As is obvious, different artists interpret the character differently. Some artists see Marisa as having small breasts, and others see her with even smaller breasts.
Every artist has their own take on the characters they draw. Sometimes that take is jarringly different from previous depictions.
That's when this trope comes in: it's what happens when an incoming artist willfully changes a character's basic appearance, giving the character a significantly different height or build, less (or more) prominent deformities, a different apparent age, a radical, unmotivated costume or hairstyle change, or even a Race Lift
without in-story justification.
This is common in comics, where it often involves incidental parts of a character's outfit being either exaggerated or downplayed. For example, this is how the Superman symbol evolved to the familiar diamond-shape from the more triangular one of his first appearance.
Note that this trope is only about deliberate, unexplained changes; it does not
apply to changes caused by story events, nor to very slight variations caused by differences in art style (such as between multiple storyboarders). (The acid test might be this: If the character were a real person of whom many color photographs existed, would all the drawn portrayals still make sense?)
Many cases of Progressively Prettier
and more than a few aversions
/examples of the Most Common Superpower
depend on the artist.
Compare Off Model
, Historical Beauty Update
, Adaptation Dye-Job
, and Depending on the Writer
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Anime and Manga
- In general, Anime often have several animation teams rotating between episodes (and sometimes between two halves of an episode) plus various parts outsourced to different studios, resulting in different takes on the same style of variable quality.
- Noein alternates style every other episode.
- In the Warrior Cats manga, since all the art styles are radically different, seeing cats appear in two different styles is quite jarring. This especially applies to Scourge and Tigerstar.
- A variation but, Misty's eye color switches betwen blue and green a lot in the Pokémon anime. In the games she has blue eyes in all appearances.
- One particular animator for Dragon Ball Z, Tomekichi Takeuchi, drew the characters — especially Vegeta — with big foreheads and pointy chins.
- Fujiko Mine in the Lupin III franchise is impacted by this heavily, having her appearance vary wildly between different appearances. (The other recurring characters have varied a bit depending on the art style as well but nothing about their general design changes other than perhaps the colour of Lupin's jacket.)
- The original penciller for The Sandman, Sam Kieth, depicted Justice League villain Doctor Destiny as completely bald and with horribly rotting, seemingly dripping skin. When Mike Dringenberg took over pencilling duties, Doctor Destiny acquired side hair and lost the rotting skin.
- In Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth, which predated Doctor Destiny's Sandman appearance, Grant Morrison and Dave McKean made him similar to Kieth's depiction but they also had him in a wheelchair. The appearance Destiny has outside of Arkham Asylum and Sandman? Despite Destiny predating Skeletor, you can be forgiven for easily getting the two mixed-up the majority of the time.
- The Sandman. This does make a bit of sense, considering it's stated early on that everybody who perceives the Endless see them a little differently. However, the way this attribute works is sometimes inconsistent. In the first volume, when he meets Nada in Hell, Dream still has his trademark chalk-white skin, only with African-style facial features. When they meet again in volume 4 he suddenly becomes black.
- Runaways has this. The more recent comics have a very different looking Chase, for instance, due to a change in artist.
- Runaways in general features some running variables:
- Storm is quite infamous for this in regards to both her general appearance and costume. When the X-Men returned to wearing super-hero uniforms, Storm went back to wearing her "the Twelve" outfit. However, practically every single artist who drew her interpreted her outfit differently; changing the color scheme from black/gold to black/white on a whim, giving her boots and making her costume stop at the thighs, etc.
- Storm herself varies from being "somewhat Asian" to "heavily African". Her own physical appearance also varies, and this happens with a lot of black and non-white superheroes. Her skin tone varies greatly, as do her facial features.
- Her white streak started as a pair of streaks on her temples, moved to the center of her head, and then to just her bangs. They can't make up their mind whether it's natural or bleached in, either. (In The Movie, it was a result of dealing with Magneto's machine).
- Early on (Avengers annual 10, her Dazzler issues), Rogue was often drawn as middle-aged, with graying hair at the temples and visible crow's feet around her eyes.
- Magneto :
- He's a Holocaust survivor, making him old by default, but an early incident where he was de-aged and re-aged has left his true appearance and visible age as a matter of debate. He boasted that the process returned him to his prime, but did re-aging him return him to his 70+ age or did bring back to being a young man in his thirties? Different artists will depict him as either a well-built old man with gray hair, a frail old man with gray hair, or a young, well-built man with gray hair. Considering he has natural gray hair only confuses the issue further.
- He arguably owes his current status-quo to this phenomenon. For his first handful of appearances, he turned into a snowman, but very early on (X-Men #8) he became able to turn into ice. And, indeed, the very first time Jack Kirby drew him as ice, he was obviously solid, transparent ice — Angel even compares his powers to the Invisible Girl. Somewhere down the road, it was decided that he just coated himself in ice during combat. His inclusion on Spiderman And His Amazing Friends led to a generation of kids that knew what he looked like but didn't really know anything else about him and it became the common idea that he actually turned into ice (which is the most logical way to interpret his powers going on appearance alone). Eventually you started getting artists once again drawing him as transparent when in "iced up" form. Eventually turning into ice was made officially part of his power spread. Now, not only does he turn completely into ice, but no two artists can agree whether he looks the same as he used to, or like a normal person made of ice, or like some spiky-headed mosntrosity.
- Of course, when you can convert your body to a substance that you can manipulate at will, who says you have to maintain a constant shape in your transformed state? The Age of Apocalypse version of Iceman (which is where the "ice body" concept first appeared) embodied this idea. As flighty as the mainstream Iceman is often depicted, it's a testament to his ability to concentrate (or, possibly, his subconscious desire to fit in) that his shape is not in as constant flux as the AoA version.
- Kitty Pryde:
- She is usually small-busted, but damnit if Frank Cho can't draw women as anything but hypervoluptous, hourglass shaped glamour models.
- While Alan Davis, whose depictions of Kitty in Excalibur are considered a definitive version, managed to strike a nice balance in drawing her in realistic proportions for a developing teenager (14-15 at that point), while depicting her older teammates Phoenix and Meggan as more curvy and voluptuous. Lampshaded very early in the original Excalibur run, when Kitty tried to masquerade as Phoenix in the latter's very skintight costume.
- Gambit :
- He traditionally has eyes with black scleras and red irises and pupils, but other colors turn up all the time.
- Also of the X-Men, has had wild variations in skin color, from extremely pale to olive complexioned to slight purple tint. Her hair has seen similar difficulties; Pink? Red? Light brown? Purple?
- Marrow's physical deformities are depicted entirely differently from artist to artist also - does she have bony ridges around her face or actual bones sticking out at odd angles from her forehead and shoulders, etc.? At least twice there's been an in-story explanation for this (her powers get altered) but at one point she was appearing in two different X-Men books that were supposedly taking place more-or-less simultaneously with appearances so different you could not have guessed it was the same character except through dialogue and process of elimination.
- X-23: Her bust size, height, and muscle mass varies from issue to issue.
- Wonder Woman:
- Her costume's Stripperificness depends on who's drawing her today, particularly her shorts. This doesn't only apply to formal costume changes — it also happens in comics supposedly taking place at about the same time.
- Her nemesis Cheetah also varies on whether she actually has fur or just a cheetah pattern on her skin. Also in just how bestial she looks; she may be a sexy catgirl, a snarling, spitting were-beast or somewhere in between.
- Her friend Etta Candy started out as significantly overweight yet tall in her debut, and had blonde hair. Her height soon shrunk through her Golden Age appearances, to where she usually was seen as short and fat, and with red hair. In the Holliday Girls' brief return in the '60s, her weight was somewhat reduced and her uniform was changed to have a modest skirt instead of short shorts. Later portrayals of Etta (pre-New 52) depicted her as a taller woman, either actually a bit overweight or simply Hollywood Pudgy (and either confident or insecure over her looks in comparison to her idol's). After Flashpoint, she's since undergone a Race Lift and become much more slender.
- Her Post-Crisis hair color had alternated between being brown, red or blonde, along with the varying depictions of her weight and her eye color (which could be either blue, green or brown). In George Perez's run, her weight changes were an addressed plot point, while depictions afterward were up to the artists. The artists during Gail Simone's run tended to favor a tall, curvy, blonde-haired Etta, while the Etta in the Flashpoint tie-in issues was red-haired and pudgy.
- One notable inconsistency was Grant Morrison depicting Etta as a morbidly obese, middle-aged woman with graying hair in his "Seven Soldiers" series, while the Wonder Woman title had depicted her less heavy and with red hair.
- Her nose is inconsistent. Young Justice, the Wonder Woman movie, and more than a few comic book artists give her a large, 'Greek' nose while others favor a smaller nose.
- The length of the ears on his mask is never, ever consistent. Ever. You would not believe the disparity here.
- There are lots of variables in Batman's costume: the color (gray vs. black vs. grayish blue, blue highlights or no), eyes (full white vs. actual eyes), and chest symbol (yellow oval with a bat in it vs. none vs. black bat silhouette on an otherwise solid-gray chestplate) are just a few. Some are cyclical features (especially the colors), while others are done to match media portrayals (the all-black 90s costume is intended to match the Burton films). Plus, certain artists give him specific features: Howard Porter's Batman has elaborate "hooks" on the shoulders, for instance.
