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Character Rerailment

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Stewie: I've always been about world domination. The hell did you think I was talking about when I said "victory shall be mine"?
Brian: You have not said that in a very long time.
Stewie: Well, I'm back on it.
Family Guy, "Mr. and Mrs. Stewie"

Character Rerailment is what happens when a derailed character returns to their previous characterization. Generally this signals the end of a Dork Age. This may also follow a changing of the guard at the asylum. May also happen repeatedly if a character bounces between writers. Sometimes the time spent derailed turns out to be All Just a Dream or Actually a Doombot.

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Sometimes used as an Author's Saving Throw. A temporary reversion to prior characterization is a Character Check. See also, We Want Our Jerk Back, "Flowers for Algernon" Syndrome.


Examples

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    Anime and Manga 
  • While in the past two or three volumes, she was murderously insane in every single chapter, in volume 8 of Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei, Chiri returns to her original characterization as very uptight, but still somewhat the Straight Man.
  • Orihime Inoue from Bleach is an odd case of rerailment due to Character Development instead of undoing Character Derailment. She has recently gone back to being her humorous, perky self like how she was to begin with rather than the broken, emotional character she's been portrayed as throughout the Hueco Mundo arc as a result of a MASSIVE Break the Cutie process that involved her being kidnapped, being mentally/physically/sexually (manga only) harrassed by the enemy, being forced to see her friends being hurt in several ways, and ultimately watching her Love Interest being beaten to near death. This is because all her issues from said arc were wrapped up and she was free to be a content person once more, with added life experiences and stronger determination.
  • Mamoru Chiba/Darian from Sailor Moon was subjected to quite the Character Derailment in the R season, going from a polite young man who still didn't unnecessarily sugarcoat his words and did tell his (much-younger) girlfriend and her friends what he had in his mind, to a Angsty and broken mess who acted borderline abusive to her, badmouthing her to keep her away and safe, and caused her lots of turmoil (which once almost killed her since he would not tell her what he did have his reasons... when in fact said reasons did involve her and she had all the right to know). Fortunately, once he finally told her the truth and the arc reached its end, Mamoru's Out of Character half-season was put in a shelf and he returned to be the Senshi's Big Brother Mentor and a kind yet sincere boyfriend to Usagi. Too bad fandom won't let him live it down, though.... him being put heavily Out of Focus in the next few seasons didn't help matters either.
  • The few constants among the Pokémon cast seem to be re-hitting their stride in the XY saga.
    • Jessie, James, and Meowth were first introduced as true members of the evil Team Rocket organization, constantly obeying their leader Giovanni all the time. But after their obsession with capturing Ash Ketchum's Pikachu began in the show's second episode, they started to ignore Giovanni and mainly went after Pikachu, which inevitably resulted in them constantly getting kicked around and "being blasted off again" every single time, even when Ash continued his journeys beyond Kanto. By Sinnoh, they had gone from their original intentions of Ineffectual Sympathetic Villains to an outright Goldfish Poop Gang with silly dances and Boss Fantasies being seen as outright detrimental to both the show in general and the Terrible TRio specifically. The writers for the Best Wishes arc made them super competent and super important; which generated (yet another) Broken Base and was ultimately seen as swinging the pendulum too far the other way. Early Kalos seems to have split the difference, wherein Team Rocket's plans are self-contained and usually doomed to failure, yet Pikachu is now an occasional target, giving way to the Pokémon of the Week note  and the trio sometimes still putting up a Not So Harmless offence against Ash's team that led to intense two-way fights instead of one-sided beatings. This has struck fans early on as a "happy medium." Unfortunately, they became more overexposed and less useful to the plot as the series went on, with Villain Decay once again seeping in, leading to fan dissatisfaction once again.
