Early Installment Character-Design Difference

Princess Zelda, then and now.

Early in the series any character is bound to have a characteristic look. It can go from Clothes Make the Legend, a Nice Hat, a particular hairstyle, etc.

While this is under Early Installment Weirdness, the specific part of Early Installment Design Difference is that this can be something that varies with Art Evolution, and some Character Development, as the Important Haircut, amongst others.

Some Webcomics use this as a Plot Point such as the characters' changing classes (in a gaming webcomic), or the author by some Art Evolution is removing the Limited Wardrobe trope from her/his arsenal.

Daughter of Early Installment Weirdness, Sister Trope to Costume Evolution, and compared to Art Evolution.


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     Anime and Manga 
  • Wandering Son:
    • Several characters had different hair colors early on. Takatsuki is the most noticeable, as they had brown for the first two volumes but it changed to black from thereon. Nitori's hair color darkened over time from a light brown to a dark brown, and that's handwaved in-series as her hair darkening as she ages.
    • Makoto originally had Opaque Nerd Glasses but after a few chapters her eyes became shown consistently.
  • Naruto:
    • Naruto wore goggles in the pilot chapter and first few chapters before switching to the ninja headband. The ninja headband was created because Naruto's goggles were too difficult to draw.
    • Gaara is described as a brunet (like his father and brother) in early chapters instead of a redhead.
    • When Obito and Rin first appeared in the anime their designs weren't 100% concrete. The basics were there though. Obito's hair was a bit different and they both looked younger. Their clothes were completely different as well. Obito wore gray goggles, his clothes had no orange on them, and he had a stick in his mouth. Rin's clothing was completely purple and her hair was a lighter shade of brown.
    • Naruto frequently had his Eyes Always Shut to make him look more fox-like. This was never completely dropped but became rarer as the series progressed.
    • Kiba's jacket was originally red in the manga before they adopted the anime's grey.
    • Tenten's pink qipao was initially blue in the manga.
    • In The Last: Naruto the Movie Boruto is depicted with purple eyes, which he inherited from his mother Hinata. The manga's Distant Finale changed it so that he has light blue eyes. The anime followed suit in Boruto: Naruto the Movie, with a plot point even being his eye color.
    • In the Distant Finale chapter of the manga, several of the next generation are depicted as academy students. Some of their clothes, such as Sarada's, were never used in the anime (which didn't adapt the chapter). Boruto had Sarada wear a different uniform as a student, one based on her design from the Boruto manga. Others like Inojin and Shikadai also wear different clothing.
  • Several characters from K-On!:
    • Yui wore Zettai Ryouiki early on in the manga before the author switched her over to Proper Tights with a Skirt.
    • Ritsu's bangs, which spill out from the side of her hair-band, weren't drawn as prominently in first chapters of the manga.
    • Mugi's distinctive eyebrows were drawn noticeably thinner in the earliest manga chapters.
  • The first chapters of Yu-Gi-Oh! had some differences in character design:
    • Jonouchi's hairstyle was different, with normal bangs rather than the outrageous pompadour we all know.
    • Anzu wore loose socks with her school uniform, while in later chapters her socks are normal.
    • The Pharaoh wore ankhs on his wrists.
  • Pikachu from Pocket Monsters originally had green eyes. By the Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire adaptation he had the standard Pikachu Black Bead Eyes.
  • The main characters in The Electric Tale of Pikachu retrieved redesigns in order to make them look more like their anime versions. Misty had a redesign at the end of volume 2 when she joined up with the group, to be (slightly) less Stripperific, and was given red hair instead of brown. She received another one for the Orange Islands arc.
  • It's hard to tell as the manga is in monotone colors, however early official art from Pokémon Adventures shows Crystal with brown hair. Eventually she was changed to have blue hair like her game counterpart. Several years later, the remakes of Gold and Silver have a brunette female protagonist, though Crys keeps her blue hair.
  • Berserk had one with the short called "Berserk Prototype". Guts notably had an eyepatch over his missing eye.
  • Black Lagoon: Revy didn't settle on her haircut until later in the series. This is one of few things the anime changed, there she has her haircut from the start.
  • Death Note:
    • Back in early chapters when L was The Faceless, he stood up straight and seemed to have curly hair. After he properly appeared, he was always slouching and had a messy spiked hairstyle.
    • Mello originally had white hair because his character wasn't finalized and he was meant to resemble Near. Later he was given blond hair. Mello originally appeared with white pants instead of black and his midriff covered.
  • Himouto! Umaru-chan: In the original one-shot, "Indoor Umaru" was drawn resembling a child (as opposed to going Super-Deformed) and was much meaner, including Groin Attacking her brother Taihei at one pointnote  and lying about him being an abusive, hot-headed jerk while talking with her friends at school. This gets referenced in the DVD-exclusive Umaru-chanS shorts, where the one-shot version of Umaru shows up alongside the finalized version, with Taihei outright discussing the differences.
  • Pokémon:
    • When Gary Oak first had his eye color revealed, it was shown that he has blue eyes. Afterwards his canon eye color became green.
    • It's possibly due to being traditionally animated instead of computer animated, however in the early episodes Ash had light skin. His skin tone darkened to his current tone by Hoenn. In Unova he was redesigned to have larger, brown eyes to fit the Art Evolution of the games. Ash always had brown eyes, but they looked like Black Bead Eyes unless he had a close-up or particularly dramatic moment.
    • Pikachu's design changed a lot over the episodes, as he was shorter and chubbier. Jokes have arisen that the training he's gone through has slimmed him down.
  • Usagi originally wore a Domino Mask in the Sailor Moon manga, much like Minako in Codename: Sailor V. She stopped wearing it within a few chapters. Adaptations don't even bother to include it.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure:
    • Very early on in Stardust Crusaders, Jotaro's hat was not smoothly fused with his hair in its usual iconic appearance - instead, a bit of hair comes out of a hole at the top of his hat. He's also shown wearing a button-up shirt, which was quickly dropped.
    • One of the most notorious was during Diamond is Unbreakable. Josuke, in particular, essentially looked just like Jotaro with a giant pompadour. By the end of the story, he had a much more distinctive, youthful appearance, with larger eyes and softer facial features. This at least partially has to do with Araki's own Art Evolution. The anime adaptation used elements of Araki's older and newer artstyles of the Part for a more consistent appearance.
    • Generally speaking, the earlier designs of JoJo characters were less distinctive, with the first two protagonists not sporting outfits and hairstyles that are as recognizable or iconic as their descendants, and Jonathan and Joseph actually wear different clothes at different points, whereas Jotaro and Josuke are rarely, if ever, shown outside of their school uniforms. (At least in their part in
  • The early colour pages of Brave10 have several characters with different hair and eye colour than what the creator eventually settled on. Isanami goes from green to pale blue to white hair, Saizo's eyes shift from brown to blue, Rokuro seems to wear purple lipstick and gets an eye-dye job in the anime to purple while they become increasingly blood red in the artwork.
  • Axis Powers Hetalia:
    • Many characters had different eye or hair colors in the earliest colored illustrations than they would have later on. For instance, Russia and Iceland originally had blue eyes, rather than the Purple Eyes that they have now.
    • North Italy's trademark wild curl was originally drawn much smaller, in comparison to now, where it's become a very distinctive aspect of his design. This difference was lampshaded by the author himself at one point.
    • Latvia was originally drawn as being only slightly shorter than Estonia and Lithuania. In the present, he's become much smaller than both of them, and one of the smallest characters of the series.
    • America lacked his trademark Idiot Hair (representative of Nantucket) early on, and had his hair parted in a different way.
    • In his first appearance in both the manga and anime, Bulgaria was drawn as having his Eyes Always Shut. In all of his subsequent appearances, he's had fully open eyes.
    • Prussia now has Technicolor Eyes (red on top and blue on the bottom), rather than the solid red eyes that he was given in the earlier series. And in the very earliest colored illustrations, he had blue eyes.

