There is a certain school of thought that says that none of what Finn is experiencing is real, or is at the very least vastly distorted from the true (and likely terrible) reality he lives in. Word of God states that Ooo is a post-apocalyptic world recovering from what is referred to as the Mushroom War. The possibility exists that what Finn views as adventure might be a great deal more harrowing than his mind allows him to process... throughout the series, there is all kinds of Scenery Gorn, with destroyed or submerged buildings, half-buried and wrecked cars, broken televisions, abandoned military equipment, and notably, a river of trash. The opening sequence briefly features a barren field of bombs and bare trees, as well as an arm reaching out, and several of the situations in the show could be read as euphemisms for what is really taking place (such as the Rainicorns attempting to eat Finn, then substituting him for 'soy people' as a euphemism for cannibalism; the Ice King's obsession with kidnapping princesses as a euphemism for slavery; the relationship between Finn and Jake being perhaps a master-slave relationship with Jake the master; the absence of Finn's (and most other characters') parents, the fact that he lives in a tree; possible deformity or mutation represented by Candy People and various other non-human characters, etc). Word of God states that this isn't the eventual revelation of the series... while throwing in sounds of Finn screaming and machine-gun-fire over a freeze frame. There are some similarities between Adventure Time and A Boy and His Dog, as well. Is he suffering from radiation-poisoning and starvation-induced hallucinations, and repainting his life as a coping mechanism, or is it all true with the context of the story? Who knows.
A prominent section of fans follow the school of thought that Bubblegum is a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing. For one thing, she treats her creation/"son" Lemongrab as an insane freak, and though she is more or lessright, her seeming lack of compassion towards him and apparent unwillingness to seriously help him makes her come off as negligent, if not outright abusive. (For what it's worth, Bubblegum is shown to regret how her mishandling of Lemongrab's situation made things worse, and did try to make it up to him, though that opened another can of worms; see below). Her handling of Finn is also questionable, seeing as how she rather callously told him to "move on" during Too Young and to "stop acting weird" in Incendium.
As for Marceline herself, it's well known by this point that she survived the Great Mushroom War and was just a very small child at the time to boot. Marceline could be considered the only sane person in all of Ooo, as her main motivation seems to be just hiding from the world, and not getting involved, as an apocalypse survivor's primary motivation is generally self preservation.
Speaking of Lemongrab... Is he a spoiled and selfishmoron who uses his Disability as an Excuse for Jerkassery, or is he a genuinely pitiful affection starvedwoobie who really desperately needed a reason to be happy about life? Word of God stated that after he was born, PB stuck him a castle to be raised by servants. Is his inability to read social cues and relate to others the result of his Ambiguous Disorder, or is it the result of the actual social and physical isolation the princess imposed on him?
In Too Old did Lemongrab abuse his brother/clone/partner and the Lemon children because of his worsened mental problems, or was it his lashing out over his grief over Lemonjon's death? Is he a Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds, or a monster?
Braco is a character that only appeared for one episode, but he's gotten quite a bit of this. Was he unfairly rejected by Bubblegum before even getting a shot to prove himself to her, or was he an entitled and patheticidiot who never really cared for PB as a person in the first place (given how he was looking a bit too willing to settle for the Bubblegum-Bot)?
In The Amazing Chan and the Chan Clan, Henry's treatment of Stanley varies depending on the episode (episode 10 has him being quite verbally abusive, but in episode 7 he appears to be amused by Stanley's antics even as he tells him to cut it out). Alan and Tom's chauvinism towards Anne is either a cause for minor tension between them or nonexistent, and Mimi's bossiness towards Scooter ranges from playful chiding to her behaving like a strict mother would towards him.
Despite his general jerkassery, Archer deeply loves his much put-upon butler Woodhouse. Archer's treatment of Woodhouse seems a little conspicuous since, while he's definitely not a nice guy, he normally shows it by being self-centered and completely oblivious to other people's feelings—yet, for some reason, he seems to actively go out of his way to make Woodhouse's life miserable. But since Woodhouse was the only adult in Archer's life for much of his childhood, he's really the closest thing that Archer has to a father. And with all the abuse that Archer took from his mother as a child, maybe he only gives Woodhouse so much grief because it's the only way he knows how to show affection to the parental figures in his life.
Despite her apparent snobbishness, Cheryl/Carol is actually a sensitive woobie who's afraid of alienating people with her wealth, and she keeps working at ISIS because her coworkers are her only close friends. The woman's worth billions, so she obviously doesn't need the paycheck. And she's probably been with ISIS for at least a few years, but the others didn't find out about her wealthy family until late in Season 2. Considering how open she usually is about personal stuff (like her weird sexual fetishes) it seems a little odd that she kept that little detail to herself for so long. Maybe she was afraid of losing her only real friendships.
Ben 10: Alien Force: Gwen's and Kevin's crushes on each other are just their way of repressing that they're both attracted to Ben. Both attractions are at least partially taboo — Gwen's because Ben's her cousin, Kevin's because Ben's a guy — so the only solution is to try to force themselves to fall (however improperly) for each other. Because they're both lying to themselves and each other, they're both getting their signals returned, which is encouraging the charade. This explains why Gwen tells Kevin to ask her out without wanting him to, why Kevin tries to make himself appear attracted to Gwen without making a move, and why they both show Ben so much more subtle and genuine affection.
Is Gadget Hackwrench a simple Genius Ditz with a heart of gold? Or is she harboring an amoral dark side that needs to be harnessed for good by the Rescue Rangers lest it grow out of control (such as the "salesman traps" that Chip and Dale ran into in the pilot right before they met her, many of which were quite lethal)?
Also one of the most divisive topics in the fandom: is she completely oblivious to Chip and Dale's romantic advances, cognizant of them but uninterested, or does she harbor feelings for one or the other, and if so, which one? There's plenty of Ship Tease in the show to support any side of the argument, which is why the topic is so hot.
Does the mother of Gazpacho exist from Chowder? Maybe Gazpacho is a sad, lonely Mammoth who can't commit to a relationship, and so he says his mother doesn't let him kiss other girls and uses his mother as an excuse to his odd behaviour. Maybe his mother moved away from him or died; he can't take it mentally, and so he thinks of her as always around.
Is the global organization a rebellious group of kids devoted to defying adult authority? or a benevolent, somewhat Knight Templar ish group protecting the children of the world from those that wish to harm or unjustly oppress them? Although OP: Z.E.R.O. seems to confirm on the latter, some viewers tend to scale strictly on the former.
The entire show is a game a bunch of kids are playing, or a story they made up. (This theory seems to be gaining ground on 4chan)
And adding on to that theory, Numbuh One is a kid who possibly moved away or died.
Danny Phantom has characters who can be construed in different ways: Vlad, Danny, Sam, Jack, Dark Danny... but most notably, Vlad, who has before-and-after Villain Decay selfs to play with.
There was a Fridge Brilliance take where Sam may be in love with Danny Phantom more than Danny Fenton; thus, why she acted so pissed during the Grand Finale when he briefly and willingly took away his own powers.
Vlad: sympathetic villain who deserves the love he's sought, or a jerk who lost that chance years ago and needs to get his karmic justification?
Considering how easily Tucker is corrupted by his vice and how little time he's given in Season 3, it's possible that he's secretly devising an evil plot to wipe out his friends and take over the world. He becomes a mayor by the end of the series, giving him a significant portion of power in his hometown.
A somewhat common interpretation for Danny is that has developed into a Stepford Smiler, explaining why he's remained pretty damn chipper through the whole show, especially after the events of "The Ultimate Enemy," which by all means could have (and should have) traumatized him.
This tumblr page suggests that Danielle may be hiding a more traumatized and torn apart life than she appears to have over her severing ties with Vlad and having Danny as her only family, not to mention her life alone on the streets. It also suggests the reason she doesn't stay with Danny is out of guilt over the trouble she caused him.
Daria - the Only Sane Man, or a self righteous snob, who acts like an asshole to everyone around her, and honestly can't understand, why exactly she isn't a Miss Popularity, which she thinks she deserves to be.
Actually, a wallet is not a good place to store condoms for any length of time. When you know that, guys who do that come off more as desperate than caring.
