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Character Perception Evolution

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Fandom is a funny thing. Sometimes, a work that was initially widely panned can end up being beloved years later, with fans agreeing they were too hard on it before — this is Vindicated by History. Conversely, a work or creator that was widely popular can be looked at with a more critical eye, with its flaws becoming much more apparent — this is Condemned by History. On certain occasions, both may happen to the same thing at different times, creating a Popularity Polynomial.

And works are not the only things to undergo this process — characters can, as well.

On the positive side, maybe this character was once considered annoying, useless, or otherwise unlikeable, but fans began to see the better points of the character. On the negative side, the character was once seen as cool, sympathetic, and otherwise loveable, only for fans to analyze them and realize a lot of inconsistencies, lack of depth, narrative favoritism, or similar crippling flaws. Or what was once a character with a more-or-less unanimous perception becomes a Base-Breaking Character.

As to what prompts this change, that can vary as well. Perhaps a later work in the series was released that took the character in a new direction or gave fans a new perspective on the character. Perhaps a Fandom VIP with an unpopular opinion released a video or blog post explaining their feelings on the character, and it ended up being persuasive enough to sway significant numbers of fans. Or maybe the work was intended for children, and as the kids grew up, they gained a more adult perspective that caused them to re-evaluate their feelings on the character. Other reasons include overexposure, newfound resonance, writing and characterization choices, comparisons to later equivalents, and Values Dissonance.

Compare Rescued from the Scrappy Heap, where the creator re-tools a character in later installments to improve their standing in the audience's eyes. This can overlap if it causes or contributes to audiences reevaluating their pre-Rescued portrayal more favorably.

Note: as with Vindicated by History and Condemned by History, examples must be at least five years old to ensure enough time has passed between the release of a work and the change.


