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  • Angel:
    • Angel (for someone who used to be a bloodthirsty cold-blooded killer) does actually have an artistic side in the form of a knowledge of art and he's not too bad when it comes to drawing either.
    • Doyle is a gambling, drinking, bitter malcontent at the start of the series. It turns out he used to be a teacher and charity volunteer before he descended. Lampshaded by Cordelia.
    • Lindsey is an amazingly talented singer and guitar player, and was one of Lorne's favorite regulars at his bar.
  • Every major character on Babylon 5.
    • One example is G'Kar. When the show begins, he's a sabre-rattling antagonist, chomping at the bit to get some revenge on the Centauri. But even as early as the first season, we discover he's deeply religious, is willing to help someone out at no gain to himself, and likes to cook.
    • It's discussed in regards to John Sheridan; one character mentions that the reason he was given command of Babylon 5 is that someone with more political ambition than sense read his record, figured he was nothing more than a pugnacious jarhead, and as such would gladly supply the sabre-rattling said person needed to further their political ambitions. However, while his war record will easily give you that impression, anyone who has met Sheridan in person knows that this is very much not the case.
    • When we first meet Londo, he's a bombastic drunk, or as he puts it "a washed-up old republican dreaming of better days." However, we learn as early as the first season that he was a soldier in his youth, and can pilot a shuttle in a way that impresses Ivanova. JMS has said that the story in B5 is in many ways the story of Londo, and a lot of that story is discovering his hidden depths.
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  • The main characters in Babylon Berlin have a couple of hidden depths that are gradually revealed over the course of the series. The main character is both a Shellshocked Veteran and a By-the-Book Cop, but (somewhat humorously) a pretty good dancer. His partner, a Noble Bigot with a Badge, turns out to be a really devoted husband to a wife with early onset dementia.
  • The reimagined Battlestar Galactica:
    • Meta example: It starts with the appearance of a beautiful and cold robot woman entering a building, played by underwear model Tricia Helfer. She later turned out to be one of the best actors on the show and played some of the more sympathetic and complex characters, including the abused Gina and at least two others. Playing many Number Six clones with different personalities really let her display a lot of range. Completely unexpected after the obvious hiring of Ms. Fanservice in the first place.
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    • Ellen Tigh is introduced as a manipulative, deeply selfish woman. She is an alcoholic, she's promiscuous and she enables Tigh's worst excesses. Eventually, it is revealed that she is a Cylon; and really a caring, profoundly religious, genius scientist, albeit an alcoholic and manipulative one.
    • D'Anna is established to be nothing more than a domineering, zealous bitch — but it turns out later she is a domineering, zealous bitch on a quest for forbidden knowledge.
    • Gaius Baltar is an arrogant intellectual who grew up on a farm and is ashamed of his 'hick' heritage.
    • Kara Thrace, or "Starbuck", is a loud, violent, foul mouthed Ace Pilot who seems to not really care much about those she isn't close with. In reality she is a deeply religious woman who lost her fiancé, was abused by her mother and cares about every single pilot that she loses.
  • Batwoman (2019): Kate's step-sister Mary appears to be a vapid social media junkie who claims she's only in college to find her future husband. Kate soon discovers that she actually runs a free (and illegal) clinic in the worst parts of Gotham, using medical skills that are far ahead of what her education would indicate.
  • Lily from The Bite is a dominatrix who suddenly finds herself in the middle of a Zombie Apocalypse. When her downstairs neighbor needs help finding information on the zombie virus and a potential cure, Lily displays some fairly decent detective skills.
  • Black Adder: Richard the Fourth is generally portrayed as a scenery-chewing Blood Knight and General Ripper. However, in "The Queen of Spain's Beard", he is given the opportunity to flex his diplomatic and strategic muscles... and turns out to be both a charismatic negotiator and a skilled strategist.
  • The Boys (2019): Black Noir. It's shown when he wordlessly glowers at a piano player until he steps away from the piano, then sits down by it himself and then plays the Minute Waltz, a much faster and upbeat piece than what the piano player playing.
  • Breaking Bad:
    • Jesse Pinkman first comes across as an empty-headed junkie loser. The first indication that he's more than he appears is when he correctly identifies Walt's lung cancer and reveals that he cared for his aunt while she was dying of the disease. The rest of the series continues to confirm that Jesse has more intelligence and strength of character than many others give him credit for.
    • Hank comes across in the opening episodes as an obnoxious blow-hard. However, later episodes reveal that he suffers from panic attacks, suggesting that his breezy, cocky persona is a cover for more complex feelings beneath. Season 4 also allows him to show off some surprisingly effective detective skills.
  • Better Call Saul:
    • "Fudge" Talbot, a public masturbator Jimmy poses as a Vet as part of his commercial, knows enough about history to point out the Fifi was used against the Japanese. However, he is not a pilot, but another client of Jimmy's named Mr. Yalowitz is.
    • Huell proves to be quite the Clock King.
    • While it's not impossible for an ex-cop to know how to hang a door on a doorframe as well as repair said doorframe, it's still a surprise Mike can do it well enough to convince Chuck he's legitimately a repair company employee.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • In a first season episode, Cordelia showed a surprisingly unexpected Hidden Depth with her introspective reflections on the empty loneliness of popularity. By episode's end she was still the Rich Bitch, but later seasons saw her change. Lampshaded in a later season when she scores highly on her SATs. "I do well on standardized tests. What, I can't have layers?"
    • Oz in Season 3. He is actually a Teen Genius.
    • Spike is surprisingly perceptive at reading people and greatly enjoys highly emotional media like poetry and tv dramas like Passions and Dawson's Creek. He in fact used to be a poet when he was human, though not a very good one, and apparently occasionally still indulges in it from time to time.
    • Jenny goes from a normal high-school computer teacher/"techno-pagan" to a gypsy sent to watch over the vampire her tribe cursed with a soul.
    • Mild-mannered Giles has a past that includes being a magical hooligan called Ripper and, as Angelus learns in Season 2 is no slouch in combat. Also he fucks like a stevedore.
  • Chuck. Casey can hit a high note because he used to be a choir boy.
    What? I wasn't hatched.
    • "Chuck vs. the Cougars" revealed Casey is also a charismatic DJ as he gets everyone to dance to "MMM Bop" by Hanson.
