Hidden Depths

Idris: Are all people like this?
The Doctor: Like what?
Idris: So much bigger on the inside.
Doctor Who, The Doctor's Wife

People are rarely all that they seem at first glance. Without getting into An Aesop about books and covers and ugly ducks and swans and frogs that when kissed turn into robots, it's fairly true to say that people are mostly visually oriented, and go by first impressions. So when it turns out that The Big Guy who can bend steel bars is also a Harvard alumnus with a penchant for pontificating on the power of prose, people are justifiably taken aback.

This is not so much a character type being subverted as it is getting Character Development in unexpected directions. Much like Playing Against Type, it can be something that seemingly goes against the character type, or combines two different, seemingly opposite roles or characters into one more Round Character. The talent or quirk is rarely impossible for the character to have, just unexpected: people aren't just their job or surface personality after all. The Smart Guy who's a cooking wiz because he had to take care of his younger siblings, or The Ditz who's a Black Belt because her dad wanted her to be able to defend herself are two examples. Hidden Depths can be discovered in Back Story or organically as a story progresses, but if used improperly can crop up in a Plot Tailored to the Party to give a character the necessary skills. Why did they never mention it? "You Didn't Ask".

This might take a while to fill:

Character type(s) and their usual Hidden depth:

The Big Guy + The Smart Guy = Genius Bruiser (and the other way around for Badass Bookworm)
The Big Guy = Gentle Giant
The Smart Guy = Badass Bookworm
The Chick or Pollyanna = Stepford Smiler
Shrinking Violet + Beneath the Mask = Yandere
Shrinking Violet + Action Girl = Little Miss Badass
Genius Bruiser - The Worf Effect = Minored In Ass Kicking
Noble Demon = Fallen Hero
Alpha Bitch = Defrosting Ice Queen
The Fool + Badass Normal = Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass
Aliens and Monsters + Mama Bear = Monster Is a Mommy
Jerk Jock or Jerkass + Pet the Dog = Jerk with a Heart of Gold
Being A Mother + Badass = Mama Bear
Being A Father + Badass = Papa Wolf
The Cutie + Super Strength = Cute Bruiser
Crazy Cat Lady = Kindhearted Cat Lover
The Ditz + The Smart Guy = Genius Ditz (and the other way around for Ditzy Genius)
Nice Guy + Berserk Button = Beware the Nice Ones
The Quiet One + Berserk Button = Beware the Quiet Ones
Jade-Colored Glasses + Knight in Shining Armor = Knight in Sour Armor
Fake Ultimate Hero + The Munchausen = Miles Gloriosus
Children Are Innocent + Wise Beyond Their Years = Innocent Prodigy
The Stoic or Emotionless Girl + Not So Stoic = Sugar and Ice Personality
Character - Basic Skill + The Spartan Way = Fish out of Water
The Ace + Broken Bird = Broken Ace
Lovable Sex Maniac + Nice Guy = Chivalrous Pervert
The Chick + Combat Pragmatist = More Deadly Than The Male
Jerkass + Break the Cutie = Jerkass Woobie
Yamato Nadeshiko or The Ojou or Proper Lady + Action Girl = Lady of War
Proper Lady + Guile Hero or Beware the Nice Ones = Silk Hiding Steel

Of course, since these are common enough to have become a trope, they are less of a surprise than more — unusual depths. Indeed, some hidden depths are so common that making the surface and depth the same surprises the reader. In more extreme cases, a completely Flat Character becomes a Rounded Character.

If the audience is aware of the depths but not all the characters are, Dramatic Irony is almost bound to occur. If it happens gradually, it's essentially Flanderization in reverse. May be demonstrated when a character catches the Smart Ball.

For more examples, see the index.


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  • Head and Shoulders shampoo has done several ads starring NFL player Troy Polamalu due to his long, full-bodied hair; an ad for "Head and Shoulders Deep" depicts him as an accomplished classical pianist. "Deep... like me."
  • One of the reasons Joe Namath was picked as an "Olivetti girl" was his skill as a typist.

     Anime and Manga  
  • Yoh Asakura of Shaman King: He is incredibly calm and friendly but hides the fact he despises humanity since they ignore him for being involved with Shamans. Across the series other characters start understanding his way of thinking and can tell when he is lying or acting strong.
    • At least in the manga, in the anime he has no deep-seated hatred of normal humans (that's Hao's area) but tries to get everyone around him to see that humans, shamans and spirits are the same deep down and should look past their preconceptions of each other.
  • Judai of Yu-Gi-Oh! GX: classic The Ace, Messianic Archetype, the ultimate Idiot Hero, tediously unbeatable duelist and unbreakable Determinator for two seasons; in Season 3, turns out these very traits (feeling everything comes too easily for him, valuing nothing more than fun, and being everyone's source of strength) have made him the most screwed up character of all, primed for The Dark Side.
  • Yusei Fudou of Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds: Never has a spokesman for The Power of Friendship been such a sullen, brooding loner. And it works!
    • Then there was Jeagar, Rex Godwin's henchman. For the first season, everyone assumed he was a selfish, arrogant type, and was also a creepy clown who made everyone's skin crawl. Halfway through the second season, it turned out the guy had a loving wife and son who he would do anything to protect, which led to him siding with the heroes.
  • All of CLAMP's works.
    • Chobits introduces characters the protagonist meets who are all cheerful and live around him like they've got no problems at all. Turns out his prep school teacher is experiencing spousal neglect because he was cheating on her with their own robot girl, his classmate and best friend forms romantic intentions and eventually marries her, and his co-worker has distain toward the robot girls intended to help humans! Yikes!
  • Bleach
    • Yumichika Ayasegawa is a narcissist who only thinks about his own appearance, right? Turns out he's hiding his true power which is incompatible with his division's fighting philosophy, he sacrificed his desire for the third seat of his division just because his closest friend wanted it and he'll only use his true abilities if there's no-one around from his division to notice. If there is, he'll choose death instead. Someone who sacrifices himself that much for his division, his captain and his friend isn't quite as self-absorbed as he initially appears to be.
    • The fifth Espada Nnoitra is just an Axe Crazy Blood Knight, right? Turns out that he's an Axe Crazy Death Seeker that has fallen beyond the Despair Event Horizon and whose anger stems from overcompensating from a crippling inferiority complex. He wants to die in battle but everyone is either too weak to kill him or won't finish him off because they pity him. For a villain who mainly only serves to foil Kenpachi, he is surprisingly well-developed.
    • Captain Retsu Unohana is only the Squad Four's lead medic who acts as military support instead of fighting, right? She's sweet, polite and motherly, right? People fearing her wrath is only Played for Laughs, right? The databooks claim she's actually a Master Swordsman, specialised not in kidou but in kendo. Then the manga reveals she was once known by the self-granted Meaningful Rename Yachiru Unohana, the master of all known styles of sword combat, originator of the Eleventh Division, the very first and strongest ever Kenpachi, and the most diabolical criminal in Soul Society history.
  • Mahou Sensei Negima!
  • In Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, Viral's greatest wish is to have a family. Aaw. There's also Lordgenome, who is actually a Fallen Hero. Finally, there's Yoko, who is the last person one would imagine as a teacher. The students can't believe it either.

    Kamina himself is deeper than most his appearances and Memetic Mutation would have you believe. In truth, he's as scared shitless as everyone else in their battles and he lampshades that he would be meat paste without Simon. He's also not fighting just for the sake of it, but he also "wants kids to be able to look up at the sky without a care in the world."
  • This trope is a key part of Persona 4: The Animation.
    • Yosuke seems like he hasn't got a care in the world, but he's really bored with everyone and everything in his life.
    • Chie is a tomboy and tries to be an ideal best friend and protector for Yukiko, but she's often jealous of Yukiko's looks and the attention Yukiko gets from boys.
    • Yukiko plays the part of the perfect daughter and future innkeeper, though she feels stifled by the fact that her path in life has already been decided for her.
    • Ai is a stereotypical Alpha Bitch on the surface, but underneath it all, she's a bundle of insecurities.
    • Kanji acts like a stereotypical punk/manly man, but he also loves cute things, is kind to children, loves his mother and enjoys sewing and knitting.
    • Rise, the ex-idol, doesn't know who the real Rise is, and is struggling to find herself in the midst of the identities that have been manufactured for her.
    • Teddie realizes the implications of the fact that despite his cuteness, he is empty inside.
    • Naoto plays the part of a mature young man, but is actually a young girl who is insecure about her age and gender because her chosen profession is one dominated by men.
    • Dojima has spent so much time dedicated to his work, he's never taken up the role of father the way he should have.
    • Nanako is a sweet young lady with abandonment issues brought on by the fact that her father never seems to have time for her.
    • Main character Yu also has his own depths. Outwardly he comes across as a calm, levelheaded individual with a dry (and sometimes... odd) sense of humor Turns out he really Hates Being Alone, and his stoicism is how he hides it.
  • Hiruma starts out as Eyeshield 21's resident Jerk Ass, a gleefully vulgar, self-serving, Trigger Happy Jerk Jock, who believes in his teammates only as a disposable collection of statistics and probabilities. By the end of the series, he's shown to be a Determinator in his own right for the sake of his team, and a capable leader whose faith in his teammates is ultimately rewarded with the greatest success. He's still vulgar and trigger-happy, though.

    He also has rare moments of compassion, as seen in the "Hell Tower" training where he secretly breaks the rules to give Yukimitsu a chance on the team out of respect for his determination.
  • All of the characters from Katekyo Hitman Reborn!, though especially the main trio: Tsuna, Yamamoto, and Gokudera.
  • Naruto — Naruto himself, of all people is possibly one of the most tragic versions of this trope in Shonen anime and manga history. At first he seems like the classic Idiot hero who causes nothing but trouble, pranking for the sake of amusement. Even before the reveal that he has a demon of apocalyptic power sealed in him, he says that no one has ever tried talking to him in a friendly manner, with no friends and family to go home to. Turns out he was very verbally abused and treated very coldly by adults and eventually their children simply for existing, do to his having the fox demon sealed within him. During the fight against Gaara, he even thinks of what would happen if Iruka or the 3rd Hokage never cared for him. This speech has often made fanfic writers try to portray a Naruto similar to evil Gaara in this respect. He considers not being able to save Sasuke from The Dark Side as his My Greatest Failure moment.

    Pain and Tobi takes this a step further. While Gaara is what he could have been, Pain is who he could become and in Tobi's case out of losing his love interest, something that almost happened during Pain's attack on Konoha. Both times it is outright stated that under different circumstances he could have been like them. Sasuke too; Naruto himself says that he could've been revenge driven like Sasuke and vowed Konoha's destruction.