Other Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Azumanga Daioh:
    • Mr. Kimura had been a Base-Breaking Character outside of Japan from the get-go as a result of his characterization as an over-the-top ephebophile who openly creeps on the female student body (both figuratively and literally). However, during the anime's heyday in the West, his reception skewed mostly in the direction of "he's a creep, but an entertaining creep," being played up as a Memetic Molester and being the source of the term "waifu," one of the most enduring pieces of fandom jargon to this day. However, once the series' popularity dwindled into cult status, his reputation became much more divisive as a result of changing times that brought greater awareness to real-world sexual misconduct in school settings (most notably, the Brock Turner case and the #MeToo movement), making characters like him seem overly flippant and insensitive. Nowadays, while some still hold onto his Memetic Molester image, a significant chunk of readers/viewers see Mr. Kimura as, at best, an off-putting relic of the early 2000s' emphasis on bawdy comedy.
    • While she was never outright disliked, Kaorin was frequently overshadowed by the rest of the cast in the anime adaptation's heyday in the early 2000s, in large part due to her being Demoted to Extra as the series progressed. However, in The New '20s, she would garner a much bigger following once the series' LGBT Fanbase rose to the forefront of the fandom, owed to her being seen as a positively-portrayed queer character who's never mocked or demeaned for her crush on Sakaki.
  • Code Geass: In R1, Cornelia li Britannia was for the most part well-liked by fans for being an antagonist who embodied some of the worst aspects of Britannia's brutality, but was also intelligent, competent, beautiful and made for an imposing foe for Lelouch Lamperouge. Come R2 however, where she's presented sympathetically and gets off scot-free for her war crimes even though she never even shows an ounce of remorse for the horrific massacres she committed, she's now one of the most controversial Karma Houdinis in the show.
  • Cowboy Bebop: Vicious was overwhelmingly popular for the first few years after the anime's release, with many considering him one of the best villains in the entire medium. His overwhelming popularity stemmed from his brilliant planning, his epic fight scenes, his intriguing code of warrior's respect, and his mere presence darkening the tone of the show. As time has worn on, however, he's garnered a significant amount of criticism. There are now a good number of people who consider him cliched, overly edgy, and lacking in depth, the latter of which gets hit with particular criticism due to him being the overarching antagonist and the man who may have killed Spike Spiegel. On the other hand, there are still many who dispute these arguments, saying that his sparing appearances and minimal dialogue don't leave much room for fleshing out and he leaves an impact regardless. As a result, he's become something of a Base-Breaking Character, with viewers split on whether his minimalist, precice usage and enigmatic Warrior Poet personality make him feel mysterious and threatening or like a plot device who only exists to kill off characters and move the story along, with even some viewers who otherwise like the overarching story overall falling into the latter camp.
  • Danganronpa 3: The End of Hope's Peak High School:
    • Kazuo Tengan was initially one of the most popular of the new characters introduced in Side: Future, for being both a Reasonable Authority Figure and a Cool Old Guy able to hold his own against a crazed katana-wielding Kyosuke Munakata. Then he ended up a vital component of an infamous Fan-Disliked Explanation: namely, that he was the mastermind of the Final Killing Game, and his plan was a needlessly complicated way of getting Ryota Mitarai to subject the entire world to Heel–Face Brainwashing. Needless to say, his popularity took a nosedive to the point that even creator of the franchise Kazutaka Kodaka expressed disdain over his eventual role.
    • Ryota Mitarai was also met with initial approval despite his introduction as a thus-unmentioned member of Class 77-B for both his backstory and theories surrounding his involvement in the events of Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair. However, he then ended up heavily involved in the above-mentioned Tengan's end goal, was key to the brainwashing anime plot point that many decried as a lazy cop-out for several franchise-wide questions, and ultimately ended up let off rather easily for essentially attempting to wipe out free will. Nowadays, he is a Base-Breaking Character — he has a large fanbase that finds his otaku traits endearing, but also a number of detractors who treat him with scorn.
    • Juzo Sakakura was at first vehemently hated for his needlessly violent behavior to the point that an entire offshoot of the Danganronpa subreddit was created solely to bash him. In particular, the fandom despised him for his role as an Unwitting Instigator of Doom given the incident when he contemptuously insulted Hajime Hinata over his lack of talent helped lead to the latter's Start of Darkness by pushing him towards the program that would turn him into Izuru Kamakura. However, as viewers saw his capacity for kindness, struggles as a gay man in the heteronormative Japanese society, and his ultimate Heroic Sacrifice to end the Final Killing Game, many apologized for hating him in the first place. Sakakura is now seen as one of the more stronger characters of Side: Future, and it is not unlikely for someone to state that they wished that he had survived.
    • Ruruka Andou was similarly despised by the fandom for her frequent displays of selfish behavior, including bullying Seiko Kimura for not eating her sweets despite knowing about Seiko's allergy, and for getting both her boyfriend Sonosuke Izayoi and Koichi Kizakura killed due to her actions, to the extent that many cheered at her self-inflicted Cruel and Unusual Death. After the anime ended, though, a few began to point towards Ruruka's positive traits, such as her appealing character design, the hints of a potential redemption arc that were abruptly closed by her death, and the fact that her demise was treated by both the characters and narrative as an afterthought. Although she remains a heavily Base-Breaking Character, she is not as hated as she used to be.
    • Daisaku Bandai was initially seen as one of the more likable and intriguing, if underdeveloped characters of Side: Future, with many attempting to interpret his sayings as foreshadowing and bemoaning his early death and irrelevance to the plot. Over time however, many began to criticize said underdevelopment making it difficult for audiences to get attached to him, the questionable casting of Rie Kugimiya, and, more importantly, his character design verging uncomfortably close to a Blackface-Style Caricature, not helped by more Western audience-alienating information regarding him (such as Word of God heavily implying his design to be based on Uncle Tom's Cabin, a book infamous for its Minstrel Show adaptations with exaggerated portrayals of black people, and a Deleted Scene involving him plowing a field, which fans quickly pointed out had parallels to slavery) coming to light. This caused Bandai's reputation to decline heavily, and nowadays many will be quick to denounce him as an Ethnic Scrappy.
  • Digimon Tamers: Ryo was and still is a Base-Breaking Character in the West, but his reception was originally much worse. When Tamers aired outside of Japan in the Turn of the Millennium, people were quite hostile towards Ryo since his introduction episode and role in the series basically read like a checklist of Common Mary Sue Traits, with no deconstruction. It turned out, however, he was actually included in Tamers for the benefit of the Japanese fanbase, as he had been the main character in a series of WonderSwan games and as a result, nobody outside knew his backstory. During The New '10s and The New '20s, people became more open to Ryo as knowledge of his backstory became more well known. He still is somewhat of a base breaker though, with some thinking negatively of him while others think the problem is more that a proper understanding of his backstory was overly reliant on supplementary material.
  • Dragon Ball:
    • Master Roshi's Dirty Old Man antics were initially seen as cheeky comedy, assisted by the fact that he'd usually get a beating from Bulma or Lunch anytime he tried to grope or ogle them. Post MeToo and plenty of fans have soured on Roshi's perviness, since his superhuman levels of martial arts expertise mean he's got a physical advantage over just about any woman or teenage girl he takes an interest in. Fan reaction became especially pronounced when Dragon Ball Super had an episode where Roshi received a challenge from a female fighter who used feminine wiles to her advantage, which Roshi won via surrender after he essentially threatened to rape her.
    • Nappa is a rather odd case of this. While he was never particularly disliked, he was still generally overlooked, being largely seen as little more than Vegeta's minion and a very stereotypical brutish bad guy type, with Raditz getting more attention by virtue of being Goku's older brother and the character who ushered in the Z elements. This changed when Dragon Ball Z Abridged famously recharacterized Nappa as a Lethally Stupid cloudcuckoolander who provided some of the first season's funniest moments and became the series' first Breakout Character to the point where he returned as a ghost (or possibly a hallucination) after his death and was later brought Back from the Dead in the second season finale. Many fans began projecting their love of this take on Nappa onto the canon character, wishing he'd stuck around longer and found redemption like Vegeta did. Even ignoring the abridged series, people grew to like Nappa more as they found him to be a satisfying and convincingly threatening foe with hints of genuine redeeming qualities, and enjoyed his brief time in the spotlight, which helped make him stand out.
    • Bardock, originally featuring in Dragon Ball Z: Bardock - The Father of Goku, has always been a popular character and still is, but the reasoning behind it has changed with time. Originally, to young fans, the answer was simply that Bardock was totally cool: he was Goku's dad, he looked basically like a tougher version of Goku with his blood-red headband, black armor, and scars, and the special gives him a ton of cool-looking moments and a Badass Crew he fights to avenge. It didn't hurt that many fans first encountered him through fighting games, or that the first widespread English dub cut down on some of his nastier moments. As fans grew up, though, they began realizing that Bardock was... well, kind of a bastard. He dismisses his own son for having a low power level, he shows no doubt or remorse for his role as a murderer of worlds (committing one such genocide onscreen), only turning against Frieza because his own world is being targeted, and his actions are all for naught, as Frieza crushes his one-man rebellion with a flick of his finger. However, far from hating Bardock at this realization, the fandom broadly and happily accepted it, realizing that Bardock was intentionally meant to be a Nominal Hero at best and appreciating both the rather dark approach and how unique it made Bardock compared to the rest of the good guys. It got to the point that when the franchise began to showcase Bardock in a more traditionally heroic light, such as Dragon Ball Minus revealing that he truly loved Goku and tried to save him, and Dragon Ball – Episode of Bardock giving him a full-on redemption arc that culminated in him turning Super Saiyan, reception to these ideas was actually roundly negative, as it was seen as taking away what made Bardock interesting in favor of turning him from a Villain Protagonist to yet another gruff-but-goodhearted antihero. Prior to that point, no fan alive would have said no to Super Saiyan Bardock.
    • Mr. Satan (or "Hercule" in the edited dub) was originally disliked by viewers for his Small Name, Big Ego, his Arbitrary Skepticism, and for taking credit for defeating Cell in spite of Goku's sacrifice. However, fans started to warm up to him during the Buu Saga where his more noble and likeable qualities were put on display, such as being a good father to Videl and successfully reforming Majin Buu even after most of the other characters had dismissed him as being Beyond Redemption. His friendship with Buu made him and the audience realize his ego stemmed from a Friendless Background, and taking credit for defeating Cell ended up being what ultimately defeated Kid Buu since the people of Earth were reluctant to give Goku their energy until he spoke. After being Rescued from the Scrappy Heap, fans even started to find his antics during the Cell Saga amusing in retrospect.
    • The original version of Broly was very popular when he was first introduced in Dragon Ball Z: Broly – The Legendary Super Saiyan, thanks to his characterization as a Person of Mass Destruction who could fight both Goku and Vegeta to a standstill, with his single-minded hatred of Goku making for an interesting opponent. However, after later appearances in the series (most notably Broly – Second Coming) drew ire for Flanderizing him into a mindless berserker, fans reevaluated his first appearance as poorly written or short of its potential, with many singling out and mocking his backstory of hating Goku because his crying disturbed him when they were both babies born on the same day. Consequently, many viewed him as a one-dimensional villain emblematic of the franchise's worst excesses, not helped by how most of his appearances were based on his Second Coming personality. When Dragon Ball Super: Broly created a whole new version of Broly that fleshed out his personality, the majority of fans embraced that take on the character instead, regarding the pre-Super version of him as a case of what happens when a character's potential isn't exploited properly by the writers.
  • Gundam:
    • Mobile Suit Gundam:
      • The Principality of Zeon were originally intended by Yoshiyuki Tomino as an allegory for Imperial Japan and a faction which uses the veil of fighting oppression to commit horrible atrocities, but the high number of Punch Clock Villains and other sympathetic characters among Zeon's ranks initially led a lot of fans in both Japan and elsewhere to see them as less "Space Nazis" and more a morally gray faction with some degree of legitimate grievance against the corrupt and ineffectual Earth Federation. Ironically, the opposite is true among Western fans, who first believed Zeon to be Well Intentioned Extremists fighting for freedom until the perception of them as outright villains who only put up the pretense of a heroic cause became more widespread. Nowadays, Westerners like Zeon just fine but tend to prefer them as outright baddies more in-line with Tomino's original vision and dislike works which depict them as sympathetic or try to grey the One Year War.
      • Char Aznable has also had his reputation vary among Western audiences, who initially believed him to be a badass Anti-Villain (or even Anti-Hero) who fought for Zeon but wanted revenge on the Zabis for killing his father, and to bring Zeon closer to the ideals of Zeon Deikun, a view that was further bolstered by his role as Kamille Bidan's mentor in Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam. Many of his fans either cried foul when he made a Face–Heel Turn in Char's Counterattack, believing it to be a character assassination, or even agreed with his motivations. However, when one re-watches the original Gundam show and Zeta it's easier to pick up on Char's more negative qualities, including his selfishness, self-righteousness and even megalomania, and suddenly his character arc culminating in Char's Counterattack makes a lot more sense. As this perception became more popularized, Char's reputation shifted from that of a misguided hero to a Love to Hate villain.
    • Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory: Among Japanese audiencesnote , the Delaz Fleet was viewed at one point in a somewhat sympathetic light despite being Gihren loyalists seeking to carry out a Colony Drop in revenge for the One Year War. This is because of the emphasis placed by the narrative of Gato's honor as a soldier and viewers finding their Patriotic Fervor and willingness to die for the cause they fought for endearing, this perception was shaped by the focus of 0083 on the corruption of the Federation culminating in the eventual rise of the Titans along with various early Super Robot Wars titles that can see Gato pull a Heel–Face Turn and join the players' side. The rise of terrorism in both Japan and around the world in the late 1990s and early 2000s however would see more critical interpretations of the Delaz Fleet's actions surface, and attention being brought to the fact that it is their colony drop that gave the Titans an excuse to come to power. As such, the Delaz Fleet's actions were held up to much more scrutiny.
    • Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ: Protagonist Judau Ashta was initially seen as a step down from Kamille Bidan, the protagonist of Zeta Gundam. This is due to the more polarizing reception of Gundam ZZ compared with the more acclaimed Zeta Gundam along with the perception that Judau was excessively overpowered and not as developed of a character as Kamille. However, with the positive reevaluation of Gundam ZZ as time passed, combined with greater exposure of fans to Judau through various spin-off games like the Super Robot Wars crossover series, Dynasty Warriors: Gundam, and spin-off manga like the Crossbone Gundam side stories, the character has been positively reevaluated and is now seen as a worthy protagonist in his own right.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure:
    • Rudol von Stroheim from Battle Tendency was originally an Ensemble Dark Horse for his depiction as a Large Ham cyborg Nazi, which was cited as adding onto the part's over-the-top nature and led to him quickly becoming a Fountain of Memes. However, as multiple countries, most notably America, saw a rise in far-right, fascist, and white supremacist activity during The New '10s, he became much more divisive, especially in America itself. While the aforementioned traits still give him plenty of fans who chalk up his Nazism to Deliberate Values Dissonance, a large contingency of readers/viewers find it difficult to stomach the idea of him being an ally to the main heroes (albeit a temporary one) thanks to him being an actual Nazi who's not only wholly unrepentant in his actions, but is also seen performing actual Nazi practices and is directly responsible for making things worse even when he does try to help.
    • Golden Wind:
      • Giorno Giovanna was initially considered the franchise's worst protagonist outside of Japan thanks to a perception of him as overly generic. However, much of this was blamed on the poor quality of early scanslations even from the outset, and once better translations became available, Giorno gained an increasing number of supporters who saw his calculating personality as a good fit for the Darker and Edgier tone of the part. Other fans, though, continued to hold him in low regard, and the later anime adaptation of Golden Wind amplified both camps by introducing the character to new audiences. Nowadays, Giorno remains a major Base-Breaking Character among JoJo fans, with many debating whether or not his early reputation as "the worst JoJo" was warranted.
      • For a while, Diavolo was considered the series' worst villain due to constantly being shrouded in mystery, which left little screen time to flesh his character out, and due to his Stand, King Crimson, being difficult to comprehend thanks to its unusual power of erasing time, which led to a number of memes mocking the power that eventually got acknowledged by the actual King Crimson. It didn't help that he lacked the traits that made DIO and Kira so popular. This began to change, however, when better translations and the anime were released and allowed fans to better understand King Crimson's abilities, appreciate the mystery surrounding his character, and see how vicious and ruthless of a villain he really is. However, how he compares to other antagonists is still a subject of debate.
  • Most of the girls in Love Hina were beloved by critics and fans alike when the series first came out for their comedic antics and attractive designs, in part because the Harem Genre was in its infancy. Female lead Naru Narusegawa in particular is one of the popularizers of the tsundere archetype. But as perceptions of abuse changed and female-on-male abuse started being taken more seriously, the girls beating up Keitaro stopped being funny, especially since so many Tsunderes who did exactly that appeared in many such series. Naru and Motoko assaulting Keitaro for being an Accidental Pervert now gets on people's nerves and is generally seen as Domestic Abuse, to the point of it becoming a Fandom-Specific Plot for a fic to be a Deconstruction Fic that takes the girls to task for their awful treatment of Keitaro. The only exceptions are Shinobu and Mutsumi, who never mistreat Keitaro and are thus far more liked over his canonical choice Naru. And since the series stars these girls, the series as a whole is no longer as well-regarded as it used to be.
  • The My Hero Academia Arc Villain Stain was once the most popular villain in the series, to the point that one would be forgiven for thinking that he was the Big Bad. However, after his origins were explored in Vigilantes, he became a Base-Breaking Character due to some fans taking a more critical look at his ideology and labeling him a hypocrite.
  • Naruto: The Third Hokage, Hiruzen Sarutobi, was initially well-liked by the fandom for being A Father to His Men, a Cool Old Guy, and for having such a Tear Jerker death. However, in recent times, his treatment of Naruto has been called into question by the fandom. Despite supposedly being Naruto's guardian, he left him to fend for himself when he was barely old enough to spell his name and did very little about the village treating him like a living plague. Another point of contention was how he was aware of Danzo's corruption, but didn't do anything about him because of bureaucratic reasons.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion's protagonist Shinji Ikari was extremely divisive when the anime was first released, with his detractors vocally decrying him as overly wangsty. However, his reputation would improve over the decades due to a number of factors: the Rebuild of Evangelion movies made him a stronger character in response to audience criticism, The New '10s saw increased awareness of issues related to mental health and the harmful effects of emotional abuse, and fans would increasingly point out how the image of him as unwilling to take action was much rarer, more justified, and closer to other mecha protagonists than was often believed. Consequently, Shinji is now seen as an effective deconstruction of standard Shōnen and mecha protagonists, and while some still see him as overly maudlin, most modern audiences are considerably more sympathetic towards him than they were in the '90s and 2000s.
  • Pretty Cure
    • When Futari wa Pretty Cure MaX Heart was released, Hikari/Shiny Luminous became The Scrappy due to being a third wheel to Nagisa and Honoka, having a more subdued personality, and "not being a Cure". In more recent years, while she still has detractors, Hikari is more positively received for her cute design and more unique role (being a support fighter).
    • In 2011, when Suite Pretty Cure ♪ was airing, Hibiki/Cure Melody was so controversial, she managed to place on a list of least forgivable anime characters (among other places, Kyubey and the aunt from Grave of the Fireflies). Modern fans are more receptive to her, especially since Suite ceased to be the fandom punching bag once Doki Doki! PreCure and HappinessCharge Pretty Cure! came along.
    • When HappinessCharge Pretty Cure! first aired, Blue was seen as a Base-Breaking Character at best, since he did seem to care for the Cures despite his less-than-perfect qualities holding him back. Nowadays, it's near-impossible to find anyone defending Blue, with many seeing him as someone undeserving for the title of "Guardian of Earth", dumping all of his problems onto the Happiness Charge team without consideration. It's made worse when not only does he do nothing to quell Megumi's growing feeling for him (leading to uncomfortable Student/Teacher Romance plotlines), it's revealed that he singlehandedly caused the season's storyline to happen by leading on and rejecting another girl in the past due to his own commitment issues, nearly causing the apocalypse when the Big Bad decided to take advantage of her despair to create the Phantom Empire. While Happiness Charge already has its own list of issues causing it to become a Contested Sequel, Blue's existence only adds another black mark against the season.
  • Robotech: Minmay was widely hated, partly due to her whiny voice provided by Rebecca Forstadt (who, to say it politely, was not the most suited actress for the role), the bad quality of her dubbed songs, and her overall ditziness. But over the years, people who once hated her have now warmed up to her and see her more as a goofy but good-hearted girl who was unable to cope with the insane situation she found herself in. It helps that ADV Films was given the go-ahead to make an uncut dub of the original Super Dimension Fortress Macross and cast Minmay with an actress who actually knew how to make her likable (Mari Iijima, her original Japanese VA).
  • Symphogear: Akira Tachibana was near-universally hated in his debut in GX, for being a deadbeat dad and an abusive alcoholic willing to abandon his daughter Hibiki when she needed him the most and expecting her to instantly welcome him back as if nothing had happened, enough for him to be quietly sidelined after the season ended. Following his reappearance in XV however, some have warmed up to him due to his acknowledgement of his flaws and his genuine efforts to do better, helped by the even more depraved actions of Tsubasa's father/grandfather Fudo Kazanari making Akira look like a saint by comparison. As a result, Akira became an extremely Base-Breaking Character, although most are willing to acknowledge his positive qualities.
  • Your Lie in April: Kaori Miyazono was pretty well-liked by viewers for her upbeat personality, her earnest efforts to help Kousei through his trauma, and for having a notorious Tear Jerker of a death. However, as awareness of mental health has increased over the years, her approach in helping Kousei has been harshly criticized as an example of Toxic Positivity, she at times came off as emotionally manipulative, and her tendency to inflict Amusing Injuries on Kousei was looked at as incredibly tone deaf due to his past as a child abuse victim. As a result, she has become more of a Base-Breaking Character.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!:
    • Yu-Gi-Oh! GX: Upon their introduction, Yubel was a major Base-Breaking Character at best (especially in America); between the highly inconsistent 4Kids dub, mixed reviews of the third season in general, and some fans claiming that Yubel "got in the way" of more popular ships, there were a lot of complaints. But the years have been kind to them, and today, Yubel's usually considered one of the best villains in the entire franchise, with their competence, well-developed personality, creepiness, and interesting relationship with Judai/Jaden often being cited. The potential inherent in their Heel–Face Turn and their canon intersex gender don't hurt either, especially due to gender and sexuality conventions being a hot topic in The New '10s.
    • Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds: Z-one was hyped up as Yusei's evil future self, only to eventually be revealed to be just a random scientist from a dystopian future timeline who used technology to seamlessly imitate Yusei's appearance and personality. As a result, Z-one was perceived as a disappointing Big Bad by fans. In the following years, while the twist remains divisive to this day, fan reception towards Z-one himself has become much more positive, largely due to the reevaluation of the theme presented in The Revealnote , often ranking high in villain polls. This is mainly because the following two Big Bads are Don Thousand and Z-ARC, while his predecessor, Darkness/Nightshroud, is widely regarded as an Anti-Climax Boss.