- The storage system his belt uses (cloth pouches vs. rigid capsules vs. both), the fastening of his cape (under the neck vs. at the shoulders), the fins on his gloves (the length, shape and number of them vary wildly), how much of his face is revealed (The Dark Knight batsuit has a noticeably smaller opening, while Dick Sprang's drawings will have the entire lower half of his face showing), his size (ranging from a fairly normal height and build to the 7-foot-plus that was Frank Miller's Batman in The Dark Knight Returns), whether or not he has stubble, whether or not his fingertips have "claws" (fairly uncommon, but not unheard of), the length and shape of his briefs (range from nigh-thong to short shorts), whether or not the bat-briefs are separate from his tights or sewn on, the shape of his cape (ranging from an even bat-wing pattern to a tattered and torn look), how much of his facial expression shows through the mask, the shape of the eyes (occasionally look like triangular slits, seen in Year One and The Animated Series) and the exact structure of his boots (whether they're smooth and tight like the rest of his costume or bulky and thick like combat boots). Batman truly is the most versatile superhero, visually, due to the large amount of detailing on his costume and the simple motif.
- The yellow circle seems to be gone temporarily though; you only ever see it in flashbacks now. Its coming back for Bruce Wayne's new Batsuit. He traded in the black trunks.
- The length of his cape is also inconsistent. A book on how to draw DC characters admits that this can sometimes be intentional; in an issue where he is going to be doing a lot of fighting, it is fairly short and moves easily to make his movements look smooth and dynamic. If however he is going to be standing around or posing on rooftops it is much longer and heavier, often long enough that it would drag on the floor without the dramatic wind.
- Then there's how much of his costume is "armor". Sometimes it looks like traditional superhero tights, other times there seem to be interlocking plates, and more rigid sections. Sometimes the armor is worn under the tights. Kevlar is canonically an important feature of his costume (especially around the chest), but plenty of times he has been seen removing his "shirt", with no evidence of any armor underneath or within it.
- Gotham City itself varies a lot on the artist. It's managed to look like New York, Chicago, Detroit, Budapest, etc. Sometimes it's a realistic looking city, sometimes it's a stylized city, sometimes it's just flat out dark fantasy. That's not even getting into its Geographic Flexibility and location...
- Arkham Asylum seems to change design and location depending on what era, artist, and book you're reading. One of the biggest lampshadings about this is during Animal Man, when Buddy sees almost five buildings in the same place, all looking radically different.
- The Flash:
- Similarly, the lightning bolt earpieces on the side of the Flash's head are more or less prominent depending on who's drawing him. They're either thunderbolts (usually Wally, almost always Bart), Hermes wings (usually Barry, always Jay, as he wears a helmet) or T-shaped earpieces (seems to be a Scott Kolins quirk).
- Speaking of the Flash, how Bart Allen's hair is drawn also fluctuates wildly. As Impulse, it's generally big and bushy; as Kid Flash, his hair is shorter. Sometimes it's depicted as brown, sometimes it's red. Bart was also slightly taller and a bit more muscular when he first appeared in the Flash title, and his hair was loose and shoulder-length. Later artists depicted him younger and with shorter hair, until it evolved into that large bushy style. His body also became more gangly, and Humberto Ramos popularized the "huge hands, huge feet" look which stuck with the character up until other artists drew him less stylized as Kid Flash. Bart's eyes were also usually yellow, but later colorists would slip up and give him brown, or even green (like Wally West).
- Phantom Lady:
- her 50s comic was notorious for changing her appearance even in the same story. She would change from a blond to Brunette, her face and her chest changed from panel to panel.
- While her Mostcommon Superpower has remained relativity consistent the height that goes with it has changed radically. In her earlier comics she seemed fairly short-maybe 5'2 feet. In modern era even her WW2 version is about 6' feet tall and much more modelesque.
- Where Southpaw's supertech gauntlet is incredibly large (with any given finger being wider than her head) with one artist and looks like a relatively normal glove with another.
- As mentioned in the Progressively Prettier article, She-Hulk herself varies in appearance from merely lean and athletic to being almost as musclebound as her cousin.
- In fact, this strikes a lot of that series' supporting cast. Particularly, Stu Cicero goes from chubby to scrawny depending on which artist is drawing him (and the series regularly, sometimes several times in one issue, switched between two artists for effect, making this especially noticeable.) Similarly, Anthony Pugliese is bulky, brawny, and broad-shouldered with one artist and almost entirely generic with the other.
- Llyra - the daughter of the Hulk and Thundra from a possible future - was drawn (and written) as very clearly an adult (She-Hulk with red hair) when she appeared in her own limited series. When she joined Jennifer Walters for the She-Hulks series, she inexplicably became noticeably younger and entered high school in her human form (the age shift was more a writer decision than an artist one, but there's no reason she couldn't have changed between a high-school aged human and the adult-looking She-Hulk appearance she'd previously had). The fact that this made her limited series - in which she'd come to the present to get pregnant with Norman Osborn's DNA - ridiculously creepy was entirely ignored.
- Odds are you don't know that Superman traditionally has another S symbol on the back of his cape. This is because most artists (except in his own series — usually) either simply forget about that or honestly think it's unnecessary.
- Similarly, the S-symbol on the front is either a small emblem on his chest or large enough to cover his entire torso.
- It was especially bad the first 15 years of his existence when the artists could hardly agree on any details of his costume beyond the basic cape and tights with an S on the chest. The original chest emblem was a triangle with a simple bold 's' and his boots were laced up "sandals." You can even see some early merchandise where his tights are yellow instead of blue.
- The biggest variable in modern depictions is his musculature which fluctuates from a lean runners' build up to Olympic bodybuilder. Really, most male heroes go through some of this.
- Heroes: This is an odd use of the trope in a comic series based off of a live-action series. Claude's facial features tend to change depending on who's drawing the comic: when he first showed up in a storyline, he looked like Alan Rickman; the second time, he looked exactly like Christopher Eccleston, as he should; the third time, he and everyone else in the comic looked pretty generic.
- Deadpool has been drawn with various skin colors— gray, brown, red, flesh— and with various skin textures— looking like gravel, like a burn victim, like a fairly normal person covered in tumors, like he's been sculpted out of pudding— and his ugliness is majorly played up on his date with Big Bertha for the sake of a gag. It's been handwaveed that his cancer and healing factor fight it out, thus his appearance is always in flux.
- Also Deadpool's pal Weasel, who might be broad, square-jawed and big-nosed in one book and scrawny, pointy-chinned and narrow-nosed in another. He also appears to have quite a collection of glasses.
- The eyes on Spider-Man's mask change sizes quite frequently, even allowing for expressiveness. As do the sizes of the web nets under his arms, ranging from connecting elbow and waist to nonexistent. The spider emblem on his chest has gradually become less and less goofy. In some cases, some artist even drew the suit as red and black instead of red and blue. And don't even get started on what colour shading the symbiote suit is supposed to have...
- Ditko's early work suggests that Spidey's costume was originally red and black; black was often shown with blue highlights back in the four-color days. As the series progressed, the "highlights" slowly became the base color; John Romita's advent on the book entrenched that as canon.
- Spider-Man's appearance in his red and blue costume was standard for years, based on the John Romita Sr. version. Then when Todd McFarlane became the artist in the late Eighties he made the eyes bigger, brought back the black base color and made the weblines look like spaghetti. Even after McFarlane left this remained the look for most of the Nineties.
- There's also the question of whether or not Spidey has weblike membranes under his arms. He did in his first appearances, and almost never does anymore. In between, it varied depending on whether or not a given artist remembered - or was aware in the first place - that they were supposed to be there.
- "Cat Beast" (that is, the version of Beast from X-Men that is cat-like) has a tendency to look like a different animal depending on who draws him. He's been a grizzly bear, a baboon, a lion, and sometimes looks closer to the older version, "Ape Beast".
- Barbara Gordon has an infinite variety of glasses between appearances in different books.
- She also has a wide variety of wheelchairs. Some artists remember she's extremely independent and still a practicing martial artist, and give her a chair that reflects that (low sides so she's got room to turn, no handles at the back). Others just draw a generic wheelchair.
- Everyone is agreed that the Martian Manhunter has red eyes, but their appearance varies depending on the artist. Most of the time they are pure red, with no iris, pupil or 'whites'. Sometimes they have these structures, but colored in subtly different shades of red. Very rarely they will look like human eyes, but with red irises. This variation can be explained by the fact that J'onn is a shapeshifter, which lets the artist off the hook.
- The Brazilian Mega Man comic Novas Aventuras de Megaman suffered from this trope especially hard, as it had a different artist for each issue... and sometimes had multiple artists within one issue. Characters could be drawn Super-Deformed in one issue, and with human proportions in another. This was the least of the comic's problems.
- Super Duck has been subjected to this, most obvious in his girlfriend Uwanna, whose depictions range from prime fetish fuel towering over Super Duck himself, to a loli the same size as him.
- The color of The Phantom's bodysuit varies greatly depending on which country the comic is published. In some it's gray, or purplish-blue, or green, or red. That's right, the Ghost who Walks sneaks up on his foes in a bright red body stocking. Ninjas have nothing on his skill.
- Lex Luthor: While everyone manages to get the "bald" aspect down, the guy's body structure ranges from emaciated to Kingpin-esque levels of girth. And on rare occasions, he's almost as jacked as Superman!
- Fun fact: in his first couple of appearances, he was indeed depicted with a full head of red hair. So not even the bald aspect is safe!
