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Characterization Marches On

Asahina: What the heck's happened to you...? You weren't like this from the beginning, you know.
Hagakure: Well, back then my personality hadn't quite solidified yet...!"

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.


Examples:

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    Advertising 
  • 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.

    Comic Books 
  • 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: [as he watches the man in question burn to death] 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 Poppa's 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).
  • Spider-Man started off as a lot more hotheaded and ready to fight for little reason. As early as Amazing Spider-Man #1, Spidey breaks into the Fantastic Four's house to fight them in order to prove his worth as a potential member. He mellowed out once he became an adult so a lot of this could be chalked up to him being a teenage boy who just got super powers.
    • Gwen Stacy from was much different initially than later portrayed. Her characterization changes are quite startling when you consider it, from a college-aged Alpha Bitch to the Veronica and then the Betty in the ongoing Love Triangle before winding up Spider-Man's very sweet girlfriend, and then, well, you know... Her current portrayal (Peter's one true love who was Too Good for This Sinful Earth) didn't exist until after her death.
    • In his earliest appearances the Green Goblin was a Smug Snake who kept getting away after his plans failed and whose face we never saw. Then he was unmasked as Norman Osborn shortly after successfully learning Spider-Man's own identity, spent some time as a Jekyll & Hyde, killed Gwen Stacy, got posthumously upgraded into the Big Bad, and was turned into a Magnificent Bastard upon his resurrection, where he has more or less stayed ever since. In short, a major change due to being a Breakout Villain.
    • 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 (before MJ's characterization marched on) 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.

  • X-Men
    • In the first two or so issues of, 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 had become the New Mutants' mentor. The "survival of the fittest" aspect of his philosophy emerged soon afterward and those other characterizations quickly fell by the wayside. His backstory and status as a rare but overwhelming threat came later still.
    • 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-Claremont 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. This is particularly strange when you consider that nearly all of Rogue's earliest appearances - including that encounter with the Avengers - were written by Chris Claremont.
    • Wolverine's original origin was intended to be that he was actually a wolverine mutated into human form, his claws were originally intended to be built into his gloves and Word of God states that he was planned to be about as strong as Spider-Man (i.e. at the low end of superhuman strength in the Marvel Universe, but still able to lift about 10 tons). 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.