    Comic Books 
  • Batman:
    • The Caped Crusader is often held high as a badass' badass, able to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the rest of the Justice League and prepare contingency plans if any of their powers were to fall into the worng hands. Numerous stories and adaptations later and audiences began to notice that Batman's ability to beat any foe no matter their power level started to come across as no less ridiculous than the Bat-Shark repellent spray. His contingency plans combined with his perpetually sour mood also called into question why anyone on the Justice League would consider him an ally, since the Flash and Martian Manhunter are also detectives and the Green Lanterns can create gadgets Batman could only dream of carrying.
    • Following the success of A Death in the Family and The Killing Joke, the characterization of the Joker slowly but surely shifted from a dangerous but random criminal genius with a twisted sense of humor to a cruel sadist who inflicted pain and misery because he thought it was funny. This was generally seen as a positive development at first, since it made him dramatically more threatening, cemented his position as Batman's archenemy, and created some genuinely compelling emotional torque. However, a combination of repetitive storylines, the Joker's increasing importance to and prominence in the DC Universe as a whole, fan backlash against attempts to "darken" the mainstream comics, and it seeming increasingly implausible that Batman won't make an exception for the Joker when it comes to his Thou Shalt Not Kill rule to protect innocent lives (with attempts to explain his refusal to do so only raising more questions) have led to far more polarized opinions on the current characterization of the Clown Prince of Crime. While virtually everyone agrees that such characterization for the Joker can and does work in the right context, the current take on him has been increasingly criticized as overly predictable (especially for a character meant to be defined by his unpredictability), with some of his more impressive and outrageous feats being seen as straining credulity even by the standards of DC Comics. Many fans have been clamoring for him to return to something closer to his Bronze Age personality, with some even going so far as to say that him straddling the line between villain and antihero would make more sense for a self-proclaimed "agent of chaos" than him being a brutal murderhobo who kills for fun. Of course, this take on the Joker still has plenty of fans, so while he's come under increasing fire, the criticism is far from universal.
    • Jason Todd has been a contentious character ever since he replaced Dick Grayson as Robin and his return as the Red Hood has only made him more divisive among fans. However, some fans have also come to reevaluate Jason's tenure as Robin and argued that he was far from the obnoxious, edgy jerkass that he was remembered as, with many finding that much of his abrasive aspects were added in retroactively by writers after his death or even made up (or at least misremembered) by fans. At the very least, many have pointed out that he did not deserve to die like he did, with stories implying that he did being criticized for indulging in Karmic Overkill.
    • The Batman Who Laughs, introduced in Dark Nights: Metal, was initially an immensely popular character, due to his awesomely scary Judge Death-esque design, being the Big Bad of a story that seemed to exemplify Crazy is Cool and the optimism of the DC Rebirth era, and the mere concept of "what if Batman became the Joker" being a surefire hit. Later on, though, he began to suffer from overexposure, with Dark Nights: Death Metal giving him the powers of Dr. Manhattan being derided as particularly stupid. However, while said overexposure was the thing that completely soured fans on the character, it also caused them to look back on his earlier writing in an increasingly unfond light. He fell under increasing fire as a result, with fans criticizing his origin as overly-edgy and surprisingly uninteresting (since he didn't actually choose to become the way he is, and was only corrupted by what amounted to a mind control virus), and viewing him as little more than a reskin of the aforementioned "murderous psycho without much actual humor" take on the Joker, with Batman's increasingly disliked "Batgod" Popularity Power added on top and elevated to literal multiversal levels. Though he still has a following who sees him as the apex of threat for Bat-villains that he was initially billed as, it's not for no reason that it's been claimed he's only liked by people who don't read comics and are only familiar with that initial wave of hype.
  • When she was first added to Doom Patrol, Coagula was seen as a Replacement Scrappy who replaced the beloved Crazy Jane and as a case of Flawless Token, being a trans lesbian who was easily the most competent and least dysfunctional member of the '90s team. After she was Stuffed in the Fridge during a reboot in the 2000s, however, fans have come to appreciate her as one of the most positive portrayals of a trans woman in mainstream comics.
  • Monica's Gang: Back in the days of her debut, Monica herself had quite the impact on Brazil, thanks to the readers finding her a Cute Bruiser who kicks ass effortlessly, and was considered somewhat of a strong (both in character and her Super-Strength) female character for young girls in The '60s. However, as the years went on, a combination of Moral Guardians, the audience that read the original comics growing up, and the increased awareness of toxic feminism and Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male, she's viewed less of a "strong female character" and more of a Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist whom, at best, uses violence to respond to very minor offenses, and at worst a hot-headed bully who forces everyone to do things her way and threatens then with violence if they don't comply or call her out on it. The fact that she gets away with it most of the time didn't help either. There's also have been noted how she got progessively more feminine as time went on, such as constantly falling in love and talking about her crushes note , putting on makeup, and being a Damsel in Distress that has to be saved by her male comrades note  despite her super strength, to almost Chickification levels, further deviating her from the supposed "female empowerment" movement she was supposed to be a part of. And even when she did mellow out in recent years, she is now hated by her older fans who accused her of going through a bigger Badass Decay than before, especially with the franchise turning Lighter and Softer. And the less is talked about her manga self, the better.
  • Spider-Man: While she wasn't outright hated, Gwen Stacy was seen as a Satellite Love Interest whose only notable character trait was dying. She was considerably less popular than Mary Jane Watson, and she didn't even make an appearance outside of the comics until her cameo in Spider-Man: The Animated Series. It wasn't until the turn of the millennium that Gwen gained more love after being reinvented in the Ultimate Universe, and later adaptations such as The Spectacular Spider-Man and The Amazing Spider-Man gave her a more compelling personality. Gwen's popularity would then explode during Spider-Verse, with the introduction of Spider-Gwen, who immediately became a Breakout Character for the event.
  • Ultimate Spider-Man: The Ultimate Universe's portrayal of Eddie Brock, a.k.a., Venom, was praised for his relationship with Peter and sympathetic motivation for wanting to keep the Symbiote adding an extra layer of tragedy to their dynamic. The tie-in video game was a direct follow-up to his introductory arc and used him being playable as a selling point, and traits of this version of Eddie were implemented in Spider-Man 3 and The Spectacular Spider-Man. However, as time progressed, this version of Eddie has drawn criticism for lacking his noble or funny qualities from the 616 universe, the Venom Symbiote's Adaptational Nonsapience eliminating it and Eddie's endearing dynamic, and for attempting to pressure a 15-year-old Gwen Stacy into sleeping with him.

    Comic Strips 
  • For Better or for Worse:
    • Elly for years was seen as a relatable deconstruction of the archetypal comic strip housewife, feeling conflicted about her situation but doing the best she can. However, as the years went on and her children started growing up, Elly was seen more as a neglectful and emotionally manipulative person, coddling her son and older daughter to the point where they can’t cope with the real world.
    • John was initially seen as a Nice Guy who made well-meaning but insensitive comments to his wife and children and his tendencies to watch attractive women were Played for Laughs. But in recent years, emotional and verbal abuse, as well as sexual harassment, are becoming increasingly discussed and he is increasingly seen as an abusive jerk and a total pervert.