    It is very sad when you realize that the very hokage who died to seal away the fox in him is Naruto's father, Minato Namikaze. His mother is Kushina Uzumaki, the previous host of the very same demon sealed within Naruto himself. It's no wonder the kid's absolutely screwed up.
    • Sometimes Naruto is genuinely happy. Either he's a master Stepford Smiler (able to trick everyone into thinking he's happy when he's not) or else he is a master of Angst? What Angst? (genuinely able to be happy in circumstances that would daunt anyone else). It appears that he started of as a Stepford Smiler, but undergoes Becoming the Mask sometime before the series starts. It still cracks from time to time though.
    • Kakashi. From Naruto's point of view, he has this generally cheerful, constantly tardy teacher who is a Flat Character in Naruto's eyes, someone he doesn't really think or worry about all that much. And now, during the fight with Obito, it turns out that that same tardy, cheery guy who's been protecting Naruto all these years is arguably responsible for creating the main villain of the story, and he has one of the worst background stories of all the characters in the series. And that's pretty impressive, considering this is a Shonen manga, in which generally everyone and their grandmother has a sobstory.
    • There has grown a split in the fan base as whether Sasuke's Face-Heel Turn was: 1) a form of him reaching terrible heights of despair and anger from a cross of Despair Event Horizon and Unstoppable Rage upon discovering the knowledge that all he had been brought up to believe was a betrayal and devastated by Itachi's revelation and subsequent traumatic and heart-rending death; or 2) that his entire Dark Side turn was just him being a spoilt whiny brat when other people who have had far worse childhoods than him (and far more reason to hate their home village than him (considering how his clan had been trying to mutiny, and after the slaughter he was still adored and praised by everyone around him)) have died fighting against the side he is now working for. Each Alternate Character Interpretation spring from the interpretation of his Hidden Depths. Which interpretation is right? Who knows?
  • From Xxx Holic, Himawari seems to be a cheerful, happy go lucky girl with no connection to the spirit world or heavy burden for quite a long time in the manga, but turns out to be a type A Stepford Smiler, due to her innate ability that brings everyone around her bad luck. Therefore it causes her a lot of grief.
  • Fruits Basket
    • Shigure always seems to be joking around, but it turns out he's kind of a Manipulative Bastard. Tohru's homeroom teacher, who used to date him, called him a "ripple in the water" illustrating this trope perfectly.
    • There's also Ayame. Appears to just be a frivolous, gay pervert, and that's about it. Turns out he's actually The Atoner, trying to make it up to his younger brother for being distance when they were younger. Oh, and he's straight. Or at least bi.
  • In the Ai Yori Aoshi Enishi episode "Tennis" (based on manga chapter 73), Kaoru wonders is Aoi is going to embarrass herself at the game like the rest of them have been doing all day. Turns out the resident Yamato Nadeshiko is very skilled, having learned from Mayabi. It's apparently only one of her "secrets".
  • Ouran High School Host Club
    • Every person. Especially the twins and Kyouya, though.
    • Tamaki usually comes off as a Cloudcuckoolander who has no idea what's going on around him. He's actually so perceptive in talking to other people that he can see their hidden depths and guide them toward what would make them happy.
  • Durarara!!
  • In Pokémon Special, Dia initially appears to be a simple, slow-witted Big Eater who went with whatever Pearl wanted, but it turns out he is far more thoughtful, sensitive, and empathetic, and he desired to be on more equal terms with his best friend. He was able to piece together that Lady Berlitz wasn't a tour guide and that he and Pearl weren't supposed to be with her in the first place, but he kept quiet because he was afraid that saying the truth would be the end of their journey together.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion
    • ... well, let's see... oh, that's right everyone. Misato? Stepford Smiler with father issues. Ritsuko? Reluctant Mad Scientist with mother issues. Asuka? Broken Ace. Rei? Cloning Blues (sorta). And we personally get to see Shinji's mind tear itself to pieces from episode 20 onwards through the End of Evangelion. Welcome to Dysfunction Junction, people! There's beds on the left, a dining room down the hall, and if you come to the front desk you can use either cash or check to pay with your emotional stability, sanity, or psychological trauma. We will be needing to check that you have souls, though. And, no, we do not accept checks from SEELE.
    • A simpler, straighter example are the three school characters, who initially appear to be walking stereotypes:
      • Hikari, the bitchy class representative? She grew into a serious person because she had to take care of her sisters after her mother died. She's still a normal girl that forms friendships and falls in love.
      • Touji, the Jerk Jock? Yes, he likes sports, shows some tiny hints of machismo and beat up the whimpy-ish protagonist, but that was just because he was particularly pissed that day since his little sister got hurt in a mecha battle said protagonist participates in. He's actually more of a class clown and a very loyal, dependable friend and older brother.
      • Kensuke, the geek? He actually has quite a deep understanding of people, brokers peace between his friends and tries to subtly push the right buttons to help them to be honest with their feelings.
    • Also, the NERV bridge techs:
      • Makoto Hyuga, Nerdy Meganekko: has unrequited feelings for Misato and is willing to go to great risk to assist in her subversive schemes against NERV command.
      • Shigeru Aoba, seemingly nondescript average dude: dry, cynical pragmatist and possibly asexual.
      • Maya Ibuki, squeamish Bridge Bunny: idealistic tech enthusiast and closet(?) lesbian with unrequited feelings for her boss, Ritsuko.
  • 7 Seeds could say this about all the characters. The easiest examples to name, though, are Semimaru who was originally a delinquent, but since coming to the future has discovered a passion and talent for cooking, becoming the self-proclaimed chef of Team Summer B. He's also capable of saying some deep stuff when it comes to human psychology.
    • Matsuri from the same Team comes off as very shallow girl who wants romance and fun, but proves to have a very good insight in human relations and psyche, including a lot of knowledge on how to work fields and plants. The latter part is justified as she originally lived on a farm, but didn't care much about it, so she didn't work a whole lot on it.
  • Quite a few characters in D.Gray-Man.
    • Lavi acts like a cheerful, carefree goof, but is much smarter than he initially seems. He's an apprentice bookman, somebody who's supposed to record secret wars, and grew up exposed to so much violence he was emotionally barren by the age of sixteen. He got better once he joined the Black Order, but we see this side of him when Road temporarily reverts him to his old self via Mind Rape.
    • Lenalee, the sweet, sunny-natured Nice Girl, is actually bitter and broken due to the horrific training she went through, to the point where she hates the Black Order, the Innocence, and God.
    • Allen himself. For the most part he's a Messianic Archetype, but turns out to have a devious side, which we see when he tries to charm a robot, and when he's revealed to be a master at cheating at poker. Being a Noah might have something to do with it.
  • Everyone in Ojamajo Doremi. In fact, its easier to count how many of its many characters don't have them.
    • For starters, there is the main character, Doremi Harukaze. She seemed just like your average unlucky Cute Clumsy Girl at first. But as the series went on, it became evident that she was insecure about a few things, will help those in need, and is a Badass Adorable Mama Bear whenever Hana-chan is threatened. And it all comes to a head once the Grand Finale comes in...
    • And then there's Hazuki Fujiwara. She seems like a nice girl at first, but as it turns out, she is very lonely and passive, suffers from a level of Parental Abandonment, and is insecure about her own capabilities. She turns out to be a Covert Pervert during one episode...
    • Aiko Senoo seems like the loud and rude type, but it's quickly revealed that she lives with just her father and has to do many chores around the house. She also wishes for her family to be reunited and thought about using forbidden magic to make it happen.
    • Pop Harukaze began a brash Annoying Younger Sibling, but secretly admires her older sibling. She is also very wise for someone her age.
    • Onpu Segawa was a selfish brat who used magic to solve all her problems and create some when she made mistakes. She even went so far as to use forbidden magic constantly with the aid of a charm to shield her from the side effects. But as time went on, she opened up and revealed that she wasn't as mean spirited as everyone thought and began using said forbidden magic to help others, culminating in her saving everyone from a Baleful Polymorph. After she was saved form that, she proved to be one of the kindest characters in the whole series.
    • Momoko Asuka originally seemed to be a means to an end in helping the other Ojamajos pass a series of exams. But a few episodes in, we learn that she was traumatized by the death of her mentor and that she was really quite shy about being around others when she moved back to Japan.
    • Hana Makihatayama started out as just a baby that the girls had to raise to earn back their apprenticeship. When she grew old enough, she displayed tendencies in common to the other Ojamajos. And when Dokkan came by, Hana was quickly reveale3d to be the type who likes to see others happy and will make amends whenever she does something wrong. Come Ojamajo Doremi 16 however...
    • And those are just the main characters...
  • One Piece
    • Whitebeard in was initially portrayed as an Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy who rips Shanks's letter, demanding that he comes to see him face to face, casually dismisses his nurses' concerns for his health and Shanks' warning that Blackbeard was bad news and he should call Ace back. But it's later revealed that while Whitebeard is proud, he is not smug. He is fully aware of his own mortality and Ace was the one who chased after Blackbeard when Whitebeard told him not to. During the Marineford Arc, he's a Genius Bruiser, able to match wits with Sengoku. And when one of his allies stabbed him, accusing him of selling out his allies (having received false information), instead of disowning or killing Squardo outright, Whitebeard pulls the guy into a Cooldown Hug and reassures him that he would never abandon any of his sons, and gave all of his allies a chance to escape while he leaped into battle.
    • Examples are present among the main protagonists, as well. Zoro, for example, usually comes across as a battle-hungry Blood Knight with a sword fetish whose only real duty on the Straw Hat crew is hefting the ship's anchor, and who's usually sleeping when he's not training. However, when properly motivated, he can be a Genius Bruiser in his own right, most particularly in the Alabasta arc when he comes up with the "X" mark underneath wraps on the crew's arms as a way of defending against a shape-shifting enemy, and later demonstrates his role as The Lancer in the Water 7 and Enies Lobby arcs when he chews the entire crew out on the importance of respecting their captain's authority after they contemplate taking back Usopp, who violated this edict with his deliberate defiance of Luffy's decision to scrap the damaged Going Merry in favor of getting a better ship.
    • Gecko Moria appears to just be a Smug Snake generically evil villain. But when he gives his speech about losing his old crew, there are very strong hints that he loved his crew, and that losing them drove him off the edge.
    • Doflamingo of all people. He appears to be the most amoral and psychopathic of the Seven Warlords of the Sea, but it's been shown in the most recent arc that he, of all people, is a Father to His Men - or at least to the most reliable and loyal of his men. He showed great distress at ordering Monet to perform her suicide attack, freaked out when she couldn't answer him on his Den Den Mushi and went to Punk Hazard himself because of it, did not punish Baby 5 and Buffalo for failing in their mission because they were following his orders, and apologized to Vergo, calling him his longest-lasting companion - or in other words, his oldest friend. However, the most telling aspect of his character's Hidden Depths is one contradicts everything we once knew about him. Going by Monet's last thoughts, it is suggested, if not outright stated, that he, a man that intends to spearhead a movement against an era driven by dreams, aspires to be the Pirate King.
  • Solf J Kimblee of Fullmetal Alchemist appears to be little more than an Axe Crazy Mad Bomber who took part in a genocide and thoroughly enjoyed it. As the series progresses, however, we discover that while he is a total sociopath he's also The Philosopher and a borderline Affably Evil Social Darwinist to boot, who believes that Rousseau Was Right and is a major believer in human potential. He respects people who stick to their guns (even when their principles oppose his own), protects his compatriots from court martial, and in the end, helps The Hero destroy a hypocritical fellow villain in his Dying Moment of Awesome. He's a total psycho, but damn if he isn't a complex one.
  • Barnaby from Tiger & Bunny sports quite a combination of these. During the first third of the show, most fans despised him for having a large number of 'undesirable' characteristics; he was a Jerkass, stoic, snarky Ice King who seemed to exist for no other reason than to be the camera-hogging Ace and in-universe charming Chick Magnet who makes the show's much-beloved Hero Protagonist Kotetsu's life miserable. But then we learn of his past full of Break the Cutie moments, the Jerkass Façade that conceals his rather emotional and lonesome Broken Bird + Broken Ace personality, that he devoted his entire childhood to becoming a superhero, completely denying himself any personal relationships in the process...and that he's quite willing to Defrost in the face of Kotetsu's Wide Eyed Idealism.
  • Batou from the Ghost in the Shell series shows this rather stunningly in two out of three versions of canon. In Stand Alone Complex, anyone who's known him for more than five minutes assumes him to be Dumb Muscle based on his huge physique, lack of manners, and hot-blooded, reckless personality. And then you find out that he's arguably the group's best hacker after the Major and Ishikawa, has a base grounding in sociology, religion, politics (even if he doesn't usually seem to care, it's clear that he understands when he explains things to Togusa), and is more than capable of keeping up with the Major in advanced philosophical debate, even if his stances tend to be more empirical and down-to-earth. In Innocence he takes this Up to Eleven by alternating between an unstoppable semi-sociopathic punk of a killing machine and a guy who recognizes obscure bible verses off the top of his head, references many things including Buddhist philosophy and Paradise Lost, and is both incredibly perceptive and slightly poetic at times. And for all his harshness and violence, it's very apparent that he cares deeply for the Major, Togusa, and his dog Gabriel.
  • For all that he's flanderized into a Lovable Sex Maniac without a serious bone in his body, France from Axis Powers Hetalia sometimes shows a surprising character depth specially manifested in his accurate reading of human emotions. This is specially obvious in the strips in which he gets to interact with humans rather than nations, like the one in which he befriends a French soldier whose grandfather served under Francis's own orders, or when he meets up with a woman named Lisa who's all but stated to be the reincarnation of his old friend Saint Joan Of Arc. This can give a potential new light into how he and the other nations interact with their citizens and other people who aren't immortal like them.
  • THE iDOLM@STER - Kotori shows that she's more than a Sexy Secretary when she takes the stage herself to sing.
  • High School DXD
    • It's revealed that Issei, a Lovable Sex Maniac, is pretty good with sewing. Something that surprises Koneko.
      • The first episode of the anime shows that despite being a Harem Seeker, when presented an opportunity to date a girl, he'll go out of his way to make sure she has a good time and was prepared to call the day a victory when he got to hold hands with her. And the reason he's so oblivious to the actual harem he gets is that this date ending in a rather brutal betrayal left him with ongoing emotional and self-esteem issues.
    • Same thing with Koneko; she's a fan of rapping music.
  • Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple: Turns out that the childlike Apachai is a very talented Othello player when he beats every other master in Ryozanpaku except Akisame, who claims to have never lost a game... although Akisame only managed to win by a single move and admitted that he wasn't holding back. Kenichi is the only one to realize the Fridge Logic that his sister Honoka is effortlessly able to beat Apachai whenever they play...
  • Elfen Lied
    • Bando, the Psycho for Hire. He loves hurting, maiming and killing, and he's a major Jerkass. However, as the series goes on, he reveals that he has standards, he'll always repay people who help him, and he can empathize with a few people.
    • The Agent also counts she was introduced as a replacement for the former hunters (the aforementioned Bando, and the Unknown Man), and at first acts as a quieter and less sadistic hunter. Eventually she's revealed to be a government agent sent to shut the facility down, she's also quite the Determinator, and shows she's willing to die if it helps to save humanity
  • Despite being a yaoi series, Sekai-ichi Hatsukoi has some characters have shown to have Hidden Depths adding to the realism of this series that other yaoi series lack.
    • Kisa comes as the stereotypical Keet that has a happy life outside of work as well as inside of work given all the encouraging things he says to the main character Ritsu. However, Kisa reveals it's all an act and he's a Stepford Smiler that deliberately uses his youthful appearance to sleep with other men and honestly thinks of himself as a worthless individual that hasn't contributed anything to society or done anything meaningful with his life, so when he ends up falling (and later dating) Yukina, he easily gets paranoid with Yukina thinking he's only toying with him and plans to leave him or that Yukina will get bored with him one day and just walk out on him. Easy to say any chapter concerning Kisa is dealing with his self esteem.
    • Yukina is shown to be different than what he appears to be too. He seems to be the epitome of the Nice Guy and Understanding Boyfriend trope and truth is he really is that. However, when Yukina is not around Kisa, he acts exactly the same way as Kisa does around school mainly because Yukina apparently dislikes the teachers and the male students hate him for his good looks that allow him to pick up chicks easily. Yukina also shows to have a strong dislike to being a Chick Magnet and while he doesn't hate the girls that confesses to him, he gets annoyed especially when Kisa sees said confessions.
  • For all her Manipulative Bitch tendencies, Amano/Indra from Popcorn Avatar is actually nice with kids, and in fact regularly watches over and plays with Kai's younger siblings when he's busy or out.
  • Nearly every named character in Martian Successor Nadesico, no matter how minor or seemingly one-note, gets some development and their moment in the spotlight.
  • Maho Nishizumi of Girls und Panzer seems like an aloof big sister who is set up as her younger sister Miho's greatest rival in tankery. Then comes the episode when she loans Mako her helicopter so that she can quickly reach her grandmother in the hospital, and in Little Army, it's indicated that Maho's entire reason for her aloof behavior is to live up to the standards of the Nishizumi family heir so that Miho can choose whatever style of tankery she wishes. In Little Army, she's also shown to be quite friendly toward the family maids, thanking Kikuyo for seeing her off and asking her to look after Miho while she's away.
  • Anyone who lives long enough to be fleshed out, in Attack on Titan. A few examples:
    • Armin is somewhat cowardly, and physically weak compared to the others. He finds his place once he realizes he's a brilliant strategist and has the makings of a ruthless commander.
    • Sasha is a Big Eater and the Plucky Comic Relief, but turns out to have good intuition and a concern about coming across as a dumb hick to the others.
    • Jean starts out as The Rival, and is a cynical Jerk Ass concerned primarily with himself. However, he turns out to be a gifted leader and evolves into a more selfless person after a grief-related Freak Out.
    • Annie has a very cynical view of human nature, and generally keeps other people at arm's length. However, she expresses great admiration for people with strong ideals, and warms up to both Eren and Armin after they manage to impress her. She's also an utterly sadistic killer in Titan form, but hesitates to harm any of her former comrades from the 104th.
    • Reiner is a strong-willed Team Dad, and admired by the others for his strong sense of duty. He's also a Broken Ace, on account of being a Titan mole sent to kill the very people he's come to genuinely care about.
    • Bertolt is quiet and a self-described Extreme Doormat. He's extremely talented, but lacks the drive or confidence to make anything of himself. He's actually the Colossal Titan, and while remorseful over his actions....firm in his belief that his actions are Necessarily Evil.
    • Levi's first two encounters with Eren was to either insult him or beat him up. But it was later revealed it was to protect Eren from the Military Police Brigade who would kill and dissect Eren and ensure he would join the Survey Corps. Eren acknowledges this and holds no ill will towards Levi.
  • Rosario + Vampire
    • Mizore might be called a Stalker with a Crush but her actions during the school festival speak volumes of her character. She and Kurumu have convinced their mothers that Tsukune is their boyfriend/fiance. Mizore however makes two ice clones of Tsukune so that the real one can go on a date with Moka. When she's found out, Kurumu angrily asks why she did it. Her answer?
    "I will not put my selfish desires before Tsukune's happiness."
  • Cass from A Cruel God Reigns. Rumors seem to be spread quite viciously about him through his classmates, and as a result most of the students avoid him, including Jeremy at first. But Jeremy discovers that although the rumors are true, Cass works so many jobs because of his alcoholic parents and his desire to eventually escape from them and live on his own and that he is genuinely a good person.
  • Soujiro from Rurouni Kenshin is initially seen as a soulless young killer with a disturbingly pleasant smile. Then he fights Kenshin and we see his backstory...
  • Kureo Mado from Tokyo Ghoul is a sadistic ghoul hunter who gleefully murders ghouls and will not hesitate to kill their children. He's also devoted to his job at the CCG and holds a good deal of respect for his comrades, especially Amon whom he becomes a mentor figure to. We later learn that he was also a decent husband and father.
  • Most characters in Sailor Moon, but Minako/Sailor Venus takes the cake: at first look she's Fun Personified, a Dumb Blonde and, as Sailor Venus, The Ace, but she's extremely depressed due the terrible ending of her solo career and hides it behind her smile, high-energy personality and a good dose of Obfuscating Stupidity (this is a good representation of her psychological make up). Her bad grades are still deserved.

  • Though he has an outward appearance of a typical bratty 6-year old, Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes at times displays a degree of philosophical depth and intelligence you wouldn't expect from someone his age; usually in his conversations with Hobbes.
    • It's tremendously pronounced in Calvin's case; many adults aren't as intelligent as Calvin is. Calvin has repeatedly shown an intelligence of someone far older and even then, quite a few adults wouldn't be able to to make the same kinds of points that Calvin does with the same amount of articulateness or intelligence. It's even lampshaded in one of the later strips where Calvin's teacher humorously states that if he put a fraction of the energy he did into studying rather than avoiding it, he'd easily be a straight A student.
  • Dykes To Watch Out For: Sparrow, described by the author as "the most cartoony of my characters," started as a fairly one-dimensional therapy-head and New Ager; she later came out as bisexual, had a child, became an atheist, and developed a grumpy side to her personality.
  • X-Men: Toad, of all people, has some depth to him. While being Magneto's Butt Monkey for years, he's become quite a skilled mechanic; and while not innovative, can reproduce pretty complicated devices. He also grew a spine, led his own version of the Brotherhood, and was one of the chessmasters behind the resurrection of the reality-warping Proteus.
  • Most of the kids from Runaways fit this trope one way or another, particularly Chase, Gert, Molly, and Karolina.
  • Stan Lee was very fond of this
    • The X-Men include Beast, a furry monster man (originally a human-ish jock type, on the surface) who is a brilliant polymath; Prof. Xavier, a guy in a wheelchair who is the most powerful telepath on Earth etc.
    • In the Fantastic Four The Thing is likewise a very intelligent ex-fighter pilot. On his worst day, he's needy, pessimistic, and shovy; on his best, he out-braves Captain America. Sue is the most powerful member of her team and on her best day the Team Mom, but she's got self-esteem issues and doubts Reed's devotion to her and the family. Johnny is vapid, self-absorbed and manic—but he's also best friends with Ben no matter what, and usually the first into a fight. Reed is brilliant, but every so often he admits his deep guilt over causing the accident that made the Fantastic Four in the first place—even guilt over what happened to Victor von Doom, even though he didn't have a damn thing to do with it. Ben Grimm's depths are lampshaded in Fantastic Four vs. The X-Men, when Rogue kisses him, stealing his powers and psyche. "She expected to be kissing a toad. Instead she's touched the heart of a prince."
  • Superman, Batman and many other heroes play this with their alter egoes- Clark Kent is a mild-mannered, occasionally clumsy reporter, who no one would suspect of also being the Man of Steel; Batman is a terrifying vigilante, one that many believe is actually a mythical monster and some deny the existence of entirely, while no one at all would consider linking him with shallow, lazy playboy Bruce Wayne. In many stories, though, their identities are also shown to surprise other characters-Clark is also a brilliant, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist who can prove to be incorruptible and brave (evident when Supes loses his powers), while Wayne is also a highly respected philanthropist with a far cleaner business record than his playboy persona might suggest; also, while the death of his parents is public knowledge, most people don't seem to be aware of it.
  • Sin City is a comic that's known for being Rated M for Manly but Frank Miller is careful to give each character a meaningful backstory. Take Marv, for instance. He's ugly and out of his mind, yet he is shown to be a very jolly drinking-buddy, a supportive friend, and is much smarter than he lets on. It was once mentioned that he fought in a war. His violent tendencies, paranoia and alcoholism could be the results of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
  • Geoff Johns specializes in revamping B-level villains by adding backstory and character depth to them.
  • Transformers: Wings of Honor: Parodied when discussing the concept of Alt-modes. Brawl tells them that his motto is to keep the body you're born in. Blast-off points out that his motto really is "aim for the mouth so you don't have to hear them talk." Brawl responds that he has many mottos and that's what makes him deep. However, Brawl's idea of a staying the same is in contrast to his species, which is defined by their ability to change. When Deathsaurus has his team pull a Face-Heel Turn, Brawl is the only one not swayed by bribery or self doubt, Deathsaurus merely lets Brawl's own violent tendencies guide him to the Decepticons.
  • Caesar in Astérix starts out as a cardboard foolish, nasty mockery target, relying on the audience to find it funny in contrast to his real personality rather than displaying contrast in the work itself. Soon, he becomes an elegant, Shakespearean, rather pompous character whose high opinion of himself is always subverted by the personal pettiness of his meanness and the lack of respect he receives from the Gauls. This is his default characterisation for a while, until he begins coming up with more nuanced schemes relying on psychological warfare rather than violence and his torment is portrayed more sympathetically (while the Gauls get more anarchic and crazy), making him more of a Worthy Opponent who has a point, much closer to his real-life personality. It culminates in a frustrated speech he gives in Asterix and the Belgians where he points out that Gaul surrendered, as a result of this surrender the Roman government is giving huge amounts of money to the chiefs including the village chief, and so the village is taking Roman money and giving nothing back. After this point, he becomes a Friendly Enemy, even throwing a banquet for the Gauls at one point.
    • Cacofonix is a Dreadful Musician + Hidden Depths - for starters, he isn't actually that "dreadful" a "musician", but a very educated, creative and multitalented one who just happens to have a truly horrible singing voice (although it varies in quality). He may also be Born in the Wrong Century. He also tends to be very arrogant about his talents when people are abusing him about his music, but, as soon as anyone actually wants to hear it, he gets insecure and often starts jabbering about audiophile stuff or loses his voice from stage fright, suggesting it may be an Inferiority Superiority Complex.