  • Mr. Khan from Citizen Khan can seem to be quite callous to those around him, not appearing to care about how his actions affect his loved ones as long as he can try and increase his standing in the community. But, unlike many sitcom husbands, he actually remembers romantic milestones he shares with his wife and recreates the first meal they shared as a married couple on their anniversary without any of the usual last minute panic.
  • Community has a bit of this revealed over time. To sum up:
    • Jeff, the arrogant and narcissistic ex-Amoral Attorney, has been shown to in fact be deeply insecure about his morality and whether he's only liked for his looks, and has possible issues with depression as well as abandonment issues. He also is a closet geek, with nearly as much TV knowledge as Abed and a collection of Spiderman comics, and manages to be an effective teacher in Season 5, at least once he decides to actually try.
    • Annie, the Technical Virgin youngest member of the group, shows a shocking ability to dirty talk in "Advanced Dungeons and Dragons," foreshadowed by her earlier Covert Pervert tendencies with Jeff. She also has a surprising dark side; several episodes have involved people trying to teach her a lesson by showing her how cruel the real world can be, only for her to embrace it wholeheartedly. She's even implied to be the Ass-Crack Bandit who terrorized the campus. She also shows off a great singing voice.
    • Shirley, the sweet, religious mother of the group, shares Abed's affinity for both the Hellraiser movies and Batman & Robin. She also has a violent streak and a ruthless criminal mind, and was Greendale's valedictorian.
    • Abed, the TV geek with an Ambiguous Disorder, is incredibly manipulative and cunning, often tricking the study group into doing his bidding. He's also a skilled impressionist who has shown the ability to get any girl he wants by identifying her favorite archetype and playing it perfectly.
    • Troy, The Ditz of the group, has shown to be one of the most emotionally sensitive characters, and is the one to talk Annie down from her identity crisis in "Mixology Certification".
    • Pierce, the Racist Grandpa, often boasts about his sexual exploits. He has proven to be extremely adept at getting women when he wants them, to the point that he managed to seduce a teacher in less than a day in order to save the entire class from a test that they were in no way prepared for. He also cares for his friends more than he would like to admit.
    • Britta, the hardcore feminist and Granola Girl, turns out to have a surprising talent for planning weddings.
  • An episode of Criminal Minds has the team trying to trace a teenage serial killer, and Garcia is on the phone after finding a name:
    Garcia: He gave the name Nico Bellic. Now the thing about the name Nico Bellic... (Reid looks up about to interrupt, and then...)
    Rossi: It's the name of the main character from Grand Theft Auto IV. (Cut to Garcia looking shocked, then back to everyone staring at Rossi.) What? I know stuff.
  • Pamela from Dancing on the Edge spends most of the running time as a fairly cold, aristocratic Ice Queen with no talents or purpose whatsoever. Yet when the protagonist Louie Lester (a black jazz musician) is framed for murder, she is one of only three white people to help smuggle him out of the country. Everyone else turns on him, suspects him, or is blackmailed into giving his location away.
  • Double Subverted in Season 4 of Dexter, there was the Trinity Killer, who was said to have been the most successful serial killer up until then, never discovered and killing for decades. Early episodes show him committing premeditated, cold blooded murders. However, Dexter discovers he is actually quite a normal guy with great family life and even an otherwise upstanding citizen who does much work for charity and his community. But then it turns out he's horribly abusive to his family, his children and wife are scared of him senseless and that charity is just a means of finding new victims and covering up his kills.
  • Doctor Who:
    • This trope often applies to the Doctor themself. In his 2nd incarnation, he often acted far more stupid and bumbling than he actually was, and in his 7th he would seem to have a less-than-complete idea of what was happening before revealing that in fact, most of the story's events had been part of his grand master plan.
      • In the new series especially, the Doctor has almost always appeared far younger than they actually are, and no-one meeting them for the first time would suspect them of being a 900+ year-old time-travelling alien. As 11, he often acted particularly young, cheerful and even childlike — in episodes like "The Beast Below", "Amy's Choice", "The Big Bang", "The Doctor's Wife", "A Good Man Goes to War" and "The Rings of Akhaten", as well as many more, we see that beneath this exterior he is very old and full of guilt, loneliness and grief.
      • The 12th Doctor often comes off as grumpy, cold or uncaring. As Clara (and the viewers) get to know his new incarnation better, we see that, despite lacking social skills, he cares deeply for his friends and all humanity.
    • "Human Nature"/"The Family of Blood": The Headmaster is eventually revealed to not just be ignorantly bleating on about how War Is Glorious, as he knows how awful it can be and believes in fighting anyway. Also, despite being inclined against believing in supernatural phenomena, he catches on quite quickly while speaking with the possessed Baines that he "speaks with someone else's voice", faster than anyone else speaking to individuals possessed by the Family of Blood that they already knew, including Martha.
  • Lady Sybil from Downton Abbey is only seen in the background or on the sidelines until episode 3 where we see her need to help the less fortunate and her interest in a more liberated style of living for herself and other women.
  • Euphoria: Jules manages to rattle off Shakespeare sonnets while shitfaced.
  • Firefly has a lot of subtle indicators of Hidden Depths among its crew.
    • There's Shepherd Book, who turns out to be a little more badass than his priestly outfit would indicate, and can apparently order the crew of an Alliance starship around.
    • Jayne, seemingly the Dumb Muscle, turns out to be pretty proficient at a rather wide variety of practical skills, including playing the guitar, and has interesting philosophical responses to death (particularly his own), which is surprising considering his nature. He also sends money to his mother, joins Book in saying grace without a second thought, and takes the time to shower, shave and dress nice before visiting a bordello.
    • Mal is implied to have an unusual interest in art and poetry, both having read some literature and having his bunk festooned with calligraphy.
    • Simon, despite initially being portrayed as snobbish and conservative like only a privileged upbringing on a core planet can produce, showed a genius criminal mind who was able to plan out and execute break-ins to two heavily guarded government facilities.
    • According to the actress, Inara was supposed to be dying from a terminal illness, a subplot the series never got time to fully play out.
    • And perhaps most importantly in the context of the show are River Tam's Hidden Depths. The audience is shown off the bat that she's pretty removed from reality, and Simon remarks that's she's extremely clever. But her badass psychic martial artist polymath side is one that is only glimpsed in the series (and given more exposure in the movie).
