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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 the entire Amazon people with this. Queen Hippolyta becomes a murderous misandrist who has no problem starting a war just to start a war and the Amazons have no problem with this for the most part and kill civilians left and right, including children. This is a very far cry from the loving culture they have been presented as, going from "loving women who are well-trained in combat" to "man-hating Ax-Crazy women".
  • Batman:
    • 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. Unfortunately, Batman is still a Jerkass to this day (not just in the main comic continuity, but also in other incarnations too), so despite their best efforts, Batman’s characterisation as an asshole is still very much present.
    • Conversely, the switch of Batgirl II/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 later 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.
    • The issue 0 regarding The 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 miniseries 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, when a big part of his thing in the original was him seeing Terry as a worthy successor.
    • For a lot of the 2000s, Tim Drake (Robin III) 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.
  • Black Canary (Dinah Lance), as written by Winick, changed into a Satellite Love Interest after years of being a confident, independent Action Girl. It got worse under Andrew Kreisberg, with 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.
  • Black Lightning, under Judd Winick, 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.
  • Blue Beetle (Ted Kord) 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. The Flanderization that took place before that was retconned into Obfuscating Stupidity. Beetle was killed in Countdown to Infinite Crisis.
  • Booster Gold was originally a Fish out of Temporal Water Mr. Vice Guy who screwed up once in a while but learned from it. Booster eventually 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.
  • 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! But, it's Countdown. What did we expect?
  • 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 storyline, 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, to the point that she was shown to have nightmares about failing to save lives, this was a bit stupid and subsequent comics have quietly ignored it, before it was retconned out completely.
  • The Flash:
    • Before his return, Barry was characterised as a humble, academic, well-meaning and selfless man; a bit conservative in his Silver Age stories and something of a milquetoast protagonist compared to both his predecessor Jay Garrick and his successor Wally West. But he was always shown to have been a good father figure to Wally. During his return, Barry is depicted as being more angsty and confused, eventually revealing that his history had been changed and his arch-enemy, Eobard Thawne, had somehow found a way to change the timeline in such a way that he could retcon Barry's previously happy childhood into an angsty one where his mom was killed and his dad was framed for it. Barry from this point on becomes obsessed with this aspect of his backstory, almost as much as Bruce Wayne is over his parents' deaths, resulting in Barry abusing time-travel himself to undo this mess, when Barry was previously established as being wise regarding time-travel, resulting in the Flashpoint event that ended up rebooting a lot of people out of existence. When Barry becomes aware of this years after the fact, he says he'll investigate... only to barely do anything about it when not prompted by other people, leading to the implication that he just doesn't care that much about the people whose lives were affected, which includes Wally, who lost his family due to Barry's actions.
    • Captain Cold and the Rogues during the Rebirth era. Though not without history of being villainous, had at least recently been depicted as semi-heroic at times, to the point that they were briefly a Hero Antagonist group and Cold himself was on the Justice League. However, after being denied their 'last score', with Barry deciding firmly that he won't tolerate their anti-hero/anti-villain tendencies anymore, Captain Cold was transformed from a simple career criminal into a crimelord who brutally murders one of his own for wanting to go straight, even though he's never had a problem with people leaving the group before (unless they work for the police), before eventually graduating to taking over the city, murdering a cop-from-the-future who uses his tech as a hero and tossing his severed head at a captured and depowered Barry, all just to establish that he's as much of a cold-blooded monster as Gorilla Grodd and Eobard Thawne.
    • 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 a while. Then in Blackest Night, he pops up as an unhinged psycho feeding children to his zombie father, and is promptly killed for it.
    • Likewise, we have Hunter Zolomon, AKA Zoom. Before, Zoom was an anti-villain who after his life fell apart and he gained time-based super-speed, came to believe that his friend, the Flash (Wally West), hadn't faced enough tragedy in his life and it held him back as a hero. He was a twisted, disturbed man but with a genuine belief that he was helping Wally by making his life miserable. During Rebirth, he's brought back after a lengthy absence with the reveal that, off-panel, he had become friends with Eobard Thawne, the previous Reverse-Flash. Rather than this leading to some kind of team-up, Eobard was killed in a story that made Hunter, distraught at losing his friend, decide that he was right, the Flashes (Barry and Wally) were beyond 'helping' and so instead of making them miserable to make them better, he enacted a convoluted plan to trick them into breaking the "Force barrier" and allowing Hunter to access the 'other' Forces, declaring himself the true Flash, and became obsessed with killing off all the Flashes of the multiverse, and hoping to eventually take out Barry Allen (a character he had, until this storyline, no history with).
    • When he joined the Teen Titans, 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.
    • 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.
    • All of the Rogues got this to varying degrees when it was revealed that Barry Allen had, at some point, worked with the Top to brainwash some of them into turning away from crime. While it's left ambiguous which Rogues he did this to, with it being established that at least Pied Piper went legit of his own will, the Rogues redeeming themselves was a natural part of their characters. After Barry's death, it made sense for the Rogues to reevaluate their life choices, especially since all of them were usually only in it for the money anyway. Suddenly, all but one of them did a massive 180 and were back to being criminals.
  • 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.
  • Green Arrow: 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, and was actually shown to be very possessive of Black Canary and very devoted to the relationship. 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. Things got worse afterwards, 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).
  • Jesse Chambers, AKA Jesse Quick, of The Flash. Wally West's occasional partner and Distaff Counterpart, she joined the Titans. Initially Jesse was presented as a strong female lead, a natural leader who quickly found her place in the team as the go-to second in command, as well as developing a strong dynamic with Dick Grayson and Donna Troy. Writer changes however led to Jesse being completely re-characterised, becoming impulsive, abrasive, and an 'outsider' among the team, which was best shown in a storyline where she had an affair with her mother's fiance, because he was the only person showing her any interest while she was desperately alone. With the book ultimately messing her character up so much, she got depowered in the Flash book so that she could jump to the Justice Society of America title and be revamped as 'Liberty Belle', following her mother's legacy instead of her dad's, as well as off-panel getting married to Hourman II. This, surprisingly, wasn't a bad thing, as this led to Jesse acknowledging just how much her time with the Titans was a disaster, as well as having her step away from her dad's company and allowing her to be part of stuff more, and she found a much better home in the Justice Society, and later the Justice League. She even got massive character development to grow past her insecurities and regained her super-speed, and took back the Jesse Quick identity to help rebuild the Flash Family.
  • Maxwell Lord was never the "nice guy" on the JLI. 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. However, it was later "revealed" that he never believed in the JLI, was working to keep the team ineffectual all along and secretly hated metahumans and superheroes. Writer Geoff Johns actually admitted that he knew he derailed Max but didn't care because they needed a villain. The later official explanation for this 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. Later still, an issue of Justice League: Generation Lost showed that Max only went off the deep end after Coast City (along with his mother) was destroyed by Mongul.
  • 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.
  • Superman:
    • In the The Dark Knight Strikes Again and All-Star Batman & Robin, the Boy Wonder, written by Frank Miller, Superman is displayed as Dumb Muscle who sold out his morals and is completely incapable of thinking strategically like the oh so perfect Batman and the story ends with him wanting to take over the world. This is at odds with how Superman was portrayed in Miller's The Dark Knight Returns, where Clark was smart, was able to fight toe-to-toe with Batman while holding back and who only worked with the government because the government was cracking down on superheroes and it was the only way to stay a superhero.
    • 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 in 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.
    • 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. Some saw this as derailment, others saw it as somewhat understandable, especially since he was painted as a tragic figure... then he started psychotically grinning during it and relishing in all the death he caused, before joining the authoritarian Sinestro Corps and then destroying whole planets in Countdown to Final Crisis, and in Final Crisis itself, he had no motivation for anything beyond being a psychopath. He returned in Blackest Night and was seemingly regretful for everything he had done and wanted to atone (which itself could be seen as derailment)... before his appearance in Teen Titans reverted him to a supervillain maniac.
    • Superboy (Kon-El/Conner Kent) suddenly had Cloning Blues when he joined the Teen Titans, and generally being a too-serious jackass when before he even made jokes about his clone status and was well-known for his slacker 90s attitude.
  • Wonder Woman. Fans of the intelligent George Pérez 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 as little in common with general '40s conception of an 'ideal woman' as a modern conception of an 'ideal woman'. However, the way he wrote Wonder Woman, while still a product of its times ended up being far more progressive than many of the later writers, being wise and compassionate while still a powerful warrior not afraid of combat, making it closer to a modern concept than many later takes on the character.
    • 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 Geoff Johns decided she was a violent jerkass prone to temper tantrums who only cared about her boyfriend, and began acting cold towards her teammates. Her character has downgraded into a self-righteous, holier-than-thou Ice Queen. Her fans despise his writing of her and it lasted for most of the 2000s and 2010s.
      • 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.
    • 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 purpose other 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 Damsel in Distress 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 instill 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. Vaughan'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 led 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, Doctor 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 (due to 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 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.
    • One example is Dr. Doom — ruler of Latveria, world-class evil genius, and refined bastard — telling Carol Danvers to "shut [her] cow-mouth" or else he'll stop her "whore's heart".
    • 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. He has supported the Avengers before and relishes opportunities to be on the team.
    • 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, but Bendis seems to think she hates capitalism specifically when this has never been a thing.
    • 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".
  • 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.
  • Most characters in the 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 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.
    • Ares, master strategist and badass god of war turned into stupid brute who says only aye.
    • Weapon Omega went from a guy who was always afraid of using his powers and never wanted to hurt anybody to a psycho who likes killing people.
    • 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 no matter what the time period is so horribly off-base it's not even funny.
    • 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 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).
  • Odin, under most writers, is a wise and benevolent if short-tempered pompous leader with a decent respect for humanity and is three steps ahead of his enemies. Under Matt Fraction, he was a genocidal war mongerer whose only solution to a problem he knew was coming was "kill them all", and this is also his characterisation under Jason Aaron, who also adds misogyny to Odin so that he can have Odin embody "The Patriarchy".
  • 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 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.
  • 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 Watson 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 and swore she would 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. A later talk with Spider-Man reveals that Black Cat subconsciously knew that they had a closer relationship prior to One More Day mindwiping everyone of Spidey's identity, and she was deeply hurt that he never talked to her about it despite their relationship now being drastically altered. Peter re-revealing his identity to her cemented that she's solidly an Anti-Hero once more.
    • Long before that, there was Spider-Man/Black Cat: 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.
  • 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.

  • 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.
  • In the original Inodoro Pereyra comics, Eulogia was beautiful and nice. During the 70s, she became fat and cranky.
  • 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.
  • The 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.
  • 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 reappearances 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: Friendship 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.
  • 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.
  • This trope came down on Rotor hard in Archie Comics' 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.


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