     Fan Works 
  • In the Jackie Chan Adventures fic Queen Of All Oni (in addition to the examples in the canon Jackie Chan Adventures post below), once Jade becomes a Fallen Hero, not only do we see her being Dangerously Genre Savvy like in canon, but she seems to become even MORE cunning. And her normal, pre-Face-Heel Turn attitude is revealed to be rooted in the Parental Neglect (bordering on abuse) she experienced growing up
    • Finn and Ratso also show an example or two of being Genre Savvy at different points.
  • The Hunter in With Strings Attached. He starts out as an egotistical warrior who loves killing and scaring the crap out of people. But after several days observing the four (who detest him and speak with him as little as possible), especially how they relate to one another and how they do not use their formidable power to kill, he confesses to Paul just how lonely and friendless he is, and that he really doesn't think of killing as “fun.” He also reveals that he started out as a graduate student in botany and had a fiancee who's been lost to him for 20 years now.
  • Calvin and Hobbes: The Series
  • Silver Spoon in Inner Demons. It's revealed that she actually hates Diamond Tiara, and only hangs out with her because their fathers work together and expect it of them. After developing a real friendship with Apple Bloom, her patience with Diamond grows increasingly thin, until she eventually snaps after one insult towards Apple Bloom and her friends too many, and delivers a "The Reason You Suck" Speech before breaking off their "friendship".
  • The Harry Potter fic To the Moon included a Crabbe and Goyle who were not only in a relationship with each other, but gave the impression of dimwittedness because Crabbe had dyslexia and Goyle spent too much time reading the textbooks to Crabbe to bother much about his own homework.
  • Considering that the Tamers Forever Series is a Digimon fanfic whose author is a huge fan of Neon Genesis Evangelion, it's no surprise that every character has more to him or her than meets the eye. Bonus points for the fact that these Hidden Depths are perfectly compatible with the characters canon personalities.
  • In Perfection Is Overrated, Bachiko and Meiko are planning on altering people's personalities and memories in order to set them up with their "ideal" matches as necessary. They also have to wonder whether they have done the same to themselves or each other, showing some awareness of the implications of their ability. When, however, they are dying after their defeat and the loss of their powers, it turns out that they did deeply care for each other without their powers.
  • The MLP:FiM fanfic Heart of Gold, Feathers of Steel reveals there is a lot more going on with Gilda than you'd expect just from watching Griffon the Brush Off.
  • Discussed in the Star Trek fanfic Heroes. Spock insists to Surak that Kirk is more than the warrior Surak insists on seeing him as.
  • Necessary To Win, which can be found here, often does this with the characters.
    • Takako Kubo, who's Black Forest's tankery coach in this fic, is a Drill Sergeant Nasty who uses corporeal punishment for minor mistakes. However, her discipline policy is based on the idea that those she coaches have the potential to improve, and while she has little patience for those who make mistakes, she has even less for those who simply give up.
    • Anchovy is arrogant and looks down on Miho, but also has a certain amount of respect for rivals who come up with clever ideas to help advance their causes, and believes that commanders must win for the sake of those under their command.
    • Mako Reizei appears to be Brilliant but Lazy at first glance, but it's also revealed that parting from her parents on bad terms before they died greatly impacted her, and she hopes that Nodoka and Hana, who are in conflict with their father and mother, respectively, over doing tankery, won't waste any time in their efforts to reconcile with their parents, lest they risk the same thing happening to them.
    • Ami Chouno is a student of the Nishizumi school and a JGSDF instructor, but the teaching she gives to Miho and her teammates at Oarai is significantly different from what she got from both the Nishizumi school and the JGSDF. And as a military officer, she, by knowing the difference between tankery matches and war, keeps things in perspective, which is why she believes that Miho did the right thing when she saved the imperiled tank in the last tournament, at the cost of losing the match.
  • In Riddle and the Ancient Contract everyone treated Crabbe and Goyle as dumb muscle due to their appearance, causing them to hide their intelligence and dreams for the future - for Goyle, something involving caring for animals, while Crabbe wanted to be a librarian.
  • In Fist Of The Moon we discover that while she's a klutz now, Usagi has former gymnastics experience, as well as access to her ki. After Ranma reveals this and gets her confidence up there are times when she surprises even the other senshi with her competence and seriousness.
    • Also, Kasumi has a deep and abiding fondness of Star Wars
  • This is a big part of Heroes For Earth, as each of the main characters are not the one dimensional characters from the Captain Planet and the Planeteers cartoon. For instance, Wheeler, while a bit of a The Complainer Is Always Wrong in the cartoon, in the fanfic, he does have his womanizer, jerkish qualities, but he is also a caring old brother who works on a secret garden to honor his mother.

  • This trope is the point of the 2008 documentary American Teen. The documentary follows five high-school students in a very rural and average Midwestern town in Warsaw, Indiana: Hannah, Colin, Megan, Mitch, and Jake. Each of them are all meant to be some kind of person that you would have known in your own high school: the quirky and unique girl, the all-star athlete, the popular girl with everything going for her, the heartthrob, and the nerd/gamer, respectively. Hannah has a hard time fitting in with a rural town because she's so liberal and she falls into a severe depression when she's dumped in the beginning of the film, Colin's entire future is riding on getting on a basketball scholarship and his father rides him hard over this, Megan is under tremendous pressure to be accepted into the prestigious University of Notre Dame because the rest of her family went there, and Jake worries about finding a relationship that's meant to last.

    The only one who doesn't seem to have any substantial depth like the others is Mitch, who, perhaps coincidentally or not, is focused on significantly less than the other four and is even left out of some posters for the film. Playing video games doesn't really cause a bunch of angst.
  • The whole point of the Breakfast Club, the students reveals plenty of emotional baggage that they never showed before to their friends or family.
  • Mean Girls - Gretchen confesses to Cady that she's secretly miserable as Regina's friend and has to pretend to like and not like certain things to get Regina's approval.
  • Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day - Both Delysia, a ditz, and Miss Pettigrew, a governess have a lot more depth than their labels who imply.
  • One could argue this is the point to Reservoir Dogs. Orange has many scenes revealing his hidden depths, Blonde turns out to have a hidden depth that was right out in the open, and White has his hidden depth come out at the end.
  • Played for laughs in Black Dynamite. Randomly during the film, the Jive Turkey cast reveals they have a lot of esoteric knowledge of Greek Mythology.
  • There are several instances in American Beauty such as Angela, the pretty cheerleader who is a virgin and Frank Fitts, Ricky's Marine father who wants Lester sexually. When rebuffed, he kills Lester.
  • Molly in You Me And Dupree takes a liking to Dupree when she sees beyond his party boy persona and sees a kind, talented, hopeless romantic of a man.
  • David from the Sabrina remake knows a lot about the family business despite spending all those years as a playboy ne'er do-well.
  • Michael Keaton, in both his personas of Bruce Wayne and Batman, normally gives a subdued performance as both characters in the movie. But then, during the scene with the Joker at Vicki's apartment, Bruce Wayne, unknowingly faced with the murderer of his parents, decides to, without any warning at all during his conversation with him, get nuts. He's doing it to protect Vicki; the audience should already know the Joker is their killer, but Bruce doesn't find out until the end of the scene when the Joker gives his signature line (and shoots him in the chest). Bruce is so shaken by The Reveal that he completely drops out of his crazy act. (It's a VERY well written and well acted scene all around.)
  • Max Schreck in Batman Returns, a stereotypical Corrupt Corporate Executive, is revealed to love his son and his deceased wife, and also seems to have some hidden resentments towards Bruce Wayne and the rest of the silverspoon crowd.
  • Played for Laughs in Tangled with the thugs in the Snuggly Duckling; they may be criminals, but they're also florists, mimes, pianists, romantics, even singers!
    • Flynn casually mentions that he used to read to the other orphans at the orphanage. Also, that he really dreamed of being a character from the books, whose wealth let him do all sorts of things, which puts a new light on his Greed.
  • Col. Kessler from Battle from the Bulge seems like the perfect soldier, strong, loyal and professional. Until The Reveal that he's an Ax-Crazy Blood Knight.
  • In An Extremely Goofy Movie it's revealed that PJ (a Rounded Character already), who is shown to be sensible but usually not very intelligent in the academic sense, is somewhat skilled in the field of free-verse poetry. This managed to surprise not only Bobby, but also Max, who had been friends with PJ for seven years at the time. His poem is about how people tend to overlook overweight people without noticing how interesting they can be.
  • Army Daze's effeminate and seemingly un-military Kenny also runs a mean obstacle course.
  • In Runaway Jury Herman Grimes is almost booted off jury duty because of his blindness, but once he threw his knowledge of the law in the judge's face, he was accepted. It was this event that caused the jury to vote him as foreman.
  • In Another Time, Another Place, you could be forgiven for thinking during most of the movie that Janie isn't much more than a twenty-something stuck in the emotional mindset of a teenager who's going to get eaten alive by the big, bad world. While it's true that she's unworldly and perhaps a bit naive, she reveals herself to have some serious moral fibre when she goes to the authorities to to exonerate Luigi at a great personal expense with no hope of ever seeing him again. Luigi might be a shiftless waster but he's not a bad person, and he certainly doesn't deserve to go to jail for a crime he didn't commit. However, you get the feeling he wouldn't have been in any hurry to stick his neck out for Janie if the roles were reversed.
  • Bob in The Drop. He's as silent as a sphynx, is simultaneously meek but very hard to scare. He's also capable of a lot of compassion, which is surprising since he's affiliated with the mob and killed a man in cold blood.
  • In Kingsman: The Secret Service, Eggsy at first glance appears to be a typical Lower-Class Lout, however his love for his family and (possibly misguided depending on your point of view) loyalty to his friends suggest a more upstanding person underneath the exterior. Before going off the rails he was also known for a high IQ, gymnastic ability and was on course to qualify as a Royal Marine (which takes someone truly exceptional).

    When Hart tries to come up with an example of a lower-class person making a radical change, Eggsy claims to have never seen Trading Places, Nikita or Pretty Woman, but has seen My Fair Lady to Hart's astonishment.

  • In the final story arc of Animorphs, Jake relinquishes command for a short period. When he becomes leader again, he's an absolute authority figure, and refuses to second-guess himself or let anyone else question his decisions, working from the standpoint that "a leader who shows weakness invites disaster". This ultimately leads him to becoming the most ruthless character in the series.
  • Bridge of Birds has Miser Shen, a seemingly comical character who lives up to his name by hoarding wealth. It's only when he loses said wealth do we find out his backstory. Shen's village was razed because he was unable to pay the duke's taxes. His daughter died in the purge and Shen was so devastated he look for a way to bring her back. He discovered that there was a giant who could grant his wish by paying him heavily. Shen then spends the rest of his life making money until he completely forgets about his goal. sob
  • Sherlock Holmes: John Watson knew he was a competent surgeon and a decent soldier, but had no idea he was any good at writing until he started keeping a diary of his roomate's adventures which became a best-selling series.
  • Late in King Kelson's Bride, Sofiana reveals to her Camberian Council colleagues her previous role as godmother and arcane tutor to Mátyás Furstán. She implies that they intentionally downplayed his arcane abilities: "He was also a formidable pupil of the ars magica even then—far more formidable than I felt his brothers should know." She goes on to say that he came to her secretly for help when he learned of his brothers' plans, and that she and Azim (another Councillor) covertly assisted him.
  • Harry Potter provides a few examples:
    • Severus Snape, on the surface a Sadist Teacher and later apparently revealed to be The Mole, turns out to be a Double Agent and the The Atoner who is torn over his feelings towards the son of the man he hated and the woman he loved, both of whom he involuntarily got killed (hence the atoning).
    • Mrs Weasley's Crowning Moment of Awesome: She kills Bellatrix, the second strongest villain in the series, through a Mama Bear Berserk Button.
    • Fleur Delacour at first appears to be a highly vain woman who only cares about Bill because of his looks. She later surprises everyone when it is revealed that she genuinely loves her fiancé after a werewolf attack leaves him with some very ugly scars—she views them as badges of honor.
    • According to Pottermore, Minerva McGonagall fell in love with a Muggle after graduating from Hogwarts. He proposed, and she accepted, but then turned him down because she knew he wouldn't go with her to London where she would be working for the Ministry.
  • In Dan Abnett's Gaunt's Ghosts novel First & Only, Dorden, The Medic, improvises an explanation for a wounded Naval man that not only shifts the blame from them but puts it on their opponents. When the troopers with him comment, he reveals he had been an amateur actor.
    • In Traitor General, Mkvenner reveals that he knows Old Gothic. Better than Gaunt does, even.
    • In Honour Guard, although Hark has been assigned to the Ghosts to bring down Gaunt, he capably assists Gaunt's mission, even after Gaunt decides to defy orders (although he does try to arrest him immediately, until it is clearly impracticable.
  • Patricia A. McKillip:
    • In The Bell at Sealey Head, Miranda Beryl arrives at the house of her dying relative and seems a perfect city-loving Blue Blood. Then, when Emma see Ridley Dow caught in magic and is unable to rescue him, Miranda calls him by his first name, which works, and arranges for him to be brought to a room with total competence and complete disregard for what happens to her clothes in the process — and evinces knowledge about magic. Whereupon she recruits Emma to help her keep up the facade of a Blue Blood heiress waiting for her inheritance.
    • In The Riddle Master Trilogy, several characters have hidden depths, including Morgon, the peaceful farmer-Prince of a remote island, who is the last one anyone (including himself) expects to get caught up in prophecies that will affect all the lands; Raederle, who has inherited more than she knows or wants to know from the mysterious shapeshifters beneath the sea; and the pig-woman of An who Raederle befriends.
  • Discworld series.
    • The Truth - Mr. Tulip of the New Firm is a mountain of dumb muscle with a bizarre Verbal Tic and a habit of snorting anything in powdered form, including icing sugar and crushed mothballs; he's almost too stupid to be really malicious, except that he really is great at killing people. He does, however, turn out to have a --ing phenomenal appreciation for art history, capable of pointing out to various curators the provenance, quality and legitimacy of a wide range of pieces, and sometimes weeping over their splendour. All while hulking there with his ill-fitting suit and bloodshot eyes, dribbling drain cleaner and saying "—ing" every sentence.
      • His backstory is only hinted at throughout the book. In many ways, he's one of Pratchett's most interesting characters because we're shown that the little we know has an explanation, but that the explanation itself is mostly hidden. It's tragic to see him struggle with traumatic childhood memories while casually murdering people. To quote the book itself, "Sometimes Mr. Pin heard him wake up screaming in the middle of the night."
    • Vimes also seems to have a lot more to him than Noble Bigot Cowboy Cop. But in his own words "He knew he had hidden depths. There was nothing in them he wanted brought to the surface".
    • Carrot, while initially innocent and naive, later develops this in spades. He's so good at it that even career con-man Moist von Lipwig can't read him.
    • All three of the witches are fairly obvious character types: Granny is The Determinator — a mean, strong, unyielding powerhouse, whose main flaw is that she can't admit she's wrong; Magrat is an overly-romantic wet hen who gets steamrollered by Granny; and Nanny's a disgusting old baggage whose main role seems to be as Plucky Comic Relief. But later books reveal Granny is full of self-doubt and not lacking a form of kindness; right from the beginning it's clear that Magrat has a core of iron; and Word of God is that Nanny is more powerful than Granny, but cultivates an image that hides this because she has less will to use it. Being a witch seems to require having Hidden Depths; they're where the Second (or Third) Thoughts come from.
    • Some trolls get this in low temperature environments, especially Detritus. In their first appearance it is revealed that the oldest trolls will sink so far into philosophical questions that they are essentially dead unless somebody wakes them up by, say, starting a fire in their mouth.
    • History Monk Lu-Tze has some pretty deep hidden depths.
  • Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice is all about Hidden Depths, with the main character learning that first impressions are not the only barometer of a person's character (the dashing charmer turns out to be a scoundrel, the uptight dullard is revealed to be a decent, honourable and caring man, etc). There's a reason Jane Austen initially called it First Impressions.
  • Raptor Red - Red's sister is, for most of the story, a manic, easily-angered character who is deeply suspicious of almost every creature that isn't her sister. Imagine Raptor Red's surprise when she finds her playing slide-down-the-snow-hill with a pack of Troodon.
  • J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings - most hobbits have these. Check "The Scouring Of The Shire". Early in the book, when Frodo reveals his to Gandalf, it's even lampshaded a bit.
    Gandalf: Hobbits really are amazing creatures, as I have said before. You can learn all that there is to know about their ways in a month, yet after a hundred years they can still surprise you in a pinch.
  • In Jim Butcher's The Dresden Files novel Death Masks, Michael reveals that his wife Charity made his armor. In Proven Guilty you find out she also spars with Michael, has her own armor, and was a dark magic witch who was sacrificed to a dragon (which is how she met Michael). In the same book Charity and Harry storm the heart of the Winter court Artic Tor to rescue Molly.
    • There is also "Cujo" Hendricks, "Gentleman" Johnny Marcone's bodyguard and top enforcer. A typical linebacker who communicates in grunts, totes machine-guns one-handed and generally looks like the Dumb Muscle. Hendricks is shown to be deeply committed to his boss' safety, as well as madly in love with Sigrun Gard, one of his co-workers. Even later he is stated to have studied Philosophy on a football scholarship before one of his knees gave out, and is shown working on his Master's degree in his spare time. He also quotes Chaucer at his boss when the boss does something he doesn't like.
  • In the Dragonlance novels, the elven princess Laurana is initially regarded as little more than a Brainless Beauty, but when challenged she proves to be a brave warrior, skilled diplomat and inspirational leader whose innovative tactics lead her army to a series of remarkable victories in the Vingaard Campaign.
    • You know Raistlin, right? The gloomy, pessimistic, bitter, snarky, mage in sour armor? Turns out he's quite the entertainer, having started performing as a street illusionist at a very young age, to feed himself and his brother. Kids love his shows!
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, every character has Hidden Depths. However, with some characters, the surface is removed and you find out that underneath, they're worse.
  • In Suzanne Collins's Catching Fire, at the end, Katniss learns she's the Unwitting Pawn. Who is the mastermind? Haymitch. The lush. Who suffers from DTs, so he's not faking the drunkenness.
    • Turns out Finnick isn't really a narcissistic playboy, and Johanna's bitchiness is most likely a product of and/or cover for her inner Broken Bird.
  • In the Matador Series by Steve Perry, Sleel is initially portrayed as a Bad Ass Loveable Rogue with a complex about always proving he's the best. Then he's found browsing in the philosophy section of a bookstore, casually quoting poetry, and being able to spot a deception that fooled everyone else in his team. And then it's revealed that he has a doctorate in poetic literature, wrote several best-selling novels, and used the proceeds to set up a foundation caring for orphaned children. Oh, and his name is actually an acronym of his neglectful parents' initials.
  • In Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian story "Rogues in the House", Murilo is The Dandy, but when he receives a recognizable ear as warning:
    But Murilo, for all his scented black curls and foppish apparel was no weakling to bend his neck to the knife without a struggle.
  • In L. Jagi Lamplighter's Prospero in Hell, Calvin, Mephisto's "Bully Boy", turns out to be a college professor and The Atoner.
  • In Robert E. Howard's "The Shadow Kingdom", Kull is warned of this:
    "You are thinking, Kull," said the old statesman, suddenly, "that Ka-nu is a useless old reprobate, fit for nothing except to guzzle wine and kiss wenches!" In fact, this remark was so much in line with his actual thoughts, and so plainly put, that Kull was rather startled, though he gave no sign. Ka-nu gurgled and his paunch shook with his mirth.
    "Wine is red and women are soft," he remarked tolerantly. "But—ha! ha!—think not old Ka-nu allows either to interfere with business."
  • In The Tillerman Family Series by Cynthia Voigt, it's quicker and easier to count the characters who do not have Hidden Depths than it is to count the ones who do. Nobody is exactly who or what they seem at first, and reputations and early judgments frequently turn out to be unfair, flawed or flat-out wrong.
  • The 3 cops of L.A. Confidential. Bud is frustrated with being the Dumb Muscle, Exley is a squeaky clean hero cop ready to sell anyone out for a promotion, and Jack wants to do real cop work, but he's so hip deep in corruption that's it's hard to escape.
  • In The Pale King, Chris is surprised when his father quotes a famous poem by Percy Bysshe Shelley. The again, he didn't know much about his father in the first place...
  • Many characters in P. G. Wodehouse's books, while falling into stock roles (the Upper-Class Twit and The Jeeves, for example), turn out to have these; the phrase "hidden depths" is actually used from time to time.
  • All the characters in The Westing Game.
  • Rafael Gives Light in Gives Light is the son of a serial killer, a brooding loner known for getting into fistfights, but he leaves memorials at the graves of his father's victims.
  • In the Carl Hiaasen book Flush Jasper is the son of the main antagonist, and serves as the protagonists jerkass rival, along with his crony Bull. Bull is described as very big, but not too smart (and he is beaten by the protagonist's sister and grandpa). However, later in the book, Jasper and him sneak out some beers and cigarettes, which he tried to light up, and instead set his dad's boat casino on fire. Bull drags him out of the burning wreckage, despite both inhaling smoke, and Jasper even tries to shift blame on to him for it. Amazingly, he still hangs out with Jasper, and leaves him when confronted by protagonist and his family in the end.
  • In the Red Dwarf novelisations, the character of Arnold J. Rimmer is fleshed out with lots of backstory that explains why he is such a Jerkass as an adult. Sociopathic parents, bullying siblings, thwarted expectations, plus a couple of honest mistakes anyone could have made (Gazpacho soup...) but which paralyse him with embarrassment and reinforce his self-loathing. He becomes more sympathetic as a result; you end up feeling sorry for him.
    • And his alter-ego "Ace" Rimmer demonstrates what really is there, deep down, and what Rimmer might still have the potential to become.
  • Horus Heresy: Perturabo has, before "Angel Exterminatus", either been ignored entirely or portrayed as the bitter siege specialist his Legion is known for being. In that book, however, it turns out that he has a solid grounding in his homeworld's classical mythology, and his greatest dream is to build cities, universities and monuments, rather than grey slabs encrusted in guns and barbed wire. A lot of his bitterness came about because nobody, including his father the Emperor, actually cared enough about him to learn this.
  • The Gentleman Bastard series is all about this: on the surface, the Gentleman Bastards are ordinary sneak thieves, while they're really brilliant confidence artists. Their original leader, "Father Chains," masquerades as a blind priest, but is really a gifted forger and all-around criminal, who's pulling the wool over the eyes of the town's crime kingpin.
    • And in the second book, they run into a pirate captain who's also a highly-educated student of literature.
  • Throughout most of the Amber Brown series, Amber dismisses the possibility of ever being friends with a classmate of hers named Fredrich Allen because he picks his nose and chews the boogers, and she doesn't think she could ever be friends with someone who does that. In Amber Brown Is Tickled Pink, however, she meets him at his father's farm and comes to realize pretty quickly that the picking and eating is just a bad nervous habit, rather like how she sometimes chews on her hair or her nails, and learns that Fredrich is actually a pretty nice boy. After this, she becomes very annoyed with her other friends when they tease him behind his back, just like she used to do with them, only now she feels guilty about it.

