Action League NOW!: The League started out as reasonably effective and respected heroes, though they were still morons. As the show moved on, the League couldn't do anything right, and in "Sink or Swim" a person is actually unhappy that they've come to save him from being flushed down a toilet.
In early episodes, Finn and Jake had a much more parental big/little brother relationship, with Finn as a well-intentioned Blood Knight and Jake sometimes persuading him to be more cautious or moral. As the show went on, Finn quickly became The Cape, with only the odd flash of teenage recklessness, while Jake much more morally unreliable.
Lemongrab started off as being an obsessive Neat Freak with Super OCD and just a slightly crazy Jerkass. However, his obsessive cleanliness seems to have been abandoned, and his insanity has been amped up to absurd levels. Following Lemongrab 1 and Lemongrab 2's death and subsequent merging into Lemongrab 3, things went full-circle, with Lemongrab 3 being more of the Super OCD suffering Neat Freak that Lemongrab 1 began as, albeit notably nicer about it.
Marceline the Vampire Queen was much more malicious in her debut episode "Evicted", where she kicks Finn and Jake out of their home twice and at one point tries to kill Jake. Following appearances in the first two seasons had her as a more friendly, but still chaotic individual who acted mostly for her own amusement. The character would finally settle into a good-hearted Heroic Neutral role by the end of the third season, with flashbacks to her past showing her in an unquestionable heroic light where she was actively working to protect the remnants of humanity from vampires.
A number of characters in The Amazing World of Gumball have changed from how they were in the first season, mostly in the case of other students of Elmore Junior High. For example:
Alan the balloon could act just as antagonistic to Gumball as some the other students, compared to the absurdly Nice Guy he later became. Him bopping Gumball on the head in annoyance in "The Mystery", for example, would be unheard of nowadays.
Hector the giant was your stereotypical Jerk Jock who was stated to play football in one episode then abuse the weaker teammates when they lost. Now he's a Gentle Giant, albeit an easily-angered one, who tries to keep as calm as possible so he doesn't hurt anyone.
Sussie the chin puppet started off as a relatively normal student who, as she lacked usable arms, had trouble eating and doing homework. More recently, she's become a full blown Cloud Cuckoo Lander.
Nicole Watterson was a somewhat level-headed character with anger management issues to start with, but earned herself a need to always win at all costs starting with "The Fridge", effectively leaving Anais as the Only Sane Being in the process.
At times, Darwin could be even dumber than Gumball (particularly in "The Genius"), rather than typically being the brains of the two, if a bit naïve.
Gumball himself was initially an almost absurdly Cheerful Child, but later became more of a snarky and cynical Jerk with a Heart of Gold. Also, in earlier seasons, Gumball and Darwin were Super Gullible, as seen in "The Car" and "The Spoon". In later seasons, while Gumball couldn't exactly be called smart, he is increasingly often the Only Sane Man with The Ditz role belonging wholly to his father Richard.
Principal Brown in season 1 came off as a Dean Bitterman or extremely Apathetic Teacher, as shown in "The Lesson" where he treats the kids in detention like hardened criminals and in "The Genius" where he sees nothing wrong with kidnapping children just for being smart. Later he became more just a well-meaning but incompetent goofball, and while he still often gets mad at Gumball and Darwin, he generally has a good reason for it.
Jamie was always stated to be a bully, but for the first 2 seasons this was mostly an Informed Attribute, and the worst thing we ever actually saw her do was cut in line. The same episode showed that she was clearly not well-liked, but her classmates didn't seem afraid of her at all, and Darwin not objecting when she cuts in line was just seen as a sign of his timidity. Beginning with the revelation in "The Coach" that she's eaten bits of her classmates on several occasions, she's portrayed as a complete psychopath whom everyone in the school is so terrified of that they basically just let her do whatever she wants.
In Tobias' first appearance in "The Third", it seems people genuinely think he's as great as he claims even though he's obviously not. In later seasons, he's one of the least popular kids in the school.
Granny Jojo was portrayed in the first season as being almost callously apathetic to her family. After "The Authority" her characterization did a full 180 and she became obsessively overprotective.
The earlier seasons showed Mrs. Robinson as more or less a gender-flipped (if slightly naggy) version of her husband Mr. Robinson. Then the Season 4 episode "The Wicked" established her as a maniac who makes people miserable For the Evulz.
Ocho was implied to have anger problems in an early description, but he initially spoke just in arcade sounds and his anger was only seen by his always angry face, other than that, being just a Flat Character. In the second season, his anger issues are explored, and he is shown to shoot beams who can cause explosions and destroy people and things. In another episode in the fifth seasons, a crazy side of him is shown too; he kidnaps someone as a prank, and forces Gumball to be his best friend, making a ritual.
Hot Dog Guy was initially just an extra in cafeteria scenes. Later in "The Hug", Gumball tries to talk to him to show Darwin he is not unpredictable, and begins bumping accidentally to him several times. This happens again in "The Awkwardness" and in a small scene from "The List". "The Cringe" reveals that their accidental encounters did not begin in "The Hug"; that has been happening since they were little kids.
In later episodes, Roger has a surprisingly full, active life outside the Smith house, able to effortlessly conceal his identity as an alien through a variety of surprisingly effective, yet very obvious, disguises—which makes the early episode "All About Steve" strange to watch, where he is so desperate for human contact that the only place he can go to interact socially with others is at a sci-fi convention. A viewer coming to the series via the later episodes would no doubt be wondering why he doesn't just wear one of his 50,000+ disguises. Lampshaded in the commentary for "Roger Codger," the episode where Roger has to find his way from a landfill to home without being caught by the CIA, where they point out that the whole premise of the episode is somewhat worthless compared to his current persona. "Roger Codger" and some other earlier episodes also depict Roger as more beloved member of the family who, while with blatant Jerkass tendencies like the others, is actually willing to sacrifice himself to protect the Smiths. Compare this to later seasons which try to one up his self-obsessedComedic Sociopath persona with each episode.
Originally, Stan was just a strawman political for Republicans: hotheaded, bigoted and stupid as a foil to Hayley's liberal ways (American Dad! was supposed to be All in the Family for the George W. Bush era). Once the show went through invertedIssue Drift, however, he became more well-rounded. He also became less hypocritical—while an early episode showed him casually going to a strip club, a later one had him act incredibly uncomfortable when his coworkers dragged him there, and he wound up helping some of the strippers get legitimate jobs.
Steve was considerably a lot less cool and much more geekily nerdier in earliest appearances. This was before he eventually grew into the combination of being both a wimpy geek and a Cool Loser he's known as today. note Reasons are speculated to make his character less comparable to Neil from Family Guy.
Klaus' perversion toward Francine in the 1st season was also toned down immensely in the later episodes.
Yakko, Wakko and Dot initially annoyed people who deserved it and historic people to inspire them. In later episodes they became incredibly annoying to almost anybody.
Skippy Squirrel started out as a wide-eyed Genre Blind innocent who lived in awe of his aunt Slappy, bawled inconsolably over the death of Bumbie's mom, and seemed to be about five or six years old. This characterization didn't last long, though, as he matured into his aunt's witty, Genre Savvy, pop culture-loving sidekick whose age seemed about ten or twelve.
The Aqua Teen Hunger Force first debuted in an unaired episode of Space Ghost Coast to Coast called "Baffler Meal", where they appeared as representatives of Burger Trench and their characterizations were wildly different to the way they'd be by their show's premiere. Master Shake actually has Ignignokt's voice (and his flavor is chocolate instead of pistachio,) Frylock has No Indoor Voice and is actually a guy in a suit instead of a floating sentient box of fries, and Meatwad has a Catchphrase ("The bun is in your mind") that he never uses again, and is also suicidally depressed.
The three also did actual detective and crime-fighting work in the very early episodes, as befitting the show's title, until quickly devolving into the trio just getting into random antics. A later episode lampshaded the change, with Frylock admitting that they don't really detective work anymore.
In early episodes, Pam was a sad, pathetic HR drone who can't get laid to save her life and even manages to convince Lana to sleep with her out of sheer pity. By her first day in the limelight in the second season, she's shown to be immensely strong and assertive (even willing to beat her own boss for letting her die) and later gives Archer the best sex he's had in his life.