      He also 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).
    • 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. Nowadays, he is mostly known as a funny guy. In the beginning, he would often attack his teammates 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, Batman 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.
    • See also Superman Is A Dick.
    • 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. DC has since tried to sweep this under the rug by retconning the brain damage thing altogether. Some flashbacks imply that Guy has always been, as he puts it, "the crazy one." Likewise, those who are most familiar with the mostly-stoic Marine in the DCAU version of John Stewart, which has since been incorporated into the comics, may be surprised at how, well, funky he is in his early comics appearances.
  • Deathstroke was far more of a dirtbag 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 greatly at odds with the " Never Hurt an Innocent" code the character displayed in later stories.
  • The Teen Titans foe Cheshire also started off with some standards before later writers made her into the completely vile figure she's known as today. She used to avoid Collateral Damage during her assassinations (for instance, she left a witness Bound and Gagged and even assured the man that she had no intention of harming him), and even turned the tables on some racist South Africans who had hired her to kill a black civil rights worker. Then she went and nuked an entire country, and hasn't looked back since… In an interesting case, Young Justice portrayed Cheshire closer to her original comic book depiction. She steered clear of killing innocents, had some Pet the Dog moments, and even had genuine affection for her younger sister, Artemis. This caused some fans who were more familiar with Cheshire's vile phase to claim she was being written horribly Out of Character.
  • 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). He's started appearing unmasked from time to time, and has gone back to stealing things instead of trying to take over the world or whatever (although he still has access to various high-tech devices, usually stolen prototypes, that he uses to commit crimes).
      • And in Epic Mickey, this goes Up to Eleven as the Phantom Blot has become something else altogether.
  • 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 band 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 all fairness, he was originally inspired by Ebenezer Scrooge...
    • Gladstone Gander was only an arrogant dandy who served as The Rival for Donald in his first three appearances - him being Born Lucky on top of that wasn't established until his fourth appearance ('Race to the South Seas'), but it immediately became THE defining trait of his character.
  • 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.
  • 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 follow up 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 spouted "Puny human make Hulk angry! Hulk smash!" Though later retcons would establish that this behavior was still canon. The Hulk has multiple personalities, with some of them being quite intelligent while others are just mindless, screaming monsters.
  • 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 butt 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 The 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 later appearances, he became a goofy, bumbling, comic relief punching bag. This third characterization may be a response to Blade Trinity and Ryan Reynolds' characterization of King.
  • The earlier far wackier points of Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog series are rather jarring to see. Most notably the characterizations of Sonic and Robotnik are based more primarily on their Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog counterparts, with Sonic being a goofy Karmic Trickster and Robotnik being a childish Harmless Villain. The other Freedom Fighters are far more comedic than they are in later issues and even the original show they came from. Princess Sally Acorn in particular started off as The Finicky One and was far more neurotic and self righteous, before becoming Closer To Earth and much more lucid and easy going.
  • Jaime from the Spanish Superlópez series was originally created as López's work rival, who would report everything he did wrong to their boss in an attempt to get him fired and take his girlfriend. They bonded notably in book no. 10 and became friends from then on, with Jaime appearing now as a nice, caring man. His old personality can only be seen briefly in books 35 and 36.
  • In the first volume of The Demon Mages, the Gorgon actress Ari spoke without any pronounced accents. Outside of the comics, she's known for her Southern Belle-type accent. Only in the second half of the second volume does it begin to show.
  • Ultimate Nick Fury was a lot different in his initial appearance, being more like Tony Stark (i.e. a suave, cocky and insanely rich ladies man) than the stoic Samuel L. Jackson inspired character who later appeared in The Ultimates.
  • Iznogoud: The Caliph's chambellan introduced in Iznogoud's Birthday was initially not specifically aggressive to Iznogoud and starts acting antagonistic toward him as a reaction to his angryness and obnoxiousness. When the same chambellan is reintroduced in later comics, he is portrayed as being basically Iznogoud's Arch-Enemy who is trying to protect the Caliph against his overthrowing attempts. Being jailed at the end of Iznogoud's Birthday didn't help as well (although Iznogoud had good reasons to do that, to be fair).
  • Aaron Stack the Machine Man started out as a very nice guy — the only robot in his series who didn't go mad and have to be put down like a wild animal, because he was lovingly raised as a son by the man who built him. Years later though, he went through a series of traumatic experiences (getting destroyed and rebuilt, infected with Sentinel programming, and finally kidnapped by aliens and unceremoniously rejected as being somehow unfit) — leading to his suffering a full fledged nervous breakdown that turned him into the misanthropic jerk he was in Next Wave. He stayed that way for years, but recent portrayals have shown him acting like his much mellower old self, so we must assume that he has finally managed to work past it.
  • The Splinter who is a loving, if flawed, father is nowhere in evidence in the first issue of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, where he casually tells his sons that the reason he's been training them for years is so that they can attempt to kill a man they have never met to satisfy a vendetta they had never heard about before, a mission he intends for them to undertake with no actionable intelligence and no expectation of survival. While technically still canonical, future stories have had to gloss over these details, since they're completely at odds with the characters the turtles and Splinter would eventually become.

    Fan Fic 
  • Calvin's personality in Calvin & Hobbes: The Series goes from just like the comic strip to a Gadgeteer Genius.
    • Then there's the Klein family. The first appearance of a Klein has him annoyed at Calvin's antics. Every Klein since then have been "the only cool adult [Calvin's] ever seen."
    • For the Calvinverse at large, we have Rupert and Earl's crew. In their original appearance in Calvin and Hobbes: The Movie, they were competent threats to the duo. They progressively got dumber in later appearances until finally fitting into their current characterization. (The rewrite of The Movie has them in their new characterization.)
  • Kyouko wasn't always The Ditz in You Got HaruhiRolled!. An early appearance actually has her be a Gadgeteer Genius.
  • A general example of this happened to Princess Luna in the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fandom. Luna became extremely popular in the fandom despite having only two short scenes and a handful of dialogue. In the gap between season 1 and 2, a commonly accepted Fanon personality for Luna emerged as a Shrinking Violet Woobie who was extremely demure, shy, and easily frightened, with most fanworks and fanfic utilizing that characterization. Then Luna appeared in season 2, and basically shot that interpretation to hell; Canon Luna turned out to be a Large Ham with a taste for the macabre, whose main issue with other ponies was in trying not to accidentally intimidate them. The canon characterization quickly became even more popular, with the result that all of the fics written before season two looking ridiculous. The contrast between pre-S2 Luna and post-S2 Luna is so sharp that many fans consider the old characterization to be a completely different character, generally referred to as "Woona".