- This sudden shift was parodied in Supreme by Original Dax, the first incarnation of Lex Luthor Captain Ersatz Darius Dax to be revised and sent to the Daxia. He remarks with bewilderment that as more Daxes showed up, he notices all of them have hair and no beard, unlike him; he theorizes that some kind of higher power just decided it was better that way.
- Luthor's bout with obesity was not an art inconsistency. John Byrne re-imagined the character as a Corrupt Corporate Executive in 1986. Luthor stayed fat until 1991, when he died in a plane crash. His subsequent return to a more fit appearance was the result of a literal deal with the devil.
- Pre Crisis, there was no mystery to it. The dude successfully lost weight and got in shape. Granted that continuity-loving writer E. Nelson Bridwell was probably the only one to bother lampshading it, but he did. Then the Crisis came, and John Byrne made him fat again. Eventually, Grant Morrison's reboot had a chunky Lex at the beginning of Supes's career, before Luthor is driven to a physical perfection regime by his inferiority complex.
- During The Death of Superman, Jon Bogdanove drew Lex Luthor Jr. with an enormous perm, while his hair style was more subdued under the other artists.
- Bizarro: Is his skin crystal-like, or just gray? Or white? Is his costume the same colors as Superman's, or does it have a slightly skewed color scheme?
- In the Star Wars comic crossover series Vector, main character Celeste Morne went from looking like This◊ in the first issue of the series, to looking like this◊ in the final issue.
- The extent of Jonah Hex's scarring varies greatly between artists. He's always got the mouth-string, bug-eye and perma-sneer, but some artists draw him with only those, most artists add some burn scars (The Movie seems to be going this route) and some artists take it Up to Eleven and turn him into Two-Face in a cowboy hat.
- This trope is quite evident when flipping through Archie Comics, with the characters changing appearance almost from short to short.
- It's probably most prevalent with Midge and Ethel. Ethel is portrayed as being Repulsive, yet there are some times where this supposed "ugliness" goes into Informed Flaw. Midge likewise is considered very attractive but she's often not portrayed any differently than background girls are, making this more of an Informed Attribute.
- Batman Rogues Gallery:
- The Penguin's weight varies from being just kind of chubby to being so fat he waddles. Also his height: he is either average short or almost a dwarf.
- And The Joker ain't far behind. Originally, he was a relatively normal-looking man, with his skin and hair color (white and green, respectively) being the only things to make him stand out. Since then, artists such as Jim Aparo and Neal Adams have portrayed him as being extremely tall and thin, with a rather long, pointed chin (probably to contrast with Batman's Lantern Jaw of Justice). People such as Marshall Rogers, on the other hand, portray him with a more squarish chin; Rogers also believed the character was physically incapable of not smiling. And let's not even get into Jim Lee's... highly controversial design.
- The Joker sometimes is drawn as though he were wearing makeup as well, even though his appearance is canonically the result of a chemical accident. In The Dark Knight Returns he permanently has the pale skin and green hair, but he enhances his lips with lipstick that is somehow poisonous to everyone else but not him. Oh, and does he give it a workout.
- Mr. Zsasz can be either a dangerously skinny smoker with vacant eyes, or a Henry Rollins lookalike with crazy eyes.
- Nobody can decide whether Killer Croc is a big strong guy with a skin condition or a crocodile man anymore. It's 50/50 that he'll be depicted either way.
- Similarly, Marvel's Tiger Shark keeps alternating between costumed guy with shark powers and more shark than man because people don't care enough to keep track of what he's supposed to look like. Frankly, it's amazing that people ever remembered something like the Beast becoming a blue gorilla; You can be sure that if something like that happened now, it would never last.
- In some cases, where the character's powers are the result of deliberate alterations to their body (Tiger Shark's powers were caused by experimentation, Killer Croc started as a "natural" genetic mutation but was later artificially enhanced), cases have been made that the character's biology is in flux, with their natural/original genetics and the altered state each struggling for dominance. In Tiger Shark's case, after his powers were enhanced to the point of appearing to be a man/shark hybrid, there actually was a distinct progression in later published appearances where his human features seemed to be slowly re-asserting themselves.
- Bane's mask varies between luchadore and S&M.
- Also, does it only have eyeholes or have an opening for his mouth and/or nose? If it has an opening, is it zippered?
- In The Dark Knight Rises, it looks completely different from all the other versions, and exposes more of his face.
- Poison Ivy's skin tone ranges from normally human, to slightly olive, to bright green, to white as snow depending on who's designing her each time.
- For some reason Jim Lee draws her without toes, making her look rather like a green painted Barbie doll.
- Ivy's degree of stripperificness varies a LOT; one issue it's the traditional green leotard, the next it's a bikini made of leaves, the next it's nothing but a few vines covering her naughty bits...
- Similarly, you're lucky if Two-Face's skin color and hair on his damaged side are consistent throughout a single arc. Even on his undamaged side, he can look like a completely different person. The color of each side of his suit is also rarely the same.
- The Riddler started in a wacky green body-suit, until the actor playing him in the old Adam West series decided he hated it and made his own costume, which came to be the standard depiction: a nice suit with a bowler hat and a question-mark on the tie. That's more-or-less his DCAU depiction to this day, (except in Knight Time) although he often looks a lot like Art Carney. But back in the comics, compare the Riddler in The Long Halloween—a lanky old guy in a loose suit—to the Joker miniseries by the guy who did "100 Bullets": the Riddler looks like a young, club-footed pimp with Elton John glasses. In The New Batman Adventures, on the other hand, he wears the body-suit again, but in a lighter color and with only one large question mark, rather than many small ones.
- Scarecrow. Dare to compare the versions where his head/mask is just as thin as the rest of him with the versions where his head/mask is oddly bulbous and probably the roundest part of his body. And then there's the debate about whether or not his mask is even supposed to have any eye and/or mouth-holes... and the oddly popular "noose necktie".
- And that's just when he's in the mask. When it's off, these questions arise - is Crane's hair blond, brown or red? Also, is he simply an average-looking guy or "dear God keep the mask on Scarecrow"? And exactly how old is he? (The last probably overlaps with other factors.)
- Additionally, Ra's Al-Ghul is usually an Arab, but sometimes appears more European.
- The Mad Hatter has it as bad as Killer Croc. Artists have drawn him to be average looking to John Tenniel's illustrations. He has had brown, blonde, white, black, and red hair. His height is highly variable as much as The Penguin's. But artists of today have been drawing Tetch with an overbite and red hair, but his height still ranges from Wolverine short to dwarf.
- Iron Man's enemy Madame Masque has a golden mask that is inconsistently handled by artists. Some artists depict it as having sculpted features, while others portray it as tight and malleable enough to show Masque's facial features and allow her to eat.
- X-Men villain Abyss's appearance has widely varied within the the same story arc. Made of wispy thread things vs. Nightcrawler-like furriness.
- In the DCU series 52, every issue had pencil layouts done by one artist, Keith Giffen, in order to keep this trope to a minimum. However, there were still a few minor slip-ups, the clearest example being Renee Montoya and Kate Kane. They were well-endowed but realistic when they first spoke to one another (They were still gorgeous, but it was manageable), but when they met in the park in the next issue they were both bulging out of their tops. The commentaries usually passed it off as exactly this trope, and not a deliberate attempt to titillate readers. goes into Informed Flaw.
- Both incarnations of Batwoman were subjected to many artistic variations:
- Kathy Kane's bodysuit was either a solid yellow, yellow with black trim in the front (with the top mimicking a bustier), or the darker trim depicted as yellow with black shading. The last option was presumably to make the darker part appear as a stylized gold, with the limitations of printing at the time. Her mask shifted between being colored red, yellow, or black with yellow or red trim at the top. In her short-lived return in the '70s, her batsuit gained a red bat symbol and her gloves suddenly became fur-trimmed.
- The Kate Kane version of Batwoman started out with light auburn-red hair in 52, although her later appearances have her hair as a very saturated cherry red color (as well as her wig). Her eyes were also originally colored brown, but ever since her arc in Detective Comics and the Batwoman series, they have appeared as a bright green. Her skintone was also lightened considerably to be a "vampire porcelain white" by JH Williams, which has stuck for all later depictions.
- Her costume was originally colored with blue highlights, though it has since been depicted as a straight black. Sometimes her mask will cover her forehead, while other times it will leave it exposed. Her gauntlets are alternatively drawn as being separate from her gloves (as with Williams' intention) or as a solid part of them.
- Kate's stepmother Catherine/Katherine was also shown to be a blonde in a cameo in 52, while her appearances in the Batwoman series depict her with brown hair.
- Batwoman's sidekick Bat-Girl had her dress length range from being past the knee, to it being much shorter and its skirt either being full or flat. Her mask also alternated between being red or black, and her gloves would tend to come and go.
- Power Girl shares She-Hulk's "varying musculature" issues; Alex Ross drew her as fairly muscular (but still curvy) in Kingdom Come, and it seems that's been either downplayed or exaggerated (I'm looking at YOU, Jimenez!) by most every artist since then. Her famous boobs also vary a bit; she's always at least a DD, but some artists go bigger. This can be applied to most any superheroine, though.
- PG in the white and gold outfit of the early 1990s was slim, athletic and of average height, sometimes. Recall Wally Wood originally drew her short (about 5'), zaftig and narrow-waisted.
- Another big variant is the size and shape of her boob window, which comes in a variety of sizes and is either round, square or shield-shaped.