In the first episode, Woodhouse tells him that one of his house-guests for the night had been injured by a lemur, and Archer sort of ignores it. This is the same Archer who now fawns over every animal he has the chance to see and once admitted that, were it not for grades, he'd have become a veterinarian.
Francine was a lot more of a Jerkass bully in the early Arthur episodes, and Binkie was more of a straight-up bully than a sensitive boy who just acted like a jerk.
The opening shows Courtney making sure exhaust from her Rolls Royce sprays in Ginger's face - something her actual character on the show would never do. It's likely she was conceived as a stereotypical Alpha Bitch, but ended up becoming a Spoiled Sweet ditz who was more naive than actually mean-spirited. In fact, she becomes one of Ginger's closest friends over the course of the series.
Miranda goes from a manipulative, smug jerkass into a Jerk with a Heart of Gold at the end of the season. She's not kind, but she certainly wasn't as bad as she was in the early episodes of the show.
"Bato of the Water Tribe" has Iroh acting like a Dirty Old Man towards June, a trait he did not display in any other episode and seems at odds with his otherwise extremely polite and respectful personality. It did receive a brief Continuity Nod when June returned in the series finale, though.
Azula's sidekick and Zuko's Love Interest Mai comes off as way nastier in Book Two than in her later appearances. Her early appearances in the Last Airbender's present have her both casually eat a snack right in front of victims of a plague (while her parents are visibly horrified at the sight) and blatantly risk her little brother's life (who she otherwise treats with contempt) in a scheme with no signs of remorse on her part. While the latter could be chalked to keeping up appearances around Azula, the snack eating is still rather at odds with her later portrayal having her less shamelessly callous if still grumpy. After the incident, she serves as a henchwoman following the Fire Nation princess for her amusement for the rest of Book Two. This goes even further counting the canonical comics, where she's shown as a caring big sister to Tom-Tom in contrast to how little regard she held for him back in Book Two.
Avengers, Assemble! began airing before the Ant-Man movie was released, and as a result, Ant-Man's characterization shifts drastically during the course of the show. The first season was apparently written before the writers knew if the movie would be using Hank Pym or Scott Lang, and as a result, the show's version of Ant-Man ended up as a Composite Character of both men, and didn't have his real name revealed. Ant-Man returned in Seasons 2 and 3, where it was confirmed that he was Scott Lang, but his characterization continued to be closer to that of Hank Pym. Scott was depicted as a brilliant scientist and engineer, and wasn't particularly jokey (at least no more so than the rest of the cast). Then came Season 4, where the character was heavily ReTooled to resemble Paul Rudd's portrayal of Scott in the live-action film. Suddenly, he went from being a fairly disciplined scientist to more of a slacker everyman type, and was now much more sarcastic to boot.
First introduced in Batman: The Animated Series, Harley Quinn was originally introduced as nothing more than a minor henchwoman working for The Joker, once muttering "Oy, beauty school is starting to look pretty good about now," after being caught by Batman. The producers envisioned her as a one-shot character, though she turned so popular that she became part of the Batman comics, which led to the comic "Mad Love", later adapted on BTAS, which revealed that she was an intern at Arkham Asylum who was seduced by the Joker during psychiatric sessions. And during her first handful of appearances on the show, she didn't have any fighting skills to speak of - her role in the gang was almost entirely about infiltration. In the later episodes and especially the comics and video games, she's on par with Catwoman in gymnastics abilities and usually the Joker's muscle if he doesn't have any other henchmen around.
The titular duo originally spoke with Totally RadicalSurfer Dude accents, and they were initially presented as two stereotypical metalhead teenagers who were not very bright, as opposed to the Too Dumb to Live they later became.
Butt-Head's attitude towards Beavis was also originally less casually-malicious.
To be more specific, how intelligent and immature Ben himself is tend to change between series. In the Original Series (as well as the animated movies and the Omniverse flashbacks), he appeared to be of average intelligence for his age, just very bumbling and immature due to being 10-years-old. In the first two season of Alien Force, he grew up thanks to a 5 to 4 year Time Skip and became a smarter, more responsible leader. In season 3, his fame going over his head started inflating his ego, and from there to Ultimate Alien, he became cockier and more immature, with his earlier AF personality resurfacing only when things get serious. Omniverse then tried to get him closer to his Original Series self, and this result into his Flanderization into an Idiot Hero who cracks jokes or makes stupid mistakes even in serious situations and essentially made his 10 years old self look like a genius, despite being nearly 17 at that point.
When introduced in Omniverse, Rook was shown using contractions. After a short while, he uses Spock Speak and it's later shown that Revonnahganders, Rook's species, regards contraction use as their equivalent of swearing.
Odd had a future-flash ability that he suddenly stops using for no reason half way through season one until the writers finally came up with a contrived explanation in a season three episode that basically amounted to telling the viewers that it was deleted for being a useless ability.
XANA's hornet monsters had the ability to spray an greenish acid-like substance on the ground that would damage the Lyoko characters if they were near it. The ability was seen in only a few episodes of season one and was never used again afterwards.
William is, at first, seen to be able to swim just fine in the school's pool, yet when he's holding onto Yumi for dear life when the two are dangling off a bridge...he claims that he can't swim.
When she was just a secondary character on Beavis and Butt-Head, Daria had a wider range of expression and a less monotone voice (in the early episodes) than she later had in her Spin-Off, and participated in extracurricular activities.
In season one, Britney was shown as being a shallow, spoiled cheerleader who was definitely Book Dumb but not a complete ditz; later seasons upped the ditsiness, probably to accentuate her moments of ingenuity.
Jake, Daria's father, pretty much went the stereotypical route of fathers in sitcoms - at first he's not that dumb, just the only man in the house full of women and trying to deal with his Hilariously Abusive Childhood (which wasn't really present until near the end of season one). In the later seasons, Jake is beyond Bumbling Dad territory and is borderline Too Dumb to Live.
Helen was quite bad in the first episode (yelling at Daria for supposedly having low self-esteem); even after that, her initial characterization was wanting Daria to be a more "normal" teenager like Quinn. As the show went on Helen became a better mom, recognizing the strengths and weaknesses in both of her daughters and pushing each of them to become more rounded.
In his first two appearances, Mr. O'Neill was unable to remember any of his students' names. The writers seemed to realize that there was only so much that you could do with this gag, because afterwards this was dropped. (Apparently those mnemonics he came up with in The Daria Diaries worked.)
Mr. DeMartino comes off more like a Sadist Teacher in the first episode, annoyed that Daria actually knows the answers to his questions. Later on the idea became more that he was disillusioned by how stupid most of his students are, and Daria is thus one of the few kids who actually "make [him] want to kill himself a little less."
Big City Greens: Tilly started out as a silly and giggly child despite being the older sister, with very few instances than being more competent than Cricket. Later episodes make her a more responsible character who's more level-headed and serving as the voice of reason for Cricket's antics, making her a Cool Big Sis.
The DCAU is prized by fans for its subtle characterization where even when it isn't directly spelled out, characters visibly change across the entire series and develop organically from earlier interactions:
In Batman: The Animated Series, Batman was on the whole quite humanistic, friendly, and, while still a serious detective, was not above cracking some quips, sharing smiles and bonding with Alfred and Robin (Dick Grayson), and being a Big Brother Mentor to Robin. By the time of The New Batman Adventures he has become Drill Sergeant Nasty to the Bat-Family (to Batgirl and Tim Drake), very standoffish and rude (as in the case of his first meeting with Superman), and becomes a colder, and more driven hero.
In Superman: The Animated Series, Superman began as a smart, affable, somewhat smug superhero who was more or less confident and happy in both his civilian and superhero identity. However, the invasion of Apokolips by Darkseid, which leads to Dan Turpin's death and much later his brainwashing by Darkseid, leads him to loose his naivete, his idealism, and even his reputation, becoming a little more cautious, jaded, irritable, even paranoid in Justice League, with his Hot-Blooded nature making him a target for Gaslighting by Luthor and Cadmus, and his hatred for Darkseid nearly leading him to kill himself on Brainiac's asteroid before Batman comes and teleports both of them away.
Dexter's Laboratory: Dexter was quite serious and methodical, and at times a jerkass (mostly to Dee Dee), in the very early episodes. A while later he's much more full of enthusiasm, giving him a more childlike, pleasant nature, though he was still an egotist.