  • In The Flash, even before becoming Kid Flash, Wally is already known as a sharp mind, studying to be an engineer, and designing racecar engines as part of his project. Come Season 4, he turns out to speak fluent Japanese, which comes out of nowhere to everyone else. On the other hand, according to Eobard Thawne, speedsters have Photographic Memory, which would be extremely helpful in learning a foreign language. Also, later on he's found in the Yunnan Province of China, apparently able to get around there, likely picking up some Chinese in the process.
  • Forever. In "Diamonds Are Forever", Abe and Jo both learn not to prejudge people.
    • Abe assumes that "the Asian kid" with a tattoo and baseball cap who was in the store stole a missing statue, and that he's come back to steal again. In actuality, the kid is an avid fan of antiques and was moving the vase he's holding to a place he believes better suits it; he similarly moved the statue inside a chest, because (as Henry kept insisting) it's fake and hideous.
    • Early in the episode the wife of an ex-con insists that he turned his life around after he got out. Henry believes it, but Jo tells Henry that "criminals don't change their stripes." At the end of the episode she learns that the reason the victim (an ex-con) knocked on her door the night he was killed is because he wanted to see Jo's husband, who believed him in the past when he said he wanted to turn his life around and helped lighten his sentence when he got convicted. He was being set up for a crime this time, and he thought Jo's husband would believe him.
  • It can be argued that the entire cast of Frasier are reusable standard sitcom comedy tropes that usually get portrayed as the one-dimensional butt of jokes in other shows, but in Frasier, are given the stage as subtle, well-developed main characters — any television viewer can recognize the arrogant, obnoxious blowhard (Frasier), the fussy, snooty fop (Niles), the opinionated, crusty old relative (Martin), the airheaded, naive Funny Foreigner (Daphne), and the sassy office slut (Roz) as one-off or peripheral sitcom characters from any number of other shows and movies. It's just that these so-called stereotypes had so many other facets and layers and for once weren't used just as fodder for some other, more "normal" main character, that they couldn't be described as stereotypical (or even typical) at all.
  • The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air:
    • Will initially dismisses his Uncle Phil as an uptight wealthy person who lost touch with the black community. Turns out that he was in the Civil Rights movement (and, it is implied, more Malcolm X than Martin Luther King Jr.) and has never stopped fighting that fight (though he does it in different ways) He also retains enough of the brawling and pool-playing skills he picked up during his street days to take on people half his age. Similarly, Uncle Phil judges Will as just a disruptive young street punk, but Will turns out to be an insightful, intelligent and thoroughly decent person.
    • Similarly, Aunt Vivian also led a fairly interesting life. She was active in the Civil Rights Movement along with Uncle Phil, and participated in the same (occasionally violent) protests. As a young woman, she dropped out of high school to run off with a guy, and cleaned hotel rooms to put herself through night school to earn her degree. She also knows enough about black history to teach the subject at a high school level.
  • Friends. Phoebe can speak Italian (even she was unaware of this) and French, Joey has an extensive knowledge of elevators and managed to memorize the entire "V" volume of the encyclopedia in less than a day as well as concluding that his friends' bosses dislike them because they take prolonged breaks, and Chandler plays a mean game of table tennis. Gunther also apparently smokes (or used to smoke), is a former actor, and is fluent in Dutch.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • A Season 3 deleted scene shows that when not engineering the brutal downfall of his family's enemies, Tywin Lannister likes to fish. While we never learn what he enjoys about it (or dressing the stag in Season 1), it does show that Tywin doesn't mind getting his hands dirty with labor that might be considered beneath him.
    • People often dismiss Robert Baratheon as a drunken fool, but in his moments of clarity Robert shows great insight into the growing factionalism within his realm. While others such as Tywin and Pycelle mock him for confusing ruling with battle prowess, Robert is fairly shrewd of the real flaws of the realm. One example was how Jorah claimed that Robert was fool enough to meet the Dothraki in an open field. But later on, even Robert deems this foolish and points out that the smart thing to do would be to stay within the castle walls. But that's precisely what he's afraid of. He realised that a Dothraki invasion would put him in a Morton's Fork.
      Robert: One army, a real army, united behind one leader with one purpose. Our purpose died with the Mad King. Now we've got as many armies as there are men with gold in their purse, and everybody wants something different: Your father wants to own the world. Ned Stark wants to run away and bury his head in the snow. We haven't had a real fight in nine years. Back-stabbing doesn't prepare you for a fight. And that's all the realm is now: back-stabbing and scheming and arse-licking and money-rubbing.
    • Khal Drogo is a brutal barbarian chieftain of a Proud Warrior Race who doesn't appear to have a concept of consent, but he's also capable of love and tenderness and has a fiercely protective streak.
    • Despite being a timid squire and then vain lackey, Lancel Lannister holds his own in battle and even after taking an arrow in the chest wants to escort Joffrey back to the city walls to hearten the wavering troops.
    • Yara Greyjoy shows genuine concern for Theon when trying to convince him to abandon Winterfell before it drags him to his doom. She's also outraged that Theon would stoop so low as to murder children. Later, in making her alliance with Daenerys Targaryen, she agrees to Dany's condition that the Ironborn forswear their culture of piracy in exchange for the Iron Isles' independence. While she hesitates initially, she acknowledges that the world has moved on and it's time to leave their people's old ways behind if they want to truly prosper.
    • Stannis proves himself a lead-from-the-front badass in "Blackwater." In addition, keeping Davos Seaworth at his side is a strong indicator that Stannis isn't a bad guy at heart. He respects loyalty and honesty even when it comes from a commoner and when his powerful allies criticize him for it. He states loudly that he has no problem killing Gendry, but Davos calls him out on it saying if that was true he would have just done it. Instead, he came to Davos and told him what he was going to do, just so Davos could talk him out of it, proving he isn't so indifferent after all. Not only that, but Stannis's relationship with Shireen firmly establishes that despite Stannis being cold, authoritarian, and fairly harsh, he truly does love and care for his daughter.
    • Despite his jerkass exterior, on rare occasions Jaime has demonstrated considerable empathy with others, much like Tyrion. He is genuinely distraught by being so hated and held in contempt by the entire realm, including by men he admires and likes, for what he (with good reason) considers to have been a selfless and noble act and is actually rather accepting of others in unconventional relationships like Renly and sympathises with Brienne for suffering for her love. Later, he demonstrates that he can come up with decent plots if he really needs to, such as his attempt to deal with the High Sparrow in Season 6. That plan fell through, but in fairness even Lady Olenna was blindsided by the High Sparrow's scheming in that instance.
