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Character Derailment / Western Animation

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  • Luanne from King of the Hill started out as a somewhat promiscuous teenager who didn't take crap from anyone and, despite being Book Dumb, had some intelligence (the episode that fully introduced Hank's father, Cotton, revealed that Luanne can fix a car, despite Cotton's "Stay in the Kitchen" views on women). Later episodes turned her into a shy moron who was afraid to stand up for herself (and when she married Lucky, her naivete and lack of intelligence were greatly exaggerated to childlike levels). The promiscuity, however, was given a proper episode (where Luanne joins a group of promiscuous people who want to be born-again virgins) when it disappeared.
    • Bobby Hill was similarly much less effeminate in his early years. It could be argued as Character Development though if you didn't take well to his original characterization as a "Well Done, Son!" Guy who's slow, awkward, and, in the words of Hank Hill, "not right." Sure he got effeminate in later episodes, but he got also got some charisma and charm, even if it was limited to being a class clown. He also went from a shy, reclusive fat kid to someone who has friends, a girlfriend, is sure of himself, and has proven to both Hank and Cotton (the episode where Cotton takes over his military school, and goes one day longer in "The Hole" than Cotton managed) how much of a badass he is. All while not changing himself to fit how they think he should be.
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    • On the other hand, some consider Cotton to have undergone a case of derailment during his final appearance, which retcons his grudge against the Japanese despite him having forgiven them in an earlier episode, talked out of his scheme to spit in the Emperor's face by his illegitimate son Junichiro. This gained the episode criticism from some viewers since while Cotton was not well liked, the way he forgave the Japanese was considered development.
    • Peggy originally started out as a well meaning wife and mother, as well as being pretty sociable and having a fair amount of friends to hang out with and being rather fluent in Spanish. As the series went on though, she slowly became more and more narcissistic, and while still caring for Hank and Bobby, was not afraid to call them out if they did something that even slightly annoyed her, while her group of friends was slowly narrowed down to Nancy and Minh, and her Spanish became so terrible that it was used as a plot point once to get her out of a court trial.
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    • Hank had also undergone Derailment as the show went on. During the first few seasons he was shown to enjoy Rock and Roll and practiced guitar at times and open to new things. By the end he was a stuckup tightass who was so old fashioned you'd think he was Amish and views things out of his comfort zone with contempt and disdain.
    • This is addressed in the episode "Get Your Freak Off", where Hank discovers Bobby has been listening to foulmouthed gangsta rap. He initially encourages Bobby's interest in a boy band he considers clean cut and safe- until he, Bobby, and Bobby's girlfriend go to a concert and begin dancing provocatively. Bobby's girlfriend has ridiculously permissive parents, which leads to a situation Bobby and even his girlfriend weren't comfortable with, and Hank comes to the rescue and teaches the kids to play an age appropriate game. While initially seeming to uphold Hank's uptight views as the best way to raise a child, it does show how extreme (and boring) Hank had become, and the ending shows him lightening up quite a bit.
  • Transformers: Beast Machines did this to a majority of the cast because the writers were explicitly instructed not to go back and watch through the previous series because they didn't want it to be "too continuity-driven." Optimus Primal from a competent and inspirational yet down-to-earth and approachable leader into a spiritual guru who bordered on fanaticism. Dark Action Girl Blackarachnia became the Satellite Love Interest deprived of her boyfriend. Megatron became obsessed with eliminating organic, individuality, and hated Beast Modes without explanation. Knight in Shining Armor Silverbolt becomes bitter, cynical, and guilt wracked which was supposed to be explained by their time as Jetstorm, except they had their old personally when briefly freed from it.
    • Rhinox is possibly the biggest derailment of them all. Once he's brought to the surface and put in control of Tankor, it is revealed that he agrees with Megatron. From the level-headed, spiritually-minded second in command of the Maximals, who actually enjoyed Earth's natural environment, to a self-stated Beast Mode-hating supporter of Megatron. It was intended for Rhinox to be a lot more reasonable about it, explaining exactly why he thought this now, but Richard Newman's delivery of the lines made him sound like he had gone insane. A lot of fans pretend that the Vehicon programming was still affecting him.
  • Many of the characters in Thomas the Tank Engine have suffered from derailment... thankfully not literally.
    • Edward, previously an old, kind and wise engine, became younger and ruder in later seasons.
    • Percy went from a mischievous Cloud Cuckoo Lander to a naive, forgetful moron who can't pronounce simple words, Toby was a kind and confident Cool Old Guy but later became a wimp with self-esteem issues, and Skarloey, previously one of the oldest and wisest engines on the island, is now childish and afraid of everything (from thunderstorms to the incline yards to the wharf). Thomas himself was once depicted as friendly and helpful, if somewhat cocky and brash. He's now a poorly-written Creator's Pet that is obligated to make appearances in every single episode (even episodes about the narrow gauge engines) and dispense advice to everyone.
    • Some derailments have been taken a different way in the CGI series, either reversed back, exaggerated or taken a different way altogether. Skarloey is back to his more mature and no nonsense persona, while Edward is kind again, albeit to a fault, unable to say no to others and easily dissuaded from his work. Thomas interchanges between his older and newer persona to erratic extremes while Toby's meekness has reached Fluttershy/Chuckie Finster/Luigi levels, being afraid of nearly anything that moves.
    • Thankfully though, starting with Season 17, which came with a brand new writing team determined to return the show to its roots, almost everyone of the characters above have returned to their original selves.