    Literature 
  • Discworld: 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 manipulative Magnificent 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. Then again, if you do the maths, the past-set sequence in question takes place close to the time of Sourcery, meaning Vetinari couldn't have been the Patrician back then...
      • 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 one segment of The Colour Of Magic was a more direct parodynote  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.
  • In The Thrawn Trilogy, Grand Admiral Thrawn is a Magnificent Bastard who is slightly less cruel to his subordinates than more famous Imperials, who plays mind games with his opponents, gets a slightly frightening amount of data from art, does not tell anyone his plans, and is pragmatic. That characterization holds true throughout. But every subsequent appearance of the man plays up his magnificence while minimizing any evil-ness. He was Affably Evil; he claimed to be helping his secret death commandos while poisoning their planet, he associated with Joruus C'baoth and promised to give him Leia and the twins, he lied and was going to torture Talon Karrde, and he was certainly not infallible. Very, very good, yes, but he could be taken off guard, he could lose, he could misread things or miss them altogether.
    • 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 Survivor's 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.
  • The early Star Wars Expanded Universe novel Splinter Of The Minds Eye was written before The Empire Strikes Back. In it, Luke has a lightness and a sometimes silly nature which he lacks in later works. That can be chalked up to Character Development; he hasn't been through as much. However, this Luke is also a born liar with a Con Man's skill at weaving intricate, convincing explanations at the drop of a hat, and can even force himself to cry on command.
  • 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.
    • When first introduced, Mat's reputation is mostly as a young prankster, and the sort of pranks he pulls are the kind you expect of a young child. By the third book, despite spending a bulk of the first two books recovering from being possessed, he is suddenly a worldly-wise gambler and ladies' man, despite being from one of the most remote villages in that world. And yes, this is before being granted knowledge by the Aelfinn.
  • 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, megalomaniac, religious fanatic with some weird BDSM fetishes. The Southern Cross did have fascist leanings, but fascist 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 bureaucrats and politicians satisfied. Additionally, the McKinney novels turned those bureaucrats 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.
  • The first published Horatio Hornblower book, The Happy Return (or Beat to Quarters for Americans) has the title character as much more ill-tempered and choleric than his other appearances. Although taken as a whole, you can rationalize it as young Hornblower being moody and less confident, middle Hornblower (i.e. the first published books) being more settled but also irritable with the various fool's errands the Navy puts him on, and the late-chronology books having him mellow out with age (something Hornblower notes in The Commodore).
  • Luke Castellan from Percy Jackson and the Olympians was established, in the last three books of the original series, as a complex Antivillain and Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds with a case of Even Evil Has Loved Ones towards his old friends Annabeth and Thalia. This is why it's rather jarring to see him act much more overtly evil in the second book, The Sea of Monsters, the first book set after The Reveal of him as a villain, where he goes so far as to order Annabeth Eaten Alive in front of Percy just to spite him.
  • In The Maze Runner Trilogy, Jorge was introduced as a brute willing to commit murder for minor insults, and savagely beating one of the protagonists. This turns out to almost totally be an act and he's later a generally inoffensive pilot and a sort of doting uncle to Brenda.

    Multiple Media 
  • From LEGO's BIONICLE franchise:
    • 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.
  • In Noob, Gaea and Sparadrap were respectively the Audience Surrogate and a typical Noob when introduced in the webseries. They eventually turn into the greedy Dirty Coward and Stupid Good player they get more obviously introduced as in the novels and comic. Couette also started out as Sparadrap's Distaff Counterpart before Divergent Character Evolution took place in all three media.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • 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."
    • One early arc for the strip involved a visit from Calvin's Uncle Max, who is the first and only adult character in the strip outside of Calvin's imagination to have a first name. The storyline was uncomfortable for Waterson to write, primarily because he had already decreed that Calvin's parents did not have names apart from "Mom" and "Dad", and therefore had to think of ways for Max to address Calvin's father other than by name (usually by referring to him as "bro"). Also, Waterson had always intended for his strip to take a six-year-old's outlook on everything, including never acknowledging that his parents were ever children. Having Max around greatly complicated this, so after the storyline ended, Waterson never brought Max back, or even mentioned him.
  • 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 interacts 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.
    • Andy Fox is known for making horrible food that's apparently healthy. An early strip shows her making Mac and Cheese and salad, only using health food when Amend wanted the reader to have a Squick reaction.
  • 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.
  • Peanuts
    • When Sally was first born, 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 appearances, Lucy was a cute little Cloudcuckoolander, nothing like her later incarnation.
  • 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.

