Created By: MasamiPhoenix on February 12, 2013 Last Edited By: NESBoy on February 2, 2014

Late Comer Signature Style

Character is most known for something he initially didn't have.

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope
Some characters have such memorable powers, weapons, clothes, or even personality, that it's impossible to imagine them without them. But if you go to their earlier work, the item is nowhere in sight.

Either intentionally or just by luck, often a character will be given new powers and it is a smash hit, until it reaches the point where fans would cry out if it were removed.

Often a result of Power Creep, Power Seep, Characterization Marches On, or New Powers as the Plot Demands. See Retcon, when the character is retroactively stated to always have this. Often results in Newer Than They Think. Also compare Early Installment Weirdness.

Anime and Manga
  • Dragon Ball: Goku didn't learn the Kamehameha until the middle of the first season of Dragoball, and even then he used it sparingly. It was more Master Roshi's thing. Of course by the time Z rolls around Roshi is retired and it becomes Goku's signature move.
  • The title character of Naruto didn't start learning Rasengan until the beginning of Season 4 of the original series, and couldn't make it work properly until the finale of said season. Rasengan and its variants are now his signature most iconic moves, typically thought of as his answer to Goku's Kamehameha.

Comic Books
  • Superman has several
    • Initially, Superman could not fly, and instead had to "leap tall buildings in a single bound.
    • Kryptonite did not originally exist in the comics, and was actually introduced in the radio serials.
    • A twofer. Everybody knows that Superman considers Clark to be his true identity and uses his super hearing to find crimes. However initially, Superman was his true self, and he hid as Clark solely to get access to breaking news.
  • The eponymous Batman doesn't kill and hates guns. But initially, he was willing to kill and has killed with a gun. Don't tell the fans.
  • Mention Spider-Man's Uncle Ben, and the first thing that comes to mind is With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility. However in the original comics, he never said it. The narrator did.
  • In the X-Men comics, Wolverine's trademark line is: "I'm the best there is at what I do. But what I do best isn't very nice." However, the first time Wolverine said those words was in Uncanny X-Men #162, 7 years after his first appearance, and 6 years after he was added to the cast of X-Men.
    • Jean Grey is usually described as one of the most powerful telepaths on Earth. But originally she had only telekinetic powers, and she didn't gain telepathic powers until X-Men #43, published five years after her debut in X-Men #1. Years later,a retcon revealed she had always been a telepath, but Charles Xavier had suppressed those powers until she was ready to use them.
  • The title character of The Incredible Hulk was a crafty guy for the first several years of publication; not until 1966 did he become a dummy, in the middle of a story, for no apparent reason. At the end of one book he was smart (not "genius" level but y'know, street smarts), then at the beginning of the next book he's suddenly talking in Hulk Speak.

Live-Action TV
  • The FN P90 personal defense weapon is heavily identified with the Stargate Verse, to the point that less-informed viewers were known to think it was a fictional weapon the showrunners made up. However the P90 didn't come into use until three seasons into Stargate SG-1, where it was used in "The First Ones" in place of the H&K MP5 because it ejects spent cartridges downwards rather than to the side.[[note]]The episode's script called for O'Neill and Carter to be firing their guns simultaneously, right next to each other. Spent cartridges are hot. Fill in the blank.[[/note]]
  • In the early episodes of Happy Days, Fonzie has no leather jacket.
  • Father Ted:
    • Father Jack is known for having a four-word vocabulary ("Feck! Arse! Drink! Girls!"). This only really set in in the second season - in the early episodes he's relatively eloquent.
    • Also, Mrs Doyle's first name (Joan) is given in the first episode. It later becomes a Running Gag that the audience is never told what it is.

Video Games
  • Mario is famous for the Super Mushroom, the Fire Flower and jumping on enemies. None of these existed in Donkey Kong or Mario Bros..
  • Many fans were confused that the new Mega Man games take away Mega Man's trademark Charge Shots and slide move. He didn't pick them up until his fourth and third games.
  • Kirby games are completely built around his ability to steal powers by eating his enemies. However, in his first game, eating enemies did nothing but free up Kirby's inhale ability.
  • In Touhou, Marisa didn't get her signature move Master Spark until the sixth installment (she debuted in the second). Heck, she didn't even invent it, Yuuka did. Marisa just copied it.
  • The Legend of Zelda: The plots are obsessed with the full Triforce, but in the original game there were only the Triforce of Wisdom and Power; the tri referred to their sides. Adventure of Link introduced the Triforce of Courage, and Link to the Past introduced their wish granting unity.
    • Link did not pick up his trademark Master Sword until Link To The Past, his third game. To a lesser extent, the Hylian Shield counts.
Community Feedback Replies: 40
  • February 12, 2013
    StarSword
    Compare Newer Than They Think.

