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Character Derailment / Comic Books

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Sometimes, there will be character changes, and they're unlikely to be very funny.

Series with so much of this that they needed their own page:

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  • The Amazons Attack miniseries afflicts Wonder Woman and the entire Amazon people with character derailment by way of Idiot Plot. The Atop the Fourth Wall review gives plenty of detail.
  • This was a slow process with Batman. From the mid-nineties until early 2006, the cool, gruff, badass, Goddamned Batman slowly moved from "aloof and driven" to "frickin' jerk". DC eventually fixed this by having him realize how he was acting, and go on a year-long trip around the world with Dick Grayson (the first Robin) and Tim Drake (the then current Robin). This was merely a later incarnation of a storyline that's been recurring since the early 90s. Batman would become more aloof than ever before due to some sort of crisis, only to eventually realize that he should be nice to his friends and swear that he would never go down that road again - until next time (See "Prodigal," "Batman: No Man's Land," "Bruce Wayne: Fugitive"). The only difference between this storyline and its precursors is that writers seem determined to stick to it for a change, especially Grant Morrison.
  • Conversely, the switch of Batgirl III/Cassandra Cain from one of the better examples of Rising Above Her Past (raised from birth as an assassin, but horrified enough by her first kill to become a Technical Pacifist) to a Stereotypical Cackling Dragon Lady Mastermind was abrupt enough to induce whiplash. Nerfing her enough for Robin to force a stalemate was simply adding injury to insult (she is acknowledged as one of the best fighters in the DCU while Tim is likely one of the worst in the Batfamily).The efforts to retcon the whole mess as brainwashing by Deathstroke came off as more than a bit slapdash, and did nothing to explain the improved language skills (what was once a virtually illiterate dyslexic who rarely spoke a sentence more than five words long without the use of pausing, was now Monologuing and knew Navajo code, one of the hardest languages in the world). The latest miniseries about her derailed her character even more. Her improved language skills were taught (she learned to read English, and speak and read Navajo) by Alfred, off screen and she became good with computers by herself. Her deep rooted refusal to kill anyone was removed in order for her to kill her dad and Deathstroke. Her reading of body language (which was used by her to know that Batman was Bruce Wayne) was nerfed in order to let an old man lie to her right in front of her face. And if that wasn't enough, her past was changed from loving her father but escaping from him because her first kill was the first time she saw someone die which made her realize how wrong her life was, into hating her father during her entire life and actually having to watch him kill people right in front of her eyes without her caring at all. And on top of that, the series even managed to derail Rose Wilson, the daughter of Deathstroke.
  • Many Batfans see Lobdell's portrayal of the relationship between Jason and Tim as this. He portrays the two as very close after making up. Thing is, Jason tried to kill Tim and Dick. It's hard to swallow that the two became so close after what amounts to a few favours and small talks. It reaches a head in Death of the Family, where Tim actually says that Jason is the closest thing he's ever had to a brother, something that Big Brother Mentor Dick has always been (the two are even the trope image). And you can't even say it was Retconned out with the New 52, because they reference Dick mentoring literally every Robin.
    • The issue 0 regarding Joker's involvement in Jason's life, from his becoming Robin to his death, literally everything was orchestrated by the Joker. The Joker has never, ever been able to pull off a plan that long-term (the closest would be his plan in Death of the Family, and even that massively pushed it), and he certainly wouldn't have the patience to do so.
  • The '2010 'Batman Beyond'' mini series does this to almost every single character in varying degrees, from Terry forgetting he has a girlfriend and picking up the Idiot Ball - apparently losing about 3 years of experience in the process - to Bruce suddenly deciding that Terry just isn't good enough anymore and constructing bat robots to replace him. This is without getting into all of the logic and continuity fail that is eeeeverywhere, or characterization like Dick's... which probably classifies as character derailment even taking into account the fact that he spent 30-40 years being bitter and alone, because his characterization is so far from the DCAU starting point (whose characterization is different from his comics counterpart in a fairly substantial way) as to be baffling.
  • Blue Beetle (Ted Kord) and Booster Gold over the twenty years that these two have been friends and thought of as a duo they have been so MASSIVELY derailed that they practically switched personalities. Booster was originally a Fish out of Temporal Water Mr. Vice Guy who screwed up once in a while but learned from it, while Ted had Jumped at the Call and was basically Batman with a sense of humor. By the time of Super Buddies, Ted was now a I Just Want to Be Normal slacker who was letting himself go and was now The Straight Man. Booster got it worse as he seemed to have permanent ownership of the Idiot Ball and was the one who wanted to have fun all the time and was such a screw up that they coined the term "Boostered" after he accidentally sent the team to hell. Needless to say those comics make many fans flinch.
    • The Flanderization that took place before that was retconned into Obfuscating Stupidity. Beetle was killed in Countdown to Infinite Crisis and Booster has a new series where he's treated more seriously. Some fans, however, greatly enjoyed the Super Buddies and were greatly disturbed by the Character Derailment of characters such as Max Lord, Fire, Mary Marvel, and a number of the others.
      • Maxwell Lord was never the "nice guy" on the team, he was certainly a Jerk with a Heart of Gold but was it ever a question about the heart of gold part? No. He even thought and believed he was doing the right thing most of the time and showed genuine concern for his team, back when he headed off the group. He even got into an argument with Martian Manhunter about how they needed to get "big guns" on the team to make sure no one would get offed. It's not like it was all dialogue, some of this was in thought bubbles, so that means he thought he was a hero, not a villain. So is there any reason as to why he should suddenly become a cliched villain two steps above strapping Penelope Pureheart to a train track? Or any reason why he would blow Blue Beetle's head off, or claim he was lying all those times (even to himself apparently!) he said he was a good guy? The writers actually admit they know they derailed him but don't care because they needed a villain... the writers knew they were doing something that flew in the face of his prior characterizing and did it anyway! Wow. Just wow.
      • There are two explanations for this, a fan one and an "official one". The fan one is that Max was still under the influence of Kilgre, even when he became fully human again. The "official" one is that Superboy-Prime's punching of the Source Wall retroactively influenced Max; while he was sincere before, during his many surgeries and procedures to become human, he gained a hatred of superheroes, presumably because the community at large was responsible for him being a cyborg in the first place.