    Professional Wrestling 

    Tabletop Games 
  • 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.
  • In Warhammer 40K, the first named Space Marine was Pedro Cantor of the Crimson Fists. The guy was little more than a rude lout who wouldn't look out of place in a mob of football hooligans. In fact, all the Space Marines were psychopathic thugs in graffittied armor with beaked helmets. And for a bunch of bio-engineered supersoldiers, they were awfully weak. They were somewhat stronger than a regular human but had exactly equal amounts of Toughness. Not to mention that Space Marines were classified as humans in terms of race and so they had the exact same maximum stat limits as any other human character. Later editions would see the Space Marines get further fleshed out in detail and have them take a couple of levels in kindness and badass (after detailing the 19 different organs that they get implanted with and writing their chapter histories)

    Video Games 
  • In Street Fighter III, Dudley was Gentleman Snarker, spewing a surprising amount of trash talk (Gutter Trash talk, to be precise). In Super Street Fighter IV, he is much more dignified and respectful toward his sparring-mate.
    • This gets even more confusing when you consider that SFIV takes place before SFIII 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-known Gentleman 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 the US version of Super Mario Bros. 2 to show up in the actual games. He also gained divergent gameplay traits in both, SMB2 and The Lost Levels'', jumping higher and, in the Japanese game, having less traction while stopping.
    • Additionally, the Cowardly Lion traits and fear of ghosts first displayed in Luigi's Mansion also stuck through later games, going a long way to distinguish his personality along with his physical characteristics. Later games (especially the Mario & Luigi series) would have quite a bit of fun with this.
    • Many of Luigi's distinctive character traits came from Western sources like The Super Mario Bros. Super Show and were eventually introduced into the games, in a rare example of Mario canon embracing rather than contradicting fanon. Even the character's voice has gradually come to sound more like his cartoon counterpart.
    • 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.
    • Mario was presented as more of a Jerk Ass and an Anti-Hero in his pre-Super Mario Bros. titles, often being an obvious animal abuser in Donkey Kong titles. He shows mild signs of this personality in later games, which makes it a common Alternative Character Interpretation, but for the most part he's The Hero.
    • Yoshi gained a host of abilities in Yoshi's 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.
    • Wario, anyone? Compare the greedy Anti-Hero of Wario Land and WarioWare to his first appearance in Super Mario Land 2. "Obey Wario, DESTROY MARIO!"
    • And, of course, Waluigi. In his first appearence he had little personality beyond being Luigi´s angry and rude rival who wants to beat him in any competition. Some time later, we have this comical and lunatic Trickster who wants to ruin the days of everyone else and wants to take over the world( you can expect him to fail hilariously ) because he wants things to go right for him at least once. It´s kinda amazing how a simple Satellite Character can evolve into something much deeper (and funnier).
  • 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.
  • inFAMOUS: In the first game, Evil Cole was an actively malicious Jerkass who thrived on causing pain and trouble and saw Empire City as his personal playground to do whatever he wanted. In the second game, if one plays the evil route, Cole is simply unconcerned with the consequences of his actions rather than actively sadistic.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • In his debut on Sonic 3 and 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 disposed of as Knuckles 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 consistent.
    • Shadow is a similar case. During his first battle against Sonic in his debut on Sonic Adventure 2, he seemingly shares the same cockiness as Sonic, saying boastful lines such as "I'm the coolest!". As of his own game and beyond, this trait soon disappeared in favor of being portrayed as the stoic, serious anti heroic counterpart to Sonic.
  • In the first Kirby game, Kirby lacks the power absorbing ability which would later become his most well-known characteristic. Not to mention in the box art he was white rather than pink.
    • Also, King Dedede in the early games is portrayed as an outright villain, rather than the Anti-Villain he would become for most of the games.
  • 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 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.
  • Mortal Kombat 1 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 Stupid Jerkass 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.
  • Kenny in The Walking Dead is a Nice Guy in Episode 1, his most dis-likable features being nothing more than shades of Papa Wolf. In Episode 2 onward, he kills Larry when it appears he may become a zombie and then has the nerve to hold a grudge against you if you were trying to revive the man, advises against putting a dying woman out of her misery so that she can act as a distraction, may fight Lee on the train when informs him that his son is turning into a walker, and generally gets extremely annoyed if Lee disagrees with him, even leaving him to die at certain times depending on previous choices. Possibly justified, as the gap between Episodes 1 and 2 is 3 months, the longest of the whole game.
  • Raynor as seen Starcraft II. His Character Development over the course of the original ...
  • While Anders's personality shift from Dragon Age: Origins – Awakening to Dragon Age II can be explained by his passenger, Merrill changes from a serious, sensible minor character in Dragon Age: Origins who calmly greets Duncan in the elven ruins to a cheerful Cloudcuckoolander who can barely get out a complete greeting to Hawke and company, for no apparent reason.
  • Yasuhiro Hagakure from Dangan Ronpa starts off a bit weird, but gradually grows even dopier as the game goes on and other characters start dropping like flies, leaving him with the "comic relief" role. The page quote is provided when one of his classmates notes his change in behavior.
  • Lara Croft in the Core Design era of Tomb Raider started out as a cheeky but bold woman. This is contrast to Lara's later appearances in the series where she's deep in Deadpan Snarker territory and is prone to using violence to achieve her goals.