     Comic Books 
  • Captain America had a bare neck in his first appearance.
  • The Falcon's costume was originally green rather than red, and didn't have wings, just a grappling hook.
  • Superman: In the early stories, the art had Superman occasionally having an additional S on his cape, his main S symbol being smaller than it eventually became, and there being more of a yellow background behind his main S.
  • During Steve Ditko's run on Spider-Man, the wall-crawler had noticeable, dramatic webs under his armpits. These mostly disappeared over time as other artists took over, to the point most people don't know they were ever part of the costume.
  • In the pilot to Sabrina the Teenage Witch Salem was a stereotypical black cat. In the series proper he was orange for several decades until a retcon occured due to the popularity of Sabrina the Teenage Witch live action adaptation, where he was changed to black again.
  • Archie Comics:
    • Betty didn't begin wearing her signature Tomboyish Ponytail until several years after the series began. Her hair was usually down and she wore bangs.
    • Archie originally had buckteeth. By The '70s they were gone.
    • Moose had an overly cartoony design in his early appearances.
    • In his first appearance Kevin had Black Bead Eyes like most characters. Afterwards he was given baby blue eyes.
  • Josie and the Pussycats:
    • The comic started out as a Distaff Counterpart to the main Archie comics named She's Josie. Melody and Josie wore normal clothes for several years before they first put on their famous cat costumes.
    • Josie originally wore her hair in a bouffant instead of a bob.
    • Alexandra didn't have her signature Skunk Stripe early on.
  • The Smurfs when they first appeared on Johan and Peewit had five fingered hands instead of their traditional Four-Fingered Hands. Their hats were also a bit pointier.
  • When Lian Harper was introduced she took after her father, Roy Harper (Speedy/Red Arrow/Arsenal). By the time she was a toddler she had been redesigned to take after her mother Cheshire. Her red hair changed to black and she gained more Asian facial features.
  • Sonic the Comic:
    • Knuckles had a white crest on his fur like in the games. Future appearances give him a metal ring that he wears around his neck instead.
    • Early on Amy wore her classic outfit from the games. After being retooled as a more Action Girl character she changed clothes. Though she has dozens of clothes, she mainly wears a grey sweatshirt with jeans.
  • Tintin didn't have his iconic quiff in the first few pages of Tintin In The Land Of The Soviets.
  • Eclipso looked just like Bruce Gordon at first, but soon gained pointed ears and a more demonic face.
  • When Beast Boy's origin was first shown in Doom Patrol, he was originally a brunette. When his origin was regiven a few issues later he was shown to be blond. He's been depicted as blond ever since, barring the Young Justice cartoon where he was a redhead and Teen Titans Year One where he was brunette.
  • In early issues of Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog Sally was pink furred with black hair instead of brown furred with red hair.