      • An issue of Justice League: Generation Lost showed that Max only went off the deep end after Coast City (along with his mother) was totalled by Mongul.
  • Owen Mercer, the second Captain Boomerang, was never a completely good person. At his best, he reached Jerk with a Heart of Gold status. But he was trying to move away from the family legacy, and trying to do good, and won himself friends like Nightwing and Supergirl in the process, then vanished from the comics for awhile. Then in Blackest Night, he pops up as an unhinged psycho feeding children to his zombie father, and is promptly killed for it. And then the white rings resurrect his father in his place.
  • Countdown to Final Crisis does this to Mary Marvel in a very annoying fashion. If not her character arc of accepting Black Adam's powers, going a little nuts and joining up with Eclipso before learning the error of her ways and helping to rescue the Greek gods, then it certainly counts when she, after this long storyline of turning evil and being redeemed, joins up with Darkseid AGAIN!
  • David Reid. Introduced to the Justice Society of America as the great-grandson of FDR, Reid joined the team as an earnest but dedicated rookie with a solid respect for the team of veteran superheroes. Then along comes Gog, who transforms Reid into Magog after his brief brush with death. The transformation influences Reid into acting brashly and recklessly, but once he sees what Gog's really about he turns on his master, even severing Gog's head in the climax. In the aftermath, he apologizes to Alan Scott and is seen without his trademark eye scar, indicating he's earned a fresh start. So what happens after that? He's quickly flanderized into a caricature of his Kingdom Come counterpart in every appearance other than his brief miniseries and ultimately killed off by Maxwell Lord in a really ugly death scene.
  • Many readers felt that Dr. Leslie Thompkins was derailed in the "War Crimes" plotline (following the "War Games" crossover), when it was revealed that she had intentionally withheld care from Stephanie Brown, a.k.a. Spoiler (and one-time Robin) so that she would die in order to teach Batman a lesson. Considering her previous saintly devotion to saving lives, this was a bit stupid and subsequent comics have quietly ignored it, before it was retconned out completely.
  • Hank Hall in DC's Hawk and Dove was an impulsive Jerk with a Heart of Gold in the Kesels' run, having been fleshed out significantly from the original Steve Ditko incarnation and his appearances in the original Teen Titans. However, once the identity of Monarch was leaked as Captain Atom in an advance spoiler for DC's mini Armageddon 2001 (though there had been foreshadowing that this was the case to begin with), editorial had to scramble and find a new character to be Monarch to retain the "surprise" ending. Unfortunately, they picked the one character that was blatantly shown NOT to be Monarch and a perplexing plot twist followed, derailing Hank into a murderous extremist and suddenly advanced enough in intelligence and powers to control time (with yet another villainous name change as Extant). He then lingered on until he was killed off in the pages of JSA and then later brought back in Blackest Night, though it remains to be seen how his characterization will fare.
  • Judd Winick's run on Green Arrow and Green Arrow/ Black Canary derailed quite a few characters.
    • Despite having moved on from a troubled past which included alcoholism, rampant womanizing and generally irresponsible behavior and evolving into a loving, responsible father and boyfriend under Kevin Smith's pen, Winick wrote Oliver Queen back into the clueless, womanizing, limousine-liberal stereotype many comic fans wrongly saw him as.
      • It is also worth noting that - despite Winick's portrayal of Queen as an unrepentant ladies' man - Oliver Queen never cheated on long-term girlfriend Dinah Lance (aka The Black Canary) before Judd Winick started writing the character. He did father a child with Dragon Lady Shado, but that was the result of Shado raping him while he was drugged. In Winick's first story arc, Oliver Queen had a one-night stand with the niece of fellow superhero Black Lightning and later tried to lie about the affair to Dinah Lance. Interestingly enough, the two had never been shown to have officially reestablished themselves as boyfriend/girlfriend until Winick chose to break them apart.
    • Dinah Lance (Black Canary), as written by Winick, changed into a Satellite Love Interest after years of being a confident, independent Action Girl.
    • To the astonishment of fans everywhere, the title has actually managed to get worse since Winick left, highlights of new writer Kreisberg's work including Ollie going off the rails about how useless nonlethal crimefighting is (despite having dealt with the whole killing thing decades earlier in what's probably his single most famous story and subsequent run), and Dinah's nurturing hero-focused childhood amongst her JSA 'uncles' being retconned into a Wangsty life of ignorant normality until the day she accidentally permanently deafened a friend with her emerging superpower. In order to mirror her incompetent adult use of said superpower, wherein Kreisberg caused her to deafen an innocent bystander in a fight so he could give her a new supervillain. Reactions have been fairly uniform.
    • Jefferson Pierce (Black Lightning) went from being a Technical Pacifist of such strong ethical fiber that he retired from superheroics when he thought he couldn't use his powers safely into a man who could easily strike down the corporate raider indirectly responsible for the death of his niece.
      • After taking flack from numerous fans as well as Black Lightning creator Tony Isabella, Winick retconned that last one in Outsiders #45-47, where Jefferson turned himself in for the murder. More, he was revealed to be innocent of the crime, thanks to super-assassin Deathstroke just happening to be in the area, just happening to guess what Jefferson's internal conflict was and just happening to have the perfect Deus ex Machina to kill the man and have it look like death by electrocution.
  • Plastic Man. Oh, God, Plastic Man. He starts off as a repentant former criminal who uses his secret identity to fight crime. Then turns overnight into an idiot. Then, Phil Foglio makes him brain-damaged, suicidal, and under attack by the military. It's also hinted that he's an alcoholic. Then, in the early run on JLA, he's back to lighthearted dumb ass. But later, it turns out that he has a son he abandoned and was possibly beaten by his dad. He then becomes (apparently) a Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass, then freaks out and leaves the league. All of which is deliberately written out and lampshaded by Kyle Baker when he turned him into a Jerkass Woobie, then a Buttmonkey, in the same run.