    • Ros is dismissed by most as just a regular prostitute, but she is actually very perceptive and intelligent and can even read. By Season 3, both Varys and Littlefinger employ her as an aide and spy.
    • Not that Catelyn was ever shallow in the slightest, but in the second episode of Season 3, she reveals whole new depths to her character to Talisa about her relationship with the baby Jon Snow: she initially wished him to die, and, when he did get seriously ill and she was riddled with guilt over wishing death on an innocent baby and apparently getting that wish, promised to love him as if he was her own child if the gods let him recover. She blames her failure to keep her promise for all the horror her family has endured.
    • As Varys remarked of Pod's sexual prowess, "Prodigies can be found in the strangest of places". You might even say he's a....Podigy? Also, despite being an awkward, adorkable teenager, he is possibly one of the most loyal characters in the series.
    • Hodor is capable of following instructions to the letter and is shown just to have been an average (yet towering) teenager in a flashback vision; it's implied that he suffered some sort of trauma later that left him simple-minded and aphasic. Turns out, Bran warged into him in the past and turned him into what he is in the present by throwing him into a loop. As D. B. Weiss argues, this short-circuited him into a single-purpose-minded simpleton.
    • Cersei doubly shows them when Stannis's invasion approaches; she quotes Tywin on the subject of war and surprisingly she's the one who thinks up a defense via wildfire. She orders its mass-production and keeps this plan hidden from Tyrion. Her actual implementation is fraught with potential problems, however (shooting it from the city could easily burn the city down), so when Tyrion finds out he hijacks the plan and goes his own way with it.
    • Bronn is actually quite the talented singer. And it should be noted that he can read, historically a skill not restricted to royalty but astoundingly rare outside of it.
    • Despite his absolutely disgusting behavior and actions, Joffrey has some qualities that are hard to notice. When he talks with Margaery Tyrell he can recite facts about many members of the Targaeryn Dynasty without so much as skipping a beat, likewise he shows an interest in the acts of many famed Kingsguard Knights and can easily recite information from a name by reading it alone. (The admiration for Maegor the Cruel as he exhibits in Histories and Lore also bears witness to this.) Tyrion for his credit notices Joffrey's love of history and gifts him a book of many great kings of the older ages.
    • Viserys managed to survive in a hostile world for over a decade while simultaneously raising his sister. Daenerys would be long dead if it wasn't for him.
    • Barristan tells Daenerys her brother Rhaegar was far happier being a musician than a warrior and relates some of the exploits they got up when Rhaegar chose to practice his love of music to the people of King's Landing.
    • When delivering Daenerys the heads of her enemies and other shows of valor fail to impress his Queen, Daario decides to take her more seriously, making a surprisingly astute statesman for a wandering merc. He counsels Dany to adapt to the customs and society of the slaves she is freeing if she hopes to effectively lead them. By using the metaphor of three different flowering plants, he not only successfully continues his long game courtship but also imparts genuinely useful advice to Dany considering the social issues she will likely face in Season 4 and onwards.
  • Glee:
    • The very camp Kurt who has read Sun Tzu's Art Of War, and at least knows what Vocal Adrenaline's Latin motto means ("murder or be murdered). Smart People Know Latin after all.
    • We've come to see some of Sue Sylvester's depths, most notably being that though she may work her Cheerios like dogs and say horrible things to... well, everybody, she genuinely cares about the students and their well-being (aside from a certain Wallbanger about a human cannonball). We also learn about Sue's back story, which begins to explain some of her behavior.
    • Artie Abrams is wheelchair-bound, but sings, can seriously bust a move when he's not in the chair, raps, plays the guitar, engages in Def Poetry, and is on the academic decathlon team.
    • Mike Chang was just a background character that went unnamed until he finally upgraded to a more prominent member of New Directions, to which he proves that he's not only one of the best dancers on the team, but sings, plays football, and is also a member of the academic decathlon.
    • Quinn who was supposed to be a frigid bitch ends up a pregnant glee-clubber. She's later revealed to have a childhood plagued by bullying and intense self loathing and insecurity.
    • Santana who was a promiscuous character seems to have used her promiscuity to hide the fact that she's a lesbian.
    • Brittany, The Ditz, ends up on the same academic decathlon team as Artie and has a wealth of knowledge about cats.
  • In Hec Ramsey, the city council hired Hec as the deputy chief of police because they thought they were hiring a hard bitten gunslinger who would shoot first and ask questions later. However, while Hec is still handy with a gun, he turns out to be an expert in the emerging field of forensics, and keen to put his new skills to the test.
  • Tim Taylor of Home Improvement was usually a Bumbling Dad prone to insensitivity but he was often able to say the right thing at the right time when someone needed him.
    • Perhaps most surprising of all, whenever Tim stops obsessing over MORE POWER and just builds/fixes something, it turns out he is very good with his hands. Interestingly, one time that Jill encouraged him to go Up to Eleven, when she wanted him to build am ultra high-tech security system for the house, he managed to do it with none of his usual screw ups.
  • Horatio Hornblower: Archie Kennedy, a go-hung Plucky Middie and a broken Cutie proves himself to be a Badass Adorable. But there is more. One episode reveals that he's fond of theatre and says he knew the Drury Lane as if it was his home. He must have special love for William Shakespeare because he quotes and paraphrases him several times.
  • House of Anubis:
    • Jerome Clarke. In the beginning of the show he is shown as nothing more than a manipulative jerk who will even trick his best friend into humiliating himself for a cheap laugh. However, later on he reveals a softer, more sensitive side to Mara Jaffray, including the truth that his family abandoned him when he was five years old. He reverts back to his old self after Mara and her old boyfriend get back together, to the point where he helps the antagonist, but even then his hidden depths are still showing as he proves to be more of a misunderstood Anti-Hero than the minor antagonist he was originally portrayed as.
    • Victor Rodenmaar. Despite being one of the main antagonists, he proves himself as being more good than bad deep down inside, and it is shown that the way he acts mainly stems from his desperation to finish his father’s quest, and the abuse his father had inflicted on him when he was a child.