    • Ash himself seems to be undergoing this in Kalos as well. In Hoenn, he served as a Big Brother Mentor to Max and an equal to May. In Sinnoh, his Idiot traits are more pronounced, but he still comes off as somewhat capable, at least when he's not up against a Creator's Pet or a Diabolus ex Machina. In Unova, he was completely rebooted into a full-fledged rookie, except when the plot required otherwise, taking a backseat to his own sidekicks Iris and Cilan half the time. In Kalos, however, he returns to Hoenn-era form; he's still a bit wide-eyed, but most of his faux pas early on have come from lack of knowledge of the new region's dynamics, as opposed to the outright virtual lobotomy in Unova. It helps that he started Kalos with a Moment of Awesome note , is a quasi-Big Brother Mentor to Bonnie note , and also has Serena to play off as she's the novice of the group.
      • Kalos had it's own lingering flaws by the end of it's run in terms of Ash's somewhat vanilla and overly serious personality, being a capable battler but lacking much else in terms of quirks besides being very upbeat and forever engrossed by Pokemon. Alola fills in this remaining hole, making Ash still competent and insightful, but much more emotive and childlike again, and even reemerging some of his Adorkable or Butt-Monkey qualities without undermining his gained experience as a trainer too heavily, and sometimes even blending it into making him Crazy Awesome in strategy and training.
  • Dragon Ball
    • Goku is an example of how this trope can be played with. Akira Toriyama expressed displeasure with the gradual Adaptational Heroism Goku went through in the anime version of the story, saying that the character was always supposed to be a fight-obsessed simpleton who has a poor grasp of standard social and family values. Dragon Ball Super, with Toriyama at the helm, puts Goku back in line with the original ideal, even having a scene where Goku himself says that he's not a hero, just a guy who loves a good fight more than anything elsenote . The fandom has noted Goku remains very true to his principles than the paradox faced by the dubsnote  while adapting for Super, in comparison to the subs, where Goku was always a Blood Knight (who nonetheless loves his family very much). But while Goku has his own idiotic moments regarding the fight situations (such as him proposing Zeno about the Tournament of Power, as well as giving Cell a Senzu Bean to make him overconfident), he always works for the betterment of the world, and hell betide you if you touch his friends, family or the world, as Frieza, Goku Black and Jiren learned.
    • Frieza is also a stellar example. After his time as the Arc Villain and Big Bad was up, the manga had Frieza anticlamactically worfed by future Trunks, whereafter he quit appearing, leaving him a memorable villain who simply got outstripped after his time in the limelight had ended, but nothing uncommonly undignified. The anime and other extended media, however, kept bringing him back after this point and had him unceremonously subjected to more one-sided beatdowns, and started characterizing him as a Small Name, Big Ego in the bigger scheme of things who Can't Catch Up to the heroes. During Resurrection F, however, not only are all of his previous defeats explicitly removed from continuity, it is revealed that Frieza is an insanely talented prodigy who simply had never trained. During his comeback, Frieza returns as an opponent with power and cruelty to be feared, and his second return during the Universe Survival Arc drives the point home that, regardless of whatever more powerful or skilled opponents Goku may face, Frieza will always be his most hated and vicious foe.

