- X-Men: Toad, of all people, has some depth to him. While being Magneto's Butt-Monkey for years, he's become quite a skilled mechanic; and while not innovative, can reproduce pretty complicated devices. He also grew a spine, led his own version of the Brotherhood, and was one of the chessmasters behind the resurrection of the reality-warping Proteus.
- Most of the kids from Runaways fit this trope one way or another, particularly Chase, Gert, Molly, and Karolina.
- Stan Lee was very fond of this:
- The X-Men include Beast, a furry monster man (originally a human-ish jock type, on the surface) who is a brilliant polymath; Prof. Xavier, a guy in a wheelchair, who is the most powerful telepath on Earth etc.
- Wolverine comes across as an uncouth, uneducated redneck until the team gets teleported to Japan. He picks up part of a newspaper and casually tells the others what it says. Over time, he is shown to be fluent in Russian, Chinese, Cheyenne, Spanish, Arabic, and Lakota, and has some knowledge of various other languages. He's also a highly trained martial artist and samurai.
- In the Fantastic Four The Thing is likewise a very intelligent ex-fighter pilot. On his worst day, he's needy, pessimistic, and shovy; on his best, he out-braves Captain America. Sue is the most powerful member of her team and on her best day the Team Mom, but she's got self-esteem issues and doubts Reed's devotion to her and the family. Johnny is vapid, self-absorbed and manic—but he's also best friends with Ben no matter what, and usually the first into a fight. Reed is brilliant, but every so often he admits his deep guilt over causing the accident that made the Fantastic Four in the first place—even guilt over what happened to Victor von Doom, even though he didn't have a damn thing to do with it. Ben Grimm's depths are lampshaded in Fantastic Four vs. The X-Men, when Rogue kisses him, stealing his powers and psyche. "She expected to be kissing a toad. Instead she's touched the heart of a prince."
- Superman, Batman and many other heroes play this with their alter egoes- Clark Kent is a mild-mannered, occasionally clumsy reporter, who no one would suspect of also being the Man of Steel; Batman is a terrifying vigilante, one that many believe is actually a mythical monster and some deny the existence of entirely, while no one at all would consider linking him with shallow, lazy playboy Bruce Wayne. In many stories, though, their identities are also shown to surprise other characters-Clark is also a brilliant, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist who can prove to be incorruptible and brave (evident when Supes loses his powers), while Wayne is also a highly respected philanthropist with a far cleaner business record than his playboy persona might suggest; also, while the death of his parents is public knowledge, most people don't seem to be aware of it.
- A lot of people in-universe thinks Supergirl's a brainless, gullible Flying Brick that hits first and asks questions later. Though she's a member of the Kryptonian Science Guild and has plenty of hobbies◊: playing guitar, drawing, costume-designing... She also owns a pet cat she's very fond of.
- Deadpool has gone through a lot of this. In the beginning, he was a violently amoral mercenary who would pretty much do anything for money, including switching sides in the middle of a fight if someone on the other side offered him more money. Gradually he's grown into a full Anti-Hero, has a pretty tragic backstory of a childhood that was far from easy, and has serious issues with how ugly he is and how his constantly healing brain has seriously screwed up his perceptions. He now has a fairly rigid code of honor, tries to do the right thing, keeps his promises, and has established that there are lines he will not cross.
- Averted with the Punisher, as he has shown very little character development. Sure, his backstory has been expanded and fleshed out, but in his first appearance he was a vigilante who only cared about killing as many criminals as possible. Decades later, it's still all he cares about.
- Sin City is a comic that's known for being Rated M for Manly but Frank Miller is careful to give each character a meaningful backstory. Take Marv, for instance. He's ugly and out of his mind, yet he is shown to be a very jolly drinking-buddy, a supportive friend, and is much smarter than he lets on. It was once mentioned that he fought in a war. His violent tendencies, paranoia and alcoholism could be the results of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
- Geoff Johns specializes in revamping B-level villains by adding backstory and character depth to them.
- Transformers: Wings of Honor: Parodied when discussing the concept of Alt-modes. Brawl tells them that his motto is to keep the body you're born in. Blast-off points out that his motto really is "aim for the mouth so you don't have to hear them talk." Brawl responds that he has many mottos and that's what makes him deep. However, Brawl's idea of a staying the same is in contrast to his species, which is defined by their ability to change. When Deathsaurus has his team pull a FaceHeel Turn, Brawl is the only one not swayed by bribery or self doubt, Deathsaurus merely lets Brawl's own violent tendencies guide him to the Decepticons.
- Caesar starts out as a cardboard foolish, nasty mockery target, relying on the audience to find it funny in contrast to his real personality rather than displaying contrast in the work itself. Soon, he becomes an elegant, Shakespearean, rather pompous character whose high opinion of himself is always subverted by the personal pettiness of his meanness and the lack of respect he receives from the Gauls. This is his default characterization for a while, until he begins coming up with more nuanced schemes relying on psychological warfare rather than violence and his torment is portrayed more sympathetically (while the Gauls get more anarchic and crazy), making him more of a Worthy Opponent who has a point, much closer to his real-life personality. It culminates in a frustrated speech he gives in Asterix and the Belgians where he points out that Gaul surrendered, as a result of this surrender the Roman government is giving huge amounts of money to the chiefs including the village chief, and so the village is taking Roman money and giving nothing back. After this point, he becomes a Friendly Enemy, even throwing a banquet for the Gauls at one point.