In the pilot of Drawn Together, the other housemates clearly have no idea what Ling-Ling's "Japorean" phrases mean and just project their own subconscious views onto him. This joke was dropped after two episodes, and for the rest of the series he's just a typical Intelligible Unintelligible character.
In addition the Noops were often incompetent Fools in the early half of the series, always prevailing solely due to dumb luck or their more competent peers' help, and ultimately being hopeless towards a remotely real threat. In Season Four the dynamic was reversed around, with the Noops essentially being the heroes' errand runners that did all the hard work with Blob's army often worsening the situation. The result also made the Noops more comedic again, showing more self awareness and suffering slapstick back more often, making them more Not So Different from Frizz and Nug.
The heroes were also a lot more smarmy and aggressive towards the Urpneys in earlier episodes, often favoring violent tricks and beat downs (sometimes even long after they'd already won). Later episodes made them more pragmatic and easy going, with Amberley even calling off an opportunity to punish an Urpney for trying to take the stone (something she often would have spearheaded beforehand).
Also in the first season, Urpgor was much more unhinged and somewhat decrepit (sort of like a traditional Igor), he also tends to be more consistently on the winning side of his rivalry with Blob, his boasting of having higher approval from Zordrak seeming to be somewhat true. Compare this to later seasons, where he is somewhat more lucid and cynical, and almost more of a Butt-Monkeythan the other Urpneys.
In the pilot and several early episodes, Zordrak was much more collected and genuinely sinister, and from the very first scene was shown perfectly willing to back up his threats of deposing of incompetent Urpneys. As seasons progressed, he evolved into more of a traditional cartoon Bad Boss, having little role outside throwing demonic tantrums and issuing empty threats or slapstick punishments to his squad.
The Dream Maker was also a more eccentric and befuddled character in early episodes, often oblivious to incoming threats with Albert acting as his Hyper-Competent Sidekick. Along with a more elegant redesign, the second season changes him into a more dignified and all knowing authority figure.
Huey, Louie, and Dewey were undisciplined troublemakers in their appearances up to and including the early episodes of DuckTales. Later on they're shown as quite responsible, almost never breaking the rules unless they think it's for a good cause. This change made the Five-Episode Pilot seem really weird when seen alongside later episodes in reruns.
Sharky the shark dog. Season one, he's a stereotypical Angry Guard Dog whose issues with the main characters were mostly territorial or otherwise just being a mean dog. Subsequent seasons, he's given more depth, had a slight Anthropomorphic Shift, being mild-mannered, and eventually becoming the Only Sane Man of the series additionally becoming also a Butt-Monkey fallen victim into the zaniness of others. His mean-streak remains, but it's often provoked and justified.
Brave Elmo the Elk in his earliest appearances speaks with an foreign accent and was clearly implied to be the series' residential Funny Foreigner. Following appearances has him simply as the series' zany American stuntman.
Cosmo was actually intelligent in the early pilot episodes, which appeared on Oh Yeah! Cartoons. He could be a tad hyper at times but he was arguably smarter than Wanda. When she's dressed as a pirate, she screams that she's blind. She is actually wearing an eye-patch on each eye, and Cosmo poofs one off and tells her she doesn't need two. Then he comes up with a plan of charming Vicky to get Wanda's wand back. He almost succeeds, but Wanda shows up and drags him away, while he tries to tell her he was getting the Wanda. She however, thought he was attempting to cheat. Then in the full length show, both he and Wanda were a bit spacey, referring to themselves as "two halves of a whole idiot". Cosmo becomes a ditzyManchild, while Wanda is the Only Sane Woman who seems to hold everyone else in contempt and always calls Cosmo out for being an idiot. This went through serious Flanderization over time. Plus the difference in voice: Cosmo sounded like a smooth-talking game show host in the pilot rather than the high-pitched Motor Mouth he became, which is odd, because it sounds like a case of The Other Darrin where Cosmo was voiced by two different people. In reality, Daran Norris' voice of Cosmo just changed over time.
They were also shown as having a loving marriage in the pilot series, and beginning of the show. where they hold hands, and kiss. Cosmo has Timmy send her away so he can plan their anniversary. Cosmo even cries when he has to be away from Wanda for a while. Compared to later seasons where the two are an old married couple, whom sometimes seem to just tolerate each other. Wanda sometimes dreams about ex boyfriends, and Cosmo has eyes for other women, and has stated that he didn't care about Wanda or her needs.
Timmy's jerkass nature was largely absent in the early pilots. This is most apparent in Scout's Honor. His refusal to simply wish for a mythical creature to get a merit badge out of principal is quite at odds with the Timmy that would always look for shortcuts to success.
Mr. Dinkleberg was a more genuine rival to Timmy's parents and could act like a smug Jerkass at times. In later episodes, he is a straight up Nice Guy who is abused by Mr. Turner for no reason and often times doesn't seem to be aware of his hatred of him. "Operation Dinkleberg" explains this as Dinkleberg straight up pretending to be smug and/or evil because he knows Timmy's dad loves having a nemesis.
Nearly every character in Family Guy has gone through dramatic changes:
Perhaps the most radical is Stewie. Once an egomaniacal baby genius, bent on world domination and matricide, Stewie has evolved into an effeminate, gay infant with a penchant for occasionally whipping out some manner of advanced technology.
In "If I'm Dyin', I'm Lyin'", Peter's blasphemous actions result in modified versions of the plagues of Egypt descending on Quahog. It is Brian who realizes the significance of the biblical events and when Peter insists "there must be a logical explanation" Brian slaps him repeatedly and states "Here's an explanation,*slap* GOD *slap* IS *slap* PISSED!". Evidently dogs don't have the best memory because Brian later became an outspoken hard line atheist an entire season AFTER Jesus became a tenant in the Griffin house.
In Mayor West's first two appearances, he appears to be more of a Bunny-Ears Lawyercompared to the rest of the series. He's first introduced telling the story of the city's founding, and the humor is coming entirely from the ridiculousness of the (apparently completely true) story. On his second appearance, when he meets Peter Griffin, he is actually helpful until he discovers that Peter's property is not part of the United States. Then though, he reveals the trapdoor in his office (and his plans for further work on it), and his characterization is set.
Likewise, Glenn Quagmire was initially portrayed as more of a '50s-type swinger fellow and seems quite normal in comparison to the extreme pervert he would eventually become; he was also very unsuccessful at attracting women before becoming the sort of guy who beds a different woman every night (often by immoral and illegal ways, such as roofies, an elaborate mechanism in his couch that sprays any woman who sits on it with knock-out gas, strips her clothes, and spreads her legs and lies her on her back while disco music plays [as seen and demonstrated in "It Takes a Village Idiot and I Married One"], and emotional manipulation). And even later than that, Quagmire still kept his near-rapist ways, but was shown to hate Brian with a passion (compare with some early episodes where Quagmire and Brian, despite not interacting much, were on friendly terms), and actually care about two women in his life: his sister, who's being abused by her boyfriend, and Cheryl Tiegs, the one woman he loved so much, that he became a sex addict when she broke up with him.
It is odd to watch the early episodes where Meg was treated with respect and love by her family, like Peter trying his hardest to help her out at the school newspaper. Also when Meg and Chris are both in front of an air fan, Meg complains that Chris is hogging all the air to which he replies "Yeah well, YOU'RE hogging all the UGLY!" Unlike the later barrage of "Meg is ugly" jokes, this is merely intended as a petty insult that would be uttered during a fight and likely not genuine.
"Brian: Portrait of a Dog", Brian's first spotlight episode revolved around him being talked down to for being a dog. Lois chastises Peter for treating Brian this way and the family learn to treat Brian with dignity. Later episodes slowly make a Running Gag of the family manipulating or mocking Brian's forcive dog-like tendencies and at least once pointing he is semi human and disposable to them, usually with Lois herself being the most condescending and bullying towards him.
The earlier episodes actually revolved around Peter and Lois' well intentioned attempts to raise and provide for their family and, while retaining selfish tendencies, often learned an Aesop from the episode's events. As the show progressed, they both gradually evolved into being exaggeratedself centeredAbusive Parentsfor laughs, making the show's title rather ironic (which was probably the intention all along, considering that Family Guy is often regarded as either an anti-Brady Bunch or The Simpsons if it knew how to do Comedic Sociopathy without pissing off its viewers).
