When a series starts out, the characters usually don't have firmly established personalities since the writers are just getting a feel for them. Time goes on, more and more episodes are produced, and the characters become better defined with their own set of personality and behavioral quirks. Or maybe their early personality gradually gave way to something very different due to Character Development and/or Flanderization. Whatever the case may be, though, their early incarnations are forgotten about as people look at the firmly established characterization.
So on The Alice and Bob Show, the writers didn't originally plan for Bob to be a cereal addict. But somehow that trait caught on as part of his character, and later seasons have him suffer a nervous breakdown when he runs out of cereal and can't get to the store. Thus it is quite disconcerting to watch an episode from Season One where the gang is ordering breakfast and Bob decides on pancakes rather than his beloved cereal.
A form of Continuity Drift. Compare the Out-of-Character Moment and Depending on the Writer, or Flanderization where a single trait gets largely exaggerated until it's all the character is known for. If this happens with a work as a whole, it's a case of Early Installment Weirdness.
See also Character Check, when the writers abruptly remember that the character started out as different, and give him a few scenes where he acts like he used to, if only temporarily.
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Grimace in the McDonald's commercials started off as a more villainous character (the "Evil Grimace", as in a sinister smile) back when McDonaldland was first created in the 1970s, often stealing people's food which Ronald had to get back. The Hamburglar would eventually take over as the villain, and Grimace slowly evolved into the lovable oaf we know today.
Anime and Manga
In early Ranma ½ Kasumi is a largely typical but slightly snarkier Yamato Nadeshiko rather than the over-the-top parody example she would later become, and Nabiki is a normal teenage girl and it is even commented on that she is boy crazy before her misanthropic Money Fetish takes over.
Futaba-kun Change! has a reverse Nabiki example with Negiri, she starts off as a out and out Barnum with a serious Money Fetish who is quite willing to risk burning to death in a blazing building for a cheap deal but quickly changes into a pretty nice (although still financially shrewd), helpful, and friendly character.
For most of Fushigi Yuugi, Nuriko is a brave, funny and extremely likeable warrior. So it's really strange to look back at the early episodes where he acted like a psychotic, possessive yandere about Hotohori, even going so far as to nearly drown his rival Miaka. And that's not even getting into the Suddenly Sexuality situation later in the series...
When he was first introduced, Nuriko had been living in the imperial harem, surrounded by women all competing with him and each other for the Emperor's attention. It's easy to imagine that cattiness is just a way of life. Once he gets out in the real world with some real friends, though, he mellows out.
Naruto has a minor one regarding Rock Lee. His first appearances, hes clearly crushing on Sakura as he attempts to ask her out and admits his feelings towards her. This plotline then fades into obscurity afterwards with only reappearances in Filler episodes. Most fans however believe that Rock Lee got over his crush overtime, even if it was never truly explained in the manga.
The 1st Hokage. From his reputation and appearance the 1st time Orochimaru revives him, he seems like a stoic, serious warrior. When he is later revived (along with the 2nd-4th Hokages), it's revealed that Oro had been suppressing his personality and he's actually a rather jovial, enthusiastic, even somewhat goofy guy akin to an older Naruto.
The Kyuubi/ Kurama of all things, as of recent has become a Brilliant, but Lazy, TsundereTroll, which is jarring to when he was as monstrous in personality as he was in appearance, trying to leading Naruto down the Despair Event Horizon in order to one day be set free to cause more chaos.
Some could cite this as the cause of Mayuri Kurotsuchi's transformation between his first and second appearances from an evil Mad Scientist to more of a Bunny-Ears LawyerJerk Ass. Still not a nice person, but still rather jarring to those that had come to think of him as "pure evil" back in the Soul Society arc
When we first met Kon he was a overly interested in girls but was also willing to risk his life for several children and made it clear he was absolutely against killing. This quickly got turned into an obsession with women and practically a guarantee that he'll be tossed around a room whenever he appears.
Some of the main cast go through this, Ichigo, the borderline Sociopathic Hero who'd tear out a Hollow's tongue before his benevolence of being ridiculously merciful and Rukia is less prone to snarkness than she was earlier in the series.
Lina Inverse is known for having a Hair-Trigger Temper, insulting others, and a penchant for Greed. If one goes back to the first anime season (or reads the novels for that matter), they would be surprised that Lina's temper is no where near as short as it had become, that she was something of a businesswoman (as opposed to resorting to bribery), and showed signs of sarcasm and sharp wit.
Although Ash is quite clearly either Asexual or a Chaste Hero in most later seasons, in the early Kanto season, during one of the episodes, Ash had a small crush on a girl and found her attractive....until she began talking down to him, after which his interest faded.
Ash pretty much goes through a complete character re-haul when the Unova series comes around. He was portrayed as stupid newbie in the Original series, but gained a sense of maturity throughout the Advanced and Diamond and Pearl series'. Once Best Wishes started up however, the maturity is dropped, and he's suddenly a complete idiot again on the level of his original series incarnation.
Brock liking the girl Ash has a crush on; making it the only time he likes a girl younger than him.
In the first few episodes of Best Wishes, Iris was seen to be very extreme and rude. But this would prove very grating if continued, thus after Cilan joined up, she suddenly becomes rather behaved, and her wild tendencies were suppressed to focus on the humorous Small Name, Big Ego/Cloud Cuckoo Lander aspects of her personality.
Ash's main rival Trip has also changed drastically from his first two and a half appearances. He was at first a overconfidenttrainerwho talked down on Ash and his region but mellowed out halfway through his third appearance because of a smackdown that Burgh gave him. Appearances after that have him very quietand distant and more annoyed at Ash for his crazy antics (who would blame him?), but hasn't tried to actively antagonize Ash or talk bad about his region since. Some people (mainly Paul's fans) refuse to see the change and only comment that he's just a plain Jerkass like in his first two and a half appearances.
Due to their act being postponed for a while, they're at a middle point. They're menacing but not quite as before, having a few of their comedic aspects back, mainly their over-inflated arrogance. The recent episodes in Japan seem to be setting them back up to their initial competance though...
In the earliest episodes Meowth acted very cat-like, walked with a catlike gait when on two legs, and sometimes walked on four legs. In the English dub, he also had a more catlike voice before switching actors and ended his sentences with a Verbal Tic (he uses one in Japan, but I suppose it didn't translate well).
Jasmine was originally more like her game counterpart - meek and quiet - but by her second appearance she became quite headstrong and confident.
Subtle, but Green (Blue in the US version) from Pokémon Special changed in personality early on. Originally he was arrogant and aggressive like his game counterpart, though after an appearance or two he mellowed down into more of The Stoic.
In Urusei Yatsura, Ataru didn't start out hated by all girls and Shinobu, Benten, and a one-shot named Oniko showed some attraction to him.
Oyuki also expressed interest in Ataru when she first appeared and seemed to hate him less afterward. Ataru, while still very much a pervert, was less stupid and a bit more on the cynical side in early Urusei Yatsura, more Book Dumb than just dumb.
Shinobu's fiery temper and super-strength were not very significant in early Urusei Yatsura chapters, while the anime changed these appearances to bring her up to date with her later characterization.
In his first appearance, Sir Jeremiah Gottwald was portrayed very negatively as an incompetentracist who was easily outwitted by Zero/Lelouch and was generally an unpleasant person. By his next appearance, however, he's managed to Take A Level In Badass and gain a sympathetic backstory as an imperial bodyguard who blames himself for Marianne's death. Moreover, his prior dislike of the Elevens is explained as being due to the mistaken belief that they had murdered Lelouch.He then proceeds to make a Heel Face Turn, get Ship Teased with the series' resident Ninja Maid and ends up as one of the few characters to receive an unambiguously happy ending.
The rest of Britannia to a lesser extent. In the first season Britannia was completely ruthless and would kill people at the drop of a hat. During the second season this was toned down severely in particular with Cornelia. Presumably this was because the ending would make even less sense than it already did if Britannia was kept the same, and that its previous portrayal made Lelouch seem too justified in all his actions against it, which counters the gray morality he's meant to have (his father and the main ones in charge naturally have to be evil, but to have the whole nation as such is rather ridiculous.)
In the first season, Schneizel looks aghast and horrified when he sees his sister committing mass murder and attempted genocide. In the second season, Schneizel himself does things far, far worse without ever showing a twinge of regret or disgust. Unless something happened to make him much colder during the Time Skip, those depictions don't really mesh well.
Rin of Yes! Precure 5 was originally supposed to be a shopaholic despite her tomboyish personality. This was completely phased out. She does, however, retain the jewelry design dream that goes against the same stereotype.
Char Aznable: In most of Mobile Suit Gundam, he desires vengeance against the Zabi family, coupled with a Zeonic victory in the war, because of the memory of his father, Zeon Deikun. However, he never seems to take his dad's ideology too seriously. The experienced Gundam lover will search the original series in vain for Char's trademark ideology: that human life on the Earth is parasitic and an abomination to our holy mother, and that the Earth should be rendered uninhabitable to force people into space and further evolution into Newtypes. Almost from the start of Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam, Char begins preaching this ideology of his dad's like he's believed it all his life.
Well, seven years do pass between MSG and Zeta, during which Char would not longer be able to live his life solely for the purpose of taking vengeance on the Zabi family. It's not that odd that he'd turn his attention more to his father's philosophical goals in this time. Still probably an example of this trope, but justified a bit by the fact that Char accomplished his big goal in MSG and then had seven years to broaden his perspective.
Mobile Suit Gundam Wing's Heero Yuy started out the series as a guy who would laugh like a maniac when shooting down his enemies, and was also suggested to be some kind of superhuman. All of this was quietly forgotten after a few episodes, and Heero switches to The StoicHitman with a Heart who is highly trained and tough, yes, but to much more believable levels.
The laughing while slaughtering enemies comes off as even more unusual when you get to Mobile Suit Gundam Wing Endless Waltz and see his accidentally killing a little girl and how it drove him to attempt suicide in pennance, as well as his overall war weariness that leads him to declare, in his last line in the movie, "I don't have to kill anymore. I...don't want to..."
While a lot of the changes were planned well before the first manga episode was published, to ease into the intended story, the author's notes show some characters were significantly altered during the planning process. While Evangeline was always intended to become Negi's teacher, she wasn't originally a vampire or older than Negi - just a trained magic-using assassin with a family grudge. Evidently she got carried along with the scope of the plot.
Although the cover story focusing on him shows this was a gradual change; at first, Hatchan is very quick to abandon Camie in exchange for a map leading to a Takoyaki recipe.
Similarly, Ace was introduced as being polite and cheerful, even when facing off against Marines, and to an extent, Blackbeard. The Impel Down and Marineford arcs, as well as Luffy's flashback on the two meeting each other paint him as having picked fights with people who spoke ill of his father, Roger and questioning the value of his life, which would potentially suggest that the way he was shown acting before was a facade.
His hotheaded nature was foreshadowed during his cover story, when he blows his cover in a Marine base by punching out a Marine who talked smack about Whitebeard.
Considering his legendary ability to get lost, it's a little odd during the Captain Kuro arc that Luffy's the one who gets lost on the way to the battle, while Zoro's only delayed by a slippery hill. It's even more odd in an earlier arc, where the anime adds a joke where he points Luffy in the right direction to charge in. Let that sink in: Zoro is telling someone else they're going the wrong way.
Rurouni Kenshin's Hajime Saito is well known as the cold, sarcastic anti-hero who views himself as a (very sharp) instrument of justice. But when he first arrives on the scene he's portrayed as a blade-licking psychopath who can barely keep his murderous urges under control.
When Vegeta from Dragon Ball Z was first introduced, he was a calculating, cold blooded killer who never emoted beyond a Psychotic Smirk and was perfectly willing to sit on the sidelines and let his underlings do all the fighting. Reconciling the overly proud, overly intense, BerserkerBlood Knight who curses like a truck driver and is always ready to fly off the handle for one reason or another that we see later on with that earlier version is a bit difficult.
One could argue that Vegeta's lack of emotion and willingness to sit on the sidelines came from his confidence that he was the strongest fighter in the universe (except Freeza). Notice that once Goku arrived Vegeta began freaking out ("IT'S OVER 9000!") due to the possibility that Goku was on his level.
Future Trunks went from a confident Smug Smiler in the very first episode/chapter to prominently feature him to the deadly serious and occasionally awkward Nice Guy he was better known for being for the rest of the series.
Early on in Mitsudomoe, Futaba is just as resentful of her father as her other two sisters. Later chapters show that she's the only one who will openly say that she loves her dad and means it, perhaps too strongly. The anime actually brought Futaba's first onscreen moment with her father in line with her later characterization.
For a good while in Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple, Kenichi's masters were eccentric men (and one woman) who often causally talked about teaching Kenichi various lethal techniques and easily suggesting that he just slaughter his opponents. Then, just before Yami entered the picture, Kenichi's masters suddenly switched to Martial Pacifist experts in Katsujin Ken, just so that they could have an ideological divide that would set them apart from the future bad guys. Right from the very start, Kenichi himself had honorable intentions to learn martial arts, and never considered to or wished to use it for lethal purposes, so the characterization his masters were given to set them apart from the antagonists wasn't a big deal.
Ghost in the Shell's Major Motoko Kusanagi has changed significantly over time; in the early run of Shirow Masamune's graphic novel, she was professional but prone to violent anger, greed, and laziness (when it's funny), but as the series got more serious, became more introspective and solemn. In Oshii's film, she's an independent, solipsist Emotionless Girl, and Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex balances between the two with a stone-faced stoic professional who has occasional bouts of emotion or poignant introspection. All three versions each take place in an Alternate Universe though, so there's nothing saying that her characterization had to reflect upon her previous incarnations over time.
Batou goes through a similar treatment over the various versions. In the manga, he is often used as a Butt Monkey of sorts when the series exposits various details about the world it takes place in- mainly in regards to how prosthetic bodies work- but he also had his own sense of humor, not above making a wise-crack here or then, even in the middle of combat. He keeps this for the most part, even when the story turns serious. His relationship with Motoko pretty much stays as a purely platonic friendship. The movies turn him totally straight-laced serious and professional with his career, though he still shows concern for Motoko's well-being, which becomes a form of Unrequited Love towards her, and itself causing him to lose focus on his job in the 2nd movie because Motoko had pretty much disappeared from his life. Stand Alone Complex balance out the two. Batou still has his sense of humor, but he stays completely focused on his job. His humor is toned down a bit over the course of the first season. He becomes a bit more jaded after what happened with his personal hero, the Tachikomas, and the importance of the plot. The dire seriousness of the plot in the 2nd season pretty much forces him to fore-go it altogether. His Unrequited Love towards Motoko also becomes far more pronounced, but Motoko is aware of it, and shows many signs that she does appreciate it.
Crayon Shin Chan: Nene used to be scared of her mom when she vented her anger punching her plush bunny, prompting Nene's Catch Phrase "That's not my usual mom!". Not that you would imagine now she does the exact same, though at least this was given a plot reason instead of randomly changing. Also, for some reason Nene's mom punched a teddy bear at first, instead of her iconic Happiness Bunny mentioned earlier.
Fridge Brilliance: As revealed late in the series, in order to stop Zorc the first time around, Yami Yugi/The Pharaoh was forced to seal both of their souls inside the Millennium Puzzle. Considering that would mean a bit of it was inside as well whose to say this didn't wind up influencing Yami Yugi's personality into something a bit more darker than he once was until regular Yugi was able to reawaken the more noble side of him?
Initially the villains would be assholes who just happened to act mean spirited to the heroes while forcing them to play a variety of games that were rigged in their favor, flash-forward to the sadistic minions of later Big Bad Pegasus, Marik etc; who would prolong suffering and being extremely smug and overconfidence.
Wandering Son has a Justified version. Chiba was originally a normal, if a bit odd girl. She was sweet and cute girl, who likes cute things and feminine boys. Chiba wasn't that unusual from rest of other cast. She changed after a stream of bad things happening to her such as a rejected Love Confession, an argument with her friend Takatsuki that made them hate each other for a while, and generally feeling she was putting pressure on her friends. She became a bitter, depressed, pre-teen with a sarcastic streak, her appearance became more mature, and she's generally angry. She's since mellowed down though, she's becoming more like her original design too.
While the titular character of Toriko has always shown to be rather self-centered, the downright callousness he shows Komatsu is an early arc is jarring. Komatsu gets killed because Toriko forgot to warn him that the crackers he gave him were in fact bombs. Komatsu only lives because of a friendly old man Toriko earlier gave booze to (and the old man would've had his own to begin with if Toriko hadn't bought it all for himself), and afterward Toriko is all, "You died? Oh well, good thing you're alive again!"