- In The Lightning Saga, a Justice League and Justice Society crossover, the second Wildcat suffered heavily from this trope. When drawn by the JSA artist his musculature was defined but lean, especially when compared to the body of the first Wildcat (his father and a heavyweight boxing champion). But whenever the JLA artist drew him he would suddenly have huge muscles that easily rivaled or even surpassed his father's. This actually becomes kind of funny when reading the trade paper back, since the artists alternated on chapters and make it look like Wildcat II is constantly expanding and contracting.
- Jarvis, the Avenger's butler, is always depicted as a tall lean man. Except when drawn by John Byrne, in which case he will be short and pudgy.
- Sinestro's skin; Purple? Reddish? Magenta? Pink? DOTA. And to a lesser extent, whether or not his ears are pointed.
- Not just his ears either, but also the shape of his head. Some artists (and animators) give him a normal "human"-shaped cranium, others endow him with an exceptionally tall forehead (like a less-extreme version of Hulk villain The Leader) that goes straight up, while others still depict more bulbous proportions, with a subtle outwards flare. His resulting hairstyle varies as well, from nondescript short hair, to a pronounced widow's peak, or even a flattop (in Emerald Dawn II). From the advent of forming his own Sinestro Corps hes's been sporting a much shorter hairstyle with a shaved undercut befitting his "fascist" look (note the Naziesque armband), to which most artists have since adhered.
- Curiously enough though, other Korugarians are almost never drawn with non-human ears or cranial shapes, including his direct blood relatives.
- Although fellow Korogarian (and Sinestro's daughter) Soranik Natu usually stays a pretty steady shade of pinkish-purple. This is probably because she (a) hasn't been around nearly as long and (b) only really appears in the Green Lantern books.
- Does Larfleeze look more like a pig, more like a horse, or even a Baphomet-like demon?
- Does G'nort look like an anthropomorphic dog, or Barf from Spaceballs? Likewise, does Ch'p look like a realistic chipmunk or something out of a kid's cartoon?
- The Punisher's skull symbol is always different between artists. His clothing also varies from being a full body costume to just being a shirt with a skull on it. Another thing that varies is if his outfit is all black, or if he has white gloves and boots as he did when he was first introduced.
- In the X-Wing Series, Huff Darklighter◊ is a large, clearly overweight older man, balding but with long straight hair, also argumentative and contrary, particularly with the Rebels. In Darklighter, Huff◊ is a slim older man with a full head of curly hair, a neat beard, and a decidedly more Rebel-loving bent.
- In the first set of The Thrawn Trilogy comics, the Noghri, alien commandos that can and have passed as Jawas or children, are depicted as hulking◊ behemoths◊. The other comics promptly changed back◊ to how they were described in the novel. And in that first set, Wedge had black hair◊. Everywhere else, it's brown.
- In the X-Wing Series, is Fel's build massive or slim? For that matter, what's his chosen formalwear, New Republic or Imperial with Rebel crests? Is 'Doc' Ceresi big and stocky, or your standard tiny female Twi'lek? Is Plourr an Amazonian Beauty or not? Is Isard young-looking◊ or not◊?
- Justice Society of America features a couple. Cyclone's costume is pretty hard to draw, so various artists raise or lower the slit on the side (or remove it entirely), alter the amount of strips on the leggings, change the size or colour of her emblem, and change how baggy or large the overhanging pouch is.
- While the amount of cleavage shown in a superheroine's costume is always a variable, one character that tends to get hit very hard with it is Donna Troy whose cleavage varies from modest to absolute from artist to artist.
- Vixen from the Justice League has an odd one in how her powers are presented; she has the ability to take on the abilities of any animal, but DOTA, there may or may not be an aura looking like said animal around her when she does it.
- Karate Kid from the Legion Of Superheroes has a complicated history of this, since he was introduced as a curly-haired Mighty Whitey before being Retconned into possessing Japanese heritage. Sometimes he looks like a teenage Bruce Lee, while other times he looks like a generic white dude.
- The Transformers are constantly switching between designs - be it the cartoon design, the model they were supposed to work from but tweaked, or art based on the toy but one artist using a different version. Sometimes, UK-written stories have slightly different color schemes from the US-written ones. The most egregious recent examples are All Hail Megatron (Transformers Generation 1 designs vs designs based on newer toys vs the designs used in Simon Furman's books) and the movieverse version of Arcee (goes from looking like her unused Movie 1 design to looking like Transformers Energon Arcee and back, until Revenge of the Fallen gave us a new official design.)
- The post-AHM Transformers comics are an even better example. In the ongoing series, Bumblebee had his E.J. Su design with Don Figeroa's current movie-inspired high detail style. But in the Bumblebee mini-series, running concurrently with the main book, Bumblebee is drawn with his G1 cartoon character model. Blurr is shown to have adopted an terrestrial vehicle mode in the ongoing series, but in a continuation of the very same scene at the beginning of issue 2 of the Bumblebee mini-series, he's shown with his Cybertronian vehicle mode! Artistic license is one thing, but swapping character models is going a little too far. It's gotten into They Just Didn't Care territory, where each artist uses his preferred look for the characters, and to the Pit with what they looked like last issue.
- Of all the Marvel characters, the Hulk has probably the greatest variety of appearances. He started out looking like an 8-foot beefed up version of Frankenstein's monster (probably not accidentally, as Universal's Frankenstein film was one of the inspirations for the character), but now varies tremendously from artist to artist: facial features resembling anything from a human brute through to a full-on caveman, how muscular he is, how big he is, his hairstyle, the amount of veins visible,the length of his limbs in relation to each other, the length and color of his shredded pants, etc. And that's just the Savage (green) Hulk, never mind his other personas...
- What's more, the Hulk's appearance will vary with the same artist. Each artist will usually keep the face consistant, but his overall size and proportions will vary from panel to panel.
- Other variables; Hulk's eyes. Green or red? Blood; green or red? His third wife, Caiera and their son Skaar also have variable eye colors, from blue to green.
- Judge Dredd:
- In Carlos Ezquerra's original strips, Dredd had a rather sleeker, more police-like uniform; the modern, chunkier, big-booted look was created by Mike McMahon. Throughout the comic, his chin varies between prominent and ridiculous. In recent strips, as he's been getting older, his wrinkles have also been subject to artistic interpretation; while Colin MacNeil draws him with fairly smooth but weathered skin, Leigh Gallaher makes him look like a truly old man.
- Since the Judges updated their iconic Lawgivers to the Mark II version, the depiction of that gun has gone through a strange amount of variance. General shifts in the gun's bulkiness is one thing, but some artist change what it arguably the gun's most recognizable feature, the half-circle ammo indicator, to a flat row of lights.
- For DC's Hawk and Dove, Hank Hall/Hawk's build has varied from being simply brawny to full-on Liefeldian beefiness (it doesn't help that the '80s mini-series was drawn by Liefeld to start with).
- Artists also waver between showing Hawk and Dove's eyes through their costumes or doing a full-on Batman effect with whiting out their eyes.
- Dawn Granger/Dove II started out as an average-height girl who would magically grow to become taller as Dove, while her shorter blonde hair would change to become long and white. In recent years, artists often forget this and portray her height as being the same in both forms and her hair winds up often being colored white in civilian mode too.
- Holly Granger/Hawk II: A shorter woman with an average-sized chest or a practical Amazon with large breasts? Was her hair super short, shoulder-length, or was it down past her waist? Her hair color was another variable: Originally Geoff Johns and Mike McKone considered her as a blonde, but changed their minds and had her with pinkish-red hair in her debut (though the colorist forgot to recolor her hair in one panel, leaving her as a blonde). Johns' official profile for her in a Secret Files issue then stated that she had brown hair, yet his draft for the first One Year Later Teen Titans issue described her as a redhead. In her sporadic appearances during her tenure as Hawk, colorists seemed to shift between all three of those colors for her hair, sometimes even in the same event (World War III).
- Astonishing X-Men member Hisako Ichiki (a.k.a. Armor) has the ability to generate Psionic Body Armor, the shape of which differs from artist to artist. Where John Cassaday would draw it as shaped like Samurai armor, other artists range between that and ginormous bubble suits, and this isn't even going into the color of it.
- Hisako also suffers from this regarding how old she looks. Cassaday originally drew her looking like she's in her mid teens, but later artists make her look anywhere from a 9 to a 19 year old.
- The, eh, black mask of the Batman villain Black Mask either looks like a fat slob or a rather more respectable skull. But everything varies; are his eyes fully visible, or just white spaces in the mask; is it permanently set, or can it make a surprisingly varied number of expressions?
- New Mutants member Sofia Mantega (Wind Dancer) is Venezuelan but she's drawn in a variety of ways, ranging from fairly dark skinned with South American features to Ambiguously Brown to very Caucasian-looking with blonde hair. Most commonly she appears somewhere in between.
- Hepzibah, a member of the Starjammers from the X-Men setting was an anthropmorphic skunk complete with pheromone powers, then someone apparently thought she'd look nicer as, or had a thing for, white furred elves with tails, leaving a character that's has "In Name Only" in common with the original. It doesn't even have the same quirky speech pattern!
- Another notorious entry for Ambiguously Brown; Green Arrow II, Connor Hawke. He's supposed to be 1/2 white, 1/4 African-American and 1/4 Korean. Good luck finding an artist who can draw it.