    • Diesel 10, who currently provides the page image, is a very unique case of derailment. In his debut in Thomas and the Magic Railroad, he was a murderous monster who was out for blood, wanting to completely and utterly destroy the steam engines. In his second appearance in Calling All Engines, he's somehow become nicer with almost no given explanation, and quite willingly helps Thomas repair the new Sodor Airport. In his defense, it was related more to necessity since a decline in tourists brought in by the airport in question would've spelt doom for the entire railway, including him. Even so, he doesn't display any sort of gruffness or malice, and again, does it with a big smile on his face. However, when brought in for the CGI series, he became more of a mix of the two. Whilst he certainly wasn't nice like he was in CAE, it wasn't up to his TATMR persona, as he's now become more of a Well-Intentioned Extremist in that he wants his fellow diesels to receive more praise and attention than what they have, believing that they've become overlooked in favor of the steam engines, and while he certainly doesn't like them, he does realize when he's gone too far whenever he deals with them. It has given him more of a personality though, as some felt that his TATMR appearance was more of a Generic Doomsday Villain than an actual character.
  • Pam in Archer became a completely different character as the series went on. Starting off as a pleasant but lonely and depressed HR rep, she turned into a sex-crazed, drug addicted complete loon. Though as always, Tropes Are Not Bad, as many fans enjoy this version of Pam much more.
  • Many characters in American Dad! got this. For example:
    • Stan Smith went from a liberal and mature if somewhat overreactive man to a complete psychopath in later episodes, although he showed it in the golden seasons. However, he still retains a moral attitude, even in later seasons, but still acts foolhardy.
    • Francine Smith is no different as she went from a motherly, kind figure who does her best to look out for her family to a complete she-devil with crimes like shoplifting (which she stated that she did many years prior to the pilot of the series), manipulating her husband to spank her since it gives her a sexual drive, to admitting that she married Stan, who married her for her appearance, so she wouldn't have to work.
    • Steve Smith also has this as he went from a nerdy and laid-back boy who has a lot of common sense to a socially-inept spoiled brat, but like some of the characters on the list, he actually does see the error of his ways.
    • Roger also belongs on the list as in the start of the series, he is seen as a sensitive if somewhat snarky pushover but transforms to a total sociopath willing to kill, manipulate, emotionally scar, and ignore others for his own personal ambitions. Stan, despite being on the list himself and does things no different or worse compared to Roger, is disturbed by his antics.
  • Johnny Bravo was, in the first season, a largely unflappable jock who tried a little too hard to impress the ladies, and who wasn't too bright but could occasionally be quite clever. In seasons two and three, in a case of Depending on the Writer, he turned into a childish, idiotic Jerkass who Screams Like a Little Girl.
  • Ben 10's Darker and Edgier sequel, Ben 10: Alien Force, has Ben and Gwen exhibit different personalities than before, but that's excusable since it's been five years and they've matured. However, there is NO explanation for the change in Kevin, who not only has suffered massive Badass Decay, but is now a good guy for poorly constructed reasons and shows no signs of the sociopathic cruelty he did in the original series. Now all he can do is be blunt (especially about his crush on Gwen, which came out of nowhere.), demonstrate The Worf Effect, drive them around in his beloved car, and occasionally thrive off of his reputation from back when he was an actual threat. Both Ultimate Alien AND Omniverse made attempts at Character Rerailment, but the fanbase remains perpetually divided over how well either of them went.
  • The Simpsons is a major offender: Homer going from a well-intentioned buffoon to a cartoonish idiot to a Jerkass who sometimes has little empathy for those around him, Marge going from a sensible, down-to-earth woman and loving mother to a ditzy, snappy housewife who has openly stated she would be much happier without her children, Bart going from an underachieving prankster and troublemaker to a full-time sociopathic delinquent, and Lisa going from an idealist genius child to the ultra-liberal, activism-obsessed, egocentric, drama queen mini-teenager who she is today. And then there's Maggie, who's mostly a cute baby with a pacifier, but starting with the episode "Who Shot Mr. Burns?", she exhibits a darker side in certain episodes (however, many fans consider that Maggie Took a Level in Badass).
    • Flanders, when he first appeared, was a perfectly nice guy. He was religious and more than a little repressed, but he wasn't hurting anyone and he seemed to love all people unconditionally. In fact, the whole joke was that Homer hated him for no reason. He was the kind of neighbor most people would be lucky to have, friendly, kind and always willing to lend you whatever you needed. Then came his Flanderization, where he went from a generally nice guy to his ludicrously meek, inoffensive, and Christianity-obsessed persona. The derailment kicked in later, when the Simpsons writers decided they wanted a Right-Wing Christian Strawman to mock and so they derailed Flanders to make him fit the bill.
      • And maybe this is more Early Installment Weirdness than character derailment, but in Flanders' very first appearance he was so thoroughly insensitive to Homer's obvious financial troubles that he came across as a complete Jerkass fully deserving of Homer's enmity (though Ned may not have been aware of just how bad Homer's financial problems were).
      • In fact, some recent episodes show that the derailment has effectively inverted the Ned-Homer dynamic, as now Homer is a happy-go-lucky idiot with Ned loathing him effectively just for existing. One episode actually covers this, in that Homer realized the reason he hated Ned was because he always found him better than him and moved on, while Ned's reasons to resent Homer in later seasons is that Homer keeps calling him Stupid Flanders within earshot of him and demeans him in front of Rod and Todd, they do end up making amends, though.
    • C. Montgomery Burns is a big victim of Villain Decay. In early seasons, Burns was a downright sadistic and evil old miser who generally treated his employees like crap, stole from children, tried to block out the sun (for money), violently mutilated sea animals to make Lil' Lisa Slurry and planned on turning a litter of puppies into a fur coat. Turn to later seasons and he's just a feeble old man who is more ineffectual than anything else and serves more as fodder for jokes about being behind the times then anything else. Although every now and then he gets a Forgot Flanders Could Do That moment and ends up doing plot such as launching his environmental hazards on the Amazonian forest or putting Mona Simpson on the run from justice out of spite.