    TV:
    • The FN P90 personal defense weapon is heavily identified with the Stargate Verse, to the point that less-informed viewers were known to think it was a fictional weapon the showrunners made up. However the P90 didn't come into use until three seasons into Stargate SG 1, where it was used in "The First Ones" in place of the H&K MP5 because it ejects spent cartridges downwards rather than to the side.[[note]]The episode's script called for O'Neill and Carter to be firing their guns simultaneously, right next to each other. Spent cartridges are hot. Fill in the blank.[[/note]]
  • February 12, 2013
    TrueShadow1
    • In Touhou, Marisa didn't get her signature move Master Spark until the sixth installment (she debuted in the second). Heck, she didn't even invent it, Yuuka did. Marisa just copied it.
  • February 12, 2013
    Tuomas
    I'm not sure if this counts, but:

    Comic Books
    • In the X-Men comics, Wolverine's trademark line is: "I'm the best there is at what I do. But what I do best isn't very nice." However, the first time Wolverine said those words was in Uncanny X-Men #162, 7 years after his first appearance, and 6 years after he was added to the cast of X-Men.
  • February 13, 2013
    Tuomas
    Another X-Men example:

    • Jean Grey is usually described as one of the most powerful telepaths on Earth. But originally she had only telekinetic powers, and she didn't gain telepathic powers until X-Men #43, published five years after her debut in X-Men #1. Years later, a retcon revealed she had always been a telepath, but Charles Xavier had suppressed those powers until she was ready to use them.
  • February 13, 2013
    Larkmarn
  • February 13, 2013
    randomsurfer
    The Incredible Hulk was a crafty guy for the first several years of publication; not until 1966 did he become a dummy, in the middle of a story, for no apparent reason. At the end of one book he was smart (not "genius" level but y'know, street smarts), then at the beginning of the next book he's suddenly talking in Hulk Speak.
  • February 14, 2013
    MasamiPhoenix
    Added all the additions so far.
  • February 14, 2013
    Beacon80
  • February 14, 2013
    robinjohnson
    • In the early episodes of Happy Days, Fonzy has no leather jacket.
  • February 14, 2013
    robinjohnson
    • Father Ted:
      • Father Jack is known for having a four-word vocabulary ("Feck! Arse! Drink! Girls!"). This only really set in in the second season - in the early episodes he's relatively eloquent.
      • Also, Mrs Doyle's first name (Joan) is given in the first episode. It later becomes a Running Gag that the audience is never told what it is.
  • February 14, 2013
    FantasyLiver
    Never mind.
  • February 14, 2013
    acrobox
    The Ben Parker Spider Man example doesnt fit here. Thats Beam Me Up Scotty. This is something iconic that i didn't do at the start, that was something iconic that gets attributed to me but i never actually did.

    Anime Examples
    • Dragon Ball: Goku didn't learn the Kamehameha until the middle of the first season of Dragoball, and even then he used it sparingly. It was more Master Roshi's thing. Of course by the time Z rolls around Roshi is retired and it becomes Goku's signature move.
    • Naruto didn't start learning Rasengan until the beginning of Season 4 of the original series, and couldn't make it work properly until the finale of said season. Rasengan and its variants are now his signature most iconic moves, typically thought of as his answer to Goku's Kamehameha.
  • February 14, 2013
    rodneyAnonymous
    Superman doesn't consider Clark Kent his "true identity" does he?
  • February 14, 2013
    acrobox
    I thought Superman's true identiy is either 'Superman' or at least Kal-el. Clark Kent is a secret identity so he can go out in public as a human, and know about local crime.
  • February 14, 2013
    Beacon80
    I think it depends on the writer. Stories that focus more on his relationship with the non-superheroes around him (such as Lois & Clark) are more likely to make Clark the 'real' identity.
  • February 14, 2013
    IanWhoWas
    Wouldn't this really just be an extensions of Characterization Marches On?
  • February 15, 2013
    StarSword
    @OP: You know you can copy the wiki markup by clicking the pencil icon to the left of the comment?
  • February 15, 2013
    TrueShadow1
    Added markups to link to the works' pages. Sorry if I'm being nosy, but seeing all those work names not linked just bothers me...
  • February 15, 2013
    Beacon80
    @Ian Who Was: It's related to Characterization Marches On, I suppose, but this is specifically for when something iconic wasn't always there
  • February 15, 2013
    Guyven
    Manga:
    • Berserk: Guts' "Armor of the Berserk" is pretty iconic now (on par with his crazy huge sword). But it is a relatively recent addition to his arsenal (introduced in volume 26!). Compare directly to his formerly iconic prosthetic arm that doubled as a one-shot cannon and fully-automatic-crossbow that has been notably absent lately.