- Sunspot of the New Mutants is of Afro-Brazilian descent (though his mother is white, his first appearance has a fellow Brazilian bullying him due to his African heritage) but a lot of artists seem to forget this and simply make him look like the stereotypical American depiction of a "Hispanic" person. His skin tone varies wildly, as do his facial features and hair texture.
- Monet St. Croix from Generation X and X-Factor is another Ambiguously Brown example. Her father is Afro-French◊ and her mother was Algerian, but the artists can't seem to decide on a skin tone for her. Sometimes she looks African or Arabic, while other times she just looks like a white lady who's been spending too much time at a tanning salon.
- The Captain America foe Black Racer is sometimes depicted as African-American (as her name would imply), and other times she's a white woman.
- The skin color and musculature of recurring Daredevil enemy Turk varies wildly. This necessitated the eventual Hand Wave that he has vitiligo and gets prescribed steroids to keep it in check.
- Iron Man's situation is complicated in that all his different armors tend to look sort of alike, and the devil is in the details. A painful example is the 'Extremis'-armor: it does look different from the one immediately preceding it, and it is pretty important to remember this, because the in-story differences are pretty radical. And yet, many artists just kept drawing him with the Model XXIX while he had switched to the Model XXX long since! And this is not even taking unto account the many, many instances where artists just drew whatever they felt.
- Fin Fang Foom sometimes wears incongruous purple pants and is sometimes a case of Nonhumans Lack Attributes (sometimes both◊).
- He was also orange instead of green once, but that was really the Midgard Serpent in disguise.
- Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog, depending on who's doing the penciling, will give characters either four or five fingers. Patrick Spaziante (who does most of the covers) tends to do five. It happened to the Overlander race with such frequency that, when Station Square made its appearance, they Hand Wave the mistakes by saying that they were descendants of humans.
- How the Modern Era Sonic's quills were drawn also DOTA, especially in the months after the reveal and the switch over. A lot of times, his quills were drawn exceptionally long and sometimes not long at all.
- There's also how females that aren't Amy Rose and Rouge the Bat are drawn. Are they SEGA-isque? Are they more human-like? How much clothing do they wear?
- Sally and Bunnie are easily the worst offenders of the bunch, with Sally's proportions and fur varying and Bunnie becoming more like the "Sax Cymbal" she's depicted today, her robotic parts slimming out and her front being modified from just her body fur to an actual leotard.
- In Sonic the Comic, Johnny Lightfoot and Porker Lewis sometimes wear gloves and shoes and sometimes don't (once they wear clothes at all, anyway).
- In the Sonic Adventure adaptation what color is everyone's eye color? Sonic is portrayed as having Green Eyes and Amy with Brown Eyes but everyone else is up in the air. Does Tails have brown eyes or blue? Are Knuckles purple or blue? Johnny and Lewis, blue eyes or not?
- Damian Wayne (Robin V) had been getting a lot of this, to where some of his fans debate on who draws the best version. His height and build stay similar, but other things aren't as consistant such as:
- His skin tone can be as pale as most of the other memebers of the Bat-Family, or slightly more tan if the artist remembers that he's half Armenian through Talia. Sometimes he even looks a bit Asian.
- Talia's mother was half-Chinese as well, so the Asian facial features aren't uncalled for.
- Eye shape varies wildly, as does what shade of blue (most of them are darker shades lately)
- How spiky his hair is and how many blue undertones it has (in the first 6 issues of Batman and Robin it was stright black or only had a few blue bits due to lighting, but in issues 10-12 it was almost completely blue no matter what the lighting).
- The size of his mask changes at times, from small to DEAR GOD IT'S EATING HIS FACE!
- Nocturne of the Exiles is the alternate-reality daughter of Nightcrawler and the Scarlet Witch, and there's a surprising lack of agreement on how much of her father's physical quirks she inherited. Sometimes she has five fingers per hand, sometimes three. Sometimes she has normal feet, sometimes not. Artists can't even agree on whether or not she has a tail and really, at that point the editors should be stepping in (or at least giving them an official character model to work with). About the only thing they can agree on is that she's blue.
- Nightcrawler himself suffers from a bit of this. Sometimes he has pupils, but usually his eyes are solid yellow; sometimes his eyes are always in shadow, other times his forehead is lit naturally; at least one artist for some reason decided his hair should stick up like Count Chocula's. The most frequent point of dissention is his feet: they always have two oversized toes in front, and should have a third in back to let his feet grasp like a bird's talon but many artists draw him with normal heels, and some have shown him wearing normal shoes when going in public in a Conspicuous Trenchcoat, which should be impossible.
- They actually decided that Nocturne's tail was actually retractable, complete with one of her teammates commenting on how freaky that was after watching her retract it.
- Captain America's Marvel NOW! redesign has been laughably inconsistent. It was introduced in The Avengers, but looks quite different in Uncanny Avengers and Cap's own solo book. Some artists add in the old head wings (which were not present in the initial redesign), change the boot shapes, and make various other alterations to it.
- Loki seems to have a new look every time he shows up. The basics stay the same, but lots of other things change. Not surprising, considering the main thing that Loki is known for is illusions and shape-shifting:
- He always has a head piece with horns. Whether it's a helmet or a headband, or how curved/long the horns are is DOTA.
- The only really consistent thing is that his eyes are almost always a bright green. Everything else is up for debate.
- And now with Kid!Loki the artists can't seem to decide on his physical age. His main book (Journey Into Mystery) draws him around 10 years old, the other Thor book puts him closer to 12, and the Fear Itself tie-ins where he's featured have him look more like a young teenager.
- One memorable cover with him, Hercules, and Juggernaut had him look 16-17 and fairly ripped.
- Not as much since the movie's out now, but some more casual readers used to think Loki was blonde, since his traditional costume (until he took Sif's body in 2005) had a blonde ponytail hanging off his helmet... even when it wasn't a helmet but a cloth head-covering (it was however just an ornamental attachment). In his last adult-male drawings, the blonde hair was changed to gold ribbons, presumably to avoid this. He was just so rarely seen without something covering his hair that some people didn't even know (much like the symbol on the back of Superman's cape). One rare time when he had his helmet off in a crossover with the X-Men, his hair was black.
- All the older characters in The Beano have outlived their original artists by some time, and succeeding artists have often made major changes to the character designs.
- In the Beano and The Dandy favorites from the Forties there are two pages devoted to showing how Pansy Potter's appearance differed depending on the artist.
- Subverted with Minnie the Minx in the 2000s. Long-serving artist Jim Petrie retired in 2001, and over the next few years a succession of artists all tried their hands at the strip, sometimes radically changing Minnie and/or her family. Then, when the editors finally settled on Ken Harrison as regular artist later in the decade, he undid not only the previous artists' changes but even those of Jim Petrie, taking Minnie all the way back to how her original artist, Leo Baxendale had drawn her in the 1960s.
- Spider-Man's Carlie Cooper falls victim to this a lot-to the point where fans aren't even sure what she's supposed to look like beyond "White and has glasses". Most notably is ever changing hair style and color which have NEVER been consistent between two issues. Ranges from pixie cut and light brown to past the shoulders and red-ish to just above the shoulders and more of a blondish to anything else. A lesser example is that intially colorist couldn't figure out how dark Lilly Hollister was supposed to be.
- Fables. Pinocchio suffers the most from this. It's most noticeable in The Dark Ages, between the first story in the collection, as opposed to when he appears later.
- From a same story-arc, between artist sharing every issue of it– 1996 Marvel vs. DC had at least three inconsistencies between Dan Jurgens' and Claudio Castellini's art:
- 1- Mjolnir's handle: Jurgens drew it tied to a leather strap; Castellini drew it tied to a chain.
- 2- Elektra's headgear is a kerchief to Jurgens, and just a red strip around her forehead, not covering hair in Castellini's art.
- 3- Lobo's hair- wavy to Jurgens, straight to Castellini.
- Lobo, at least before Simon Bisley despiction of him, His hair and black facial marks (specially those on the side of his mouth and chin) varied a lot.
- Seems that artists are getting a bit mixed up in regards with the new look for Captain America in the Marvel NOW! relaunch, with the design wildly varying from artist to artist.
- Green Lantern- The four Human Lantern's eye colours. Are they green because of the rings, naturally green, or not green at all?
- Werewolf by Night: While Jack Russell's werewolf form changed over the years, it was done consistently: first a typical Wolf Man ŕ la Lon Chaney Jr., later more lupine (and with an added explanation to go with it). As of the late 2000s/early 2010s the depiction of his wolf self has become completely erratic: one artist draws him 'old style', the next very lupine, another somewhere between the two; sometimes he has a tail and sometimes he doesn't; sometimes his eyes are red, sometimes yellow. As a human, Jack has had every eye color and hair color imaginable. Officially he's a blue-eyed redhead, but works where he's depicted as such are rare.
- Teen Titans:
- While starting out as a simply green-skinned human for most of the series, later artists tried to emphasize the "beast" in Beast Boy's name. Mike McKone started by giving him pointed ears and fangs (as an homage to the animated Titans), while artists following him would depict Gar with huge sideburns, a wider jaw, claw-like fingers and toes, and often let him go barefoot. Some artists also liked depicting him with copious body hair, while others left the detail out.
- As originally drawn by George Perez, Raven's face was rounder and softer-featured. As he continued to draw her, he decided to make her appearance stand out from the other two women on the team. She wound up developing a more narrow face with visible cheekbones, larger lips, and a rather high forehead. These changes were later noticed in "The Terror Of Trigon" arc. After Perez left the series, Eduardo Barretto gave Raven a look more akin to Perez's original style, though later artists would give her back her narrow features.