The anime fixes this by Komatsu being given the earplugs right away along with the firecrackers (though he accidentally drops them at a critical moment, forcing him to use one without them). Toriko also shows more relief that Komatsu is safe when he and Coco find him.
Chief technician Shiro Sanada in Space Battleship Yamato (called Sandor in Star Blazers) was originally just the Smart Guy of the Yamato. Sanada rose in status to being the elder spokesperson of the crew, especially after the deaths of Captain Okita (Avatar) and Chief Engineer Tokugawa (Orion), and someone who could be a captain in his own right. In the recent Yamato Rebirth, Sanada actually becomes the head commander of the EDF, now outranking his old captain, Kodai (Wildstar).
Ginei Morioka of Rosario + Vampire is a total pervert and annoying, but he's genuinely kindhearted, a trusted friend and values those close to him more than anything to the point where risking his life is nothing....which is why seeing him as a manipulative Jerk Ass who outwardly threatens to make the heroine his 'woman by force' can be really, really strange. Likewise with how outright murderous Mizore and Kurumu can be at their intros.
In Fairy Tail, Gray Fullbuster used to be The Rival to Natsu Dragneel, based on their Red Oni, Blue Oni interactions. Gray is now Natsu's Lancer, and they haven't been shown to have a fight for quite while. Similarly, Erza Scarlet was at first shown to scare everyone in the guild, though nowadays that seems to have mellowed. This is even lampshaded by Lucy at one point, when she says that Erza has changed from being completely intimidating to someone who is genuinely easy to get along with.
Several of the hero-turned-villains are like this as well, Gajeel Redfox and Pantherlily most notably. Gajeel started out as a completely sadistic nutcase who beat his Implied Love Interest the first time they met, and Pantherlily was OK with sacrificing a town at his king's whim. Compared to Gajeel's current status as Friendly RivalSixth Ranger and Pantherlily's as the Only Sane Man, their early characterization can be a little jarring to look back on.
Erza mellowing out is actual development. It's her obligatory quirk that changes. During her first appearance she has as poor a grasp on normalacy as Natsu. Recent chapters just have her taking everything seriously, no matter how minor.
Erza was also initially suggested to be constantly out on difficult missions like most of the other S class mages and only returned briefly to pick out a new job. She's out on a mission for the first 4 episodes the terror everyone is in while she's around suggests she's not frequently around. Yet after this she's a regular fixture, either part of Natsu's team or hanging around the guild. In fact the next arc has a plot point that she's the only S class mage that's always on hand.
It can be a little odd going back to episode 2 of Soul Eater, where Tsubaki is not only frustrated with Black Star but snarks at him and throws ninja stars at him, considering her rather... large amount of patience with him in the rest of the show.
Osaka from Azumanga Daioh started out as a quiet girl who was deeply pensive to a fault, and was often made the butt of others' jokes (getting branded with the nickname "Osaka" was one such instance). Within a few episodes though, she made the transition to full-on Cloud Cuckoo Lander.
Kaorin used to be content just to say that Sakaki was "really cool." But in the later episodes her feelings went quite a lot further.
Keiichi in early chapters of Ah! My Goddess was highly interested in moving directly into a physical relationship with Belldandy. As the series progressed, this faded until even holding hands was enough to make him blush. Becomes a plot point when it's revealed his sexual urges were suppressed by the Ultimate Force.
Golgo 13 used to be more expressive and sloppy in early stories, before becoming the meticulous Cold Sniper he's better known as.
For Zero no Tsukaima, you have Saito's Love Interest Siesta who in the first anime season is a good-natured classy women; seen as the complete opposite Saito's main TsundereLove Interest, Louise. Later seasons however, Siesta's character takes a complete 180 and acts more like a desparate slut trying to force her way into the relationship.
Some fans say that her desparation was just a change in tactics after realizing near the start of season two that she's failed to win Saito by way of her normal persona. The kicker however, is that you never see the same loveable Siesta from season one again after deciding to change her actions.
Even Saito went through an unexplained change between seasons. Season one, he always stayed calm whenever he ended up in embarassing situations with the women. Season 2 and on however, he clearly shows a perverted side of himself anytime a women tries to seduce him in some form.
Were one to read the original Lupin III manga, they'd probably collapse from the shock of seeing how different Lupin was. The original portrayal of Lupin made him a cold-hearted bastard and the goofy demeanor was mainly an act; he'd be more likely to seduce a woman and then kill her after he had his way with her. The subsequent anime adaptation went the Lighter and Softer approach and turned him into a lovable goofball with a heart of gold, and that portrayal has pretty much stuck since for the most part.
In his earliest appearances, while Batman wasn't any more particularly kill-happy than any other heroes, it's kind of shocking to see the archetypal Technical Pacifist clearly killing off criminals, often using guns. Case in point, a line from a showdown with his first nemesis:
Batman: Death... to Doctor Death!
He also displayed a fondness for puns and cracked jokes during fights, not unlike what Spider-man would do later. IE, "Have a seat", while smacking villains with a chair, or, while beating the Joker "You may be the JOKER, but I am the KING OF CLUBS!" or "You played your last hand!". Now, he's oh so very much The Stoic.
And, on more than one occasion, he referred to himself as "Poppa", in the third person, as in "Quiet, or Poppa spank!" or "Right into Poppas arms!".
The Joker was originally a sneering, humorless criminal mastermind instead of the cackling lunatic we know today. He was named after the Joker in playing cards, seeing as how he never told a single joke, and never laughed in his initial appearance (though he did smile, rather terrifyingly). The Man Who Laughs later rewrote the Joker's first story with the current portrayal of the Joker.
Robin was also shown to use brutal force on crooks in his debut, hitting them with rocks from a sling and shoving them off to their deaths. This first origin story also depicted him as eight years old while doing all these feats (compared to later retcons that would establish him as either ten or twelve).
Aunt May is another example. In the beginning, she was a sweet, extremely old and extremely frail old lady but, er, somewhat senile and detached from reality. That she allowed herself to be charmed by Doctor Octopus and unshakingly saw Mary Jane Watson as a suitable partner and future wife for Peter was portrayed as evidence for this. Then in the late 1970s she became more involved in the real world, e. g. joining the Gray Panthers, a bypass operation removed her recurrent health problems, and by all appearances she actually became younger. During Roger Stern's run her reasons for continuing matchmaking also was revealed as much more canny than previously imagined; she commented to Peter that he and MJ had more in common than he knew (foreshadowing the origin story Stern and his then-wife had cooked up, but which was mostly revealed by Tom DeFalco later on). This change of Aunt May from a passive character who constantly needed to be saved or aided by Peter and others was very much appreciated by the fans.
In the first two or so issues of X-Men, Beast essentially sexually harassed Jean Grey and was a big dumb oaf, but as early as the third issue, he became a self-described bookworm who used a much more impressive vocabulary and was far kinder to people around him, and it was treated as if he had always been so.
Interestingly, in a much later arc, the Beast, now blue and furry (which is also this trope, as some don't know he wasn't always this way), has his appearance restored to his original human form, but at the cost of his intelligence dwindling as he uses his powers. He eventually talks much like his day-one self.
Apocalypse's first appearances had him as a crime boss, and then a Magneto-esque mutant supremacist, giving the same sort of speeches with more Bold Inflation during a time when Magneto was trying to play nice. The "survival of the fittest" aspect of his philosophy emerged soon afterward and those other characterizations quickly fell by the wayside.
The original plan for the X-Factor comic (where Apocalypse was first introduced) was that the shadowy mastermind that X-Factor had been fighting against was planned to be minor Daredevil and Spider Man villain the Owl. When a new writer came in, they decided to create a new villain.
Magneto himself is a good example of this. The Stan Lee / Jack Kirby version of the character was just a straightforward villain with essentially no character depth. Chris Claremont gave Magneto a sympathetic backstory and changed him into a Well-Intentioned Extremist, and these changes have more or less stuck over the intervening decades. Unfortunately, post-Clarement writers and editors re-cardboardified Magneto to some considerable extent.
Rogue got her start as a villainous henchwoman working for Mystique, taking on and nearly single-handedly defeating the entire team of The Avengers with a bravado that would be out of place on the troubled young girl she was soon developed into.
Wolverine started out as a thug with a bad temper whose main contribution to fights was rushing in recklessly and getting swatted aside to prove that the villain couldn't be beaten without teamwork. During the Dark Phoenix Saga, he Took a Level in Badass and never looked back.
It's also surprising (considering how important it is to his modern characterization) how long it is between his first appearance and the first explicit mention his Healing Factor (he says that he heals fast a little earlier, but it's in more of a "don't fuss over me just because I got my ass kicked" context than an "I have a superhuman ability to heal" one).
Wolverine's original origin was intended to be that he was actually a wolverine mutated into human form, and his claws were originally intended to be build into his gloves (one suspects he was also supposed to have superhuman strength at some point, as his first appearance saw him fighting the Hulk to a draw while not yet exhibiting any of the powers he would later have). Those ideas never saw print, but several hints toward them were made before the ideas were dropped, and, obviously, it wasn't until after they scrapped the "evolved animal" backstory that any of the character's current backstory came about.
And how about Charles Xavier himself? In the first twenty or so issues, he used his powers a lot more, reading minds whenever he pleased, communicating telepathically even to people in the same room, harboring a secret crush on Jean Grey, and mind-wiping several of the X-Men's foes in order to get them out of the way for good. While some later writers would portray Xavier as a Jerkass, it never reached this level.
Also, Iceman. Nowdays, he is mostly known as a funny guy. In the beginning, he woul often attack his team-mates during mission briefings. While this was probably intended to show him as immature (he was two years younger than the rest), it just made him look like a Jerk Ass and an idiot.
Similar to the Batman example above, Superman was an outlaw hero not above dispensing rough justice in his earliest appearances. It is a little shocking for modern readers to see the character who would later become 'the Big Blue Boyscout' seize a torturer and fling him to his death.
DC later retconned these early out-of-character moments as being the Superman and Batman from Earth-2, so they're technically separate characters from the "main" Superman and Batman. Shows that they were aware just how much characterization had marched on in all those years.
John Byrne acknowledged this in Superman & Batman: Generations as part of the characters' evolution over time. In 1939, Bat-Man takes one of the Ultra-Humanite's goons on top of a giant planet model to interrogate him and lets him fall when the mook doesn't give any useful information. When he's caught by Superman, Bat-Man remarks "If I'd known you were there to catch him, I wouldn't have let him fall", and Superman response "If I'd known you'd let him fall, I wouldn't have caught him." They resume the interrogation and, when the mook still refuses to talk, Superman makes as if to throw him off the sphere once more, at which point he finally sings.
The New 52 has also characterized young Superman similarly as his early incarnation.
It's kind of a shock to see how Guy Gardner of the Green Lantern Corps was originally a pretty mellow character before (in a convoluted series of events) he received brain damage that manifested itself in the form of the arrogant, violent, unstable, and often childish personality that the character is best known for. Likewise, those who are most familiar with the DCAU version of John Stewart may be surprised at how, well, funky he is in his early comics appearances.
DC has since tried to sweep this under the rug by retconning the brain damage thing altogether. More recent flashbacks imply that Guy has always been, as he puts it, "the crazy one."
Deathstroke was far more of a dirt bag in his earliest appearances, in sharp contrast to his eventual Anti-Villain status. One of his earliest appearances had him kidnapping Cyborg's love interest in order to lure the Teen Titans into a trap, something that would seem at odds with his Never Hurt an Innocent guidelines that would be established in later issues.
Seems to have occurred with many Disney characters over decades of comic book appearances. Some examples:
Mickey Mouse. In "Mr. Slicker and the Egg Robbers" (1930), Mickey seems to be losing Minnie Mouse to Smug Snake Mr. Slicker (Montmorency Rodent). He even overhears a conversation where Minnie silently lets Slicker believe Mickey is just her "little brother". Mickey's reaction? He concludes "She doesn't care for me anymore - what is there to live for! Without Minnie, I might as well end it all". ... "I can't get Minnie off my mind! I just can't go on without her!" ... "Without Minnie, all my dreams have become nightmares" ... "Goodbye, Minnie! Goodbye, cruel word!". Only after four failed suicide attempts does he snap out of it. This is the same Mickey who would make an art of ditching Minnie to attend to his next mystery investigation/reporting/adventuring around the world. Later stories have made a running joke of the Mouse couple hardly spending any time together.
Phantom Blot. In "Mickey Outwits the Phantom Blot" (1939), the Blot is a rather scary opponent who easily overcomes Mickey on several occasions. With only one weakness. In his words "My cursed soft heart! I never could bear to SEE anything die! I'm just too tender for such things". So he sets elaborate death traps instead, leaving them to take care of Mickey. Mickey typically escapes with minimal injuries. The Blot remains highly efficient in most of his incarnations. But the soft heart is mostly forgotten about and he takes a more direct approach. For example in "The Hooded Eagle" (1994), the Blot has no problem attacking Mickey with an axe. After taking elaborate efforts to lure him to an isolated location of the Arctic, indicating he was planning about it for some time.
The Phantom Blot was in his early appearances portrayed as a master thief, and was actually unmasked at the end of his first appearances. Later he went from a thief into a full-blown super villain, and the fact he even had a face under the hood was forgotten (in one comic in particular Mickey meets the Blot's brother, who for some reason is also wearing a hood, and comments that he finds it hard to think of the Blot as a regular person with a family, instead of some kind of supernatural monster). In more recent comics he's started appearring unmasked from time to time, and has gone back to stealing things instead of trying to take over the world or whatever (altough he still has access to various high-tech devices, usually stolen prototypes, that he uses to commit crimes).
Speaking of Disney, Scrooge McDuck. In the his earlier appearances, Carl Barks depicted Scrooge as quite an immoral individual-there was the infamous robber baron flashback in "Voodoo Hoodoo", and in "The Magic Hourglass", another early Scrooge story, Scrooge sics a bad of hired thugs on Donald and is willing to leave his nephews to die of thirst in the desert to attain his goals. When Barks began to use Scrooge as a hero in his own right, he began depicting Scrooge as a greedy, tightfisted old miser, but one who followed his own code of honor. This is the depiction most fans remember, and the one that shows up in DuckTales and the works of Don Rosa.
Speaking of "Voodoo Hoodoo", Don Rosa managed to explain it in terms of Scrooge's new characterization near the end of The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck. Rather than being indicative of how Scrooge normally is, it's written as his biggest mistake, and the reason he starts out the present day as an embittered old duck, estranged from his family.
His DuckTales incarnation takes a step even further, to the point of clashing even the later comics version (and some early points of the show itself). While Scrooge remains somewhat curmudgeonly and closely tied to his money, he tames greatly, becoming more primarily a warm father figure for the triplets.
In the original issues of Mandrake The Magician, Lothar was more or less Mandrake's negro manservant, never speaking, showing up whenever baggage needed to be carried or enemies needed to be beaten up, and vanishing between scenes when he wasn't needed. Once this became socially unacceptable, Lothar was rewritten as Mandrake's good friend, as well as a good deal smarter and proactive.
On the other hand, Mandrake went from being a full-fledged wizard (kind of like a male Zatanna) to only being capable of using illusion magic.
Tintin, in his earlier adventures, tended to defeat his enemies by beating them up. His condescension to the natives and cruelty to animals in Tintin Tintin In The Congo are a jarring contrast to his humane attitude in the later adventures.
Originally, the Tintin stories reflected the attitudes of Herge's mentors, who encouraged him to write religious and political propaganda pieces (Tintin Tintin In The Land Of The Soviets) and his work reflected European colonial attitudes of 1930. A turnaround came when Herge befriended a Chinese student in Brussels who taught him about Chinese society, politics, and culture. As a result Tintin The Blue Lotus is critical of Western imperialism in China and criticizes westerners making racist comments about the Chinese.
In the early "Man of Iron" story in the Marvel UK Transformers Generation 1 comic, Optimus Prime orders that the Man of Iron and his navigator and ship be destroyed to prevent the Decepticons getting their hands on them. This is the same Optimus Prime who generally goes out of his way to save noncombatants.
Renee Montoya's sexuality is a defining character trait for her under Greg Rucka, but when she was originally created for Batman The Animated Series the plan (According to background info in the series bible) was that she was intended to be driven in her own fight on crime by the memory of her dead husband. It was not until Gotham Central that she was outed as a lesbian, which would become an integral part of an award-winning arc of that series and several followup comics. The same source also says that she would butt heads with Batman over his methods, whereas in almost all her appearances Renee admires him and understands why he acts outside the law.
In the original comics, Plastic Man was no less serious than any other superhero at the time - he was the Only Sane Man of his world, which was filled with wacky, cartoony characters. In fact, even his powers were amusing, which made for an enormous contrast with his early, Comically Serious personality. Over the years, Plas received a much more light-hearted, jokester disposition, being mostly comic relief and Fun Personified in his modern portrayals, such as the one in Batman The Brave And The Bold.