    Fan Works 
  • Hearts of Iron Game Mod Kaiserreich: Legacy of the Weltkrieg:
    • The Entente Faction was viewed as either a morally grey faction with legitimate goals of reclaiming their homelands from the Syndicalists or even the most morally good democratic faction in the game during the mod's Darkest Hour era and the early half of its' Hearts of Iron IV era. In the latter half of the Hearts of Iron IV era, this viewpoint fell under more scrutiny due to the large amount of National Populist regimes that were associated with the Entente, along with the fact that even the least authoritarian endings for National France included colonial subjugation of French Africa, combined with developer statements that the Entente's war aims have little popular support in both Canada and among capitalist holdouts in Britain and that they would eagerly align with Boris Savinkov's Russian state to fight Syndicalism in Europe if the Reichpakt falls. These more critical interpretations were also influenced by a greater awareness towards the end of The New '10s of the legacy of British Imperialism, the prevalence of rampant apologia for said Imperialism along with rampant transphobia and classism in British society, growing anti-monarchist views towards the British Royal Family, as well as Canada and Australia's mistreatment of their First Nations and Aborigine populations respectively. While there are still many players who view the Entente as capable of being a positive force in the setting, this view has come under increasing scrutiny.
    • John Nance Garner was originally seen as the worst democratic path for the United States because of his efforts to defend a political establishment seen to be corrupt and unwilling to work towards solving the problems in American society that would make the Civil War inevitable, especially when the other democratic alternative, Charles Curtis, could make reforms that prevent the Second American Civil War from happening. However, following a reevaluation of his character, he is seen as an uncompromising figure that will seek to preserve American democracy with no compromise, not even allowing a military dictatorship to form just to suppress radicals on the left and the right. The removal of both Curtis and the path to avert the Second American Civil War, which in turn removes a lot of the incentives to placate either of the radical factions outside of mitigating the scope of the civil war, has also helped in this more positive reassessment of Garner as an uncompromising and principled figure.

