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[[caption-width-right:350:[-"Sometimes I forget that I ''kinda sorta'' totally made up [[VideoGame/FireEmblemShadowDragon his]] characterization for the purposes of this comic."-] ]]

->''"How can the same guy be an icon in one reality and a criminal in the next for doing exactly the same things?"''
-->-- '''Lister''', ''Series/RedDwarf''

When a character is subject to multiple interpretations about precisely who they are and what makes them tick.

For example, [[Series/{{Columbo}} Lt. Columbo]] is most commonly believed to use ObfuscatingStupidity. However, there's a camp that believes that he, instead, is a genuinely absent-minded and socially-inept person whose natural tendency to infuriate people causes them to underestimate him, therefore aiding him in his detective work. Although the end result is the same, this would make him more of a GeniusDitz.

Fandom, naturally, loves subjecting their favorite characters to this process. They can be just for fun, or serious re-interpretations. People often like to explore alternative interpretations of characters in FanFic form. In any case, as long as the facts are accounted for, nobody is too badly hurt.

It's not just the fans who have all the fun, though; creators can often present characters who are subject to alternative viewpoints by those around them. Sometimes, writers rely on this for {{subtext}} and to keep as broad a fandom as they can. This is particularly common in long-running {{doorstopper}} epic series full of intrigue and deception, such as the as-yet-unfinished ''Literature/ASongOfIceAndFire''. Keep it up too long, though, and you'll have to give some indication one way or another and risk alienating a group. If you can make a solid case for Alternative ''Story'' Interpretation, you have a strong case of {{applicability}}.

On the other hand, if the fans [[FanonDiscontinuity disregard the facts or make up new ones]], they can become FanWank of the [[EpilepticTrees most horrifying variety]]. This can become {{canon}} if fans start RunningTheAsylum.

For granted, not all interpretations are official and/or logical.

Depending on the alternate interpretations of the character and their actions, the character may end up becoming a BaseBreakingCharacter, or worse, TheScrappy.

This is frequently used to put DracoInLeatherPants, expose RonTheDeathEater, or set someone up to DieForOurShip. It's also common in [[SpriteComic sprite comics]], which often use [[AdaptationPersonalityChange non-canon personalities]] for their characters.

AlternateAesopInterpretation is a sister trope that applies to morals instead of character motivations. See also InterpretativeCharacter, PerspectiveFlip, SatanIsGood, GodIsEvil, DependingOnTheWriter. See MisaimedFandom for when an alternative interpretation becomes popular, much to the chagrin of the writers. If you want to play with it yourself, have a look at DarthWiki/PaintTheHeroBlack and SugarWiki/VillainWhitewashingService. DeathOfTheAuthor is a school of thought that validates this exercise.


* AlternativeCharacterInterpretation/AnimatedFilms
* AlternativeCharacterInterpretation/{{Anime}}
* AlternativeCharacterInterpretation/ComicBooks
* AlternativeCharacterInterpretation/FanWorks
* AlternativeCharacterInterpretation/{{Film}} (Live-Action)
* AlternativeCharacterInterpretation/{{Literature}}
* AlternativeCharacterInterpretation/LiveActionTV
* AlternativeCharacterInterpretation/{{Music}}
* AlternativeCharacterInterpretation/NewMedia
* AlternativeCharacterInterpretation/ReligionAndMythology
* AlternativeCharacterInterpretation/TabletopGames
* AlternativeCharacterInterpretation/{{Theater}}
* AlternativeCharacterInterpretation/VideoGames
* AlternativeCharacterInterpretation/WebComics
* AlternativeCharacterInterpretation/WesternAnimation
* AlternativeCharacterInterpretation/{{Other}}

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