In The Silver Age of Comic Books, Sinestro was very generic and banal in his evil; his conquest of his planet (seen in flashback) involved him sitting on a throne, demanding tribute in the form of money and jewels in exchange for his services as protector and killing anyone who called out on what a selfish lout he was. It wasn't until 1991's Emerald Dawn II, that Sinestro's past was completely reworked to make him a Adolf Hitler-esque control-freak who conquered his homeworld "to protect it" as the driving force behind the evil he did.
In several of the early comics, the Green Hulk was slightly more intelligent and could talk better, barely even referring himself in the 3rd person. Then eventually this paved way to the more popular dumb beast that always spoutted "Puny human make Hulk angry! Hulk smash!"
When she was first introduced in Legion of Super-Heroes, Monstress was basically a female Ben Grimm, in both speech patterns and attitude. Once she joined the team, the writers decided it was more interesting if this hulking monster was an upbeat fashionista who called everyone "dear" or "sweetie".
Micronauts: Team leader Commander Arcturus Rann in the beginning had a more rakish personality somewhat like Han Solo. His speech included slang, mild swearing, and Solo-isms such as "Biotron, get your bolted but back here!". Later, Rann's speech would become more mature and stilted as becoming of a legendary hero of the Microverse. On the other hand, Marionette, a princess of Homeworld, would start off speaking more formally, but later adopt hipster slang into her speech. Justified in her case as she is said to have spent some time on Earth away from the team.
Hannibal King, Friend of Blade was originally introduced in Tomb Of Dracula as a no-nonsense private eye who tended to stay calm, unobtrusive, and most professional. In Night Stalkers, he became very emo, angsty, and melodramatic. And in more recent appearances, he became a goofy, bumbling, comic relief punching bag. This third characterization may be a response to Blade: Trinity and Ryan Reynold's characterization of King.
In his first few appearances, (The Colour Of Magic, Sourcery) The Patrician of Ankh-Morpork was portrayed as an obese Bond Villain parody. However, by Guards! Guards!, he magically transforms into the thin, enigmatic, supremely manipulativeMagnificent Bastard that we know today. (And no, it's not a different Patrician. Word Of God states that it's the same guy, just written by an author who hadn't figured out what he wanted to do with the character yet.) The British Sky 1 television adaptation of The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic rectifies this by casting Jeremy Irons as the Patrician as seen in the later books, complete with the tiny little dog mentioned in some of those novels.
Moreover, in Night Watch, we get to see the Patrician as a young man (Time Travel was involved), and he's just as enigmatic and manipulative as ever. So, not only did his characterization march on, but it was also been retconned into always having been that way.
Night Watch also takes place after Thief of Time, where time was shattered and history had to be restitched. This, and the fact that it goes on fairly regularly according to the History Monks, canonically explains every inconsistency in the series.
Additionally, The Colour Of Magic portrays Death as actively causing deaths (and speaking in Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe), whereas later novels establish him as merely collecting the souls of the already dead. Indeed, the very second book considerably softened his originally malevolent image. This was because much of The Colour Of Magic was a more direct parody of the Fafhrd And The Gray Mouser series, where Death was an actively malevolent antagonist of the heroes.
Rincewind was clearly a shadier character originally; his defining feature in The Colour Of Magic being more greed than cowardice (though he is clearly a coward). He even tries to outright fleece Twoflower and is stopped not because he felt guilty but because the Patrician forced him to look after the tourist. Perhaps this can be explained by the fact that Rincewind had a dangerous spell in his head which could potentially destroy the Disc. Once it left his head in The Light Fantastic, his personality may have changed back to what it was before the spell got in there.
Ysabell is introduced as almost Ax Crazy in The Light Fantastic, making a serious attempt to kill both Twoflower and Rincewind. By her appearance in Mort she is much more a normal teenage girl, albeit one with several quirks from her upbringing.
The Granny Weatherwax in Equal Rites is a much more humble figure than the one she would eventually become.
The Hand Of Thrawn duology does not actually feature Thrawn himself, but his old Commander Contrarian Pellaeon regards his memory with a combination of admiration and awe, and believes that the various times that Thrawn ignored his protests and carried on with counter-intuitive plans were a form of teaching. But his reputation certainly could have fluffed up after he died.
In Outbound Flight a younger and slightly more benevolent, almost Martial Pacifist Thrawn meets Jorus C'baoth - the original - and gets Force-Choked. He learns how to properly pronounce "Corellian" and that there is a word for striking first. In Survivors Quest he's been dead for thirteen years, and Luke and Mara both think of him with a kind of nervous awe. Mara, speculating that he's Back from the Dead for real, says that she didn't inquire too closely, since if he's back, he's not their enemy now. ...She would not have said that thirteen years ago. Partly this can be explained as Thrawn getting more jaded and pragmatic over the years, more willing to look past the means to the end.
In the New Jedi Order novels, Nom Anor is initially introduced as a typical (and very highly ranked) Yuuzhan Vong who happens to also be a devious political manipulator. By about a third of the way into the series, his characterization settles as a duplicitous Dirty Coward and atheist who is very out-of-place among his people (to the point of essentially seeing himself as the Only Sane Man among them), and whose rank is unimpressive, though his skills give him a vastly disproportionate amount of prestige and influence. He does, however, find the appearance of orthodoxy incredibly useful. This characterization endured for the rest of the series, and made him one of its most popular characters.
Happens a couple of times in The Wheel of Time especially when a character is introduced as being a typical member of a group before being portrayed as atypical of that group in later books. The most obvious is Darlin Sisnera who in his first appearance is portrayed as a borderline sadist who wants to flay Mat and Juilin for attacking the Stone of Tear, when he reappears he is noble, cares deeply for Tear and her people, and regrets forming the rebellion against Rand.
Erek from Animorphs is a robotic Actual Pacifist. Near the end of the series, the Animorphs have to blackmail him (by threatening to kill people if he doesn't help them) to get him to follow their plans. Which is fine, until you go back to his earlier appearances when he's very much intent on fighting the Yeerks and sees his nonviolence programming to be something of a hindrance (even after he decides that he doesn't want to experience the horror of actually taking part in fighting again). In #26 he deliberately withholds from the Animorphs information that would portray the Howlers in a more sympathetic light, which seems very out of character compared with his pacifist rants in the final book.
The Howlers destroyed his creators, they are a special case. Erek is a bit of a hypocrite.
Part of the reason for Erek's change is that his pacifism was briefly disabled, allowing him to do a lot of things he came to very strongly regret.
When Dr. Watson first meets Sherlock Holmes he is amazed at his ignorance about everything that doesn't pertain to crime. Holmes doesn't even know that the earth revolves around the sun. But as the series progresses this narrow characterization seems a bit unlikely. For example, in A Study In Scarlet, Watson lists Holmes' knowledge of philosophy as "nil," but Holmes frequently quotes philosophers in later works. In the same book, Watson muses that Holmes' temperance in all areas of his life precludes the possibility of drug use, but in later stories Holmes' frequent cocaine use became one of his defining characteristics.
Supreme Commander Anatole Leonard of the Southern Cross segment of Robotech was depicted as a stubborn commander in the animated series. At worst, he was a poor strategist, preferring a "throw everything we've got at them" approach, rather than studying the enemy and vying for peace, like Rolf Emerson. However, the Jack McKinney novels turned Leonard into a obsessive, meglomaniac, religious fanatic with some weird BDSM fetishes. The Southern Cross did have fascist leanings, but facsist doesn't always mean evil. It's just another type of government. However, McKinney wrote the definitely evil General Edwards as having connections with Leonard. In the original Japanese Southern Cross (and to an extent, Robotech), Leonard was simply depicted as a dedicated, no-nonsense military man who had a difficult job in defending the planet and keeping a group of beauracrats and politicians satisfied. Additionally, the McKinney novels turned those beauracrats and politicians (including the Prime Minister) into Leonard's puppets.
In P. G. Wodehouse's "Extricating Young Gussie", the short story that introduced the world to Jeeves and Wooster, Jeeves is a bit player with only one line. At one point, Bertie finds himself in trouble and acknowledges that he doesn't know who to go to for help. He doesn't consult Jeeves—something that would become unthinkable by the very next story, fittingly titled "Leave It to Jeeves".
In the first Miss Marple book (Murder At The Vicarage) by Agatha Christie, Miss Marple was characterized as a nosy, bossy, rather unpleasant woman that the narrator of the story didn't like. Realizing that this character wouldn't stay very popular if she was kept like this in later books (and perhaps not wanting to have repeat the experience of disliking a protagonist, as she did with Hercule Poirot) Christie significantly toned down the character in later books.
Live Action TV
In Hell On Wheels an important backstory of Eva's is that she was once a slave to native tribes. Her time among these tribes makes her a social outcast, and probably contributed to her becoming a prostitute. Her everlasting reminder of her past are tattoos across her chin, which symbolize three blankets and a horse, the price she was traded for. This tragic back story however probably hadn't been thought up during the pilot in which she's shown without her trademark facial tattoos.
YMMV on this one. That episode is also one of the few times Peg is actually shown doing housework, which is implied to be Al's turn-on. On a later episode, Al has sex with Peg after she cooked him dinner (another rarity). So it could be said that Al's lack of interest in sex with Peggy is due to Peggy's usual refusal to do anything but eat bon-bons and watch Oprah.
In the later seasons of Boy Meets World, characters constantly refference how Corey and Topanga have been in love since preschool. This is odd to anyone who rewatches the first season in which Corey and Topanga profess to hate each other. This is retconned at one point when Corey claims he went through a phase of thinking "girls are icky".
Lampshaded when Corey begs Topanga to hearken back to her Cloud Cuckoo Lander habit of believing everything will always work out and be all right when his baby brother's life is in the balance. He eventually succeeds when she ends the episode drawing hearts on both their faces in lipstick and thanking him for reminding her it was okay to be idealistic.
In a season 1 Full House episode, the guys' mothers all descend on to the house to make sure they're running the house right, and thus the boys have to clean every nook and cranny in that house. Should be no problem for Danny Tanner, a man so obsessively clean he cleans his cleaning products, but in this episode he's not very happy at all about having to scrub up the place.
Jesse also suffered from a milder form of this. In early episodes, once or twice, he was shown enjoying sports on TV or playing something simple with the others (one episode had him betting on a basketball game with Joey). This is the same Jesse who would later have an episode dedicated to his inability to play Basketball.
He wasn't always Greek and they changed his last name at John Stamos's request to better reflect the actor's own Greek heritage.
MacGyver used a gun in the pilot episode of his series. Another episode in the first season ("Countdown") says he served in Vietnam, which seems incredibly unlikely given the rest of the series.
They acknowledge that in a way. When they pair Mac up with the Phoenix Foundation in the second season, they also did an episode rewriting his meeting with Pete. In the first season, they're depicted as having met for the first time ever in a combat situation where upon they exchanged info and Pete recruited Mac to join his govt agency. In the second season, they meet for the first time ever in a US City. While running a cab for his buddy, Mac ferries an enemy agent. He notices them being followed, and accidentally foils Pete's sting. The creators state that this is because they wanted to quietly retcon his military service.
Dr. Zachary Smith of Lost in Space was originally going to just be the villain for the first few episodes and then get killed off. He was written as an evil, murderous man who would even kill children to get what he wanted. But the way Jonathan Harris portrayed him was so entertaining that he was spared and became part of the main cast as the JerkassLarge HamToken Evil Teammate everyone knows and loves.
Angel, Buffy and Darla in Buffy the Vampire Slayer had remarkably different personalities in the first few episodes; Angel was mysterious and kind of chipper (especially his first appearance), Buffy was a perky cheerleader and Darla was whiny. It wasn't until the episode "Angel" that they settled into the personalities they are better known for; Angel became brooding, Buffy was a kind of grim optimist and Darla had a distant, haunting persona (since she died in this episode, this is better seen when she returns from the dead in the show Angel).
Anya was also initially manipulative and infiltrated herself into Cordelia's social circle almost immediately. Later she developed a No Social Skills personality that left her unable to understand much of human interaction and claimed she had a Villains Never Lie attitude when she was a demon.
Actually, the opinion of the writers, the other characters and Willow herself ("Hello, gay now!") seems to be that she was 100% gay, especially after Tara's death when the general feeling was that having her turn straight again would be full of Unfortunate Implications. While she doesn't seem entirely comfortable in her sexuality, at least until she starts dating Kennedy, she doesn't show any sign of heterosexual feelings aside from a couple of nostalgic moments with Xander in season six. A lot of fans like to think of her as bisexual on the grounds it would be a lot more sensible and logical.
Willow is a 4 or 5 on the Kinsey scale, and rounds herself up to gay, as bisexual is LESS accurate a definition for her. Problem solved forever. There's more than just three settings.
Harmony was an obnoxious but not particularly stupid Smug Snake in her earlier appearances before turning into the airheaded Harmless Villain she is known for. Being turned into a blood sucking demon just might have something to do with that: Other vampires lose their soul. Harmony lost her brain.
It's implied that Harmony was simply born to be the follower of a high school girl clique. After school she simply became lost, not knowing what to do with her life, willing to cling on onto any fad that presented itself (vampirism was the first thing to come by), but never being very good at it. This may be an allusion to the real-life tendency of people who are popular and "cool" in High School (when people's perceptions are much shallower and immature) to peak early and go nowhere but down for the rest of their lives due to their perennially shallow, undeveloped egos. In Angel she once even comments how she knew that her life would be over after high school, even though she didn't expect it to happen so literally. That said, in the comics spin-off, she finds a natural fit as a reality tv icon, and ends up making Buffy's life suck in all new ways.
Similarly on Angel Lilah Morgan doesn't develop into the uber-bitch role she's known for until season 2. The few season 1 episodes she's in have her personality remarkably different. Take "Five By Five" where she gets threatened by Faith. Season 2 Lilah certainly wouldn't have been intimidated.
In the later seasons of both Buffy and Angel Spike makes no effort in hiding his disgust with the holiday and it essentially making a mockery of the supernatural world. However, in Buffy's first Halloween Episode, he never really exhibits any true disdain for it.
Something like this happened to Buffy's dad once he stopped appearing. In the first couple of seasons, he seemed like a decent guy whenever he visited. Starting with a broken promise in "Hopeless", however, he morphed into a quintessential deadbeat dad who couldn't even show up for Joyce's funeral. It says something that his last two appearances are Buffy's memory of a Cosmic Retcon and the Cuckoo Nest episode.
In the first season of Doctor Who, the First Doctor is an acerbic, prickly personality who gradually grows into a lovable eccentric over the later seasons. In a frequently-cited example, in the first Doctor Who story, "100,000 BC", the Doctor was about to "mercy kill" a caveman with a rock so that he couldn't slow the rest of the party down. His companion Ian Chesterton stops him, the Doctor mutters an excuse and they go on. In the next story, "The Daleks", in another commonly mentioned example, he deliberately sabotages the TARDIS so that they can stay on Skaro and explore.
It is occasionally implied, particularly in Doctor Who Expanded Universe and at moments during the relaunched series, that it's the Doctor's companions that keep him grounded and a "force for good"; without them he'd have been as amoral as the Master, the Rani, and every other renegade Time Lord we've seen (as well as most non-renegade ones; see The Trial of a Time Lord and The End of Time). In this regard, Hartnell's more sinister initial portrayal of the Doctor, before Ian and Barbara's influence had a chance to start sinking in, would be more regular Character Development. Hartnell's Doctor also was very averse to interfering with history, even if lives were at stake. Recent incarnations have slightly softened up this rule. In-story, this was in part justified by the Time Lords being near-extinct and time being easily rewritable.
In the early Quantum Leap episode "How The Tess Was Won", Sam Beckett seemed a bit more, well, strangely misogynistic and Slap-Slap-Kiss in his pursuance of the tomboy Girl of the Week than he would in any other episode, especially once Donald Bellisario's liberal Writer on Board tendencies crept in. This could be justified in that the story is clearly inspired by The Taming of the Shrew, and in those cases, the Petruchio character rarely comes off well.
Further justified in that Sam would, occasionally, take on personality traits of the person he replaced.
Sam for the most part is somewhat prudish, and has "choir boy" thoughts according to Al. However, in the pilot episode, when asked what the best thing about his High School years was, he replied "mini skirts".
Also, in many early episodes, the idea was that Sam actually swapped bodies with the leapee. Only later was it firmly that the people around him saw him as the leapee, but he remained himself. In one early ep, he leaped into a pregnant woman nearing her time, and the leap ended as she was ready to do so, indicating Sam might have to give birth, and that he was carrying the baby all along. In a later ep, he leaped into a paraplegic, and freaked out an abusive attendant at the VA Hospital by standing up.