    Films — Animated 
  • Toa Vakama from BIONICLE was mocked for his constant failures and self-doubt in the second film and for becoming a brash, passive-aggressive hothead in the third, then briefly being brainwashed into going evil. Franchise author Greg Farshtey also heavily criticized Vakama's movie portrayal, and many fans followed suit. Over a decade later, fans realized Vakama's portrayal as a Classical Anti-Hero made him arguably the franchise's most developed character, struggling with realistic hardships in a world of larger-than-life heroes and villains. This was bolstered by Farshtey's attempts to expand on Vakama's character and inner thoughts in the books, making his arc feel more gradual as opposed to the abrupt personality swings seen in the films. His stint as a villain is still divisive, but his redemption showed an interesting contrast compared to other rogue Toa, like Nidhiki or Tuyet.
  • Cinderella:
    • The title character was frequently dismissed as 'anti-feminist' for spending the majority of her film in a passive, servile role that she's only saved from when she marries a prince she doesn't know. In the 2010s however, there was a strong pushback to these statements, with people pointing out that Cinderella is an abuse victim trying to maintain a positive attitude in a difficult time and in a period where women didn't have many options. And she does rebel against her stepfamily by trying to go to the ball... and they respond by torturing and humiliating her because of it. It's now more common to see Cinderella highlighted as a brave survivor of abuse, with a Silk Hiding Steel persona.
    • While Cinderella III: A Twist in Time showcased more of Prince Charming's character, something audiences thought he was lacking, revisits to the original movie revealed that, though still very subdued and easily missable, Charming was always a Rebel Prince who cared little for his father's traditions (or authority, for that matter), and didn't hesitate, at least within the limits of decorum, to show his annoyance and displeasure, especially when he reels his eyes and body back at the sight of the stepsisters.
  • When Despicable Me came out, the Minions were praised for being legitimately funny Plucky Comic Relief characters whose adorableness added a lot of charm to the movie. But when their presence in advertising and pop culture grew so big to the point one could find them anywhere, many started to get tired of them, not helped by their appearances in Despicable Me 2 and Despicable Me 3 being seen as less funny and more annoying than in the original. By the time their own movie came out (which virtually doubled their presence in advertising and pop culture), many already had more than enough of them.
  • Dingo Pictures' Rascally Raccoon character Wabuu was originally seen as a Creator's Pet due to having his own poorly-sung theme song, being given prominent roles in multiple seemingly-unrelated movies, and a Jerk with a Heart of Gold characterization that failed to deliver on the "Heart of Gold" part of the trope. Thanks to Phelous' reviews, however, opinions of the character have warmed up thanks to the videos giving him a humorous Memetic Badass and Memetic Psychopath portrayal, which make his antics easier to enjoy if you imagine that version of the character doing them.
  • Frozen (2013):
    • Prior to the release of the film, many people had a great deal of animosity towards the character of Olaf the snowman, due to how he seemed to be omnipresent in the film's marketing (the first trailer is a short skit featuring just him and the reindeer Sven, the poster puts him front-and-center, etc.), which many found to be symptomatic of Disneyfication that an ostensible adaptation of The Snow Queen would be so focused on a classic "marketable comic relief" character invented for the film. However, when the film actually came out, it turned out that Olaf was nowhere near as prominent in the film as the advertisements made him seem, and appraisal of him shifted towards him being a surprisingly funny character and a well-done example of comic relief that made sense in the film's universe and didn't overshadow the actual story or tone the way some prior characters had. However, after Frozen became a Cash-Cow Franchise, Olaf ended up being treated as a major wing of the film's marketing, with the likely tipping point being Olaf's Frozen Adventure—a twenty-minute short focused on him and shown before a different movie entirely. Consequently, and when combined with Frozen itself having lost some of its critical luster after its initial craze, Olaf is now regarded as significantly more of a Base-Breaking Character, due to those initial fears being apparently vindicated.
    • At the time of release, Prince Hans was viewed as one of the more memorable Disney villains to date due to how he took many by surprise with the reveal that he was a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing and a Prince Charmless who sought to usurp the throne of Arendelle and was willing to manipulate and kill Anna and Elsa to achieve his goal, and critics praised the novelty of how he was essentially a corrupt noble straight out of Game of Thrones placed in a Disney movie. It helped that the presence of the more overtly antagonistic Duke of Westleton meant most viewers weren't expecting a twist villain, making The Reveal all the more shocking and impactful. As The New '10s went by and audience fatigue from Disney putting more and more twist villains (of which he was one of the first major examples during this time) into their animated films piled up, fans began to put the twist surrounding his character under increased scrutiny, with many now viewing that The Reveal surrounding him could have been foreshadowed and executed much better and that a lot of his actions seemed fairly self-contradictory even when it came to achieving his goals. Many view his sudden turn in personality to be overly exaggerated compared to other villains of his nature frequently seen in Pixar films (and even in-house Disney films like Tarzan, Atlantis: The Lost Empire and Wreck-It Ralph, the latter of which came out a year before Frozen), and his most shocking action of coldly leaving Anna to freeze to death being needlessly sadistic and unnecessary even for a villain like him. Some even view his role in the narrative as superfluous given how the story already had a conflict with Anna trying to stop the blizzard Elsa created and that he merely Stumbled Into the Plot (the fact that Elsa was originally intended to be the villain but was changed later on to be more sympathetic has led some to view him as a poor substitute for her original role). In addition, some fans have argued that he had much better romantic chemistry with Anna than Kristoff did given how her interactions with the latter are mostly Belligerent Sexual Tension until the song "Fixer Upper". While he's not usually seen as the worst Twist Villain Disney has put out, critics and audiences now generally regard him as the start of a disliked and overused trend in Disney films.
  • The Little Mermaid (1989):
    • While initially beloved for ushering in the Disney Renaissance of the '90s, Ariel became increasingly scrutinized in the 2000s as being too similar to the early Disney Princesses, owed to her motivation being romantic involvement with a man and her Damsel in Distress status in the climax. In The New '10s, however, these critiques faced backlash as being in bad faith. Other analysts pointed out how Ariel saved Eric's life twice before he saved hers, increased awareness of abuse dynamics made people reanalyze her as seeking to escape a draconian father, and the film's LGBT Fanbase noted how her character arc works well as a trans allegory, altogether changing Ariel's image from "giving up her whole life for a man" to "finally getting to be who she wants."
    • Prince Eric was disliked by those same people who considered him a bland and boring character (with him receiving the derisive nickname "Prince Generic") and wondered why Ariel would give up her life for him, but as many of those same defenders point out, the film does show him as a kind and caring person who was even willing to heroically sacrifice himself to stop Ursula, or even earlier to rescue his dog from a burning ship, so it's not like Ariel settled.
  • Megamind: Hal Stewart, aka Titan/Tighten, always had his fans thanks to his Laughably Evil personality and Jonah Hill's standout performance and used to get a lot of sympathy from the viewers who originally felt that his fall to villainy being the result of how he kept on getting rejected by his crush, and many interpreted that he was a Nice Guy who let having superpowers go to his head. However, come the rise of the "incel" subculture in the late 2010s, consisting of the Dogged Nice Guy trope have become seen as a lot more problematic in recent years, with the Entitled to Have You mindset often leading to violence and people getting murdered by those whose romantic and/or sexual interest they reject. Since then, Hal going on a rampage after one rejection too many has been looked at as a disturbingly plausible outcome to a certain kind of Dogged Nice Guy gaining superpowers. Notably, this didn't result in people disliking the character, as the reassessment of him instead resulted in Titan becoming seen as a much more effective villain and surprisingly realistic villain otherwise by being a perfect encapsulation of toxic masculinity and male entitlement before such problems became more well-known.
  • Tangled: While she was obviously viewed as a villain by a large number of audiences, thanks to her abduction of Rapunzel, Mother Gothel nevertheless got a fair amount of Draco in Leather Pants when the film was first released, with many fans considering her an imperfect but ultimately well-meaning My Beloved Smother who just wanted to keep her adoptive daughter safe. As time went on, awareness of emotional abuse and gaslighting increased, and Gothel began to be seen as not only one of Disney's most heinous villains, but also one of its darkest and most disturbingly realistic.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Deep Blue Sea's Susan was originally viewed as The Scrappy for genetically modifying the sharks, which results in several people being killed. Even test audiences hated her so much that the ending was reshot to have her killed by the sharks. These days, however, viewers look on her more sympathetically for her motivation for modifying the sharks being based on trying to find a cure for Alzheimer's after watching her father succumb to it and she suffers massive Break the Haughty throughout the film. The result is that she's seen more as a tragically flawed Anti-Villain rather than an insufferable sociopath.
  • Fanboys: Over the years, the antics of the titular fanboys have been seen as less amusing and more negative as a result of real-life toxicity within geek culture; they have since been re-evaluated as representing the worst aspects of said culture.
  • Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom: Initially, Short Round had a more polarizing perception from viewers, as there were a number of people who disliked his broken English, highly exaggerated Chinese accent and lack of an indoor voice, with some even finding him just as annoying as Willie Scott. As the years passed though, many people began to realize that Short Round had other positive traits outside of his Ethnic Scrappy Tagalong Kid status, such as his surprising level of competence in dangerous situations, and steadfast loyalty to Indy throughout the entire adventure. With Ke Huy Quan's return to acting in Everything Everywhere All at Once shining a light on his previous child acting roles, it led to an increasingly large portion of the audience wanting him to return to the Indiana Jones franchise. When Quan received the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, he thanked Steven Spielberg for helping him start his journey to winning the award and supporting him after appearing in this movie.
  • James Bond:
    • Timothy Dalton's portrayal of Bond in The Living Daylights and Licence to Kill had divided fans for a long time. At the time, Dalton was stepping in as Bond after 12 years of Roger Moore, and his Darker and Edgier portrayal, which was more in line with how Ian Fleming depicted Bond in the original novels, was shocking to audiences who'd grown accustomed to Moore's Lighter and Softer portrayal. It didn't help that LTK was almost a Franchise Killer that helped send the series into 6 years of Development Hell (to date, the longest gap between Bond films), ensuring that Dalton didn't play Bond again. However, thanks to Daniel Craig's similarly dark portrayal of Bond, audiences have started seeing that Dalton's portrayal was ahead of its time, and a 2020 survey about who was the best Bond had Dalton finishing second behind Sean Connery.
    • Elliot Carver from Tomorrow Never Dies was originally seen as just a veiled parody of Rupert Murdoch, with his plot lacking the more forward thinking of other Bond villains and making him seen at best mid-tier. As social media rose up with both regular citizens and network news channels going to great lengths to get bigger and bigger viewer numbers and increasing scrutiny from the public, Carver's plan to make the world burn while he gets wealthy off being the first to cover it became much more relevant satire.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe: Given its long-running status, many characters have had different perceptions from viewers over the course of the MCU's tenure.
    • Iron Man: Jeff Bridges' turn as Obadiah Stane didn't get a lot of press at the time when the film came out, with most people focused on the action or Robert Downey Jr.'s acclaimed comeback performance as Tony Stark. Fast forward through two phases of mediocre villains (barring Loki and maybe the Red Skull), and people started to notice just how good Bridges was as Stane, who was subsequently reevaluated as an excellent villain and a terrific Evil Counterpart to Stark.
    • The Incredible Hulk (2008): When the film premiered, the Marvel Cinematic Universe version of Betty Ross was mostly written off as a mostly forgettable and uncompelling love interest, especially in comparison to Pepper Potts from Iron Man. However, in the years since the film's release, she has developed a not-so-small fanbase, mainly due to Liv Tyler's compelling performance and many fans feeling that while not perfect, her relationship with Bruce is arguably better developed than a lot of later MCU romances, including Bruce's own later one with Black Widow. Nowadays, it's not hard to find a lot of fans on Tumblr wishing that Betty would return, and indeed, her announcement that she would be returning in the fourth Captain America movie was met with pleasant surprise.
    • Iron Man 3: Initially post-release, Aldrich Killian was considered one of the weakest villains of the MCU, in large part due to his role in the controversial twist regarding the fake Mandarin, Trevor Slattery, and the lack of strong charisma that some more well-received previous villains like Red Skull and Loki had. As time has gone on and the Mandarin twist has gradually been viewed more and more positively (in no small part due to the real Mandarin becoming one of the most popular villains of the MCU), the perception of Killian has become far more positive than before. While he's not one of the most popular villains of the MCU, he's no longer near the bottom (he's certainly above the likes of Malekith and Dreykov in terms of overall opinion); it's generally agreed that Guy Pearce gives an entertaining and surprisingly nuanced performance, the Mandarin twist and Killian's role in it were both brave departures from audience expectations that helped set up the real Mandarin's later appearance, and he plays a great role in Tony's character arc. Some viewers even admit they wouldn't mind if Killian were to somehow return in a later instalment.
    • Avengers: Age of Ultron: When his titular film was first released, Ultron was originally seen as a worthy follow-up antagonist for the Avengers, as his chilling performance from James Spader intrigued audiences, and his lengthy monologues gave him some very interesting characterization and perspective that other Marvel villains lacked. As time passed however, many fans began to notice flaws with Ultron that were overlooked before, particularly his unnecessary personal conflict with Tony Stark and incessant Deadpan Snarker tendencies that made him feel less distinct from other villains and also severely dampened his threatening Enemy to All Living Things persona. Nowadays, many people consider the MCU's take on Ultron to be one of the weaker and more generic adaptations of the character.
    • Thor's more comedic characterization starting with Thor: Ragnarok was originally embraced by fans, due to Thor's previous appearances having him act as a boring straight man to the Avengers' snarky and jokey chemistry, making him feel relatively flat by comparison. As such, giving Thor some more lighthearted and funny moments was a nice change of pace, and also made sense given all his time spent with the Avengers at the time. By the time of Thor: Love and Thunder however, Thor's goofy personality had become exaggerated and had long overstayed its welcome, to the point where the Guardians of the Galaxy were now more serious characters than he was. As such, many people now think that making Thor more comedic ultimately changed the character for the worse, given his inability to take anything seriously for more than a second. As such, even his showing in Ragnarok has now gained more critical viewings, with people saying that it undermined his serious moments in the movie at best and made him an Unintentionally Unsympathetic Jerkass at worst.
  • Mommie Dearest's portrayal of Joan Crawford has been subject to this; as much as a character who is based off of a real person could be. In The '80s, Faye Dunaway's portrayal of her was seen as very over the top and flat out ludicrous, to the point where audiences saw the film as unintentional camp rather than something to be taken seriously, with Crawford's infamous hatred of wire hangers in particular being the subject of frequent mockery. Thirty to forty years later, greater awareness of mental health and changing views on child abuse has painted her in a much different light. Part of this is due to Values Dissonance - when the film was made, it was still a popular misconception that child abuse only happened in broken and/or low-income families; we thankfully know better today. Comments on the film sometimes even go so far as to say Dunaway is underacting. Many viewers also found the aforementioned hanger scene to be more horrifying in context. While there remains debate as to how authentic the movie's version of Joan Crawford is compared to the actual Crawfordnote , fewer and fewer people are likely to dismiss her as "campy" or "cartoonish" like they once did.
  • When the first three Pirates of the Caribbean films were originally released, it was a common opinion to view Will and Elizabeth as boring Audience Surrogates who just took screen time away from the more interesting characters, particularly Jack Sparrow. Well, after that, we did get two Pirates movies without Will and Elizabeth. Both of them create Suspiciously Similar Substitutes to fill that same Straight Man role, but these replacements are widely seen as inferior. All in all, eliminating Will and Elizabeth from the series gave some fans a new appreciation for how essential their role was and how well they filled it.
  • Revenge of the Nerds: When the film was released, the titular nerds were highly praised as atypical heroes who inverted the traditional Slobs Versus Snobs dynamic, fighting back against and defeating the jocks and cliques that bullied them. However, as the decades went by, not only did their "nerd" elements look increasingly antiquated in the wake of other geek-centric works that helped normalize nerdiness and solidify its image in the public consciousness (Booger and Lamar would not be considered "nerds" nowadays), but the film's portrayal of their revenge also aged horrendously, consisting of repeated instances of sexual misconduct, up to and including a Bed Trick (which is legally considered rape by deception). As the film became Condemned by History as a result of its severe Values Dissonance, so too did the nerds' reputations decline, with them coming off to modern audiences as uncomfortably creepy relics of how sex and sexuality were all too often depicted in the '80s.
  • Spider-Man 3:
    • An example that applies to another persona of the title character. When this film first released, people hated "Emo Peter" due to how awkwardly cringe-y Peter was while under the symbiote suit despite his attempts to act cool, and many people labeled him as a Memetic Loser. Years later, thanks to the Bully Maguire meme and Spider-Man 3 being Vindicated by History thanks to a re-cut, people started to like "Emo Peter" a lot more as he basically went from being a Memetic Loser to a Memetic Badass. Additionally, fans increasingly gravitated towards a theory that suggested that his silly attempts at looking cool were an intentional move on the part of the filmmakers to highlight that Peter is a big dork and his newfound dark side doesn't change that, further boosting the popularity of "Emo Peter" as his self-centeredness takes over.
    • Eddie Brock/Venom was mainly regarded as The Scrappy when the film first came out, with Topher Grace being seen as a poor choice for the role, the character being much more overtly evil in contrast to his more anti-heroic comic-book counterpart, and generally just being a whiny, cheating, self-centered loser. However, as the film became Vindicated by History, some viewers have looked back at Topher Grace's Venom and deemed him at the very least an effective villain because he's such a whiny, cheating, self-centered loser, making him a good foil to Peter. Also helping is that later adaptations followed a similar path of making the Venom symbiote the truly serious force of evil in the equation rather than the host, meaning Eddie Brock isn't seen as needing to be particularly imposing or important of a character anymore. While there is still criticism as to how different the character is from the source material, Grace's Venom has gained a couple of defenders since the film's release.
  • Star Wars: The Prequel Trilogy's portrayal of Anakin Skywalker by Hayden Christensen was widely derided on release as a whiny and selfish brat who failed to satisfyingly mesh with either the Original Trilogy's heroic description of him or his later characterization as Darth Vader. His Protagonist Journey to Villain was seen as an unsatisfying explanation overly reliant on his poorly done romance with Padme Amidala, and he was widely seen as ruining the image of Vader. However, after being Rescued from the Scrappy Heap in Star Wars: The Clone Wars, many fans positively reevaluated his portrayal in the Prequel Trilogy, noting that Anakin's numerous flaws presented throughout said trilogy retroactively make logical sense (and were probably intentional, given that Anakin's issues are what led him to fall to The Dark Side in the first place) thanks to The Clone Wars—along with the fact that Hayden still clearly gave the best performance he possibly could with the material he was given, with many of the flaws in his performance stemming more from external restrictions than from any issues with the character. Anakin's more favorable reception with fans also strengthened when his Sequel Trilogy Expy and grandson, Kylo Ren, became similarly contentious (again, save for his acting) due to the the lack of consistent script direction, highlighting how better planned and written Anakin's story was in retrospect. When Hayden returned as Anakin in Obi-Wan Kenobi and Ahsoka, his performance was widely anticipated and praised.