     Comic Strips 
  • Peanuts:
    • In early strips, Snoopy walked on all fours and was much more doglike in appearance and personality than he was in later strips.
    • Schulz's drawing style changed considerably over the first ten years of the strip. Originally, the characters' heads were ellipsoidal, the faces were smaller compared to the rest of the head, their noses were pointier and their eyes were very far apart, but over time their heads became rounder, their faces became much bigger, their eyes got closer together and their noses became round. In Schulz's mature drawing style, the characters' eyes and noses form almost a single unit.
    • Many of the characters, including Schroeder, Lucy, Linus, Sally and Rerun, start off as babies or very young toddlers before aging to approximately the same age as the other characters. Charlie Brown and several other characters were originally 4-year-olds but were aged up into 8-year-olds.
    • When she entered the strip in 1951, Violet wore her hair in a braid. Her more familiar ponytail came a few years later.
  • The titular protagonist of Garfield was much fatter originally. He also looked looked more cat-like and was always depicted on all-fours.

     Film - Animation 

     Film - Live Action 

  • Arthur:
    • Arthur didn't even wear pants in the first book, he had a long nose for several books before receiving an Anthropomorphic Shift, and he did not wear his iconic cardigan at first.
    • Francine didn't wear her signature red sweatshirt or blue jeans in the early books either, instead she wore dresses (which is something the current tomboy Francine almost never does.)
    • The Tibble twins were originally Token Human characters but were later redesigned as bears.

     Live-Action TV 
  • In Raumschiff Game Star, the eponymous starship crew's iconic "garbageman" uniforms didn't make an appearance until the second season. Ditto the bad guys' black hooded cloaks.
  • This happened on Bonanza as the clothing choices of the Cartwrights got changed to Limited Wardrobe so more Stock Footage could be used.
  • The uniforms in both pilot episodes of Star Trek: The Original Series were different, both from each other, and from those in the regular episodes.
  • For their first appearance on Star Trek: The Next Generation, the Trill had noticeably more forehead prosthetics and lacked facial spots. After Terry Farrell was cast on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, the producers decided they didn't want her under heavy makeup, and altered the makeup to spots down her forehead.
  • The first two seasons of Red Dwarf have Rimmer in a khaki Space Corps uniform and Lister in a stained, shabby version of the same uniform, as opposed to Lister's leathers and Rimmer's shiny outfits in later seasons. The Space Corps uniform itself is changed retroactively in flashbacks.
  • Sesame Street:
    • Throughout the first season there was a noticeable variation in Ernie's sweater. Rather than being strictly red and blue striped, it also had orange, yellow, and pink stripes in it as well.
    • Many Muppets had different designs early on and even throughout the years their designs have evolved. The Muppet Wiki has several pages dedicated to explaining the various designs. For example, Kermit originally wasn't a frog, he was a Cartoon Creature until 1969, when Sesame Street first aired. Big Bird originally had fewer feathers on his head, and the character that would become Cookie Monster had teeth prior to appearing on Sesame Street. Rosita was originally a fruit bat but became a generic "monster" later. Zoot's skin kept switching from blue to green and back until the creators ultimately settled on blue.
  • In Sherlock, the titular character did not start wearing his famous deerstalker until the second series. Perhaps the creators thought it would not fit with the character's modernisation, but were forced to backtrack on the decision due to the hat's iconic nature. It's not like the character ever wore it in the original novels. And it only exists in the show as a Lampshade Hanging, never worn by Sherlock in a serious context — he gets downright cranky when a sheer coincidence associates the hat with him in the eyes of the public.
  • Hogan's Heroes. In the first two color episodes, LeBeau wears a navy blue sweater over his fatigues, rather than his usual red one. He may or may not have also worn it in the black-and-white pilot episode, as it is hard to determine, though it does appear to be a rather dark sweater.
  • Dinosaurs had a different look for Fran's head crest in the first couple of episodes.
  • The Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Phases" featured a werewolf with a fully lupine head, as opposed to the Wolf Man appearance that all later appearances of werewolves in the show and its Spin-Off Angel would adopt.
  • Doctor Who:
    • In the Cybermen's first appearance, "The Tenth Planet", they had a much more mixed human/robot appearance with tinges of Body Horror, compared to their much more robotic appearance in all later stories.
    • The Daleks took three stories to achieve their classic appearance. The Dalek props in the first story, "The Daleks", lack the vertical panels attached to the "shoulder" section of their casings. In "The Dalek Invasion of Earth", they have clunky looking satellite-style disc aerials on the backs of their casings, conceived by the designers as a wireless power supply (the original Daleks had been unable to leave their city as they drew electrical life-support power from the floors). "The Chase" added the final vertical panels, conceived as solar panels for power collection.