In Joe's first appearance in "A Hero Sits Next Door", Meg hit on his son. He was slow to respond, but that was because she was so awkward. By the end of the episode, he seemed to genuinely enjoy her company. She also had a couple other boyfriends in the past. Compare to present day when boys will do anything to stay away from her, like commit suicide or murder a sibling so they can be too busy with an upcoming funeral.
In the earlier episodes, Joe was a mild mannered wheelchair bound cop who is generally friendly towards everyone and well respected because he's crippled but capable. Later episodes have him constantly abused by Peter and other people due to being crippled, he has a severe anger problem often lashing out at and beating up his friends, and sometimes depicted as being depressed.
Also, in their first appearances, news reporters Tom Tucker and Diane Simmons were just two news anchors who may or may not have been attracted to each other, but the viewer wouldn't know, since their main schtick was being politically incorrect while delivering the news (like when Tom declared himself Jesus Christ or Diane mentioning a "freak heat wave" and Tom telling her that it was offensive towards his upside-down faced child). Through most of the show's run afterward, they dislike each other and constantly take shots at each other about how unattractive the other is.
In his first appearance on The Flintstones, Dino could actually talk, which never happens again in the series.
In his first appearance, Mr. Panucci came off as an abusive jerk toward Fry. All future episodes portray him as one of the few people who actually cared about him (though he didn't show much concern when Fry was declared missing after getting pushed in the cryogenic freezer), seemingly retconning the first episode outburst as stress.
Kif is another notable example. In his first appearance, he was a Deadpan Snarker who was clearly disgusted with Zapp's stupidity; the creators actually came up with him based on the question "What if Spock had hated Kirk?" In subsequent episodes, he quickly evolved into an Extreme Doormat, however, miserably suffering under his boss' idiotic commands.
The Professor is a subtler example: in original episodes, he had a sort of softspoken, kindly senility, while later he became prone to crazy outbursts and played up more Mad Scientist tendencies.
In the pilot episode, Bender was defined by his depression, and he is first seen in line for a suicide booth, having been become suicidal when he found out that he was bending girders to make suicide booths. This is never brought up again, and in later episodes, he becomes the loud-mouthed, obnoxious, jerk out to Kill All Humans that we all know and love.
An unusual case of a one-shot gag character getting this: in an early episode, Fry meets a guy on the streets of New New York who replaces people's body parts. He is obviously a con-man, he offers to replace Fry's lungs with gills, but the gills only come a week after the lungs have been removed. Hermes meets him in "The Six Million Dollar Mon", but the man this time he actually makes the trades that Hermes offers him.
In their first appearance, Lrr and Ndnd are naked in their casual living room, only getting dressed when they go to bitch to Earth about one of their favorite shows being interrupted. Later episodes, while retaining their interests in Earth media, have them in their royal garb constantly and play up their evil overlord statuses, caring about significantly more important issues.
Fry shows very little sign of being attracted to Leela in the first few episodes. In "Love's Labors Lost in Space", he says that he thinks Leela is holding out to find a guy who's a cyclops like her, and doesn't seem bothered by this at all.
Goofy went from a lovable klutz to a period of being The Everyman in the '50s before being reverted back to the klutz everyone knows and loves. In earlier shorts Goofy could also often could be a jerk, display a selfish streak, and be irritable, but eventually evolved into a Kindhearted Simpleton that he's much better known for being today. Pete and Goofy's sons seem to have gone on a very bumpy journey before settling on the personalities they ended up with in Goof Troop, or even appearance—or in the case of Max, name. In The Everyman shorts mentioned above, the character who eventually became Max first appeared, but he was far more wild and uncontrollable. He's also "Goofy Jr." and for a while was a redhead with no ears. The character who later became PJ appeared in "Bellboy Donald" and he went from having everything in common with his father except being fat to... having nothing in common with his father except being fat. And his voice couldn't be more different either, going from gravelly and moderately low as a little kid to high, whiny, and clear, even as an adult.
In her first few appearances, Pacifica is basically a straight Alpha Bitch who really doesn't do much besides antagonize Mabel. Season 2 revealed that her attitude is largely a facade and the reason she acts that way is because her parents essentially brainwashed her in to thinking that she had to in order to maintain the family reputation. Once the show explores her Hidden Depths a bit more it can be odd to go back to an episode like "Double Dipper" and see Pacifica acting like a jerk for the sake of it.
In Bill's debut episode, he randomly shouts a series of conspiracies just before he disappearsnote "REALITY IS AN ILLUSION, THE UNIVERSE IS A HOLOGRAM, BUY GOLD, BYE!". This was a remnant of an earlier plan of the show where he would have been a comic relief figure instead of the Big Bad, and part of it would involve spouting random conspiracies to annoy Dipper. This part of him was quietly dropped in Season 2.
In the first season Stinky was a bully and sidekick to Harold who wore spiky wristbands. Later on, he's a sweet, naive Country Mouse struggling to find something he's good at. Since Stinky is much better known for how he was written in later episodes, it's a bit jarring to watch him in his earlier appearances.
Arnold went from being a Cloud Cuckoo LanderMr. Imagination to the Only Sane Man. One particularly notable example; Gerald and Arnold are having a sleepover, and it's Arnold who thinks his apartment is haunted while Gerald, who told and believed the stories of many of the show's urban legends, plays the skeptic.
In the first half of the first season, Helga more or less lacked any redeeming qualities (hearing her say she wants world domination in "Arnold's Hat" is especially jarring), her crush on Arnold was more selfish and stalker-like that was Played for Laughs, and the mistreatment she suffered (her plans backfiring and her parental neglect) was presented as a straight-up Hilariously Abusive Childhood. After that, she developed a Hidden Heart of Gold, performed several acts of true love towards Arnold and had several Pet the Dog moments with Phoebe and various others. By the end of the series, the neglect and abuse she suffered stopped being Played For Laughs.
In the first episode, GIR is essentially a two-year-old with a larger vocabulary, completely useless and unable to focus on anything. While his attachment to reality remains non-existent, he is later shown to be productive and capable, able to accomplish many things (even if it is rarely anything that Zim wants).
Gaz was always easily annoyed and prone to violent threats, but in early episodes she never really acted on them her very first line is swearing that Dib "will pay!" for drinking the last soda, but thirty seconds later she's talking to him civilly. Compare that to her insatiable desire for painful, terrible revenge in latter episodes like "Game Slave 2" or "Gaz, Taster of Pork." The comics and Invader Zim: Enter the Florpus would slingshot her back into the opposite direction, having her still prone to violence but also much more emotive, including acting nicer to her brother and showing she's Not So Above It All. There are even scenes where she's genuinely happy and cheerful (when not playing video games). In this case, it's because the creator regretted how much of a cruel Flat Character she was before.
In Ba Nee's first major appearance, the focus was on her love of reading and her poor eyesight. After the arc ended and her vision was fixed, instead her character became defined by her obsession with finding her Disappeared Dad. She still enjoys reading however more focus is given on her father.
When Rapture first appeared she mentioned that she and her bandmate Riot were meant to be together. Afterwards their relationship is presented as completely platonic and Word of God is that there's no romance between any of The Stingers. Rapture is in fact the only major character to present no interest in anyone.
The original intro makes Stormer seem like the lead of The Misfits and makes her more aggressive than she normally is. Stormer is usually only mean when in the presence of her band-mates. The Misfits were originally designed as cutthroat, but that was vetoed in development.
Dr. Scientist on Jimmy Two-Shoes. In the first season, he was a rather helpful scientist who seemed rather friendly to Jimmy (even though he could feel exhausted by him) and was also established as Heloise's inferior. In season two, however, he suddenly Took a Level in Jerkass to become a villain, and it's stated that he won the Mad Scientist Award every year, easily beating Heloise.
The two main villains in Kim Possible. Drakken was originally a competent, and intimidating, person before turning into his typical Harmless Villain persona. Shego was just a typical mook, with few essences of her signature personality. Then they became Ensemble Dark Horses and the team noticed how well Shego's voice actress worked with sarcasm.