There's a lot of stuff going for how Sandi is just a pure Alpha Bitch. But in "Fire", Sandi actually smells a rat with how the bellboy appears to know just where Quinn is and is handing her and her friends free stuff. It's very easy to read this as not so much spite that it's for Quinn and not her, but because she senses that the bellboy is a stalker. In "The Daria Hunter", Sandi gets angry that the fashion club members aren't wearing goggles because it's against the rules of Paintball. (And that's a SAFETY rule!) Also to liking other friends, in "Fat like Me", Quinn's kindness towards Sandi to helping her get out of the Despair Event Horizon drives her to tears.
Mr. O'Neill actually gets this a lot. Is he a cheery guy who really tries to make people happy despite his spectacular inadequence at it, or does his failure to learn from his mistakes (or notice them, a lot of the time) indicate that he doesn't really care at all?
And, Tom Sloane, anyone?. This character is from this trope. Tom's potentially ending the relationship between Daria and Jane, and effectively sealing the fate of the flirtation between Daria and Trent Lane, caused Tom to be a very controversial character. The infamous kiss with Daria generated enormous antipathy for both Tom and Daria, therefore, there are very few fanworks that portray them in a positive light. The Tom/Daria pairing has come in for stick for Tom being too much in the right, with some saying the relationship comes off as parternalistic and unequal as a result; others criticise it for being too unromantic, viewing this as unrealistic. Others defend the latter as making sense for Daria, a normally closed-off person.
Outside of his relationship with Daria, Tom's portrayal still varies. A number of writers show him being a good person and/or an ally of Daria's. Others have criticised Tom for being dull and not having much to him beyond being "the boyfriend", claiming he wasn't fleshed out enough. The Angst Guy has usually shown Tom as being weak, attempting to do the right thing but backing out or getting it wrong; on the Daria Fandom Blog, he also once remarked Tom had been punished for The Kiss by having to date Daria, which he viewed as being a source of pain and frustration for Tom.
Is Muttley secretly on Yankee Doodle Pigeon's side? Is he really a mole, planted to foil the Vulture Squadron's plans from within? Perhaps the US military figured that a dog—albiet an egotistical, snickering glory-hound—would be an ideal spy to bungle Vulture Squadron's counter-intelligence. Notice episodes like "Operation Anvil," where Muttley single-handedly botches the squadron's plan to flatten the pigeon and then remains in the air for the rest of the episode, having a snicker at Dick Dastardly's expense.
Come to think of it, maybe Klunk is a mole instead of or in addition to Muttley! All those weird sound effects are really his way of saying, "Ha ha! I'm trying to put one over on you by designing killer planes that don't work!" Zilly, meanwhile, pretends to know what Klunk's talking about to cover his behind.
Dexter from Dexter's Laboratory has awkward social tendencies, which may be a result of his having Asperger's Syndrome. He is a genius, but he doesn't seem to have a basic understanding of things outside book smarts and the like. He apparently is unable to have much of an imagination about anything.
There are also some that content (especially considering the ending of the movie Ego Trip) that Dexter is a Villain Protagonist and Dee Dee is the real hero.
On the mention of Dee Dee, it's speciulated she's pretty smart. It makes sense considering her family and there are implications in the series. Depending on who you ask she's trolling Dexter and Obsfucating Stupidity, she's only a genius in certain aspects like ballet, or she's smarter than Dexter but that's overshadowed by her bubbly nature.
Is the Pointy-Haired Boss in the animated adaptation of Dilbert phenomenally stupid, or just vastly ignorant because of a sociopathic lack of interest in anything that isn't himself? It doesn't help that his voice actor said he didn't know if he was stupid, or stupid like a fox.
Dora the Explorer is a brave girl whose careless parents let her freely roam a dangerous jungle or an imaginative little girl with her stuffed animals using puddles and a sandbox to keep herself entertained in her backyard. She is either surrounded by friends that are always there for her or only has one friend and he only hangs out with her because they are cousins.
Sgt Blob can range anywhere from a Smug SnakeDrill Sergeant Nasty to a somewhat delirious Father to His Men. His treatment of Frizz and Nug ranges from abusive and self aggrandizing to desperately trying to keep their stupidity and laziness from triggering Zordrak's anger onto them, while his overzeal towards the Noops just to preserve the hides of him and his men isn't much greater than that of vice versa (who send children to stop Zordrak and have nonchalantly doomed the fate of endless Urpneys for the sake of maintaining good dreams).
Kankers are very prone to this, due to their canon flatness. Are they just bullies tormenting everyone for kicks, or is it a Jerkass Façade, built because of (implied) abuse and poverty they had faced earlier in their lives? Do they care about the Eds, and if yes, to what extent?
Is Plank evil (and alive) or just a piece of wood who only lives in Johnny's head?
Is Edd gay, bisexual, or is he just socially awkward? Is he naturally girly or did his parents raise him that way deliberately as a means to control him?
Is Eddy the most generous kid in town? Whenever he gets money the first thing he thinks of are his friends, and that's why he scams. The other kids have money, even his friends, but won't buckle in a cent no matter the circumstance.
Is his brother a simple case of Jerk Ass bully older brother or an abuser or worse? Are either Edd, Jimmy or Ed gay?
Whatever is underneath Edd's hat and why he hides it is an alternate character interpretation in itself.
Some fans say that Edd has a severe case of psoriasis on his scalp. For some reason, it only affects his scalp, and he hates people staring at the swollen pink blotches and grayish scales the disease causes, so he wears a hat to hide them. Ed thinks the blotches and scales look cool, being a monster movie fan, and says so when Edd's hat is pulled off by a ceiling fan.
Vicky has this: There a fan interpretation that Vicky's bullying toward Timmy is a result of a troubled childhood past, based on Vicky's confessing of this to Timmy in the episode Snow Bound. The creator of the series, Butch Hartman, has also named this episode as one of his favorites for this reason.
This kind of falls apart when you find out that her parents are terrified of her. Does this mean that Vicky really is icky, or is it simply retribution for being abused by them. Or maybe they're her foster parents.
Her little sister Tootie is shown to be very similar to Timmy in many cases, including their shared torment at the hands of Vicky. This has led to many fans calling for her to receive a fairy, which in a way comes true in the FOP movie.
Is Trixie just a generic Alpha Bitch popular girl or does she have Hidden Depths? Earlier episodes implied she was much nicer than she seemed and was repressing her more tomboyish side in order to please her friends and maintain a certain image.
Meg Griffin: Practically everyone in the show and a good number of fans hate her. But does she deserve it? On the one hand, she frequently whines about how "ugly" and "fat" she is, and she's willing to do anything to gain acceptance by her peers and family. To cope with the constant abuse and ridicule that her family dishes out, coupled with the bullying at the hands of Connie, Meg has engaged in a number of questionable and destructive actions. Some of these include threatening to kill herself, doing drugs, throwing up after meals, and cutting herself. However, fans believe that she's just doing it to get attention.
Maybe the reason Meg cuts herself is that the physical pain of it and watching the wound heal brings some sort of relief and comfort from all the emotional abuse she gets.
There's a slight aversion of this trope with Peter— they mention his being retarded just enough that people who pay attention know this is the cause of most of his Jerkass behavior. Others who are less avid fans of the show fall into the interpretation that Peter is just a stupid jerk (faulting him for things a person who was mentally handicapped in real life would probably be forgiven for)
Stewie Griffin switches from evil murdering genius whose inventions could help him conquer the world, jack of all trades in baby form, flaming homosexual, and innocent baby so much that he seems to be experiencing a Joker-style multiple personality disorder.
One episode had an in-universe example: Quagmire, who is a horrible, selfish person, points out in specific detail why Brian may not be the bastion of logic and morality that the viewers have been led to believe.
Joe could be the worst cop in Spooner Street as he is fully aware of Peter's and Quagmire's horrific actions yet he refuses to arrest them.
Is Lois a sociopathic Bitch in Sheep's Clothing or a tortured soul who put up with an abusive father, a retarded husband and a town full of idiots?
Brian is endlessly bullied or treated as sub human because he is a dog, even by his closest friends. When we see him enter an alternate universe where dog's are the dominant species, he is perfectly willing to stay, while his human counterpart (who has the same prejudice as he does back home) is quite refreshed at the idea of staying in Brian's world. Are Brian's pretentious antics merely childish ploys for attention, or just over insistence on proving he is as intellectual and sophisticated as any human and being seen as an equal.