  • Infinite Crisis saw Superboy Prime move from one of the guys who saved all of reality to a Knight Templar obsessed with finding the perfect Earth. Later stories moved him all the way into Omnicidal Maniac territory as he crushes entire planets because he happens to think they're lame.
    • The only appearances of Prime are in Crisis On Infinite Earths, Infinite Crisis, Green Lantern (especially the "Sinestro Corps War" arc), and Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds. Prime's appearance in Countdown to Final Crisis never happened, just like the rest of ''Countdown''. This at least gives him a relatively stable character transition: Multiversal hero to Knight Templar to The Dog Bites Back to frustrated semi-Omnicidal Maniac who wants to destroy Superman's legacy and show he is superior to regretful fanboy. His main motivation in Countdown (finding his home Earth) was consistent with previous characterisation and he wanted to destroy all these 'wrong' earths even way back in Infinite Crisis. It's just that in Countdown he once succeeded. At that point, he became the poster child for Psychopathic Man Child.
    • Worse yet, his in Teen Titans #98 - #100 destroyed any character development he had gained in Blackest Night by: A.) Returning him to New Earth, even though he has no reason to be there, just to throw another tantrum. B.) Reducing his sometimes valid complaints into pure Wangst. C.) Nerfing him to the point where a small group of Teen Titans can knock him unconscious.
  • Superman:
    • In the Batman stories written by Frank Miller, is displayed as a dumb muscle who sold out his morals and is completely incapable of thinking strategically like the oh so perfect Batman. There is precedent, sort of, for Superman being a dick, but not an idiot.
    • The worst part of this is that the derailment was within Miller's own continuity. In The Dark Knight Returns, Superman was a sympathetic character who was naive and Lawful Stupid, but barely qualified as even an Anti-Villain. By The Dark Knight Strikes Again, he's suddenly a totally amoral angry god who carried off Wonder Woman as a prize (which actually isn't shown as a bad thing in-story, but that's a reflection of Miller's views on women, not the morality of the character) shouting out stuff like "I'm not a man, I'm SUPERMAN!" and then implies that he and Supergirl are going to keep a tighter reign on this violent, immoral planet. And this time, he was actually supposed to be more "right" than in DKR.
    • Then there's "Bearded Idiot".
    • Lois Lane briefly got this under the pen of the much-loathed Chuck Austen. She was transformed into a shrew slamming Clark constantly with Austen "defending" it by listing numerous stories of Lois treating Clark like crap...from the Silver Age. Austen basically stated as fact that it was Superman Lois loved, not Clark, and she just "settled" into the marriage to be closer to Superman. It was soon clear Austen intended to break them up so Clark could go to this "true love" Lana Lang who was painted as a near-saint (ignoring how she was married to Pete Ross and even had his child yet obviously wanting Clark back). Thankfully, once Austen was fired, the new writers corrected his damage with a brilliant bit of Ma Kent putting both women in their place, telling Lois to be more supportive and bluntly telling Lana "you had your chance and you lost it."
    • Superman under the New 52 went from being The Paragon to a hot-headed jerk; one of the reasons for the popularity of Dan Jurgens' Superman: Lois and Clark was the stark contrast between the original Superman and Lois and their New 52 counterparts.
  • Wonder Woman. Fans of the intelligent George Perez reboot have dealt with a whole host of derailment. From working in a fast food restaurant to Mike Deodato's "Wonder Thong" costume to becoming a bounty hunter to John Byrne trying to turn her into She-Hulk / Babe by increasing the size of her breasts and giving her the standard "wimpy male sidekick" Byrne trademark. During all this, Julia Kapatelis was virtually Put on a Bus. And then there was this. The cries of "RUINED Forever!" were so loud they never went through with it.
    • Part of the problem is that Wonder Woman is supposed to be a superhero who is also the ideal woman. It's even part of her origin: when the Greek gods breathed life into her they gave her gifts that would make her the perfect woman; the superpowers and equipment came later. Problem is, every writer seems to have a different idea of what is the "ideal woman".
      • This may also overlap with Values Dissonance; Wonder Woman was created in the 1940s, when ideas about the "ideal woman" were somewhat different than they are today.
      • Not to mention that Wonder Woman's creator, William Marston, was a femdom adherent and believed in the power of women to 'nourish and nurture through loving discipline' or something of the sort, so his 'ideal woman' had little in common with general '40s conception of an 'ideal woman' and to a modern conception of an 'ideal woman'.
    • Cassie started out as a fairly androgynous geeky tomboy who was friendly and considerate and loved everything Wonder Woman stood for, she was the founder of a Wonder Woman fanclub for goodness sake. Then Johns decided she was vapid and idiotic and cared only about her boyfriend. Her fans despise his writing of her, and are snide about it whenever they can be, for example:
  • Most fans of Young Justice thought the entire team went through this when they transitioned to Teen Titans. Kon suddenly having Cloning Blues and generally being a too-serious jackass when before he even made jokes about his clone status, and wearing a new costume that consists of jeans and a t-shirt! Impulse suddenly grew grim and studious (and became Kid Flash, abandoning every last trace of his fierce individuality) after Deathstroke kneecapped him and he was forced to endure painful surgery. And Robin was Batman Jr, without a trace of his Deadpan Snarker attitude, his geek hobbies, or the fact he does have a sense of humor. After Kon died in Infinite Crisis, Robin became a total loner obsessed with bringing Superboy back to life at any cost. Then when Bruce Wayne died, he pretty much threw away any semblance of fun, even though, remember, he was the Robin people liked for being the most normal.
    • Cassie has become very ill tempered and cold towards her teammates, especially after One Year Later. Her character has downgraded into a self-righteous, holier-than-thou Ice Queen who is obsessed with bringing Conner back and wants to change the team back into Young Justice. Pre-One Year Later, the common criticism about her involved Johns having watered down her geekiness and outgoing nature to turn her into someone who only seemed to exist to be Kon's love interest and not have much else to her.
      • At least they still get to be characters. Secret, Empress, Arrowette, Ray, and Slobo weren't so lucky, not even to be remembered by their teammates.
