An extreme character makeover is what happens when a character, or characters, suddenly have a drastic, and unexpected change in their design. These tend to usually happen inbetween seasons of a show, or inbetween installments of an episodic saga, and are usually the results of the creator, or character designer, being displeased with a character's looks; a result of Executive Meddling; the creator simply wanting to experiment; and in some cases, for seemingly no reason whatsoever. Also some rare live examples as well.
Related to, but not to be confused with Art Evolution and Art Shift.
Pokémon. Officers Jenny's and Nurses Joy's went through makeovers during the Best Wishes seasons. While the change in the Joys' appearances are rather subtle - tweaking her hairstyle and uniform giving her a more youthful appearance - the change in the Jennys' appearances were far more drastic, replacing her shoulder-length hair with an extremely short crew cut, and swapping out her original blue uniform for khaki.
For the X and Y seasons, the Jennys are given another hairstyle, tied off in a pony tail, while her uniform is recolored as white and blue.
Mattie Franklin as Spider-Woman. She radically altered costume style from issue to issue to the point that it became a gimmick.
Darius Dax, the Lex Luthor Expy in the Supreme comics. In one story line Dax enters a sort of Hypertime afterlife and encounters the different incarnations of himself, including a early prototype who little resembles later versions.
This is very evident with Alvin and the Chipmunks, though interestingly, both Art EvolutionandArt Shift play major factors in this as well. From 1958 up till 1961, the characters were illustrated on album covers as real chipmunks; by the time The Alvin Show rolled around, they were revamped, and given their more familiar cartoony and anthropomorphic look, yet simplistically so. It wasn't until The Eighties, with the The Reboot of the entire franchises, that their designs would be given much more detail, and have a much more stylized look, that they would retain through The Nineties and into the 2000s. Then, with the live-action/CGI movies by the late 2000s, they went back to looking like real chipmunks, however this time, their more familiar traits would stick. And now, with a new animated series due to be released worldwide in 2015, the characters are back to being anthropomorphic again, however this time, their overall designs seem to combine both their classic cartoon look, and their recent realistic/CGI look.
Just about all of The Muppets have gone through natural Art Evolution over the decades, however, Kermit the Frog has gone through some small, drastic changes. He wasn't even a frog to begin with, he was more of an abstract, vaguely lizard-like creature, who was more of a bluish green than a bright green, he had no pointed collar or webbed feet, and had a smaller, skinner body. By The Sixties, when the Muppets began making appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show and such, Kermit was then given a red turtleneck that was intended to be his trademark/signature outfit, though this didn't last; by 1969, shortly before Sesame Street went into production, Kermit was finally frogified (as creator Jim Henson put it) - gaining his webbed feet, a rounder and plumper body, and his pointed collar (that was a double collar at first, then later reduced to a single collar by The Seventies).
For the Turtles themselves, their designs for their 80s cartoon series and their series of live-action movies were, for the most part, fairly true to their original comic book appearances, though slightly softened up for kids. It was also the 80s cartoon that started giving each Turtle their respective colored eye masks, as opposed to them all wearing red in the comic books. For the 2003 cartoon series, the Turtles are larger, buffer, and have slight menacing look that's more rimiscent of original comic books; it's also by this point that each Turtle is a different shade of green. Now, for their 2012 CGI series, since the Turtles are younger, they're a bit small, and for the CGI animation, are considerably more stylized.
Splinter's appearance is also similar in both the original comic book and the 1987 cartoon; this incarnation of Splinter has him looking very much like a mutant rat, with brown fur, and a fushia-colored kimono. In the live action movies, Splinter's face is much fuller with a shorter nose, and wears a tattered-looking kimono. In the 2003 cartoon, Splinter is now gray, has a long white beard, a red kimono, and his overall design has more of a canine look than a rodent. Presently for the 2012 series, Splinter is much, much larger, and although he has a more rodent-like appearance, he now has markings that look more like a skunk.
April O'Neil starts off looking far more like a product of The Eighties in the original comic book, with her curly brown hair, and oversized turtleneck. She takes on her more familiar look in the 1987 cartoon, with her shorter red hair, and her yellow jumpsuit (which was later replaced in favor of a brown jacket, green top, and khaki slacks). In the 2003, April starts out with a more youthful appearance, and often wore her hair in a bun - she also sports many different outfits (but has also included her previous yellow jumpsuit); later, though, as April matures, her hair is changed to a much darker red, she also has a paler complexion, and a slightly larger frame. Now, in the 2012 CGI series, as April is now a teenager, she now sports a ponytail, Youthful Freckles, and a sporty outfit that consists of a yellow jersey, denim short shorts and black leggings.