In early episodes of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Mac actually displayed some fairly liberal, progressive viewpoints, and chewed out Charlie for not having any minority friends. This would seem quite jarring to viewers familiar with the later seasons, since he's established as being quite homophobic and transphobic.
In early Star Trek episodes, Spock wasn't quite yet the emotionless Vulcan we all know him as and was even seen to smile a few times. However, the award for Most Out of Character Spock Scene From An Early Episode could only go to that scene from "The Cage" where the aliens snatch two female crew members and Spock shouts, "The women!" in a very emotional manner.
In that episode (the original pilot), Spock hadn't been given his emotionless personality because that was meant to be part of Number One's character. The network was not comfortable with the idea of a cold, unemotional woman (let alone one with a measure of command authority), so the character was scrapped and the trait transferred to Spock.
The end of "The Enemy Within," where after Kirk's Evil Twin attempts to rape Yeoman Rand, Spock leeringly teases Rand about the duplicate's "interesting qualities," surely the most misogynistic moment in the entire Trek canon.
Which gets even Harsher in Hindsight when you know that an unnamed television executive made a sexual assault against the actress before she had to leave the show.
Leonard Nimoy has admitted that in early episodes he was mainly playing Spock as a military officer. In "The Corbomite Maneuver", there's a scene where the Enterprise is seized by a gigantic and apparently hostile vessel and Spock merely says "fascinating" (for the first time). Nimoy has cited this as the moment the character really "clicked" for him, although it still took a few more episodes for Spock to fully settle into his stoic characterization.
Data went through a similar period of uncertainty during the first (and to an extent, second) season of Star Trek: The Next Generation. It's not clear at first whether he's supposed to have emotions or not, as he grins awkwardly, gets drunk and subsequently seems to act on sexual desire, and often speaks in an oddly musical tone. The show only cemented its characters and premise in the third season, and that's when Data's famously emotionless and inquisitive personality really took hold. Fortunately, a conversation he has with Riker in the first episode does help pave the way for his future characterization.
In a first season Star Trek: The Next Generation episode, Captain Picard has never heard of the ancient Tkon Empire, even though he's later established as an accomplished archaeologist.
Data also used contractions in the first several episodes, until "Datalore" established that he never used them as a way to tell him and his Evil Twin apart. Even after establishing this, Data uses a contraction at the end of the episode, mistakenly implying a Shocking Swerve.
In an early episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Odo realizes that Quark was lying to him because Quark told him Rom fixed the replicator, which he deduced was impossible because Rom is an idiot. But Rom is later established as a technical genius, who thoroughly impresses Chief O'Brien with his ability and efficiency. It would be considered just a character mistake, except Odo is firmly established as being very good at observation and "sizing people up."
When Rom was first introduced, he was a completely unremarkable Ferengi with no outstanding (let alone endearing) qualities. If the early episodes didn't actually tell you it was Rom, you'd never know it was supposed to be the same character. (Indeed, he wasn't even named Rom until the second episode; in the pilot, he was credited as "Ferengi Pit Boss.")
In one first season episode, Rom gets tired of working for Quark and attempts to kill him by flushing him out an airlock. Even in season two, when Quark gets shot, his mood improves considerably when he's reminded he'll inherit the bar if Quark dies and he's horrified when he inadvertently saves Quark's life. All of this seems very at odds with the meek and gentle Rom of later seasons.
Interestingly, when Nog has to confide to Sisko why he wanted to join Starfleet he explained that because the Ferengi are a Capitalist culture they aren't very kind socially to any Ferengi who lack any business skills, which includes his father. Rom suffered as a mere assistant to his brother until he finally branched out and became a uniformed Bajoran engineer, likely because of Nog doing something similar by joining Starfleet.
The Klingons weren't always the Proud Warrior Race they were in later series. On TOS, they could be quite deceitful, sometimes conducting espionage within the Federation ("The Trouble with Tribbles"). One of their number, who's portrayed as very much a Dirty Coward, even manipulates a Proud Warrior Race, who eventually turn on him after deciding he's "without honour" ("Friday's Child"). You know, like the later era Klingons would do. It was the Romulans who were the honorable warriors Starfleet faced ("Balance of Terror", "The Enterprise Incident"). But starting with TNG, these characteristics were firmly flipped between races, as Klingons became the race of proud warriors while the Romulans were established as a race of Smug Snakes.
Enterprise made an attempt to retcon this (and a lot of other accumulated inconsistencies about the Klingons). This was explained as their culture going through a period of corruption and political repression. The results are not as good as one might like, like a lot of retcons.
Margaret Houlihan went from hypocritically strict Battleaxe Nurse to feminist heroine. It's pushed aside with some Character Development, but the show still tried to Retcon her into being a decent person all along and that everyone just didn't understand her enough.
This was a prime example of Writer on Board, as it reflected the makeup of the show's writing staff at the time of the portrayals. Originally, when the show began, the writers were all male, and were mainly interested in staying as true to the original book and film as possible. However, once Linda Bloodworth-Thomason was hired as the show's first female writer, she immediately began downplaying or even eliminating almost every single negative attribute of Margaret's. It's not really surprising that Ms. Bloodworth-Thomason would do this, given the fact that she later became famous on her own account as creator and executive producer of one of the most ultra-feminist programs on American television, Designing Women.
John Cage was introduced in Ally McBeal's second episode as the slightly odd founding partner of Cage, Fish, & Associates who frequents prostitutes for the purposes of sex without romance (and is set to go before a judge for his latest dalliance, represented by a disgusted McBeal). A year and a half later this is mentioned in front of the by-then fleshed out quirky, mercurial, and lovable Cage (now McBeal best friend) and his stunned girlfriend; Cage's defense for this is that he hadn't "found his character yet".
In Scrubs J.D.'s (and to a lesser extent Elliot's) personality quirks didn't really gel until the second season. A notable example is his switching from drinking beer to watered-down appletinis. (Although in the eighth season, he mentions that while he has had beer before, he simply prefers appletinis because they make him feel fancy.)
He also had sports memorabilia in his room. This is the guy who now thinks that basketballs come "three to a can".
This particular case of characterization is due to a Throw It In moment where Zach Braff mentioned to series creator Bill Lawrence that he knew almost nothing about sports. Lawrence, recognizing its comedic potential, made that part of J.D.'s personality.
In the early episode, Dr. Cox calls J.D. by his name a few times. After that, it's always "Newbie" or a girl's name. Although that has been broken on a few occassions. The 5th season episode "My Fallen Idol" had him use it in a touching moment while thanking him for his emotional support. Also, there are times when Cox has addressed J.D. by his surname "Dorian", but that's only when he's super pissed, or after J.D. leaves the hospital in season 8 and they become equals.
Another one with Dr. Cox that is big because of how prominent it is...the punchline of one episode is that he does, in fact, have friends, or at least a bunch of guys to watch the game with. When later episodes make a big deal about how he doesn't.
In the first several episodes the Janitor was a lot meaner, fairly humorless and never did anything except randomly clean and terrorize J.D. This is partially explained that the character wasn't meant to go beyond the first episode, and the entire first season was written as him possibly being just a projection of J.D.'s paranoia and self-loathing, he wasn't acknowledged by or interacted with any other character until the first episode of the second season. He became more Affably Evil and Cloud Cuckoo Lander as the show went on (and Neil Flynn started improvising more and more), with his personality fully gelling as a man who desperately wants respect in the world but doesn't care if people like him.
In the second season Elliot was made to be unable to use dirty words, often making up funny euphemisms such as "bajingo" for "vagina". However in a few season 1 episodes she uses the words "penis" and "vagina" normally.
In the Gossip Girl pilot, Chuck was a psychotic who almost rapes Blair. Now, they have a sexual-tension filled relationship.
Actually, while Chuck does have a very... complicated relationship with Blair, the character he almost raped in the pilot is Jenny. And this was actually addressed recently, with Jenny saying she would never forgive him because how could she ever forget what he almost did to her that one night?, and with Chuck apologizing. Granted, characterization still marches on, for everyone, but especially for Chuck, so it's possibly even more disconcerting to see S2!Chuck (a sneaky, manipulative rat-bastard but certainly not an attempted rapist) apologize for something he did in the pilot that would now be completely out of character.
Actually, Chuck's not weird for just that reason in the pilot. There's also his rage issues and his lack of control, which is completely at odds with his careless, Manipulative Bastard personality of later episodes.
Phoebe's boss Elise in Charmed was introduced as the boss from hell and the rest of the season 4 episodes reflect this. However all her following appearances on the show have her more friendly with Phoebe and the rest of her co-workers.
Kirsten from Party of Five was the show's only real normal character as a nanny for Owen in season 1. In season 2 a bit of a wacky side emerged, particularly when confronted by her annoying mother. This gets subverted in season 3 when she ends up suffering from depression.
In the pilot of Stargate SG-1, Jack O'Neill is seen looking through a telescope on his roof and seeming fascinated by the heavens. By the end of the first season, he was already The Watson with no interest in astronomy or any other kind of science. And from there he would only become more clueless about anything that didn't involve Stuff Blowing Up or being a Big Damn Hero.
They made several callbacks to Jack's knowledge of astronomy and telescopes over the course of the series. In Singularity, he was the one who gave the technical description of a black hole's accretion disk, before remembering that he was pretending not to know stuff like that, and he stays behind on the planet to run the telescope observing the black hole. In 1969, he's the one who goes to the observatory, to use the telescope to confirm that the times the general gave them were for solar flares.
In the very early episodes, Samantha Carter was a borderline Straw Feminist. She was still a feminist in later seasons, but after the first few episodes she decided to shut up about it already and actually be helpful. Her early characterization is thus over-the-top and rather shallow compared to the character she was for most of the series. At several points they revisit the infamous "reproductive organs" speech from the first episode, and intentionally make it sound as awkward and silly as it really would be. In the director's cut of the premiere, they removed that line entirely.
Believe it or not, in the early episodes of Law & Order: SVU, it was Olivia Benson who was the fly-off-the-handle-violent-templer hothead partner and Elliot Stabler who was the stable, analytical, don't-let-it-get-to-you partner.
Dr. George Huang's first appearance on Law & Order: SVU is vaguely sinister, with his perv-stache and line delivery suggesting his interest in the criminal mind is a little creepy. Less than a season later, he got a full makeover, wears dapper suits, and is a sensible, trustworthy ally whom both Benson and Cabot have gone to for personal advice.
In an early episode of How I Met Your Mother, Marshall tries to fight a guy who he thinks hit on Lily, and when he finds out he's gay, he's incredibly relieved, saying "I've never been in a fight before." Yet, by the fourth season, we found out that he and his brothers used to fight quite brutally and has an Offscreen Moment of Awesome by beating violence-crazy barman Doug.
In another early episode we hear Robin lament she never played team-sports, saying she instead played singles tennis in high-school. In a later episode we find out she was in fact a member of a hockey team in her teens.
The characters' general personalities take a few episodes to really gel as well. Robin isn't nearly as quirky, brash, or hardnosed as she would become near the end of the season, Lily is a lot more gentle, Willow-y, and socially-conscious than she's known for, Marshall is kind of shy and quiet rather than being energetic and extroverted, and Barney's more of a sitcom-typical suave womanizer rather than the very specific form of over-the-top hedonism-overdosed character he developed into. Only Ted really hits the ground running right from the pilot.
Mork from Ork in his first appearance on Happy Days was a far cry from the cute and cuddlyinnocent pacifist he became in the spinoff. His mission was to collect Richie as a specimen, and he would freeze people at the slightest provocation, and his final trick to defeat The Fonz in the "hollytacker" would have been to put his two fingers together and make Arnold's Diner collapse (he mentions he has even killed a few people doing this before!). He was, for lack of a better term, a complete and utter dick. And for the spinoff to work, they had to change that.
A final scene was added later for syndication where Mork reports to Orson about moving from the 1950s to the late 70s, the time setting of his new show.
In Frasier, the characters of Frasier and Roz hit the ground running (with Kelsey Grammer in particular having had an unprecedented nine years of character prep), but Niles, Martin and Daphne change markedly over the course of the first season. Indeed, it isn't until arguably the episode "A Mid-Winter Night's Dream", towards the end of the first season, that Niles finally begins to acquire some depth.
For example, Niles was originally . . .well, there's a reason Replacement Flat Character used to be called The Niles: he was a Flanderized copy of the uptight, prissy, snobbish Frasier of Cheers. By season two, it was established that while he was more rigid and neurotic than Frasier, he was less arrogant and insensitive and acquired completely independent personality traits such as overeager cheer and insecure Woobieness, among other sharp difference between his and Frasier's personalities. Also, Daphne was far more innocent and more of a Cloud Cuckoo Lander in the first season, as well as more stereotypically English, whereas she became more hot-tempered, snarky, and down to earth in later seasons' and Martin, who started out as something of a bitter, grumpy old has-been transmuted into a cheerful old slob who never let anything bother him. Most impressively, all these changes made the characters more nebulous rather than less, a rarity in sitcoms.
While Colonel Tigh'sincreased competence can be explained through story-related reasons, an early season 1 episode has him going to Roslin (whom he's known for no more than a month) to make sure Adama isn't putting the fleet in jeopardy over one missing pilot. By season 4, however, Tigh is known above all else for his borderline-absurd loyalty to his friends. Most people would agree it's worth it.
Kelly Kapoor in The Office was first a normal worker, created only to be a foil for Michael's racist jokes. Soon after she evolved into a bubbly and adolescent ditz, a very drastic change.
Thanks to an extreme hair and fashion change between season one and two, she also managed to look 20 years younger.
You could make a case that nearly every character that is not part of the lead quartet characters (Michael, Jim, Pam, Dwight) could fall here. Even Andy started out as an unsympathetic Dwight-esque antagonist, and now he's one of the most likeable characters on the show.
When Robot Girl Cameron on The Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles first meets John Connor in the first episode she is able to act like a normal high school girl and completely fool him. Right after she reveals herself to be a terminator, she completely forgets how to act human around people for the rest of the series.
With good reason: other people who don't know about Terminators write her off as having Asperger's or some kind of psychological malady but if John had one inkling she was a Terminator before she saved his life and proved to be one of the good guys, he would have disappeared right away. When she displays emotions in later episodes, its always a sign that she's not herself.
In season 1 of Night Court, Dan Fielding starts out as a stuffy, pipe smoking prosecutor. By the second season, he became the sex obsessed lech and was that way for the rest of the series.
In the first few episodes of Gilmore Girls, Sookie is an ungodly klutz who lit her expensive stove on fire and nearly chops her own fingers off. By the mid-first season, this is gone.
Shades of this are seen throughout the first few seasons, but its not as exemplified like the first few episodes.
Luke in the pilot and a bit of the first season was large health nut (*serves fries* "These will kill you"; also begging Lorelei to not drink coffee), but this was more or less dropped by the end of that season in favor of things like fighting with Taylor and actually running a diner where he serves the kind of food that will "kill you".
In Ellen, a friend named Audrey has the job of annoying the title character all the way through...except that in her early appearances, she does this by being extremely pessimistic, but at some point she flips and is depicted as being obnoxiously perky for the majority of the series.
Joey from Friends. In the first episode he has an average intelligence, and in later episodes he is presented as Book Dumb. It isn't until the next season that he becomes through Flanderization the absolute idiot he is known as. This came to be a real problem when they attempted to spin him off into his own show.
Phoebe started off as a well-meaning, Cloud Cuckoolander character, complete with cleansing auras. By the later seasons she had become a lot harsher and more selfish especially to Ross and Chandler.
The cinephile Tony from later seasons of NCIS would be appalled by the Tony of the first season, who misses several classic film references and who never saw Shane or The Maltese Falcon.
More glaringly, in the pilot of NCIS, Agent Tobias Fornell of the FBI doesn't recognize Gibbs as he enters Air Force One, to the point of being surprised when he learns 'those agents' were NCIS and not the local coroner. Later episodes establish that not only are Gibbs and Fornell old friends, Gibbs warned Fornell not to marry one of his ex-wives. This was a conscious decision rather than a mistake, the creators loved the chemistry between Gibbs and Fornell so much they decided to give them a past and make Fornell a recurring character.
According to later seasons, McGee was a Weebelos scout and retains outdoors skills from those days, which makes his falling victim to poison ivy in season 1 or 2 a little odd (but still hilarious).
On CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Grissom is less of an introvert and stoic in season 1. He's even prone to bouts of anger, such as when Ecklie has a crime scene cleared before Grissom had a chance to re-visit it (prompting Grissom to slap a glass coffee pot out of Ecklie's hands). He shields himself more as the show goes on, for good in Season 3 when he starts to battle his hearing problem.