    • Patty and Selma have shown the most extreme case of derailment than anybody else. They were originally just a couple of gruff curmudgeons who hated Homer and think Marge should divorce Homer, take the kids with her, and remarry. Later seasons would add appalling housekeeping and near-criminal incompetence at their jobs (both arguably even worse than Homer's), not to mention smoking everywhere, including around children and on the job at the DMV (which nearly gets them fired — until Homer takes the fall for the both of them). Selma would go through three astonishingly bad marriages (and she only wised up after realizing how long her last name was), while Patty became a full-fledged militant lesbian (despite that "Principal Charming" established that Patty is heterosexual and willingly celibate, while Selma has had celibacy thrust upon her and wants to have a husband and kids before she dies alone and unloved). Of course, all this pales next to becoming a new contender for Most Violent Simpsons Characters, being utterly obsessed with trying to end Homer's marriage, including celebrating his death by buying a tombstone for Marge, trying to kill him by pushing him off a bridge (though that was part of Homer's plot to land on the boat where his "Congratulations on Completing Community Service" party is being held. Still the fact that Patty and Selma were willing to kill Homer just because is unsettling) and attempting again later by reenacting the famous bathroom torture scene from the first Saw movie.
    • Moe is also worth a mention. When he first appeared, he was merely a surly and cynical bartender, who was a pretty decent guy despite his rough edges. In later episodes (around Season 11 onwards), he's a miserable wretch and registered sex offender who conducts numerous illegal operations, tries to kill himself every other episode, and constantly lusts after women in revolting manners.
  • Quite a few characters in Family Guy have also warped considerably since their first appearances, especially after the show's return to production in 2005. Among the many examples, Stewie, previously a humorously sociopathic Enfante Terrible with matricidal tendencies, have become Brian's effeminate sidekick (the Doylist explanation was that the writers felt that they'd run the evil baby joke into the ground) though his violent tendencies do occasionally show up, while Brian has changed from a snarky intellectual ironically portrayed as vastly more intelligent than his owner Peter, to mainly a preacher for the writers' liberal political views and The Chew Toy concerning his inability to quit drinking, be a good writer, and hold a relationship. Lois, while at first as the down to earth one of the family, albeit with a somewhat healthy sexual appetite, has become pretty much an insane nymphomaniac. Meg has evolved from merely a unpopular high-school girl trying to fit in to an abused, suicidal psycho of epic proportions. Peter himself, while always a bumbling idiot but with slightly good intentions (like Homer Simpson, only fatter, brasher, and more into pop culture from the 1970s and 1980s), has become a Jerkass Karma Houdini (making Homer Simpson look like the clueless, yet caring Bumbling Dad he was in the early days of The Simpsons). Around Season 11, Chris Took a Level in Jerkass just like his parents. All of this has been toned down somewhat in later episodes, though.
    • Not to mention recurring characters like Cleveland who often dispensed simple wisdom and often kept Peter in check during some of the wilder schemes. Quagmire went from being a Casanova Wannabe to a sex-obsessed freak (though "Jerome Is The New Black" did have a Freudian Excuse for that: Quagmire was once in love with Cheryl Tiegs. Unfortunately, Cheryl Tiegs left Quagmire before he could tell her that, and since then, he's been addicted to sex to fill that void she left), Joe became overly macho to compensate for his handicap as opposed to his original character which was more like a good cop who happened to be crippled, and Mort, originally just a Sickly Neurotic Geek, was reduced to a caricature of nearly every Jewish stereotype you could imagine (despite not appearing much in the later episodes).
      • Quagmire seems to be undergoing an unusual second derailment in recent episodes, with his intense (and randomly produced) hatred for Brian and Self-Deprecation based neuroses becoming the focus of a lot of his humor. Originally the character's obsession with women and sex didn't go farther than having a 50s swinger-type vibe, and was for the most part a happy-go-lucky Casanova Wannabe. He quickly became more successful in his pursuit of women, and eventually turned into an out-and-out rapist with a few offhand references to some of his conquests being underage girls. Personality-wise, he's developed quite a mean streak in later seasons; he's far more bitter and cynical, as opposed to the more carefree, fun-loving person he used to be.
    • There's something to be said for the character derailment of Cleveland Jr. for the run of The Cleveland Show how he used to be a hyperactive child to a fat and slow teenager (though considering that Cleveland, Jr. disappeared after he kicked around a golf ball like a soccer ball in "Fore Father," who knows what could have happened to him between "Fore Father" and his appearance on "The Cleveland Show"'s pilot episode?).
      • The Cleveland Show episode "A Rodent Like This" reveals that the fat, weird, slow Cleveland Jr. is an impostor who killed the original and took his place and nobody noticed because they were too stupid though that may have been a simulation.
      • Speaking of Cleveland Jr., just like most of the Griffin family he Took a Level in Jerkass during the show's final two and a half seasons.
    • Lois' character changes could be at least understandable. Being married to and living with a man like Peter for years could easily drive the most sane, sensible person crazy. One episode even implies this by showing a tumor in her brain after she mentions bottling up all the stress that Peter causes her.
    • Cleveland himself became much louder and dumber on his spin-off The Cleveland Show. If anything, he just became Peter only blacker and slightly smarter.
  • Despite mass Flanderization, most of the characters on SpongeBob SquarePants retained some level of their original personalities. Plankton however started out as a competent, aggressive and maniacal villain. Once The Movie rolled around he lost much of the latter in favor of being either too obnoxiously happy with the few moments he seems to succeed, or constantly moaning and crying about what a failure he is. He's also lost a lot of competence, to the point that his Deadpan Snarker computer wife Karen often has to tell him how to do every basic step (even blink) with Plankton often taking credit for her suggestions.
    • Karen herself was always a Beleaguered Assistant, but was initially genuinely loyal and caring to Plankton despite her snarky qualities. Following the UnCancellation, she has seemingly lost all sense of enthusiasm and openly vents her utter contempt for Plankton, placing him into high order Henpecked Husband territory.