  • In The Beatles earliest performances they dressed in leather jackets and presented themselves as Greaser Delinquents. Once Brian Epstein became their manager he made them switch to the collarless suits everyone thinks of when they think "early Beatles."

     Tabletop Game 

  • Cheerilee from My Little Pony G3 was originally a unicorn with a slightly different coloring and a different Cutie Mark. For the "Core 7" soft reboot she was combined with another pony named "Cherry Blossom". She now uses Cheerilee's name but Cherry Blossom's design.

     Video Games 
  • Reimu and Marisa from Touhou, especially in the PC-98 era. Reimu started out wearing a much more plain and basic miko outfit, without the ribbons and her memetic armpits. She also had purple hair. Marisa, famous for her black-white witch dress, started out wearing purple. She also had red hair instead of blonde, although only in her first appearance.
  • Pokémon:
    • Red in Pokemon Red, Blue, and Green is depicted with bone straight hair in his sprites but has Anime Hair in his official design. This is likely because the prototypical version of him from Capsule Monsters had this hairstyle, and the sprites didn't change when his design did. His hat also has a large Pokeball on it, which isn from his finalized design but appears in Capsule Monsters concept art.
    • Blue's champion sprite in Red, Blue and Green has a hairstyle not even seen in any artwork.
    • Many Pokemon looked different in the sprites for the first two generations. For example Charmander had spikes according to most adaptations (excluding the anime), the original sprites, and early official art but they were removed by Gold and Silver. Pikachu were infamously very chubby looking at first but as early as Yellow began slimming down and by the third gen were in their current, thinner design. Koffing's skull and bones were above its eyes instead of below them in Pokémon Red and Blue. Mew looks more like an embryo in the original Japanese Red and Green before being given a more feline appearance in the international Red and Blue.
    • Several Trainer Classes in Gen 1 used whips. Ace Trainers and even gym leaders like Sabrina used them. These whips were phased out in future generations. As a result the Tamer class was only used in Generation 1.
  • Super Mario Bros.:
    • Mario had a blue shirt and red overalls until the colors were swapped around for the second title. Luigi had a brown shirt-green overall combo in his first appearance, and green shirt and white overalls (resembling the fire flower form) in Super Mario Bros. (Both of the remakes gave him back said brown shirt-green overall combo (or, in the case of the Super Mario All Stars version, the blue shirt-green overalls) , and made this costume his fire flower form instead).
    • In Super Mario Bros., Toad wore a red vest. The western version of Super Mario Bros. 2 changed it to dark blue in game, while in the artworks it was more purple. Super Mario Bros. 3 brings back the red vest, but the blue/purple one came back in subsequent games... until Super Mario Sunshine introduced, along with various Toads with differently colored vests and mushroom spots, a yellow trim around the vest, which was kept since then.
    • Daisy wore a purple crown in her older appearances, but somewhere around Mario Kart Double Dash it was replaced with a golden one like Peach's one. Her hair was also long like Peach until it was cropped shorter in Mario Party 4. Daisy was Ambiguously Brown during the Nintendo 64 era but returned to her original tone for Mario Party 4.
    • Starting from Mario Golf: Toadstool Tour, Birdo wears a ring with a giant diamond on her right middle finger.
    • Wario originally wore a long-sleeved shirt, but since Wario Land II he's often been seen wearing a short-sleeved one. He's consistently portrayed with short sleeves in Wario's own games however in the Mario spinoffs he alternated between them and the long sleeves before permanently settling on the short ones.
    • Pauline was originally depicted as a blonde in illustrations for the arcade and Famicom versions of Donkey Kong, but became a brunette in Donkey Kong '94, presumably to distinguish her from Peach (who at that point had already appeared in more games than Pauline and was a more recognizable character as a result).
    • With the original Mario Golf and Mario Tennis Peach and Daisy both wore shorter versions of their main dresses (though the dresses date back to NES Open Tournament Golf). Starting with Mario Golf: Toadstool Tour both princesses instead began wearing sports-geared outfits. Peach also began putting her hair in a ponytail for sports games. Rosalina didn't get her own sporty dress until Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash. Before that she wore her normal dress in all games besides Mario Kart.
