Blanderization
Characters lose their more remarkable traits as time goes on
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(permanent link) added: 2012-07-31 15:47:24 sponsor: Lorialet (last reply: 2012-10-04 11:08:54)

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Sometimes, one wants to avoid being cartoonish. Too many an Ideal Hero, Love Martyr, Complete Monster or Classic Villain can quickly make your work So Bad, It's Good, and it will sound like lazy writing. Melodrama and a Large Ham are two things to use very carefully in a show. But if you want your viewers to be able to recognize your previously flaming character, you shouldn't start handling it too carefully.

Blanderization occurs when one attempts to be pragmatic and avoid ridicule and Mary Sues by balancing supposedly excessive character personality, causing a change that every die-hard fan can see very clearly : a removal of part of what defined the character, altering its identity much like Flanderization.

Often, the move is due to the common theory that more serious dignified characters are more likely to achieve proper depth than goofy more exagerrative ones, who are often restricted to comic relief roles.

In each case, characters's defining personality traits or quirks are diluted or even disappear altogether. This is not necessarily a bad thing in the end, but can be annoying at first if the character you have been rooting for for four seasons suddenly disappears and is replaced by a hollow of its former self.

Subtrope of Characterization Marches On. Compare and contrast Flanderization and Character Exaggeration, where the character's defining traits actually become overblown and more vivid as time passes.

Beware, this is about character developpment, so there is unmarked spoilers ahead...

Comics

Litterature

Live Action Movies

  • Subverted in both of the most recent Mansfield Park adaptations. Fanny Price was was called a Creator's Pet by the Janeites who prefered more humorous and cheeky heroines (Elizabeth Bennet, Emma Woodhouse, and even, to a degree, Elinor Dashwood). Thus in these adaptations, she is never the nice-yet-inflexible Shrinking Violet who helps everyone no matter how badly they have treated her in the past, and has good insight in others's motives.
    • The first features a Spirited Young Lady Hot-Blooded Horrible Judge of Character, to make her a feminist character, despite the fact that Fanny Price is the first character to have ever criticized the englih marriage-market and is as proto-feminist as any character of the time could be. The intention was good, but it could have been achieved just as well whiloe respecting the book, and the striking effect was probably for the better.
    • In the second she is an Adult Child Nice Girl Only Sane Man who knows there is something wrong with this version of the Crawfords. The adult child part is what made it a subversion : you could sympathize much more quickly with her. Billie Pipper's performance sold it, but it was a surprising choice when they got so close to portraying her accurately and she could have done a surprising job on her...

Live Action TV
  • Mark Brendanawicz of Parks and Recreation is a perfect example of this. During his two seasons on the show, he somehow changed from cynical womanizer to Straight Man. In fact, his case is currently listed on the Flanderization page as an inversion.
  • Twin Peaks met problems in its second (and sadly final) series and a few characters got this from fans. Bobby Briggs went from "bad boy" having an illicit relationship with Shelly the waitress to trying to get a job with the Hornes and flirting half-heartedly with Audrey.
    • She was no longer a teen femme fatale and wannabe detective and spent the second series in a series of similarly generic plots like trying to save the family business.

Western Animation
  • A frequent complaint issued to Mickey Mouse. In early shorts, he was a loveable but somewhat abrasive and mischevious character, not against using trickery or ambition against foes. When more abrasive characters like Donald Duck appeared, Mickey became more toned down and evolved into The Everyman. This may have led to his own series of shorts slowly fading, though modern features seem to be gradually trying to revive his old personality.
  • Most of the heroes in The Dreamstone were told to undergo this within the first few first season episodes, as a result of becoming restructured as Hero Antagonists to the Urpneys. Rufus in particular started off as the main protagonist and a Cloud Cuckoo Lander Badass Adorable before devolving into a generic unexceptional kid akin to the Mickey Mouse example.
  • According to some fans, this happened to a degree with some characters in the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise have had a lot of their defining quirks diluted, likely to abide by the comic's Cerebus Syndrome and to foil their goofier allies taken from the games series.
    • Sonic in Sonic X went from a somewhat wacky hero to simultaneously being The Ace and The Everyman.
    • Sally lost most of her comedic aspects such as her stuffiness and neuroses.
    • Tails became this due to Flanderization of his Gadgeteer Genius aspects, losing his childlike personality in favour of mostly being The Smart Guy.
    • This is particularly noticable with Antoine, who started as a pompous Klutz. While he gained more competence and commendable strengths, it mostly came at the cost of displaying the comic relief side of his personality, and soon he was became the generic fighter in the background.
    • There is a self-professed example in Sonic the Comic. The main writer, Nigel Kitching, originally planned to write Amy as a goofy playful pursuer of Sonic, with her growth into a competent heroine more subtle and gradual. Executive Meddling disliked the characterization and made Amy the most mature and intelligent of the Freedom Fighters for a strong female character. Kitching mentioned in interviews that her lack of flaws and quirks made her harder to write.
  • Bugs Bunny initially started as an abrasive trickster, who was noticably more surly and egotistical. As Chuck Jones reinnovated the cast, he diluted Bugs to mostly his positive traits, and by later portrayals he often acts as little more than a Hero Antagonist or a contrasting foil for Daffy Duck or other Loser Protagonists.
  • In his early cartoons, Mister Magoo was a prickly, irascible, stubborn and bitter old man. His first outing even has him shoot at his own nephew for playing his banjo once too often. As his popularity grew, he became more congenial and cheerful, to the point that his later shorts have him almost senile.
  • Woody Woodpecker. What started out as the screwiest of ScrewySquirrels, began to stand out less in the ensemble by the late fifties.
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