    • Mr. Krabs goes from greedy and selfish but a good heart beneath it all to a jerkass with little to no good qualities. He even goes as far as to put others and himself in danger just to get some cash. It doesn't help that he gets away with most of his crimes.
    • SpongeBob himself. He started out as a naive, yet kindhearted guy who cared about everyone no matter what, and had the innocence of a child. He later gets derailed into to an obnoxious, Manchild who pesters everyone he knows to play with him. He is often careless of others' safety, and cries and screams when his "friends" aren't around.
    • Patrick got progressively dumber as the series went on. He goes from average intelligence in the first season to The Ditz in season 2 and 3 to virtually brain-dead in season 4 and onwards. He also became more of a jerkass on occasion.
    • In the first three seasons, Sandy is a daredevil who is skilled in a variety of sports, including skiing, karate and weightlifting. Then in season 4 she suddenly became a scientist, and much of her characterization and humor started to revolve around her intellect and inventions.
    • Fortunately, they've all been rerailed after Hillenburg came back.
  • While the fanbase seems completely divided whether Daffy Duck's Flanderization during the 1950s from a bombastic Cloudcuckoolander into a Jerkass Small Name, Big Ego counts as derailment or development, most agree it crossed the line during the De Patie Freleng era shorts, where he was evolved into a humorless, Faux Affably Evil villain for Speedy Gonzales. One could take it as a double-sided coin, as pitting Speedy against a more conniving villain did at least allow him to come off as more sympathetic and fallible more often than he did against Sylvester, though it still would have been a swifter transition with a more fittingly-callous character.
  • Bloo in the Pilot of Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends and Bloo during the main show are practically two different characters. Bloo in the pilot and some of the earlier episodes is a friendly and well-meaning but mischievous imaginary friend who likes to have fun. In the rest of the series he's just a Jerkass who will do anything to get what he wants and loves being stupid and breaking the rules.
    • Madame Foster in the infamous Season 3 episode "Foster's Goes To Europe". According to everyone on the show, she's supposed to be the sweetest and coolest grandma ever and an absolute saint of a human being; in the majority of episodes, she does live up to this reputation. Yet in "Foster's Goes To Europe", she ruins a European vacation which the gang planned to go on (and spent the entire episode struggling to get ready for) by stealing eight-year-old Mac's tickets at the very last minute. The episode ends with Madame Foster, her bowling buddies and a homesick imaginary friend called Eurotrish going on the vacation instead, while poor Mac is wrongly and unfairly blamed by everyone else for missing the trip. In the same exact episode, Madame Foster also unties a group of defenseless imaginary balloons which sends them flying into the sky for no reason at all.
  • Numerous examples after the first season of the Total Drama series.
    • Trent from Island to Action. Trent started out in TDI as the closest thing to a normal teenager: sweet, smart, nice, and talented. He develops a thing for Gwen and they end up going out on the last episode. By the fifth episode of TDA, his crush on Gwen has turned him into a desperate loser who has to please her since he's so worried about her feelings dwindling since she has more in common with her fellow teammate Duncan. It gets so bad that he starts throwing challenges for her and Gwen has to convince his team to boot him off. And that's not even getting into his obsession with the number "9"...
    • Geoff and Bridgette (or 'Gigette') lost both their personalities once they became an Official Couple and were only used for make-out gags, Geoff suffered from Acquired Situational Narcissism during the Aftermath segments and Bridgette ended up becoming a Clingy Jealous Girl during the TDA special and even cries when she realizes that Geoff won't be competing alongside her during World Tour.
    • Courtney went from a whiny but tolerable Small Name, Big Ego who had a sense of honor in playing the game to a haughty, manipulative, Jerkass who sues if she doesn't get what she wants (something she only did once in Island, in a justifiable case) and is pretty much as bad - or worse - than Heather was.
      • Thankfully, as of the special, she's snapped back a bit, and gotten a more realistic plot of her love triangle with Duncan and Gwen.
      • And it seems they've driven her right back off the rails after Duncan and Gwen kissed, most likely done in order to kill DuncanXCourtney. Being furious and upset over the incident at hand is one thing, but actually losing challenges on purpose to spite Gwen is worse.
      • Things just get worse for Courtney in All-Stars. At first it appeared as if the writers were finally trying to get Courtney's character back on track. After the whole Duncan incident, Courtney finally became Gwen's friend again and the two were just as close as ever, and she even pursued a new romance with Scott. It looked as though Courtney finally had a chance to be likable again. All that development was suddenly derailed in one entire episode. Out of nowhere, Courtney reveals that she has already planned out what she's going to do now that she's in the final five and what order she plans on getting rid of the other contestants, two of whom are her close friend and new love interest. She chooses to back-stab them because a million dollars is worth more than her relationship with either of them apparently.
    • Gwen in World Tour does an example of Moral Dissonance by kissing Duncan while he was still with Courtney. She feels some remorse at first but when the kiss is found out she doesn't try to vote herself out like the last season or apologize. And later she manipulates Cody's feelings for vote Courtney off. She's even lampshaded as being "New Heather".
    • It only got worse for Gwen in All-Stars, with many seeing her as having become "too girly" and too concerned with what other people thought of her; her friendship with the Spotlight-Stealing Squad composed of Mike, Cameron, and Zoey did little to help matters either. And then there was her handling of her second falling out with Courtney, which also won her some scorn.
    • Do you think Lindsay could get any dumber, think again, later seasons her IQ decreases to the point in All Stars where she doesn’t know simple concepts like pushing and pulling.
    • Ezekiel's case in World Tour is one of the most infamous in the show's history: originally a homeschooled kid who got eliminated for making several unintentionally sexist remarks, he quickly became an Ensemble Dark Horse after a writer made him into the main character of the Total Drama Comeback Series. In response to this, the writers brought him back for World Tour, but he was turned into a Small Name, Big Ego Determinator. After losing the first challenge for his team and being voted off, he decided to stow away in the ship's cargo hold, which eventually resulted in him mutating into a feral, barely-sapient Gollum Expy with almost no trace of the Adorkable farm boy he once was left. While it's occasionally hinted he's still in there somewhere and he occasionally demonstrates some of his old mannerisms, he's remained a monster for almost three seasons.