      • Sean McKeever seemed to have noticed Cassie's change, and attempted an Author's Saving Throw by blaming it on accepting powers from Ares. This negated the powers Zeus gave her and would have corrupted her completely, were her will not strong enough to resist him. Instead, she just turned into a bitch. Although the following writers, especially Felicia Henderson, promptly derailed Cassie back into a raging shrew.
    • While on the subject of Young Justice: Inertia (Thaddeus Thawne), Impulse's Evil Twin. Originally, he was a rebellious teenager who secretly resented Impulse for having something he never had: a family. In fact, that eventually drove him to abandon the people who were using him to try to make his own way in the world. Then he became a generically evil and sadistic version of Kid Flash who engineered his good counterpart's death. Finally, Johns decided to have the character take on the title "Kid Zoom", kill a child, and depower the actual Zoom. Of course, the end of the story showed that Thad's actions would have consequence, and he wound up dead as a result of pissing off the other Flash Rogues for his crimes.
    • When the second Aquagirl (Lorena) was introduced in the pages of Aquaman, she was a resourceful Plucky Girl with brains who learned to adapt fine to the ocean after she lost her entire family and all of her friends. Once she became a Titan? She became derailed into a horny and mouthy Latina stereotype, trying to play homewrecker to Blue Beetle and Traci 13, while serving little other purpose than to hit on boys, argue with Bombshell, or get seethed at by a jealous Cassie.
    • Some argue that Geoff Johns' changes to Raven have stained her character reputation irreparably. These include having her reborn as a teenage girl (after she spent time in limbo as a golden Spirit Advisor) who only occasionally retained her original speech patterns and personality (while the rest of the time she had a snarky and broody attitude like her animated incarnation), hooking up with Beast Boy, and saddling her back with the position of being the Distressed Damsel that the team must rescue. Later writers like Judd Winick only made these changes even more jarring.
      • On the opposite end, Beast Boy fans have become upset that after having received development in his own mini-series, he started on a gradual decay back to being the team goofball to the point where even his own best friend and younger team members were depicted as talking down to him and considering him to be a joke. The same Beast Boy who became team leader of the Titans and was considered capable (before executive meddling hit, combined with Geoff Johns deciding the team had "too many adults").
  • The Lazarus Contract has quite a few moments where characters act wildly out of character just to propel the plot forward.
    • Dick Grayson is suddenly acting like he did in The New Teen Titans and being all secretive about some nebulous deal he made with Deathstroke. When it's revealed, we learn that he agreed to train Rose Wilson and instil some morals in her in exchange for Slade not killing the Teen Titans after Grant Wilson was killed. Why this was some deep dark secret he felt he needed to keep from the team is never explained, especially given that he hasn't acted this secretive for years.
    • Damian Wayne chewing out Kid Flash for trusting Deathstroke at one point. Forgiving that it was an accident, Damian of all characters knows how hard it is to live up to a heroic legacy, and how people just screw up sometimes. While he's arrogant, him kicking Kid Flash off the Teen Titans is pretty extreme.
    • Wally West at one point is chasing down Deathstroke, who has acquired super speed somehow on Wally's level. When they're stuck in Bullet Time, Slade mentions that they're now on an even playing field, and Wally runs away. As in he doesn't even get hit first, he runs away at the first sign that he isn't fast enough. Forgetting that he also forgot about his ability to drain speed, Wally has never, ever been depicted as a Dirty Coward entirely reliant on his Super Speed, who flees at the first sign of trouble.
    • NuWally sort of gets a moment too, when his Daddy Issues seemingly encompass his entire character. When Slade is lost in the Speed Force, NuWally is angry that the Titans and Teen Titans are celebrating, even though they know they can't rescue him and he's more than a bit of an amoral asshole (indeed, the Rebirth series has "Deathstroke is a git that ruins things for his family and is not someone you should admire" as a main theme). NuWally decides to run into the Speed Force to save Slade. That NuWally is so adamant on this and values Slade's life so much is more than a bit of a stretch, as he made his dislike of his former Cool Uncle, Daniel West, very clear once he learned that Daniel was the villainous Reverse-Flash. And Daniel was his uncle he admired who killed about five people, while Slade is some random guy he spent an afternoon with who has killed, as he made explicitly clear to NuWally, hundreds. The kid caring about this guy is just... forced.

  • Avengers Arena: Fans of the characters before Arena find many of their actions within to fit this bill. Primarily, it's turning characters with deeper complexities into shallow caricatures of their former selves or have reverted to old characterizations they had moved passed.
    • Mettle is defined entirely by his relationship to Hazmat. Worse, he engages in an action which goes against the sacrifice he makes in the "Final Exam" arc of Avengers Academy.
    • Juston's prior characterization is jettisoned entirely so he can be defined by depression and revenge. This characterization is not without reason, but there is nothing else about his character that shows up.
    • Nico, a mothering character, never mentions the people whom she cares for, even while she is dying.
    • Chase acts more like he did in the last arc of Brian K. Vaughn's run rather than showing the development and maturity he gained under Joss Whedon.
    • Cammi is basically a new character, but the progression is logical from where she left off at least.
    • Reptil is supposed to be the leader of Avengers Academy and has properly lead them on several occasions. In Arena, this is not in evidence and in some scenes he seems to cede leadership duties to Hazmat.
    • X-23 has a major out of character moment even within the context of Arena itself when she attacks Apex head on, despite knowing the latter is in control of a Sentinel. This is after the series firmly establishes that Laura is constantly determining multiple means of killing everyone around her, choosing the best course of action while discarding those with undue risk.