Dale was also much more mellow (but still hated the American government) in the early days. He frequently spouted bizarre conspiracy theories but rarely acted on them. Compare that to the insane, scheming, often violent nutcase in later seasons.
Even Bill was more calm and observant and less pathetic at first.note Even though he was still treated like a loser and constantly reminded that his life went to hell when his wife left him. Case in point: "Shins of the Father," when he was actually happy at Bobby's birthday until Dooley said, "Your wife divorced you". After his habits and personality changed and years of Flanderization followed, it's hard to believe the Bill from the first episode is the same as that from later ones.
Hank is actually seen eating a charcoal-grilled burger in the first season, and actually admits it was the greatest burger he's ever eaten, despite being so in love with propane that he cares about it more than his lawn, his son, his niece, or even his wife. This would be unfathomable in later seasons, with his love of propane and hatred of all other forms of grilling/heating (one episode had him refer to butane as a "bastard gas"). Granted he probably said it just to be nice to Kahn, but even with that in mind it's still bizarre to hear him say good things about any fuel other than propane.
Bobby is also much different in early episodes. In the first couple seasons, he was mainly a naive, kind of slow kid who was more a foil for Hank than a full-fledged character. By season 3 he started getting more development as a character.
Thanks to some of the most infamous cases of Flanderization in the animated business, a few of the title characters in the Looney Tunes shorts act very different in their 1940s and 1950s-onward appearances (Daffy Duck perhaps being the best example). Still, you will get a few rare nods to their original forms now and then (Space Jam, for example, tries to make a few of the characters' different personas more interchangeable).
Despite airing after A Wild Hare established his current persona, Bugs in Elmer's Pet Rabbit (his second short) is a very different character. He is far more abrasive than normal, and acts like an Entitled Bastard towards Elmer for no particular reason. Bugs' voice is also much lower-pitched and lacks his famous Brooklyn accent.
Pepé Le Pew wasn't really French in his first appearance. The accent was a fake he put on to try to woo the ladies. Also, in Pepe's first appearance, he was married with children and cheating on his wife with a male cat who had painted himself up as a skunk so he can get back at the butcher who kicks him, the dog who attacks him, and the housewife who beats him. The difference between Pepe's first appearance and all subsequent appearances is more along the lines of Early Installment Weirdness as Chuck Jones originally wanted to make Pepe Le Pew a One Cartoon Short Wonder, but when Eddie Selzer claimed that Pepe wasn't funny, Chuck decided to bring back the character and prove Selzer wrong.
Elmer Fudd originated in the late 1930s as a more bizarre Tex Avery creation known as Egghead, who was only once called Elmer Fudd on screen (in "A Feud There Was") before being retooled in 1940.
Crossing over with Early Installment Weirdness, Sam the Sheepdog and Ralph the Wolf's first short, "Don't Give up the Sheep" had the two be typical slapstick villain and foiler, with Sam (named Ralph in this short) instead switching shifts with another dog named Fred. Later shorts introduced thedynamics the two are well known for. Also Ralph was very hairy and had menacing looking claws and fangs; later shorts had him looking identical to Wile Coyote but with lighter colored fur and a red nose.
Lola Bunny, the rather controversial girlfriend of Bugs Bunny. In Space Jam, she was In Name Only, Looney Tunes wise, and served no purpose at all aside from being a romantic interest to Bugs. In The Looney Tunes Show, she was far more wacky and closer to what one would associate with Looney Tunes. This is a result of that show's producers having not watched Space Jam, and deciding to base the character on what would fit the voice actress' comedy style.
Currently: Either the Everyman and the cartoon character that everybody knows and loves, or the Keyblade-wielding badass that Kingdom Hearts fans know and love. 1928: The guy who forced Minnie to kiss him, was also a bit of a jerk, and didn't mind harming his enemies.
Although he had mellowed out considerably through the 1930s, Mickey during the Walt Disneyera was still prone to almost Bugs Bunny-levels of retribution (such as his magical pranks on Donald Duck in Magician Mickey), and had quite a low tolerance for things not going his way, notably pulling a gun on Donald in Symphony Hour when the Duck tried to ditch a Concert Gone Horribly Wrong. He only really started to lose the darker elements of his older personality after Walt's death.
Epic Mickey returns to his original characterization, sort of. Mickey's pranks set in motion the dangerous events of the game, and he has the option of either helping the inhabitants of the world he inadvertently endangered (becoming The Hero and looking more heroic), or looking out for himself and just trying to get back to his world (becoming The Scrapper and looking more sinister). Essentially, the player has the option of making Mickey like his modern self, or his original self.
Compare Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy's interactions in early episodes like "Dragonshy" to ones in later episodes in even the same season. In "Dragonshy", Dash pretty much seems to hate how meek and scared Fluttershy is. Later episodes have her occasionally frustrated, but more understanding of Fluttershy's cautious nature, better reflecting the fact that they've been friends since childhood.
All of the Apple family to some extent. Applejack started off as a Hot-Blooded Calamity Jane-esque figure before taming into a more laid back Team Mom. Apple Bloom, originally wise beyond her years turned into the overly excitable leader of the Cutie Mark Crusaders (this is particularly jarring in "Bridle Gossip", where Applebloom acts as the Only Sane Man to a growing paranoia that Applejack is spearheading). Big Macintosh, who originally spoke and acted fairly normally, eventually became limited to his trademark "Yep" and "Nnnnope" outside sparse occasions and usually acts as a Not So Stoic in most of his appearances. Finally, Granny Smith, originally a rambling decrepit old woman, became a still kooky but deceptively Cool Old Pony and, in opposite to Big Mac, began speaking full sentences.
Twilight Sparkle started off in the pilot (and a select few early episodes) as rather acerbic and aloof, and was thoroughly lucid outside her social ineptness. As she grew out of her Fish out of Water role however, her more subtle wackier traits became prominent, most of her spotlight episodes revolving around her status as The Finicky One. She also became a more consistently warmer and more excitable character, to the point of occasional Large Ham tendencies.
In the first episode (and more so in the pilot), Phineas seems fairly irritable and sarcastic, apparently because the creators wanted him to seem like an annoying little brother. Within a few episodes he settled into his usual personality, chipper and laid back to the point of naïveté, which also worked to highlight Candace's paranoia.
Compare Phineas' reactions toward Candace saying she's in charge "conditionally" and after she runs off to the supermarket in the first episode to the remake, "Rollercoaster: The Musical!", where he's more random toward her in the latter than the former (in the former, he makes a snarky Blatant Lie of doing homework; in the latter he says, "The condition didn't have to do with the moose, did it?").
Major Monogram. In the earliest episodes he was a very formal, authoritative no-nonsense boss who behaved in a totally cold demeanor to anyone he spoke to. Over time he's become a One of the Kids eccentric whose mission briefings are never complete without at least one joke.
Norm, when he first appeared in "Greece Lightning", was a non-sentient robot who did nothing but spout non-sequiturs and attack anything that looked vaguely like a platypus. In later episodes, while he's still a Cloudcuckoolander, he's clearly sentient and in fact seems to be more intelligent than Doofenshmirtz.
In the first episode, Doofenshmirtz seems to just be randomly evil for no reason, to the point that he admits to not understanding his own motivations. Later episodes establish that he's had an absurdly miserable life starting from the day of his birth, and his evil plans are an attempt to get back at the people responsible.
In early episodes, Candace was much more of a killjoy and could sometimes come off as an outright Big Sister Bully toward Phineas and Ferb. As the series went on, though, Candace's motives for busting and her overall attitude toward her brothers became more developed and she gained more redeeming qualities. She also sometimes pined after boys other than Jeremy (such as Charles in "A Hard Day's Knight"), but fairly quickly Jeremy became the only boy whom Candace ever crushes on.
In "Monkey See, Doggy Do" the museum curator tells Blossom that he didnt want the police trouncing around looking for clues. Blossom finds the idea silly and she and her sisters conduct a reckless investigation. The curator faints after seeing the resulting damage to which Blossom fails to react. In later appearances she does all she can to preserve the arts and is horrified by any damage done to such institutions.
T.J. started out as an average student but eventually became much more Book Dumb, Vince was originally more of a Sour Supporter, and Gretchen wasn't quite the Child Prodigy she would become: notably, in "The Experiment," she's just as dumbfounded as the others at the idea that teens and adults enjoy kissing.