    • Leshawna, most definitely. The first season had her as a girl who would take crap from nobody and could get quite feisty, but still very kind and friendly, to the point where her "elimination" came in part because everybody who had been eliminated at that point liked her so much. Then comes Action, where she does manipulate her teammates into giving her a reward by pretending to cry and being sentimental. And here comes World Tour, in which she's somehow become a huge, arrogant jerk with little to no redeeming qualities, and goes right back to hating Heather even after supposedly making up with her in Action; even beating Heather up when Heather is trying to warn her about Alejandro's treachery and, after learning that she was right, is still proud of doing it.
    • Duncan also qualifies because during his return in World Tour he seemed to hold the Conflict Ball, he cheats on Courtney with Gwen, he never helps his team, cheats during the game, treats everyone (other than Gwen) like crap, especially Courtney, became a Manipulative Bastard and helped Alejandro stir the pot.
    • Owen also counts. He started out as a friendly and completely clueless big oaf who everyone loved and who didn't play the game strategically. In Action, he becomes a self-centered Small Name, Big Ego and Jerkass who can't stop himself from eating for one second. Later comes World Tour where he has dropped the Small Name, Big Ego and Jerkass traits but now he actually thinks strategically.
    • From the cast of Revenge of the Island, we have Mike, Zoey, and Cameron. Ignoring the fact that this trio is one of the show's biggest Spotlight Stealing Squads, they also went downhill during All-Stars. Mike got a very unpopular subplot taking place inside his brain, Zoey became Too Dumb to Live by not realizing Mike was actually Mal despite being warned by three different people, and Cameron was saved from elimination twice for no good reason, not to mention the fact that he also stupidly trusted Mike.
    • Dave from the cast of Pahkitew Island is a very interesting case since he was derailed in the very season he debuted in. In the beginning of the season, he simply had a crush on Sky. But around the 6th or 7th episode he started becoming too dependent on her which lead to him suffering from a breakdown when her and Max switched teams and ultimately voting himself off in the 9th episode when she rejected him leaving him heartbroken and beginning a Sanity Slippage. Things got even worse in the finale when he completely loses his mind after learning that the reason why Sky rejected him was because she already had a boyfriend back home (who she tried to break up with prior to joining the show) and abruptly becomes the Final Boss of the season in order to thwart her chances of winning the million (and actually succeeds in one ending).
  • Cosmo in The Fairly Oddparents got this. It was established in the first season that he ran away from home to marry Wanda. In another episode he broke down crying from having to be away from her overnight. It was very clear they enjoyed their relationship. Then, suddenly, in seasons four and five he was drooling over every attractive woman that came onscreen, repeatedly calling Wanda a nag and more, and acting like she had Bound and Gagged him at the altar. Hell, the original Oh Yeah! Cartoons shorts of Fairly OddParents had him be a lot different. Compare the calm, deeper-voiced Cosmo who was Wanda's equal intelligence-wise and actually seemed to share a loving relationship with his wife. Now, compare that to the sociopathic Manchild with the screechy voice portrayed in the Fairly Odd Parents series and see how far he fell. It's rather handy, you can tell his intellect by his voice pitch. Deep/slightly high voice, reasonable degree of smarts, really high voice, no smarts.
    • Remember when Wanda happily admitted to, along with Cosmo, being "two halves of a whole idiot?" Now she's smart and Cosmo is just one whole idiot.
    • Remember when Vicky used tapes, recordings, personal belonging-destruction and other tiny bits of humiliation to torture Timmy? Now she's armed to the teeth with chainsaws, maces, and other over-the-top weaponry and cackling maniacally all the while. This derails Vicky from as far back as the first episode, where she clearly shows she'd never want Timmy to suffer any serious physical harm, let alone be the cause of it, because her well-paying job depends on him being kept intact.
    • Even Timmy himself technically counts. He started off as a typical frustrated 10-year old, a bit of an outcast, and occasionally selfish. He always learned his lesson if he made a mistake, though, and only made wishes whenever they were issues crucial to his life. Then later he became more self-centered and wishing for stuff he wanted. Though season 6 and onward more or less reverted Timmy back to how he was in the first season.
    • Timmy's parents are an interesting case. When the series first started, they were portrayed as tired and overworked from their jobs, but they still genuinely cared about their son. Their biggest crime was that they were more than willing to lie to Timmy so they could get time to themselves; however, they both seemed to learn their lesson in "Abra-Catastrophe." But then...something happened. As the series went on, we learn that Timmy's parents were expecting a girl (hence his pink hat), and in the infamous "It's a Wishful Life" episode, it's shown that Timmy's parents would have a child actress for a daughter and would be rich if Timmy had never existed. Then, both of Timmy's parents started making comments about how they could rent out his room if he went to military school, and even casually admit that they sometimes forget to feed Timmy. And that's not even getting into how Timmy's dad, like Cosmo, was turned into an idiotic Manchild. Sure, Timmy's parents have been able to deliver the occasional Heartwarming Moment in later seasons, but there's no denying that somewhere along the line, they went from busy, albeit genuinely caring parents to borderline Abusive Parents.
    • Trixie Tang was initially written as a girl who was popular and spoiled, but had a good heart deep down, and was more than she appeared to be. Jump to "Just the Two of Us" where she's extremely shallow and vain, and can't seem to go even a second without someone telling her she's pretty, otherwise she'll completely lose her shit.