The Great Gazoo could be the most evil character ever created. He was sent to earth as punishment for creating a doomsday device that would destroy the universe. And he is cute, not menacing. Obvious evil is easy to spot and thus not as dangerous; insidious or hidden evil is much worse.
The Flintstones has been interpreted as a Post Apocalyptic world ("bombed back to the stone age") who are trying to rebuild almost-forgotten technology with what they have available.Which makes a lot more sense if you consider that they celebrate Christmas and seem to have similar cultural norms to modern Americans.
In regards to Gargoyles, Word of God has stated several viewpoints for Finella (who was introduced in the Avalon 3 parter). Did she aid Katherine and the others because she was disgusted by Constantine's actions? Or would she have gone along with Constantine had he not spurned her for Katherine?
Did David Xanatos really pull a Heel-Face Turn or was it an act to get the Gargoyles on his side so that he can use them as pawns in the future.
Most importantly is Damona really a tragic figure that we should sympathize or is she beyond saving?
Max's morality. Is Max a good person who just happens to be selfish sometimes, someone whose selfish and kind actions are pretty much evenly split, or an Easily Forgiven self-centered whiny Jerkass who's not any better or is barely better than Pete?
PJ's intelligence: is he really stupid? Somewhat gullible and Book Dumb but sensible? Completely unremarkable? The smartest person in the cast? Also, his personality: does he have a trite, stereotypical characterization or an unusual one with a lot of depth? And his affectedness: is he a miserable mess who needs to be protected or remarkably well-adjusted (or both)?
Is Peg too hard on Pete or is her regular anger with him wholly justified? Does she side with Goofy more often than Pete because of a straightforward response to Goofy just being nicer than Pete, or because she secretly wants to be with Goofy rather than with Pete?
Perhaps Nergal is the result of what happens to Jon Irenicus at the end of Baldur's Gate II. Or, perhaps more creepily, he is Grandfather Nurgle from Warhammer: it strikes all the points - utterly disgusting and a family man - and he even has Nurglings. The only aspect they left out were the horrifying diseases, which wouldn't gotten by, even in this show.
Inspector Gadget, idiot over his head or a man traumatised by being turned into a cyborg who blocks it all out?
One guy's take on this is here, and another is here
Or does he simply do things a little differently, making everyone else think he's stupid? The world may never know.
He could be the ultimate case of Obfuscating Stupidity, tossing the exploding notes back to Quimby as a gag, stumbling through Doctor Claw's schemes so the henchmen keep underestimating him, and generously letting Penny and Brain think they've solved the crimes while he had the whole situation under control (and letting them think they're letting him think he solved the crime). Hey, you never know — he did save Penny a couple of times even in standard canon interpretation.
Some also have gone further and interpreted this as he acts incompetent and takes credit for solving all the crimes so that Penny and Brain remain safe on purpose, that he's well aware that they're the ones doing the detective work while he merely bumbles around then apprehends the criminals. They actually have this to a T; Gadget keeps everyone distracted while Brain and Penny solve the crime and he apprehends them, being a very good actor. When Penny is in danger and Gadget knows it, then he goes into Papa Wolf mode and becomes scarily competent.
Perhaps he is secretly training Penny and Brain to become the world's greatest detectives and crime fighters.
Gadget might actually be a robot built by Penny. She's obviously a genius and her first robot, Claw, went rogue so she created Gadget and Brain to help her fight Claw. She also uses Gadget as her official guardian so the courts don't put her in foster care. Claw must be a robot, since despite being a criminal mastermind bent on conquering the world, he never actually hurts anybody (See Laws of Robotics). The big question is did she make Gadget an idiot deliberately so he wouldn't turn on her or so he could function as a distraction while she and her robodog do all the real crimefighting.
Yet another is that Gadget is simply a robot made in the likeness of the real Inspector Gadget who went on to become Claw. Which would explain both his hatred of Gadget (for replacing him) and why he and his henchmen never harm Penny (his niece).
Merciless Omnicidal Maniac... or just an ambitious little guy who is in it For Science! and affection? Some of the flashbacks show him as being a loving little smeet, latching on to the cold and unfeeling robotic arm for love. The Irken lifestyle would have left him starved for that. Since it glorified conquest and conquerors as worthy of love and admiration, he set out to be one hoping he'll be loved for it. His fiercest rival Dib and he are forced into alliances so often that they're practically friends! Also, Zim could kill Dib easily; no one on that Crapsack World would notice Dib's absence or care enough to do anything if they did. It's worth noting that, in the episode GIR goes haywire, he goes out of his way to reprogramthe cop who discovers his base and alienness rather than killing him; by the end, he lets him go — into an ocean full of sharks, but that part was unintentional. In short, Zim is intellectually into the idea of destroying and conquering the Earth, but the heart he is not supposed to have is not in it. It's speculation, but if the series had continued after Zim realized that the Almighty Tallest hates him, then he would likely switch to the side of humans completely... or start gunning them down actively.
Though less common than either of the above, Gaz. Many choose to see her sympathetically, suggesting her overly-violent tendencies are the result of her father's neglect and that, despite her violence toward him, she truly loves her brother Dib on some level. Others think of her in less optimistic terms...
Even the Ensemble Dark Horse Tak is prone to this. Some see her as a total bitch; others put her on Woobie levels comparable to Dib. Nearly every character is subject to this.
GIR is normally seen as a loveable idiot who is too easily distracted to be much of a threat to anyone (at least intentionally). But there are moments in the series that suggest that he is less The Ditz and more a psychotic overlord in waiting. For reference, see "GIR Goes Crazy and Stuff," in which he's left alone and almost takes over the Earth by himself — and specifically the terrifying moment where we get to see the world through his eyes: A bunch of sausages grow hats and canes and say: "Dance with us, Gir. Dance with us into oblivion."
The Invader Zim fandom even has alternative interpretations for minor characters. Is Dwicky genuinely trying to help Dib, or is he a constantly smiling sadist who thinks Dib is crazy? Did Dwicky believe Dib and lie to his coworker, or did he think the kid was lying from the start? Is Gretchen a cute girl too shy to reveal her feelings for the class weirdo or a deranged stalker who lacks the social skills to talk to Dib? Is Paranormal Investigator Bill right in his views of the paranormal (which on this show isn't much of a stretch), or was he deliberately trying to keep the twelve year old kid he was stuck with away from danger? Is he competent? Is Professor Membrane a jerk more obsessed with work than anything else, or is he just trying to leave his kids a legacy (and riches) via his inventions to better than world? Honestly, fandom takes this trope and runs with it.
Skoodge usually seems pretty harmless, but he may be the most terrifying character in the show. Not only was he the first invader to conquer a planet, but it was the planet of the slaughtering rat people! Then he survives being shot out of a cannon, and (for a while, at least) survives being attacked by the hogulus, and lives for a substantial period of time without his PAK! Skoodge is either really lucky, or an adorable yet evil badass who can survive almost anything.
The kid in Dib's class with the head with two bits of red hair sticking out and said Dib accused him of being an alien in "Mysterious Mysteries". His head is the shape of the Martian from the episode where Zim finds out Mars is an abandoned battleship. Maybe Dib was on to something?
Is Beezy really such a nice guy? Sure, he's not actively evil like is father, but he's still a Lazy Bum who puts his sloth above everything else, and is quite a Poisonous Friend to Jimmy, especially when it comes to sharing him with Heloise. In season two it's noted that his entire plan in "My Best Friend is a Weavil" involved manipulating the feelings of a weavil (whome he bluntly has Fantastic Racism towards) and loves the events of "Panda-Monium" because he got laughs at Heloise's expense.
Does Lucius have any redeeming qualities? Does he care for Beezy on some level, or is he merely interested in turning him into a worthy successor? Does he care for Jez, or merely see her as a trophy girlfriend? He mentions that Samy is his best friend, does he care about him is his own, twisted way? Is he a Jerkass Woobie or just plain Jerkass?