  • Black Panther. Poor T'Challa. Opinion is divided about when, exactly (Johns, Hudlin, or Liss) the derailment occurred, but not if. The fact is, in the early 2000s, Panther was treated as one of the smartest men in comics, king of The Plan, and spent his time matching wits with Mephisto, Dr. Doom, Iron Man, etc and coming out on top. Fast forward to the present, where he and Storm have been Strangled by the Red String in the span of basically one story arc, he's lost his kingdom (on account latching onto an uncharacteristic Idiot Ball), and his IQ appears to have dropped about fifty points. His well-documented scientific skills and background have been downplayed if not out-and-out retconned, and he's gone from being "Batman, only better" to "Daredevil, only worse, and have we mentioned lately that he's black?". His villains have gone from major threats like Doom, Magneto, and Mephisto to never before seen Russian mobsters, and Hatemonger. In terms of standing, he's gone from one of the most respected and revered heroes in the Marvel Universe to being talked down to by Luke Cage on a nearly monthly basis. This direction has been hemorrhaging sales as a result, and with Christopher Priest (comics) retired, it fell to Jonathan Hickman to fix the character in his Fantastic Four and New Avengers runs, showing that T'Challa still has a keen scientific mind, and is still respected.
  • Brian Michael Bendis has a tendency to be horribly tone-deaf on some characters; in fact one of the biggest criticisms about him and his run on the Avengers is that he has no idea of how to write classic big gun characters like Captain America and the Mighty Thor, which might explain why so many of them were forced out and replaced with the kind of snarky, street level characters he tends to write better. That Photoshop that used to be the page image? That was originally Dr. Doom — ruler of Latveria, world-class evil genius, and refined bastard — telling Ms. Marvel to "shut [her] cow-mouth" or else he'll stop her "whore's heart". And what did Ms. Marvel, veteran superhero and military brass, think about this childish outburst? "That hurt my feelings." Carol, when the supervillain who matches wits with Mr. Fantastic breaks down and calls you imbecilic gutter insults, you don't feel bad. You take a picture so it can last forever.
    • In a one-shot made to set up Mighty Avengers, Jarvis refers to Tigra as a "b@#ch", something Jarvis, one of the kindest and most loyal people in the entire Marvel universe would never do. Even the later reveal that Jarvis had been replaced by a Skrull doesn't justify this, since the Skrulls are supposed to be imitating whoever they replaced exactly.
    • Wong suddenly turns into an aggressive, territorial man who threatens to stab Jarvis if he steps foot in "his" kitchen.
    • Hawkeye, a man who divorced from his wife in an argument of whether superheroes killed or not, suddenly becomes willing to try and kill Norman Osborn. Bendis has admitted to hating Hawkeye, and this would not be the last time he had Hawkeye ignore his no killing rule, only this time, he outright does kill someone. This is a a case of the derailment being 100% intentional.
    • Wonder Man, after Dark Reign, starts ranting on about how the Avengers are a bad idea, even attacking the Avengers on several occasions without any real reason.
    • Depicting Thor as speaking in Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe, even after Straczynski, Gillen and Fraction had all written him speaking in more modern styles.
    • Viper, an infamous Psycho for Hire, constantly and consistently ranting against capitalism. She's a nihilist with a fondness for pointless killing with motivation so random even the goddamn Red Skull cut off ties with her.
    • The Venom symbiote being abruptly purged of bloodlust in Guardians of the Galaxy throws thirty years worth of character development out the window - especially the love-hate relationship with Spider-Man that has been central to its characterization all this time - while also negating the Enemy Mine/Super-Powered Evil Side dynamic it had with Flash and kiboshing any reason for Venom and Toxin to have a throw down. Bendis' reason for this? To pander to new fans who don't know Venom was ever a monstrous, cannibalistic supervillain and only think of him as a "good guy with a super cool costume that can do amazing things".
    • At the end of Venom Inc., Andi Benton abruptly decided to leave her symbiote with Lee Price despite having spent the entirety of the event trying to rescue it from him; and made no attempt to remove it from him after he was defeated. Even her creator, Cullen Bunn, was shocked by this development.
  • Most characters in the Marvel Universe Crisis Crossover Civil War. In a way, Captain America was one of the lucky ones.
    • While his ideals and so on were kept intact, Cap's being forced to marry the Idiot Ball probably counts as derailment. The writers forced him to adopt a strategy that had literally zero percent chance of achieving any lasting peace or useful result, because otherwise the storyline wouldn't have had the ending they wanted. And then along comes Avengers Vs. X-Men which is such a blatant betrayal of everything Cap stands for and believes in that it's quite frankly offensive.
    • Iron Man. Just a special mention for getting the worst. Going from a hero (albeit occasional jerk) to Der Eisenfuhrer, the armored superhero who doesn't mind throwing his best friends in jail for life. It took over a year and The Movie to undo much of the derailment and there is still a very vocal Hatedom. Unfortunately, most of the people who decided to check out the comics because of the movie quit reading out of disgust, so the Hatedom is still the primary chunk of readers.
    • Except that even then, it would still be completely OOC for Tony. Most of the mainstream dismay over Tony's derailment in Civil War seems to stem from the fact that Tony is a good guy, and while he might not be immune to ever making minor morally ambiguous actions, he would never under any circumstances attack his lifelong friends and take away people's rights. But even if Tony wasn't a frickin' hero and good, moral person; it would still be OOC because Tony is usually portrayed as a libertarian who hates government control and oversight of superheroes, is extremely suspicious of and unimpressed by proposals to regulate and record sensitive information about his armor technology, tends to be paranoid of people he doesn't know and trust on a personal level due to how many times he, his friends, and his team have been endangered or compromised due to meddling government officials or information falling into the wrong hands, and has sacrificed most of his influence and reputation, a good chunk of his fortune, and on more than one occasion, his mental stability, on keeping The Avengers safe from society and the government by managing, organizing, funding, and legitimizing the team and acting as liaison between it and the federal government, the police, the New York City courts, and various other organizations. If he absolutely had to turn into an immoral supervillain-esque monster, he'd go off the exact opposite side of the deep end into some sort of anarchist rebel.
      • Tony at least had some means of absolution that vaguely fit the character. Minor characters like Sally Floyd and Ben Urich effectively had their sympathy nuked off the face of the earth - first by telling Captain America that he (representing the ideals of America) was outmoded because he didn't care about the same pop culture as the rest of America (an argument that might have had some traction if Cap hadn't sat there and taken it), and then - keep in mind, these characters are journalists - handed over information to Tony about how one of his underlings tried to trigger a false war with Atlantis to gin up sympathy for the pro-reg movement because "the ends justify the means."