Irma was introduced in the 1987 cartoon, and her appearance then was much like a humanized version of Jeanette of The Chipettes, with brown hair pulled back into a bun, large pink glasses, a baggy blue turtleneck, and a purple skirt. Irma was later reintroduced in the 2012 CGI series, where she is now a teenager, and sports a punk appearance, with a black bob with purple highlights, a black tanktop, a purple and black plaid skirt, and large boots.
Baxter Stockman's overall appearance remains consistent from the original comics and the 2003 cartoon, which depicts him as a bespectacled African-American, however, the 1987 cartoon gives him a Race Lift, depicting him as being fair-haired and fair-skinned (and vaguely European). Word of God is that there was concern that keeping Baxter black in the 1987 cartoon would be seen as racist.
Babylon 5. There were some very noticeable changes in some characters' appearances between the pilot movie "The Gathering" and the rest of the series that followed. Given the pilot came a year before the series proper, this was mainly creative tweaking (as some Word of God has borne out).
Most noticeable in Delenn's and other Minbari's appearance. All of them, including Delenn, had a much more androgynous appearance, and Delenn's voice was also deeper.
Also noticable in G'Kar's. More angular features in the pilot.
Delenn's transformation between Seasons 1 and 2 was part of the in-universe story, a deliberate act of her character to become more like a human in an effort to bridge divisiveness between the two races.
During the first season of The Banana Splits, Snorky was was covered in long, shaggy fur from head to toe, as he was originally conceived as something of a wooly mammoth; for the second season, however, he became a clean-shaven elephant, and had visible eyes. In an internet revival by Cartoon Network in 2000, the original shaggy version of Snorky was brought back, and later still, in a similar 2008 revival, the clean-shaven Snorky was brought back. In some cases, as far as merchandising goes, it is actually not uncommon to see both versions of Snorky.
Ricky from Billy the Exterminator had thin, yet curly brown hair, as well as usually wore a red, long-sleeved shirt under his Vexcon uniform for the first season, whereas afterwards, he dyed his hair blonde and let it grow longer and somewhat thicker and shaggier, lost the red shirt, and would routinely wear a pair of some kind of shades, similar to Billy.
Noticeably almost all the cast of Degrassi have this at some point. Comparing them when they first appeared to their graduating self always shows the difference.
Almost averted with The Great Space Coaster. A prototype puppet of Gary Gnu was built, originally for the first season, to give the character a more Walter Cronkite-esque demeanor; the prototype Gary had black hair and a mustache, a much smaller mouth (resulting in limited expressions), and more somber colored attire. After it was built, the producers were not satisfied, so Gary underwent a few changes, resulting him looking more like the character he is today (though his mouth wouldn't be built bigger until the second season).
Hogan's Heroes. In the pilot episode of the series, both Newkirk and Kinchloe's respective uniforms were considerably different from what they wore for the remainder of the series; in particular, Newkirk wore a buttoned wool shirt under his fatigues rather than his usual turtleneck sweater, and Kinch wore a khaki baseball cap rather than his wool jeep cap.
When appearing on H.R. Pufnstuf, Stuid Bat was a light grayish blue color, his ears stood up, his wings were basically gray and fushia-colored streamers hanging from the sleeves of the puppeteer's suit, and had a slimmer body. Later when appearing on The Krofft Superstar Hour, he became purple, his ears dropped, his wings looked more like actual bat wings, had a pear-shaped body, and now had freckles on his face.
This happens to Kaptain Kool and the Kongs from The Krofft Supershow as well: during the first season, the Kongs were a lot more glam, wearing wild and eye-catchingly brightly colored costumes, with sequins and glitter not only on their costumes, but on their faces and in their hair (Nashville's hair was even a bright blue color); for the second season, however, the glam aspect of the Kongs' attire was dropped completely, and they then began wearing much more sober, yet still somewhat psychedelic-inspired suits.
