sub-assemblage, in terms of load–displacement hystereses, energy dissipation capacities and global strength degradation behaviour. Tremendous improvement in the energy dissipation capacity to the tune of 2.63, 2.83 and 1.54 times the energy dissipated by the control GLD specimen is observed in single haunch upgraded specimens, straight bar upgraded specimen and simple angle upgraded specimen respectively. The specimen with single haunch upgradation performed much better compared to the GLD specimens upgraded with the other two schemes, by preventing the brittle anchorage failure, delaying the joint shear damage and redirecting the damage partially towards the beam.