  • Civil War II has now done this to Captain Marvel. She went straight to imprisoning people for crimes that they may or not commit and caused some prophecies that she wanted to prevent to come true, all on the word of a new Inhuman precog. Even worse, she still kept going when it was revealed that he wasn't really seeing the future. In the end, she is seen as a hero even though she pissed off most of her friends and almost killed Iron Man (he's in a coma thanks to his own experiments).
  • Ed Brubaker did this to Black Tarantula in his Daredevil run. Black Tarantula was created as an elegant boss of a criminal empire who put himself above everybody else, is an heir to ancient power and Implacable Man who goes toe to toe with Humongous Mecha. Brubaker completely changed his character, gave him father issues, turned his empire into an ordinary gang and weakened him without giving any reason. Some say that he's gone from a badass sinister crime boss to a low level stereotypical thug, while others point out that in certain Spider-Man stories he was getting really close to Invincible Villain territory (he defeated Spidey twice and spared his life because he didn't see him as a real threat).
  • Canonically, Death's Head II is supposed to be the same character as Death's Head. However, many fans felt he was not the same character — he was not written by the original writer, exhibited none of the mannerisms and personality quirks of the original, and ended up as a generic Darker and Edgier Boring Invincible Hero. It got so bad that Death's Head's original creators Simon Furman and Geoff Senior wrote and drew What If... #54 just to show their take on what should've happened instead.
  • Matt Fraction has done this several times. Maria Hill from Badass Normal Action Girl turned into The Chick for Iron Man? Check. Weapon Omega, guy who was always afraid of using his powers and never wanted to hurt anybody, becoming a psycho who likes killing people? Check. Ares, master strategist and badass god of war turned into stupid brute who says only Aye? Check. Pixie drained of all her character and transformed into a fetish for all loli fans? Check. Emma Frost flanderized into Flat Character who is only defined by calling people "darling" (and there is an already large group considering her being derailed in at last five different ways. Fraction's version don't match any portrayal of her)? Do a number of fans think Matt Fraction just doesn't understand the characters he's working with? Hell yeah. He managed to screw up Tony Stark's characterization and entire history in one issue, including things established by Fraction himself.
    • In the new Defenders series, we now have Doctor Strange, sexual predator, and Betty Ross, slightly petulant adrenaline junkie who keeps forgetting she's invulnerable.
    • Fraction's portrayal of Thor as a drunken, mean-spirited redneck hillbilly thug with a hammer (who actually called the Hulk "a pain in the ass" - which admittedly the Hulk can certainly be at times) no matter what the time period is so horribly off-base it's not even funny. Odin is in a simliar boat. Under most writers he is a wise and benevolent if short-tempered pompous leader with a decent respect for humanity and three steps ahead of his enemies. Under Fraction, he was a genocidal war mongerer whose only solution to a problem he knew was coming was "kill them all."
    • Fraction also has a pretty obvious personal dislike for Doctor Doom. During FF, he pulled no punches on this dislike, having him beaten by Scott Lang, who not only leaves his property in ruins, but who also reveals him as just an amateur magician and a self-mutilator, calls every redeeming quality Doom ever had a straight-up lie (and compares him to several real-life dictators in the process) and beats him black and blue with help of the Pym Particles.
  • Attempts to break away from their own title for the stars of Power Pack have led to baffling character derailments, such as when eldest boy Alex stole his brother and sisters' powers and became the laughably-monikered Power Pax, alienating fans for years after the event. Eldest girl Julie Power also changed from a book-reading, highly-articulate redhead (her character was based on her creator, Louise Simonson) in the original comics to a bumbling, dumb blonde actress in the pages of Runaways and a later spin-off series, The Loners, where she was notable for magically appearing in one scene without explanation merely to be brutally stabbed so that a male character could be shown to feel guilt at her situation, and having a solo story that somehow convinced several thousand readers to stop buying the book with only two issues to go. Still, the "dumb blonde" part was later shown to be a deliberate facade.
  • The last arc of Runaways featured every character getting derailed to some extent. Victor accidentally kills Old Lace through a stupid stunt, Klara goes berserk and keeps screaming at everyone, Chase threatens to break every bone in Klara's body, Karolina nearly makes out with Chase, Nico actually does make out with Chase... And then there's Gert, who's suddenly alive again, and instead of being snarky, she's almost cheerful and kind of flirty...
  • Spider-Man went from happy, if somewhat emo as a result of his crappy personal life, to so emo that he makes deals with devil to stop having more pain.
    • For that matter, Mary Jane as well. In One Moment in Time, said deal is retconned so that she is now the one to have agreed, and adding insult to injury, she says, "See, to me, the reason I wanted to get married was to have kids. If that's (children) no longer a part of the equation, then marriage is just a piece of paper."
    • Then in Superior Spider-Man, Peter's Moment of Weakness that allows Otto to fully erase the remnants of Peter Parker from his mind has been resoundingly criticized by fans of the character as something he would never do, namely allowing an innocent little girl to die to keep Ock from finding out about him. As it turns out, he hadn't been erased at all.
    • Black Cat was subjected to this after the events of Superior Spider-Man, in which Felicia was attacked by Spider-Ock, she wound up swearing to get revenge. After Peter's return she became an outright Ax-Crazy psycho who wants to destroy everything about him and doesn't care that he was under someone else's control, attempting to harm anyone and everything else in the process and even joining forces with several past Spider-Man villains to do so, even several that she used to be enemies with. She also now wants to be the toughest, most feared crime boss in all of New York despite that never being her motivation in the past. Fans of Felicia in her Anti-Hero days have not been happy. The not so subtle implication that this was all done primarily to further solidify Silk as Peter's love interest didn't help. Her later appearances in Silk and The Defenders, fortunately, depict her as a more sane and morally nuanced character rather than a flat out Psycho Mob boss.
      • And thankfully, recent events have led to Cat openly called on how she just doesn't have what it takes to be a truly ruthless mobster and thus goes back to her cat burglar ways.
    • Long before that, there was The Evil That Men Do, in which Kevin Smith rewrote Black Cat's entire origin so that she would have Rape as Backstory. Nobody was particularly happy about that.