  • Franklin Turtle in a few of the later seasons of the original Franklin animation, and Franklin and Friends. When the show first started, Franklin was a Wide-Eyed Idealist, and a Bratty Half-Pint / Jerkass hybrid of sorts. After his Character Development, he's pretty much a Nice Guy in season 5-6 of Franklin, and all of Franklin and Friends save for a few snap backs and aesop amnesias that unfortunately derail his character for an episode. He's back to being a nice guy by the next episode however.
  • The first Tom and Jerry animated movie not only had the title characters (who are supposed to be, you know, pretty much mute) talk... it had them sing. And be friends. You know, the same cat and mouse who are supposed to be bitter enemies are talking and singing about friendship.
    • The Character Derailment actually happens within the movie itself, as Tom and Jerry spend the first ten minutes of the movie as their normal, mute, bitter enemy selves (though Tom does save Jerry from the collapsing house, it feels more like one of the Enemy Mine moments they'd occasionally have in the original shorts), until Puggsy the dog convinces them to be friends. For about a minute, and their first bits of dialogue, they seem to cling desperately to their characterizations as enemies, as well as engaging in some admittedly pretty funny lampshading of the sudden shift:
    Tom/Jerry: You talked!!
    Tom: Well, sure I talk! What do you think I am, a dummy?
    Jerry: You said it, I didn't!
    Tom: Ah, you little pipsqueak! I oughtta — *pause* Hey! How come you never spoke before?!
    Jerry: Well, there was nothing I wanted to say that I thought you'd understand... and there STILL isn't!
    • Unfortunately, shortly after this they're goaded into singing the Big Friendship Song, which marks the definite moment when the Character Derailment can no longer be denied even by the most good-willed fans.
    • This goes back to 1975 when Hanna-Barbera rebooted Tom and Jerry for ABC Saturday mornings. They started out antagonistic in the first episode "No Way, Stowaways," only for them to shake hands at the end. As the series went on after two or three episodes of going at each other (without the old films' violence), they remained bosom buddies.
  • Scott Summers/Cyclops on Wolverine and the X-Men. In his origin episode Breakdown Cyclops, who has been depressed and ineffectual since losing his girlfriend Jean Grey, is revealed to have been extremely stupid and clumsy when he was first recruited to train as an X-Man. This apparently changed when Jean came into his life and "took the pain away" as Emma Frost, the rival love interest, put it. This is a big turn from the comics, where Cyclops was always a good, diligent X-Man, even as a student, where his primary problem was that he had weak social skills. This alternative characterization however embraces the stereotype that he is nothing without his long time girlfriend, while not showing anything suggesting he was ever a competent heroic leader.
    • Hell, lets say everyone was derailed to some extent, literally the only exception is Nightcrawler, they all become massively incompetent, just to make Logan's aspects all the more apparent.
  • Granddad on The Boondocks: In the first season, he was one of the two straight men, generally went his own way and couldn't stand his grandsons insufferable Huey or no-good trouble-making Riley and didn't hesitate to take off his belt and give Riley an ass whooping whenever he had it coming. He's now a full-on Jerkass abusive grandparent who wants to seem young and hip, obsessed with money & "bitches", and blindly follows along with whatever dishonest schemes Riley has planned to get rich quick, over Huey's loud and sensible objections. Granddad over the course of 3 seasons came to embrace all of the black stereotypes Aaron McGruder has been making fun of (when it was just Riley).
  • Characters in the PBS show Arthur would fall victim to this in later seasons. It is especially poignant with episodes written by Dietrich Smith, though it varies depending on who writes. This is especially problematic, particularly among older fans, as Arthur is that kind of show with an established continuity and set character personalities.
    • Seasons 16 and 17 were full of them. In "Flippity Francine" and "Francine Speaks Up" Francine is scared of attention despite loving attention for the past 15 seasons and always wanting to be the star. In "Read and Flumberghast" the entire third grade class is made way more gullible than ever. In "Opposites Distract" and "Prunella the packrat" Arthur is a neat freak who throws everything he feels is old away. In the older episodes Arthur makes huge messes and is an extreme pack rat who will not even throw away a single popsickle stick. The worst example is in "So Funny I Forgot to Laugh" where Arthur becomes the villainous bully and Francine gets furious despite past bullying episodes (many with Francine as the bully) all being far worse things than what Arthur did.
  • In almost a reversal of the aforementioned Bloo example, Rufus and Amberley of The Dreamstone, despite always being cutesy and cheery protagonists in contrast to their enemies, had some visible cynical traits and flaws in their own right in the pilot (Rufus was a Cloud Cuckoo Lander Badass Adorable while Amberley was a moody tempered but thoroughly helpful Vitriolic Best Bud) and had almost an equal focus in sympathetic spotlight and humor as the villains. In the majority of later episodes, the two became ridiculously juvenile and ineffectual, to the point their interaction was often extremely uneventful until the Urpneys attacked them every episode.
    • Their dynamic also derailed in some form due to the Urpneys decaying. In the first episode, the Urpneys were pitiful unwilling bumblers, but they and Zordrak were still effective enough to put the heroes in genuine mortal danger, allowing Rufus to come off as sympathetic against them. In most later episodes, they are completely ineffectual and doomed to failure from the start, with the heroes gaining a smug awareness of this and often taking fun out of tormenting the Urpneys just to ease the monotony of their routine schemes. In one episode, the Noops outright retreated in terror from the Urpneys because they had become too close an actual threat, nearing them more as self righteous Miles Gloriosuses who are only willing to bully harmless targets.
    • At least some attempts were made to remedy both cases of Derailment throughout Season Three and Four, giving the Noops more Character Checks to their old personas and reverting them to competent but pragmatic heroes against the Urpneys (along with giving the villains a more Not So Harmless motive so that the heroes came off as genuinely defending themselves).
    • Zordrak, was originally a calculating and genuinely intimidating Big Bad who took part in the scheming and entered the fray every once in a while as a more imposing threat. After Season One, Zordrak gradually devolved into an ineffectual Bad Boss who had no importance outside sitting on his throne and yelling at his Urpneys to make a new plan to take the stone. Similar to the heroes, he gained a partial remedy in the last few episodes, albeit to a far lesser degree.