In Season One, Miss Finster was much more of a Sadist Teacher who relished psychologically breaking the kids. In later episodes, her meanness was toned down slightly and she became a Jerk with a Heart of Gold, who really did care about the kids and just had to be tough to keep the playground in order.
The kindergarteners started out as joke characters who just acted like savage Hollywood Natives. Later episodes let some of them become friends with the main cast (e.g. Hector with Gus, Tubby with Mikey) and fleshed them out as individuals with Hidden Depths.
Muscle Man also started off as a lot more mean-spirited and immature, and was disliked by Mordecai and Rigby. The two qiickly become some of his closest friends and Muscle Man gradually matures throughout the series.
In her first couple of appearances, Susie was shown as something of a crybaby and was even more naive and boisterous as Tommy (her opening scene has her running into the room crying for her sucker, and then instantly forgetting all her sorrow to happily greet Tommy). Even in the early season(s), she begins to mature, and in most episodes after she acts as a Cool Big Sis and a more moralistic foil for Angelica.
Chuckie's fear of clowns is now legendary and one of his defining character traits. In the early Season 1 episodes it was Didi who was afraid of clowns. The episode "Reptar's Revenge" has her freaking out when a clown sneaks up on her and Chuckie doesn't even bat an eyelid. Maybe he picked it up from her? Similarly later episodes demonstrated Chuckie's fear of spiders, despite acting rather nonchalantly towards Tommy's giant pet tarantula in "Spike Runs Away". All around Chuckie in early episodes was more a neurotic, curmudgeonly kid who was merely cynical to Tommy's adventures. It was only later on that was exaggerated into making him a paranoid Lovable Coward who feared anything and everything. On that note, Chuckie is quite argumentative and disagreeable in the first season. From the second season onward, his character sweetens up quite a bit.
Phil and Lil didn't develop their Running Gag of frequently fighting over toys until the second season. Additionally, their parents didn't settle into their more well known personalities until a few episodes in (Betty being The Lad-ette and Howard being a rather feminine man). Notably, Howard is happily watching football with the other dads in "Touchdown Tommy".
In the first season Angelica would put on a sweet smile for the adults and have them fooled into thinking she was a well-behaved girl. She was also shown to have a low opinion of her father. Later episodes have the adults clearly not fooled by her schemes. Additionally she becomes a Daddy's Girl and it's shown that her parents are the ones she unambiguously cares for most.
Much like Flanderization, The Simpsons has this across the board, with the main character, Homer Simpson, serving as arguably the biggest example within this series:
Homer's most popular characterization as a crude, clumsy, lazy, ignorant man, with alcoholic tendencies, makes the first season's, "There's No Disgrace Like Home" an extremely odd episode to watch, especially for those who have never seen The Simpsons in its early days. In it, he is embarrassed by his family's boorish behavior, including Marge getting drunk at his boss's party, and takes them to family therapy. If this was written after the first season, the roles would undoubtedly be reversed. Adding to this, Homer sells the TV in order to pay for the therapy; again, something he'd never even contemplate doing post-season one. While Homer is somewhat called out on it later that episode, since most of the things he was ashamed of them doing were his fault in the first place, he shows a lot more devotion to his family here than in later seasons.
Throughout the Ullman Shorts and most of the first season, she is a disrespectful troublemaker and not particularly bright, much like her brother. The writers conceived her and Bart as something of an interchangeable duo of bratty kids designed to drive Homer and Marge crazy. As Bart became the show's rascally Breakout Character, however, Lisa as a female version of Bart seemed redundant, so they rewrote her as a brainy, yet socially awkward girl.
Lisa, in the early episodes, was a big fan of The Happy Little Elves while Bart preferred to watch Krusty the Klown and The Itchy and Scratchy Show (along with horror movies and, on the episode where Homer steals cable TV, X-rated movies). Later episodes either show both of them being childish, both of them being mature or, in a lot of cases, Bart being the childish one and Lisa being the more mature one.
Lisa's artistic side arguably dates back the development of the show, since her saxophone solo is part of the opening credits. Another case of this would be her rebellion against her music teacher Mr. Largo. It's part of the opening credits, and is emphasized considerably in a couple early episodes. Later, not only did Lisa avoid conflict with her teachers to the point of becoming a grades-obsessed teacher's pet, but Mr. Largo has been Demoted to Extra (and in some cases, Put on a Bus).
Early episodes showed Lisa being friends with other average girls in her class, liking ponies, and having small sleepovers at her house. The later episodes established her as a sad loner who is very disliked, has little to no friends, is constantly bullied for being "smart", a very uppity Granola Girl, and always trying to find friends outside her school and joins environmental groups and MENSA.
Supporting characters have gone through this too. When we first see Principal Skinner's mother in "The Crepes of Wrath", she is the stereotypically sweet, frail old lady who embarrasses her son by calling him "Spanky." Afterwards, she was rewritten into a cruel matriarch who controls every aspect of her son's life. This could have had something to do with the cherry bomb incident in that episode though.
Skinner himself has changed. Whereas now he's a pathetic mama's boy who is usually easily outsmarted by Bart, in the early seasons, he was far more competent and authoritative, and his main shtick was a tendency to mispronounce long words (one of which was his own surname), have flashbacks about his days as a Vietnam War soldier and demonstrate his Green Beret skills, such as taking out a group of lawyers from The Disney Corporation who threatened to sue Skinner over using "The Happiest Place on Earth" for the school carnival. The writers kept the 'Nam flashbacks (though those got phased out as well as time went on), but ditched his penchant for mispronouncing long words, and eventually made him a loser who always fell for Bart's tricks. Accordingly, his relationship with Bart has gone from Worthy Opponent levels of respect to simple contempt from Bart. He also was revealed in an infamous episode to have been an Armenian-American juvenile delinquent in the Sixties who only reluctantly goes to Vietnam and then steals the identity of the real Seymour Skinner, who was believed killed. This "origin" went over so poorly with fans that it was almost never mentioned again, even in-universe.
Dr. Hibbert, in his first appearance, "Bart the Daredevil", is as a stern, competent professional. By his very next appearance, he became somewhat absent-minded and laugh-prone ("Ah-hee-hee-hee!") and an Expy of Bill Cosby, complete with a wife who looks like Phylicia Rashad (only with darker skin), a teenage son who looks like Malcolm-Jamal Warner, and a daughter who looked like Keisha Knight-Pulliam.
Police Chief Wiggum also went through a dramatic shift. In early episodes he is portrayed as a serious, no-nonsense police officer surrounded by idiotic officers (though still with the smarmy voice). Later on, he becomes an idiotic police officer, whilst the others become somewhat smarter.
His son Ralph varied widely in personality over his very scant appearances (being essentially a Living Prop) up until his starring role in "I Love Lisa", which also showed a very different version of Ralph. The Ralph in that episode is shown to be pretty dumb, but more in the below-average-for-an-eight-year-old range, and showcases some actual genuine emotions (he's very much aware of his status as an unpopular kid, for instance, and a decent actor). Later appearances by him focus more on the dumb things he says, and a couple seasons later, he'd more or less solidified as a Talkative Loon who is dumber than a rock and whose dialogue tends to have little connection to reality.
Even before Ned Flanders became the Trope Namer for Flanderization, his personality had drifted towards being nice and meek. It's sort of funny to watch his first appearance, where he's so indifferent/oblivious to Homer's obvious financial problems that it reaches Jerkass proportions and he actually seems fully deserving of Homer's enmity.
Nelson and the Jimbo, Dolph, and Kearney trio used to scare Bart and were, overall, much worse kids. In fact, Nelson, in his first appearance, is so menacing that Bart has to use military tactics against him. He was also depicted - at least in Bart's imagination - as a complete sadist, not only killing Bart but punching his corpse at the funeral. Now they're all Bart's pals, with Nelson practically being one of the gang. That's not to say Nelson and the trio don't beat Bart up every now and then.
Kearney himself is Older Than They Look, being in his 30s but having been held back repeatedly to the point where he's still an elementary student. In an early episode he, Jumbo, and Dolph had to use fake IDs to buy alcohol, while future episodes have Kearney drinking due to his age.