  • Street Fighter:
    • In the very first Street Fighter game - which is often forgotten - Ryu has reddish hair and wears a pair of red shoes. Odd considering that in the games chronologically after it, he Does Not Like Shoes and he has it pointed out numerous times.
    • In the same game, Birdie is a fair-skinned light-toned man. In his next appearance (Street Fighter Alpha), he's black and slightly bulkier. He explains: "I was pale because I was sick!"
  • Mega Man X: In his first appearance (in the first game), Zero has circular shoulders and lacks his Z-saber. In the second game, where he was rebuilt after he was destroyed one game before, he gets a new square shoulders with his signature Z on it, and his Z-saber as well, which is retained throughout the rest of the series. His design also becomes a bit pointier.
  • In the Rayman series, the titular character started out with separated eyes and a red handkerchief on his neck, but starting with Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc, Rayman gained Conjoined Eyes and a red hoodie in place of the handkerchief.
  • In the Soul Series, Siegfried started out with short red hair in Soul Edge. All following releases have him with long, flowing blonde hair aside from his 2P outfit in III: it brings back the medium-length red hair, possibly as a reference to his debut.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
  • Ratchet & Clank (2002) is the only Insomniac Games Ratchet game - Secret Agent Clank and Ratchet & Clank: Size Matters both have the same Ratchet design but are made by High Impact Games - to have Ratchet with no shirt and no shoes (unless you equip the Magneboots or Grindboots from the items menu for a cosmetic effect). Every other game, he has some sort of armor or clothing that covers those bits.
  • Marth in the first Fire Emblem Akaneia game did not wear pants and wore a tunic. His clothes are styled after his design in the third game, Mystery Of The Emblem.
  • In the original 16-color release of The Secret of Monkey Island Elaine had black hair. In the upgraded 256-color re-release this became red hair.
  • Harvest Moon:
  • Kingdom Hearts:
  • On the U.S. cover artwork of Kirby's Dream Land, Kirby was white instead of pink. This was due to the fact that the artist didn't have access to any of the original Japanese art for reference and assumed that Kirby was supposed to be white.
  • In the original God of War, the gods with the exceptions of Ares and Athena underwent drastic changes in the sequels. Most jaringly is Hades having a demonic face in the original but is a big guy with a black horned helmet.
  • In Dragon Age: Origins, Qunari were very tall black men with white hair and purple eyes. From Dragon Age II onwards they have grey skin, horns, and war paint.
  • Star Fox has a particularly infamous example. In promotional artwork for Star Fox, Fox team's legs look as if they're made of metal. This created a popular fan theory that the characters legs were amputated and replaced with prosthetics to handle flying in space without passing out. Future games clearly give them boots.
  • The early Metal Gear games prior to Metal Gear Solid did not have the involvement of series' art director Yoji Shinkawa, resulting in an inconsistent art style between them. The protagonist Solid Snake was depicted as a very youthful looking hero on the cover artwork of the original Metal Gear, only to look more middle aged in Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake, despite the two games being set and released only three years apart (the first MGS would go for a middle ground between the two). In the MSX2 version of Metal Gear 2 in particular, Gray Fox and Master Miller do not even resemble their incarnations from later MGS games, with Fox originally being drawn as a tanned brown-haired man, as opposed to the pale white-haired man seen in later games, while Miller was originally a black-haired Asian-looking man instead of the sunglasses-wearing blond-haired man seen in the later games (consequently, his origin story was also changed in Peace Walker).
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • In Sonic Adventure 2 Super Shadow was a lighter color. Afterwards it became the same shade as Super Sonic.
    • In a case of American Kirby is Hardcore, in early western media Sonic was portrayed with fauxhawk-like quills. The game sprites weren't edited but official art and adaptations used that design. Eventually it was phased out in place of the cuter canon design. Sonic CD also depicted Sonic with an angular design not used elsewhere.
    • Tails fur was commonly depicted as burnt red or even brown early on before becoming it's more common orange, sometimes yellowish orange, colour.