  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: Upon release, the four other children who toured Willy Wonka's factory with Charlie Bucket were seen as naughty kids who got what they deserved. Over the years, evolution in societal values and different expectations regarding minors means that the kids (aside from Veruca Salt) are now seen in a more sympathetic light, with their defining flaws viewed as not bad enough to make what they suffered justified. It's probably at least partly because of this that 21st century adaptations tend to make them significantly worse than they were in the book.
  • Dracula: Jonathan Harker had long been derided as boring and chauvinistic. As a result, he has not fared well in adaptations or the official sequel of the book, usually presented as the repressive and/or dull alternative to the mysterious, seductive Count Dracula. However, when Dracula Daily kicked off and readers went back to the original source material, Tumblr users quickly embraced Jonathan as their new best friend, connecting with his open adoration of his wife, his willingness to condemn himself to a Fate Worse than Death if it means Mina won't be alone, and his struggles to survive an extremely traumatic situation as the Count's prisoner, qualities which had been overlooked for quite some time and rarely, if ever, shown in adaptations.
  • The Flame and the Flower: Back in the early 1970s, Brandon Birmingham was regarded as a complex and swoon-worthy love interest, going from an arrogant (though attractive) rogue to a devoted husband willing to protect and be vulnerable around Heather. Their love story was popular enough to make The Flame and the Flower a bestseller and revolutionized the romance genre. However, by the 21st Century most readers find Brandon to be representative of almost everything wrong with romance novels of yesteryear, due to him being a possessive, controlling rapist who treats Heather extremely poorly; abusive behavior being presented as romantic and/or downplayed is now far more heavily criticized than it was in the 70s. The fact Brandon is a sympathetically-portrayed slave owner in the American South (which the book itself glosses over) also makes him come off unfavorably to 21st-century readers.
  • Harry Potter:
    • Severus Snape went through this twice. Initially seen as an unlikable Jerkass with an arbitrary hatred of Harry (albeit one with a very large Draco in Leather Pants following), later books revealed that he was bullied by Harry's father and fell in love with Harry's mother, which recontextualized his treatment of Harry. Together with his role as The Mole for Dumbledore, this shifted fan perception of Snape into a Tragic Hero and a Jerk with a Heart of Gold, aided by his Adaptational Sympathy (not to mention Alan Rickman's charismatic performance) in the films. However, with the passage of time and changing social mores, his Sadist Teacher behavior saw renewed criticism and his treatment of Harry's mother was increasingly seen as unhealthily obsessive in light of incel culture and its rampant misogyny becoming more prominent in the 2010s. These observations have shifted fan opinion of the book version of Snape to a Dogged Nice Guy and a Stalker with a Crush that the narrative fails to make sympathetic. The movie version gets more of a pass, again in large part because of Alan Rickman's performance.
    • Prior to the fifth book, fans bought Ginny Weasley's apparent characterization as a Shrinking Violet and generally thought of her as nothing more than Ron's baby sister. While the early books do hint that she is more assertive when not affected by her tongue-tying crush on Harry, this was not really picked up on at the time. After she Took a Level in Badass in the fifth book and especially after she was paired with Harry in the sixth book, Ginny began her current status as a Base-Breaking Character, with her proponents seeing her as an awesome Fiery Redhead and her detractors seeing her as an aggressive bully.
    • When the fifth book first came out, there was a widespread perception that it made Harry much too angsty and annoying. In the years since then, there's been a growing feeling that his attitude in the fifth book is perfectly understandable considering what he's put through and the fact that he is, after all, a teenager. It probably didn't help that there was a three-year gap between the releases of the fourth and fifth books, meaning the fourth book's traumatic climax was not as fresh in the fans' minds as it was for Harry in-universe.
    • Lord Voldemort was initially seen as a truly dark and terrifying Big Bad with a fine Evil Is Cool streak back when the series was being released, with some even seeing him as one of the best villains ever in children's literature. However, after the series concluded, many began to look back at his actions and criticize his numerous moments of Bond Villain Stupidity, often resulting in Harry and his friends being able to escape or defeat him, undermining his status as a dreaded Evil Overlord. Nowadays, Voldemort is a Base-Breaking Character, with fans divided on whether or not his constant holding of the Villain Ball makes him too ineffectual of a villain to take seriously.
    • Voldemort's muggle father, Tom Riddle Senior, was almost universally seen as a self-centered privileged bastard who callously abandoned his pregnant wife and deserved death at his son's hand in the early days of the fandom, with his trope page on this site even claiming Voldemort's evil nature was inherited from Tom Riddle Sr. and not his wife, Merope Gaunt. Nowadays, thanks to greater awareness of the harm done by female-on-male sexual predation, people realize that because Riddle was tricked into drinking a Love Potion and had zero interest in Merope otherwise, he wasn't under any obligation to stay with Merope and her Child by Rape, especially as Tom Riddle Sr. didn't even know what magic was, which would have made his experience all the more horrifying and confusing for him. Riddle Sr.'s supposed jerkass personality and actions before Merope bewitched him have also been analyzed as overblown; he cared for his original girlfriend and only criticized Merope's brother Morfin due to his hostility towards the entire town. People have even pointed out that Riddle Sr.'s later standoffishness could be attributed to permanent trauma and damage to his persona from the rape. As such, Tom Riddle Sr. tends to be viewed more as a woobie than anything now.
    • Speaking of Merope Gaunt, she was once viewed as a pure woobie due to her growing up in squalor, being abused by her father and older brother, never going to Hogwarts despite having magic and living in Britain, and dying in childbirth while despairing at her husband leaving her. However, as gendered double standards regarding sexual violation became increasingly challenged, people looked at her snagging said husband with a love potion in a far more negative light, with many pointing out that doing so would be universally condemned if the genders were reversed. As a result, her previous perception became increasingly seen and criticized as a case of Draco in Leather Pants resulting from sexism. While she still gets a good deal of sympathy because of her tragic backstory, today's readers (including ones who feel sorry for her) are more likely to agree with Harry and Dumbledore's opinion that her suffering was in no way justification for what she did to Tom Senior, an assessment that had previously been ignored and criticized.
  • When The House of Night began publication in the late 2000s, Zoey Redbird was initially viewed as a flawed yet admirable protagonist: a smart-mouthed, strong-willed teenager who stood up to corrupt authority figures and tried to do the right thing as she struggled through adolescence. By the late 2010s, opinions of Zoey have largely become more negative, especially due to the cultural backlash towards Not Like Other Girls. Readers are now more critical of her judgmental, holier-than-thou attitude - especially towards other girls - particularly when her own behavior is either no better or worse. Zoey's witticisms have increasingly come off as mean-spirited or even bigoted to readers, and her hypocrisy and self-centeredness results in a rather warped moral code. It's also noted that Zoey just tends to be handed new abilities or solutions, as opposed to working towards them herself. Overall, many readers now see Zoey as being an insufferable jerk with a side helping of internalized misogyny; she's even drawn unflattering comparisons to Ebony Darkness Dementia Raven Way.
  • Moby-Dick:
    • The titular whale was seen upon the book's publication and for a long time afterwards as a nightmarish force of destruction. However, a combination of advances in marine biology and the rise of the environmentalist movement changed the perception of whales dramatically in the mid-20th century. This led to a reassessment of Moby-Dick, who is now more likely to be seen as an Unintentionally Sympathetic animal that justifiably resorts to lethal force against humans who want to kill him. Some, however, split the difference and see him as a Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds.
    • When the book was first released, Captain Ahab was derided by critics as an unrealistic character, with them scoffing at the idea that he could go as far as he did and simply be obeyed. Following World War I, however, Ahab's destructive obsession and his crew going along with it resonated far more strongly. It's telling that today, multiple real people seen as letting their obsessions get the better of them with disastrous consequences have been compared to Ahab.
  • Pollyanna's title heroine was beloved when she came out, with her 'glad game' even spawning a home board game and several 'glad clubs' in which people wore badges of smiling girls. The 20th century however endured two World Wars, the Great Depression, multiple high-profile assassinations and the constant fear of nuclear war, leading to the character being dismissed as the poster girl for toxic positivity. The trope she named is even in reference to a character being blindingly optimistic. But in the 21st century, people have re-evaluated Pollyanna, and seen her in a different light. It's pointed out that she doesn't ignore negativity completely (she cries her first night with Aunt Polly, saddened by her aunt's indifference to her) and her glad game is an exercise in trying to make the best of a bad situation. Part of this is helped by the enduring popularity of the 1960 Disney adaptation, which focused on how the glad game was for her.
  • Pride and Prejudice: Lydia Bennet was seen in her own time as a ditzy, impulsive Spoiled Brat. However, Values Dissonance has led to a more charitable reading gaining steam. While many modern readers consider her to be aggravating as ever, many also find her to be Unintentionally Sympathetic. Modern views on relationships, maturity, reputation, and abuse being as different as they are from Regency era views, a lot of modern readers see Lydia as a victim — a sometimes annoying one, but a victim nonetheless. Between the fact that Lydia really hasn't done anything awful enough to deserve being married to Wickham, and the fact that she was fifteen (practically an adult by Regency standards, but still basically a child by ours), a lot of readers have somewhat softened their views towards her. This is probably why a lot of adaptations produced in the modern day tend to treat her with more sympathy and give her a happy ending.
  • The Sheik: Ahmed Ben Hassan, the titular Sheik of the novel, was once regarded as a swoon-worthy and complex individual, one who developed from a cold-hearted abductor of the book's heroine Diana to genuinely loving her over the course of the novel, which helped propel the book into a bestseller that repopularized the desert romance. However, in the years since the novel's original release, many began picking apart at the book's story elements, in particular, the heavily exoticized, Orientalist portrayal given to Arab characters, the revelation that Ahmed is actually ethnically English-Spanish, a twist that seems to have been made to avoid any concerns about a white woman falling in love with an actual Arabic Sheik, and, most importantly, the fact that the romance is born from Ahmed kidnapping and repeatedly raping Diana until she falls in love with him. These days, Ahmed and The Sheik are mostly forgotten about except for the extreme Values Dissonance surrounding them.
  • The Twilight Saga: When the series first came out, a lot of audience members viewed Jacob Black as being a better romantic option for Bella Swan due to him being her plucky childhood friend with a crush who refused to give up on her, while criticizing Edward Cullen as being domineering and paternalistic. Some people disapproved of Jacob's behavior in Eclipse but it tended to be chalked up as him just suffering from Love Hurts; after all, Jacob was popular enough as a love interest to cause the great Team Edward vs Team Jacob debate. However, due to increasing awareness and criticism of sexual harassment/abuse and the rise of "incel culture" in the decade since Twilight's release, many readers have become a lot more critical of Jacob, pointing out that he can come across as feeling entitled to Bella's affection and overly-aggressive in his pursuit of her (including kissing her against her will; the narrative plays it off as Jacob just being passionate but most people nowadays call it out as sexual assault). His refusal to respect Bella's rejections and anger at her for not choosing him arguably makes him just as bad or even worse than Edward;note  it's not uncommon to hear detractors refer to Jacob as being a "nice guy" in the pejorative sense. Not helping matters is the whole imprinting on Renesmee (Edward and Bella's infant daughter) thing.
  • Warrior Cats:
    • Ferncloud and Daisy were initially hated by the fandom for being stay-at-home moms in a cast filled with tough warriors, which fans thought made them useless. The hate got to the point where Ferncloud was killed off defending kits in a battle by the authors to show fans she could in fact, be tough. In more recent years fans have come to realize that taking care of children isn't inherently useless or worse than being a fighter, and many have expressed regret for the past hatred towards these characters.
    • Ashfur, once a notorious Base-Breaking Character for trying to burn Squirrelflight's children alive after being rejected by her, has since had his perception become mostly negative. At the time of his first appearance, he had about as much defenders (who considered him a Nice Guy who simply snapped due to the horrors of the setting) as detractors who felt the story was giving him more sympathy than he deserved. Then came increased awareness of what he actually did (as many fans simply saw an ambiguous cinematic that didn't give enough context, or heard about him from others), as well as growing awareness of incels and how much that term fits his actions. While he does still have some fans, either due to them being leftover from his prior status or him being a surprisingly scary villain when he tries, he's much deeper in the dislike realm than like, to the point that The Broken Code outright made him a monstrous, unsympathetic villain — which, in turn, actually caused him to become popular again, but this time as a Love to Hate villain.
    • Bramblestar was initially seen as a Not Evil, Just Misunderstood hero who proves himself to be better than his evil father by the fanbase and was unfairly judged by the cats around him, and was thus well-regarded in the fandom. However, over time he veered closer to Base-Breaking Character territory as fans became frustrated with his Official Couple Ordeal Syndrome with Squirrelflight, which reached a breaking point in Squirrelflight's Hope, where his treatment of her & her loved ones included, but not exclusive to, guilt tripping her over her desire for kits, threatening her and her sister, restricting the duties she could do, and constantly taking opportunities to make her feel miserable. Though he was intended to be a flawed but well-meaning leader in the Super Edition, his actions have been decried as abusive by fans who grew up with increasing awareness of Domestic Abuse. The backlash even caused some fans to look back into his previous appearances and recognize problematic behaviors in his relationship with Squirrelflight that had gone unnoticed. As a result, while Bramblestar still has some fans, he's firmly a Designated Hero Base-Breaking Character at best in the eyes of many.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Bret Hart: There was once a time when Bret Hart was really considered one of the true "good guys" in wrestling, with both casual and Smart Mark fans alike, being perceived as a man of integrity who was unjustly wronged by the backstage schemes of Vince McMahon, Shawn Michaels, and Triple H. The death of his brother Owen and his career-ending tragedy in WCW only won him further fan sympathy. Over time, however, Bret became a major Base-Breaking Character, particularly since the time gone by since those past hardships are over two decades behind him. While Bret has made amends fully with Shawn Michaels and even got to have his "redemption" storyline in WWE by defeating Vince in a street fight, his seeming unwillingness to move on from everything else has made fans sour on him more and more. Despite no longer taking shots at Michaels, Bret's continued bitterness and grievances over Goldberg — who has apologized for ending Bret's career with a botched superkick multiple times, yet Bret continues to bash him in interviews (for comparison, D'Lo Brown accidentally paralyzed Darren Drozdov with a botched powerbomb, yet Droz never held any ill-will towards D'Lo. Not to mention that Bret never publicly bashed Goldberg until after he made up with Shawn Michaels and Vince McMahon over the Montreal Screwjob, so it comes across as him just trying to get pity.) —, Triple H, and several other topics have earned him less and less sympathy over time and even now, the fans who once supported him have reached the point where they believe Bret Hart's pro-wrestling martyrdom has reached its expiry date and that it's high time for Bret to move on.
  • Triple H: Before his dreaded "Reign of Terror" pre-2002, he was regarded as an excellent talent in the ring. After his injury and the formation of Evolution, he became seen as a sign of everything that was wrong with WWE's product in the 2000s (although he took far more of the blame than others). Upon stepping away from the main event and full-time ring competition in the 2010s, as well as real-life respect for his work behind the scenes at NXT, he came to be viewed as a legitimately great villain and the sort of dreaded Final Boss who could really make a feud memorable - able to make newer talent look good by beating him, and remain a credible threat.
  • New Jack was wildly popular in the 90s and early 2000s, but in the following years, his popularity tanked due to his bad attitude, reputation for shooting on performers in the ring and the declining popularity of hardcore wrestling as a whole. While most other hardcore wrestlers are capable of working traditional matches, or are at least well-versed enough in Wrestling Psychology to offset the violence, New Jack, for the most part, was only good at swinging weapons and diving off of things and mediocre at everything else (while some will say that he was good on the mic, his promos tended to rely on race-baiting, so needless to say, they haven't aged well). His lack of actual wrestling ability combined with his controversial actions failed to endear him to modern Smart Marks and since New Jack never worked for WWE or any other major promotions after ECW foldednote , very few casual wrestling fans have even heard of him. Any time New Jack is mentioned nowadays, it's usually to criticize him for his violent behavior and unprofessionalism, especially his part in the infamous Mass Transit Incident.
  • Mark Henry was never a very popular performer throughout most of his career. Billed as the World's Strongest Man (and legitimately being one of the strongest people to ever live), he offered little else. His ring and mic skills were mediocre at best, he was incredibly injury prone and was saddled with a series of boring/embarrassing gimmicks (most notably "Sexual Chocolate"), leaving no reason for either casual fans or smart marks to get invested in him. That all changed in 2011, when Henry was being pushed as a legit main eventer. He perfectly portrayed the unstoppable big man in the ring, he cut amazing promos (including a false retirement promo that fooled everyone.) and finally won the World Heavyweight Championship after 15 years in the company. Nowadays, Henry is beloved and respected by both casual fans and smart marks, with his earlier failings blamed on either bad luck (since he would often get injured when WWE did attempt to push him) or WWE not utilizing him to his full potential.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons: The flumph—a levitating pancake-shaped jellyfish creature with stalk eyes and acid spit that becomes helpless if flipped over and is Lawful Good for some reason—was probably the iconic example for decades of how a monster could be The Scrappy, with many viewing it as emblematic of the "lame" ideas introduced by the Fiend Folio, and treated as a complete joke in the fandom, with even official material typically using it as a Butt-Monkey when it was used at all. Over time, though, opinions have softened considerably, due in part to reinventions in later editions that gave it more of a clear purpose, but also due to a genuine fondness for the concept, viewing it as one of the prime examples of Creepy Good in the game. Additionally, at a certain point, being emblematic of the game's goofier ideas stopped being a detriment and started being part of the creature's charm, especially after future editions seemed to be moving in an excessively "trying too hard to be cool" direction. By 5th Edition, the flumph's reintroduction in the core Monster Manual had gone from something unthinkable to being entirely welcomed as a sign that the game was on the right track.
  • Warhammer 40,000
    • While they were never viewed nor presented as outright good, a good chunk of fans in the 2000s and the first half of The New '10s saw the Imperium of Man as justified in their brutality thanks to the Crapsack World setting, aided by supplemental material featuring sympathetic branches of the Imperium. However, in the second half of The New '10s, the US and multiple European countries saw a rise in far-right and outright neofascist activity, which in combination with the Imperium's neofascist Misaimed Fandom led to progressive or otherwise left-leaning fans criticizing the earlier interpretation as problematic and potentially legitimizing fascism. Consequently, many fans latched onto an alternate interpretation that depicted the Imperium's decline and the threats facing them as entirely their own fault, aligning with how Games Workshop intended them to be seen before later material leaned into sympathetic portrayals. While the Imperium does still have its defenders, nowadays, they tend to see it as Necessarily Evil at best as opposed to outright anti-heroic.
    • When the Tau were introduced as a faction, fans decried the excess optimism placed on the faction and felt they were too "good" and "anime-esque" for the franchise, or potentially legitimizing communist ideas. As a result, Games Workshop darkened the Tau significantly by heavily implying that despite being the least evil of all the factions, they were really fond of mind control and sterilizing disobedient populations. These implications were later confirmed to be valid. However, with the growing perception that centering the narrative around the Imperium is seen to be legitimating fascistic ideas in the real world, there are a growing number of fans clamoring for a return of a "heroic" or genuinely good-by-our-standards Tau empire and the retconning of most of the negative aspects of the Tau Empire as purely Imperium propaganda. The Farsight Enclaves appear to be Games Workshop's attempt to appeal to fans who want a more heroic Tau faction, while keeping the ambiguously-grimdark nature of the original Tau for the fans who feel that making them too good would go against the setting's Black-and-Gray Morality.
    • When the Necrons were reworked in their 5th Edition codex, many fans bemoaned how they had been reimagined from a race of soulless Robotic Undead Terminator Impersonators to being essentially Space Egyptians with a wide range of personalities. Some of its most controversial changes included the removal of Pariahs (one of the darkest elements of the old lore), the downplaying of the C'tan into being little more than Sealed Evils in Cans to be used by their former Necron underlings as Pokemon, and their willingness to ally with the Blood Angels which was viewed by the fandom as sacrilegious and lore-breaking. The fact that it was written by Matt Ward, a Promoted Fanboy notorious for his shilling of the Ultramarines and Grey Knights at the expense of every other race as well as writing Purposefully Overpowered High-Tier Scrappy codexes that were known for breaking the lore, did not help fan perceptions and helped contribute to the initial animosity. Over time, fans have gradually come to accept that most of the changes to the Necron lore have actually given their faction much more depth and personality as well as made them much more memorable compared to their previous lore which would not have held up as well in the current lore. In particular, Trazyn the Infinite, a character introduced in said codex, has become an Ensemble Dark Horse due to his personality as a Troll and Collector of the Strange and his fully voiced appearance in Battlefleet Gothic: Armada 2, a sign of how the new lore established in this codex has been accepted by the community. The lore introduced in said codex has also been Vindicated by History as one of the better works Matt Ward has put out in spite of his poor track record.