"One Fish, Two Fish, Blowfish, Blue Fish" features some supporting characters behaving in ways that seem extremely out of character in hindsight but were undeveloped or underdeveloped at the time. It features Lou and Eddie acting as incompetent or malicious policemen when generally speaking later on in the series they are portrayed as more reasonable, competent foils to their boss, Chief Wiggum. Additionally, Smithers sees Mr. Burns eyeing a beautiful woman and not only doesn't get jealous, but also encourages him and seems to be interested in the woman himself.
In one of the earliest Ullman shorts, Bart asks Homer "What is matter and what is the mind?", a deep philosophical inquiry more apt coming from Lisa and that seems unimaginable of crossing Bart's mind, even in the later shorts.
In Lionel Hutz's first appearance in "Bart Gets Hit by a Car", he was shown as fairly competent in his Ambulance Chaser ways, if quirky and amoral, coming within spitting distance of a million-dollar payout until Marge proved to be a Spanner in the Works. In his later appearances, he tends to be hopelessly incompetent at law and usually either fails his cases miserably, has his clients bail him out, or succeeds by pure luck.
In the Season 1 episode "There's No Disgrace Like Home", Homer mentions that his mother always considered him a huge disappointment, implying she was just as verbally and emotionally abusive as Abe. Later episodes show that Mona Simpson is far from being the abusive parent she was implied to be in said episode; she is a sweet, caring woman who loves Homer more than anything in the world and who was forced to go into hiding and abandon her son because of Mr. Burns.
Rotor was a lot goofier and awkward in the pilot episode. As Antoine and later Dulcy took over as comic relief, his dorky aspects were downplayed in favor of a more laid back and competent personality.
Princess Sally was a fair bit more bratty and rivalistic towards Sonic in early episodes, even having her own share of Idiot Ball moments, making them more Not So Different. While still very snarky and argumentative in Season Two, it is from being the clear voice of reason of the team.
Randy Marsh's drift into Mr. Serious Business in the later seasons makes early episodes strange to watch; apparently World of Warcraft and Little League games deserve more panic than things like spontaneous combustion or lava engulfing the town. This is especially notable in "Spookyfish", where he actually plays straight man to Sharon's antics.
In "Two Guys Naked in a Hot Tub", Stan refuses to hang out with Butters and Pip because they are "Melvins" and the geekiest kids in school. Whilst Butters and Pip are still Butt-Monkey types in later seasons, Stan evolves into one of the nicest and most tolerant characters, while Butters practically becomes one of the gang, so Stan acting like he wouldn't be caught dead with them seems somewhat unusual. Even Kyle agrees with this point of view at the end.
Stan and Kyle actually were a lot nastier and more immature in the first couple of seasons, and actually seemed like genuine 8 year olds a lot of the time. It wasn't until around Seasons 6 and 7 that they became the eternal Straight Men and Only Sane Men to the idiocy of the wider South Park population. The change is most noticeable in their treatment of other kids such as Butters. Originally, Stan and Kyle were manipulative bullies only lower on the scale than Cartman; for example, in "Jared Has Aides", all of the boys are seen bullying and exploiting Butters in an equal fashion. In subsequent episodes, despite getting thrown out of the gang, Butters seems to gain a more developed relationship with them as their more righteous tones take over. As early as in "Toilet Paper", which aired a season later, they have resentment to exploiting Butters in a similar manner than they did before. Their nastier side occasionally returns, but they seem more ineffectual about it (cases such as "Pandemic" and "The Tale of Scrotie McBoogerballs" where their manipulation backfires on them).
Butters' earlier behavior is almost completely unrecognizable to his behavior nowadays. In his earliest appearances, he was as much of a Jerkass as most of the other kids, and would gang up to pick on any other singled out boy.note Such as Clyde in "Cartman's Silly Hate Crime 2000" when he is referred to as the "second fattest" of the group. It's a far cry from the naive Nice Guy he quickly evolved into.
In the first four seasons, Eric Cartman was a whiny spoiled brat with a high scratchy voice who begged his mother into getting whatever he wanted and picked on Kyle mainly because he didn't celebrate Christmas. Also, the others got along with him for the most part, and he had many catchphrases. From Season 5 onwards, he is more intelligent, conniving, manipulative, and psychopathic; his voice is lower and deeper; he rarely whines or cries; the other boys hate him and rarely gets along; and he rarely says any of his catchphrases anymore.
Remember when Wendy Testaburger was once a psychotic Yandere who murdered a substitute teacher Stan had a crush on? Compare that to the smart and sensible girl, who is even willing to break up with Stan, as seen in later episodes.
In the early episodes, Mayor McDaniels was a Mayor Pain, obsessed with her own image but so stupid that she needed her aides to correct her every time that she gave a statement. As time went on she got smarter as the rest of the adults got dumber; these days, she's either just the leader of their antics, or she's portrayed as an Only Sane Woman forced to deal with a town full of idiots.
The town itself experienced this. In the early seasons, it was a small conservative mountain town, with a homophobic populace, only one police officer, and rednecks Uncle Jimbo and Ned playing major roles in many episodes. In the middle and later seasons, the town grew significantly in size, featuring a Wall-Mart, a large community center, a two-story police station full of cops, a number of restaurants, among other things, Uncle Jimbo and Ned have largely been demoted to extras, and its politics have moved significantly to the left, to the point where it usually more closely resembles a Bourgeois Bohemian-filled liberal suburb than a conservative mountain town. This is currently Truth in Television throughout the United States, particularly in the West, as towns are growing larger and more "modern" thanks to the influx of migrants from the big cities. Trey Parker and Matt Stone are noted libertarian advocates, so their politics can swing from one Strawman Political to another pretty quickly.
Kenny's original role in the show was simply to die a horrible death each episode. By Season 5, the creators had clearly got sick of the gag and decided to kill him off for real in "Kenny Dies". They revived him at the end of the following season. Since he has died less frequently in subsequent seasons, Kenny's role has evolved into The Hedonist.
Before Revenge of the Sith premiered, General Grievous made his first appearance one year earlier in the Genndy Tartakovsky produced Star Wars: Clone Wars animated series. It is a very different characterization than what would end up in the live action movie; Grievous in the animated series is a scary, unstoppable killing machine that singlehandedly defeats a number of Jedi. In the movie, Grievous is less formidable adversary and who runs when he knows he cannot defeat an opponent. This characterization has continued into the CGI Star Wars: The Clone Wars.
Grievous tends to follow Dooku's advice in most of his later characterizations:
Dooku: Don't let your pursuit of trinkets cloud your reality. Remember what I taught you, General. If you're to succeed in combat against the best of the Jedi, you must have fear, surprise, and intimidation on your side. But if any one element is lacking, it would be best for you to retreat. You must break them before you engage them. Only then will you ensure victory and have your trophy.
Lucas hadn't decided at the time whether Grevious was going to be a warrior or a schemer. The Clone Wars team made him a badass for the first season, then were told that Lucas was going for the sneaky coward for the movies. Dooku's lecture and Windu crushing his chest were put into the second season specifically to bridge the gap between the two interpretations.
During Judy Tenuta's first appearance, Space Ghost is very smitten with her. When she returns later in "Reunion", Space Ghost is instead irritated by her and eventually tells Moltar to cut off her feed mid-interview.
Various members of the Council of Doom had wildly different personalities in their very first appearance. Brak simply performed a Beavis And Butthead impersonation with Sisto, compared to the loud Manchild he became afterwards. Tansit had a completely different voice actor, and was more menacing and less of a meek Butt-Monkey, and Mettalus actually spoke comprehensible English instead of incomprehensible mettalic droning.
In early episodes, Pearl doesn't seem to show any sign of disliking food: she seems to have an interest in tea in "Serious Steven" and says she likes pie in "So Many Birthdays". Later in the series - once gems have been established as The Needless - she's utterly disgusted by eating. In the pilot, all the gems seem to be fine with eating, but in the series, only Amethyst regularly does. When asked about this, one of the head writers handwaves Pearl's earlier interest in food as her just liking the act of cooking and baking.
The aforementioned non-canon pilot has a few more examples. These include Pearl being less motherly toward Steven, with all the Gems serving as older sister figures rather than just Amythest, and Steven having a mutually antagonistic relationship with Lars, while in the series proper, he usually seems oblivious to Lars not liking him.