  • J. Jonah Jameson has always been a jackass (whether there was anything more than that depended on the writer) but he also tried as hard as possible to reveal the truth about any Villain with Good Publicity. Later stories have his hate for Spider-Man go from irrational to certifiably insane and him becoming a vocal supporter of Norman Osborn, a man who treatened to kill his family in the past.
    • While JJJ's given many reasons in the past for his hatred of Spider-Man, generally it has something to do with a deep resentment of his casual disregard for the law and the way his vigilantism breaks said law. Come Superior Spider-Man, when a Doc Ock-possessed Spider-Man starts brutally beating criminals and being far more vicious, killing one in cold blood, he roots for the 'improved' Spidey, even at one point asking him to kill a supervillain for him. He loses this new-found respect for him when Slotto blackmails him into giving him the means to become Big Brother to NYC, but the point stands that now, according to Dan Slott, JJJ didn't hate Spider-Man because he broke the law, but rather because he didn't break the law enough! Not to mention, there's all those police officers who help cover up the casual murders because they now respect Spidey more for them, despite previous storylines establishing that, with small exceptions, a lot of cops dislike Spidey to the point some have tried to frame him for murder.
  • The Mighty Thor: Odin is usually a master schemer who is ahead of everyone else yet balanced by nobility, compassion and truly cares for his subjects and humanity. Writer Matt Fraction wrote him as a General Ripper and Jerk with the Heart of a Jerk who viewed humanity as dung worms, and was willing to enthusiastically exterminate billions of innocent bystanders with no displayed regret. However, it is debatable whether or not it was a Sadistic Choice. During John Byrne's "The Trial Of Galactus", he also stated that all the innocent victims of Galactus' genocides too weak to stop him deserve to die.
  • The Punisher has had to brush with character derailment ever since he was created. Although his exact quirks and personality vary slightly from writer to writer, in his heyday in the early nineties he was generally portrayed as sincerely wanting to help people and keep them from going through the same things he did, would occasionally question his actions and show mercy if the situation warranted it. Even a few traditional heroes considered him a good man at heart. Other writers would instead portray him as a complete amoral psychopath who didn't care about anything except killing criminals, and never ever questioned his actions.
    • Garth Ennis struck a fine balance with The Punisher MAX, portraying him both as a complete amoral psychopath who doesn't care about anything except killing criminals and who never ever questioned his actions, but also as a man who is extremely diligent, going to huge lengths to ensure absolutely no innocents are harmed while he's "working". And on rare occasions, the plight of those around him do get through - just read "The Slavers".
    • Quite possibly the ultimate derailment was the miniseries' Purgatory and Revelation, which set Frank up as a vigilante in service for heaven. In fact, these were the last Punisher stories until "Welcome Back, Frank", wherein Garth Ennis promptly undid that idiocy.
  • On the X-Men page linked above, it's been noted that Warren Ellis's approach when writing for mainstream comics lately has been "take a look at past few issues featuring character, extrapolate from there as baseline behavior." If you want any further proof that's the case, then behold as Captain America condones torture.

  • In the original Inodoro Pereyra comics, Eulogia was beautiful and nice. During the 70s, she became fat and cranky.
  • Fire Princess Ursa, mother of Zuko and Azula, and the single biggest hanging plot thread of Avatar: The Last Airbender. Her fate would finally be revealed years later in the sequel comic The Search—but the explanation of her disappearance cast her in a far more negative light than what most fans expected. To start off, she's revealed to have written a letter claiming that Zuko wasn't Ozai's son, but actually her lover Ikem's son just to see prove that Ozai was reading her letters. He was, but saw through the lie anyway, but vowed to treat Zuko as though he wasn't his son to punish Ursa. Meaning that part of Zuko's terrible childhood came about because of Ursa trying to spite Ozai. More importantly, the trauma of being Ozai's wife became too much for her, so she asked the Mother of Faces to remove her memories of her life as a Fire noble, even though it would mean forgetting her children and leaving them in the hands of Ozai. Despite that, she allowed herself to keep her memories of Ikem, and ran off to start a new family with him. There is heavy debate on whether this is Character Derailment. Some fans argue that very little was shown of Ursa in the original series, and most of what was seen was shown through Zuko's eyes, leaving some fans to wonder if Ursa was really the perfect mother Zuko perceived her as. While some consider the popular fan perception of Ursa to be just fanon, detractors counter that what was shown of Ursa, particularly her last words to Zuko ("Never forget who you are" and "Everything I've done, I've done for you" which would be a flat out lie given the revelations of the comic) paint her as a far stronger and caring mother than what the comic gave us. They also point out that the people who wrote the original Ursa flashbacks weren't the same people who worked on the comic. Ursa herself before and after regaining her memories says what she did was a terrible thing for a mother to do.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer. When Twilight, the villain of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 8 comic, is revealed to actually be Angel this represents a major case of character derailment. We're supposed to believe that someone who'd spent five seasons learning that the battle against evil is probably hopeless, but you fight it anyway has suddenly decided to abandon the world to destruction in order to bring about his own happiness? Right.
    • It's all the worse when you consider that as far back as the episode "I Will Remember You" of Angel, Angel was willing to sacrifice his happiness with Buffy in order to be able to fight the good fight against evil. In the entire Buffverse arc since then, nothing has been seen to contradict this, and suddenly he could give a flying fuck... literally.
    • Whether this is a case of Author's Saving Throw or just Joss trolling everyone, it seems that Angel was actually working on the inside to weaken the villains. Demonic Possession also seems to have been a factor at some point.
    • Then we get Kennedy, resident Jerkass. In the series she mellows considerably when Tara is brought up. In one comic she's maybe a little disappointed that Tara is again brought up but is there for Willow. In the motion comics however an extra line is added that's so cold even for her Angelus or Warren should be taking notes.
    • The comics also have a rare case of 'positive' derailment. In the show Harmony had the occasional moment of low cunning but she was overwhelmingly depicted as weak willed and airheaded, even in Harmony-centric episodes. In the comics she has inexplicably morphed into a successful and witty public relations mastermind who easily juggles her own celebrity while remaining a leader in the vampire community.