     Web Comics 
  • The Order of the Stick: Burlew has played with this trope a few times and it is shown with Haley's hair (cut really short in one point, to recovering it to look like Lady Godiva at a small panel joke, before returning to normal since Long Hair Is Feminine). At a point in story it goes short and comments on some of the clothes used in the past of the comic.
  • 8-Bit Theater: The sprites change when the party changes jobs with the rat tail soup.
  • City Of Dream: While some characters act on the Limited Wardrobe, some others have taken this route. Jessica in particular has stopped cosplaying Momo, and moved onto a somewhat varied wardrobe of pants and shirts.

     Web Original 

     Western Animation 
  • Rugrats:
    • Tommy wore a red shirt in both the unaired pilot and the actual pilot for the show. After that his signature color became blue, and his main outfit became a blue shirt (though he occasionally wore overalls in early episodes).
    • In the "All Growed Up" Special, the ten-years-older versions of the Rugrats had clothes that had similar color schemes to the clothes they wore as infants. When All Grown Up! was spun off into its own series, the characters had outfits that were very different to the ones in the special, especially in the later seasons of the show. Susie had an afro in "All Growed Up" but in the series she has braids to more resemble the hairstyle she had as a toddler (though promotional material still heavily uses the afro design).
  • The titular character from Caillou wore a grey shirt in the early episodes but once he turned four he began wearing a yellow version.
  • Betty Boop was originally a dog; however, later her species was changed to a human. She also originally had red hair according to her only colored classic cartoon (Cinderella) but all later appearances give her black hair.
  • In the first The Simpsons shorts appearing on The Tracey Ullman Show Bart wore a blue shirt, but as of the switch to their own show he wears orange. Despite the change happening so early, a lot of merchandise in The '90s had Bart wearing a blue shirt.
  • Arthur:
    • Muffy had buck teeth in early seasons.
    • Without his glasses, Arthur originally had normal eyes in season 1. Afterwards he has Skintone Sclerae.
    • Francine's pet cat Nemo is depicted as being skinny and having small eyes with rounded pupils during his debut episode, but later appearances of him instead depict him as being fat and having large eyes with slit-shaped pupils.
    • In the first few seasons, DW's friend Emily wore a pink dress and had very short hair. She was eventually redesigned to wear a blue dress and have medium length hair.
  • Several times in The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius:
    • In Jimmy Neutron Cindy had Girlish Pigtails instead of a ponytail, and a pink shirt instead of a green one.
    • In the film Jimmy had shorts instead of jeans and wore different shoes.
    • In the series proper, Libby originally wore a green dress and had straight hair with Peek-a-Bangs. Starting with episode 21 she switched to cornrows and starting with episode 25 she began wearing jeans and a pink shirt.
  • Transformers:
    • In the first episode of The Transformers, Shockwave was shown with both hands. Later he got his signature laser gun replacing his left hand.
    • The first episode of Transformers Animated have some design differences: Sentinel Prime is shown with a white face rather than grey, a longer head with a smaller chin and smokestacks on his shoulders, while Blackarachnia had the spider abdomen on her back splitted in two coattails, lacked two of the spider eyes on her chest and an extra pair of spider legs on her shoulders.
  • In My Little Pony: Rescue from Midnight Castle Megan is depicted with cowboy boots, an orange shirt, a brown vest, and jeans. In the sequel she receives a Girliness Upgrade in terms of colors (they're now pastel) but keeps the general design. Come My Little Pony 'n Friends and her design is given a total rehaul. She now wears somewhat frilly overalls with a heart in the middle.
  • Classic Disney Shorts:
    • Donald Duck's iconic sailor suit changed considerably over the years. In his first appearance in Wise Little Hen, the hat had a stiff brim, rather than the floppy hat he now has. Also, the hat was white until the early forties, and the bow on his collar changed from black to red. And for a brief period in the 1950s, the buttons on his shirt disappeared, also in his few several cartoons he had a slimmer body, long neck, and long bill.
    • For his first appearance in Mickey's Revue, Goofy (then known as Dippy Dawg) wore only a vest, glasses and no pants; only the hat is recognizable. This look (sans glasses) was revived for the Mickey Mouse (2013) shorts.
    • Mickey Mouse's and Minnie Mouse's original designs had them with larger eyes and didn't wear gloves or shoes. The gloves were added later to make sure that you still see their hands even if they held them across their stomachs. Shortly after, they had shoes and gloves, and their eyes became simple black dots. In 1939, their eyes became more "human" eyes to give them more expression.
    • Minnie also had a hat with a flower in it, but it was changed to a large bow by 1939. Traditionally she wore a skirt with no shirt however nowadays it's more common for her to wear a dress, though the skirt sometimes still appears.