M*A*S*H. Margaret Houlihan went through numerous changes in her appearance over the course of eleven seasons... and the fact that Loretta Swit was occasionally having work done throughout those years didn't help matters either. If you compare her from the pilot, to her in the Grand Finale, she looks like a completely different person.
In the original test pilot episode of The Munsters, Lily was an entirely different character than she was from the series' proper; in the test pilot, Lily was more of an Expy of Morticia Addams (and was also played by a different actress than Yvonne De Carlo).
Kramer was almost a completely different character in the pilot episode. In the pilot, Kramer is known as "Kessler", has short curly hair, really heavy stubble, and perpetually lounges around in his bathrobe and underwear.
The character of Tim Whatley changes his looks with appearance on the show: first he had shaggy hair and a beard, then he shaved the beard off, then he cut his hair short and grew the beard again, then lost the beard again while keeping the short hair.
Notably Oscar the Grouch, who started off during the first season with bright, neon orange fur; at the start of the second season, and onward, his fur was a dirty green. In-universe explanation was he went on vacation at a resort called Swamp Mushy Muddy, where the atmosphere was so damp, it turned his fur green overnight; real-life explanation is that Jim Henson suddenly decided he wanted the character green instead.
Big Bird went through a makeover as well: he originally had very little feathers above his eyes, and pointy talons (much like real birds), but towards the end of the first season, he had much more feathers above his eyes, thus giving him an actual head, as well as rounder toes.
Also, in the first season, a greenish monster with a reddish nose, and a red lip inhabited the street, and was known as Mr. Fuzzyface; starting in the second season, this monster's fur was changed to blue, his nose was changed to pink, and he became Grover.
World's Dumbest.... Michael Loftus has a tendancy to change his looks on a frequent basis; this can be really confusing when watching randomized episodes in reruns, and see him with short hair and a clean-shaven face one episode, then see him with fuller hair, a goatee, and glasses the next.
Bloom County had major Art Evolution over the course of the years it ran, but did have one major change to Steve Dallas when he was abducted by aliens who trans-reversed his brain. He lost the perpetual Cool Shades, gave himself a perm, and stopped dressing like a slobby 80s frat guy.
Most notable was Flemeth, who was a scraggly old woman in the first game but became something you'd find in Hollywood in the second. Wrinkles vanished, her hair became much more coiffed, and her body may as well have belonged to a 20-year-old.
Entire races underwent changes. Elves' bodies were elongated - their necks and ears especially - and the qunari grew horns.
For the first four seasons of Arthur, D.W.'s friend Emily had short hair, and wore a pink dress with red flowers on it; Emily was then Put on a Bus until Season Seven, where she returned with much longer hair, and now sporting a blue dress with green flowers - a look that has stuck to this day.
Since the 9 Story takeover of the show, Mr. Haney's entire color scheme has received an overhaul: now having warm brown fur, rather than grayish-brown; having a dark green suit, rather than a light blue sportjacket and dark blue slacks; and having white glasses, rather than brown glasses.
Although for a long time all we saw of Buster's dad was old family photos and Imagine Spots, his overall appearance looked like an adult version of Buster; for Postcards From Buster however, his appearance was changed quite drastically, making him look more like an albino man with bunny ear protruding out of the top of his head.
For a brief period of time in the early 1940s, Elmer Fudd went through a drastic makeover, turning him into an incredibly rotund character, turning him into a caricature of his voice actor, Arthur Q. Bryan; fans reacted negatively to this new version of Elmer, and shortly afterwards, was returned to the Elmer most people know and love him as.
The early Looney Tunes character Egghead was the prototype Elmer; in fact, some of Elmer's early official appearances, he dressed in Egghead's brown derby and green suit.
The Recess gang in the original test pilot short look nothing like the ones who know and love today. Mikey is the only one who looks the same in bother versions, but the other characters have either subtle, or obvious differences, including Gretchen (who has really dark hair, bigger buck teeth, and wears a polka-dot dress), Spinelli (who is a lot smaller, has really messy hair sans her signature toboggan cap, and wears a messy and tattered dress), T.J. (who has spikey red hair sans his trademark backwards red ball cap, is considerably leaner, has a bigger nose, and wears a bowling shirt with one red suspender over his shoulder), and most notably Vince (who has a much rounder head with really short hair, bigger eyes, and wears a red jersey).
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