  • Everyone in the Watership Down series adaption. Everyone. Hazel is suddenly in love with Primrose after about two episodes, Hyzenthlay was completely replaced altogether. Bigwig, in both the book and movie, was a bold, strong and knowledgeable fighter. Here he's turned into nothing more than a complainer and follower to Hazel, who doesn't know anything in war strategy. Pipkin, previously nervous, but extremely loyal, is turned into a Cheerful Child. Kehaar became unrecognizable. Even Woundwort - the genocidal, slave-driving Big Bad who eats hawks for breakfast and in the book contemplates how some day he hopes to meet a stoat so he can kill it, and he's a rabbit - had a period in the series where he tried to stop the war with Watership Down and openly showed remorse for what he'd done. And the list goes on.
    • While the Character Derailment from the book is fairly rampant, the show suffers a second round at the start of the third season, when the show also had a drastic change in art style and writing. Woundwort is hit the very worst. The season transition happens in the middle of the final battle with Efrafa, leading to a painful moment where Woundwort realizes the error of his ways and tries to stop the war. He's then struck by lightning and the warren collapses. He digs himself out afterwards and declares that he will have become a force of destruction, rather than simply a totalitarian dictator.
  • From the BIONICLE Direct-to-Video animated movies:
    • Takua was originally an adventurous and brave character who valued duty and helping others (even if he had just met them) above all else, and who would be among the first to volunteer for dangerous quests. In the movie, an easygoing slacker who shoves his duty on others, cowers in the face of danger, and abandons his friend to do his work for him (a friend he tricked into believing it was his work in the first place). It takes the destruction of several villages and seeing his heroes fall for him to realize this is no time for goofing off. Very striking, as prior to the movie's events, he was hailed as a war hero.
    • Takua's friend Jaller, who goes from a serious and mature military leader-type to an almost childlike, somewhat insecure and shy-around-girls nerd. In the preceding story, he snapped at Toa Tahu when he was losing confidence in himself and defeated the extremely dangerous Pahrak-Kal by simply walking up to it and grabbing its power-giving Krana. In the movie, although still not a wimp, he doesn't showcase any of this militarist sternness, and simply lets Takua bail out of their mission.
    • Onua, the wisest and most level-headed of the Toa, who always chooses the most effective yet least risky path in every battle (it's written in his official bio), is portrayed here as a slow-minded brute who puts his partners in danger with his actions, and causes the destruction of his hometown, and almost the death of his entire team. Thankfully, this portrayal didn't stick after the movie's saga.
    • Hahli's supposedly shy (which even the character explorer on the DVD points out) but very friendly, especially towards Jaller, but the movie introduces her as a tough chick who teases Jaller with a much more "sassy" attitude.
    • Lewa on the other hand was usually portrayed as a juvenile, hyperactive loner with a very sarcastic sense of humor and often held little respect for the other Toa — in the movie, he comes off as a spiritual hippie who actively volunteers to group together with others and seems to be one of the most mature of the Toa.
    • Vakama goes through considerable change between the second and third movies. At first, he's an incredibly insecure would-be leader who then learns to trust himself, his visions, and not to be afraid to stand up for himself. The following film introduces him as an arrogant, overconfident, reckless oaf who leads his team into a trap despite absolutely everything around him, including his visions, the warning words of his teammates (and a villain he met in the books between the two films) and the threatening signs found all over the ruined city, telling him to act cautious.
  • Scrappy from Scooby-Doo. The very first episode with him in it, he played a major role in incapacitating the bad guy, but as time went on, Moral Guardians, thinking that Scrappy might be a bad influence on kids, had him being toned down until the point in The New Scooby-Doo Mysteries showing cowardice, where his older self would not have. Quite a few fans thought this was an improvement, though others who'd liked Scrappy before disliked how out of character it was. He still had his moments though, and picked up the ball again in the Thirteen Ghosts and the Superstars Ten Movies.
  • Stanley has a minor version: For the first few episodes, Lionel acted like your standard Big Brother Bully. Then, as if overnight, he become a Cool Big Brother.
  • Batman: The Brave and the Bold did this on purpose in the Grand Finale. Bat-Mite is using his Reality Warper powers to make the show Jump the Shark and get cancelled, and the last of his changes is making Batman use guns. When Ambush Bug points that Batman Does Not Like Guns because of his parents' murder, Bats finally starts listening to him and believing that someone is messing with their universe.
  • Andy Panda: In 1944, director Shamus Culhane wanted to try out a new, redesigned Andy that was a total Jerkass instead of a Mickey Mouse-type everyman. The new Andy was hated by Walter Lantz and audiences alike, and so he was dropped after just one cartoon, "The Painter and the Pointer", in which Andy threatened to kill his dog if the dog didn't pose for his painting, and to make sure he didn't move, Andy rigged a shotgun to shoot the dog if he moved from that position.
  • Quite possibly the character of Sheen from The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius and its Spin-Off Planet Sheen. In fact the derailment is due to the Spin-Off. While Sheen could be insensitve and oblivious to to others, it was clear he cared about his friends and family in the Jimmy Neutron series. However, in Planet Sheen, he is utterly indifferent his family and friends. To the point where he doesn't even attempt to repair the damaged rocket to go back to Earth.
  • The Warden of Superjail! losing his sadism after the pilot and gradually becoming more of an outright Manchild (as opposed to Psychopathic Manchild) can be seen as this for some fans, although it's a highly contested example. He also he winds up no longer being someone to be feared, but instead be beat up and easily taken advantage of, and have his obliviousness and naivety cranked Up to Eleven.