    • Pete was more obviously a cat in his earliest appearances - The Gallopin Gaucho and Steamboat Willie - possessing a long tail and a white-furred muzzle. In his later appearances, his tail is absent and his muzzle is (more-or-less) clean-shaven.
  • Jem:
    • Clash originally had red hair with blue highlights. After a few appearances she was given completely purple hair, and a later episode shows her natural hair is purple. The Jem and the Holograms comic book reboot uses her first hair color.
    • Zipper was blond at first before becoming black haired. He was also given blue eyes.
    • Lin-Z originally had straight hair in a different style instead of curly hair.
    • The "Starbright" pilot episodes feature different designs from the actual series. Jem's pink belt became white. Jerrica had a different haircut, wore pink and blue striped dress with a red belt, a hat and pink shoes, became white and blue striped with a white belt, without hat and blue shoes. Pizzazz received an bracelet, she lost a legband, and switched her sock to ther other leg. Roxy's top became purple instead of black, her tights became multicolored instead of pink and green, she lost her necklace, received a bracelet, her belt changed shape, and received new shoes.
  • In season 1 of The Amazing World of Gumball, Penny was oval-shaped. In season 2, she became peanut-shaped.
  • The second season of The Dreamstone made some changes to character designs following a switch with animation studios:
    • The Dream Maker in particular, originally wearing a more humble patchwork robe, now wears a far more dignified attire. His hair now pointed upward instead of downward and his nose gained a more pronounced hook.
    • Rufus and Amberley had more differentiating proportions (Rufus gained a bulkier upper body while Amberley became lankier) and had their clothing streamlined. The swords on both Rufus and the Urpneys' belts (that they never used) are now gone too.
    • Urpgor had larger, more hunched over abdomen in Season One, making him look more like The Igor. He also had a near perpetual squint and lacked purple bags under his eyes (in the pilot episode he had neither, instead possessing a purple sclera). Amusingly some freeze frames of his Super-Deformed Freak Outs have him deform into his later design, implying the animators eventually preferred drawing him that way.
    • To a lesser degree Zordrak's robe changed from purple to blue, and Frizz lost his glasses with the exception of the blue lens tint, making it seem like he had blue eyes.
    • Spildit had a longer snout and no irises in her earliest appearances. Oddly enough, Season Four animators kept zigzagging between her first and second designs.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants:
    • Sandy's underwater suit was changed to have a hole for her tail season two onwards. She also didn't have an acorn on her suit originally.
    • Patrick's eyebrows were extremely thin in the first season, but they became thick and blocky from Season 2 onwards.
  • The Powerpuff Girls:
    • Professor Utonium in the prototypical pilot episode, for some reason, actually looked more like Dexter from Dexter's Laboratory.
    • When the Rowdyruff Boys were introduced they had combed hair, Butch had an Idiot Hair, and Brick had short hair. When they were revived they were given spikey Anime Hair and Brick's hair grew to similar length to his Spear Counterpart Blossom. Butch's design in Demashita! Powerpuff Girls Z is based on his original design more than his revised design.
    • The Professor smoked a pipe in early episodes. Eventually it was phased out.
    • The titular characters were drawn with smaller bodies and larger heads in the movie and the seasons of the show thereafter.
  • In her debut near the end of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic's two-part pilot, Princess Luna looks radically different from her later appearances. She was much smaller and had a normal mane rather than her magical flowing mane. Fans dubbed this version "Woona". The fandom originally thought that this was her form when she transformed into Nightmare Moon and her post-pilot design was essentially a Plot-Relevant Age-Up, however flashbacks clearly show that Luna looked the same as she does now 1000 years ago. Lauren Faust justified this by saying that she was reborn with very low magic levels after Nightmare Moon's defeat.
  • In season 2 of The Boondocks Sarah's design was edited. She received wavier, longer hair compared to her season 1 design.
  • In the first episode of Sonic SatAM Sally had pink fur and black hair while NICOLE was a desktop computer.
  • Kim Possible:
    • In season 1, Monique was one of the few characters to have Black Bead Eyes. Starting with season 2 she was redesigned to have eyes like everyone else.
    • In "Tick, Tick, Boom" Steve Barkin's hair was blond instead of brown.
  • American Dragon: Jake Long had a huge Art Shift between season 1 and season 2. Several characters received drastic redesigns however others received minor changes, alongside the new art style:
    • Rose lost her headband, gained a belt, and changed pants slightly.
    • Spud's t-shirt changed designs from being striped to having an alien on it. His hair also shows more out of his hat in season 2.