  • How I Met Your Mother character Barney Stinson started out as a fairly one-sided Casanova but has been given a detailed Backstory and is now a Lady Killer In Love. He has also shown emotional vulnerability in unexpected places, such as when his brother James revealed that he (James) was going to adopt a baby with his soon-to-be husband. This well-rounded development of what initially seemed to be a fairly Flat Character, along with Neil Patrick Harris's acting, has turned him into an Ensemble Dark Horse, and he is now far more popular with fans than any of the other characters who were originally more central to the story.
  • iCarly: iEnrage Gibby focused on Gibby's Unstoppable Rage side, as well as this dialogue.
    Freddie: You play the ukelele?
    Carly: Yeah, a little.
    Freddie: Wow, that's never been established.
  • Jay in The Inbetweeners seemed to be nothing more than a disgusting pervert and liar at first (although he was always shown as a good friend), but in the Season 1 finale, he temporarily entered a very reflective mood and revealed some of his vulnerable side. Then in the second season, he got into a relationship and revealed himself as a Chivalrous Pervert.
  • "The Gang" from It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia are unapologetic narcissists, alcoholics, and all around terrible people. They also happen to be pretty damn good at a Capella of all things.
  • Keeping Up Appearances: Onslow is a wife-beater-wearing slob, who seems to do nothing except sit in his chair and read... but the texts he reads are academic journals on physics and philosophy that many grad students would be hard-pressed to understand.
  • Killing Eve: The following, much to the surprise of other characters.
    • Bill: Queer, really gets around, kinky.
    • Carolyn: The consummate professional, excellent spymaster, gushes like a schoolgirl.
    • Konstantin: Handler of a sociopathic assassin and maybe more, but a true family man.
    • Eve: She fumbles in social situations, is oblivious to her own feelings but is keenly perceptive and adept at making connections, which others, even her own supervisor, weren’t able to notice, thus catching the attention of Carolyn Martens.
    • Villanelle: She’s extroverted, a charmer, but actually a lone wolf. It works to her advantage, given that she herself is aware that it’s difficult to work with people like her. When she’s working with others, if push comes to shove, she’s shown to be a natural leader and easily takes to calling the shots. After she's undercover as a woman with two philosophy degrees and gets grilled on the subject with questions she can't answer, on the next day Villanelle is shown reading from the same book the questioner had thrust on her (ordering a copy later), reading it for herself with what seems like genuine interest.
  • Kingdom Adventure:
    • Gorf has more artistic ability than his status as a Dumb Muscle guard lets on; lampshaded when Napps compliments him on his ability when he perfectly replicates Keena's painted watering can.
    • Pitts himself has several hints that he's a redeemable character; after realizing you need a pure heart to get trilly flowers to grow, the episode ends when trilly that he's holding begins to bloom.
  • That's the beauty of Lost. The first few episodes of the series seem to fool us into thinking we know which characters to root for until their flashbacks and centric episodes reveal a whole other story before the first season is even over! And half-way through Season 2, all your beliefs will be shattered forever.
  • On Leverage Eliot is this. As the team Hitter, his main role involves combat. But whenever they need a creative skillset, he is often the one to fill it. Notably he is an extremely talented chef, and serves as a country singer at one point.
  • Majisuka Gakuen: A lot of characters are like this, but the best example for this trope is Gekikara. Her first appearance in Season 1 was one covered in blood and was shown in her episode to be a violent loving psycho, but with Season 2, we then see that she is both a loyal ally and more vulnerable than most take her for. Then there's the musical, which shows just how misunderstood and tragic her character truly is...
  • Reese on Malcolm in the Middle spent a lot of time on the show being idiotic, clueless, and sadistic, certain to age into a series of minimum wage jobs and possible (maybe even probable) jail time. Then, after being forced by his mom to take a cooking class, he found that he actually thrived in the kitchen. He became better at preparing food than his own mother, and he enjoyed it so much that not letting him cook became the only form of punishment that his parents could use that was even remotely effective. Note the panic he exhibited when his mom threatened to take away his whisk.
  • The Masked Singer is a Talent Show that partially runs on this - several of its contestants aren't professional singers, and many remark that performing in disguise allows the audience to get past their existing celebrity. The first four revealed - Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown, comedian Tommy Chong, quarterback-turned-NFL announcer Terry Bradshaw, and comedian Margaret Cho - fit this category.
  • Modern Family has The Ditz Hailey who is really good with using computers for background checks.
  • Monday Mornings:
    • Dr. Hooten is a hard-ass boss on his doctors, and can be unmerciful. Surprisingly, he loves classical music, plays the piano quite well and bonds with a Littlest Cancer Patient over Beethoven and discussion of Deus ex Machina principle, aka "crappy writing from ancient Greek plays".
    • Dr Sung Park is a Korean doctor who speaks in broken English and is blunt-slash-rude with his patients, though a brilliant neurosurgeon. He has a perfect pitch and plays the violin with a rare mastery, and appreciates music very deeply. He also recognizes a literary genius and agrees that the patient is better off with his compulsive writing verging on mania — because that's what he is — a writer, and a surgery might destroy that completely.
  • Actor/murder defendant Neil Avedon in Murder One initially seemed like a drunken Jerkass delinquent Former Child Star, but as his trial went on and more aspects of his life came to light, it turned out that he was actually a really nice guy who was kind and generous to those around him, but his drug and alcohol problems (stemming from parental abuse), and his fame going to his head caused a lot of very public outbursts and meltdowns that created his public image as an egotistic celebrity douche-bag. Over the course of the first season it became clear that Neil was a deeply flawed but ultimately good person who had the capacity for change, and by the finale he had kicked his addiction and had most of his arrogance knocked out of him after spending several months wrongly convicted.
  • Murdoch Mysteries:
    • Inspector Brackenried is mostly shown as Da Chief, the Constabulary's Team Dad and a Boisterous Bruiser who drinks more than he should. He cares about his family and is Happily Married despite all the problems he has with his wife who forces him to become a teetotaller. It's quite surprising to see his deep and passionate love for theatre, especially opera and The Bard. He also demonstrates a talent for painting,, and Julia enters one of his canvases in an art contest.
    • Constable George Crabtree is a comic relief character, Cloudcuckoolander and resident Agent Mulder. However, he aspires to be a writer and works very diligently on this dream, and in Season 5, he publishes his moderately successful mystery novel. He frequently shows concern for animals, especially dogs, cats and horses, which is both sweet and very modern for a Victorian era man from lower middle class background.