Steven is known for being The Heart and being extremely pacifistic. This trait, however, wasn't concrete until the third season. Steven in early seasons was much more fight happy and offensive in his abilities.
The Warden was introduced as a quirky yet sadistic type who gained entertainment from his inmates dying in gruesome ways, and that was said by the creators to be a super-genius that wasn't good with people. Compare the early characterization to the more outgoing Manchild who's willing to make friends, and that gets beat up and injured easily by his own inmates or others.
The Twins actually directly interact with the Warden in the pilot, and are shown to fear the possibility of being killed from the chaos they started. In later episodes of the series, they rarely mention him or are noticed by him. Their general personalities also shifted from being colder, a bit more callous and less verbose, to being more awkward and vulnerable. Their early meddling with the jail was also more often destructive.
Alice was much less verbal and more to-the-point with her dialogue, and seemed to be more threatening.
In Slade's first appearance he was a Card-Carrying Villain who spouted cliched dialogue ("Next time my planswill succeed—and the Titans will pay!"), smashed teacups when he got angry, and employed a butler. Later episodes turned him into the creepily emotionless Manipulative BastardTitans fandom loves to hate, gave his immediate Evil Plan a definite focus (though we never learned what his ultimate goal was), made his dialogue into what amounted to a series of very nasty Breaking Speeches and the butler was never seen with him again.note The Butler is named Wintergreen, and he was Slade's regular sidekick in the comics. He was most likely added to the first episode with the intention of developing into the same role in the cartoon, but was then dropped in favor of Slade working alone.
This happened to the third season's Big Bad, Brother Blood. In his first appearance he was hammy and egotistical, true, but he mostly overacted only when playing to an audience and could be quite calm and suave when he wanted to, and took his defeat at the end of the episode quite calmly. Later episodes made him into a much more hotheaded villain prone to outbursts of temper whenever things went wrong, and he largely lost his "Evil Professor X" shtick to become a much more straightforward Diabolical Mastermind. Also crosses over with Flanderization, as his obsession with Cyborg slowly ate up his entire character, to the point that his last appearance was entirely centered on stealing Cyborg's tech and upgrading his minions (and himself) with it.
The second episode, "Sisters", has Beast Boy saying he wants to watch a comedy movie, while Raven wants to watch a horror film. Later episodes would have Beast Boy more interested in horror and sci-fi, while an entire episode is based around Raven refusing to admit that a horror film terrified her.
In the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon, April's co-worker at Channel 6, Vernon Fenwick, was originally part of her news crew who even helped her defy their boss in order to help her get an exclusive story on the Dimension X invasion. One season later, he's now a cowardly reporter who always tries to steal April's stories from her and is a gigantic suck-up and Yes-Man that would never dream of going against his boss. One possible thing that could have led to this evolution was his change in voice actors, the second one who notably gave him much more of a whinier voice than the original.
Thomas the Tank Engine has taken a few directions within the show's heavy run, starting off as an egotistical Bratty Half-Pint in Season One, before gradually maturing into a more responsible Nice Guy by Season Three. The HIT Entertainment seasons kept up the more altruistic image of Thomas, but granted back some of his childishness and naivete, and by the time of the CGI transition he has become something of a well-intentionedCloud Cuckoo Lander.
Toby started off a fairly confident Big Brother Mentor, even being a tad snarky and acerbic with other more arrogant engines. As the series started branching from the books, Toby started gaining a meek, under confident side, and by the time of the CGI series is an almost childlike Lovable Coward that engines he previously tutored such as Thomas and Percy often end up soothing.
Similar to Toby, Edward started off as a Cool Old Guy and almost infallible Only Sane Man as in the books. Likely to avoid the same demotion he got later in them, the show's original stories made more attempts to give Edward a flawed side to enable more plots. These tended to be inconsistent for a while, in some he would be well meaning but insecure, while in others he would be arrogant and rude. By the time of the CGI transition he seems to have stuck as a toned down version of the former.
Season Seventeen seems to be reverting back a lot of the personalities for the classic cast (though Thomas still flip flops between characterizations Depending on the Writer).
Bridgette is characterized as an easy-going, understanding pacifist. That said, the second episode "Not So Happy Campers - Part 2" had her as one of the two girls to aggressively confront Zeke about his Innocently Insensitive sexist commentsnote The other being Eva, who's Hair-Trigger Temper makes this moment in character for her.
After Island, Gwen's love for art is never acknowledged again outside of online bios.
In early episodes, Heather would take almost every opportunity to mess with her teammates even if it risked making her team lose, like reading Gwen's diary out loud to the whole world or making Leshawna chop pineapples (which she's allergic to) during a cooking competition. This habit seems to have disappeared by the middle of Island, as she became more focused on winning. She even gets mad at Courtney in World Tour for trying to lose the Area 51 challenge on purpose so they could vote out Gwen. She doesn't even like Gwen, but it seems she draws the line at bringing the whole team down for the purpose of single-minded revenge.
Halfway into World Tour, Sierra using her uber-knowledge of the show to her advantage competition wise is completely dropped to focus purely on her obsession towards Cody. While her knowledge of the show is still present, it becomes more Cody centric and she no longer uses it to win. (This comes back a little in "Rapa-Phooey," but even then she seems more interested in getting Alejandro away from Cody then winning the game.)
In her debut during "Celebrity Manhunt's Total Drama Action Reunion Special", Blaineley was an affable (if gossip-obsessed) TV show host who even rooted for the Total Drama cast to make their return to reality TV. In World Tour however, she becomes co-host of the Aftermath and is transformed into the Distaff Counterpart of Chris, sharing his narcissistic selfishness and immorality; his vapid obsession with causing conflict and being in the spotlight; and his sadistic and bullying attitude towards the contestants (especially Bridgette).
In Total Drama Presents: The Ridonculous Race, the Ice Dancers were Olympians who only got silver because Jacques dropped Josee during their performance. In the first episode, she calmly relays this backstory while he's the one acting distraught; later on, however, she's far more crazed about winning than he is and only recalls the incident with extreme bitterness.
In the first few episodes of Beast Wars, the writers were still deciding where they wanted to take the characters. As a result, many of them only faintly resemble the more complex personalities they developed later on. Tarantulas acts like a gibbering lunatic rather than a Manipulative Bastard with a sadistic streak, Rhinox comes off as nature loving hippy, Rattrap is a Dirty Coward and borderline Token Evil Teammate instead of a pragmaticBoisterous Bruiser, Cheetor seems outright stupid rather than merely young and naive, and Blackarachnia lacks all of her sympathetic traits. There's also some weird details that would get contradicted by later backstory and reveals, such as Optimus being described as a bit of a rookie who's new to commanding even though later episodes and supplemental materials make clear that Rattrap has been serving under him for years.
Another notable difference is how Waspinator is written. Despite his reputation as the chew toy, in the first episode he's introduced by pinning Cheetor down in a firefight for several minutes, and his dialogue reflects his name (which of course, references the Terminator, a cold, menacing Killer Robot
Waspinator: Waspinator under attack. Waspinator engage enemy. Waspinator Terrorize.
In later episodes Waspinator does indeed get blown up or otherwise defeated in a humiliating way, but doesn't actively complain about it nearly as much until season 2.
For the first four episodes or so, Pizza Steve was actually a nice guy despite his narcissism. In later episodes, his behavior borders on Token Evil Teammate.
In the pilot, the kid of the week initially has no idea who Uncle Grandpa is, and when he tells his mom about Uncle Grandpa at the end, she clearly doesn't believe him. In all later episodes, Uncle Grandpa's existence and Reality Warper powers are portrayed as common knowledge.
In X-Men: Evolution, Lance was originally a jerk ass with a known hair trigger temper and even a manipulative side, and was to some extent a dark mirror version of Cyclops. In season two, however, they then established he had a crush on Kitty and pretended to be nice to get to her. After they broke up, he became a Jerk with a Heart of Gold who, while willing to plot against the X-Men, was also unable to leave a helpless old woman to die, and teamed up with them to stop an explosion. Pietro, originally a Smug Snake, took over as the Brotherhood's leader and a BIG Manipulative Bastard, basically being the exact opposite of Cyclops. Only Blob and Toad really retained much of their original personalities, and even there, Blob lost his anger, and Toad lost any competence he had (originally being able to hold his own against Nightcrawler).