  • Jennifer Blood: The titular character herself. The contrast between the Jennifer of Issue #6, who tells her uncle Phil as he dies how her husband is the exact opposite of men like him and they'd think him weak for it, her implication being that she views him as much stronger and better for it, with the Jennifer of Issue #14, who is a lot colder to her husband in action and in thought, and calls him 'weak' herself in her private thoughts, is so extreme you'd swear it's a reboot of the character. True, said opinion comes on the heels of just been through an immensely stressful experience after Reality Ensues kicked in after her Roaring Rampage of Revenge and she had been forced to kill several people beyond her planned list of victims, most of whom, unlike her uncles, were innocent and done wholly so she could cover her tracks, but even considering that and what's to come, it reads less of natural character evolution (or devolution, to be precise) and more being ramrodded into a position the author wants her in for the story they want to tell. It is notable that Issue 6 was the last issue of series starter and character creator Garth Ennis.
  • Deconstructed in Art Spiegelman's Maus. The story continually compares the generous, brave, resourceful Vladek Spiegelman who survives the Holocaust to his present self, who has inexplicably devolved into a cranky pain that makes life miserable for everyone. Part of this (non-fictional) account deals with the author's issues and incredulousness at the difference between his father's behavior then and now. The story also rejects his Freudian Excuse of behaving the way he does, noting that other Holocaust survivors didn't become the bitter shell he is now. It should be noted that the portrayal of Vladek as he was during the Holocaust could be a case of an Unreliable Narrator; the only source of information we have is Vladek himself, and attention is drawn several times to the fact that Vladek's memories sometimes contradict themselves or other eyewitness accounts. Also, it is debatable whether Vladek's post-Holocaust misanthropy is truly a derailment from what he was during it; there is never any question that he loved Anja (his wife during the Holocaust, who committed suicide a few decades after it was over) far more than Mala (his wife at the time of writing), so it makes sense that he would be far more compassionate towards Anja. Old Vladek also shows resourcefulness, but because it is unnecessary in his time it comes across as simple miserliness. There are also hints from Vladek's possibly rose-tinted memories of himself that suggest he might have been somewhat domineering and lacking in sympathy even then.
  • Micronauts: All of the Micronaut characters have suffered from inconsistent characterization since their reppearances in Cable during the 1990s. In that first reappearance, Mari fared the worst. In the original Micronauts, she was depicted as an intelligent, verbose, and independent woman. In Cable, she was given a butch masculine appearance and rarely spoke. In Realm of Kings: Son of Hulk, she grew back her locks and started acting like an airheaded, motormouth amazon who has spent too much time on Earth.
  • In My Little Pony Friend Ship Is Magic, Twilight Sparkle is a kind, moral and intelligent individual who is protective of her friends, to the point where she was willing to hand over godlike power to a malevolent demon so he'd let them go. In the IDW My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic comic, she's possessed of an extremely arbitrary and obstructive morality that she'd do things like not intervene when her friends were getting assaulted, or not intervene when a bunch of thugs were terrorizing a town, or scold her friends when they tear up a legal document that the aforementioned thugs were using to acquire a piece of property despite their blatant campaign of terror against the townsfolk that should get them laughed out of court, or concocting a plan that involves them kidnapping and impersonating the notary to commit fraud so she would have an excuse to use her magic.
    • Iron Will during the "Siege of the Crystal Empire" arc. In the show, and previous IDW comic he appeared in, he's a pretty nice guy who left both times on good terms with the mane six and was generally a nice guy, if a tad aggressive. Here he's part of a Legion of Doom dedicated to helping resurrect King Sombra. Even assuming he was unaware of the King Sombra part, other members of the team up include the Changelings and Queen Chrysalis (enemies of state who have tried several times to destroy Equestria), and the plan involves him stealing the Crystal Heart needed to protect the Empire and keep it safe from harm. He does so proudly and openly enjoys doing so.
  • In the original stories of Paperinik (aka Phantomias), Paperinik was the Chaotic Neutral alter-ego that Donald Duck used for punishing those who had wronged him, mostly his own relatives. He was a shameless outlaw who was hunted down by the police and never had a motive to help others, unless he'd get a large reward. (Back then his relatives were HUGE Jerkasses. Scrooge was always breathing down his neck, pushing him and so on. Daisy was being a Tsundere. Gladstone was acting like Gladstone. They mellowed out later.) In later versions he was turned into a Lawful Good superhero who fights crime and unconditionally helps the authorities. This was a derailment for the better, out of which we got Paperinik New Adventures.
  • This trope came down on Rotor hard in Sonic the Hedgehog issues #215-#216; normally, he's depicted as a shy, introverted Hollywood Nerd who prefers to stay in the background and only fights when he needs to, but these two issues, in order to pin him as the faux traitor in Ian's ongoing story arc with Silver, twisted him into a bored glory-hound with a self-esteem issue who nearly killed his friends in a previous and ill-conceived attempt to play the hero. Even worse, despite being touted as one of the greatest minds of Mobius for most of the comic, these issues made him come off as dumber than average, spouting inaccurate Techno Babble and pushing the development of his projects off to NICOLE instead of doing it himself.
  • Early Scooby-Doo comics had this, with random name changes (Shaggy randomly went for a full story called Fuzzy) and many characters, if not all, taking a huge level in jerkass. By 1997 they seem to have picked up the ball.
  • League of Extraordinary Gentlemen:
    • The final book of Century features the Antichrist, a child who snaps on learning his true nature, murdering his entire school with magic and then hiding away for several years, shaving his head and scratching out the Mark of the Beast with his own fingers, with only the head of his former headmaster (the guy who cooked up the Antichrist plan in the first place) for company, mutating into an misogynistic, eye-covered, lightning-pissing giant. Not quite the Harry Potter we know, is he?
    • For that matter, we're introduced to a jovial guy in 60's London who's not above groping a drugged out woman before being possessed by Haddo's spirit. Again, not really the behavior we've come to expect from Tom Marvolo Riddle.


Example of: