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Character Derailment / Fan Works

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Given the general quality of 90% of all fanfiction, it should go without saying that this happens a lot in fan-made stories, but even the good ones do this to their characters sometimes.

  • In the Harry Potter fandom, the two most common victims of this are Dumbledore (typically flanderized from a well-meaning Eccentric Mentor into a sadistic Manipulative Bastard) and Ginny/Hermione (whoever's on the wrong side of Die for Our Ship this week), but other characters aren't immune to this either. Tragically, Luna Lovegood seems to be a frequent target of authors who don't know (or don't care) how to keep her unique personality intact. Typically, these stories wind up revealing that Luna's Bunny-Ears Lawyer personality is a "mask" used to conceal a much more normal (read: boring) character underneath.
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  • Digimon: In addition to the usual stuff there are a few characters people like to pick on. Most prominently, Yamato has never really been forgiven for winding up with Sora, so he's usually turned into an abuser and Sora falls into the arms of her One Twoo Wuv, Taichi. History Repeats Itself with the 02 fandom, turning Takeru into a massive dick and Daisuke, who in the end became the essence of optimism and determination, gives up simply because "he lost Hikari". Ruki also winds up being nothing but a damsel in distress to be saved by [insert male character here]. It can actually be any of the male leads - the only consensus is that Ruki's actual badass canon persona won't do, she must do nothing but cry and be 'rescued.'
  • Transformers: While there's a lot of Ho Yay there, make no mistake: Starscream really does want to kill Megatron. In fanfiction they have more of a Slap-Slap-Kiss relationship.
  • An interesting case happens in Light and Dark The Adventures of Dark Yagami with Naomi. She's first introduced wanting to catch Kira for killing Raye, which is an accurate basic reflection of her character. However, it's revealed that it was actually Takada in disguise, and the real Naomi mainly serves as Dark's girlfriend.
    • And speaking of Death Note, LxLight fangirls will often do this to Misa for obvious reasons. Yes, Misa is not that smart compared to L and Light (and really, WHO IS?) but she is still pretty clever when she wants to be. Fanfic writers tend to ignore this and just make her a complete idiot (occasionally having her use Valley Girl speak to make her look even stupider) before ultimately killing her off.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam Wing fanfiction almost always does this to Relena, Heero's canonical love interest, since there's more or less no possible way for Heero to get with Slasher favorite Duo while her personality is intactnote . In fanfic, she's usually a catty, jealous shrieking harpy willing to kill to make Heero hers by force and blood. In canon, well, apart from anything else, her Image Songs are about how she's not willing to confess her feelings to Heero for fear of ruining the relationship they already have, and that if he ever found someone else she'd gladly stand aside for their happiness.
    • Relena gets it the worst, but pretty much the entire cast suffers as a result of most fanfic writers caring more about having all the pretty, pretty boys make out than they do about the actual plot of the series. Practically every man in the series gets robbed of their canon personalities and turned into emotionally fragile wrecks who would shrivel up and die if they didn't have their boyfriend's cock. As another page on this site puts it, Gundam Wing fanfic often sounds more like poorly-characterized lesbian porn than anything remotely resembling Gundam Wing.
  • Kingdom Hearts fanfiction has the habit of taking the members of Organization XIII, the resident ambiguously evil group, and turning them into misunderstood people who only want to have hearts and it's the series' protagonist and his allies who are the real evil. The fics usually also gloss over the pesky "no hearts" part, despite this and the subsequent lack of emotion being the Nobodies' trademark characteristic in the games. Granted, Dream Drop Distance revealed that they do actually naturally develop replacements for their hearts over time, but this still does not excuse the general out-of-characterness that runs rampant in the fanworks.
  • Perhaps one of the worst cases of character derailment ever seen is in the Pokémon fan fiction Pokemon Revolution written by Farla. In it, characterization is completely discarded. In two of the worst cases, Gary goes from asshat, egotistic rival to misanthropic sociopath. And Ash goes from loving but dim Pokémon trainer to hateful trainer with a raging vendetta. All the while, the Pokémon themselves are derailed into Kill All Humans types who will gladly slaughter hundreds of thousands of civilians at the mildest coercion.
  • A case of Character Derailment that may well surpass the above is in the Haruhi Suzumiya fic You Got HaruhiRolled!. In it, the minor villain Tachibana Kyouko goes from a girl who thinks that her best friend would make a better deity than the title character, but still a very reasonable person who disapproves of her organization's excesses, to a Cloud Cuckoo Lander with ditzy tendencies who is obsessed with Sasaki, who is horrified at this. Not that the readers are complaining, mind you, for this is a Crack Fic and as a result, most of the readers actually consider this characterization to be more entertaining than Kyouko's canon personality.
  • This trope is the whole premise of Fun With Leon And Ashley, where Leon is not only a Jerkass, but literally in love with himself and spends an hour making love to himself. The result is hilarious, proving yet again that Tropes Are Not Bad.
  • Latias' Journey has several examples of this, most notably Richie, Giovanni (after dying), Deoxys, and the fake ending's version of Mewtwo. In most cases this is justified by The Corruption, in Deoxys's case it's Handwaved by Rule of Drama (and the Deoxys movie not being out when the story was started), and the fake ending Mewtwo wasn't real to begin with.
    • The sequel's version of Dawn (yes, THAT Dawn) is so different from the anime's version that she might as well be a separate character. To clarify, she is essentially a mix between Zuko and Shinobu. This could be attributed to the fact that she is a Composite Character of Sadic from the aforementioned Latias' Journey and Dawn's Buneary in regards to her romance.
  • One of the most well received cases of this trope is Bella Swan in Luminosity, where the author's goal was to turn her canon version, who is most often seen as annoying, wangsty and suetiful little strumpet, into a rational person. This is the catalyst for a Twilight fanfic that the haters genuinely love.
  • Then, over in the Neon Genesis Evangelion fandom, there's Shinji And Warhammer 40 K, which derails Shinji from his canon, psychologically damaged self into Captain Awesome Badass McEpic von Powerfist, equal parts Kamina and Vance Motherfucking Stubbs. This has been a wildly popular move, to the point where the page for this fic gets almost as much love as the one for Evangelion itself.
  • In Fandemonium, since several different writers are writing for several other different people's characters, personalities are often contradicted (except Hiro and Flames!) Most of all is Nightwolf, whose creator states "Nightwolf is mostly avoided being written about, although when he occasionally appeared he was written badly. I think that only twice in the entire series (not counting my episode) he acted sort of normal."
    • His entire role in Fandemonium was pretty much "hangs around for a while and then gets a bridge dropped on him." He had no character, and was rarely even mentioned until his death, which is sudden and unrelated to the plot.
  • Despite being a wonderful author otherwise, Kana37 over at tends to make Inuyasha a soulless bastard who will just stand by when Naraku or Kikyo attacks Kagome, especially if it involves protecting Kikyo in some way, shape, or form. This is usually the premise for her Sess/Kag fics.
  • In an unusual example of Tropes Are Not Bad, there's Harmonystuck, a Homestuck AU in which the kids, trolls, Felt, and Midnight Crew are raised by a good version of Doc Scratch and every single evil character is nice. It's one of the sweetest AUs in the fandom, and is generally considered an antidepressant to the canon.
  • This happens in a lot of grimdark My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fan stories, most notably the horrid Cupcakes and its multitude of spinoffs, in which Pinkie Pie turns out to be a murderous cannibal. And then there's Sweet Apple Massacre, which makes Cupcakes look downright tame. Not to mention Rainbow Factory, in which the Jerk with a Heart of Gold Rainbow Dash turns evil.
    • Then there's Pattycakes. Fluttershy is written as being so obsessed with having a child of her own that she psychologically breaks Rainbow Dash (who herself has been derailed into abusing Scootaloo, just so she could be the Asshole Victim in the story.) until the blue pegasus reverts to an infantile mental state, and in one ending totally destroys Scootaloo's mind for failing to comprehend the philosophy she never bothered to explain (Element of Kindness? Mo' like Element of Mind Rape!). Zecora is mentioned in backstory as having helped develop the mental regression drug, which fits with her herbal skills but not her actually possessing a functional brain. There's also a lot of ponies who are just sort of arbitrarily "into" age play, to the point of taking doses of the aforementioned drug - even ultra-prim-and-proper Rarity (who, if you suggested that she enters a state where she would periodically shit herself, would likely give you the same kind of expression you'd earn from the Pope if you visited him with pamphlets about converting to Islam).
    • The Conversion Bureau derails the Mane Six, hell most of the ponies, into hardcore xenophobes and speciesists.
      • Of special note is Celestia, who often functions as the driving force behind most TCB plots. In just about every TCB or Anti-TCB story, her character utterly shatters any semblance she has with the MLP show at all. Most authors Hand Wave this as Celestia has simply been a very convincing actor when she needs to mislead people. Both sides show her as an increasingly less complex character, whose motives become shallow and seemingly evolve into a Necessary Weasel to justify the TCB name. Many ACB fics simply force Celestia to Jump off the Slippery Slope, seemingly crossing as many Moral Event Horizons as can be fathomed, to drum up the Humans Are Special message. This is because there's no way canon!Celestia would ever condone the TBC ponies' actions, or at least not in most TBC-verses.
      • A particularly infamous example is from Ten Minutes: Aftermath, which purports to be a sequel to Ten Minutes, featuring both Michael and Celestia acting wildly out of character in contrast to the original. Whereas Michael was calm and determined in Ten Minutes, he is now ragingly angry, unsure of his own motivations, and pointlessly cruel. Celestia was shown in the original as aloof and arrogant; now she's a Messianic Archetype. The bomb used by the human resistance has now also been declared a planet-destroyer despite there not having been any indication of this before. The author just likes them better this way.
      • In Recombinant 63, The Doctor—who fought off various similar schemes before—endorses Conversion as a legitimate means of preserving humanity.
  • There are plenty of Rocky Horror Picture Show fanfics which derail Frank's character in favor of pairing him up with either a Mary Sue or with whichever character they ship Frank with. Frank is often written as giving up his lustful ways (which he would never do because of his hedonistsic nature) to settle down with his "one true love". Often, this is the result of him "seeing the error of his ways" after he somehow hurts his "love interest" (About the only character he felt any remorse towards losing in the play is Columbia, and even then he's a complete Jerkass about it). Or, him being reunited with a "long lost lover" from his past.
    • This can apply to other characters as well. Columbia is either a Clingy Jealous Girl or a ditzy Damsel in Distress in the fanfics unlike the Harley Quinn-esque character she is in the play/movie.
    • Riff Raff is more often in not in fanfics portrayed as nothing more than a constant source of Foe Yay between him and Frank resulting in the duo becoming lovers. While it is true that Riff Raff did have some resentment towards Frank's treatment of him (hinting that he wanted Frank to like him), Riff's general attitude towards Frank is that of resentment and jealousy. Not to mention that Riff's canocial lover is his sister, Magenta.
      • Speaking of Magenta, most Frank/Riff Raff fanfics either portray her as a manipulative and abusive sibling towards Riff Raff or she simply doesn't exist. In the play/movie, she shares a very close bond with her brother and even helps him rebel against Frank.
  • Torchwood fandom will often do this to Ianto Jones. For example, in stories that take place in the Year That Never Was (a Doctor Who setting set between series 1 and 2 of Torchwood), Ianto will suddenly show up and defeat the Master often by himself. In canon, Ianto was a genuinely badass character, but so were Jack, Martha and The Doctor.
  • Done on purpose in The Altomare Ace. The fic is intended as a Reconstruction of the Fandom-Specific Plot of Ash being betrayed and abandoned by his friends, so naturally his friends (with the exceptions of Max and Brock) are derailed into Jerkass Arrogant Kung Fu Guys. Whether the fic actually succeeds in its goal of reconstruction is contested.
  • The Harry Potter fanfic The Real Us derails almost everyone:
    • Since the author is a Harmoniannote  the whole Weasley family (save Arthur) gets treated horribly: Ron is a volatile idiot and Ginny is a whore. Both of them are coached by Molly into slipping love potions to Harry and Hermione in order to separate them. Fred and George are greedy opportunists who don't care who gets hurt in their pranks, and it's as if Percy never got his Character Development from the end of the last book.
    • Harry becomes an Insufferable Genius and Hermione is madly in love with him, wanting sex with him ever since they first met. (And she is not punished for this, unlike Ginny.) Both only pretend to be friends with Ron, and perform Memory and Confundus Charms on him without the slightest provocation in order to deliberately deceive him for their entire time at school.
    • Snape turns out to have been a Nice Guy all along, who likes Harry and only joined the Death Eaters because he was completely unaware that Voldemort was a bigot. Did we mention that after the werewolf incident he became the fifth Marauder?
    • McGonagall doesn't care in the least that two students constantly have sex with each other.
    • Dumbledore outright encourages Harry and Hermione to keep up their deception of Ron.
    • Most surprising of all, Umbridge is actually a genuinely nice person. It turns out that her Bitch in Sheep's Clothing persona is just an act, and she idolized the Marauders when she was in school. (She is also younger than Harry's parents for some reason.) This of course serves to eliminate all conflict from the fic's retelling of the fifth book.
    • Pretty much the only characters who escape relatively intact are the exceedingly minor ones, and the more important ones lucky enough to fall Out of Focus.
  • Frozen (2013) fanfic authors constantly see fit to derail the strong, valiant Determinator Princess Anna, who managed to keep a strong sense of optimism even after years of isolation, into some sort of kicked puppy who is constantly suffering emotional breakdowns and is in desperate need of Elsa's affection. What Anna went through in the film can certainly be considered traumatic, but fanfic!Anna apparently can't go a second without something reminding her of her horrible childhood and leave her sobbing her heart out. Not only does this represent strong Chickification, but it also derails her selfless, others-first nature from the film and replaces it with a selfish Attention Whore who constantly wants her sister to make things better, often actively disrupting her royal duties to do so. Usually this is done to make Elsa, who was very emotionally sensitive in the film, appear stronger, and thus put her in a dominant position when the romantic attraction breaks out between the two.
  • One especially bad NSFW Naruto story derailed Naruto's personality in the story. When he discovers that one of his fiancées is pregnant, Naruto is overjoyed at the idea of being a father and having a family. A few chapters later he offhandedly mentions that while traveling the elemental nations, he never practiced safe sex and has (by his count) a few dozen children throughout the continent. He also tells another fiancée that he doesn't really care if she sleeps around because he fully intends to do so himself.
  • In the Sailor Moon fanfiction I'm Here to Help, Pluto is hit with this depending on your interpretation of the fic. In canon, she takes her duties as guardian of time very seriously, even attacking Sailor Moon for trying to cross into the future. In the fic, she turns a blind eye to Emerald going to the past, but arranges events so that he succeeds in rewriting the timeline in order to create a different version of the Crystal Tokyo portrayed in the fic. Whether this is to work towards creating the canon Crystal Tokyo or not depends on how much you take Emerald at his word.
  • Alouette's Song bills itself as a reimagining of the Skylark Series rather than a fanfic, since the source material is now in the public domain. As a result, several characters are portrayed completely differently than in the original:
    • As he is the main character, Richard appropriately enough has the greatest change. In Skylark, he is your stereotypical pulp-science-fiction Everyman protagonist, that is, The Ace with the know-how to solve any problem through SCIENCE! and never gives up, enabling him to defeat all manner of Scary Dogmatic Aliens who pose a threat to Earth. He is also perfectly willing to use deadly force in self-defense. In Alouette's Song, on the other hand, he starts out as a total emotional wreck and an introvert, as he has to deal with Abusive Parents whose attempt to stifle his talents result in him attempting suicide. He survives, but remains in Heroic Safe Mode until after the Final Battle, and would likely relapse were it not for Dotty. Though he is a grade-accelerated student, he has only minimal involvement in the construction of the Alouette,as he and Dotty are out of the country during the duration in order to distract DuQuesne, and his role in the construction is taken by other characters. Also diametrically opposite his original characterization is that he's an Actual Pacifist, and when he has to blow up the enemy flagship (while he believes his friends are still on it) in order to save a city, he's completely unable to handle it and enters a Heroic BSoD— which to be fair, is probably for the best. After he recovers, he slowly begins to regain his original series characterization, but he has to go through hell (literally) first.
    • Margaret is a case that is actually an improvement on the original version, since in Smith's original she is a very minor, almost superfluous character who doesn't affect the plot in any way after her introductory scene. In this version, she's pretty much as smart as the original series' versions of Seaton and DuQuesne combined, being the one who actually works out the theory for the starship. Furthermore, unlike her canonical self, she's no wallflower— when DuQuesne has the heroes on the ropes and is about to send the Alouette into the Sun, she gives a Rousing Speech on human potential that wouldn't be out of place in Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann while calculating a slingshot trajectory past the Sun in her head, inventing Faster-Than-Light Travel on the spot. It is eventually revealed that she can do this because the experimental treatment for her autism inadvertently gave her a Split Personality, which is even smarter than her "normal" self.
    • Martin gets off relatively easy: he's still The Lancer, at least in the first half, (though he shares this role with Dorothy) and his lack of direct access to his family's fortune is fully justified because the heroes are all teenagers in this version. His skill set is also more clearly differentiated from Rick's, being more focused on engineering. However, the one major change is his sexuality. In the original, he's a millionaire who is only a confirmed bachelor because he's worried that women only like him for his money, and falls in love with Margaret after she's fallen for him without knowing who he is. In this version, on the other hand, he's gay, however, instead of most fanfiction which turns a straight character gay for Fanservice, here he still inexplicably ends up with Margaret anyway. Unfortunately, this results in the whole thing being utterly pointless and an egregious example of But Not Too Gay.
    • And then there's DuQuesne. In the original Skylark series, he's a Diabolical Mastermind par excellence, as is only fitting for Seaton's Evil Counterpart. He considers himself above the rest of humanity (except, ironically, for Seaton), makes several attempts to kill the heroes in order to become the only commercial source of Applied Phlebotinum, and, in the sequels, conquers the planet at one point, gets Brought Down to Badass after previously being Touched by Vorlons because he's too evil even for the Energy Beings, and exterminates entire races. Though he teams up with the heroes on occasion, this does not diminish his desire to kill them, and he does so only when they have an adversary in common. All in all, his whole character shows that he has no greater ideals and only cares about himself. In Alouette's Song, on the other hand, though he's still a villain, he's a Well-Intentioned Extremist who works for a secret government organization that is tasked with suppressing potential superweapons, and when the narrative gets in his head, it is revealed that he considers his job Dirty Business and really doesn't like threatening children, but feels that he has to Shoot the Dog. Moreover, Margaret is positively shocked when he starts antagonizing the group, because he was her father-figure, showing that he can be quite nice when not on the job, completely unlike his Faux Affably Evil original series incarnation. If that weren't all, when the heroes capture him and decide to spare his life, he is so moved that he decides that the human race deserves to be allowed to have FTL travel after all, and performs a Heel–Face Turn, becoming The Lancer of the second half. The book also explains his villainous actions by giving him a tragic backstory which isn't even hinted at in the original. There is even a scene in a bar in Osnome, wherein he admits to Roban that his previous actions were wrong, and that he deserves his punishment, something that the original series' DuQuesne would never do. Ultimately it is unclear whether Tropes Are Not Bad in this case: his new characterization certainly has more depth than the one from the original series, but some consider it cliché and cheesy.
    • Dorothy, on the other hand, is probably an aversion. Though the Alouette's Song version is definitely a different character from the Skylark of Space version, most of the changes are additions, rather than outright contradictions.
    • Lastly, the Kondalians have a noticeably different character. They are your typical Proud Warrior Race in the original, but in this version they're fleshed out to be less one-note, having a culture based on mysticism that is based on the Biblical Israelites. This is probably for the best, since the original series' Kondalians were kind of assholes. note 
  • Many fanfics for The Lord of the Rings do this, (mostly in order to ship a self-insert with one of the male protagonists who, by their original characterisation, would arguably not fall in love with a random girl), especially since the movie made the story accessible to those who couldn't be bothered to read the book, but this one takes the cake by turning Éowyn, the only woman in the book who literally held a speech on how she is no man,note  into a transman.
  • In any work by Dakari-King Mykan, the characters of Digimon Adventure 02's Daisuke and Teen Titans' Beast Boy have their Plucky Comic Relief, Nice Guy and The Determinator traits removed in favor of becoming Author Avatars who continually wangst over not getting Hikari and Terra. Because of their newfound mopefest, they devolve into self-entitled jerks who complain that nothing ever goes their way, and only repent when they do get it, which means they're usually already dead. Beast Boy tends to get it the worse, as his wangst has caused him to turn into a villain in many a fic, with one infamous one having him destroy all worlds a-la Count Bleck solely because he didn't get with Terra. Similarly, the rest of the characters are reduced to their basic personality traits and portrayed as the reasons they turned into sad sacks to begin with, and are treated as a collective Cosmic Plaything for daring to slight Mykan's In Name Only mouthpiece of the week.

Alternative Title(s): Fanfic


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