     Live Action Television  
  • Angel:
    • Doyle used to be a school teacher. Lampshaded by Cordelia.
    • Lindsey is an amazingly talented singer and guitar player, and was one of Lorne's favorite regulars at his bar.
  • In season four of Dexter, there was the Trinity Killer, who was said to have been the most successful serial killer up until then. Early episodes show him committing premeditated, cold blooded murders. However, Dexter discovers he is actually quite a normal guy, maybe even an otherwise upstanding citizen.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • In a first season episode, Cordelia showed a surprisingly unexpected Hidden Depth with her introspective reflections on the empty loneliness of popularity. By episode's end she was still the Rich Bitch, but later seasons saw her change. Lampshaded in a later season when she scores highly on her SATs. "I do well on standardized tests. What, I can't have layers?"
    • Oz also proves to be this in Season 3. He is actually a Teen Genius.
    • Spike is surprisingly good at predicting Willow's behavior. He also watches Passions and Dawson's Creek.
    • Jenny goes from a normal high-school computer teacher/"techno-pagan" to a gypsy sent to watch over the vampire her tribe cursed with a soul.
  • NCIS
    • Timothy McGee on NCIS is known to his team members as a computer nerd. They're surprised to discover that, under a pseudonym, he's become a highly successful novelist. Although they're slightly more surprised to find out the 'hidden depths' are out there in the open - all of McGee's characters are based on his co-workers.
    • Tony DiNozzo is seen mostly as a skirt-chasing Lothario who can't keep his pants zipped. Come season four and he's leading Team Gibbs, proving that under the Handsome Lech behavior, he is intensely loyal, street-smart, incredibly mature, and remarkably concerned for his team's welfare (team, naturally, including Ducky, Abby, and Director Shepard), traits that do not come to the forefront until he is Acting Special Agent In Charge - his conferences with the Director through season four make this even more clear. He may hit on Ziva and Kate regularly and smart off to Gibbs, but if the thought crosses your mind to do anything that could remotely cause his True Companions any discomfort, he will make his displeasure known. Pointedly.
      • Lampshaded when he expresses genuine concern about McGee's lack of a social life and McGee, getting tired of the lecturing about it from his co-workers, asks to have Sarcastic Tony back.
        DiNozzo: Sorry, it's Mature, Wise Tony here now.
  • Actor/murder defendant Neil Avedon in Murder One initially seemed like a drunken Jerkass delinquent Former Child Star, but as his trial went on and more aspects of his life came to light, it turned out that he was actually a really nice guy who was kind and generous to those around him, but his drug and alcohol problems (stemming from parental abuse), and his fame going to his head caused a lot of very public outbursts and meltdowns that created his public image as an egotistic celebrity douche-bag. Over the course of the first season it became clear that Neil was a deeply flawed but ultimately good person who had the capacity for change, and by the finale he had kicked his addiction and had most of his arrogance knocked out of him after spending several months wrongly convicted.
  • Dean Winchester in Supernatural originally came across as the classic Brawn to his younger brother Sam's Brains as well as an unrepentant ladies man. Throughout the series though, he is revealed to not only be smart enough to make an EMF detector from an old Walkman, rebuild the Impala from scratch, use working knowledge on chemistry to make bombs and weapons on the fly, decipher anagrams and patterns quickly and read Vonnegut. The first woman he really loved (Cassie) also broke his heart.
    • The Trickster: Introduced as a trickster god who doesn't particularly care about anything other than doling out ironic punishments, poofing up women and sweets, and "teaching" Sam important life lessons. Turns out that he's an archangel who left Heaven because he couldn't stand to watch his brothers killing each other, and is all for no Apocalypse, even though he's resigned and convinced himself that there's no use fighting it once it's started.
  • iCarly: iEnrage Gibby focused on Gibby's Unstoppable Rage side, as well as this dialogue.
    Freddie: You play the ukelele?
    Carly: Yeah, a little.
    Freddie: Wow, that's never been established.
  • Firefly has a lot of subtle indicators of Hidden Depths among its crew. There's Shepherd Book, who turns out to be a little more badass than his priestly outfit would indicate. Jayne turns out to be pretty proficient with a guitar, and has interesting philosophical responses to death (particularly his own), which is surprising considering his nature. Mal is implied to have an unusual interest in art and poetry, both having read some literature and having his bunk festooned with calligraphy. Simon, despite initially being portrayed as snobbish and conservative like only a privileged upbringing on a core planet can produce, showed a genius criminal mind who was able to plan out and execute break-ins to two heavily guarded government facilities. According to the actress, Inara was supposed to be dying from a terminal illness, a subplot the series never got time to fully play out.
    • Further, Shepherd Book can order around the crew of an Alliance starship, which raises more than a few questions about his history.
    • And perhaps most importantly in the context of the show are River Tam's Hidden Depths. The audience is shown off the bat that she's pretty removed from reality, and Simon remarks that's she's extremely clever. But her badass psychic martial artist polymath side is one that is only glimpsed in the series (and given more exposure in the movie).
  • Sherlock: Sherlock's a jerk, yes, but cares deeply for those close to him, especially John. John is an adrenaline junkie but it's not a smart move to piss him off by threatening someone close to him.
  • Teen Wolf:
    • Lydia's a lot smarter than she seems, having a good head for science and often dumbs herself down because she's the Alpha Bitch and for Jackson's benefit.
    • Jackson is very much the Only Sane Man at the start, and the only person the least bit curious about all the weird things happening to Scott.
  • Cameron of The Sarah Connor Chronicles shows unusual sides that one wouldn't expect of a Terminator, having an interest in history and dancing, and showing a pretty impressive set of investigative skills. And there's also the fact that she is apparently self-evolving, as shown in her rapid response and recovery time in "To The Lighthouse."
  • The reimagined Battlestar Galactica:
    • Meta example: It starts with the appearance of a beautiful and cold robot woman entering a building, played by underwear model Tricia Helfer. She later turned out to be one of the best actors on the show and played some of the more sympathetic and complex characters, including the abused Gina and at least two others. Playing many Number Six clones with different personalities really let her display a lot of range. Completely unexpected after the obvious hiring of Ms. Fanservice in the first place.
    • Ellen Tigh is introduced as a manipulative, deeply selfish woman. She is an alcoholic, she's promiscuous and she enables Tigh's worst excesses. Eventually, it is revealed that she is a Cylon; and really a caring, profoundly religious, genius scientist, albeit an alcoholic and manipulative one.
    • D'Anna is established to be nothing more than a domineering, zealous bitch — but it turns out later she is a domineering, zealous bitch on a quest for forbidden knowledge.
    • Gaius Baltar is an arrogant intellectual who grew up on a farm and is ashamed of his 'hick' heritage.
    • Kara Thrace, or "Starbuck", is a loud, violent, foul mouthed Ace Pilot who seems to not really care much about those she isn't close with. In reality she is a deeply religious woman who lost her fiancé, was abused by her mother and cares about every single pilot that she loses.
  • Every major character on Babylon 5.
    • One example is G'Kar. When the show begins, he's a saber-rattling antagonist, chomping at the bit to get some revenge on the Centauri. But even as early as the first season, we discover he's deeply religious, is willing to help someone out at no gain to himself, and likes to cook.
  • How I Met Your Mother character Barney Stinson started out as a fairly one-sided Casanova but has been given a detailed backstory and is now a Lady Killer In Love. He has also shown emotional vulnerability in unexpected places, such as when his brother James revealed that he (James) was going to adopt a baby with his soon-to-be husband. This well-rounded development of what initially seemed to be a fairly Flat Character, along with Neil Patrick Harris's acting, has turned him into an Ensemble Dark Horse, and he is now far more popular with fans than any of the other characters who were originally more central to the story.
  • It can be argued that the entire cast of Frasier are reusable standard sitcom comedy tropes that usually get portrayed as the one-dimensional butt of jokes in other shows, but in Frasier, are given the stage as subtle, well-developed main characters — any television viewer can recognize the arrogant, obnoxious blowhard (Frasier), the fussy, snooty fop (Niles), the opinionated, crusty old relative (Martin), the airheaded, naive Funny Foreigner (Daphne), and the sassy office slut (Roz) as one-off or peripheral sitcom characters from any number of other shows and movies. It's just that these so-called stereotypes had so many other facets and layers and for once weren't used just as fodder for some other, more "normal" main character, that they couldn't be described as stereotypical (or even typical) at all.
  • Star Trek:
    • Chief O'Brien starts out as a second-string bridge officer, gets promoted to transporter chief on the Enterprise, moves on to become the Chief Engineer on Deep Space Nine only to have it revealed that before all of this, he was a soldier, which becomes important as the Dominion War flares up. We found out that O'Brien is a traumatized veteran of the Cardassian War in the appropriately named Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "The Wounded", when he tells the story of the first battle he had been in. "Rules of Engagement" establishes that the cheerful, friendly chief has been in 232 combat situations and has been decorated fifteen times.
    • From Deep Space Nine: Rom, Quark's dopey brother, who turns out to be a gifted engineer even conceiving and designing a net of self-replicating mines that effectively stops the Dominion from sending reinforcements through the wormhole. (And, got married to a hot dabo girl.)
    • Rom's son Nog started out as a sexistnote  juvenile delinquent, but was revealed to have similar skills and determination, becoming the first Ferengi in Starfleet. (At least one potential future shows him rising to captain rank.)
    • Quark himself was more of a what-you-see-is-what-you-get character, but the leader of the Klingon Empire did once refer to him as "a brave Ferengi", a very hidden depth. Quark is also capable of making very surprising and astute observations on occasion, such as in "The Siege of AR-558", where he comments to Nog that for all their pretentiousness, strand Humans in a warzone and deprive them of sleep, food, their fancy technology and creature comforts and they soon become worse than Klingons.
    • Or when Spock reveals:
      How do Vulcans choose their mates? Haven't you wondered?
      Kirk: I guess the rest of us assume that it's done ... quite logically.
      Spock: No.
      Kirk: ...No.
    • The Vulcans start out with no emotions. Later they have emotions but keep them under strict control. They end up with often-overwhelming emotions that they have difficulty controlling. Leonard Nimoy told Abrams that he had always played Spock as a deeply emotional man constantly struggling for control.
  • James Fullalove from two of the Quatermass serials is a reporter for an evening newspaper who is fluent in Medieval Latin.
  • Jay in The Inbetweeners seemed to be nothing more than a disgusting pervert and liar at first (although he was always shown as a good friend), but in the season one finale he temporarily entered a very reflective mood and revealed some of his vulnerable side. Then in the second season he got into a relationship and revealed himself as a Chivalrous Pervert.
  • Sheriff Lamb, from Veronica Mars, after he reveals that his father beat him, which is itself a huge cliche, but well-played. Also Logan. He initially seems like the stereotypical rich, entitled asshole, but his troubled family situation revealed Hidden Depths.
  • That's the beauty of LOST. The first few episodes of the series seem to fool us into thinking we know which characters to root for until their flashbacks and centric episodes reveal a whole 'nother story before the first season is even over! And half-way through season two, all your beliefs will be shattered forever.
  • Det. Eddie Alvarez from The Unusuals came off as a naive, self-centered, overambitious jerk at the beginning ... but underneath that is a natural police detective conversant in a startlingly diverse range of languages.
  • Quantum Leap has an unusual variant: hidden depths in the protagonist that often even he doesn't know he has until he uses them during the show. This is mainly due to the combination of a ridiculous amount of doctorates and useful hobbies, and the amnesia he sustained from initially Leaping. Occasionally, though, it's Al who will display a skill we didn't know he had.
  • Roland "Prez" Pryzbylewski on The Wire is initially dumped on the Barksdale detail because he's an incompetent officer who accidentally discharges his gun in the office on his first day after being dumped there (and prior to that had filed a false report to cover up that he'd shot up his own car), who only remains on the force because he's the son-in-law of the career officer. However, after being restricted to office duty, he begins to pull his weight as the one who penetrates the drug dealers' heavily slurred, slang-laden, and coded communications.
  • Reese on Malcolm in the Middle spent a lot of time on the show being idiotic, clueless, and sadistic, certain to age into a series of minimum wage jobs and possible (maybe even probable) jail time. Then, after being forced by his mom to take a cooking class, he found that he actually thrived in the kitchen. He became better at preparing food than his own mother, and he enjoyed it so much that not letting him cook became the only form of punishment that his parents could use that was even remotely effective. Note the panic he exhibited when his mom threatened to take away his whisk.
  • On the series Survivor, some contestants have Hidden Depths that the editing doesn't do a good job of showing.
    • Cao Boi, the Cloudcuckoolander from Cook Islands. He was the Plucky Comic Relief, but in fact, it was him who was the first person to have thought up a plan to engineered a tie in the votes specifically to flush out the hidden immunity idol.
    • Brett. Just another pretty face who seemed to be digitally inserted into the season to give some conflict in the final few episodes? Immunity beast.
    • Fabio from 'Nicaragua invoked this through Obfuscating Stupidity. A lot of people looked at this guy and thought he was going to get himself evacuated before the merge. Yet he manages to manipulate Chase & Sash into going after somebody else instead of The Load, then manages to win by a 5-4-0 vote, even getting the vote of his Sit Com Arch Nemesis.
    • Sophie is the sole survivor in One World. Tell for one second you thought this by looking at her.
    • Kat has a more tragic example. Throughout the game, she's a complete ditz, even saying "I'm only 22!" as an excuse for her ditziness. However, she reveals that within a year, she needs to have open heart surgery if she wants to have children, and had already survived it. Her "I'm only 22!" claims carry a lot more weight when you consider she has a chance of dying the next year.
  • Glee:
    • The very camp Kurt who has read Sun Tzu's Art Of War, and at least knows what Vocal Adrenlin's Latin motto means ("murder or be murdered). Smart People Know Latin after all.
    • We've come to see some of Sue Sylvester's depths, most notably being that though she may work her Cheerios like dogs and say horrible things to... well, everybody, she genuinely cares about the students and their well-being (aside from a certain Wallbanger about a human cannonball). We also learn about Sue's back story, which begins to explain some of her behavior.
    • Artie Abrams is wheelchair-bound, but sings, can seriously bust a move when he's not in the chair, raps, plays the guitar, engages in Def Poetry, and is on the academic decathlon team.
    • Mike Chang was just a background character that went unnamed until he finally upgraded to a more prominent member of New Directions, to which he proves that he's not only one of the best dancers on the team, but sings, plays football, and is also a member of the academic decathlon.
    • Quinn who was supposed to be a frigid bitch ends up a pregnant glee-clubber. She's later revealed to have a childhood plagued by bullying and intense self loathing and insecurity.
    • Santana who was a promiscuous character seems to have used her promiscuity to hide the fact that she's a lesbian.
    • Brittany, The Ditz, ends up on the same academic decathlon team as Artie and has a wealth of knowledge about cats.
  • In the US version of the The Office, when Jim plays opera music to block out Dwight's listening device and asks Andy's opinion of the music as a cover, Andy knowledgeably criticizes it, and Creed, who had shown no sensitivity in the previous 5 seasons, starts crying.
  • In The X-Files, the Smoking Man pops up early on as a mysterious figure with few lines and shadowy motivations. Over the course of the series he's revealed as one of the most well-known Magnificent Bastards in popular television and shown to be dissatisfied with his position in The Conspiracy, at one point almost tendering his resignation in order to become a semi-autobiographical crime writer.
  • Similar to Six Galactica, when Jeri Ryan was added to the cast of Star Trek: Voyager, and especially when the promo photos of her in a skintight silver catsuit demonstrating that even the Borg can have large breasts, most people were expecting little but Ms. Fanservice and a character who would end up being a shallow Distaff Counterpart to Spock and Data. However, the writers (and Jeri Ryan) were apparently so determined to prove she wasn't just hired for her appearance that soon the entire series revolved around Seven of Nine and she quickly emerged as one of the most interesting characters on the show. The only other character to challenge her for that spot was the holographic Doctor, who himself had become an Ensemble Dark Horse. And then they had an episode where Ryan got to actually act like the Doctor.
  • An episode of Criminal Minds has the team trying to trace a teenage serial killer, and Garcia is on the phone after finding a name:
    Garcia: He gave the name Nico Bellic. Now the thing about the name Nico Bellic... (Reid looks up about to interrupt, and then...)
    Rossi: It's the name of the main character from Grand Theft Auto IV. (Cut to Garcia looking shocked, then back to everyone staring at Rossi.) What? I know stuff.
  • One episode of Power Rangers Zeo showed that Skull was actually a talented concert pianist, and Bulk, who previously dismissed classical music as "sissy stuff", gained a new appreciation out of it after seeing his best friend perform beautifully.
    • Their actors also apply for this, as Paul Schrier (Bulk) went into directing (including several episodes of Power Rangers) while Jason Narvy (Skull) is a Shakespearean actor with multiple degrees, including a Ph.D in Dramatic Arts.
  • Friends. Phoebe can speak Italian (even she was unaware of this) and French, Joey has an extensive knowledge of elevators and managed to memorize the entire "V" volume of the encyclopedia in less than a day, and Chandler plays a mean game of table tennis. Gunther also apparently smokes (or used to smoke), is a former actor, and is fluent in Dutch.
  • NCIS: Los Angeles did it with Deeks and Kensi accidentally discovering their mutual love of comic books.
    Kensi: You know, Bizarro, the mutant version of Superman.
    Deeks: I know who Bizarro is. How do you know who he is?"
  • Modern Family has The Ditz Hailey who is really good with using computers for background checks.
  • Tim Taylor of Home Improvement was usually a Bumbling Dad prone to insensitivity but he was often able to say the right thing at the right time when someone needed him.
    • Perhaps most surprising of all, whenever Tim stops obsessing over MORE POWER and just builds/fixes something, it turns out he is very good with his hands.
  • Jay Wratten of The Shadow Line. He seems at first to be little more than a Psychopathic Manchild, but the final episode shows him to be much smarter and more manipulative than anyone realised. Gatehouse even uses this very phrase when describing him.
  • Chuck. Casey can hit a high note because he used to be a choir boy.
    What? I wasn't hatched.
    • "Chuck vs. the Cougars" revealed Casey is also a charismatic DJ as he gets everyone to dance to "MMM Bop" by Hanson.
  • Breaking Bad:
    • Jesse Pinkman at first came off as a jerky fuck-off junkie, and was shown to be irrational and idiotic in comparison to the intelligent calmer Walt. As the series drew on, he was shown to actually have a hidden sense of morals, such as saving a kid from a disgusting house where his junkie parents lived, refusing to sell to a woman when he found that she had a child, and above most is, is shown to to actually have some of his conscience still intact despite everything that has been done, especially compared to Walt, who is shown to throw away more and more of his soul as he sinks deeper into the business. He's also a lot smarter than he at first appears - while his vocabulary and theoretical knowledge aren't that good, he fares much better than Todd at replicating Walt's recipe and manages to come up with some pretty ingenious problem-solving ideas early season 5.
    • A lot of viewers hated Walt's DEA Agent brother in law Hank for being a one note obnoxious compensating for something Big Guy type character. However, after episode 2 of the second season when he shoots Tuco its revealed that he's starting to have a lot of anxiety about his stress job and dealing with the fallout of killing another person.
    • One arc in the fourth season has revealed even further depths by revealing that in addition to being a solid field agent for the DEA that he has mad detective skills which he uses to follow a seemingly silly hunch brought about by a fast food restaurant napkin and more or less discover that Gus is using his chicken business as a cover for a HUGE meth operation.
  • The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air: Goes both ways; Will initially dismisses his Uncle Phil as an uptight wealthy person who lost touch with his roots. Turns out that he was in the Civil Rights movement, and had worked hard to get where he was then. Similarly, Uncle Phil judges Will as just a disruptive young street punk, but Will turns out to be an insightful, intelligent and thoroughly decent person.
  • House of Anubis:
    • Jerome Clarke. In the beginning of the show he is shown as nothing more than a manipulative jerk who will even trick his best friend into humiliating himself for a cheap laugh. However, later on he reveals a softer, more sensitive side to Mara Jaffray, including the truth that his family abandoned him when he was five years old. He reverts back to his old self after Mara and her old boyfriend get back together, to the point where he helps the antagonist, but even then his hidden depths are still showing as he proves to be more of a misunderstood [[Anti-Hero Anti-Hero]] than the minor antagonist he was originally portrayed as.
    • Victor Rodenmaar. Despite being one of the main antagonists, he proves himself as being more good than bad deep down inside, and it is shown that the way he acts mainly stems from his desperation to finish his father’s quest, and theabuse his father had inflicted on him when he was a child.
  • Pamela from Dancing on the Edge spends most of the running time as a fairly cold, aristocratic Ice Queen with no talents or purpose whatsoever. Yet when the protagonist Louie Lester (a black jazz musician) is framed for murder, she is one of only three white people to help smuggle him out of the country. Everyone else turns on him, suspects him, or is blackmailed into giving his location away.
  • Subverted in the Seinfeld episode "The Big Salad".
    Elaine: Maybe there's more to Newman than meets the eye.
    Jerry: No. There's not. There's less.
    Elaine: Well, maybe there is and we just don't know it.
    Jerry: No, trust me. I've looked into his eyes. He's pure evil.
  • Horatio Hornblower: Archie Kennedy, a go-hung Plucky Middie and a broken Cutie proves himself to be a Badass Adorable. But there is more. One episode reveals that he's fond of theatre and says he knew the Drury Lane as if it was his home. He must have special love for William Shakespeare because he quotes and paraphrases him several times.
  • Murdoch Mysteries:
    • Inspector Brackenried is mostly shown as Da Chief, the Constabulary's Team Dad and a Boisterous Bruiser who drinks more than he should. He cares about his family and is Happily Married despite all the problems he has with his wife who forces him to become a teetotaller. It's quite surprising to see his deep and passionate love for theatre, especially opera and The Bard.
    • Constable George Crabtree is a comic relief character, Cloudcuckoolander and resident Agent Mulder. However, he aspires to be a writer and works very diligently on this dream, and in season 5, he publishes his moderately successful mystery novel. He frequently shows concern for animals, especially dogs, cats and horses, which is both sweet and very modern for a Victorian era man from lower middle class background.
  • Monday Mornings:
    • Dr. Hooten is a hard-ass boss on his doctors, and can be unmerciful. Surprisingly, he loves classical music, plays the piano quite well and bonds with a Littlest Cancer Patient over Beethoven and discussion of Deus ex Machina principle, aka "crappy writing from ancient Greek plays".
    • Dr Sung Park is a Korean doctor who speaks in broken English and is blunt-slash-rude with his patients, though a brilliant neurosurgeon. He has a perfect pitch and plays the violin with a rare mastery, and appreciates music very deeply. He also recognizes a literary genius and agrees that the patient is better off with his compulsive writing verging on mania — because that's what he is — a writer, and a surgery might destroy that completely.
  • Snow White in Once Upon a Time is portrayed as the Proper Lady, even as her cursed self. So it comes as a bit of a surprise that she gets over manipulating Regina to kill her mother by rocking to Joan Jett on her iPod while practicing with a bow and arrow.
    • Rumplestiltskin in a nutshell. Despite being the most evil entity in existence, his surprising acts of kindness towards Belle ended up being what initially attracted her to him in the first place. Along with his son Baelfire, Belle is the only other person he cares about and who can keep him in Noble Demon territory.
  • The Camp Gay Mr. Wolfe from Suburgatory does rather un-gay things like boxing.
    Tessa: Mr. Wolfe, what are you doing?
    Mr. Wolfe: Training the next middleweight champion of the world. What are you doing?
  • Pretty much the entire Torchwood team. Besides Capt. Jack, who has to deal with centuries of psychological and emotional baggage, we have:
    • Ianto Jones: Quiet and proper Deadpan Snarker who turns out to be a Badass in a Nice Suit with a talent for manipulation strong enough to fool pretty much everyone.
    • Owen Harper: First seen as a thorough Jerkass using alien pheremones to attract hookups, but is revealed to have a heart several times when it gets broken.
    • Toshiko Sato: The Smart Girl incarnate, with a crisp and professional demeanor, even upon possession of a mind-reading artifact. As it turns out, she's a secret romantic whose Cartwright Curse is the worst sort of irony.
    • Even Gwen Cooper, probably the most straightforward of the group, turns out to be far more loyal than some of her initial actions suggest.
  • Mr. Khan from Citizen Khan can seem to be quite callous to those around him, not appearing to care about how his actions affect his loved ones as long as he can try and increase his standing in the community. But, unlike many sitcom husbands, he actually remembers romantic milestones he shares with his wife and recreates the first meal they shared as a married couple on their anniversary without any of the usual last minute panic.
  • Community has a bit of this revealed over time. To sum up:
    • Jeff, the arrogant and narcissistic ex-Amoral Attorney, has been shown to in fact be deeply insecure about his morality and whether he's only liked for his looks, and has possible issues with depression as well as abandonment issues. He also is a closet geek, with nearly as much TV knowledge as Abed and a collection of Spiderman comics, and manages to be an effective teacher in season 5
    • Annie, the Technical Virgin youngest member of the group, shows a shocking ability to dirty talk in Advanced Dungeons and Dragons. She also shows off a great singing voice
    • Shirley, the sweet, religious mother of the group, shares Abed's affinity for both the Hellraiser movies and Batman & Robin. She also has a violent streak and was Greendale's valedictorian.
    • Abed, the TV geek with an Ambiguous Disorder, is incredibly manipulative and cunning, often manipulating the study group to do his bidding, and a skilled impressionist.
    • Troy, The Ditz of the group, has shown to be one of the most emotionally sensitive characters, and is the one to talk Annie down from her identity crisis in Mixology Certification
  • Lady Sybil from Downton Abbey is only seen in the background or on the sidelines until episode 3 where we see her need to help the less fortunate and her interest in a more liberated style of living for herself and other women.
  • Teal'c of Stargate SG-1 is a fan of science fiction, he's even watched Star Wars a dozen times.
    • Coronel/General Jack O'Neill actually knows (some) astronomical terms and their proper meanings, as well as enough Greek tragedy and mythology to know that "Prometheus" and "Icarus" are terrible names for anything you want to succeed.
    • Samantha Carter once summed up her hidden depths quite succinctly, "Wormhole theory, motorcycle riding, and lock picking."
  • Josh from Popular turns out to be an expert on poultry.