    • While it may have redeemed her in some eyes, the Mistress' overall portrayal in "Stingstress" was ridiculed. Suddenly, the Mistress was revealed to be incredibly easily fooled by the presence of a man she found attractive, was portrayed as lovesick for him, and weepy and emotional at being pushed around. Then her change at the end as "Hippie Mistress", revealing that she only needed one good experience of sex to loosen her up (and realize that she didn't need any men or the Superjail), was further seen as this for some (especially for the dejected shippers of Warden/Mistress).
    • The Twins experienced this in season 2's "The Budding of the Warbuxx", due to it putting way too much emphasis on how alien and disgusting they were. Though in general, the outright revelation of them being aliens is taken this way by a portion of the fanbase (as it also coincided with them either being put Out of Focus or having their vulnerability and foolishness emphasized more than their other traits).
  • While Lemongrab of Adventure Time was always a huge Base-Breaking Character, and even the staff of the show had different opinions of him, after his first appearance the show seemed to lean towards the idea that he wasn't truly evil, just really messed up. In his story in the third collection of character shorts, he seemingly devours his twin brother. In his next appearance, we see that he's become a tyrant who abuses his now maimed brother, and torments his lemon children when he had previously been portrayed as a loving parent. At the end of the episode, he fully eats his kinder brother, and loses any of the redeeming traits he may have had before. The next episode continues to show him keeping the lemon kingdom in misery, torturing his subjects for fun. He's ultimately torn apart, and then stitched back together, the characters suggesting that now maybe he'll be better. The only thing more sour than Lemongrab is the taste the whole thing left in his fans' mouths.
    • Finn in the episode "Too Old." In the previous episode, he breaks up with his girlfriend, so in this one, he tries to flirt with his previous love interest, Princess Bubblegum, while largely ignoring or not focusing on the crisis in Castle Lemongrab. In the past, love had clouded Finn's heroic senses, but this episode took it above and beyond.
  • In Hyperion Studios' TV series of The Itsy Bitsy Spider (1994-96, based on their short subject which played with the feature Bebe's Kids), Leslie was a sweet, introverted meganekko in the first season. In season two, she became rather abrasive to her schoolmates and friends, showing occasional signs of emotion.
  • South Park:
  • Jimmy Two-Shoes underwent in a retool as it transitioned into its second season and furthered itself from its Black Comedy origins, meaning the entire main cast was hit by this. However, they do occasionally go back to their older characterizations Depending on the Writer.
    • Jimmy himself. In Season 1, he was simply a cheerful and fun-loving boy who wanted to make friends with and put smiles on everyone in Miseryville, and while also childish and naive, could be surprisingly clever and even the Only Sane Man. The Jimmy of Season 2 is a complete Cloud Cuckoolander who never has a single moment of intelligence or sanity, only treats Beezy with any real respect, and is totally callous to the mayhem he causes in his thrill-seeking. A complete flip of what the second season's intro boasts about.
    • Beezy in Season 1 was generally a Jerk with a Heart of Gold who despite his hedonistic ways, was supportive of Jimmy, very mellow, often well-intentioned, and cared a lot about his girlfriend Saffi. He was far less evil than his dad Lucius. The Season 2 Beezy, on the other hand, is basically a fat, dopey version of Lucius, treating everyone around him like garbage (to the point where in Season 2 the people of Miseryville hate him as much as Lucius), including Jimmy and Saffi (whom he casually broke up with to chase after a Girl of the Week; even his voice actor felt that was a step too far).
    • Heloise. In Season 1, she was a sadistic Mad Scientist rightfully feared by everybody in Miseryville, for her cruelty surpassed even Lucius. Sure, she had a sweet side when it came to a certain Jimmy Two-Shoes, but she was still an Ax-Crazy Yandere even Jimmy was terrified of angering. Season 2's Heloise? An Only Sane Woman almost solely defined by her crush on Jimmy (notice how the Season 2 intro does not show any Comedic Sociopathy from her while Season 1 has her electrocuting Jimmy for an experiment). Worse still, her status as The Dreaded was replaced with becoming the biggest Butt-Monkey on the show after Samy and being treated as laughingstock by most characters.
    • Lucius was always an example of how The Devil Is Aloser, but it was pretty clear in Season 1 why he was the bad guy on the show - an utter Caligula who reveled in how miserable his subjects were and loathed how he could never break Jimmy. Season 2 Lucius is instead a hopelessly out-of-touch authority figure and strict Only Sane Man who rarely shows interest in making people miserable and wants his subjects to love him.
  • Even ignoring complaints about its quality as a Spiritual Successor to Teen Titans, Teen Titans GO begins representing its characters very inconsistently during the third season. Raven in particular goes from an introverted, intelligent, snarky girl with a violent streak to being just as stupid, happy-go-lucky, and funloving as Beast Boy and Cyborg. This starkly contrasts with the first two seasons in which Raven's intelligence compared to the other Titans was the focus of the episode.
  • Fauntleroy Fox from The Fox and the Crow is usually portrayed as a suave, sophisticated, well spoken guy, while being naive and gullible about certain things is generally smart, for whatever reason in the last two Columbia cartoons "Tooth Or Consequences" and "Grape Nutty" he is portrayed as being fat and stupid, speaks in a deeper Simpleton Voice, and acts like a backwoods hick. He is back to being his usual self in the three UPA cartoons though.
  • This is one of many reasons why Book 2 is considered the worst season of The Legend of Korra, if not the entire franchise, due to derailing its female characters to the point of breaking the franchise's Central Theme of gender equality to the point of Unfortunate Implications. Korra Took a Level in Jerkass. Chief Beifong went from a Jerk with a Heart of Gold to Da Chief. Asami Sato went from a Lady of War that stood up to the only family she has left and curbstomping a gang of ninjas to becoming Chickified to the point of not being in even one hand-to-hand fight, rebounding to her ex-boyfriend out of desperation and sitting back to applaud Bolin for saving her company instead of going down to personally/literally fight to regain her company. Fortunately, Book 3 made up for these slights.


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