    • Constable Higgins is revealed to speak French, since his mother comes from the Gaspé peninsula (in Quebec).
  • NCIS
    • Timothy McGee on is known to his team members as a computer nerd. They're surprised to discover that, under a pseudonym, he's become a highly successful novelist. Although they're slightly more surprised to find out the 'hidden depths' are out there in the open - all of McGee's characters are based on his co-workers.
    • Tony DiNozzo is seen mostly as a skirt-chasing Lothario who can't keep his pants zipped. Come Season 4 and he's leading Team Gibbs, proving that under the Handsome Lech behavior, he is intensely loyal, street-smart, incredibly mature, and remarkably concerned for his team's welfare (team, naturally, including Ducky, Abby, and Director Shepard), traits that do not come to the forefront until he is Acting Special Agent In Charge - his conferences with the Director through Season 4 make this even more clear. He may hit on Ziva and Kate regularly and smart off to Gibbs, but if the thought crosses your mind to do anything that could remotely cause his True Companions any discomfort, he will make his displeasure known. Pointedly.
      • Lampshaded when he expresses genuine concern about McGee's lack of a social life and McGee, getting tired of the lecturing about it from his co-workers, asks to have Sarcastic Tony back.
        DiNozzo: Sorry, it's Mature, Wise Tony here now.
    • In the Season 8 episode "False Witness", Tony is going through a depression, and he tries to channel it by throwing himself into his work, all but ditching his smartass persona. He becomes incredibly competent, able to do the work of three agents. McGee and Ziva are not happy with this: Tony is doing such a good job that he's starting to make them look bad, without even realizing it.
  • NCIS: Los Angeles did it with Deeks and Kensi accidentally discovering their mutual love of comic books.
    Kensi: You know, Bizarro, the mutant version of Superman.
    Deeks: I know who Bizarro is. How do you know who he is?
  • NUMB3RS: Colby is revealed to speak Spanish, which helps in one episode when they were searching for missing Spanish girls.
    • In one episode, Don and Charlie learn that their late mother was a talented musician and composer. The same episode also reveals that Don knows how to play the piano, which then becomes a Chekhov's Skill in a later episode.
    • Another episode has Don revealing that his favorite movie is a 1940s black-and-white comedy.
  • In the US version of the The Office, when Jim plays opera music to block out Dwight's listening device and asks Andy's opinion of the music as a cover, Andy knowledgeably criticizes it, and Creed, who had shown no sensitivity in the previous five seasons, starts crying.
  • Once Upon a Time:
    • Snow White is portrayed as the Proper Lady, even as her cursed self. So it comes as a bit of a surprise that she gets over manipulating Regina to kill her mother by rocking to Joan Jett on her iPod while practicing with a bow and arrow.
    • Rumplestiltskin in a nutshell. Despite being the most evil entity in existence, his surprising acts of kindness towards Belle ended up being what initially attracted her to him in the first place. Along with his son Baelfire, Belle is the only other person he cares about and who can keep him in Noble Demon territory.
  • Parks and Recreation: A lot of the characters on the show go through this, but Ron Swanson is an excellent example. Both the writers and Nick Offerman really started to reach the full potential of the character in the second half of the second season. Before that, he wore suits to work, his backstory wasn't explored, he didn't really display any concern for his coworkers (unlike the Heterosexual Life-Partner relationship he developed with Leslie or the father figure he became for Andy and April) and the Deadpan Snarker wasn't around that much.
  • Josh from Popular turns out to be an expert on poultry.
  • One episode of Power Rangers Zeo showed that Skull was actually a talented concert pianist, and Bulk, who previously dismissed classical music as "sissy stuff", gained a new appreciation out of it after seeing his best friend perform beautifully.
    • Their actors also apply for this, as Paul Schrier (Bulk) went into directing (including several episodes of Power Rangers) while Jason Narvy (Skull) is a Shakespearean actor with multiple degrees, including a Ph.D in Dramatic Arts.
  • Quantum Leap has an unusual variant: hidden depths in the protagonist that often even he doesn't know he has until he uses them during the show. This is mainly due to the combination of a ridiculous amount of doctorates and useful hobbies, and the amnesia he sustained from initially Leaping. Occasionally, though, it's Al who will display a skill we didn't know he had, which he usually attributes to one of his ex-wives.
  • James Fullalove from two of the Quatermass serials is a reporter for an evening newspaper who is fluent in Medieval Latin.
  • Schitt's Creek has the Rose Family, who appear to be shallow, rich jerks as the series begins. They may have their faults and they are spoiled, but it is gradually revealed that each member has layers.
    • Johnny is truly devoted to Moira, and he felt lonely and isolated as he worked all the time and his family scattered to the wind. He seems to be the Rose who is most grateful that they have become close.
    • Moira has constructed a new identity for herself, complete with over-the-top-clothes, arcane vocabulary and a strange accent, because she comes from a small town not unlike Schitt's Creek. She's also a very hard-working actress and makes the most of what few roles she can earn, no matter how schlocky.
    • David may present himself as an aloof, sophisticated and pansexual hipster, but he was a bullied teenager who was insecure and lonely. Prior to living in Schitt's Creek, he had no real friends and a series of empty relationships with users. He often worried about his sister and the dangerous situations in which she found herself.
    • Alexis may have had a great time during her wild adventures, but she never really felt much of anything and saw doctors about it. She comes to value hard work and the love of a genuinely decent guy.
  • Chanel from Scream Queens (2015). She is very much a jerkass, but she has also shown herself to be surprisingly courageous and selfless, choosing to fight the Red Devil on multiple occasions so her friends could escape.
  • Subverted in the Seinfeld episode "The Big Salad".
    Elaine: Maybe there's more to Newman than meets the eye.
    Jerry: No. There's not. There's less.
    Elaine: Well, maybe there is and we just don't know it.
    Jerry: No, trust me. I've looked into his eyes. He's pure evil.
  • Izzy from Shadowhunters. She's more than a pretty face. In "Of Men and Angels", one of the crew calls her the best forensic pathologist in New York. And she earns it too, performing an autopsy on a monster and ascertaining why it was there simply through noticing an oddity in its blood.