- Cacofonix is a Dreadful Musician + Hidden Depths — for starters, he isn't actually that "dreadful" a "musician", but a very educated, creative and multitalented one who just happens to have a truly horrible singing voice (although it varies in quality). He may also be Born in the Wrong Century. He also tends to be very arrogant about his talents when people are abusing him about his music, but, as soon as anyone actually wants to hear it, he gets insecure and often starts jabbering about audiophile stuff or loses his voice from stage fright, suggesting it may be an Inferiority Superiority Complex.
- The Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye: Everyone gets a turn (the title of the comic, after all, is More than Meets the Eye, and it's not just talking about alt-modes), but Whirl, the resident Heroic Comedic Sociopath, is probably the most notable. He's angry because of the loss of his delicate hands to Empurata, making it impossible for him to ply his trade as a watchmaker; he's surprisingly good at getting inside Fortress Maximus's head when the latter has a psychotic episode and takes Whirl and Rung hostage (and later manages to play Rodimus like a cheap kazoo); he considers Rung a friend, not that he was willing to admit to it prior to the above hostage incident; and he admits at one point that a lot of his anger is a defence mechanism, so he doesn't need to face up to the things he's done. Less dramatically, he's also a fan of Earth cinema, especially Jean-Luc Godard.
Misfire: Y'know, Grimsy, sometimes you remind me of Spinister. Every now and then you'll say something or do something that makes me think there's a lot more going on in there than we realise. More than you realise, too. Guess all I can do is be patient, pay attention...and see what you do next.
- The Scavengers start out looking like jokes - Decepticons so low on the totem pole that it's amazing the DJD even bothered to target them. Then they start showing their true colours: Fulcrum proves willing to give his life for people he's only just met (even if he fails to actually do so), Krok gives a surprisingly heartfelt speech about the stigma of mental illness, Misfire is very empathetic and even First Aid views him as an expert on organic medical care, and Spinister is a brilliant surgeon despite being insane. Even Grimlock, a brain-damaged murder machine, gets a go.
- A staple of Leo Ortolani (best known for Rat-Man):
- Rat-Man is well known as an outright moron and a rude and insulting man. When necessary, he can also prove himself an awesome hero (as Valker discovered the hard way when he asked him if he was the kind of hero who thinks he won't shoot or the one who thinks he can catch bullets with his hands: Rat-Man boasted he was the kind Valker could not shoot-because he stole his gun beforehand), and can be surprisingly nice and romantic at times.
- Brakko is, by Word of God, "even stupider than Rat-Man, if at all possible", and a Running Gag is that he's the only one who doesn't know his wife cheats on him with literally the entire town and even their dog or that his son is actually the mailman's son, and spends an entire issue unable to realize that Cinzia Otherside is a transgender and a former(?) prostitue. Then, when influenced by the Shadow, he suddenly reveals he knew about his wife and son the whole time, he just loves his wife too much to hold it against her, and the issue where he first meets Cinzia has her told him outright and him hint he knew the whole time and just chose to treat Cinzia as the woman she saw herself as.
- Valker is the main villain, a professional Hero Killer, and the host of the Shadow, and the main Running Gag about him is him hilariously maiming or killing employees or people who just pissed him off for minor transgressions. He's also Rat-Man's loving adopted father, and wiped out his son's memory of him, and his own of the son, before the Shadow could possess him to protect him.
- Bedelia from Venerdì 12: a very shallow woman who Really Gets Around, when she broke up with Aldo he asked her "What will I do?", and she calmly took the chance to reply "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn" before driving away-on his car. As the series progressed it turned out she had good reasons to be so hard with him when they broke up (and in fact she was incredibly patient, with every single thing she told him in her "The Reason You Suck" Speech at the break-up being fully justified), and the night before the break-up, that she had long planned since the beginning (he even had a "best before" date tattoed on the thigh), she was outright gentle, trying to give him at least a good memory with a non-stop night of sex and not pointing out she knew he was a virgin to not hurt him-only for him to get nervous and lock himself in the bathroom, at which point she apparently spent the next day planning the harshest break-up she could and the theft of his car.
- Jimmys Bastards: The titular Jimmy Regent is a James Bond parody, with class, gadgets, and pornomancer abilities aplenty (the title comes from his many, many illegitimate children uniting against him). He has none of his inspiration's misogyny, however, making no attempt to hit on his new sidekick (to her surprise, having heard of his reputation) because his experiences with women have left with with a sense of when someone is just not interested. As said sidekick is a black woman, he also asks, not if she got the job for Twofer Token Minority reasons, but rather if it annoys her that people think so (she has plenty of chances to prove her worth in gunfights). They also have long conversations on the meaning (or lack thereof) of the phrase "politically correct" and other social justice concerns.
- Wonder Woman:
- In her first few appearances Paula seemed to be a cruel unrepentant loyal Nazi collaborator and supporter who practiced slavery, it was then revealed she was only working for the Nazis because they had her daughter prisoner and had already murdered her husband and she turned on them and became Diana's loyal friend and ally in a heartbeat after Diana rescued her daughter.
- While Artemis started out as one of the Bana lest likely to turn their misandrist views into outright murder and was perfectly willing to save men from danger she still considered men inherently inferior and distasteful. The longer she spends with the Themyscirans and society at large the more she starts losing some of her misandrist views.
Hidden Depths / Comic Books