Perhaps the animated Flash from Justice League acts as flippant and flirtatious and downright not serious as he does because he's fully aware that one day he'll run fast enough that he'll vanish into the Speedforce. He knows that his power will eventually kill him — though the speedforce seems like a neat place for his kind to end up, and he probably knows that, too. He's keeping the "every moment counts" mentality: no sense in wasting time being angsty — you might run out of time to laugh and have fun. "Divided We Fall" supports this.
Not sure if anyone noticed, but when Shayera told him to take her hand so she could pull him back... he didn't. Maybe he didn't want to.
Certainly, after Lex Luthor switches minds with him, we see what he could do if he wasn't incredibly careful in how he uses his power. His seeming carelessness, obnoxiousness, and immaturity might be how he lets off the steam of having to be so tightly controlled all the time.
The reason behind The Flash's antics is the focal point of "Flash and Substance." The episode strongly implies that the Flash acts like that for both civilians and other League members. Most of the other members are stoically serious; the Flash is capable of giving them necessary emotional relief. The people look up to him because they can relate to him. They find him genuinely fun to be around, contrary to Superman's constantly stressed "workaholic" nature or, worse, Batman's. Orion even makes use of the trope himself, realizing that it helps the Flash get through League stress as well.
The alternate Flash's death causes alt-Superman to kill Luthor, which causes the Justice League to become the Justice Lords. Hard evidence there.
Harder evidence: When Superman "dies," Wonder Woman was a second away from punching Toyman to death. FLASH was able to get her to back down.
Taking a look at Superman for a moment, in the JLU episode Kid Stuff where the four of them are changed into kids, Green Lantern briefly makes fun of Superman for not being able to see that Wonder Woman is infatuated with Batman (and maybe vice versa). Is Superman, one of the most powerful heroes in the League, really so hopelessly naive that he can't see how his teammates are hooking up, or is he just really respectful of his teammates privacy, to the point that he makes it a rule to not fixate on their personal lives (especially when he has his own hands full dealing with Lois Lane)?
Vandal Savage. His Heel-Face Turn in the Bad Future of "Hereafter", having had 30,000 years of solitude to regret his past actions, begs the very real question that Savage's villainy and attempts to take over the world might simply be because there is nothing left for him to occupy his endless existence with. Since he's been around for 25,000 years already, he's probably been pretty much everywhere, seen pretty much everything, and done pretty much everything else worth doing.
Disney's Kim Possible: Several of the lead characters of have multiple alternate interpretations. Much of this is a result of the show's Word of God professed "continuity by accident."
Shego is most often the Dark Action Girl to Kim's Action Girl (she's the page image for that article); but she can also be the Classy Cat-Burglar or (even better) the Dark Chick. These don't necessarily overlap in her Alt Interpretations, especially in Slash Fic, where she's the show's queen of Draco in Leather Pants. These interpretations probably come from her having the least developed background of any of the main characters.
Other characters, especially Kim's parents and her Arch-Enemy, Dr. Drakken, also have multiple wide-ranging interpretations depending on which fans of the show you ask.
Is Hank Hill really what the creators consider the Only Sane Man? It seems that he's almost permanently stuck in the 1950s, when women are at home and everyone was more patriotic and full of morals. Is it just a mental barrier to keep him moral, unlike his immoral "friends" and co-workers and his own family? Or could it be that he's slightly autistic and has more emotional attachment to objects and his pet then to people and has to put up with a crazy-ass father and wife and is preoccupied with things everyone considers "Manly" and is too insane to watch a magician perform because he doesn't like things that can't be explained instantly?
A different interpretation: He isn't stuck in the 1950's but he has a classic mental-block caused by the traumatic memories of his childhood. He became so used to being beaten down by Cotton in his youth for showing the slightest sign of weakness that he in essence built a mental fortress around himself, a sort of shelter. He is afraid of anything "new" or "modern" penetrating this mental fortress out of a subconscience fear of Cotton's retribution.
He could also be autistic and his Jerk Ass father didn't help at all. It's fully possible given the timeframe the show takes place, as well as Hank's age, that he could have been on the spectrum but nobody knew.
Did Cotton really kill fitty men? Ok, probably not, but did he even kill anyone? Or maybe his constant reminding everyone that he killed "fitty men" is just a way to cope with his massive PTSD and the fact that he got his shins blown off.
Also, is Cotton really just the Jerk Ass father who hates his son and only cares about the men he killed, or is he a kind soul who has been broken by seeing all his friends killed horribly, being forced to kill fifty men just as innocent as him, getting permanently crippled, developing a true romantic relationship with a Japanese nurse before being forced from her by the government that he already gave so much to, then being forced to return to a home which had nothing to give him except an impulsive wife who once accidentaly defected to China and the glory of a war which destroyed all he held dear?
Also, is Daffy a Greedy, cowardly Jerkass who sells out his friends to Elmer simply to save his own neck, or is he just like this because Bugs Bunny stole his act? He is three years older than Bugs and was originally the Screwball Trickster but then Bugs (who was described by the creators as 'Daffy Duck in a rabbit costume') came along and eventually took over those traits. With his act stolen he was forced to become the straightman for Bugs' jokes or the Buttmonkey who always got outsmarted, and is now forced to become second best to the person who was originally his Expy.
Bugs Bunny: I'm tellin ya, Daffy, I heard the Warner Brothers say that you were their best duck.
Daffy Duck: Flattered though I may be, flattened I will not, in order for you to get the laughs! It's all "woo-hoo, yuk yuk", and then "wham, bam, blam!"
Bugs Bunny: And your tail's on fire.
Daffy Duck: Exactly my point! I...
Bugs Bunny: No, I mean your tail's on fire.
[Daffy sees that his tail is on fire - he runs around trying to extinguish it - Bugs laughs]
Bugs Bunny: Daff, you're accident prone.
[Daffy finally puts out his tail]
Daffy Duck: [sadly] Oh, what am I talking to you for? All you have to do is munch on a carrot and people love you...
Some believe that this version of Lola Bunny either received brain damage from being hit on the head with a tennis ball in her fist appearance or the original's bizarro evil twin from a parallel universe.
The Magic School Bus: Ms. Frizzle could be seen as a character in the vein of Willy Wonka, using the field trips to find a sucessor (possibly to the Time Lord-like organization that gave her the bus and taught her how to timetravel). Since there's promotional material with Arnold by her side, she could see the most potential in him and wants to break him from his neuroses to train him. Other candidates could be Ralphie for his eccentricities & DA for her knowledge.
Another interpretation is that Ms. Frizzle is actually tweaked-out, and is slipping the kids drugs during school time; she introduces a topic, slips some acid into their lunch, so they can go on a field "trip" to learn about subjects firsthand. They always go to the bus because it's a safe place - she has them strap in and she explains to them what is happening as they go through the trip, guiding them. Invariably, something bad does happen, which is their trip taking a turn for the worse before Ms. Frizzle calms them down again.
Is she a naive, destructiveinnocent little girl? Or is she a depressed child who is trying to get over the death of her parents and who wishes for nothing more than to be loved? Or is she a sneaky, brilliant sadist who picks on Vendetta because she's a clumsy, foolish bully who wouldn't last a second if Charlotte wasn't screwing around for fun?
Maybe she's a depressed child trying to deny the deaths of her parents, so much that her grandmother played along?
The band members of Dethklok aren't just lazy Jerkass rockers who are only (barely) good at music and contract negotiations and who are ushering in some sort of endtimes by rocking so hard and employing shoddy help. They are a band of Eldritch Abominations who have taken human form to bring about Cthulhu-esque levels of revelry. Hence, everyone who hears them live tends to die horribly, and those fans who live to see a second show are insane afterward. They have little regard for normal people and no idea how to do mundane things like shop; this suggests that they aren't human.
Or alternately, people whose 'gifts' are at least as much psychic as musical and are being manipulated by their frighteningly competent manager who would be the real Eldritch Abomination. The effects of their music would tie into the psychic abilities, and the invincibility of the manager (see the season one finale) with his being an Eldritch Abomination.