  • Jay Wratten of The Shadow Line. He seems at first to be little more than a Psychopathic Manchild, but the final episode shows him to be much smarter and more manipulative than anyone realised. Gatehouse even uses this very phrase when describing him.
  • Sherlock: Sherlock's a jerk, yes, but cares deeply for those close to him, especially John. John is an adrenaline junkie but it's not a smart move to piss him off by threatening someone close to him.
    • Mike Stamford, though it's not dwelt on—he's someone that pre-Series 1 Sherlock is comfortable talking to about personal issues, and is very familiar with Sherlock's methods of deduction. And Sherlock, especially this early in his Character Development, just does not make friends with random people.
  • Teal'c of Stargate SG-1 is a fan of science fiction, he's even watched Star Wars a dozen times.
    • Colonel/General Jack O'Neill actually has an M.S. in Astronomy, and knows enough about Greek tragedy and mythology to know that "Prometheus" and "Icarus" are terrible names for anything you want to succeed.
    • Samantha Carter once summed up her hidden depths quite succinctly, "Wormhole theory, motorcycle riding, and lock picking."
  • Star Trek:
    • Chief O'Brien starts out as a second-string bridge officer, gets promoted to transporter chief on the Enterprise, moves on to become the Chief Engineer on Deep Space Nine only to have it revealed that before all of this, he was a soldier, which becomes important as the Dominion War flares up. We found out that O'Brien is a traumatized veteran of the Cardassian War in the appropriately named Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "The Wounded", when he tells the story of the first battle he had been in. "Rules of Engagement" establishes that the cheerful, friendly chief has been in 232 combat situations and has been decorated fifteen times.
    • From Deep Space Nine: Rom, Quark's dopey brother, who turns out to be a gifted engineer even conceiving and designing a net of self-replicating mines that effectively stops the Dominion from sending reinforcements through the wormhole. (And, got married to a hot dabo girl.)
    • Rom's son Nog started out as a sexistnote  juvenile delinquent, but was revealed to have similar skills and determination, becoming the first Ferengi in Starfleet. (At least one potential future shows him rising to captain rank.)
    • Quark himself was more of a what-you-see-is-what-you-get character, but the leader of the Klingon Empire did once refer to him as "a brave Ferengi", a very hidden depth. Quark is also capable of making very surprising and astute observations on occasion, such as in "The Siege of AR-558", where he comments to Nog that for all their pretentiousness, strand Humans in a warzone and deprive them of sleep, food, their fancy technology and creature comforts and they soon become worse than Klingons. Though he comes to find out that anyone pushed to the brink, including himself, can do so.
    • Or when Spock reveals:
      How do Vulcans choose their mates? Haven't you wondered?
      Kirk: I guess the rest of us assume that it's done ... quite logically.
      Spock: No.
      Kirk: ...No.
    The Vulcans start out with no emotions. Later they have emotions but keep them under strict control. They end up with often-overwhelming emotions that they have difficulty controlling. Leonard Nimoy told Abrams that he had always played Spock as a deeply emotional man constantly struggling for control.
    • In his first appearance, Kevin Riley is a carefree young man whose actions include comandeering the Enterprise and serenading the crew with various renditions of "I'll Take You Home Again, Kathleen" (admittedly under the influence, but still). In his second appearance, it's revealed that he was a survivor of a horrific massacre in which both of his parents were killed. note 
    • For most of her time on The Next Generation, Lwaxana Troi was an overbearing parent and a Dirty Old Woman who spent most of her time pursuing any man who caught her fancy (when she wasn't busy fretting over her daughter's prospects for marriage). But beginning with "Half A Life", the series allowed a more complex and relatable side of the character to show through at times. Deep Space Nine continued this trend, largely explored through her interactions with Odo. Odo even remarks on this in her first appearance on the series.
      Odo: You are not at all what I expected.
      Lwaxana: No one's ever paid me a greater compliment.
    • Doctor Crusher is revealed to be a surprisingly talented starship commander when the situation calls for it. Who would have thought the ship's doctor would be a wily enough tactician to turn a Borg ship into plasma?
    • Star Trek: Discovery:
      • Saru, who starts out as an obstructionist coward, which is, apparently, normal for his species (evolved from prey animals). However, over the course of Season 1, he goes from barking at subordinates and ordering them around to giving out inspirational speeches and letting them do their jobs. Oh, and he's perfectly willing to go against Starfleet orders in order to uphold Starfleet's ideals, something he'd never do at the start of the season.
      • The protagonist Michael Burnham could also be an example, as she starts out trying to act like a typical Vulcan (despite being human), treating almost everyone with barely-disguised disdain for acting emotionally. Later on, though, she learns that being human isn't a bad thing (something her adopted brother Spock learns as well), and there's no reason she has to choose whether to be human or Vulcan, and that ideals are sometimes more important than cold, hard logic.
      • And, of course, there's Sylvia Tilly, who is still in the Academy but is able to follow Stamets's science and is determined to someday become a starship captain. A lot of times, she's nervous, but proves herself to be a great actress, when it's necessary to portray someone cold and ruthless, such as her Mirror Universe counterpart "Captain Killy" or a weapons smuggler. Oh, and get a few drinks in her, and all her shyness and nervousness magically disappears.
    • Similar to Six Galactica, when Jeri Ryan was added to the cast of Star Trek: Voyager, and especially when the promo photos of her in a skintight silver catsuit demonstrating that even the Borg can have large breasts, most people were expecting little but Ms. Fanservice and a character who would end up being a shallow Distaff Counterpart to Spock and Data. However, the writers (and Jeri Ryan) were apparently so determined to prove she wasn't just hired for her appearance that soon the entire series revolved around Seven of Nine and she quickly emerged as one of the most interesting characters on the show. The only other character to challenge her for that spot was the holographic Doctor, who himself had become an Ensemble Dark Horse. And then they had an episode where Ryan got to actually act like the Doctor.
  • Stranger Things:
    • Hopper is a more insightful, conniving, and caring person than he lets on.
    • It's revealed in "The Mind Flayer" that Bob Newby founded the AV studio at Hawkins school and fundraised the equipment. Mr Clarke also learned everything he knew from Bob. He also initially seems to be a bit of a clueless dork, if kind-hearted and well-meaning, but is later shown to have a cool head on his shoulders, be very good at mentally adapting to strange and bizarre new circumstances, and a very brave and self-sacrificing man.