    Its probably a testament to the power of this character that he's had so many different stages that could all be considered iconic and defining, yet have been so distinct.
  • February 15, 2013
    SneakySquirrel
  • February 15, 2013
    Guyven
    Does anyone else think that Transformers are this in character form? They're basically nothing until they choose a solid form, and then by hand-wavy narrative magic that was their name all along. This stood out to me the most with Depth Charge in the Beast Wars series. They keep referencing his history and backstory and never even wink at "that was before you were a manta-ray on earth of course, so he wouldn't have been calling you 'Depth Charge'... surely."
  • February 15, 2013
    Larkmarn
    Transformers avoided it pretty well until Beast Wars, having generic enough names that were based more around their function than their alt-mode (which presumably dictated their eventual alt-mode, mind you) that they aren't a 1-to-1 contrived coincidence.

    ... Depth Charge is one of the few BW figures that doesn't count since he's got a decided generic name. All it says is that he's skilled at aquatic combat, which he presumably was.
  • February 15, 2013
    Guyven
    I agree that Depth Charge isn't even a good example compared to the rest of the wacky cast names. I mainly mention him because his emphasis on back-story and constant anecdotal offerings about his history with his nemesis made me acutely aware of the name problem (even as a kid). Up until then they'd kind of avoided bringing up situations where you'd want to ask what their previous name was (cause it definitely wasn't "Animal from planet I've never been to"-otron).
  • February 15, 2013
    CobraPrime
    ^ Hrrrm, Mirage (Turns invisible, created illusions), Thundercracker (Jet, Creates Sonic Booms), Inferno (Fire Truck), Soundwave (Radio), Sky Warp (Jet, Teleports), Bumblebee (Volkswagen Beetle)
  • February 18, 2013
    Guyven
    I think Larkmarn was pointing out that even in most of those cases their names were passably reasonable assuming they had them before they arrived on Earth. But in Beast Wars that was straight out the window: Cheetor, Rhinox, etc. Rhinox even name-changed at one point (when he became an evil tank in the follow-up series (Tankor), and his friends didn't recognize him for a really long time).

    Speaking of Beast Machines, in the opening scene we see a statue of Optimus Prime being torn down. The statue featured him in a post-Earth semi-truck body, but surely during the War for Cybertron (when he'd have risen as a cultural hero) he didn't have that body? I'm guessing Cybertronians are just that adept at Johnny-come-lately style changes that they're memories aren't really inspired by looks (which begs why a statue would ever be an effective form of remembrance in the first place).
  • February 18, 2013
    JoeG
    • Friday The13th: Jason does not start wearing his signature hockey mask until the third movie (the second that starred Jason). He obtained the mask by killing its original owner.

    • Peanuts: When he first appeared, Charlie Brown did not wear his trademark shirt with the diagonal pattern near the waistline.
  • February 18, 2013
    NESBoy
    Another Superman example:
    • Lois Lane is known for being a Secret Chaser when it comes to Superman's true identity. However, she never even showed interest in the matter until Action Comics #25, two years after her debut, and she never suspected Clark being Superman until Superman #11 the following year. In fact, Superman #17 featured the very first story designed around Lois trying to prove Clark is Superman.

    As for other matters...

