Reversion to Stereotype
A sitcom character who has evolved over the years suddenly reverts to a caricature under stress
We've all seen it. A long-running sitcom character has evolved over the years and escaped the broad caricatures of his earliest incarnation. However, under stress, he'll suddenly revert to his slapstick characterization from Season 1. In some cases he'll go even broader than that. Often invoked to short-circuit a major change in the show's status quo (because Status Quo Is God), and sometimes never referred to again.
- In an episode of M*A*S*H, Hawkeye Pierce and Margaret Hoolihan have a torrid one-night stand, and by the next day she's suddenly reverted to the hyper-patriotic shrew of the early episodes, scaring Hawkeye off.
- In The Big Bang Theory, Howard Wolowitz's creepy/funny Oedipus Complex not only reappeared when he became engaged to Bernadette, it frequently roared right off the charts, where no neurotic-Jewish-man-with-mother-issues had ever gone before.
Hello, Unknown Troper. You'll need to get known to lend a hand here.