Another possible interpretation: They're a weapon used (possibly unwittingly) to bring the End of the World as We Know It by methods near Slaaneshi. Music that changes peoples' behaviour, making them crazy enough to find pleasure in horrific pain? Check. Daemon summoning? Check — the troll could be a 40K Daemon without changing anything. They even bargain with the Devil! Pickles is so used to drugs that the daemon-possessed Totally Awesome Sweet Alabama Liquid Snake has no effect on him, consistent with Slaanesh-induced sense dulling. The amount of death they cause is comparable with that of unopposed 40K Chaos cults, and the descriptions of how they happen are nearly interchangeable. And so forth and on... They predate Slaanesh by about 15000 years — but time means nothing to the Warp.
Orel: Is he an eternal Cheerful Child that is the butt of abuse by his parents and almost everyone around him? Or is he a dangerously overeager little bastard whose abuses are a form of karmic justice for being a murderer, rapist, abuser, and perpetrator of other gross injustices?
In universe example, Orel is told that Judas can be seen as the hero of the bible because without him, all the other stuff would never have happened.
The New Batman Adventures episode "Legends of the Dark Knight" had four kids giving their own interpretations of Batman, from the Bill Finger/Bob Kane version to Frank Miller's version to Joel Shumacher's version to the Bruce Timm version, and one who thought he was a bat-like monster similar to Manbat.
This series in general portrayed Batman as more of a cold, detached sociopath than its predecessor, and did more to demonstrate the toxic aspects of his relationships with his sidekicks and teammates.
He doesn't lie to his mother or Candace; his Mom thinks he and Ferb are just playing make-believe whenever he tells her of their adventures.
Even in "The Lake Nose Monster". He just gave a very specific answer. It was something along the lines of "A ferocious man eating lake monster does not exist in Lake Nose", and then he said he couldn't prove if a nice monster lived there. Both of them were completely truthful since the monster was nice and he couldn't prove it existed. He could of just out right lied to them but he decided to be truthful.
Is Candace a control freak who wants to bust her brothers because she can't get away with the things her brothers do when she trys them or is she only trying to bust her brothers so they don't hurt themselves and end up in a hospital, brutally wounded from their inventions? Or both, and the latter is on a subconscious level.
Similarly, is Stacy on Candace's side and supporting in her wanting to bust Phineas and Ferb, or does she think Candace needs to branch out and not be so uptight, and getting sick of holding back on the offchance that she ever will?
Is Roger really a Goody-two-shoes as Heinz claims to be? The only scene we actually see without being a center of his evil scheme and/or on mayoral duties is setting up for the fall he didn't want to take, and not caring enough of the citizens to pay giant robot destruction insurance and used it as a coffee piece. And it won't be surprising considering how much crap Heniz already went through.
Did Doofenshmirtz-2 really turn evil because he lost that toy train? Or did he have a past so unbelievably traumatic that he blocked it out, and funnels all those negative emotions into the loss of his beloved childhood toy? Or was he a horrible person even as a kid and is just using the train as an excuse?
In regard to Pinky and the Brain ("one is a genius/the other's insane"), whether we should take the first line to refer to the Brain, or is the true genius Pinky for saving the world every single night? If Pinky is a genius, then by process of elimination, the Brain would be ... who are we kidding? He's trying to take over the world! He's insane!
Consider these three episodes:
Brain calculates that Pinky is the reason all his plans fail and tries to make Pinky smarter to help him take over the world. Pinky then shows Brain that every plan has some sort of flaw in it. Turns out, the initial calculation is flawed as well; the correct answer is that Brain is causing every plan to fail.
In another episode, Pinky's thought process is revealed. As it turns out, Pinky thinks logically and makes leaps between subjects quickly. His nonsense responses do make sense; but we never hear his thought process in any other episode, so they seem completely random to us.
Brain goes to a therapist who learns the root of Brain's desire to take over the world. Before becoming a lab rat, he lived with his family in a peach can. As he was captured by researchers, he glanced back at the can; its logo was the last thing he saw before getting caged. The logo? Planet Earth. He just wants to go home but tries to take over the world because he can't tell the difference.
Therefore, Brain is crazy with a poor grasp of reality; Pinky is the genius and just misunderstood.
Also, if we take "one is a genius/the other's insane" to apply to them respectively, notice that Pinky's name comes first.
Alternatively, is Pinky just a Bumbling Sidekick stupid enough to remain subservient to the Brain, or is he a walking embodiment of Undying Loyalty? Despite his dopey behaviour, he has occasionally shown a very lucid and observant amount of admiration for Brain and his positive traits, his Christmas List consists of nothing for himself, unable to think of anything he desires outside to make his best friend happy. He is outright self sacrificial at times as well, devoting all his free time without argument to help Brain's schemes and even attempting to donate not just his life but his eternal soul just so he could get what he wants. He even submits to the role of the dimwitted subordinate just to boost Brain's self esteem.
Mojo Jojo in Powerpuff Girls: A mortal enemy or a big brother having a bit of a (superpowered) sibling rivalry with the girls? Especially in the movie, his actions could be interpreted as a Xanatos Gambit: either the girls, who were hated and rejected by everyone at that point and had no direction or a real paternal figure, become beloved heroes (thus showing a Big Brother Instinct) or siblings of the new King Mojo.
In an in-universe example, Amy Rogers stated that "Him Diddle Riddle" would show that Bubbles was actually the smartest of the girls. In the segment where Him has the girls take their SAT tests, Buttercup scores a 25, Blossom a 10, and Bubbles—whose test card was configured to be a flower—scored 1025.
Shaggy being a marijuana smoker, based on his being portrayed as constantly hungry, usually shown wearing a dirty t-shirt and a scraggly beard, riding around in a psychedelically painted van, and having conversations with his dog. The Movie plays with this. An episode of Harvey Birdman also played with it, lampshading the theory when they get falsely arrested for being pot-smokers. Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back also plays with this: Jay and Silent Bob are picked up by the Scooby-Doo gang and turn them on to "Doobie Snacks."
The most popular interpretation for the other characters is that Fred and Daphne always run off together to have sex, and Velma is a lesbian. (Velma being a lesbian started in reference to Sheila James Kuehl, the actress who played Zelda Gilroy, a character from "Dobie Gillis" on whom Velma was based. Keuhl was the first openly gay person to be elected to the California Senate.)
Alternatively, Velma is straight. But she's traveling with a dog, a pothead, a lesbian, and a gay man (the last two acting as beards for each other).
Scrappy-Doo could be a sympathetic villain. In the cartoons, he idolized his Uncle Scooby; in the live action movie, he wanted to destroy humanity with a plague of monsters. Maybe he found out what a coward Scooby was and that his own parents didn't want him around. He may have a genetic disorder that kept him at midget canine status, which made him twisted when he grew up. The bloated ego in the movie could be his need for attention and affection.
Why does the gang stick together, and why is it named the Scooby Doo Detective Agency? Fred, for whatever reason (paranoia, misguided sense of justice, just wanting to impress Daphne), wants to solve crimes. Of course he has to take Daphne, she's the one he's trying to impress. He knows that Velma is both smart and into him, so he gets her to come along to give the operation some legitimacy. But that still doesn't explain Shaggy and Scooby - they rarely make an effort to contribute to the investigations, and often are a detriment to the team, especially considering their low morale. The answer is simple: Shaggy is a pot dealer, and he owns the van. That's why they never tell him to take his dog and leave: because without him, the whole operation falls apart.
On top of that, some speculate that Scooby can't really talk, and his vocalizations are all in Shaggy's head from eating too many Scooby Snax...which are really "special" brownies.
Heavily and played with thematically in the The Venture Bros. episode "¡Viva los Muertos!" Not only are the "Groovy Gang" re-characterized as several kinds of crazy, they're also tied to actual crazies, with Daphne renamed Patty, and drawn scripted to resemble Patty Hearst, and Shaggy/Sonny modeled on David Berkowitz, the serial killer known as the Son of Sam, and Scooby/Groovy on Berkowitz's neighbor's dog Harvey that Berkowitz claimed was possessed by an ancient demon and commanded him to commit murders.
Scooby-Doo has multiple animated incarnations and while the characterizations for the majority of the main cast are consistent, nobody's varies more than Fred's due to his original incarnation being Thegeneric Guy. In A Pup Named Scooby-Doo he is a conspiracy nut that believes in aliens and monsters, Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated has him as an almost insanely oblivious guy absolutely obsessed with complicated traps, the live action movies interpret him as a self-absorbed jerk whose leader status is purely self-appointed, and finally there's What's New, Scooby-Doo? where he's presented as a lovable idiot who bumbles his way through his leadership role.