    Webcomics 
  • Marc from Com'c was originally intended to be a stereotypical teenager with a love of music (with similar tastes to the author), but he quickly evolved to more of a sensible teenager, taking over the original role of Victor to some extent (his love of music is unchanged, but is focused on less). Victor, on the other hand, became slightly sillier than the original idea already in the first str'p.
  • 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.
  • The Order of the Stick: The Monster in the Darkness started out as an incompetent sidekick to Xykon and Redcloak. It was Affably Evil, albeit somewhat dim, and generally hinted to be less terrifying than implied by Xykon. As the series continued, the Monster gradually became a stupid and naïve creature virtually incapable of comprehending much of anything, behaving and speaking almost like a child in most circumstances. Though the kernel for this existed from the get go, Flanderization took the character sufficiently far from its original form for this to become noticeable.
  • In Questionable Content, Hannelore was first introduced when Marten was so drunk he went in the wrong bathroom, and she tried to pick him up. Later, her OCD was seriously played up. Eventually, she explains her earlier behavior by saying that she "was on some pretty powerful anti-anxiety meds" and "wasn't myself".
  • 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 Nicknames Abusive 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.
  • 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 retconned 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.
  • Franz from Elijah And Azuu started out as an All Gays Are Promiscuous gag character, which feels at odds with the devoted relationship he's in once he has some Character Development. In particular, the author said that he regretted making Franz have a three-way with his boyfriend and mother because it was awkward to write around in a later, more serious story arc.
  • 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:
      Also this conversation is kind of interesting because as the story moves along, John kind of smooths out slightly into more of a Straight Man to the ridiculous ravings of others, but in this first conversation there was more of a smartass give-and-take.
  • Least I Could Do's main character suffers from this. At first, he is a Lovable Sex Maniac, an idiot who gets laid a lot, a lot like Joey from Friends. His stupidity was emphasized in early strips. As the series progress, his stupidity becomes immaturity, making him a very smart guy that just likes to act childish from time to time. He also gets geekier and geekier, up to the point where he is One of Us.
  • 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 explained in 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.
  • In Ansem Retort, two examples
    • 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.
  • On her introduction in Inverloch, Neirenn made a number of cryptic statements that implied some kind of clairvoyance. This was quickly dropped, and she acted like a normal (magic-wielding and mysteriously motivated) teenager from then on.
  • The Reverend in Schlock Mercenary started out as "more of an irreverend"; in most future appearances, while he's willing to snark as much as anyone else, he approaches his duties a lot more seriously.
  • Webcomic/Whomp! Ronnie starts off as an angry Jerkass who frequently stood up to Motivation Dude. Later he would be a weepy Extreme Doormat.

    Web Original 
  • Survival of the Fittest
    • 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 handwaved 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 shy Emo 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 sarcastic Knight 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.
  • The Angry Video Gamenerd was initially the Angry Nintendo Nerd, and only started calling himself by his much more well-known moniker after realizing there were quite a few other games and game systems he would receive requests to do reviews of. He also mostly stuck to games from the 80's, didn't have a theme song, and his first two videos were incredibly strange for two opposite reasons; the first video didn't show the Nerd at all, while the second was just him sitting at a computer and talking to the audience with only the odd screen shot.
  • 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.
  • The Nostalgia Chick seems to have gone through stages. First she was just a female version of The Nostalgia Critic, with the slightly-milder yelling and the funny "WTF" reaction shots. Then she was a dry, girly Only Sane Woman with a couple moments of being Not so Above It All. It wasn't until "Top Ten Disturbing and Inescapable Christmas Songs" that she started to develop the kinda scary, gold-hearted Bitch in Sheep's Clothing Broken Bird persona that we all know and love.
    • 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 Dot 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.
  • In the long-running Neopian Times series Al the Chia, Peacepaw (a nonconformist New-Age Retro Hippie among the wolflike Lupes) initially comes off as so saccharine that he's in his own little world, and being in his own little world with all his happy little friends quickly becomes unbearable for a third party, like Al. In later installments, he's still a hippy with all that that entails, but he's much more approachable and likable.


Celebrity SurvivorAlice and BobClass Clown
Character DevelopmentCharacterization TropesCharacter Rerailment
Character DevelopmentCharacters/The AwesomesTook a Level in Kindness

alternative title(s): Characterisation Marches On
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