In the first two episodes of Robin Hood, Marian advises Robin to let several prisoners hang so that he can "play the long game" and work the system from the inside out; on the other hand, Robin isn't prepared to let individuals die in favor of "the bigger picture". By season two, their standpoints have been completely switched around.
In early episodes of 30 Rock, Jenna was somewhat neurotic and flirty, but otherwise mostly normal. Now she's an over-the-top Attention Whore. When Jenna gets bumped from Late Night in favor of Tracy in an early episode, her response is to cry, saying that "I just feel like everything's always taken away from me." This would be pretty out of character for latter-seasons Jenna because (a) she wouldn't feel the need to justify her feelings as she would consider them to be justified by default, and (b) she would be more likely to respond to something like this by acting out rather than crying.
In the first season episode "Blind Date", it's revealed that Liz has won an Emmy. This is pretty unlikely based on later episodes.
The pilot episode contains a surprisingly somber (at least at first) scene where Tracy shows Liz the poor neighborhood where he grew up and reflects on his troubled childhood. A later episode establishes that Tracy remembers absolutely nothing about his youth, as he had blocked out all of his traumatic memories. He is even reduced to tears after being confronted with those painful memories for (supposedly) the first time in years.
In Whose Line Is It Anyway?, it can actually be quite surprising to see peoples early performances - Even Colin Mochrie and Ryan Stiles were pretty timid during their early performances. Granted you'd have to go very far back to the UK version to see how timid they got, but you can perhaps spot the biggest improvement in Kathy Greenwood. She seemed to sort of be there for some scenes during the show; but later on became quite good at personalities.
It's actually quite amazing when you see Ryan Stiles's first performances on the UK Version.
The early episodes of Seinfeld often have George advising a more naïve Jerry on the little particularities of life that are relevant to their situation. These roles would be reversed through most of the show's run. The four main characters (with the possible exception of Kramer) also developed into Comedic Sociopaths as the show found its voice: their early-season incarnations come across as far more sympathetic and self-aware than they do throughout most of the series.
Jason Alexander also had his own "click" moment similar to that of Leonard Nimoy: initially he thought George Costanza was based on Woody Allen and played him as such until one day he walked up to Larry David claiming to be unable to make heads or tails of one of George's antics seeing as "not only could this never happen but no human being would react like this". David explained it happened to him and this was how he reacted. It was then he realized George was David's Author Avatar all along.
The first few episodes have Summer from The OC as a vapid, party-girl who drops her unconscious friend off at her front door, but is changed to a more likable person after her character became part of the cast.
The Big Bang Theory has a good case of this. Sheldon started as a less assertive/more arrogant version of Leonard who was nervous around Penny and seemed to compete for her attention (at least regarding their white boards with math equations on them). The Tag at the end even had him comment with a great degree of social insight concerning Leonards chances with Penny. A couple of episodes in and he had evolved into the asexual narcissist with No Social Skills whom we all love to hate.
Penny changed as well — the first episode establishes her as rather ditzy with low intelligence (she's a vegetarian who eats steak) and very randomly emotional as a contrast to the guys being science minded, but those elements faded as the show focused on her being a more normal person around the geeks. Penny's apparent change in personality can be attributed to being uncomfortable around the guys at first while trying to be nice and make a good impression nonetheless.
The creator himself said to just skip the first few episodes, it took them a while to figure out what they wanted to do with the characters. Specifically about episode 5, where Sheldon's complete ignorance of social issues and Penny's sly knowledge about it took hold.
Amy Farrah-Fowler began almost as a female Sheldon, stipulating in their first date (one she was only on because her mother forced her) that there was to be no physical contact (up to, and including, coitus). In later episodes she almost sexually preys on Sheldon.
Uther from Merlin has always hated magic, but in the first few episodes he would react to it by steadfastly denying its presence; these days he takes the slightest hint of its presence and immediately becomes paranoid (even when there's a rational explanation).
Ensemble Dark Horse Sir Leon had a few appearances in the second season before becoming something of a series regular in season three; one of his first appearances involves him violently tearing apart Gaius's study in the search for evidence of magic. The sight of him smashing bottles and ripping down tapestries is completely at odds with the gentler character of later episodes.
Another Uther example — In Season One, Uther wraps his hands around Morgana's neck and makes it very clear that the only reason she's still alive is because of the promise he made to her father. Then, suddenly, in seasons 2 and 3, he seems to love Morgana more than his own son. Then it turns out that he is Morgana's father.
Although this may have been more about the perspective of the viewpoint characters. In earlier episodes, the humans didn't see other sides to G'Kar and Londo because G'Kar and Londo didn't have any reason to show them. When they're not putting on political airs or on the wrong side of things, they start to get more fleshed out.
In the earliest episodes of The New Adventures of Old Christine, Old Christine is initially portrayed as a little dippy, but a reasonably competent parent and business owner with a modicum of empathy towards others. Before long, she morphed into a completely ignorant, bi-polar narcissist who all but abandons day-to-day running of the gym to new partner Barb, and quite often doesn't even know where her own son is.
The first paintball episode of Community shows Chang as a badass gunslinger in the John Woo mode. By the time the second paintball war rolls around, he's suddenly a pathetic coward who never even picks up a gun.
Chang as a whole changed from a JerkassSadist Teacher in the first season to a Butt Monkey in the second season. After getting fired from his teaching job at at the end of the first season, he enrolled in the school as a student and was suddenly the biggest loser in the world, and one who who gradually became more out-and-out psychotic, at that.
As with most Pilots, watching the pilot after watching the rest of the series allows for some striking contrasts — however, possibly the character who's marched on most when compared to her pilot / season one self is Britta Perry. In the early episodes, she's often little more than the Straight ManLove Interest for Jeff Winger, with little indication of the wackier and more goofily neurotic character she would later become.
This is given a lampshade when Troy has the epiphany that Jeff and Britta are just as dumb as he is. Also, a comment from Jeff stating he thought she was smarter than him when they met. In fairness, from the beginning, there are hints that Britta is more concerned with how people see her than with any of her actual causes and she's more than a little awkward in some social situations.
The first season of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air had Carlton Banks as a pompous Smug Snake rival to Will. Starting in season 2, after being a Butt Monkey and having emotional breakdowns, he became the lovable nerdy goofball we all know today. Likewise, in the first season, Hillary is portrayed as a shallow, spoiled, socialite and environmental activist. Since season two she became just shallow and spoiled.
Temperance Brennen from Bones starts off as sassy, sarcastic, and socially adept. It didn't take long for her to become the walking stereotype she is now, and flashbacks to earlier in the series completely ignore the way she behaved in the pilot.
In his first appearances, Sweets is a little creepy, and pulls some nasty tricks on the main cast—possibly because he was a Gormorgan red herring. Now, he's a trusted and dear friend of all the main characters.
In her first few appearances in Glee Britanny's facial expressions give the impression that she's just as devious as her cheerleading cohorts it isn't until later episode that she ends up being The Ditz and the resident Cloud Cuckoo Lander.
Bulk and Skull, the Plucky Comic Relief of Power Rangers, originally started out as school bullies and they even got into fights with the rangers' alter-egos. As the show went on, this aspect of the duo was downplayed and they became more like class clowns that were capable of acts of heroism at times. They were eventually treated more like friends to the rangers and they even became junior police officers.
The Muppet Sweetums first appeared in The Frog Prince as an ironically-named vicious frog-eating ogre serving the Big Bad. It's hard to imagine Sweetums in this role now — from The Muppet Show onward, although still looking ferocious, the name has been wholly deserved.
Emmerdale's Ashley Thomas was, for the most part, a fairly likeable and well-intentioned country vicar, albeit with a few foibles, until he suddenly turned into a father-beater.
It did, however, quickly becomes obvious that this was a case of temporary Character Derailment and, after a massive dose of Laser-Guided Karma saw him lose his wife, his family, his job and his home and end up on the streets before the other characters remembered he used to be their friends and helped him out, he's now back to being likeable.
In the first episode of Sex and the City, when Carrie mentions the idea of "having sex like a man", Charlotte without batting an eyelash asks "You mean with strap-ons?" As she evolved into more of a priss who talks far more euphemistically than the other three, it sounds weird to hear her say so so blithely.
In the first season of Boardwalk Empire, when trying to find an elusive criminal band of brothers, Richard Harrow suggests killing their innocent family members to flush them out. In the third season, the same Richard Harrow kills Manny Horovitz for killing Angela Darmondy When Nucky Thompson, the killer of Angela's husband Jimmy, finds out, he tentatively asks Richard why did he avenge Angela and not Jimmy. Richard says that while Jimmy was a soldier who fought in a war and simply lost, Angela was simply an innocent civilian.
The supporting cast of 24 all had markedly different personalities from their portrayals in the second season and beyond:
Aaron Pierce starts out as an extremely by-the-book field agent, whose only real purpose is giving exposition between major scenes. Starting in season two, he becomes a staunchly loyal (and badass) agent who often disobeys orders to help characters like Palmer and Jack.
In season 1, Kim Bauer is a rebellious teenager who (at the beginning of the season) doesn't trust her father, knows enough to understand when she's in a dangerous situation, and escapes from her captors on multiple occasions. Come season two, she's a Damsel in Distress who often has to be rescued by other characters and unknowingly gets involved in worse and worse situations.
Mandy the assassin is a cold, emotionless assassin in her appearances in seasons two and four, a far cry from her story in the first season, where she acts much more human, openly displaying emotion to several like-minded antagonists.
Big Bad Makuta Teridax is the most apparent example. In early story material, he is a generic mysterious villain — lurks in shadows, always angry, monologues to himself, releases hordes of Mooks and is beaten at the end of every story. Then the author got a free hand to write a novel about absolutely anything he wanted, and he made use of the opportunity to transform the character into a highly Genre Savvy mastermind that turned his former defeats to his advantage in his Evil Plan, and had a dry and sarcastic sense of humor. He was still a Large Ham like before, but this time quite intentionally.
Sidorak was at first characterized as a capable warlord whose only weakness was his love of combat, so he spent too much time out in the field to notice that his viceroy Roodaka had been scheming against him. One of the movies then depicted him as a weak and cowardly buffoon who was only interested in marrying Roodaka. Despite outspokenly disliking the movie, the writer later on made this characterization stuck, and Retconned Sidorak's former accomplishments as those of Roodaka, saying that he only stole the credits from her.
Kongu was, among the generally playful and fun loving Air Matoran, the mostly serious and battle-ready leader of the Le-Koro Airforce. Upon upgrading into a Toa, he became a standard, wisecracking Air character who specialized in making lame one liners and complaining about stuff. When another character called him out on this, his response was that Toa Lewa, another Toa of Air, had taught him to loosen up.
Early Calvin And Hobbes strips featured Calvin being part of a troop of Cub Scouts. Later strips however show Calvin as being someone who dislikes organized games, so Watterson abandoned the Scout strips. Although his personality was still the same — he really didn't work well with the Scouts and tried to avoid or lose them at every opportunity. It's easy to imagine he simply quit after it didn't work out (or more likely, got banned). Knowing Calvin's family, his dad probably urged him to try scouting as it "builds character."
The character that would eventually become the Pointy-Haired Boss in Dilbert was initially an unnamed balding manager who was more cruel than stupid. Then one day, Adams accidentally drew the hair on the sides of his head slightly pointy and liked the resemblance to devil horns. Curiously enough, Adams then started making him more and more stupid but made his hair also more and more pointy...
A similar process may be occurring to the CEO, originally a bald man dumber than Pointy-Haired Boss, whose forehead has been becoming more elongated until he looks like... this.
Dogbert was originally just an actual pet (albeit able to talk and hyper-intelligent), even in one strip as having a leash and being taken for a walk. Nowadays, he is almost human-like and interracts with everyone on a human level (although he is still willing to take advantage of the legal implications of being a dog if it suits him).
Dilbert himself used to be a science-fiction genius whose wild inventions made up some of the plots. Once the comic started focusing almost exclusively on office humor and lost the sci-fi elements, he was just another engineer.
He still has his occasional moments of sci-fi genius, however, as shown in a storyline in April 2008 where he builds a particle accelerator and took an antimatter Dilbert to work with him.
Mo of Dykes To Watch Out For has always been on the uptight, Soapbox Sadie side but was a little bit more cheery in her younger days. Two scenes in the first year of the strip shows her idly singing to nobody in particular; "I Wanna Dance With Somebody", and then "Groovy Kind of Love" in another. It is extremely difficult to image the Mo we know now singing like that.
In The Family Circus, the dad was a stereotypical 60s buffoon: wore a hat, smoked a pipe, drank, was overweight, ignored Thel, et cetera. He was soon overhauled into a more sympathetic, trimmer father figure.
A Running Gag in FoxTrot is super-nerd Jason's undying enthusiasm for school, with him looking forward to every big test and dreading the arrival of summer break, much to the annoyance of his siblings. In early strips, Jason hated school just like they did.
Roger is so impossibly bad at chess that an Internet site which assessed his skill matched him up with a preschool student. In early strips, Roger was actually better at chess than Andy and she was always trying to guilt trip him into letting her win (which is also somewhat at odds with her current characterization).
One early strip has Jason playing Dungeons & Dragons with Peter, something Peter would never do once his character became more established.
A very early Get Fuzzy strip shows Satchel being perfectly aware who Martha Stewart is, when Rob compares one of his meals to hers, and Satchel points out Martha Stewart doesn't use garnishes. However, a much later storyline (shortly after Stewart got jailed) involved Satchel trying to donate money for her, but not really knowing who she is, what she did wrong, and why she needed help. This possibly is more an example of Series Continuity Error.
When Sally was first born in Peanuts, Linus was seen considering a relationship with her ("When I'm 22 and Sally is 17, do you think she'll go out with me?"). Quite ironic when you consider he would spend the next forty years fending off her advances.
Charlie Brown in the first few years of the comic was quite different from the self-hating loser that he would later became; he was rather cheerful, he liked to play pranks on others, and sometimes even boasted about himself.
In the first years, Snoopy actually acted like a normal dog and had no thought bubbles. He also appeared to be more of a neighborhood dog as opposed to being Charlie Brown's pet. He consistently called Charlie Brown by his name in early comics, but suddenly forgot and started calling him "the round-headed kid". Peanuts in general is chock full of this. One early comic depicted Lucy as being able to catch baseballs on her own easily. This later looks downright ridiculous as she is shown failing to catch every ball for the rest of the series run.
In her first appearences, Lucy was a cute little Cloudcuckoolander, nothing like her later incarnation.
In Zits, Jeremy's older brother Chad was initially depicted as a gleaming, near God-like figure with a square jaw whose full face is never seen. In later appearances, he is shown in full and more or less resembles Jeremy but taller and with a goatee (though that last was acknowledged in a strip where Jeremy questions Chad on why he grew the beard).
Likewise, Pierce was more of an angry punk in the early strips before evolving into a happy but very eccentric guy.
Largely applicable to almost everyone due to gimmick changes and whatnot, but several examples stand out.
Santino Marella: Began as a foreign everyman, became the eternal loser, added Chick Magnet to this repertoire and has recently graduated into a slightly more competant Plucky Comic Relief with his similarly evolving, albeit in the apparent opposite irection, tag team championship partner Vladimir Koslov.
You know, not many men can say they've been a fun-loving rapper, an evil king, a demon, a casanova, and a thug for hire in one lifetime. WWE's Viscera can.
Molly Holly's heel character originally started out as a Hardcore Holly type who wanted the division to be more serious. This eventually evolved into a self-righteous prude who gets mocked for having a huge ass. Funnily enough the character reverted back to her initial persona around 2003 or so and the Hollywood Pudgy was dropped.
Warhammer early portrayals of Karl Franz is he is a cowardly and inept leader. Today he is known as a Bad Ass Emperor who kicks ass with his Griffon.
This gets even more confusing when you consider that SFIV takes place beforeSFIII in the timeline. Essentially, Dudley goes from an out-and-out Nice Guy whose only criticism is against a rival boxer who is a legitimate disgrace to the sport (i.e. Balrog) to something of a rich jerk in III, only to ease into his more well-knownGentleman Snarker characterization by the time of Third Strike.
Luigi of Super Mario Bros was originally a just a palette swap of his older brother, Mario. The early Mario Bros. anime and other promotional art depicted him as taller and thinner than Mario early on, but this depiction would take until Super Mario Bros. 2 USA to show up in the actual games. He also gained divergent gameplay traits in both the US and Japanese SMB2 games, jumping higher and, in the Japanese game, having less traction while stopping.
Additionally, the Cowardly Lion traits and fear of ghosts first displayed in Luigis Mansion also stuck through later games, going a long way to distinguish his personality along with his physical characteristics. Later games (especially the Mario And Luigi series) would have quite a bit of fun with this.