Homer is either naturally smart but crippled mentally by a crayon in his brain, or victim to the Simpsons' "stupidity gene" that passes on the Y chromosome. But he couldn't have been that high functioning to think that was a good idea. Even so in the episode showing the Simpson gene, Homer's stupidity didn't kick in until two years later.
On the subject of Homer, is he a sweet, naive, loving but dense father or a abusive, alcoholic patriarch with a horrible temperment? He flits between the two extremes constantly.
Bart usually has what seems to be ADHD, but his intelligence varies from somewhat dumb to "genius-level rivaling Lisa when treated for ADHD." Meaning the Simpson gene may only be a strong version of ADHD.
Reinforced in a later episode where Bart "knows his history" when it comes to cruelty and torture...talk about hyperfocus.
In "Lisa's Sax" Bart's hatred for school seems to stem from his first day of school due to having his initial enthusiasm crushed by an uncaring teacher.
Maggie might be much more versatile and intelligent than the average infant: we get hints of it, such as orchestrating a Great Escape sort of plan to recover her pacifier from the Ayn Rand School for Tots, shooting someone trying to kill Homer, and making "E=MC2" out of building blocks.
Moe. Is he a socially inept Jerk with a Heart of Gold who just wants to be loved, or a hidden psychopath who can go postal any second? There is evidence for both interpretations.
Unlike the approachable fellow of the TV series who just happens to be the (reluctant at times) subordinate of a Corrupt Corporate Executive, the Smithers of the arcade game version is nearly just as big of a jerkass as his boss, and a jewel thief to boot, kidnapping a baby just because she turned the diamond he was stealing into her new pacifier. Could be a case of Characterization Marches On, as this game was made fairly early in the show's run.
Abe, a senile, rambling Cloud Cuckoolander or a disturbed Shell-Shocked Veteran who makes up outlandish stories to deal with his PTSD? After all, he did see heavy combat on the Western Front in WWII, even taking part in the D-Day landings.
Perhaps best answered with this quote:
Federal Agent: You stalling for time, or are you just senile? Abe: A little from Column A, a little from Column B.
Is Patty just a rotten bitch or is she bitter about her homosexuality? Likewise is her sister Selma just two-faced or a good person when away from Patty's influence?
An episode specific example - "Marge Be Not Proud". After Bart shoplifts, Marge behaves in a way that could be considered mental abuse and emotional blackmail. Rather than punishing him, she stops showing affection for him. She excludes him from family activities while obviously showing love for her other children and he's led to believe she's stopped loving him. And when he does a big gesture for her, she immediately showers him with affection again. So essentially a ten-year-old boy spends the episode afraid his mother has stopped loving him forever and he 'learns' he must do a big gesture to make it up to her.
On the other hand, Marge is extremely forgiving for what Bart has done over the previous six seasons (running away from home, beheading a statue, picking on his sister, cursing constantly, graphitti, vandalism, crank calling Austrailia and not waiting until the last minute to tell her and Homer that the Austrailian government is suing him, general troublemaker attitude). It could be that she's trying to teach Bart that there are limits to what she can forgive him for, especially that serious a crime of stealing (in both the lawful way and her devout christianity sense of it being a sin) and fears what will happen if he continues like this into his adolescence.
Some people see it as Communist propaganda. At the least, their Utopia has a few similarities with communism. They don't use money; they are nearly identical, nameless (identified only by job), and nearly sexless; and their primary enemy is a Franciscan friar lookalike who wants to turn them into gold (or eat them). One episode with an attempt to use money ended disastrously, and Brainy Smurf was tossed out of the village again.
They have also been seen as an allegory for the Ku Klux Klan, with the leader having a red pointy hat and being able to do magic (a reference to the Grand Wizards of KKK), all the others having white pointy hats, their all sometimes dancing around a big fire, the lone female a walking Aryan stereotype, and the villain looking like an "evil Jew."
The movie Slacker argues that the Smurfs are Apocalyptic Hindu propaganda: The goal is to get children used to the idea of people with blue skin so that they'll be comfortable with the blue-skinned Avatar of Vishnu who is due to incarnate in the near future. (The movie also argues that Scooby-Doo is capitalist propaganda: When the other characters need Scooby to do something, they bribe him with Scooby Snacks instead of appealing to his sense of social justice.)
Maybe they're fascists. They have the anti-intellectualism (Brainy) and anti-Semitism (Gargamel resembles a classic Jewish caricature, and is fixated on gold). Also, Fascists emphasize conformity and tend to be misogynistic; Smurfette's redemption comes through acceptance of traditional gender roles, not rejection of them. Although their 'smurfy' language sort of resembles doublespeak, so who knows?
Cartman's multiple mental illnesses and hints of bisexuality is also subject to this.
Is Cartman the wayhe is because he was spoiled rotten by his mother, thus completely depriving him of the discipline required to develop a moral compass, or because his lack of a father left him so traumatized and lonely growing up that he has since been lashing out at a world that he feels abandoned him?
Kyle, Stan and Kenny themselves. Are they really good boys, but with some Anti-Hero traits? Or they are Enfant Terribles and sociopaths Not So Different compared to Cartman? The fact that they still are Cartman friends after he crossed the Moral Event Horizon in "Scott Tenorman Must Die" or the infamous attempted genocide in "Coon & Friends" support this interpretation.
Especially Kyle. He can range between an up keeper of civility and the Only Sane Man to Cartman's diabolical behavior, or a hypocritical Knight Templar who hates Cartman passionately either way and isn't above bullying anyone on the chain lower than himself. It's implied in some episodes that, for all of Cartman's negative traits, the main factor in Kyle's contempt for him is still just being a Fat Bastard.
Branching from that, looking at episodes such as "Cartman's Silly Hate Crime 2000" and "Preschool", Cartman and Kyle's hatred of each other seems to run very deep and begun from a very early naive age. Did their own sources of contempt (Cartman's antisemitism and Kyle's outspoken disgust for fat people) end up conceived from the constant bullying they received from each other or the other way round? Add to that, who was the initial bully and started the feud?
Speedy Gonzales' cousin Slowpoke Rodriguez could be interpreted as a stoner. He has big baggy eyes, he talks in a slow manner, he sometimes snickers, and he constantly complains that he's hungry.
Is Mr. Krabs a mild villain who shows affection to his employees, loves his daughter, and is sympathetic all the time? Or is he a monster who abuses his employees, doesn't care about his daughter anymore, gets into massive amounts of financial related trouble because of his greed, and relentlessly tortures his arch rival Plankton For the Evulz?
Is Spongebob a sweet, clueless and innocent Man Child, a Stepford Smiler hiding a depressed and disturbed personality, or a sociopath using a childish facade to torment others? Or all of the above at the same time?
Is Gary the loyal pet of Spongebob or is he a brat that uses his owner to get what he wants? Most of the episodes centered around him usually have Spongebob go through hell for him and his special episode started with him leaving because Spongebob forgot to feed him once and he yelled at Gary for jumping on his face.
"Dumped" depicts Gary supposedly favoring Patrick over Spongebob, taking to the former's abode, before it's revealed he was just after a piece of chocolate Patrick was carrying. Under the implication he is perfectly sentient and intelligent, he abandoned Spongebob and nonchalantly let him have a borderline nervous breakdown from rejection for the sake of a piece of candy.
Does he just want to be friends with Squidward or does he have a legitimate crush on him?
Some fans speculate that Patrick (at least post-Flanderization) just acts like an idiot so he can get away with things.
Superjail! has this from both the creators itself and its fans:
Does the Warden truly care about rehabilitating inmates, or is he just a crazy megalomaniac that's only in it for the thrill and pleasure of making others suffer? The creators initially stated the latter interpretation (and that he was more of an enthusiast than a real warden), but then later admitted that either could be the case. Christy Karacas also stated that he had no clue or solid canon on the Warden's sexuality, stating that sometimes he comes off as more asexual or "confused" over the concept of sex, while other times he definitely has feelings for women.