- After her resurrection in TT volume 3, she appeared as a younger teenage girl, though fans of her classic appearance decried some artists' choice in giving her larger breasts as a way of making her sexier. The "new" Raven also seemed to alternate between looking in her mid-late teens to looking a little closer to her '20s.
- The second version of "Evil Raven" in the '90s also had her appearance shift about a lot. Did she have antlers like her father? Was her skin red or simply a deep tan? Did she have four eyes or two? A gray streak in her hair or not? The extent of just how revealing her clothes were was yet another of these many variables.
- Raven's first dress and cloak were later mentioned in dialogue to be "black", after she made the switch to her white outfit. Yet in actuality, the dress and cloak were depicted as blue, possibly to save on black ink and as a stylization choice. Most modern depictions of Raven keep the outfit blue, although in a darker shade (though a pin-up for the volume 3 "Secret Files" depicted her dress as a violet-highlighted black).
- Starfire's hair started out infamously huge and red, while her eye shape was more on the rounded side. Certain artists past volume 3 would sometimes give her narrow eyes and portray her hair much straighter, and colorists would occasionally give it more of an orange or brown hue. Her flaming hair-trail changed from looking more like an extension of her own hair, to actual bursts of fire. Her skin has appeared either more on the golden side, or more saturated of an orange tone.
- Rose Wilson's eyes have shifted between being green and blue, depending on the colorist (back when she had both eyes). She's also supposed to be part-Cambodian (at least in pre-Flashpoint continuity), but she's often drawn a bit too Caucasian-featured for some of her fans' comfort.
- Miss Martian alternated between being a smaller-built girl with average bust size, and at times having a much larger chest. Colorists also couldn't decide whether her eyes were green or magenta, and the style of her boots and gloves were subject to vary.
- The '90s Titan Pantha had her unmasked face subject to much variation. Some artists preferred giving her a more animalistic look, with a snubbed, snout-like nose and pointed earlobes. Other later interpretations showed her with a more human face, with her simply having irises like a cat. The color of her sclerae and irises were also never consistent.
- Stephanie Brown's Spoiler costume went through various artistic interpretations over the years. Tom Lyle originally drew her with a large piece of shoulder armor that was attached to her chest sash, though it was phased out by later artists. Her boots and gloves would sometimes have armored bands worn on top of them, while other appearances would lack these. The size of her belt and the amount of canisters in it also varied, along with the length and style of her boots (sometimes they'd be the same length and style, sometimes asymmetrical). Her bodysuit and cloak ranged from being colored a deep purple ("eggplant") to nearly being more of a magenta shade or reddish-violet, while the "undies" worn on top would come and go as artists pleased. The mask and leather parts of her costume were either colored black with blue highlights, or a solid blue or black. The size of the lenses on her mask also varied from being small to huge and expressive.
- As Robin, artists couldn't decide whether her hair spiked out, or if it was a little more subdued. She sometimes was also depicted wearing green elbow pads, and while most drew her wearing a red minidress as part of the costume, Pete Woods opted to draw a more unisex costume that resembled a slightly more armored version of Tim Drake's and that had gold thigh bands.
- Her Batgirl costume alternated between being colored black with purple trim, or being a deep purple with lighter side trim. The amount of pouches on her thigh band also varied from artist to artist, while her boots could either be colored black, dark purple, or a lighter purple.
- Stephanie's mother's appearance was subject to many different depictions whenever she showed up. She's been drawn as either middle-aged, slightly younger, as a blonde or brunette, either with a slimmer body or heavyset, and with or without glasses. However, the weight changes could be justified as her having been on and off drugs (which can be Truth in Television).
- The new Captain Marvel's hairstyle varies between series, said series being Avengers, Avengers Assemble, All-New X-Men, and her self-titled series, and ranges from her new mohawk with long hair, to a short boyish mohawk, and to just her previous long locks as Ms. Marvel.
- Hope Summers also constantly changes her look. Does she look like a little girl that has barely reached age 12? Or like a teenager? Sometimes she even looks like a red-haired Emma Frost. This stood out the most in Avengers vs. X-Men, where it changed nearly every damn issue.
- Despite the company using the same designs for characters. Killer Croc looks different than to how he was drawn in Batman #1 just a few months before he appeared in Red Hood and the Outlaws. The design for Mr Freeze by the book's artist also appears different from how he looks on the Batman Annual cover, though the version that appeared in RHatO seems to have been adopted as the official one now.
- In the second story-arc of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic (IDW) Luna sports her Season 1 appearance in spite of the series taking place after Season 2. Colorist Heather Breckel says this is story related, however, and she has her post-"Luna Eclisped" look on the main cover for Issue #8.
- Paperinik New Adventures has this Up to Eleven, since over twenty artists worked on it and no one did two issues in a row. Lyla is the most extreme case: she has been depicted from extremely sexy to slightly macrocephalic, and they never agreed if she had duck-like or human-like foot.
- This is discussed in American Splendor, when Joyce isn't sure what the real Harvey Pekar will look like, since some artists have him looking like a young Marlon Brando while others represent him like an ape with stink lines.
- MAD tends to have different takes on mascot Alfred E. Neuman depending on who drew that issue's front cover, but most artists stick closely to more polished variants of the design codified by Norman Mingo early in the magazine's history. However, other artists have given him their own spin — Sergio Aragonés's takes are very cartoony and sketchy, Mort Drucker's are more jagged, Jack Davis's very loose and energetic, and Al Jaffee's are more chunky. Drew Struzan's only cover is extremely Off Model with a very different haircut. James Warhola and Richard Williams usually painted their covers, thus giving them a little more muddy retraux feel like the Mingo and Freas covers of old. This has generally been averted from the early 2000s onward, as most of the covers are now drawn solely by Mark Fredrickson.
- More of "Depending on the Colorist" but what color is Snoopy's doghouse and supper dish? Red or Yellow? What color is Charlie Brown's shirt? Yellow, right? Except when it's red. What color is Peppermint Patty's shirt? Green, except when it's purple.
- Apparently colourists are the bane of cartoonists' lives, as the cartoonists are often blamed for colouring problems. For example, some versions of a Peanuts strip which specifically says that this dog dish is yellow, as a plot point, shows the dish a different colour. Scott Adams, of Dilbert, also caught the Unfortunate Implications flack when his colorist chose to give a thieving janitor character dark skin.
- In Garfield, the house and Jon's clothing have no set color palette. In one set of strips Odie is briefly adopted by a little girl (during a storyline where he and Garfield get lost in the city). In the first strip where she appears, she's colored like this◊. In subsequent strips, she's colored like this◊.
- This problem also messed up a The Far Side cartoon with a bunch of penguins and one of them singing "Me, I just gotta be me." The joke is that the penguins all look the same, but one colourist made the singing penguin yellow instead of black and white, ruining the irony.
- Mike's friend Lawrence in For Better or for Worse is meant to be mixed-race (his father being a black Brazilian). Depending on the colorist and Johnston's own style, he varies between being darker-skinned or appearing as white as Mike.
- The main characters in Dick Tracy are drawn quite consistently, with the noticeable exception of Lizz. Chester Gould drew her as a fairly normal-looking woman, Rick Fletcher made her somewhat cuter and bustier, and then Dick Locher changed her design, making her look far more butch and less feminine.
- Dungeons & Dragons gets this a lot, but probably the worst victim is the Demon Lord Demogorgon; the consistant part of its appearance is that it has two animalistic heads and tentacle arms. Its bulk, amount and color of hair, skin texture, number of tentacles (varies between one and two on each arm), arm structure, and the species of the animals its heads are has varried over the years, between hyenas, baboons, and mandrills.
- Magic: The Gathering artists can't seem to reach a consensus on what Lim-Dul looks like. Dark Ritual shows him with black hair and ram's horns, his own card has him white-haired and with his horns out of the picture, and the comics draw him bald and with antlers.
- Sajan Gadadvara, Pathfinder's iconic monk, is supposed to be from Golarion's equivalent of Southeast Asia. He usually looks less Southeast Asian than some variation on the theme of Ambiguously Brown.
- Before 4th edition Dungeons & Dragons, all Tieflings (the result of interbreeding between humans and demons) looked different, with the only constant being that there was some physical sign of their non-human heritage. Fourth edition standardized their appearance in theory - now all Tieflings have horns and tails - but artists vary widely in how human their faces look, whether their horns are curled like ram's or stick straight up (and whether that's random, consistent, or varies by gender), whether their tails are thin and flexible or thick and ungainly like a dinosaur's, etc.
- This was a recurrent problem in early BattleTech, particularly with the appearances of the titular 'Mechs, especially the Unseen. Take a look at any three Phoenix Hawk drawings, and all of them will differ fairly significantly from one another and from the Macross VF-1S Valkyrie, from which it is derived. Some artists made spot-on Macross reproductions, while others gave the PHX a bulbous round head.
- BIONICLE had this so much, that eventually the writer simply came forward and said everyone is free to choose which kind of character design they want to see as "the most real". Thankfully in some cases, like for the shape-shifting race of beings called Makuta or the Mask of Life, most of the variations were canon-justified. Though a lot still had to be chalked up to the occasional Unreliable Illustrator, or artists not being supplied with sufficiently clear guidelines.