Minor note, but this can be fairly inconsistent. It's interesting to listen to the openings to battles in the Mario and Luigi games— it's always "Here we go" and "Okie-dokie", but the tone of the latter (Luigi's line) changes over the three games, and goes from fairly-reluctant to... well, pretty confident. The scene where Luigi joins the party in Super Paper Mario is also worth mentioning.
Yoshi gained a host of abilities in Yoshis Island (swallowing enemies to make and shoot eggs, the Ground Pound, shooting his tongue up, the variation on the Double Jump), that became an inherent part of his character in his later appearances. As such, it's a bit of a shock when one plays the severely limited Yoshi in Super Mario World, especially since said game was set chronologically after Yoshi's Island.
Princess Peach was also a more generic monarch figure in earlier games but was changed to a girlier, ditzier character with a high voice and a sweet tooth in modern games because she's arguably more fun that way.
In Mega Man X this is not applied to only one character, but the concept as whole for the series. In the begining X was said to be special, not only for being the origin to all Reploids but for being to most humane out of the bunch, his emotions and potential for growth can be compared to that of any human; in turn other reploids, and Zero the other Super Prototype himself, commented on how they couldn't (or considered a waste to) feel and express themselves like X did. A few games later, this concept seems to be all but abandoned, all other Reploids and Zero are Ridiculously Human Robots, they express themselves and have distinctive personalities like any other human; X now is more of a outspoken pacifist, as opposed to someone who worries because he was the only one who could.
Captain Falcon of the F-Zero games never had much development character-wise that differed from his lawful bounty hunter racing driver look. Then Super Smash Bros gave him the FALCOOOON PAUUUUNCH and other such moves, to the point that he even uses it in the official anime of the series.
Aran Ryan (don't think too hard about his name) was just a generic opponent, more or less, in the SNES incarnation of Super Punch-Out!!. Then Next Level Games decided to play up the "hot-tempered Irishman" stereotype for the Wii game and made him a complete lunatic.
In the Wii game, Kid Quick was probably going to be this... but his new characterization got so out of hand that the developers just called him a new character, Disco Kid.
In his debut on Sonic 3 and Sonic Triple Trouble, Knuckles was constantly laughing at you whenever he activated one of his traps, hindering your way. In the following games and other adaptations, Knuckles is portrayed as a deadly serious guy who never laughs or even smiles (when is not a sarcastic smile).
"Unlike Sonic I don't chuckle, I'd rather flex my muscles!"
This characterization itself has become desposed of as Knuckles has became more comical and jovial once again in later games. All the games usually have him smug about getting one over Sonic. Since the majority of his role in Sonic 3 revolved around him torturing and hindering Sonic this attitude seems more consistant.
Not to mention in the box art he was white rather than pink.
While some vestiges of her original personality remain, the Touhou character Marisa Kirisame was significantly different in the first five (PC-98) games. She was originally fairly bland, distinctly feminine, and moderately evil. Following the the shift to Windows, she became the tomboyish Loveable Rogue we know and love. To some extent, Reimu had it worse, as she didn't really have a defined personality in those games at all.
The first Mortal Kombat features a very different Raiden from the rest of the series. In every other game, he's the protector of Earthrealm, the Obi Wan to Liu Kang and the other Earthrealm warriors, and one of the most powerful forces for good. In the first one? He's a Chaotic StupidJerkass who enters the tournament simply to show he's not afraid of Shang Tsung, thinks nothing of the mortals he's fighting, and in his ending bans anyone but gods from entering the tournament and blows up the Earth as a result. Whenever a work references the events of the original, they just pretend the second characterization is what happened.
Occurred often in the Dynasty Warriors and Samurai Warriors franchise as they added new playable characters, even if they had previously been generic NPCs in the games in look and voice — for example, Cao Pi (son of Cao Cao) was Zhen Ji's generic NPC husband in 3 and 4, only to later acquire a unique look, weapon, and personality in 5 when he was promoted to both a major playable character. (Amusingly, one hentai doujinshi author put out a Zhen Ji-centric doujin based on DW3 with Cao Pi looking like one of the game's generic NPC general templates, only to later release another doujin based on DW5, now with their DW5 versions.)
Likewise, Sima Zhao (second son of Sima Yi) is somewhat "Sima Yi Lite" in his mannerisms and speech in Dynasty Warriors 4: Xtreme Legends (in Meng Huo's Legend Mode stage), 5 (Battles of Jieting and Chencang) and 6 (in Sima Yi's ending cutscene), only to get a complete revamp in personality befitting his central role in the Jin storyline of 7.
The Medic from Team Fortress 2. What his in-game lines and a laconic bio provided by Valve revealed was not much more than "swaggering Mad Doctor with fairly Camp Gay mannerisms". The "Meet the Medic" video released 4 years after the game not only deepened his character, but also nearly completely changed what he was originally perceived as - he turned out to not be cold and grumpy, but much, much more outspoken and affable than first thought. He isn't even an ounce less insane than before, though.
Sil'lice from Drowtales brutality and cruelty seems to have been toned down in the later remake chapters compared to the earlier chapters. She actually seems to be somewhat reasonable now and has two little twins whom she clearly loves. It's widely agreed to be an improvement. And most of the worst traits she had before now seem to have been transferred to her daughter Kadara, whose viciousness when dealing with two children who are also her cousins seems to take Sil'lice aback.
Non-work safe comic Sexy Losers. In particular, early "Madame X" strips featured a couple of friends who mainly existed to bounce exposition off of...at first. Later strips saw the characters earning the Fan NicknamesAbusive Friend and Swearing Friend, based on strips like this. As the author put it, "But you said nothing happened last time," practically sounds like a doctoral thesis coming from a character known for lines like "Your fuck is shit, dickass."
This is also true for the Suicide Girl comics. At first, he would ask the girl if they would have sex prior making you believe he would have either or. Now he's only interested in corpses.
Also true for the Kenta's Hot Mom comics. At first, Kenta actually had feelings for his mother. This gets weird seeing how he is openly disgusted at his mom's sexual advances in every other comic.
D'rizzl in 8-Bit Theater had his IQ go up 120 points upon joining the Dark Warriors, since the team needed a straight man.
The very first strips also have Fighter as not-dumb (He even remarks "Dude, that line sucks" when Black Mage does a Storm impression) and Black Mage as not-evil (He kinda feels bad for accidentally blowing up a forest. Really!). It says something about the comic when saying "Thanks. What's up?" to a guard instead of murdering him for speaking to him is out of character.
For the first year or so of Something Positive, Davan is portrayed as being completely hopeless with women. He's shown being rejected by women multiple times, and the few relationships he has had have been with women who were either mentally unstable or who spontaneously decided to cheat on him (and in one instance, both). This changed due to a bit of outside interference: according to Word Of God (in a YouTube post), Milholland had the idea of Davan meeting a really cool girl in the bar he frequented, then having her be creeped out by his getting involved in an altercation. A friend suggested that instead of going for the thousandth downer, that he cut Davan a break and let him be happy for once. His going for this idea and starting a romantic plotline for Davan probably killed the whole "women hate Davan" gag; since then, Davan has been involved with a handful of reasonably stable women, including some friends-with-benefits closet-action. Davan still references the idea that he only attracts crazy women, but then nobody in the comic seems entirely sane.
Problem Sleuth, at the beginning of his series, didn't have the crippling phobia of ethnic cheer murals that he shows later on. He originally considered the mural in his office money well spent.
He was also more of a jerk to the other characters, though that one has elements of Fire-Forged Friends.
In the earliest El Goonish Shive strips, Elliot and Tedd were alike in perversion, and Sarah was a borderline Straw Feminist. These days, it's hard to imagine Sarah giving more than an annoyed glare to Tedd's suggestion to strip, and it's hard to imagine Elliot going along with it.
Tedd, for his part, while his libido hasn't really changed, has lost a lot of his Mad Scientist cred with the revelation that he's just been reverse-engineering alien tech, and parts of it (which work on the same principles as Earth "magic") remain a mystery to him.
Grace, as well, is much less naïve in early strips (in the most glaring case, later Ret Conned as having been explained to her, realizing what people would think of a woman wearing nothing but a trenchcoat), something Dan admits he regrets.
Also, Principal Verrückt's first appearance was a quick "the principal is Adolf Hitler" cutaway gag, complete with Gratuitous German; in his very next appearance, Ellen points out just how he looks with a wig, and from then on, he's bald with a bushier moustache, never once speaks another word in German, and comes off as a good-hearted bumbler.
It takes a while for the characters to get established in Achewood, and there are too many out-of-character moments in early strips to count. However the most egregious (and Squicky) would have to be when Philippe — later established to be perpetually five years old — has sex with Ultra Peanut.
Well, all we really see is that they've taken their clothes off. Chris Onstad suggests in the book that they went outside to play in the sprinklers.
Minor example in Bob and George: In an early strip, Chadling is excited by the prospect of bananas. Bananas never come up in the comic again, and the rest of the time, Chadling's Trademark Favorite Food is ice cream (like most of the other dumb characters). In the commentary, David Anez says that the love of bananas was a reference to a friend of his whom Chadling was named after, and he never got around to using it again.
In General Protection Fault, Trudy starts out as a Card-Carrying Villain who routinely drops safes on GPF's competitors, killing them. In the year before Surreptitious Machinations, she gradually evolves into a Magnificent Bitch who manages to take over the world in an alternate future, becoming emotionally unhinged after killing Nick for rejecting her, the first time she had ever killed someone herself.
In Homestuck, Dave is known as The Stoic who can go off into epic wordplay at the drop of a hat and has a very consistent demeanor that's incredibly difficult to falter. However, the few times we see him talk to John pre-naming, he comes off as more emotional and brief, actually using punctuation and emotion, with John able to casually troll him with a simple reference to Little Monsters.
There's also the Trolls, though in their case not much was known about them at the time. Compare their earlier pesterlogs in Acts 3 and 4 to what is later revealed about them in Act 5 (looking at you, Tavros).
Hussie also notes this happening to John in the notes for the second book:
Lisa of Penny and Aggie, in her earliest appearances, bears little resemblance to the cheerful, extroverted Genki Girl she's best known as. Instead, she's presented as a somewhat alienated and angry sort, apart from her friendly overtures to Aggie. Writer T Campbell later explainedin the comic's forum that Lisa was in a "transitional period" then as a New Transfer Student, and was also going through a "rebel phase" which put more distance between her and others than she's usually been known to maintain.
Also, Sara: in one of her first appearances (in fact, only the fourth panel ever), she expresses interest in Italian boys. This seems very strange in retrospect given her later Coming Out Story. It didn't take long for that subplot to start being foreshadowed, though, and you could always just wave it off as her trying to fit in.
Hogan from Survivor: Fan Characters is widely remembered by fans as a good-natured Ace with a playful sense of humor who was the series' first big "heroic" character, so it can be quite jarring to reread Season 1 and discover that he was actually a massive Jerk Ass with barely a trace of humor for the first couple of episodes and didn't become really likable until halfway through the season. Suffice it to say that the Hogan from All-Stars would never have tried throwing an immunity challenge solely because he hated almost all of his tribemates and wanted to vote them off.
Zexion was originally supposed to be the Only Sane Man who would exist for Axel and Marluxia to play off. He developed into a King among Jerkasses.
Marluxia started off as Axel's partner in crime and psychopathy. When Zexion's characterization marched on, Marluxia became superfluous and was Demoted to Extra. After that, he turned gay. Then he got re-promoted to main character, in more or less the Straight Man role Zexion was originally going to play.
The original characterisation of Sean O'Cann was as an abusive and rude Jerk Jock, somehow he managed to wind up as slightly brusque and somewhat sarcastic. The difference is such that without the name you wouldn't be able to tell it was the same character.
From the same version, Lyn Burbank was initially a cold, calculating psychopath ready to die as long as she could take down as many people as she could. It only took a small handful of threads before she changed dramatically: becoming bitter, more emotional and prone to breakdowns, her intended murderous rampage becoming focused on Frost instead, the narrative focusing more on the more woobie-ish parts of her character, and the revelation that she was in fact terrified of dying. Her original self was hand waved away in the end with the explanation that she was just trying (and ultimately failing) to play the part she thought she was expected to play.
In version 4, we have Aileen Borden, who in her early pre-game posts started out as a shyEmo Teen. As her characterization was more fleshed out, though, she changed radically. By the time v4 actually rolled around, her originally intended personality became more clear as a sarcasticKnight in Sour Armor, and ultimately became a Foil to Aaron Hughes in-game. Her handler has said that the reason why was simply because it was taking a while to really get her characterization down.
In very early episodes of Red vs. Blue, it's pretty clear that most of the personalities haven't really been defined yet, especially on the Red side. Flanderization sets in quickly as they find clearer, more defined roles in the overall cast dynamic, and by season two the characterization has gelled - from then on, most major change falls under Character Development.
Fans of The Nostalgia Critic may be surprised to see that in the character's first ever appearance, he is commenting on the first live-action Transformers movie in a style closer to that of Doug Walker's other character, Chester A. Bum. Over the course of the next few reviews, The Nostalgia Critic became the cynic most viewers are familiar with, and the 'hyper' style was given to Chester A. Bum. This was lampshaded when The Nostalgia Critic briefly resumed the prior characterization when reviewing Transformers II: Revenge of the Fallen, and Chester A. Bum walked in at the end and asked "Did he just steal my act?"
In a much more character-based example, and confirmed by Doug in the Cartoon All-Stars commentary, he was much more manlier and much less pathetic/woobiefied back in the earlier reviews. For example, when he screamed back then, he sounded scary and angry. When he screams now, it's more like he's seriously getting freaked out. And there's a lot more crying involved.
Her reviewing style also has gradually morphed from being a straight-through synopsis that pokes fun at various Fridge Logic (like the Critic's reviews) and become more of general study of the review subject's themes, characters, plot (and plot holes) and so on. Even in reviews like Grease or Mulan, she takes time from the synopsis to analyze various details.
Eddie Cohen of The Insane Quest started off as more of an apathetic Emo Teen who would only do the bare minimum to contribute to his team's goals. As time went on, however, he was flanderized into a cowardly, inept Butt Monkey who was friendlier towards the other members of Smoosh and mostly avoided obstacles out of fear rather than laziness.
In We Are Our Avatars, not only did the Homestuck Trolls take this route, but various canon characters have marched onto new designs.
In The Gungan Council, commonly happens due to changing tastes and styles of writers, especially if a character has been written for a long time.
In his early videos, Gronkh tended to put things much more bluntly and was much less talkative than he is now; all in all, his in-show personality wasn't developed yet.
In the first episode of Friendship is Witchcraft, Celestia seems to honestly like Twilight Sparkle, even if they're not as close as in canon, and actually solicits a friendship lesson from her. In later episodes, Celestia is shown to consider Twilight Sparkle obnoxious at best and creepy at worst, and to resent the letters she receives unasked — she simply made the mistake of finding it endearing when Twilight wrote her letters about her lessons when she was a filly.
The PONY.MOV series' take on Rarity changed - voice-wise and appearance-wise - drastically between APPLE.MOV and DRESS.MOV, from excited teenager to obese sweatshop runner.
Mickey Mouse. Currently: Either the Everyman and the cartoon character that everybody knows and loves, or the Keyblade-wielding Badass that Kingdom Hearts fans know and love. 1928: The guy who forced Minnie to kiss him, was also a bit of a jerk, and didn't mind harming his enemies.
Epic Mickey returns to his original characterization, sort of. Mickey's pranks set in motion the dangerous events of the game, and he has the option of either helping the inhabitants of the world he inadvertently endangered (becoming The Hero and looking more heroic), or looking out for himself and just trying to get back to his world (becoming The Scrapper and looking more sinister). Essentially, the player has the option of making Mickey like his modern self, or his original self.
Mickey's change is kind of Justified when you think modern Mickey is the grown up and matured classic Mickey.
Mickey in the Walt-era cartoons was prone to almost Bugs Bunny-levels of retribution (such as his magical pranks on Donald in Magician Mickey), and had quite a low tolerance for things not going his way, notably pulling a gun on Donald in Symphony Hour when the Duck tried to ditch a Concert Gone Horribly Wrong.
In Daisy Duck's first appearance she was Donald in high heels; just like Donald she would get angry easily, and they even had the exactsameVoice Actor.
In early appearances she was quite mature and lady-like. Nowadays she's wild and ditzy.
Goofy went from Lovable Klutz to a period of being The Everyman in the 50s before being reverted back to the Klutz everyone knows and loves.