To add to that, fans debate if Warden's feelings for Alice are genuinely heartfelt, or if he's just a desperate pervert lusting after her and having a complex for controlling women. Then there's the debate over whether he secretly might like The Mistress, or if he's too clueless and childish to pursue her.
Did Alice truly feel a gender identity crisis that lead her to transition, or did she only start simply because she didn't want to be seen as a gay man? The flashback in "Jailbot 2.0" seemed to cause debate. Season 3 seems to run with the idea of Alice having a more feminine identity before her first guard job (although as many things in the show are subject to Rule of Funny, expect there to be multiple choices).
Jared's feelings for the Warden are another subject of interpretation, spurred on by the disturbing sequence in "Dream Machine" where he dreams of being the boss and making out with the Warden (who's his assistant in the dream). Is it a repressed crush, or simply a power fantasy gone mad? Fans may never truly know.
Then there's the matter of his distant girlfriend Charise, and if she's really as sweet and innocent as she appears to be. Would she be the solution to Jared's problems and be able to "fix" him? Is she actually as broken and issue-laden as he is, and just puts on an innocent appearance to try to save her own sanity? And then some wonder if she may be only serving to manipulate him for her own interests (whether her intentions are helpful or something darker).
Are the Twins completely irredeemable and sociopathic, more along the lines of gray-area characters, or do they simply not grasp humans' morality?. There's also the matter if their callous attitude is a defense mechanism brought on by being abused by their family and only really having each other to count on, if it's due to them viewing Earth people as mere playthings for their enjoyment, or both options and then some. To add to that, if they can be seen as sympathetic at ALL or if they're simply just narcissistic, spoiled brats who don't deserve anyone's pity.
Some think of the Triplets as always being sadistic bullies that were jealous of and hated their new siblings from birth (seeing them as an obstacle), or that their father helped manipulate them into being crueler and fed their superiority complex so that his children would always be feuding. That, and questioning over whether the Twins were truly innocent bullied children, or if they did something to deserve the punishment in their planet's eyes.
Does the Mistress secretly like the Warden deep down and is simply playing hard to get to test him? Or is she more concerned with power and instead sees him as an obstacle and challenge to conquer? Tread carefully, certain fans in these debates can get very heated on this matter (especially when shipping comes into play or over what happened in "Stingstress"). There's also ongoing debate on whether she's the harsher and cruel prison warden compared to Warden (whose own Jerkass tendencies get overlooked), or if she's a firm but fair ruler and that the Warden is an abusive monster (although proponents of this side also ignore that she abuses Charise just as much).
Livewire in Superman: The Animated Series. Now, I guess the main view is that she's a jerk who kept being a jerk and she has no right to be angry with Superman, having "saved her life after all." However, I forward something else: Her last facial expression conveys the emotional expression of someone anticipating, with glee, a lethal event. And not only did Superman steal that from her, he ultimately robbed her of her biological humanity. And I'd say that mostly justifies her actions in her first two appearances.
If she was too stupid or too hung up on her own ego to listen to the people who warned her about the storm then she has no one to blame but herself. And considering that she was a rude, belligerent bitch to just about everyone, even when she wasn't being a bigot towards Superman, you really can't feel that bad for her, as she's definitely more of an Asshole Victim of her own arrogance.
Tweety, of Warner Brothers' Sylvester and Tweety or, at least, the Sylvester and Tweety Mysteries. Innocent victim of a homicidal cat, or equally homicidal sadist who lives to torment the cat in question? He has been known to get Sylvester seriously hurt or in trouble even without the usual provocation of Sylvester trying to eat him, apparently for his own sick amusement.
Likewise, Sylvester has often been shown to be sympathetic, even heroic; he has gone so far as to save Tweety's life a couple of times when his conscience got the better of him. The only reason he wants to kill Tweety is to satisfy his biological imperative to eat. Sylvester's no paragon of virtue, but which one of these two is more villainous?
There treatment of each other as a whole is up for debate. Is Rebecca an abusive Bad Boss that exploits her ownership of the Sea Duck to force labour from Baloo or is she an Extreme Doormat that constantly grants employment and a salary for her incompetant Jerk Ass employee? Similarly is Baloo working for Rebecca solely to buy back "his baby" and bail outta there or is he actually a provider and bodyguard for his new surrogate family that is merely holding onto said vow out of pride?
Leonardo of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Is he a bossy teacher's pet and Jerk Ass control freak, or a sympathetic older brother figure burdened with the responsibility of his family's safety? The answer often seems to depend on whether Raphael is a person's favorite Turtle.
Terra: Some fans see her as a wonderful person who is constantly misunderstood and persecuted (often times they are also Beast Boy/Terra shippers), or as a horrible bitch who betrayed the Titans and deserved what she got at the end of Season 2. (usually Beast Boy/Raven shippers.) Few people realize what she was actually meant to be: a Broken Bird and Anti-Villain with complicated motives and very deep emotional issues. So she's a normal 15-year-old girl. Albeit one with geokinetic powers.
There are people who believe that Slade is really Batman, secretly testing Robin in season 1 and then secretly helping the group against Trigon through the rest of the series. The only contradiction is his treatment of Terra in season 2... unless you think that she was on it and in reward she got fake death, depowering and memory wipe, so she can have a normal life.
Jerry the mouse has the same character ambivalence to Tweety early on, but he seemed to mellow out in the late 1950s and stopped being a Jerkass.
Many Jerry fans see Tom as a bully, if Jerry so much as walks outside his mousehole Tom will catch him in his deadly paws. We could see him in a different perspective, as the poor mistreated pet who's only doing what his owner told (and kicked and threatened) him to (even if he still sometimes enjoys his job a bit too much). Or, Jerry could be considered a criminal, stealing cheese and living in a house which he never paid the bills for. And Tom works like a policeman/law enforecer who can't seem to catch Jerry.
Chris McLean: Does he put the contestants in danger merely as an act because mortal danger equals high ratings? Or is he really that sadistic from day one? Or did it start as an act, then he became more sadistic the longer he hosted the show?
Chef Hatchet: A guy that's just going along with whatever the hell Chris is up to and is the Only Sane Man? As working at a prision and being a drill-sergeant mean he does like what Chris is doing to the teens? Do either one have a crush on the other?
Ezekiel: A sheltered and naive kid that just didn't know any better and got the shaft? Or is he a sexist, rude, annoying, money-hungry gollum that deserved falling into that volcano?
Justin: A narcissisticjerkass from the get-go, or was he genuinely a nice person at first and Took a Level in Jerkass after Heather manipulated the other Gophers into voting him off? Hard to say, though many fanfiction writers do seem to love exploring the latter interpretation.
Katie and Sadie: Cute and funny characters? Do either of them have deep Hidden Depths? Or are they just annoying, one-note characters who rightfully deserve the little amount of screentime they've gotten?
Lindsay: Is she really as stupid as she lets on? Or is she actually so smart, she acts like The Ditz to deceive the others?
Alejandro: A Jerk Ass Woobie type of guy who just wants to beat his brother at something for once in his life? Or just is he just a douche?
Sierra. Who is Sierra? a Loony Fan, with a stalker crush on Cody and she was devastated when Cody voted her off and insulted her, and gets a good song in the next episode, only to reveal that she was faking to get Cody's attention. Is she a mere stalker or a Manipulative Bitch that would do anything to stay with Cody, even crossing certain lines?
Rampage of Transformers: Beast Wars. Is he a twisted, sinister monster, or a tortured, tormented misfit? "Both" is an option, but between the other two options, there was a voice for each... and there still will be if you bring up the topic in the right place.
Another of the more noteworthy ones is Ratbat. He's a voiceless servant to Soundwave in the original series, but he was Decepticon leader for a time in the original comics. Later continuities have tried to meld both interpretations for one backstory.
DR. SMOOV has created a video made from scenes from the G1 cartoon that reinterprets Shockwave as a comically poor marksman and buffoon who was left on Cybertron because Megatron wanted him out of the way.
DR. SMOOV's Transformers videos have a lot of this. Optimus Prime is lazy, Wheeljack is an amoral Jerkass, Red Alert is crazy and The Load, Chip is the Butt Monkey, and more.