- Touhou has been subjected to this as a result of ZUN's art compared to Tasogare Frontier's as well as the fanarts.
- This seems to be an issue with Castlevania: Judgment, an attempt at making a Castlevania fighting game. One of its major selling points, in theory, would be the Fanservice of having characters from different branches of the franchise come together to battle each other — but the character designer, Takeshi Obata (of Hikaru no Go and Death Note fame,) made most of the characters look drastically different than they did in their original games. For instance, this◊ is Eric Lecarde in his original appearance in Castlevania: Bloodlines. This◊ is him in Judgment.
- Speaking of Obata's work, one of the DS Death Note games gave Matt blue hair. Sky blue, to be exact.
- Castlevania character designs were all over the place long before Judgment. Simon Belmont's character design specifically wildly varies between installments - his hair has been red, blond, brown, black, and blue - and switching from a Conan the Barbarian look in the early games to the more recent Castlevania-style Bishounen.
- Final Fantasy has just...tremendous examples of this. It's most obvious when dealing with the older games, which have been ported and remade and all that good stuff countless, countless times, but it exists in all of them, especially since the release of Dissidia.
- Dissidia: Final Fantasy is an interesting variation of this, as it contains characters from lots of different Final Fantasy games that have very different art styles (compare the Steam Punk aesthetic of Final Fantasy VI to the sci-fi Cyber Punk/BioPunk style of Final Fantasy VII to the standard Medieval European Fantasy fare of titles like IV and on and on and on and on...) and makes them all conform to one art style for purposes of internal visual coherency. The style in question is done by main designer Tetsuya Nomura (quite obviously, to anyone familiar with the man's other works), but incorporating the Signature Style of the series' other main designer/illustrator Yoshitaka Amano—and this "Amanoization" applies as well to characters that were originally drawn by Nomura, such as Tidus and Squall. The overall effect is ...interesting, and subject of great debate among the fandom.
- And then the game does it deliberately and pushes it further with the Summon spells, which are represented by a variety of artwork—from the original concept art (like Malboro) to completely new designs (such as Carbuncle), all of which span the entire 20+ years of the series. For an example of this trope taken literally—the "auto" Bahamut summon shows the dragon◊ as designed for Final Fantasy X by Tetsuya Nomura, while the "manual" Bahamut shows the same dragon◊...as he was drawn by Amano for Final Fantasy V.
- The recurring mascot critters, enemies, summons, etc., often vary wildly between games. Although, since each game takes place in a different world/verse, it's not as straight an example as it could be.
- The Moogles: In the early series they're vaguely catlike white-or-light-colored furballs with a pom-pom and tiny purple wings, like so◊. From VII-X, they look like plush-toy versions of the above basic design (and in some cases are actual plush toys). The Kingdom Hearts and Dissidia moogles look like the plush-toy variants, but more so and, most notably, with a comically oversized head and big round clown nose, as can be seen here◊. In the Crystal Chronicles spinoff series, moogles are like the "original-flavor" moogles, except even fluffier and overall less feline and more rodentine in appearance, a look shared with the moogle cameo in Final Fantasy XIII. Forelimbs are optional◊. And then the Ivalice moogles (Final Fantasy Tactics Advance, Final Fantasy Tactics A2, and Final Fantasy XII among others) are completely different, as you can see◊.
- The Chocobos: The in-game appearance of the chocobos has varied surprisingly little over most of the series—large, usually yellow flightless birds of varying degrees of cuteness/realism (XII-edition chocobos are probably the most realistic yet, while IX-edition are probably the cutest). Except...when Yoshitaka Amano was asked to draw a flightless bird as a mount for Final Fantasy II, his original concept was this surreal specter◊, which was then forgotten about...until they made an OVA sequel to Final Fantasy V. Behold◊.
- Bombs: Since their initial appearance in II, Bombs have had a fairly standard appearance◊: floating fireball with eyes, a mouth, and tiny little arms. Then came◊ Final Fantasy XIII.
- Flans: The standard Final Fantasy flan◊ is a vaguely-cylindrical blob with eyes and a mouth, limb-like "appendages" optional—but in their first appearance, they take on an almost myconid appearance◊, which is later echoed in some of the Crystal Chronicles flan designs◊.
- Cactuars: Cactuars, the cactus-people-enemies, were virtually identical◊ from VI through X—then came XI's take◊, followed by the Ivalice interpretation◊.
- Bahamut is usually drawn as a huge black dragon...for Final Fantasy X, his design was distinctly more fabulous.
- Final Fantasy V had many examples of this. Every character has their concept as drawn by Yoshitaka Amano, their little pixeled map sprite, their battle sprite, their menu portrait, the super-deformed chibi official art based on the sprite, and a 3D render. Internal consistency between any of those is the exception, not the rule.
- Final Fantasy II also gets it pretty bad, due to two main factors: The first is that it has been remade/ported no less than six times, usually with an updated graphical look (Firion is identical to Fighter in the NES version and doesn't begin looking like a different, unique character until the Playstation version) and sometimes with new official art by a new artist in the Feelies. Then there's the renditions of the main characters and villain in the FMV opening of some versions of the game, where they are utterly unrecognizable. Secondly, there's the little fact that Amano apparently could not decide how he wanted to draw Firion. Practically every concept piece features a very different-looking Firion, and a similar thing applies to art of the Emperor. It's so bad that Nomura's rendition of Firion for Dissidia, which incorporates elements from practically all the official arts and recent sprites, looks more like "Firion" than "Firion"◊ does.
- Final Fantasy IV has some particularly egregious examples. Among some prominent ones is the Nintendo Power art created from, apparently, whole cloth to, apparently, sell the art to Americans. These depictions of Rydia◊, Rosa◊, Edward◊, Kain◊, Cecil◊ and especially Palom and Porom◊ aren't very true-to form. In-game, the character Cecil gets it particularly bad, getting different art for the original concept, the DS remake, the sequel, and yet another for Dissidia, in addition to the miscellaneous pixeled sprites "chibi" artwork, 3D renders, and inconsistent depictions of the exact color of his armor and skin. Really, he is rarely depicted the same way twice, even in the same game.
- Many Fighting Games include this trope. Characters inexplicably change appearance from one game to the other, and then may retain their oldest attire or not.
- Star Fox has historically done this a lot.
- Between the Vapor Ware (but leaked) Star Fox 2 and Star Fox 64, the Star Wolf characters changed dramatically in appearance, with Wolf standing out the most. Not only does he have an eye scar instead of his later patch, but it's on the opposite eye.
- Katt is another extreme version of this, becoming an artistic The Other Darrin in Command.
- Most of the other characters have had very noticeable design alterations to some degree. Falco's beak constantly changes shape between games and comics, the entire shape of Peppy's and Slippy's head has changed significantly, Pepper lost his Cool Shades and got black eye patches instead, and Fox's eye color shifted from blue to green. Wolf's eyes are usually violet, but they were gray in Command, then violet again in Super Smash Bros. Brawl.
- Then, of course, there was the whole redesign where every character went from having bionic legs to organic ones.
- The eye color of the Original Mega Man and his sister Roll is officially blue, but are often green by different artists. Given that the rest of the heroes in the franchise come with green eyes, the confusion is understandable.
- Invoked in Fire Emblem Awakening DLC when Chrom asks why the Marth in one chapter looks completely different from the previous one: as a figure of legend, Marth has a been depicted and reimagined many times.
- One of the characters in Angry Birds is Hal, whose most notable feature is his long beak. Here are three different interpretations of him.◊ The top image is how he looks in the games, the middle is his appearance in the "Summer Pignic" special (which is part of Rovio Entertainment's early animation efforts and can also be seen in both a promotional image for the Mighy Eagle and the Bad Piggies' Egg Recipes cookbook), and the bottom is from this promotion for Coca-Cola's 2012 Olympics campaign in China (which featured the art style made standard since the "Ham-O-Ween" special).
- The appearance of the title character of Shantae varies from game to game. Sometimes it's to fit with other style changes in the rest of the game, other times it's just the artist envisioning her in a different way. She's cuter in some incarnations, more sultry in others. Her skin tone has also been pretty inconsistent, though she usually is pretty tan, the trailer for Half-Genie Hero made her very pale. Way Forward, the game company, has stated that they will change it based on supporter feedback.
- The hair colors of Billy and Jimmy Lee from the Double Dragon series seem to differ depending on the game. The original arcade game had two nameless protagonists, with Player 1 as the blond-haired brother in blue and Player 2 as the brown-haired brother in red. When the game was adapted to the NES, Techos decided to flesh out the backstory and had the promotional art identify the main characters, with Billy Lee being the darker-haired younger brother and Jimmy Lee as the blond-haired older one. However, in the actual NES game, Billy is the hero in blue, while Jimmy is his rival in red. As a result, subsequent games in the series would often switch back and forth between one style or the other.
- Abstract Gender went through several different artists, each with their own style and character design
- One of the biggest problems with the comic was that even the individual artists couldn't keep the character designs constant.
- Gender Swapped went through this, the new artist's change in style made the characters look completely different.
- Each page of Heroes Unite is drawn by a different artist, and each artist has their own style. This can cause characters to change appearance during the same scene.
- Living with Insanity. When Paul Salvi became the artist, he redesigned all the characters so that the only ones who look like they did when David Herbert drew them are the goth girl Sally and Afro guy.
- Exploited in Melonpool, suggesting that Lyman and Uncle Max (two notable Chuck Cunningham Syndrome characters) are actually the same character.