Huey, Louie, and Dewey were undisciplined troublemakers in their appearances up to and including the early episodes of DuckTales. Later on in DuckTales they're shown as quite responsible, almost never breaking the rules unless they think it's for a good cause. This change made the Five-Episode Pilot seem really weird when seen alongside later episodes in reruns.
Pete and Goofy's sons seem to have gone on a very bumpy journey before settling on the personalities they ended up with in Goof Troop, or even appearance—or in the case of Max, name. In The Everyman shorts mentioned above, the character who eventually became Max first appeared, but he was far more wild and uncontrollable. He's also "Goofy Jr." and for a while was a redhead with no ears. The character who later became PJ appeared in "Bellboy Donald" and he went from having everything in common with his father except being fat to... having nothing in common with his father except being fat. And his voice couldn't be more different either, going from gravelly and moderately low as a little kid to high, whiny, and clear, even as an adult.
Much like Flanderization, The Simpsons has this trope across the board, with the main character, Homer Simpson, serving as arguably the biggest example within this series:
Homer's most popular characterization as a crude, clumsy, lazy, ignorant man (with alcoholic tendencies) makes the first season episode, "There's No Disgrace Like Home" an extremely odd episode to watch, especially for those who have never seen The Simpsons in its first season. In it, he is embarrassed by his family's boorish behavior (including Marge getting drunk at his boss's party) and takes them to family therapy. Yes, Homer is embarrassed by his family's boorish behavior! If this were written after season one, Marge or Lisa would be the ones embarrassed. Here's an actual quote from Homer in the episode:
"We're not going to shovel food into our mouths while we stare at the TV. We're going to eat at the dining room table like a normal family."
To put this further into perspective, once they're sat at the dining table, Lisa (usually the only sane person in the family) says:
Happy, Dad?... Good, commence shovelling!
While Homer is somewhat called out on it later that episode (since most of the things he was ashamed of them doing were his fault in the first place) he shows a lot more devotion to his family here than in later seasons.
Another first season episode, "Homer's Odyssey" has Homer getting fired from his job for crashing a forklift and going into such a deep depression at losing the identity of household bread winner that he actually attempts suicide so he wouldn't feel like a failure around his wife and children. At the end of the episode, he becomes the power plant's safety inspector because he's very concerned that the plant isn't being run safely and wants to make a difference. In later episodes, his on-the-job negligence is legendary, with him personally committing safety violations that would not only get him canned, but probably sent to prison for a long time, if the show cared about realism. He would regularly be sacked for gross incompetence and show little-to-no concern, or casually ditch work for the sake of whatever zany adventure he's going on in the episode. Also, even though his title of safety inspector continues to be mentioned, his job rarely seems to involve any safety inspecting. Admittedly, the plant itself, even without Homer's incompetence, is terribly run and would be shut down in an instant if Burns ever ran into someone he couldn't bribe.
Lisa falls under this trope for multiple reasons:
Throughout the Ullman Shorts and most of the first season, she is a disrespectful troublemaker and not particularly bright, much like her brother. The writers conceived her and Bart as something of an interchangeable duo of bratty kids designed to drive Homer and Marge crazy. As Bart became the show's rascally Breakout Character however, Lisa as a female version of Bart seemed redundant, so they rewrote her as a brainy, yet socially awkward girl.
Lisa, in the early episodes, was a big fan of kiddy The Happy Little Elves while Bart preferred to watch Krusty the Klown and The Itchy and Scratchy Show (along with horror movies and, on the episode where Homer steals cable TV, X-rated movies). Later episodes either show both of them being childish, both of them being mature or, in a lot of recent cases, Bart being the childish one and Lisa being the more mature one.
Lisa's artistic side arguably dates back the development of the show, since her saxophone solo is part of the opening credits. Another case of this trope would be her rebellion against her music teacher Mr Largo. It's part of the opening credits, and is emphasized considerably in a couple early episodes. Later, not only did Lisa avoid conflict with her teachers to the point of becoming a grades-obsessed teacher's pet, but Mr Largo has been Demoted to Extra (and in some cases, Put on a Bus).
Early episodes showed Lisa being friends with other average girls in her class, liking ponies and having small sleepovers at her house. The later episodes established her as a sad loner who is very disliked, constantly bullied for being "smart", a very uppity Granola Girl and always trying to find friends outside her school and joins environmental groups and MENSA.
Supporting characters have gone through this too. When we first see Principal Skinner's mother in The Crepes Of Wrath, she is the stereotypically sweet, frail old lady who embarrasses her son by calling him, "Spanky." Afterwards, she was rewritten into a cruel, controlling matriarch who controls every aspect of her son's life. This could have had something to do with the cherry bomb incident in that episode though.
Skinner himself has changed. Whereas now he's a pathetic mama's boy who is usually easily outsmarted by Bart, in the early seasons, he was far more competent and authoritative, and his main shtick was a tendency to mispronounce long words (one of which was his own surname), have flashbacks about his days as a Vietnam War soldier and demonstrate his Green Beret skills, such as taking out a group of lawyers from The Disney Corporation who threatened to sue Skinner over using "The Happiest Place on Earth" for the school carnival. The writers kept the 'Nam flashbacks (though those got phased out as well as time went on), but ditched his penchant for mispronouncing long words, and eventually made him a loser who always fell for Bart's tricks.
Dr. Hibbert, in his first appearance, "Bart The Daredevil", is as a stern, competent professional. By his very next appearance, he became somewhat absent-minded and laugh-prone ("Ah-hee-hee-hee!") and an Expy of Bill Cosby, complete with a wife who looks like Phylicia Rashad (only with darker skin), a teenage son who looks like Malcolm-Jamal Warner, and a daughter who looked like Keisha Knight-Pulliam.
Police Chief Wiggum also went through a dramatic shift. In early episodes he is portrayed as a serious, no-nonsense police officer surrounded by idiotic officers. Later on, he becomes an idiotic police officer, whilst the others become somewhat smarter. Not coincidentally at all, this was around the same time the writers decided to make him Ralph's father.
Even before Ned Flanders became the Trope Namer for Flanderization, his personality had drifted towards being nice and meek. It's sort of funny to watch his first appearance, where he's so indifferent/oblivious to Homer's obvious financial problems that it reaches Jerk Ass proportions and he actually seems fully deserving of Homer's enmity.
Nelson and the Jimbo, Dolph, and Kearney trio used to scare Bart and were, overall, much worse kids. Infact, Nelson, in his first appearance, is so menacing that Bart has to use military tactics against him. Now they're all Bart's pals; with Nelson practically being one of the gang. That's not to say Nelson and the trio don't beat Bart up every now and then.
"One Fish, Two Fish, Blowfish, Blue Fish" features some supporting characters behaving in ways that seem extremely out of character in hindsight but were undeveloped or underdeveloped at the time. It features Lou and Eddie acting as incompetent or malicious policemen when generally speaking later on in the series they are portrayed as more reasonable, competent foils to their boss, Chief Wiggum. Additionally, Smithers sees Mr. Burns eyeing a beautiful woman and not only doesn't get jealous, but also encourages him and seems to be interested in the woman himself.
In South Park, Randy Marsh's drift into Mr. Serious Business in the later seasons makes early episodes strange to watch; apparently World of Warcraft and Little League games deserve more panic than things like spontaneous combustion or lava engulfing the town.
In "Two Guys In A Hot Tub", Stan refuses to hang out with Butters and Pip because they are "melvins" and the geekiest kids in school. Whilst Butters and Pip are still Butt Monkey types in later seasons, Stan, evolves into one of the nicest and most tolerant characters, while Butters practically becomes one of the gang, so Stan acting like he wouldn't be caught dead with them seems somewhat unusual. Even Kyle agrees with this point of view at the end.
Stan and Kyle actually were a lot nastier and more immature in the first couple of seasons, and actually seemed like genuine 8 year olds a lot of the time. It wasn't until around seasons six and seven that they became the eternal Straight Men and Only Sane Men to the idiocy of the wider South Park population.
Arguably, it's more down to the Comedic Sociopathy humor used early on in the show, in that while Stan and Kyle did have a somewhat plausible moral code early on, they would still break character to envoke Butt Monkey situations onto Pip and Butters. Kyle was highly against Cartman's bigotry and bullying even early on, yet actually seemed to side with him concerning these characters, even earning a broken nose for his repeated intolerant slurs on Pip. Arguably, the change occured during the sixth season, when the writers seemed interested in developing a more sentimental tone; in the premiere "Jared Has Aides," all of the boys are seen bullying and exploiting Butters in an equal fashion. In subsequent episodes (despite getting thrown out of the gang), Butters seems to gain a more developed relationship with them, his treatment now more dependent to the characters in play (Cartman obviously still abuses Butters highly while Stan and Kyle have a more sympathetic tone towards him). As early as in "Toilet Paper" a season later, they have resentment to exploiting Butters in a similar manner than they did before.
Speaking of Butters, his character from when he first appeared is almost completely unrecognizable to his behavior nowadays. In his earliest appearances he was as much of a Jerkass as most of the other kids, and would gang up to pick on any other singled out boy (such as Craig in "Cartman's Silly Hate Crime 2000" when he gets made "the new Cartman" of the group). It's a far cry from the naive Nice Guy he quickly evolved into.
In the first four seasons, Eric Cartman was a whiny spoiled brat with a high scratchy voice who begged his mother into getting whatever he wanted and picked on Kyle mainly because he didn't celebrate Christmas, but the others got along with him for the most part, and he had many catchphrases. From season five onwards he is more intelligent, conniving, manipulative, and psychopathic; his voice is lower and deeper; he rarely whines or cries; the other boys hate him and rarely generally get along; and he doesn't say any of his catchphrases anymore. This is most noticable in "Freak Strike"; Cartman is afraid he is not the most out-of-control kid on the show so he makes up a bunch of outrageous lies about horrible things he's done. Why would he have to make things up? What about the times he fed a kid's parents to him or tried to reignite the Holocaust or... oh, yeah, those things happened in later seasons.
Remember when Wendy Testaburger was once a psychotic Yandere who murdered a substitute teacher Stan had a crush on? Compare that to the smart and sensible girl, who is even willing to break up with Stan, seen in later episodes.
The Mayor. In the early episodes she was the Queen of Town, only concerned about her own image while the other adults were smarter. In more recent episodes she's become smarter while everyone else got dumber, alternating between the primus inter pares of the adults' antics and the Straight Man having to deal with a town of idiotic citizens.
The town itself experienced this. In the early seasons, it was a small conservative mountain town, with a homophobic populace, only one police officer, and rednecks Uncle Jimbo and Ned playing major roles in many episodes. In the middle and later seasons, the town has grown significantly in size, featuring a Wall-Mart, a large community center, a two-story police station full of cops, a number of resturaunts, among other things, Uncle Jimbo and Ned have largely been Demoted to Extras, and its politics have moved significantly to the left, to the point where it usually more closely resembles a Bourgeois Bohemian-filled liberal suburb than a conservative mountain town.
This is currently Truth in Television throughout the United States, particularly in the West, as towns are growing larger and more "modern" thanks to the influx of migrants from the big cities.
Matt Parker and Trey Stone are noted libertarian advocates, so their politics can swing from one Strawman Political to another pretty quickly.
Nearly every character in Family Guy has gone through dramatic changes, most of them also qualifying as Character Derailment. Perhaps the most radical is Stewie. Once an egomaniacal baby genius, bent on world domination and matricide, Stewie has evolved into an effeminate, gay infant with a penchant for occasionally whipping out some manner of advanced technology.
In "If I'm Dying I'm lying" Peter's blasphemous actions result in modified versions of the plagues of Egypt descending on Quahog. It is Brian who realizes the significance of the biblical events and when Peter insists "there must be a logical explanation" Brian slaps him repeatedly and states "Here's an explanation, GOD *slap* IS *slap* PISSED *slap*". Evidently dogs don't have the best memory because for the last few seasons Brian has been an outspoken hard line atheist.
In Mayor West's first two appearances, he appears to be more of a Bunny-Ears Lawyercompared to the rest of the series. He's first introduced telling the story of the city's founding, and the humor is coming entirely from the ridiculousness of the (apparently completely true) story. On his second appearance when he meets Peter Griffin, he is actually surprisingly helpful until he discovers that Peter's property is not part of the United States. Then though, he reveals the trapdoor in his office (and his plans for further work on it), and his characterization is set.
Likewise, Glen Quagmire was initially portrayed as more of a 50s-type swinger fellow and seems quite normal in comparison to the extreme pervert he would eventually become; he was also very unsuccessful at attracting women before becoming the sort of guy who beds a different woman every night (often by immoral and illegal ways, such as roofies, an elaborate mechanism in his couch that sprays any woman who sits on it with knock-out gas, strips her clothes, and spreads her legs and lies her on her back while disco music plays [as seen and demonstrated on "It Takes a Village Idiot and I Married One"], and emotional manipulation]). And even later than that, Quagmire still kept his near-rapist ways, but was shown to hate Brian with a passion (compare with some early episodes where Quagmire and Brian, despite not interacting much, can at least talk to each other without either of them wanting to kill each other), and actually care about two women in his life: his sister, who's being abused by her boyfriend, and Cheryl Tiegs, the one woman he loved so much, that he became a sex addict when she broke up with him.
It is also odd to watch the really early episodes where Meg was treated with respect and love by her family, like Peter trying his hardest to help her out at the school newspaper. Also when Meg and Chris are both in front of an air fan, Meg complains that Chris is hogging all the air to which he replies "Yeah well, YOU'RE hogging all the UGLY!" Unlike the later barrage of "Meg is ugly" jokes, this merely intended as a childish insult someone like Chris would say to his sister.
Similarly Brian's first spotlight episode revolved around him being talked down to for being a dog. Lois chastises Peter for treating Brian this way and the family learn to treat Brian with dignity. Later episodes slowly make a Running Gag out the family manipulating or mocking Brain's forcive dog-like tendencies and at least once pointing he is semi human and disposable to them, usually with Lois herself being the most condescending and bullying towards him.
In Joe's first appearance, Meg hit on his son. He was slow to respond, but that was because she was so awkward. By the end of the episode, he seemed to genuinely enjoy her company. She also had a couple other boyfriends in the past. Compare to present day when boys will do anything to stay away from her, like commit suicide or murder a sibling so they can be too busy with an upcoming funeral.
In the earlier episodes Joe was a mild mannered wheelchair bound cop who is generally friendly towards everyone and well respected because he's crippled but capable. Later episodes have him constantly abused by Peter and other people due to being crippled, he has a severe anger problem often lashing out at and beating up his friends, and sometimes depicted as being depressed.
Also, in their first appearances, news reporters Tom Tucker and Diane Simmons were just two news anchors who may or may not have been attracted to each other, but the viewer wouldn't know, since their main schtick was being politically incorrect while delivering the news (like when Tom declared himself Jesus Christ or Diane mentioning a "freak heat wave" and Tom telling her that it was offensive towards his upside-down faced child). Through most of the show's run afterward, they dislike each other and constantly take shots at each other about how unattractive the other is.
In his first appearance in Futurama, Mr. Panucci came off as an abusive jerk toward Fry. All future episodes portray him as one of the few people who actually cared about him (though he didn't show much concern when Fry was declared missing after getting pushed in the cryogenic freezer), seemingly retconning the first episode outburst as stress.
Kif is another notable example. In his first appearance he was a Deadpan Snarker who was clearly disgusted with Zapp's stupidity; the creators actually came up with him based on the question "What if Spock had hated Kirk?" In subsequent episodes he quickly evolved into an Extreme Doormat, however, miserably suffering under his boss' idiotic commands.
The Professor is a subtler example: in original episodes he had a sort of softspoken, kindly senility, while later he became prone to crazy outbursts and played up more Mad Scientist tendencies.
In the pilot episode, Fry is having a beer with Bender and asks why a robot needs to drink. Bender replies, "I don't need to drink, I can quit anytime I want." This statement comes across as peculiar in later episodes, where it's revealed robots use beer as a fuel source.
His original statement is technically still correct since it's also revealed that "mineral oil" is just as effective a fuel source as alcohol.
Fairly certain that's a lie; the fairly well-known in-the-media line of "I can quit when I want" is generally a dead giveaway of an addict (whether it's to alcohol, cigarettes, illegal drugs, legal drugs, sex, or anything that can be addictive, like video games, texting, and being on social media sites)
Also, Bender in the first episode was defined by his depression, and he is first seen in line for a suicide booth, apparently having been driven suicidal when he found out that he was bending girders to make suicide booths. This is never brought up again, and in later episodes he becomes the loud-mouthed, obnoxious, jerk out to Kill All Humans! that we all know and love.
Another notable case is Zoidberg. Originally, he was shown as an incompetent doctor, yet still treated with the kind of respect one would expect of a doctor. However, after it was revealed that he was actually a good doctor if you're an alien, he morphed into an impoverished, kicked-around Butt Monkey.