  • In the early years of his career, Ricky Nelson was almost exclusively considered a pretty boy, white-bread-and-mayonaise fake rockabilly singer who hitchhiked to stardom as the son of Ozzie and Harriet. Then in 1971 he recorded Garden Party, an effective retort to the fans at a Madison Square Garden "all-star" concert who booed his updated dress and new country-rock songs mixed in with Nelson's more familiar oldies. The song was a hit, and it gained him new respect as a songwriter and an artist.
    • To be fair, some reports of the Madison Square Garden concert claimed that the boos were for a police action elsewhere in the arena. Ricky's version makes for a better song.
    • Nelson's newfound respect also forced a reevaluation of his 1950s music, especially the innovative guitar work of sideman James Burton.
  • Duran Duran's bassist John Taylor was, by all outward appearances, a stereotypical '80s pinup boy and was often the subject of lust/crushing by many, many teenage girls. What he hid? The fact that when he was a teenager, he was a massive bespectacled nerd who was quiet and unpopular to the opposite sex and spent hours in his bedroom wargaming (yes, wargaming). Fast forward to the 2000s and John Taylor started being highly regarded for his bass playing. In fact, most of his fellow band mates had hidden depths: the weedy-looking Nick Rhodes was apparently extremely popular with the opposite gender as a teen, the complete opposite of his childhood best friend John Taylor, and lost his virginity at the tender age of 13; the heartthrob and Lothario Simon Le Bon was apparently a massive Shakespeare nerd while growing up (as a child actor and model) and spent time in an Israeli kibbutz doing lumberjack and tree surgeon duties while penning contemplative poems during his down time; and Roger Taylor, who looked like a baby-faced James Dean and had a lean appearance, had a real passion for Motown R&B and worked on the assembly line at a factory while the band were waiting for their big break.
  • Marilyn Manson, for all his outward appearances and habit of causing moral outcries the world over, grew up a bullied geek. However, it's his Berserk Button to have anyone be "surprised" by his intelligence. Besides for that, despite his tendency to be highly sexual on stage and offensive to religions, he's actually quite shy and conservative in bed (his favorite fetish object apparently is "thigh-high pantyhose" and he himself describes himself as sexually conservative), and he's quite spiritual, taking aspects from many different religions into his own homebrew. He's said he hopes to be reunited with his mom after he dies, he believes in some rather weird things about dreams (namely, that you have access to all of time and space in them), uses symbolism from the Chinese I-Ching belief, has an encyclopedic knowledge of The Bible, even the most obscure history of Christianity, extra-Biblical Christian myths, the occult, and alchemy. In another universe, he could be a religious history scholar.