  • The titular character of Hamlet has always been a very beloved figure, but the reasons why have shifted with time. For a decently long period, Hamlet was beloved mainly for his status as an Escapist Character, given his great intelligence and education, his skill in combat despite disliking war, his devotion to his father and his kingdom, and his wit and charisma. However, as time went on, it became the common perspective that Hamlet is the opposite; a deeply flawed character who ultimately creates most of the problems in the story and harms many innocent people by way of his unnecessary cruelty, chronic indecisiveness, and reckless arrogance and paranoia.
  • The Merchant of Venice: Shylock was seen as a grotesque, greed-motivated villain due to the rampant anti-semitism of William Shakespeare's time, with his forced conversion being seen as a happy ending because, in accordance with Christian teachings of the era, he'll be "saved" to go to heaven. However, after the publicizing of The Holocaust, which did much to end the mainstream acceptability of antisemitism, audiences came to view him as a tragic victim of discrimination at the hand of lazy and shiftless deadbeats and oppression by the state, who deny him what he is owed and force him to convert, making him even more of an outcast. Consequently, modern productions of the play generally approach Shylock as a sympathetic Tragic Villain and reorient the story into a tragedy of intolerance.
  • Desdemona of Othello historically had her role downplayed to better serve the interplay between Othello and Iago, and many scholars at the time viewing her as a poor role model for marrying someone not only of a different race but against her father's wishes. The mid-20th century and the rise of second-wave feminism saw many productions restoring her back to her status as the play's female lead, highlighting her Silk Hiding Steel persona and putting more fire and sexuality into her.
  • The Taming of the Shrew: Back in the days it was written, it was a broad farce where the haughty, unpleasant Kate is "tamed" into a proper wife. In the centuries since then, the roles of women in Western society changed considerably, which brought with it a reexamination of Kate's portrayal as deeply misogynist. As a result, modern productions of the play tend to either deconstruct it by emphasizing the abusive nature of her treatment, have her learn how to manipulate her oaf of a husband instead, see the two reach a mutual understanding, or imply the whole thing was some kind of consensual sexual game between the two.