    • The Avengers were known for their rallying cry "Avengers Assemble!", which didn't appear until The Avengers #10.
  • February 27, 2013
    grenekni3t
    • In the Lucky Starr series, Bigman Jones's signature oath, "Sands of Mars!", and his signature epithet, "cobber", do not appear until the third book and do not become common until the fourth book.
  • February 27, 2013
    Noaqiyeum
    This needs a different name at the very least (I'm not sure it's distinct from Characterisation Marches On). Signature Style is about distinguishing traits of the way the writer tells the story that are consistent between their works, which none of these examples are.
  • February 28, 2013
    TrueShadow1
    ^I think it's quite distinct from Characterization Marches On. If I get it right, Characterization Marches On is the change of character's personality, while this one is for anything that the character is most well-known for, including but not limited to personality.
  • February 28, 2013
    Guyven
    I agree that this is distinct. This has to do with a distinguishing element of a character that was a later application such as Superman being able to fly or move really fast (as far as I can tell he was just impossibly strong and durable at first). You can't even think of Superman without thinking of him flying nowadays.

    Characterization Marches On is more a continuous timely update applied to a character that is for all intents an immortal piece of fiction in a constantly changing world where that fiction is told: Tony Stark being wounded while visiting Vietnam doesn't jive with his apparent age anymore, so its been updated to Afghanistan.
  • February 28, 2013
    randomsurfer
    The Gor series is well-known for the Beautiful Slave Girls finding Happiness In Slavery, but that didn't kick in until about seven books into the series. In book 3 the protagonist almost manages to end slavery on Gor altogether; as late as book 10 slave girls are frequently freed as a reward for meritorious service to their master or to get married to their master (or another), and they are happy about it.
  • February 28, 2013
    Noaqiyeum
    ^^^, ^^ What about Early Installment Weirdness?
  • February 28, 2013
    blueflame724
    Part of me feels that this is a bit of a subjective; why does it matter that a character doesn't have a signature ability the minute they appear? Sometimes it takes time to get fleshed out. Though I'll try an example as well.

    In Bleach, Ichigo doesn't even learn Getsuga Tenshou until he trains with Urahara, and even then the technique doesn't get named until his fight with Byakuya. Yet the technique is generally considered to be his signature move(or more accurately his only move).

  • March 1, 2013
    Guyven
    I think many stories will begin at the beginning. What makes a character interesting or special might not appear for a while because story-wise we have to get there. That isn't what's being described here, I don't think. I think this trope is what is in the meta of a story more recognizable and more commonly fan-attributed that was not apparent in the character design at all at first.

    Its subjective because its hard to know what wasn't designed from the start when you're talking about something that develops as a part of a coherent plot. But for comics and cartoons, characters that develop by committee over time (like James Bond), and source material that changes hands and isn't above a popularity cash-in, you're going to see this, and I do think it's worth noting.
  • January 31, 2014
    Noah1
  • January 31, 2014
    Green5
    Video Games

    Team Fortress 2:
    • The Pyro was not known as the 'W M1 class'- meaning that forward and Mouse1 is all one needs to play him- until the buff on it's range and damage. With the addition of the Backburner which does full Critical Hits from the back, and the Phlogistinator which does full Critical Hits after doing a certain amount of damage, the Pyro is now notorious for W M1 usage.
    • The Spy loadout of Dead Ringer, Enforcer and Spy-cicle had become notorious for being the ultimate loadout, aka Dr. Enforcicle. Firstly, the Spy-cicle melts away to prevent afterburn for a few seconds and Dead Ringer drops a fake dead body while you escape invisible, meaning a Get Out Of Jail Free Card, and the Enforcer is powerful enough to compensate for the lack of Backstab ability. Also, the Dead Ringer activates immediately upon damage, negating the Enforcer downside of additional time taken to be fully cloaked. The Dead Ringer and Enforcer has since been nerfed.
    • The Blutsauger allows Medics to regenerate extra health via damaging the enemy, defining Battle Medic.
    • The Gunslinger gives 25 Health and produces a Mini-Sentry which can be deployed and replaced rapidly, defining Battle Engineer.
    • The Demoman has shields which allow him to charge at enemies rapidly and potentially damage them with shield impact, defining Demoknight. The Eyelander, undoubtedly the most iconic Demoknight sword, gives extra Health and speed for every kill (up to a maximum of 4).
  • February 2, 2014
    JoeG
    • Rod Serling did not start narrating at the beginning and end of episoded of The Twilight Zone until the last episode of the first season, where he appears at the end of an episode as a Breaking The Fourth Wall gag. In subsequent seasons he appeared at the start and end of almost every episode.
  • February 2, 2014
    DAN004
    Needs a title change badly.

Three days must pass before this YKTTW is Launchworthy or Discardable

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=tfcmr04cbt2r1vono5z6hxj1