  • Cyrano de Bergerac: This is one of the central themes of the play: not everyone is what he seems.
    • Roxane the refined intellectual surprises her three suitors by proving quite the adventuress, sneaking behind enemy lines to deliver food to the French soldiers and then staying with them once the battle starts.
      Roxanne (slightly annoyed): Monsieur de Bergerac, I am your cousin!
    • Christian gets written off by many who haven't read the play as a male bimbo. While he's not as book smart as Cyrano or Roxane and is utterly hopeless at talking to women, he's witty enough to think of several nose-related puns on the fly when he first meets Cyrano.
    • Cyrano has to delay de Guiche for fifteen minutes. What he will do? Insult him? Challenge him to a duel? Make a simple excuse? No, tell him a fantasy/science fiction tale about a trip to the moon... and de Guiche is spellbound!
      • This doubles as a Shout-Out to the real Cyrano de Bergerac's most famous work.
    • Given Raguenau’s status as the Butt Monkey in Act II, he could be considered a mere Plucky Comic Relief character. Then we have Act IV where Raguenau risks his life to smuggle food to the Gascon Cadets in the siege of Arras. He has proved is a brave man, but then you apply Fridge Logic and realize that Raguenau was the man who not only cooked all the food, but also found a way to occult it in Roxane’s carriage so they can fool all the check posts the Spanish Army has in the battlefield, making him not only a Supreme Chef but an Iron Chef: Someone capable of smuggling food to troops.
  • Lampshaded in The Philadelphia Story.
    "C.K. Dexter Haven, you have unsuspected depth!"
  • Played with in Mary Mary. When Dirk calls Mary a puzzle, she tells him that she always wanted to think she was a tigress underneath, but she really isn't: "Underneath this plain, girlish exterior, there's a very plain girl."
  • In Pokémon Live!, Brock knows sign language, which lets him communicate with a deaf trainer.