- The regular characters in Lightning Made of Owls are drawn by the different contributing artists in all sorts of ways. Sometimes they're highly realistic, sometimes they're stick figures. Sometimes they're not human.
- Sonichu does this and it only has one artist. Christian Weston Chandler's artwork is completely unrefined that everyone has a different look. A wiki devoted to him actually cataloged the various ways he drew himself.
- One show that deliberately invokes this trope is John Kricfalusi's The Ren & Stimpy Show, due to his strict rule that the artists were never allowed to draw a character with the same pose or expression, or even draw the character the same way, twice.
- A more specific example would be that the bulk of Stimpy's body could either be fat ("Who's Stupid Now?"), or he'd just be big boned ("Royal Canadian Kilted Yaksmen"). Sometimes both!
- Probably the most notable example in the history of ever is the movie based on the game Dante's Inferno, each level of hell is animated by a different studio, and Dante himself changes looks each time sometimes gaining or losing equipment and his hair and scythe in particular were all over the place.
- As one noted in the DVD Commentary of Avatar: The Last Airbender, whether Sokka and Aang are lean but muscular or just flat-out scrawny-looking changes depending on the animator.
- Similarly, Captain Fanzone from Transformers Animated has Eyes Always Shut in the episodes animated by The Answer Studio, but not by Mook DLE. This is probably because they came up with different interpretations of his official character model, which has him squinting, although it's debatable if it should always be like that.
- G1 sometimes had episodes animated by a less-expensive studio, but you got what you paid for. Sometimes there's an Animation Bump to the point of looking better than the movie, sometimes the errors are so many and flagrant that it truly interferes with understanding what's going on. One of the cheaper company's particular quirks was that Chip Chase's jacket was dark blue with a light blue shirt beneath instead of brown with a white shirt, resulting in a rarity for the day, and even this day sometimes - a human character who actually owned more than one set of clothing.
- With Looney Tunes, how a particular character looks depends almost entirely on who is in the director's chair. Although their general appearance remained constant, it was easy to recognize a Chuck Jones-directed Bugs Bunny short from a Friz Freleng one. A big reason for this was the fact that at Warners, it was generally the director's job to do the character model sheets and layouts (the key poses that serve as guides to the animators), and thus these followed the director's individual drawing style.
- In the earlier Robert McKimson-directed Bugs Bunny cartoons Bugs was really chubby and fluffy, with stubby legs, hairy cheeks, and prominent front teeth. This "chubby Bugs" design is generally credited to McKimson unit animator Jean Blanchard. (Oddly enough, it was McKimson himself who'd drawn up the "standard" Bugs model sheet while still an animator for Bob Clampett's unit in the early '40s).
- This was most apparent during the mid-1930s, when the animators were still fiddling around with the designs. Porky Pig in particular varied greatly; in some cartoons, he was only somewhat portly, while in others he was fat to the point of obesity. It wasn't until about 1938 that Bob Clampett came up with the character we now recognize as Porky.
- Similarly, Elmer Fudd didn't have a consistent look for a while. He varied from the big-headed guy he is now to being a guy with a normal-sized head and big nose. He also had a brief period in which he was fatter than Porky.
- In the earlier Chuck Jones Daffy Duck cartoons he had two toes instead of three, and in the Frank Tashlin Daffy cartoons he had a very lean and angular design with a long bill.
- The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack loves this trope. Every storyboard artist has their own style, and it shows.
- Whatever you were used to seeing in the animation of Tiny Toon Adventures, A Pup Named Scooby-Doo and Darkwing Duck, Kennedy Cartoons would turn it into a squash and stretch show (usually) drawn on ones. Each Kennedy artist had their own style as well, but the quality varies from cartoony distortion to just Off Model. In fact, Kennedy was let go after the first season.
- One Tiny Toon Adventures character whose look tended to vary was Buster's rival Roderick Rat. When animated by Wang he is gray (except in one short where he was black) and has a cuter design, when animated by Kennedy he is brown and has a more sinister looking appearance.
- Animaniacs also had a passel of different animation studios working on it, often leading to examples of this trope.
- The Fantastic Four: World's Greatest Heroes cartoon artist(s) seem to have given Johnny a chin you could put a eye out with.
- Gorgonzola from Chowder is possibly an example of this. Most of the time he's only drawn slightly chubby, not much.. but sometimes he is drawn almost as large as Chowder but on quite a few other occasions he's drawn really thin. (sometimes resulting in him looking like a baby with a unusually large head) Plus the disappearance and reappearance of his monobrow. The other characters are subject to this kind of thing (not necessarily weight, though)
- Froggo from Histeria! also falls into the whole "sometimes fat, sometimes thin" thing.
- Prominent throughout Danny Phantom where the main trio (especially Danny) can either look ridiculously scrawny or look as though they got some meat in their diet and gained some muscles. Thought the series eventually progressed or gotten stiffer, they flip-flopped around often between these two kind of art styles throughout the run of the show. Then there was that brief "loose" style they had for the better part of Season One.
- American Dad! - is Stan muscular, a bit tubby but still somewhat buff, or obese?
- Ranger Smith constantly changed his appearance in the original Yogi Bear cartoons, even becoming a blonde in one episode of Yogi's Gang.
- Yogi and Boo Boo's appearances also varied in the original shorts, until the feature film Hey There, it's Yogi Bear, whose designs for Yogi and Boo Boo were used from then on.
- Parodied in the Spumco-made shorts, where Ranger Smith changed appearance between shots.
- The entrance to Jellystone Park changed with every single short. It never had the same appearance. Ever.
- In fact, many Hanna-Barbera productions were known for this until at least the mid-late 1960s (i.e., the beginning of the Taft era) when character designs and appearances remained mostly constant.
- The art style varied greatly in the An American Tail movies. The only two with similar animation styles are the direct to video sequels, and Tanya still somehow managed to look completely different in both movies (she's the character who goes through the most extreme design changes from movie to movie).
- X-Men fans will remember the different character appearances in the final episodes, thanks to a new overseas unit taking over for the prior one. Of note is Jubilee (she went from cropped to shoulder length hair and apparently ditched the glasses), Magneto (who also gained longer hair) and Jean Grey (whose design in-costume matched how she looked in the comics - the cartoons gave her a ponytail that stuck out the back of her "mask" until those final episodes, where she finally had the whole thing come out from the top.
- Family Guy: Poor, poor Meg Griffin. In some episodes she simply happens to have a wide body type but a stomach most real life girls would kill for, while in others she's got a muffin top.
- Much like The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack, the storyboarders of Adventure Time very freely let their own style show in their episodes. This is usually most prominent in how Finn is drawn- sometimes he's a little more chubby or thin, his hat may or may not be rounded and more dimensional, his limbs may be more wiggly, etc. Jake's appearance widely varies too, but he may not count, being a Shape Shifter.
- Kahn from King of the Hill. In scenes where he ends up shirtless, his body is portrayed in a wide variety of ways. Sometimes he looks similar to the other guys and has a slight gut, in others, he has a flat stomach and good pecs, and a few times, he's been shown with a six-pack.
- Superjail! is built on this, with artists being encouraged to go off-model for all of the characters. Sometimes one artist will even have a few different styles for their take on the cast. Generally, every single character tends to show differences, but there are a few that normally stick out:
- Alice's bust tends to alternate between being full-on Gag Boobs to even being smaller at points, while her stubble and body hair comes and goes. She may or may not have sideburns, and her mole tends to change places.
- Jared's head size and facial proportions vary a lot, along with his hands going from having four fingers on each to having the usual five digit hands.
- The Twins' wrinkles come and go, and their height alternates between them being on the taller end (nearly Alice's height, if not that) to the others towering over them. Their faces are generally either depicted as rounded and softer, or with heavier squared jaws. Their bodies can either be really scrawny, or have a considerable amount of muscle tone (even six-packs in one instance).
- Just how horrific Ash is supposed to look from burn damage can vary. The common factors are his lack of ears (either shown as holes or puckered ones), only having nostrils for his nose, and his mutilated hands, although his face either can look skeletal or his head more rounded. Sometimes he looks as if he shouldn't even have eyelids.
- Gary and Nicky have their hair colors alternate between a straight black, a brown-highlighted black, and dark brown. Gary's bird tends to change its general size as well, and sometimes Gary's hair is either center parted and slicked back, or he has a side part.
- Lord Stingray's helmet either acts more like one, or as an Expressive Mask. His eyes are either drawn behind the lenses or as part of them, and his teeth vary from being normal to him having a mouth full of razor-sharp fangs.
- In Generator Rex, Van Kleiss' hair is usually upper back length, but sometimes, his hair is drawn ethier shoulder-length, mid-back length, waist length or hip length.
- On Mike, Lu & Og, the size of Mike's pigtails often varied.
- Whether Minnie Mouse is shirtless like Mickey or wears a dress.
- In My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, Fluttershy's eyes have been dark blue, bright green and every color in between.
- Kat from Kenny The Shark has two hairstyles used: One is just her hair down normally while the other variant has them ending in curls.
- Invoked with Jenny Everywhere - she's an open source superhero with a very vague description, so anybody can interpret her anyway they wish. The most common interpretation has her wearing aviator goggles and a scarf, and the official description calls her "Native American or Asian."
- The NPCs on Gaia Online vary in appearance depending on who is drawing them. Sometimes the eye color, body type, or overall "look" is different.