Megatron in various continuities gets this one also: Is he a freedom fighter trying to raise his fellow second-class citizen Decepticons up against the oppressive Autobot regime, or is he a tyrannical dictator whose rule will spell ruin for all of Cybertron and whose actions are why the Autobots come down so hard on his people to begin with? (Guess which one tends to be canon.)
Is Grimlock really stupid? Or does he just pretend to be stupid to throw his enemies off guard? Another interpretation is that Grimlock is quite intelligent but is unable to speak properly due to a malfunction in his speech processor, giving him a variant of Broca's aphasia.
The idea of Megatron-as-freedom-fighter has the most support in Transformers Animated, in which the Decepticons have lost the war and are a scattered, oppressed minority. We see only a handful of his minions; the majority of these are dead loyal, dislike the Autobots for whatever reason, or are Starscream. The Autobot Elite Guard, on the other hand, has a petty lying egomaniac as one of its most trusted members; and Ultra Magnus seems more interested in keeping the peace than doing what's right. While the protagonist Autobots aren't bad guys, as a faction the Decepticons seem to come out more sympathetic, even though they are more warlike and power-hungry as individuals.
There have been times where Megatron truly seemed to show concern for his underlings.
Sentinel Prime suffered severe psychological damage in the incident where Elita-1 was lost. Since then, rabid fear of organics and guilt over leaving Elita-1 to die have been gnawing away at his neural nets, turning him into a paranoid wreck who's convinced he's the Only Sane Man. Or just some self-centered jerk who just won't take responsibilities for his actions. A slight riff on the former: Sentinel and Elita-One were romantically involved—you see his arm around her waist and he puts in every effort he can to protect her, even covering her and Optimus’ retreat. When she fell to her “death,” he’s willing to throw himself into a damn inferno to save her. Yeah, he took her death pretty hard, especially since his and Optimus’ rule-breaking (going to that off-limits planet) caused Elita's death. Now, in the present, he’s convinced that rule-breaking will always cause heartbreak. That’s why he’s so obsessed with regulations and order, to keep others from suffering that same loss. He wants to do good in that regard, but he does need a little guidance; after you realize that, it’s hard to hate him. Alternate Character Interpretation, indeed.
Invoked with Blackarachnia's last scene. Waspinator was destabilizing due to the Transwarp energy she infused him with, and was close to exploding. Blackarachnia encased both herself and him in web, lessening the explosion. Optimus says she did that to save them, sacrificing himself, Sentinel says she did it to harness the energy and teleport out, sacrificing Wasp.
Tankor in Beast Machines. The writers intended him to have chosen evil of his own free will after having been twisted by his time under Megatron's control. A popular fan theory is that he wasn't evil — his actions were caused by input from his awakened spark being filtered through a shell programme. Both interpretations fit what we see on the screen. (Given that, upon his death, he seemed genuinely repentant, the Shell Program makes a lot of sense.)
Was Megatron just pretending that Savage/Noble was a wild animal driven purely by instinct, or was he really like that and useful?
TRON: Uprising has very complex characters all working at cross-purposes to each other, even when they're on the same side. None of them are cut and dried.
Paige: loyal second-in-command whose traumatic past causes her to turn a blind eye toward Tesler's viciousness and instability because she believes his way is the only way to save the Grid, or a seriously deluded young woman who only serves a man she knows to be a horrible person who doesn't care about his underlings like he does for her and doesn't see the flaws in his "rescue" of her from the Isos? Was she really trying to kill the Renegade all those times or was she holding back because she subconsciously recognizes he's the only one protecting the programs Of Argon from Tesler and Pavel's excesses? Or maybe she realized that Beck was the Renegade and just couldn't bring herself to kill him, either for personal reasons or because she believed she could convince him to support the occupation, as he would be more useful joining willingly than as a rectified drone.
Tesler: just what is his motivations? He's definitely brutal and power-hungry, yet he cares for Paige in a way that he doesn't seem to care about anyone else. Other than her fighting skills there doesn't seem to be anything else about her and there's more of a father-daughter dynamic than anything romantic. Is he serving Clu out of My Country, Right or Wrong? Is he a Well-Intentioned Extremist who believes Clu is doing the right thing? Is he trying to amass a power base for himself, independent of Clu?
Cyrus: just why did he go from saving Tron's life to wanting to destroy the whole Grid? Again, there's so little revealed about him it's only possible to speculate. Did the Tron Lines on his body have something to do with it?
The Venture Bros. - The sheer jackassery of Rusty Venture has caused some people to believe he is a Villain Protagonist. Dr. Killinger believed this as well (or did he?) and tried to help him become an Evil Scientist. The fact that the episode in question itself ends with Rusty, while rejecting Killinger, earnestly asking Brock about whether or not he's a bad guy (and Brock's hesitation to respond) lampshades this.
Fans divided on the Bloom/Riven pairing often cite the season 1 Mother's Day episode as a make-it-or-break-it for the couple. Either Bloom was flirting (badly) and Riven stormed off because he hit on her, she "rejected" him, and his pride was hurt; OR Riven was being a Jerkass for the sake of being a Jerkass, and Bloom told him flat-out to screw off.
In Winx Club, while at first it seemed like Lucy was just being a bitch to Mirta for no real reason, it was later revealed (or further explained, depending on which version you watched) that Mirta was extremely timid, so much so that she almost wasn't accepted into Cloud Tower. Once you know that, you could argue that she was actually trying to toughen Mirta up or make her mad enough to start standing up for herself, instead of just abusing her because she was a shy doormat.
Sympathetic anti-hero trying to live her own life despite being raised as a weapon, or mentally ill mutant held back for the good of the general public? The answer depends on the fan, but her mood whiplash and the randomly placed flashbacks in her premiere episode may be evidence that she isn't stable enough to function outside the military. Even as a child, when they tried to socialize her, she would end up breaking things and having to be forcibly removed from the area. Perhaps HYDRA's holding her prisoner was a good thing.
Her instability could very likely be a result of HYDRA's treatment of her for her entire life (as a weapon, that is). Attempts to bring her outdoors were clearly more about making her blend in with society that genuinely trying to socialise her. To further this point, the doctor who gave Wolverine this information in X-23's first appearance seemed to lean towards this point and felt terrible about the way HYDRA treated her; and their attempts to recapture her in her second appearance. Add Wolverine's disgust with their treatment of her, and the episode largely implies that if she'd been raised as a normal child she would be more stable (her existence was about creating a weapon based on Weapon X, so ...)
Lance: did he really have a heroic side, or was it just a trick to get Kitty to like him? Can it be both in the end, with Lance starting to do good things just to get Kitty into liking him and then keeping up just because he was in the mood? And if it's either the first or both, just how heroic can he be: sympathetic Anti-Villain, hard-ass Anti-Hero, prospect Nineties Anti-Hero, or something else whatsoever?
The Brotherhood as a whole, Are they Ineffectual villains who do try to be bad but are easily outmatched, or are they missunderstood misfits being targetted by the X-Men.
Scott: was he just trying to be a responsible leader who let his rivalry with Lance get the better of him sometimes, or was he unneedingly hostile to him? We also have his relationships with Jean and Rogue to consider...
Were the New Recruits complete idiots who crossed into Too Dumb to Live, or just inexperienced and excited at the prospect of being mutants that they got ahead of themselves a few times?
More specifically, Bobby/Iceman. Did he truly learn his lesson and become a good asset to the X-Men/New Mutants, or were his Too Dumb to Live credential just swept under the rug?
Was Spyke an asshole who was Easily Forgiven only for being a newbie and Storm's relative, or just an antihero as well as too young and constrained to do it right?
Was Rogue really a sympathetic and lost young girl and in dire need of help, or was she just a self centered whiner who only paid attention to her own problems?
Did Mystique really try to help her stepdaughter, or was it just her way of emotionally manipulating her to get more information easier? And what about her and her biological son Kurt...?
All of Magneto's actions with Wanda. Given how powerful Wanda is, her lack of control is indeed something to fear. Having Mastermind Mind Rape her, since he did try to resolve things the old fashioned way beforehand.
At least one Yin Yang Yo fanfic has described Ultimoose as a notorious womanizer. Nothing in the show seemed to directly contradict this, until the Series Finale, when it's revealed that Ultimoose does not only have an inflatable girlfriend, but a whole inflatable family.