     Video Games  
  • Spec Ops: The Line: The Radioman comes off as a stoner asshole who is detached from the insanity that is Dubai, but acquiring the intel in the game paints a different character. He was once an idealistic journalist that truly believed in the mission to save Dubai, as things went more and more to shit, it becomes more clear that his now present nature is probably a coping mechanism to help him with the horrors he has witnessed. One memorable piece of intel shows him interviewing Konrad with a hidden tape recorder. Once Konrad thanks him for listening to him and being a friend, the last bit of audio heard is the Radioman turning his recorder off, saying that he needed to grab another pen.
  • Portal, GLADOS took this to an extreme. In the first game, she was just the usual "Kill-everything-AI." Later, this turned out to make perfect sense: She watched the man she loved go insane running a company he loved, then watched as a byproduct of the work killed him, then her previous coworkers dumped her brain into a computer, "The dummied out audio for it sounded like a rape scene." After that, they effectively forced schizophrenia on her, by dumping various cores on her: "I've heard voices all my life," including one that acted like a brain tumor. On top of that, the system they put her in was acting like drugs to her. By the time you finish playing Portal 2, her hidden depths make you want to cheer on her massacre against the employees. In summary: A.I. Is a Crapshoot becomes Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds.
  • Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana, you have various shopkeepers that can synthesize items for you. After enough times of this, they start to unlock various character scenes. Veola's scenes in particular are much more developed than one would expect from a mere side-character having her contemplating risking her life making an item to try to bring back her dead family.
  • Tales of Symphonia, as an effect of its absurd amount of Character Development, has a few examples.
    • Zelos: on the surface, The Casanova/Handsome Lech, with a generous helping of narcissism. Turns out it's almost entirely fake, a result of his contempt for people wanting to take advantage of his position. As for his position as Chosen of Tethe'alla, which he seems to enjoy, it's actually helped spawn a self-loathing that makes him borderline (or, depending on the player's actions, actually) suicidal.
    • Colette: Pollyanna, somewhat ditzy, and friend to all living things. Hides a level of extreme insecurity and social anxiety, all tied to her fear of failure and unwillingness to burden other people with her own problems, even when it comes close to killing her.
    • Genis: Elven Bratty Half-Pint and 12 year-old genius. Actually half-elven, and develops an extremely deep resentment of humans for their prejudicial treatment of half-elves, even coming to sympathize a lot with the well-intentioned Big Bad.
    • Regal: Yeah, you know that six-foot-three muscular convict who tried to kidnap Colette when you first met him? He's actually a duke, the president of one of the world's largest companies, and one of the most intelligent characters in the party. Oh and if he didn't feel guilty for the crime he committed he'd be the strongest party member. He can throw Hadoken...
    • Kratos: Random mercenary who comes to help Colette out on her journey. Turns out to be 4000 years old, a major Double Agent who wrote the book on Black and Gray Morality. Also the main character's father.
      • He also had to kill Anna, the only woman he ever loved, after Cruxis (who he abandoned to protect Anna) turns her into an Eldritch Abomination and she nearly kills their infant son (Lloyd). Then Lloyd tumbles off a cliff in her arms, leading Kratos to believe everyone he cared about is dead, completely demoralizing him. While Anna had turned him into somewhat of an optimist, this cemented his cynicism.
    • Yuan: Unemotional, practical to the point of sounding uncaring and being a Heel-Face Revolving Door to both The Hero and The Big Bad, apparently apathetic at the death of his utterly devoted subordinate... was engaged to a woman who died 4000 years ago, still wears the engagement ring and searches all over the two worlds for it after having lost it. Oh, and by the way, there are a few subtle hints that he actually cares a lot for all his men.
      • He's actively working against a plan to revive his dead fiancé because of the injustices the Big Bad plans to commit once the plan is complete.
    • Raine: Genis' cold and intelligent big sister who becomes ecstatic when she's discovering ancient ruins is that way because her and Genis' mother abandoned them by an ancient ruin so they would get sucked into the world of Sylvarant, leaving Raine to raise Genis herself.
  • Golden Sun: Alex initially appears to be an anti-villain who's just going along with the villains for the ride. Turns out that he's the most dangerous one of all, and is using every other character for his A God Am I moment. It works.
  • Adell from Disgaea 2: Cursed Memories, who seems the very epitome of the Idiot Hero and Honor Before Reason tropes... effortlessly solves a Geo Puzzle within minutes of seeing it. As Adell himself puts it, it's not that he's an idiot- far from it. It's just that the straightforward method usually works extremely well, and so there's no reason not to just bash an opponent to death if you can. Only rarely is Adell's brain ever called upon to function- which should scare anyone who thinks about that too much.
    • An earlier example would be Seraph Lamington from Hour of Darkness. He likes flowers, prefers to make love and not war, and appears gullible to a fault, to the point where he entrusts command of an army to his Obviously Evil right hand man. Actually, let me rephrase that last bit - he hinged the success of his plan to reunite the Netherworld and Celestia on the efforts of his Otaku Love Freak trainee and played the actions of his right hand like a game of chess, leaving fellow Out-Gambitted Vulcanus in the dark about his whole plot until the curtain fell. If there's an example of a man being smarter than he looks, Lamington would be it.
      • Another Nippon Ichi example would be Valvolga from Makai Kingdom, more specifically Micky. Though he appears frightening, he's acually somewhat cowardly and easily bullied by his other two parts, Ophelia and Dryzen. However, in his battle, not only does he show how he became the General of the Star Element, his cameo in Zettai Hero Project shows he's also the only character in NIS canon to take down Bonus Boss Tyrant Baal for good.
    • Etna starts off as a fairly cranky, backstabbing, sarcastic bitch of a Prinny Squad commander who'd make an ideal evil demon. One look at her diary entries shows that she has a major adoration of the old Overlord, and went to great lengths to ensure that his dying wish was fulfilled. She even cries a little at the end of her own story mode when she realises exactly how far off track she went in relation to said promise.
  • Dr. Peace, the 9th ranked assassin in No More Heroes, is described as a corrupt police officer with ties to the mafia and a merciless Gunslinger archetype. When you finally reach the battleground, you find that he's also a fan of karaoke, and has a damn good singing voice to boot.
    • Plus, he wanted to see his wife and daughter one last time before dying.
  • Almost everyone in Princess Waltz has something that counters their outward personality:
  • Shadow from Sonic the Hedgehog is much smarter than he looks. Though this aspect only shows up in the awful 2006 game, it shows how dangerous Shadow can be. He was the only person in the entire game who was aware of what was really going on and sought to put a stop to it, even convincing Silver that he was duped. Unfortunately, Shadow's plan was only 99% effective as one fragment that escaped caused the last story. He does give an awesome Shut Up, Hannibal! speech in the end of his story.
    • Silver shows a bit of this as well when he acts extremely hurt after Amy calls him out. After a heart-to-heart talk with Blaze, he decides that a Rivals Team Up is his best shot at redemption.
    • Even before Sonic 2006, Shadow's massive backstory takes a good four games to completely reveal. He goes from being only a mysterious superweapon/black hedgehog/ultimate lifeform to a rather complex character who befriended his creator's daughter, who is killed during a government attack on the massive space station he was created in, giving him a powerful hatred for human beings in general that never quite goes away. He was created using the blood of a dark alien creature named Black Doom, who eventually comes and tries to take over the world so that humans can be food for his alien race, so Shadow kicks the crap out of him and blows up their "planet". On the outside, he's a mean, cold anti-hero. Inside, however, he's a lot deeper, and often does more thinking than the rest of Sonic's cast put together, as mentioned for Sonic 2006.
    • Sonic is actually an example, too. He's an adventurous, fun-seeking character who seems to act on impulse rather than thinking things through, which makes him come off as too carefree and not very bright to many. And yet:
      • In Sonic Adventure 2, he was able to pull off a Chaos Control with a fake Chaos Emerald. To put things in perspective, Shadow himself didn't think it was possible to activate it with a fake emerald, yet Sonic managed to do it in a single try, without having ever used the move before. It turns out that he was able to deduce how to perform Chaos Control just from watching Shadow use it once.
      • For most of Sonic Battle, Shadow is bent on destroying Emerl to prevent him from absorbing all emeralds and going berserk, with Sonic protecting the robot (who he had befriended) being his main obstacle. Then during the second to last story, to Shadow's surprise, Sonic simply lets him take Emerl with him a few moments after he (Shadow) reaffirmed that he was going to destroy the robot. It then turns that after seeing how similar he and Emerl are, Shadow sympathizes with him and chooses to help him rather than destroy him. Sonic had seen all of this development coming and made Emerl go with Shadow to make it happen.
      • In Sonic Rush, he's very kind and comforting to Blaze the Cat, as he can tell that underneath her cold and hostile facade is a very shy and troubled girl.
      • In Sonic Unleashed, Eggman releases Dark Gaia, a gargantuan beast made out of energy, which then becomes scattered across the planet in the form of dark energy. During night, this energy causes the behavior of people from all over the world to change, making them act more aggressive. Sonic permanently absorbed much of its energy into his body, which caused a far less subtle effect on him: went night arrives, he transforms into the infamous Werehog, who then powers himself up by absorbing even more dark energy. And yet he keeps his personality and normal behavior under this form. Near the end, it's revealed the the reason for this was that Sonic was strong enough to withstand the energy's influence. In other words, even though he was possessed by far more Dark Gaia energy than anyone else, Sonic, who has the fame of being an overly carefree person, had a willpower and a dedication to fighting for justice strong enough to resist Dark Gaia's influence without even trying.
    • The events of Sonic Lost World are pivoted partially by Sonic's recklessness and over eagerness to stop Eggman (inadvertently enabling another foe to take control instead). The story shows him coming to accept his shortcomings and showing humility over it. His usually positive approach is also tested greatly due to having clashes with his best friend Tails (who is convinced Sonic doesn't trust his abilities) and the Deadly Six succeeding in taking his allies out of commission one by one. Though he becomes more jaded as the story progresses as a result, his determination never fades.
    • This and several other games such as Sonic Colors also show Sonic to be rather Genre Savvy.
  • Many charcters from .hack. If you build up your relationships in the game (or check supplementary materials) you'll find something.
    • Genki Girl Mistral? A housewife, who despite her online persona, is very mature and dependable woman who becomes a mother/big sister type to BlackRose. Her Daughter, who plays Mireille, is a four year old prodigy.
    • Samurai enthusiast Sanjuro? A Japanese teacher from America who uses the Japanese version of The World to improve his Japanese.
    • Wiseman, a genius who helps the heroes throughout the series? A prodigious ten-year-old kid who loves Digimon cards and hates vegetables.
    • Piros, the goofy Heavy Axeman? A graphic designer for the game who plays to appreciate his work.
  • The Boss from the Saints Row series is an uncouth, foul-mouthed, violence-loving sociopath. The Boss is also undyingly loyal to their friends, and enjoys the works of Jane Austen.
  • Every potential companion in Dragon Age: Origins (even Loghain — especially Loghain) has depth. Likewise, the companions in Dragon Age II.
  • Mass Effect has this with most characters in the game. Stepping out of your own shadow and doing what was thought to be impossible is the main theme that stretched through the entire series all the time.
    • Ashley Williams from the first game is often considered a generic Action Girl with a touch of Fantastic Racism. Talk to her, and you'll discover she's really close to her family (memorising Ulysses because it was her dad's favourite poem) and is deeply religious, neither of which you'd notice at first glance.
    • Mordin from the second game is an even better example, having a deep characterisation right from the start - a Deadly Doctor willing to do morally ambiguous things for the greater good while still having a chipper demeanor - who just gets deeper the more you talk to him. For example, he refuses to become a Knight Templar, deliberately grounding himself by talking to his favourite nephew before going out to save the galaxy.
      • And then he takes it several steps farther in the third game echoing his line "I am the very model of a scientist salarian.".
    • The DLC Lair of the Shadow Broker is filled with it. First, Liara goes through a great deal of Character Development throughout the entire thing. Second, after killing the Shadow Broker, you have detailed dossiers on your party members which provide extra depth. Some are hilarious and some are just heartbreaking. Finally, you can show Shepard's hidden depths at the end of the DLC when s/he and Liara reminisce.
    • Legion has a few surprising cases. While he's mainly there to deliver an expo dump on how the geth work, he also shows himself to have a bit of an emotional side, with his salvaged armour and long play time on a dating sim.
    • Miranda Lawson: Coolly self-confident about her superiority over most unmodified humans and when you first meet her face-to-face she shoots a guy who's been helping you in the face. Then you can find out she has serious daddy issues, cares deeply about her "twin" sister, and is obviously distressed to learn she can't have children.
      • By the third game, she admits to being plagued with guilt for having wanted to install a Restraining Bolt in Shepard's head, having realised much to her horror that if she had, this would have made her no different from her controlling father.
    • Jack initially comes across as an unstable convict with too little restraint and way too much biotic power. If Shepard has taken the time to earn her trust, she slowly reveals a much warmer and vulnerable side, while her Shadow Broker dossier reveals she even writes poetry in her spare time. She continues this Character Development into the third game, where she's discovered to now be a Badass Teacher working at Grissom Academy and is barely recognisable from the Aloof Ally Shepard had sprung from a prison cell.
    • The krogans are explored much more deeply in the third game with the introduction of the previously unseen females. In the first two games, all krogans are shown as dumb brutes picking fights at every opportunity and blindly charging at any enemies to their death. Only Wrex is really standing out, being relatively smart and picking fights at every opportunity. The third game shows a lot more of their culture and history and also deals with other aspects of krogan life than war, showing them capable of great devotion for the good of their people and the survival of their homeworld and its culture.
      • In terms of individual krogan, Grunt in Mass Effect 2 really gets this. Yes, he's a young krogan who loves combat and acts like you'd expect a Blood Knight to act. However, if you talk to him, you find out that he's introspective and philosophical. Just look at his reasons for choosing the name "Grunt" over something more impressive-sounding. He also develops an interest in classical Earth literature (particularly Hemingway).
    • On the surface, James Vega is big and reckless. Dig a bit deeper, and it turns out that he's leaning towards becoming a Death Seeker after being forced to make a Sadistic Choice that ultimately proved unnecessary, he's considerably smarter than he appears at first look, and his command chops are impressive enough that he's been recommended for N7 training.
  • Detective Gumshoe of Ace Attorney is incredibly incompetent as an investigator, and his salary is so low the police hire him more out of pity than anything else. However, he's popular with the recruits, looks after the police dog Missile, is a relentless Determinator, fiercely loyal to his friends, able to stand up to a room full of mafia men and survive and always manages to find that one crucial clue when the heroes need it most. One of his songs is called 'I can do it when it counts, pal!'.
    • Several other characters too, Edgeworth starts out as a typical 'evil rival', but is really (after Character Development) a kind hearted man dedicated to justice, a huge (though secret) fan of the Steel Samurai and earned his reputation as a prosecutor. The Judge is borderline senile and easily swayed, but speaks fluent Spanish and will shout down the most feared legal figure in the country if it means uncovering the truth in a trial.
  • The Legend of Zelda series - In most appearances, Princess Zelda appears to be a typical Princess Classic on first glance. However, optional dialogue or reading between the lines often reveals her to be actually somewhat of a Rebellious Princess with borderline tomboyish tendencies. Her alter egos, the Sheikah Warrior Sheik and the Pirate Captain Tetra beautifully illustrate that Zelda not only isn't as innocent as she usually seems, but also has hidden fightings skills that one wouldn't expect from her.
    • Ganondorf, suprisingly enough, also has some hidden depths. While he is almost always a Card-Carrying Villain, in The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker (which takes place after he had been sealed for hundreds of years, twice - once in the Dark World and once under the ocean), he is much more calm and seems to regret a lot of what he did in the past. But then at the end of the game he completely snaps.
  • Tsugumi of Ever17 is quite obviously not all she appears. First she seems like a total jerkass but since she's rather attractive and around the same age as the hero, we assume tsundere. But then she's mean to everyone, except when she isn't so then maybe she has a Sugar and Ice Personality. Finally, Cry Cute, Broken Bird, Who Wants to Live Forever?, Properly Paranoid, Defrosting Ice Queen and a good many other tropes to finally show who Tsugumi really is.
  • The entire Nasuverse is ripe with this trope from a Boisterous Bruiser King who justifies tyranny, a Wide-Eyed Idealist Determinator who is also a broken Martyr Without a Cause, a Genki Girl who is emotionally dead, and a Psycho for Hire Tsundere who just wants to love amongst many.
  • According to Poker Night at the Inventory, it turns out that Heavy Weapons Guy is the only one of the characters that went to college, and while there, he earned a PhD in Russian Literature. Therefore, he is DR. Heavy Weapons Guy. So much for being the Dumb Muscle. In fact, the Russian version of Team Fortress 2 actually has him speak quite eloquently just so that Valve can avert a Dub Induced Plothole induced by this fact. He also shows a certain amount of remorse for how he got to where he is now (listen for his "sparrow" story).
  • Supplemental material for Team Fortress 2 add a lot of depth to characters, though the game itself gets in on this as well.
    • The deranged Soldier is apparently surprisingly well-read (he knows about The Lord of the Rings and has an understanding of Greek mythology) and has a bizarre talent for infiltration and deception on a wholly different level than the Spy.
    • Spy is apparently fond of children and in spite of his supposed womanizing is actually quite personally fond of his mistresses. He's also emphatically not an Ineffectual Loner; Expiration Date shows him making a Rousing Speech and attempting to make sure that the whole team will end their last days fulfilled.
    • Even a Bratty Half-Pint loudmouth like Scout doesn't like to see children being harmed, and he connects with kids quickly. Both of his life plans that we've seen so far, getting rich and getting with Miss Pauling, involve, respectively, waiting patiently and a rigorous self-improvement regiment conducted in record time. From a guy you would think wouldn't even know how to spell "wait."
    • Heavy and his family were sent to The Gulag after his father was killed for being a tsarist—it's heavily implied he tortured all the guards to death, freed all the prisoners, and burned the place to the ground because they harmed his mother and sisters. As mentioned in the Poker Night entry, he is also an erudite PhD and a teetotaler.
    • Pyro is an apparently an Idiot Savant ramped Up to Eleven, being able to run a construction company as its CEO and turn its entire board of directors into multimillionares in under a year in spite of never actually taking off his mask and perceiving everything as a Sugar Bowl.
    • Demoman is a patient, doting son to his demanding blind mother. He is phenomenally rich, a hard worker even in his youth, and proud of his work. In spite of this, he still takes time out to watch corny, gimmicky TV shows.
    • Engineer may be a hard-working Good Ol' Boy, but he's a patron of the classical arts, loves his father and grandfather and respects his history, and shows us all why you really should Beware the Nice Ones.
    • Even Sniper is shown to have a complex relationship with his often disapproving parents as well as a firm belief that his job is all about being professional...even when he isn't all that professional himself.
  • The plot of Psychonauts is largely about finding these quirky people—from Bunny Ears Lawyers to literal mental patients—and going into their minds to find out why they're that way. Among them are Milla, whose Genki Girl personality hides grief over dozens of orphans in her care dying in a fire, a White-Dwarf Starlet who seems to blame herself for her mother's suicide and a Big Bad who was driven mad by his father constantly killing and eating his pet rabbits when he was a child.
  • Cody from Final Fight and Street Fighter. Once a hero, now a recluse fight-a-holic who only wants to start fights and frustrates fellow liberators of Metro City Guy and Haggar to no end. However, his quotes and endings (Especially in Street Fighter X Tekken) indicate longing for the better days, when he was a hero, and he always ends up doing the right thing. He defeats (a) Seth, but he tells Guy that he only did it because "he was standing in my way".
  • The characters of Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors were developed by building them upon stereotypes, then subverting them, according to an interview.
  • Dante from Devil May Cry, Though his main persona is the same in each game, chronologically he matures quite a bit, witness his change from thrill seeking (DMC 3) to guilt ridden (DMC 1) to cool headed (DMC 4).
  • Billy Coen of Resident Evil 0 comes off as a rather thuggish, bitter, and cynical ex-Marine during his early appearances. As the game progresses, however, we discover he's a Knight In Sour Armour with a powerful belief in the justice system (despite it having condemned him), has a strict code of honour, plays the piano rather well, and seems to know more about Umbrella than he's letting on.
    • Easter eggs in 5 show that Chris Redfield isn't particularly patriotic and dislikes capitalism.
  • Solid Snake of Metal Gear is characterized as a guy who lives entirely for fighting and being a soldier, but as the man exclaims himself, he's rather fond of dogsledding. Apparently he even participated in dogsledding competitions before Shadow Moses.
  • In Solatorobo, even Red himself is a bit surprised in Samoyede, when Elh reveals that she knows a little about flowers, despite not being the girlish type, though she claims it's only because they grew in her home village.
  • In Katawa Shoujo, when you go through their routes, all of the girls have much more depth than they first appear.
    • Emi, an athletic Plucky Girl who is one of the stars of the school track despite having no legs who is also haunted by the emotional trauma of losing her father in the same accident where she lost her legs and actively avoids trying to get to close to anyone because she can't deal with the pain of losing anyone else.
    • Hanako, a Fragile Flower suffering from having been badly burned in a house fire that claimed the lives of her parents who would prefer it if you did *not* pity her thank you very much and will really let you have it if you try too hard to White Knight for her.
    • Lilly a perfect and motherly and probably a little *too* good at concealing her emotions to the point where it is difficult for her defy her own parents even when it means being parted from the boy she loves forever, which she does not want.
    • Rin the Crazy Cloudcuckoolander who is frustrated by the fact that it is impossible for people to understand her.
    • Shizune, the playful, ultra-competitive Student Council President who is frustrated by the fact that her deafness, and the communication problems that come with make it so hard for her get other people to open up to her, so she pours all of her efforts into making people happy in the hopes that they would like her.
    • This also applies to some of the secondary characters
      • Misha, a cheerful, energetic Genki Girl who is tormented by unrequited love for her best friend Shizune, and may even have been bullied for her sexual orientation
      • Yuuko, a clumsy and sometimes awkward librarian/waitress/college student, is actually a fairly good source of advice on relationships, especially considering that she's acquainted with some of the girls
      • Kenji, the paranoid misogynist conspiracy theorist, was in a relationship in a past, and while he broke up with his girlfriend, he still has fond memories of their relationship.
  • BlazBlue also contains much depth on nearly everyone:
    • Ragna The Bloodedge, a fearful foul-mouthed figure known as The Grim Reaper who claims that he's going to take down NOL has a lot of sweet spots where he doesn't act like a jerk... and not exactly your Chaotic Good Robin Hood figure, he's not there to release the world from oppression..
    • Jin Kisaragi, psychotic, brother-obsessed rival who is cold as ice and an utter Jerkass to everyone, ESPECIALLY TO NOEL VERMILLION, is actually a hardworking boy who has an aspirations of being a hero, utterly protective to his childhood friend Tsubaki, and would eventually become that hardass hero Hakumen. His Jerkass attitude was actually magnified from his Nox Nyctores Yukianesa, when he's not influenced with it, he's actually decent.
    • Noel Vermillion, a standing up soldier, lieutenant of Jin who was abused for no apparent reason, is actually unfit to be a soldier and only became efficient when wielding her guns Bolverk, which seals her unnecessary emotions. Also, she's Mu-12, a weapon designed to kill Gods and has disdain to nearly everything.
    • Rachel Alucard, a snarky vampire that stalks Ragna nearly all the time and doesn't drink bloods but tea, has been through many iterations of time loop, remembering each iterations and has been trying to stop the malicious Terumi Yuuki from manipulating the timeloop further.
    • Taokaka, a Cloudcuckoolander Catgirl who forgets things in every 3 steps, her race is actually cloned offsprings of Jubei, one of the Heroes that saved the world.
    • Iron Tager, a hulking cyborg fighting with THE POWER OF SCIENCE, and programmed to be loyal to a fault by Kokonoe, is actually a dead Ikarugan man whose soul was transplanted into his current body.
    • Litchi Faye-Ling, a buxom, kind-hearted doctor dead set/obsessed in killing/saving her friend-turned-into-Eldritch Abomination, suffers extreme Guilt Complex, is actually dying from the same corruption that granted her power and turned that friend into Eldritch Abomination. She eventually joins NOL to save him, and this has Hidden Depths: On the surface, it looks like she's blinded by obsession and becomes a Horrible Judge of Character, trusting someone Obviously Evil, but in truth, she's Forced Into Evil thanks to the corruption getting very close to turn her into abomination, and she doesn't trust those evil men.
    • Arakune, said 'friend-turned-into-Eldritch Abomination' above, only obsessed in eating Kaka kittens and hunting down Ragna's Azure Grimoire to be consumed, Was Once a Man named Lotte Carmine, whom Litchi loved... but he himself ignores her and is a glory-hound and suffers massive inferiority complex, always trying to one-up Kokonoe and constantly failing, eventually leading him to that experiment that turns him into Arakune.
    • Bang Shishigami, Highly-Visible Ninja, Tokusatsu/Shonen satire character, Ikaruga War survivor, who's got a one-sided crush on Litchi, the designated Joke Character, actually is aware of the greying morality of the world, savvy enough to pull back when things come to push (as shown with Hazama), as well as possessing an inactive Nox Nyctores that could really up his relevance.
    • Carl Clover, a young prodigy who carries around a marionette he refers as 'sister' (Nox Nyctores Nirvana), very polite even when killing people heartlessly, has an utterly fucked up childhood of witnessing his sister turned into that marionette thanks to his father Relius.
    • Hakumen, a very Badass Knight Templar who happens to be one of the Six Heroes, is actually Jin Kisaragi as a Future Badass who was thrown into the past during one time loop. This particular version came from a world without Noel Vermillion and is extremely crushed with the death of his lover in front of him before he made the jump to the past.
    • Tsubaki Yayoi, Noel's best bud and Jin's childhood friend, a model student and princess of the Yayoi clan of the Duodecim family, seemingly all too eager to uphold justice and is a member of the Zero Squadron, AKA the 'trash collectors'. Her dream job as Jin's secretary was taken over by Noel due to machinations of Hazama that she's not aware of, making her harbor extreme jealousy at Noel... or anyone taking Jin from her. As with above, she also IS Hakumen's lover, whereas if Noel didn't exist and she got her dream position... she'll get killed. She's unaware of this.
    • Makoto Nanaya, Noel's other best bud and a happy-go-lucky spacey Squirrel Girl who is in the Intelligence Department, has suffered a LOT from the Fantastic Racism of her race to the point she was hostile the first time she met her friends. She also is a Genius Ditz and her loyalty with her friends gave her so much willpower enough to survive passing the Boundary unharmed... Oh and that loyalty also translates into 'Anyone harming my friends will be splattered into the wall to death'. She also is a Double Agent for Sector Seven.
    • Hazama, a seemingly mild-mannered NOL agent with an affable feel and eyes constantly shut... is actually Terumi Yuuki, a total bastard who runs things (such as cutie-breaking, puppy-kicking, manipulations, mind probing and shady deals) For the Evulz and believes the only truth is despair, the rest are lies and he so want to shove that truth to be the universal truth of the world.
    • Relius Clover, Carl's father with moniker 'Mad Puppeteer', extreme perfectionist genius Mad Scientist who turned his wife and daughter into automatons, is actually thrown into the future from the past, about 80 years. Can be shoved into the Cauldron to die and survived it just fine. His goal is revealed to have a little pragmatism of creating the perfect soul and perfect human being.
  • Everybody (except Grave who really is just evil) in Symphonic Rain aren't what they seem to be at first glance such as Fal and Torta who initially seem to be nice girls who fall in love with Chris during their route but Fal is just a ruthless person who is using Chris for his skills and Torta is filled with self loathing.
  • In I Miss the Sunrise, your entire crew is shown to have this, if you take the time to talk to them between missions.
  • Everyone in Fire Emblem Awakening. They all have their quirks, and some of them are rather obvious, like how Anna has the most hidden savings, being a money-obsessed merchant of rare items. However, one of the antagonists, Walhart, a Social Darwinist king has a more surprising one... Take one look at him and tell me you thought he was a vegetarian!
  • Weapons dealer Mr. Torgue from Borderlands2 loves EXPLOSIONS for being so BADASS, thinks subtlety SUCKS, and knows that the fact that 97% of all life on Pandora isn't exploding is BULLSHIT! However, there's nothing more BADASS than treating a woman with RESPECT!
  • Agarest Senki: Considering how many party members join during the game, (The game is split into generations where the hero of the next generation is the son of the previous one) it's par for the course in this game. The LoveInterest's generally show some more depth as you increase the Relationship Values. One notable one is Sherufanir. She is generally The Tease but get to know her better and she shows a clear disdain for fighting and tends to offer Ladius (2nd gen hero) a chance to run away and live with her in peace away from the war. Putting her down softly has Ladius say he has a destiny to fulfill. Her response is said with a sad and solemn tone:
    "Destiny. That word is the bane of you. (pause) and me."
  • In Star Wars: The Old Republic, this is frequently invoked about Sith characters, if playing along the Light Side route;
    Vette: *Flabbergasted* Who are you and what did you do with the Sith I know?
  • Virtually everybirdie in Hatoful Boyfriend has some of these; at a glance the whole cast seems to fit into otome game stereotypes, but digging deeper always produces something that runs counter to appearances. The heroine is a cheerfully bombastic Contemporary Cavewoman whose parents were killed when she was a child. Sweet crossdressing Childhood Friend Ryouta is taking care of his dying mother, very aware of mortality, and unnervingly possessive of Hiyoko. French Jerk Royal Brat Sakuya really likes music and has a terribly stern Fantasy-Forbidding Father who he's starting to doubt, and a secret core of actual integrity. Shy bookish Nageki is a ghost bound to the library, who is willing to sacrifice himself painfully to save people. Cloudcuckoolander Oko San... doesn't have much depth, but he has a sort of simple wisdom that makes him valuable in a crisis. Doctor Shuu is exactly as bad as he seems but has a The Lost Lenore thing going on, and appears to be pretty good with little kids, if Miru and Kaku are any indication. Talkative Loon Anghel is more aware of things than he seems and apparently can sense the future.
  • Arguably the point of the Social Links of Persona 3 and 4 is to show that the various characters are far more than what they appear to be on the surface.
    • Becomes a major plot point and theme in 4, where the refusal of the party members to accept their hidden depths and character flaws is what drives a lot of the game's conflict. And again, they are explored even more in depth in their social links.
  • Every character in Danganronpa has more depth than they might seem to have at first. Even Yamada, who initially seems like just a one-note otaku comic relief character who spouts video game references turns out to be very passionate about a certain magical girl show, that he considered saved his life when he was at a really low point, and wants to do the same for other people with the doujinshi he creates.
  • In most of the Super Mario Bros. games, most of the characters are kind of one-note. But in the spinoffs (mostly the RPGs) they get a bit more depth.
    • Luigis Mansion may have solidified Luigi's status as a Cowardly Lion, going to great lengths to rescue his brother even when he really didn't want to. But before that, Luigi's journals in Paper Mario showed that he has a case of Big Brother Worship in regards to mario.
    • While in most games Bowser is kind of a one note villain, the Paper Mario and Mario & Luigi series both help to establish Bowser as an Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain who actually does care about Peach, even if he thinks the best way to show her this is to kidnap her. This finally comes to a head in Mario & Luigi: Dream Team, where he manages to successfully hijack the plot.
    • Peach is a bit inconsistently written, but some adaptations (most notably Super Mario Adventures and the Paper Mario series) show her as headstrong and willing to try and rescue herself.
    • And then there's Waluigi. At first glance, we see that Waluigi is Luigi´s rival, and works hard just so that he can make Luigi´s life suck. Then, at times, the character involved into having a strong hatred for everyone in the Mushroom Kingdom, and works hard to make everyone miserable and hateful. However, the reason for that is his self-pity. Why does Waluigi act like such a massive jerk to everyone and is always presented to be an onverconfident character ? Because if there is one person Waluigi hates, besides Luigi, it's himself. His life is just so full of failures and bad luck (even when he isn´t doing something dastardly) that, alongside his crushing self pity and bitterness, caused him to be the way he is, harming others to make himself happy.
    • Rosalina, introduced in Super Mario Galaxy, is the elegant and soft-spoken mother of the Lumas and guardian of the cosmos, with some strong implications of Physical God. That said, she is not above letting herself go and having some fun, and as Mario Kart Wii states, she has a passion for motorcycles.
    • Ultimately averted, however, with Wario. It's a running gag at this point to set up a scenario where Wario can show some character development, only for him to prove that he really is just a greedy bastard underneath it all.
  • Death from Darksiders 2. Arrogant Deadpan Snarker? You bet. Then you remember that the entire game is him trying to prove War is innocent, so much so that saying War is guilty is his Berserk Button.
  • Say what you will about God of War's Kratos, he still cares about the children when he's not murdering everyone else for looking at him funny.
  • A lot of characters in Xenoblade have some level of hidden depths to them, but two of them stand out the most:
    • Reyn is a self-admitted Dumb Muscle that nonetheless can be surprisingly insightful, such as the moment he calls out Shulk when he's threading into Poor Communication Kills territory; and is also more emotionally mature than he lets out.
    • Riki is a Ridiculously Cute Critter with a child-like attitude common in his species. He's also a 40-year-old father of several children who shows some moments of fatherly care and wisdom that surprise everyone, including Team Dad (and actual Parental Substitute) Dunban.

     Web Animation  
  • Strong Sad from Homestar Runner. He started out as a depressed, bland character, but after the launch of his web blog (and the toon "The Secrets That I Keep"), he's been made more sympathetic and likeable. His voice is also much less annoying now. He has even developed a spine. Of a sort.
  • Miller the Killer from an arc of the Nameless series was fairly deep, especially considering the series he appeared in. In his 11 or so minutes of total screen-time, we learn that he's a non-stereotypical homosexual who was sexually abused by his mother and impulsively murders women. This is about a billion times deeper than any other character in the series. This, combined with the fact that he's adorable, has made him fairly popular.
  • Church of Red vs. Blue starts off just being angry at everything and everybody. Turns out he's actually the remains of the Alpha AI, which was tortured to fragment off parts of his mind as other AIs, leaving him with nothing left but general anger. And it turns out he's based on the Director of Project Freelancer himself...