    • Trixie began wearing a hoodie over her shirt, she lost the pink in her design, and changed shoes.
    • Jake's dragon form changed from a muscular, western style dragon with wings to a more slender, Asian style dragon. In human form he gained Pointy Ears.
    • Haley lost her Hair Decorations and her Girlish Pigtails became longer. Her dragon form went from purple to pink.
  • Concept art for Steven Universe shows the characters went through several redesigns, especially Pearl. The original pilot features a vastly different, less stylized art style and the characters have different designs than in the final product:
    • Pearl had the heaviest redesign. Her skin was blueish, her hair was shorter and longer on the top, her clothes were different, she wore earrings, and she had an overall more androgynous design. Pearl also had a less mature and neurotic personality, acting like a Big Sister Bully towards Steven instead of an overprotective parent. According to her transformation in one episode, it seems at one point in her life she did use her pilot design.
    • Garnet's hair was originally straight and she had bangs. In the final series she has a square afro.
    • Amethyst wore nail polish, had a hair accessory, and wore a fanny pack.
    • Steven's skin was more pink and his proportions were more realistic.
    • Lars was a dark skinned brunette instead of a lighter skinned redhead.
  • In the earliest Tom and Jerry shorts Tom was a quadrupedal cat named "Jasper". Jasper had a full white mask on his face, instead of his muzzle being white like Tom's.
  • Several Looney Tunes characters have prototypical incarnations, while others changed designs as the decades went by.
    • "Happy Bunny" was the prototypical version of Bugs Bunny that first appeared in "Porky's Hare Hunt". He originally was one tone before becoming a near-white shade of grey with apricot tones, and eventually Bugs' color of grey. Eventually Happy Bunny had switched from apricot to white and looked like Bugs except for his proportions and some design elements. By 1947 Bugs as we know him was born (though he received his name in 1941).
    • In several early shorts an unnamed black (or dark grey) cat with a white muzzle appeared. He is closest to Sylvester in the short The Cagey Canary, where a prototypical Granny and an unnamed canary (proto-Tweety) also appeared.
    • The prototypical Elmer Fudd was a man who appeared in "Hare-um, Scare-um" with purple bags under his eyes and medium length black hair, though some believe the character known as "Egghead" was the earliest version of Elmer. Elmer as we know him was much fatter in several early shorts as well.
    • In I Haven't Got a Hat, Porky Pig was presented as a juvenile pig in a green sweater. He looked more pig-like than he eventually came to become.
    • Tweety started out as a featherless hatchling however due to objections about him being "naked" he was given feathers. He also gained eyelashes for the redesign, possibly to help distinguish him better as a child character or to make him even cuter.
  • Defenders of the Earth: In the first seventeen episodes (with the exception of "Root of Evil", in which the designs for most of the regular characters are markedly different from those used in the rest of the series) Jedda has brown hair. From "The Panther Peril" onwards, her hair is black.
  • Most of the character designs in the As Told by Ginger pilot are completely different from in the series. Most glaringly, Miranda and Darren were white before being given Race Lifts to match their voice actors.
  • Most characters of The Fairly OddParents! look the same throughout the series and only Art Evolution explains their minor differences. Tootie is an exception. In her appearance in an Oh Yeah! Cartoons short she wore a blue dress with pink leggings instead of a schoolgirl uniform, her glasses were pink instead of purple, and her pigtails were stylized differently.
  • Hank Anchorman from Johnny Test looked completely different in season 2 and beyond from when he was introduced in the season 1 episode "Johnny's Pink Plague". His appearance in the later seasons is actually an edited version of a robot anchorman that appears on TV for one scene in "Sonic Johnny".
  • The Loud House
    • The first episode, "Left in the Dark", had some small differences in character designs: mostly it's about how the characters' clothes are colored(Lola's dress is in a brighter shade of pink, Leni's dress is in a duller shade of teal and Lisa's sweater is a darker shade of green), but then there's Lucy's hairline, that is a bit higher and shows a bit of skin above her nose. This promotional picture shows the designs used in that episode.
      • Also, that's the only episode where the Great Mazinger-esque looking robot in Lincoln's room has its eyes colored in yellow.
    • In the original promotional poster for the show Lola is the only one of the sisters with three eyelashes per eye, with everyone else having only two. In the final show, Lily, Lana and Leni have three eyelashes too.
  • In Batman: The Animated Series Harley Quinn originally wore a Tomboyish Ponytail when not wearing her supervillain costume. Later seasons changed her hairstyle to Girlish Pigtails in order to emphasis her Woman Child traits and resemble her harlequin hat.