    • Karen Wheeler knows how to pick a lock with a hairpin. It's also clear that she's the source of her children's intelligence.
    • Nancy turns out to be a proficient shooter with a gun, which impresses Jonathan (who felt bad over having to kill a rabbit when his father took him hunting).
  • The Camp Gay Mr. Wolfe from Suburgatory does rather un-gay things like boxing.
    Tessa: Mr. Wolfe, what are you doing?
    Mr. Wolfe: Training the next middleweight champion of the world. What are you doing?
  • Dean Winchester in Supernatural originally came across as the classic Brawn to his younger brother Sam's Brains as well as an unrepentant ladies man. Throughout the series though, he is revealed to not only be smart enough to make an EMF detector from an old Walkman, rebuild the Impala from scratch, use working knowledge of chemistry to make bombs and weapons on the fly, decipher anagrams and patterns quickly and read Vonnegut. The first woman he really loved (Cassie) also broke his heart.
    • The Trickster: Introduced as a trickster god who doesn't particularly care about anything other than doling out ironic punishments, poofing up women and sweets, and "teaching" Sam important life lessons. Turns out that he's an archangel who left Heaven because he couldn't stand to watch his brothers killing each other, and is all for no Apocalypse, even though he's resigned and convinced himself that there's no use fighting it once it's started.
  • On the series Survivor, some contestants have Hidden Depths that the editing doesn't do a good job of showing.
    • Cao Boi, the Cloudcuckoolander from Cook Islands. He was the Plucky Comic Relief, but in fact, it was him who was the first person to have thought up a plan to engineered a tie in the votes specifically to flush out the hidden immunity idol.
    • Brett. Just another pretty face who seemed to be digitally inserted into the season to give some conflict in the final few episodes? Immunity beast.
    • Fabio from Nicaragua invoked this through Obfuscating Stupidity. A lot of people looked at this guy and thought he was going to get himself evacuated before the merge. Yet he manages to manipulate Chase & Sash into going after somebody else instead of The Load, then manages to win by a 5-4-0 vote, even getting the vote of his Sit Com Arch Nemesis.
    • Sophie is the sole survivor in South Pacific. Tell for one second you thought this by looking at her.
    • Kat has a more tragic example. Throughout the game, she's a complete ditz, even saying "I'm only 22!" as an excuse for her ditziness. However, she reveals that within a year, she needs to have open heart surgery if she wants to have children, and had already survived it. Her "I'm only 22!" claims carry a lot more weight when you consider she has a chance of dying the next year.
    • In his first showing on Blood vs Water, Brad Culpepper seemed like your average Jerk Jock. In his second showing on Game Changers he is shown to be a great leader and a Nice Guy when he wants to be. Also, he knows a lot about interior decorating and antiquing, which is not something you would expect from a guy like this.
  • Teen Wolf:
    • Lydia's a lot smarter than she seems, having a good head for science (and MATH! "The Fields Medal is the one I'll be winning.") and often dumbs herself down because she's the Alpha Bitch (pun not intended) and for Jackson's benefit.
    • Jackson is very much the Only Sane Man at the start, and the only person the least bit curious about all the weird things happening to Scott.
  • Cameron of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles shows unusual sides that one wouldn't expect of a Terminator, having an interest in history and dancing, and showing a pretty impressive set of investigative skills. And there's also the fact that she is apparently self-evolving, as shown in her rapid response and recovery time in "To The Lighthouse".
  • Pretty much the entire Torchwood team. Besides Capt. Jack, who has to deal with centuries of psychological and emotional baggage, we have:
    • Ianto Jones: Quiet and proper Deadpan Snarker who turns out to be a Badass in a Nice Suit with a talent for manipulation strong enough to fool pretty much everyone.
    • Owen Harper: First seen as a thorough Jerkass using alien pheromones to attract hookups, but is revealed to have a heart several times when it gets broken.
    • Toshiko Sato: The Smart Girl incarnate, with a crisp and professional demeanor, even upon possession of a mind-reading artifact. As it turns out, she's a secret romantic whose Cartwright Curse is the worst sort of irony.
    • Even Gwen Cooper, probably the most straightforward of the group, turns out to be far more loyal than some of her initial actions suggest.
  • Det. Eddie Alvarez from The Unusuals comes off as a naïve, self-centered, overambitious jerk at the beginning... but underneath that is a natural police detective conversant in a startlingly diverse range of languages.
  • Vera: In "Dark Angel", Kenny unexpectedly reveals that he speaks Latin.
  • Sheriff Lamb, from Veronica Mars, after he reveals that his father beat him, which is itself a huge cliché, but well-played. Also Logan. He initially seems like the stereotypical rich, entitled asshole, but his troubled family situation revealed Hidden Depths.
  • Victorious: Jade is initially presented as a stereotypical Alpha Bitch, but was given more development as the show went on. Namely, she was shown to have insecurities regarding her father's disapproval of her pursuit of a career in the creative arts, feeling the need to prove herself to him. She also seemed to have a soft spot for Cat, despite having the polar opposite personality as her.
  • On the MTV show When I Was Sixteen, a show about celebrities who talk about their lives when they were sixteen, Pro skater Tony Hawk revealed a camera crew once came to his school to interview the kids on what their future would be when they grew up. One teacher who didn't like Tony told the camera crew he believed Tony was a failure because he looked like a typical teen with no goals or direction in his life. However, the camera crew shocked the teacher when they revealed Tony wasn't a failure because they all knew him as a professional skateboarder who gained fame throughout the country and was making money from his skateboarding.
  • Roland "Prez" Pryzbylewski on The Wire is initially dumped on the Barksdale detail because he's an incompetent officer who accidentally discharges his gun in the office on his first day after being dumped there (and prior to that had filed a false report to cover up that he'd shot up his own car), who only remains on the force because he's the son-in-law of the career officer. However, after being restricted to office duty, he begins to pull his weight as the one who penetrates the drug dealers' heavily slurred, slang-laden, and coded communications.
  • In The X-Files, the Smoking Man pops up early on as a mysterious figure with few lines and shadowy motivations. Over the course of the series he's revealed as one of the most well-known Magnificent Bastards in popular television and shown to be dissatisfied with his position in The Conspiracy, at one point almost tendering his resignation in order to become a semi-autobiographical crime writer.


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