In later episodes, Roger of American Dad has a surprisingly full, active life outside the Smith house, able to effortlessly conceal his identity as an alien through a variety of surprisingly effective, yet very obvious, disguises- which makes the early episode "All About Steve" strange to watch, where he is so desperate for human contact that the only place he can go to interact socially with others is at a sci-fi convention. A viewer coming to the series via the later episodes would no doubt be wondering why he doesn't just wear one of his 50,000+ disguises.
Lampshaded in the commentary for "Roger Codger," the episode where Roger has to find his way from a landfill to home without being caught by the CIA, where they point out that the whole premise of the episode is somewhat worthless compared to his current persona.
Roger Codger and some other earlier episodes also depict Roger as more beloved member of the family who, while with blatant Jerk Ass tendencies like the others, is actually willing to sacrifice himself to protect the Smiths. Compare this to later seasons which try to one up his self-obsessedComedic Sociopath persona with each episode.
Dale was also much more mellow (but still hated the American government) in the early days. Compare that to the insane conpiracy theorist is later seasons.
Even Bill was more calm and observant and less pathetic at first (even though he was still treated like a loser and constantly reminded that his life went to hell when his wife left him. Case in point: "Shins of the Father," when he was actually happy at Bobby's birthday until Dooley said, "Your wife divorced you"). After his habits and personality changed and years of Flanderization followed, it's hard to believe the Bill from the first episode is the same as that from later ones.
Hank is actually seen eating a charcoal-grilled burger in the first season, and actually admits it was the greatest burger he's ever eaten, despite being so in love with propane that he cares about it more than his lawn, his son, his niece, or even his wife. This would be unfathomable in later seasons, with his love of propane and hatred of all other forms of grilling/heating (one episode had him refer to butane as a "bastard gas"). Granted he probably said it just to be nice to Kahn, but even with that in mind it's still bizarre to hear him say good things about any fuel other than propane.
Bobby is also much different in early episodes. In the first couple seasons he was mainly a naive, kind of slow kid. By season 3 he started getting more development as a character.
Thanks to some of the most infamous cases of Flanderization in the animated business, a few of the title characters in the Looney Tunes shorts act very different in their 1940s and 1950s-onward appearances (Daffy perhaps being the best example). Still, you will get a few rare nods to their original forms now and then (Space Jam, for example, tries to make a few of the characters' different personas more interchangable).
Pepe Le Pew wasn't really French in his first appearance. The accent was a fake he put on to try to woo the ladies. Also, in Pepe's first appearance, he was married with children and cheating on his wife with a male cat who had painted himself up as a skunk so he can get back at the butcher who kicks him, the dog who attacks him, and the housewife who beats him.
Elmer Fudd originated in the late 1930s as a more bizarre Tex Avery creation known as Egghead, who was only once called Elmer Fudd on screen (in "A Feud There Was") before being retooled in 1940.
Crossing over with Early Installment Weirdness, Sam the Sheepdog and Ralph the Wolf's first short, "Don't Give up the Sheep" had the two be typical slapstick villain and foiler, with Sam (named Ralph in this short) instead switching shifts with another dog named Fred. Later shorts introduced thedynamics the two are well known for.
Also Ralph was very hairy and had menacing looking claws and fangs, later shorts had him looking identical to Wile Coyote but with lighter colored fur and a red nose.
On the first episode of Phineas And Ferb (and more so in The Pilot), Phineas seems fairly irritable and sarcastic, apparently because the creators wanted him to seem like an annoying little brother. Within a few episodes he settled into his usual personality, chipper and laid back to the point of naïveté, which also worked to highlight Candace's paranoia.
Major Monogram. In season one, he was a very formal, authoritative no-nonsense boss who behaved in a totally cold demeanor to anyone he spoke to. Now, he's a One of the Kids eccentric whose mission briefings are never complete without at least one joke.
Before Revenge of the Sith premiered, General Grievous made his first appearance one year earlier in the Genndy Tartakovsky produced Star Wars: Clone Wars animated series. It is a very different characterization than what would end up in the live action movie; Grievous in the animated series is a scary, unstoppable killing machine that singlehandedly defeats a number of Jedi. In the movie, Grievous is less formidable adversary and who runs when he knows he cannot defeat an opponent. This characterization has continued into the CGI Star Wars: The Clone Wars.
Grievous tends to follow Dooku's advice in most of his later characterizations:
Dooku: Don't let your pursuit of trinkets cloud your reality. Remember what I taught you, General. If you're to succeed in combat against the best of the Jedi, you must have fear, surprise, and intimidation on your side. But if any one element is lacking, it would be best for you to retreat. You must break them before you engage them. Only then will you ensure victory and have your trophy.
Could also be seen as legitimate character development since at the end of the Clone Wars cartoon shorts, Grievous was very nearly killed by Mace Windu. It's implied that the character's regular coughing fits that show up in later appearances was caused by Mace using the force to crush his chest plate.
That doesn't explain his personality changing from a serious and silent killer to that of a corny Harmless Villain who walks hunchbacked and delivers goofy and unthreatening lines.
Lucas hadn't decided at the time whether Grevious was going to be a warrior or a schemer. The Clone Wars team made him a badass for the first season, then were told that Lucas was going for the sneaky coward for the movies. Dooku's lecture and Windu crushing his chest were put into the second season specifically to bridge the gap between the two interpretations.
In first couple of appearances in Rugrats, Susie was shown as being a crybaby. Even when in the early season(s), she begins to grow out of the crybaby stage, to the newer episodes where she becomes more of a foil for Angelica.
Chuckie's fear of clowns is now legendary and one of his defining character traits. In the early season 1 episodes it was Didi who was afraid of clowns. The episode "Reptar's Revenge" has her freaking out when a clown sneaks up on her and Chuckie doesn't even bat an eyelid. Maybe he picked it up from her?
When Daria was just a secondary character on Beavis And Butthead, she had a wider range of expression and a less monotone voice (in the early episodes) than she later had in her Spin-Off, and participated in extracurricular activities.
In season one Britney was shown as being a shallow, spoiled cheerleader who was definitely Book Dumb but not a complete ditz; later seasons upped the ditsiness, probably to accentuate her moments of ingenuity.
Jake, Daria's father, pretty much went the stereotypical route of fathers in sitcoms - at first he's not that dumb, just the only man in the house full of women and trying to deal with his messed-up childhood at the hands of his war veteran father, "Mad Dog" Morgendorffer and his passive mother who wanted to stand up to him, but couldn't. In the later seasons, Jake is beyond Bumbling Dad territory and is borderline Too Dumb to Live (and mostly rants about his messed-up childhood and cries over it).
This may be justified. At least some of the women we call Aeon Flux were clones. Or something. Maybe.
In the first episode of Archer, a flashback shows that Archer once wanted to do something sexual that creeped out Cheryl. The same Cheryl who, as of episode 5, is established as a Nightmare Fetishist who is sexually aroused by murder and strangulation.
The early pilot episodes of The Fairly Oddparents had Cosmo as a fairy of normal unintelligence, and both he and Wanda were a bit spacey. (They described themselves as "two halves of one idiot!") In the actual series, Cosmo becomes a ditzyMan Child, while Wanda is the Only Sane Woman who seems to hold everyone else in contempt and always calls Cosmo out for being an idiot. This went through serious Flanderization over time.
Plus the difference in voice: Cosmo sounded like a smooth-talking game show host in the pilot rather than the high-pitched Motor Mouth he became, which is odd, because it sounds like a case of The Other Darrin where Cosmo was voiced by two different people. In reality, Daran Norris' voice of Cosmo just changed overtime.
In the first episode of Invader Zim, GIR is essentially a two-year-old with a larger vocabulary, completely useless and unable to focus on anything. While his attachment to reality remains non-existent, he is later shown to be productive and capable, able to accomplish many things (even if it is rarely anything that Zim wants).
Gaz was always easily annoyed and prone to violent threats, but in early episodes she never really acted on them—her very first line is swearing that Dib "will pay!" for drinking the last soda, but thirty seconds later she's talking to him civilly. Compare that to her insatiable desire for painful, terrible revenge in "Game Slave 2" or "Gaz, Taster of Pork."
The Tallests are a mild example—in the first episode they both have moments of intelligence and stupidity, but in "Backseat Drivers from Beyond the Stars" Red is the competent one and Purple is stupider.
The titular character of Dexters Laboratory was quite serious and methodical, and at times a jerkass (mostly to Dee Dee), in the very early episodes. Compare this to the change in his character (which didn't occur after too long) that made him much more full of enthusiasm, giving him a more childlike, pleasant nature, though he was still an egotist. As for Dee Dee, all throughout the series her personality could be anything from the most insufferable Annoying Older Sibling to the Genius Ditz with more common sense than our resident boy genius.
Dr. Scientist on Jimmy Two Shoes. In the first season, he was a rather helpful scientist who seemed rather friendly to Jimmy (even though he could feel exhausted by him) and was also established as Heloise's inferior. In season two, however, he suddenly Took a Level in Jerkass to become a villain, and it's stated that he won the Mad Scientist Award every year, easily beating Heloise.
The two main villains in Kim Possible. Drakken was originally a competent, and intimidating, person before turning into his typical Harmless Villain persona. Shego was just a typical mook, with few essences of her signature personality. Then they became Ensemble Dark Horse's and the team noticed how well Shego's voice actress worked with sarcasm.
In his first appearance on The Flintstones, Dino could actually talk, which never happens again in the series.
In X-Men: Evolution, Lance was originally a jerk ass with a known hair trigger temper and a small shade of manipulative bastard, and was to some extent a dark mirror version of Cyclops. In season two, however, they then established he had a crush on Kitty and pretended to be nice to get to her. After they broke up, he became the Jerk with a Heart of Gold that we all remember, who while willing to plot against the X-Men was also unable to leave a helpless old woman to die, and teamed up with them to stop an explosion, in fact, many don't even remember his original depiction, and if someone does point it out, its usually called just bashing him. Pietro, originally a Smug Snake, took over as the Brotherhood's leader with a BIG case of Manipulative Bastard who in all fairness, is the exact opposite of Cyclops. Only Blob and Toad really remained their original personalities, and there, Blob lost his anger, and Toad lost any competance he had (Originally being able to hold his own against Nightcrawler).
They regain some of their comedic traits in the later seasons (Amberley in particular almost makes a full regression by the end of the series), however they remain secondary foils to the Urpneys for the large part, compared to the pilot, where Rufus is clearly the center character.
Also in the first season, Urpgor was much more unhinged and somewhat decrepit (sort of like a traditional Igor), he also tends to be more consistantly on the winning side of his rivalry with Blob, his boasting of having higher approval from Zordrak seeming to be somewhat true. Compare this to later seasons, where he is somewhat more lucid and cynical, and almost more of a Butt Monkeythan the other Urpneys.
In the pilot and several early episodes, Zordrak was much more collected and genuinely sinister, and from the very first scene was shown perfectly willing to back up his threats of deposing of incompetent Urpneys. As seasons progressed, he evolved into more of a traditional cartoon Bad Boss, having little role outside throwing demonic tantrums and issuing empty threats or slapstick punishments to his squad.
In the first season of Hey Arnold, Stinky was a bully and sidekick to Harold who wore spiky wristbands. Later on, he's a sweet, naive Country Mouse struggling to find something he's good at. Since Stinky is much better known for how he was written in later episodes, it's a bit jarring to watch him in his earlier appearances.
Arnold himself went from being a Cloud Cuckoo LanderMr. Imagination to the Only Sane Man. One particularly notable example; Gerald and Arnold are having a sleepover, and it's Arnold who thinks his apartment is haunted while Gerald plays the skeptic.
Francine was a lot more of a Jerk Ass bully in the early Arthur episodes, and Binkie was more of a straight-up bully then a sensitive boy with a Jerk Ass Facade.
In the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon, April's co-worker at Channel 6, Vernon Fenwick, was originally part of her newscrew who even helped her defy their boss in order to help her get an exclusive story on the Dimension X invasion. One season later, he's now a cowardly reporter who always tries to steal April's stories from her and is a gigantic suck-up and Yes Man that would never dream of going against his boss. One possible thing that could have led to this evolution was his change in voice actors, the second one who notably gave him much more of a whinier voice than the original.
First introduced on Batman The Animated Series, Harley Quinn was originally introduced as nothing more than a minor henchwoman working for The Joker, once muttering "Oy, beauty school is starting to look pretty good about now." after being caught by Batman. The producers envisioned her as a one-shot character, though she turned so popular that she became part of the Batman comics, which led to the comic "Mad Love", later adapted on BTAS, which revealed that she was an intern at Arkham Asylum who was seduced by the Joker during psychiatric sessions.
Thomas The Tank Engine has taken a few directions within the show's heavy run, starting off as an egotistical Bratty Half-Pint in Season One, before gradually maturing into a more reponsible Nice Guy by Season Three. The HIT Entertainment seasons kept up the more altrustic image of Thomas, but granted back some of his childishness and naivete, and by the time of the CGI transition he has become something of a well intentionedKeet.
Toby started off a fairly confident Big Brother Mentor, even being a tad snarky and acerbic with other more arrogant engines. As the series started branching from the books, Toby started gaining a meek, under confident side, and by the time of the CGI series is an almost childlike Lovable Coward that engines he previously tutored such as Thomas and Percy often end up soothing.
Compare Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy's characterization in the episode "Dragonshy" and, well, pretty much any later episode where they interact in some form. In "Dragonshy" Dash pretty much seems to hate how meek and scared Fluttershy is, while in later episodes, she may be frustrated, but she is much more understanding of her friend's fears, and Fluttershy proves to be much braver and less jumpy in future episodes.
All of the Apple family to some extent. Applejack started off as a Hot Blooded Calamity Jane-esque figure before taming into a more laid back Team Mom. Apple Bloom, originally Wise Beyond Her Years turned into the over excitable leader of the Cutie Marks (this is particularly jarring in "Bridle Gossip", where the latter acts an Only Sane Man to a growing paranoia concerning Zecora, that AJ is spearheading). Big Macintosh, who originally spoke and acted fairly normally, eventually became limited to his trademark "Yep" and "Nnnnope" outside sparse occasions and usually acts as a Not So Stoic in most of his appearances, while Granny Smith, originally a rambling decrepit old woman, became a still kooky but deceptively Cool Old Pony and, in opposite to Big Mac, began speaking full sentences.
Twilight Sparkle started off in the pilot (and a select few early episodes) as rather acerbic and aloof, and was thoroughly lucid outside her social ineptness. As she grew out of her Fish out of Water role however, her more subtle wackier traits became prominant, most of her spotlight episodes revolving around her status as The Finicky One. She also became a more consistantly warmer and more excitable character, to the point of occasional Large Ham tendancies.
The Warden in Superjail! was introduced as a quirky yet sadistic type who gained entertainment from his inmates dying in gruesome ways, and that was said by the creators to be a super-genius that wasn't good with people. Compare the early characterization to the more outgoing Man Child who's willing to make friends, and that gets beat up and injured easily by his own inmates or others.
The Twins actually directly interact with the Warden in the pilot, and are shown to fear the possibility of being killed from the chaos they started. In later episodes of the series, they rarely mention him or are noticed by him. Their general personalities also shifted from being colder,a bit more callous and less verbose, to being more awkward and vulnerable. Their early meddling with the jail was also more often destructive.
Alice was much less verbal and more to-the-point with her dialogue, and seemed to be more threatening.
In Slade's first appearance he was a Card-Carrying Villain who spouted cliched dialogue ("Next time my planswill succeed- and the Titans will pay!"), smashed teacups when he got angry, and employed a butler. Later episodes turned him into the creepily emotionless Manipulative BastardTitans fandom loves to hate, gave his immediate Evil Plan a definite focus (though we never learned what his ultimate goal was), made his dialogue into what amounted to a series of very nasty Breaking Speeches and the butler was never seen with him again.note The Butler is named Wintergreen, and he was Slade's regular sidekick in the comics. He was most likely added to the first episode with the intention of developing into the same role in the cartoon, but was then dropped in favor of Slade working alone.
This happened to the third season's Big Bad, Brother Blood. In his first appearance he was hammy and egotistical, true, but he mostly overacted only when playing to an audience and could be quite calm and suave when he wanted to, and took his defeat at the end of the episode quite calmly. Later episodes made him into a much more hotheaded villain prone to outbursts of temper whenever things went wrong, and he largely lost his "Evil Professor X" shtick to become a much more straightforward Diabolical Mastermind. Also crosses over with Flanderization, as his obsession with Cyborg slowly ate up his entire character, to the point that his last appearance was entirely centered on stealing Cyborg's tech and upgrading his minions (and himself) with it.