    Visual Novels 

    Web Animation 
  • Bravest Warriors: Immediately after his first appearance as a minor character in "Gas Powered Stick", Catbug rapidly became the show's biggest Ensemble Dark Horse due to being a Ridiculously Cute Critter with an equally-cute voice. This led to him easily turning into the most popular character in the whole show, with more fans than even the Bravest Warriors themselves. Noticing this, the writers elevated him to Breakout Character status, giving him an appearance in nearly every episode of Season 2, including multiple Days in the Limelight for him while producing more and more Catbug-themed merch, which became the show's biggest source of revenue. This Catbug oversaturation, combined with some of his actions being controversial (like an alternate universe version of him turning into a misogynistic dictator in "Hamster Priest", or killing Jelly Kid, the show's second-biggest Ensemble Darkhorse, in "Jelly Kid Forever") led to him becoming more of a Base-Breaking Character.

  • Homestuck:
    • Bro Strider, Dave Strider's guardian, was beloved by the fandom for a long time due to his overall badassery, and his more unnerving qualities, such as his highly irresponsible treatment of Dave, were overlooked on account of it being Played for Laughs in-universe. Later, however, these flaws were brought to the forefront of the comic through Dave directly addressing them and the trauma it put him through, even outright calling Bro's treatment of him abusive. With the fandom no longer able to ignore his negative traits or brush them off as funny quirks, fan perception of Bro shifted and he went from one of the comic's most popular characters to one of its most despised.
    • Vriska Serket, professional problem-causer and tragically twisted attention-seeker, slowly evolved from being almost universally loathed to being the catalyst of colorful debate, as the fanbase came to reconcile (over a long stretch of time) her destructive and manipulative tendencies with her brutally warped good intentions and the overall context of her horrific upbringing and the cruelty of the society in which she was raised. Ultimately, fans came to a vague, shaky consensus: that Vriska's actions in the story are terrible, but her larger-than-life presence and immense complexity balance those things out to at least make a very interesting character.

    Web Original 
  • Ask Princess Molestia: The titular character, a Memetic Molester variation on Princess Celestia was once a very popular character in the brony community, thanks in part to the sexually charged humor and the artwork provided by John Joseco at the high of his popularity, which led to the blog becoming the longest running and most popular out of all the Ask a Pony blogs. However, increasingly prominent arguments that Black Comedy Rape desensitized people towards, if not outright encouraged, real life acts of sexual violence, along growing concerns towards younger fans coming across unsafe consent online, turned the characters habit of molesting her fellow ponies from hilarious to horrifying for many. This sparked an entire online movement, "Down With Molestia", that was founded to oppose rape jokes in the fandom, and the debates about whether or not the character had went too far would come to overshadow all discussion of the blog from then on. In 2014, John Joseco announced that he would be cancelling the comic and taking it down, which was widely attributed to DWM bringing the comic to the attention of Hasbro. These days, Molestia is regarded as a Discredited Meme at best, and is usually only discussed nowadays as an example of the worst excesses of the Brony community.
  • Critical Role:
    • Keyleth, the socially-awkward Druid who acted as The Heart of Vox Machina, was a major Base-Breaking Character while the first campaign was still airing. Common complaints included perceived self-righteousness on her part, repeated instances of Poor Communication Kills, and a heavy case of Did Not Think This Through when using complicated spells in battle. As the show moved into its second and third campaigns and Marisha Ray went on to play the very well-received Beauregard and Laudna, both of whom were very different from Keyleth, new and old fans going back to watch Campaign 1 begun to re-evaluate Keyleth in a better light. Many realized that the aspects of her they originally disliked were deliberate character flaws, found her focus on morality during the party's more brutal moments to be sorely needed, and appreciated her early awkwardness for making her later Character Development and Took a Level in Badass far more meaningful. The animated adaptation further helped matters by doubling down on Keyleth's endearing traits and offering some gently ribbing at her controversial ones (e.g her occasional misuse of spells is explicitly Played for Laughs).
    • Mollymauk Tealeaf, the circus Con Man who, by his player's own admission, wasn't nearly as smart or charming as he thought he was, was a contentious character at the start of Critical Role: Campaign Two, and the awkward Cast from Hit Points mechanics of his homebrewed Blood Hunter class didn't help. After his plot-defining death in Episode 26 and Beau's heartfelt eulogy for him, however, fans begun to re-evaluate his presence in the earlier episodes as a welcome spark of optimism in an otherwise Darker and Edgier party, and the catalyst for their development from Nominal Heroes to genuine ones, to the point where his "leave every place better than how you found it" philosophy became the new mantra for not only the party, but Critical Role itself after they opened a charity. His perception further evolved when his original identity Lucien came back in his body as the Big Bad for the final arc, and fans were able to appreciate Molly retroactively as Lucien's Good Counterpart.
  • Epic Rap Battles of History: Captain Kirk was initially not well received due to his odd, disjointed flow, and his battle against Christopher Columbus was one of the more disliked as a result. However, years after the battle's release, both returning viewers and newer ones are more likely to acknowledge the comical portrayal of William Shatner's acting (and singing) at its most hammy and how it still fits into the beat (helped by Columbus dissing it in the battle itself), as well as him having some decent lines. Nowadays, it's easier to find viewers who think he's funny rather than grating.
  • Jeff the Killer was once considered an icon of the Creepypasta genre, and inspired many similar characters in his wake. However, his popularity soon diminished, thanks to several poor imitators and a critical reappraisal of his story for the worse (in particular, how easily he seemed to go mad despite the limited amount of time spent fleshing him out). These days, Jeff the Killer is generally regarded as a mediocre character at best, with all discussion surrounding him typically being dominated by the image used to depict him rather than any of his own merits.
  • Miranda Sings: Miranda started as a product of one of YouTube's premiere creators and was a recognizable, unique, and popular comedy character with a relatable premise (lampooning egotistical amateurs on the fledgling platform). She had a lot of positive publicity as well, with most other popular YouTube creators at the time making collaborations with her, in addition to getting a book, live shows, some mainstream appearances, and a Netflix series. Over time, after Miranda lost the position of one of the platform's most prominent faces and her portrayer Colleen Ballinger became the subject of a second wave of allegations of inappropriate behavior, the Miranda character has been reevaluated as a cruel caricature of people Ballinger disdained, including having alleged ableist elements, and the Miranda persona being a sheltered character subjected to mature situations has since been widely condemned as a source of disturbing sexual and dark content that mocked young victims of abuse and was very inappropriate for the child audience Miranda catered to and interacted with.
  • The Slender Man Mythos:
    • Tribe Twelve's main protagonist Noah Maxwell used to be beloved by fans of the series, due to his Deadpan Snarker attitude towards the shit he deals with despite being a Cosmic Plaything for the Collective, as well as doing some legitimately badass things such as trying to shoot Slender Man with a gun and (verbally) going up face-to-face against HABIT and surviving. Over time though, many people began to realize that Noah was more of a Badass on Paper who isn’t nearly as smart or tough as initially perceived, especially as Season 2 progressed. In particular, Noah’s self-pitying nihilistic personality and frequent undergoing of Aesop Amnesia for even the most basic of lessons caused many complaints to arise that Noah was little more than a stagnant Dirty Coward who refuses to move forward unless being actively forced to do so by outside factors, simply for the sake of Padding. While Word of God previously mentioned that this was done to make Noah seem like a more realistic person, it unfortunately comes at the cost of making him across as a spineless, pathetic character that fans had difficulty rooting for.
    • Mary Asher was initially a popular character in Tribe Twelve, with fans seeing her as a wonderful Hate Sink that caused so much to happen over the course of the franchise for her own selfish gain. After the series’ premature end however, most people have become resentful of Mary's evil traits, as it made her come across as a two-dimensional Flat Character who had little else going for her outside of acting terrible to everyone she knew and being set up to be murdered by Mr. Scars, with barely any redeeming traits to make her interesting. The fact that she's the only main female character in a series where women were either Disposable Love Interests for Noah, or Out of Focus family members certainly doesn’t help.
    • When he was first introduced in Everyman HYBRID, HABIT was originally embraced by Slender Man fans, seeing him as a perfect villainous foil for both him and The Rake, who appeared in earlier episodes of the series. His Historical Rap Sheet throughout the ages, trollish comedic behavior towards Vinnie and other Slenderverse protagonists in crossovers, and his chilling portrayal by his actor were all seen as unmistakable highlights. As the series progressed however, HABIT gradually became a Base-Breaking Character within Everyman HYBRID and the Slenderverse as a whole, especially as his screentime shot up exponentially. Namely, many people began to note how HABIT's twisted Laughably Evil persona didn't feel quite as distinct with age, and began to feel increasingly overexaggerated due to him spending more time talking about committing horrific crimes and torturing people to death than he did actually doing those things. There are also others who dislike that HABIT became a Spotlight-Stealing Squad within the series, to the point where Slender Man himself is practically an afterthought in the series' final episodes. While HABIT isn't downright hated, his popularity within the fandom varies depending on who you ask.
  • To Boldly Flee: The more tragic and sympathetic portrayal of The Nostalgia Critic in the series was, around the time of its release, widely praised. Many viewed his character arc, ending with him performing a Heroic Sacrifice by merging with the Plot Hole, as a fitting end to one of the most popular characters of his generation. However, after Doug Walker abruptly brought the Critic back after Demo Reel underperformed and especially as complaints about To Boldly Flee and its Troubled Production came to light, many began to turn on this portrayal. At best, it was criticized as a self indulgent ego trip for Doug (with many singling out the scene where Film Brain praises the Critic as a rather blatant example of Character Shilling), at worst, many accused him of outright jeopardizing his co-workers' careers for the sake of his own story, as the conclusion of its most popular series meant a significant loss of revenue for That Guy With The Glasses.
  • Vinesauce: Vlinny started life in 2014 as a joke Mii in Vinesauce Tomodachi Life that duplicated Vinny's Mii but included a V-shaped mouth as a nod to the Nintendo 3DS' notoriously imperfect photo-to-Mii feature. The character quickly became an Ensemble Dark Horse in spite of his intentionally forgettable design; however, Vlinny's following also attracted people who started using him as a proxy for Vinny in fan content, usually for shipping purposes, with some going so far as kinning him. This led to vocal Creator Backlash from Vinny which led to him tightening the rules on Vinesauce's Image Booru. Vlinny consequently remains a huge Base-Breaking Character among Vinesauce fans to this day, with most people choosing to ignore the character's existence to prevent the risk of flame wars.