     Web Comics  
  • Raven from Questionable Content, who seems to be an all-around boy-chasing ditz, turns out to have quite the eye for interior design. It is also revealed that her parents are both quite intelligent- her father is an astrophysicist, and her mother is a nuclear physicist. Eventually we find out she's going to college to study physics.
  • A lot of the characters in El Goonish Shive. Being all mysterious helps.
  • Paulo from Bittersweet Candy Bowl seems like he has trouble being serious and is a Casanova, but he has deep feelings of loyalty towards his friends and, despite his skirtchasing, when he is actually given the opportunity to have sex he is reluctant to do so.
  • Liriel from Drowtales is a drunk because she's trying to silence the voice of a dead drow queen in her head.
  • The Jaegerkin from Girl Genius seem to be progressively acquiring/revealing more depth as the comic progresses. Introduced as little more than Plucky Comic Relief monster henchmen, the comic has since shown them to have a strong sense of loyalty and honour, be a lot more intelligent than they let on (a fact lampshaded more than once in the comic), and, unusually for a GG-verse Henchmen Race, have freewill. Add in their general likablity and the whole hat thing, which may or may not be a sort of religion and they've ended up being downright intriguing.
    • Also, Higgs seems to becoming this. He's hiding something, it's just not clear what it is yet.
  • Homestuck:
    • Karkat initially seems like just a violent Jerk Ass with a Hair-Trigger Temper, but is later revealed to have some very astute wisdom regarding troll relationships. He is further revealed to take his role as team leader very seriously and has a strong sense of responsibility about it, despite the childish way in which he declared himself leader. It's actually this awareness of the various issues with troll psychology (including his own flaws) that makes him seem shockingly normal compared to the rest of the trolls we're introduced to.
    • For the first 13 years of his life, John is convinced that his dad is a street performer with a harlequin obsession. Then, John sees the inside of Dad's room for the first time, and realizes that Dad was just an ordinary businessman, and his apparent interest in harlequins was just an attempt to bond with John.
    • Similarly, Rose is convinced that her mom's extravagant gifts are actually passive-aggressive barbs. It comes as a shock to Rose when she realizes that Mom really did care for her, and wasn't playing the role of a doting mother facetiously. It's later implied that Rose and her mom shared a lot of interests, but Rose was too deep into believing passive agression to notice.
  • From Darths & Droids: Darth Maul is actually one of the most well developed characters in the whole story, being a Pragmatic Hero at worst. Also, a lot of the Clone Troopers seem to be genuinely sorry when they are ordered to kill the Jedi.
  • Paz from Gunnerkrigg Court initially has little characterization, and is simply a Chew Toy from Spain. However, in "A Bad Start", when Kat is reeling from a particularly nasty revelation about the Court's past, it's Paz who gives her a pep talk about changing the system from within, demonstrating a degree of level-headedness that Kat desperately needed at that moment.
  • In Strays, Holland. Meela even demands, "What else are you hiding?"
  • The comic TV Eye Presents: 151 Hidden Depths is built around this trope, giving every original Pokemon a different backstory.
  • Schlock Mercenary did it a few times. Schlock himself is "a violent, amorphous sociopath". Also, there are a few details that pop up slowly — Schlock's species being evolved out of memory banks, can be really clever and insightful when really want to, oh, and he already was a semi-mythological figure among them even before enlisting to the company.
  • In Shiniez Ally at first seems like a confident and successful person; but it becomes clear that she is terribly lonely and has some regrets she can't manage to overcome. Also Valerie first appears to be a condescending bigot, but in chapter three it's revealed that this was a case of Unreliable Narrator; Lisa was too caught up in her new lifestyle to see Valerie is actually concerned for her friend Lisa.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • In Jackie Chan Adventures, Tohru turns out to be surprisingly kind after his reformation, and becomes a Genius Bruiser when he becomes Uncle's apprentice. Also, Jade is impulsive and a bit rebellious a lot of the time, but is surprisingly intelligent and cunning, often being the one to suggest actually USING the Talismans, and is a bit of a Guile Hero, once pulling a Batman Gambit on the Demon Sorcerers, and has on occasion shown a talent for chi magicnote .
    • As a season 2 episode reveals, Jade actually has a decent amount of scientific knowledge.
    • Ratso of the Enforcers actually turns out to be a Genius Ditz, as he actually studied theoretical physics at one point.
  • Using the Transformers Animated motto of being More Than Meets The Eye in more ways than one, Gentle Giant Bulkhead is revealed to be a Genius Bruiser who is the best space bridge technician in the universe.
    • In Beast Wars, Rattrap is sarcastic, eternally pessimistic, once lived the life of a gambler and womanizer, and can be quite the asshat at times. However, he showed over the three seasons that he may be the second most loyal member of the Maximal squad, behind (obviously) Optimus Primal (and maybe Rhinox) and has also shown some pretty decent fighting skills as well as quite the remarkable skills in demolition and sabotage, such as when he infiltrated the Predacon base and when he, well, infiltrated the Maximal base (this time in an attempt to shut down a psycho computer).
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender
    • Mai. Azula's not the only one who thought her actions in episodes like "Return to Omashu" and "The Headband" indicated a heartless Emotionless Girl and apathetic, obedient minion who would never choose Zuko over Azula. That's what she wanted you her to think, but "You miscalculated."
    • Then just to put emphasis on the friendship depths, Perky Female Minion Ty Lee turns on Azula, cause despite the fact that she's been Azula's puppy dog throughout the series, taking a kill shot on one of her friends draws the line.
    • At first Iroh just seemed like a cheery, goofy old guy there to annoy Zuko...until he's captured by Earth Kingdom troops who are amazed to have captured the famous "Dragon of the West," one of the greatest Fire Nation generals. Later reveals of his past eventually make him probably the deepest character out of a show atypically full of them.
    • And Azula herself for that matter. She's acting like an emotionless, detached villain all through the series up til the very end, then the pressure of being crowned Fire Lord gets to her. Along with her previous assertion that she did want her mother's love but didn't feel she deserved it, it made for a Villainous Breakdown.
    • Even Sokka at first appeared to be nothing more than the Plucky Comic Relief. But it was soon clear that he was also a good fighter despite his lack of powers, and an amazing strategist.
    • Prince Zuko: Badass, Determinator, Evil Prince -turned- The Atoner, is also a Momma's Boy and a lover of Turtleducks. In the "Ember Island Players", he gives hints that he does like theater, but just dislikes that specific group because while they have great special effects, they tend to butcher their stories.
      • While he dislikes the group for butchering their stories, he admits to Toph that he's been doing Angst? What Angst? for some time, but the play is opening some hidden wounds.
    Toph: "Oh come on. Lighten up. They're just having fun."
    Zuko: "Fun? Of course you (Toph) like it. They made you a big buff guy! But to me... they're taking all the mistakes I made and throwing them right back in my face."
    • Asami from the sequel, The Legend of Korra. When she first shows up she just seems like a demure, girly and beautiful Romantic False Lead for Mako. We then discover that despite being feminine she's also a fierce racer, highly trained in martial arts despite not being a bender, and when her father turns out to be evil, she turns on him without any hesitation to protect what she knows to be right. Afterwards, she helps directly in the war effort and then becomes head of Future Industries before she's 20.
    • Prince Wu in Season 4 is a flighty, annoying Royal Brat. Despite all this, he does genuinely care for people he likes, and he proves to be a surprisingly good public speaker when organizing Republic City's evacuation before Kuvira's invasion as well as being a surprisingly quick thinker under pressure.
  • At first glance, it would seem that Clay of Moral Orel is just a jackass. A flashback to his childhood would reveal that, due to the quirks of his abusive father, he only feels loved when his loved ones are hurting him. However, he accidentally goes too far several times and becomes so pathetic that he fails to provoke an angry response.
    • Most of Season 3 was this. The episode "Alone" was simply about three well-established characters sitting alone in their apartments, thinking about how they'd been sexually abused. The story of Orel's teacher, in particular, is disturbing— She's in love with her rapist, who has just died in prison. Another one, a ditzy airhead nurse, is incapable of having a healthy relationship, ever, because she's been a disposable whore so long she can't even think about sex without crying. It's also implied she's been raped. It's not really a funny episode.
  • Black Steve on G4's Code Monkeys. This actually seems to be a bit of his gimmick on the show with fact he is well, black. He constantly gets angry and goes into angry black man rage when people expect him to go with a stereotype or things he is not something cause he is black. So far it's shown he is a Harvard graduate, a former professional wrestler known as "The Black Shadow," and speaks Japanese while he also manages the money of the company.
  • Mr. Crocker from The Fairly OddParents is a crazy teacher obsessed with catching a fairy. His past was explored in depth in the special episode The Secret Origin of Denzel Crocker, which revealed that Mr. Crocker not only had fairies himself in his childhood, but he had Cosmo and Wanda, and was quite sane and similar to Timmy Turner, the main character, at age 10. Most later episodes support this fact, but exactly which fairies Crocker had are contradicted.
  • The Venture Bros.
  • Iron Man: Armored Adventures - Though really, really hard to see beneath her excessively annoying exterior this show's version of Pepper Potts hides perceptive, intelligent depths - on one occasion she demonstrates her superb button-pushing skills:
    Pepper: Quick, Tony, insult his mom!
    Tony: Pepper, I don't think this is the time -
    Pepper: No, really! This guy has serious issues. Use it. Push him.
  • Codename: Kids Next Door - The cool, calm, and collected Number 5 is known as "the coolest, the sanest, and quite often the smartest of the gang" , and yet she's also the only one with a My Greatest Failure in her past that still haunts her. Make of that what you will.
  • Parodied in American Dad! when he revealed the bartender did gay porn to pay off his gambling debts.
    "Yup, you have quite the backstory."
  • The studio's elephant mascot from Cats Don't Dance is a talented pianist. In fact, it's arguably part of the plot that their depths have to be hidden because of the prejudice in Hollywood; all of them are remarkably skilled in some way (for example, the goat and the fish are actually extraordinarily skilled tango dancers), but Hollywood won't give them a fair shot, forcing them to play bit-part and/or demeaning roles to make ends meet.
  • An episode of G.I. Joe involved an alien device that accidentally tossed a team of Joes and their Cobra opponents back in time to pre-Classical Greece. One of them reveals the ability to speak a little Ancient Greek. The highly skilled and multilingual infiltrators Lady Jaye or the Baroness? No. The well-read Lifeline? No. The genius Dr. Mindbender? No. Sergeant Slaughter. It even gets lampshaded when Lifeline expresses utter disbelief.
  • Little Enzo Matrix from Reboot starts off as a typical young, bratty, rather annoying kid who gets a few spotlight episodes to show he can be competent but is very clearly not anywhere close to being a hero. Come season three, The Hero gets Put On A Pod straight into the Web and Enzo is booted into the hero role, becoming an in-universe Replacement Scrappy before finally showing that, while young and inexperienced, he is still very capable of defending the system. Then he gets trapped in a game and level-grinds in badass.
    • And then because that wasn't enough, instead of all that level grinding leading him to being a stereotypical Anti-Hero Substitute, he becomes the Deconstruction of one. He's disgusted at what he had to become to survive and his recklessly hot-headed tendencies are oft criticized by others.
      • Not as much as he hated the naive, "stupid kid" he used to be.
  • On Phineas and Ferb, local "bully" Buford can speak fluent French and quote Voltaire. He also has a tendency to go into odd philosophical statements, though these usually break down into Sophisticated as Hell.
    • He was only an actual antagonist once, since all of the other characters recognized this almost instantly.
  • Most of the main cast of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic have shown themselves to have some Hidden Depths, as part of the general effort to create varied and interesting female characters.
    • Rarity is probably the most extensive of these. On the surface, she is a Drama Queen fashion designer who wants to marry a prince and become a very important pony. As we learn more about her, though, it becomes increasingly clear that a lot of that is a mask; her dramatics are entirely intentional, as she deliberately acts in an extreme manner for the sake of being a Large Ham, and knowingly BEING a large ham. She "hates" dirt, and tries to avoid it whenever possible... but when it comes down to it, she's more than willing to get dirty if it serves her means. She seems prissy and proper, but her first reaction on being confronted with a manticore is to kick it in the face. She is deeply loyal to her sister, and while she gets annoyed with her sometimes, she also has some Mama Bear tendencies towards Spike.
    • Fluttershy is an extreme Shrinking Violet and Friend to All Living Things who can talk to animals and understand them, but she has "The Stare", which can bend animals to her will. She seems like a really weak flier, but it is mostly lack of confidence; she can fly quite well when she's pressed. She also has considerable knowledge of fashion and is apparently so beautiful as to be a top-tier fashion model. And when push comes to shove, and she has to protect someone, she can be quite the Mama Bear, though in a mostly nonviolent manner.
    • Genki Girl Pinkie Pie throws parties all the time... but also seems to suffer from pretty severe separation anxiety and is afraid that if she isn't the funnest pony to be around, her friends will all abandon her. She also apparently is good at memorizing large amounts of information, such as everyone's birthday, as well as being able to build various party-related equipment and having the ability to (imprecisely) predict the future.
    • Both Rainbow Dash and Applejack struggle to be the absolute best at everything they do, especially in terms of athleticism. In Rainbow's case, it seems to be that she ties success to affection, and believes that if she's not the greatest, her friends will leave her. Applejack, on the other hand, is tied to a close-knit family, and will go to extreme lengths to make sure her promises to her family are kept.
    • The otherwise Adorkable Twilight Sparkle can fall into some bad cases of Super OCD, particularly when it comes to assignments given to her by Princess Celestia, as well as getting lost in her work or obsessing over things she perceives as tests. She also is pretty good at most anything she puts her mind to, and has strong leadership instincts.
    • On any normal day Spike the dragon is just The Reliable One and Twilight Sparkle's assistant. However when he's put on the spot, he becomes hyper-competent enough to take on a giant timberwolf to save his friend, or jump from pegasus to pegasus mid-air to melt a massive hunk of ice before it crushes an entire audience.
  • Kendra from The Cleveland Show used to be an international casino hustler.
  • Futurama: Zoidberg's doctorate is in Art History. Since he's employed as a medical doctor, it doesn't come up much.
    • And, in a more recent episode, it's established he's actually a very good doctor, he just doesn't know jack about human anatomy.
  • Everybody in The Simpsons has some sort of hidden depths. Makes some sense, considering it's been on for over 20 years.
  • Hey Arnold!: As confirmed by The book six of the series Hey Arnold! Arnold's E-Files Brainy is in love with Helga and he is as eloquent (and as manipulative) as Helga… only that he cannot talk because his asthma, also, he's allergic to cats.
  • Later episodes of Daria show that Quinn is more than a brainless, fashioned-obsessed bimbo. She just dumbs herself down to retain her popularity. As early as season two she admits that she doesn't feel capable of anything but being popular and pretty, which is why she's so defensive about her social standing and doesn't bother trying to do anything more substantial. The later seasons are just when she started to realize she really was smarter than she thought.
    • Some episodes invert this, showing us that Daria has Hidden Shallowness: despite her claims otherwise, she does care about her appearance as shown when she gets contacts and spends a day refusing to wear her glasses despite the contacts burning her eyes, she is easily swayed by Trent due to her crush on him (to the point that she lied about her age and got a navel piercing), and she even ends up stealing her best friend's boyfriend due to a mutual attraction they develop.
  • Cartman of South Park is hinted to have depths that are overshadowed by his Comedic Sociopathy. One such trait, shown subtly but repeatedly, is that Cartman is a very gifted photographer. He is seen in "Christian Rock Hard", "Cartman Sucks", and "Imaginationland" to have prodigious skill behind a camera. He is an excellent negotiator and strategist and is seen at least twice speaking flawless Spanish. He also honestly likes cats and tries to save them from drug addicts (long story). And he's not half-bad with a violin.
  • Family Guy's Quagmire is usually easy going but is incredibly competitive. Promiscuous but never sleeps with married women. Does volunteer work for the homeless (to pick up women). Didn't know that The Internet Is for Porn. Comes from a family with a proud military heritage. Is an improv comedy enthusiast. The only one who genuinely likes Meg.
  • Many characters from Adventure Time. The Ice King has a lot of cool hobbies and is actually fairly intelligent and easy-going, when princesses aren't involved. In fact, recent episodes show him as being capable of surviving on a desert island without even using his magic.
  • In CatDog, all three of the Greasers have hidden depths, despite being generally little more than hostile thugs.
    • Cliff, the leader, is a skilled ballet dancer, which he's unabashed about — he actually practices it because it helps make him stronger, tougher and more agile due to the physical demands, which means it makes him better at being a thug. He's also got a number of Embarrassing Secrets, like having the middle name "Maurice" and a bed-wetting problem.
    • Token female Shriek is actually from a rather wealthy family. She just chooses to run with the Greasers because they understand her better.
  • Eddy from Ed, Edd n Eddy of all people. At first he seems to be a greedy, selfish con artist who is trying to follow in the footsteps whom he idolizes, but The Movie tears all of it that apart, revealing that his brother actually physically abused him, and only became a jerk because he wanted to impress his brother and the rest of the cul-de-sac.
  • Anytime in The Amazing World of Gumball where Banana Joe's Sad Clown side shows up.
    "If a banana tells a joke and no one hears, do they know he exists?"
  • Duncan in the Total Drama Action episode "Riot On Set" is shown to be an amazing actor.
  • Regular Show has delved into this for pretty much all characters. Mordecai and Rigby have developed full-fledged relationships with other surrounding characters, everyone has hidden skills and relationships as the series progressed, and the park coworkers develop into True Companions.