    Comic Books 
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 8 rerails several members of the cast after their derailment in Seasons 6 and 7, while at the same time continuing their character development. Some, however, still haven't really recovered (Giles, Amy, Buffy herself to a widly varying degree, etc.)
  • A number of comic book characters have gone through this. Like Batman, who swings between Jerkass behavior and being called out on it, typically going on a trip to rediscover himself.
    • Nightwing underwent a similar process after Devin Grayson's disastrous run on the series, which had him join Deathstroke as Renegade. The Reset Button on that one was pounded so hard it cracked.
    • For Nightwing, it was a case of rerailment or death. Dan DiDio has stated that it was originally planned to have Nightwing die at the end of Infinite Crisis (if you've read it, you can probably figure out where), and he kind of implies that Devin Grayson's handling of the character is one of the reasons.
    • This seems to be a pattern with Batman characters, including the case of Cassandra Cain, the second Batgirl... for a while, at least. After she was revealed to have thrown out her heroic side and become evil, later writers retconned this by saying that she was under the control of Deathstroke through a drug, only to have her swing back to killing people again. Poor girl can't catch a break. Later, she would go back to not killing, with the second turn to killing ignored.
    • The Joker is a particularly poignant example; initially a murderous criminal who just happened to look like a clown and sometimes use modified joke paraphenalia in his crimes, the Golden Age Joker went from a cold, grim and relatively rational but bad-tempered professional criminal to a harmless and super-wacky "robbing jester" during the Silver Age stories. Finally, the Bronze Age brought the two takes of the character together for the first time in "The Joker's Five-Way Revenge", establishing the wacky-but-horrifically-evil personality that has become his defining characterization ever since. However, the pendulum swung too far in the other direction, with The Joker doing things like cutting off his own face and wearing it. DC Rebirth is in process of rerailing by explaining there are three Jokers.
    • Bane has had this a lot. He started out as a Genius Bruiser that used a drug called Venom to augment his already impressive strength, and managed to exhaust Batman enough that he easily won their first fight, and broke Batman's back. He basically became known for only breaking Batman's back and his use of venom, and became Dumb Muscle subject to The Worf Effect. Gail Simone's Secret Six run would revert him to Genius Bruiser and have him try to wean himself off Venom. However, then the New 52 reboot hit and Bane was back to being Dumb Muscle and constantly using Venom, though sometimes showed a Genius Bruiser side. Eventually, Tom King would revert him to Genius Bruiser in his Batman run, while having Bane's Venom use be a more mental thing, with it not only augmenting his considerable physical strength, but also removing his ability to feel fear, implied to be why Bane really used Venom.
  • Green Lantern Hal Jordan went through this after he went insane and killed most of the other Lanterns. It was eventually revealed in Green Lantern: Rebirth that he'd been possessed by Parallax, the embodiment of fear, and he proceeded to regain his true heroic self; though at the time this seemed like an Ass Pull to some, both Parallax and the Sinestro Corps have gone on to become an integral part of the Green Lantern mythos. Oh, and several of the dead Lanterns turned out to be alive.
  • Writer Peter David, who wrote Incredible Hulk for 12 years, disliked the changes made by a subsequent writer so much that when he came back to write the title, he had the entire previous storyline revealed to have been All Just a Dream.
  • At this point, there are at least three different characterizations of Magneto, with authors repeatedly rerailing one by derailing the others. The original characterization was a generically evil Big Bad. Chris Claremont's tormented Well-Intentioned Extremist is the most complex and long-running, considered his "true" self by most, but Grant Morrison's Ax-Crazy villain is closer to the character's roots. However, nobody complained about Magneto's return to the character he'd been from 1975 to 2003 immediately after by Claremont himself, with Morrison's Magneto revealed as an impostor. Morrison, however, wasn't the first to try and make him The Heavy again, though they did make sure he had sufficient provocation for "Fatal Attractions" back in the 90s.
  • Alan Davis dismissed a later writer's run on ClanDestine as a dream. It was hilarious because it was just a single-line throwaway.
  • The Punisher famously went through a 90s Dork Age where he was reimagined as a supernatural character who hunted demons at the behest of Angels from Heaven. Garth Ennis took over the character and brought him back to his gritty roots, with the Heaven stuff dismissed with a single (now iconic) Hand Wave line:
    Punisher: Tried it. Didn't like it.
  • Christopher Priest used the same tactic when he got ahold of The Creeper during his Deathstroke run. The Creeper had previously been heavily reimagined in the New 52 as a Darker and Edgier Japanese Oni, much to the ire of his fans. Priest brought back the character's original appearance, and only mentioned the Oni stuff in passing with a line saying that the Creeper had been going through some changes recently, but was now feeling like his old self again.
  • Gambit started off as a Rule of Cool-based, Mr. Fanservice Manipulative Bastard Handsome Lech Death Dealing Badass Longcoat who relished the challenge of getting his hands on the Forbidden Fruit Rogue, though stymied by his self-centered Jerk Ass qualities and the large number of people he pissed off in his thief career. Then, Rogue left him to die in Antarctica. After this, the result was a lot of Angst on Gambit's part, whose characterization was changed from the previously-described version to a Self-loathing Atoner desperate to punish himself for his (morally blameless) role in the Mutant Massacre. More recent adaptations, however, have reached back to the character's roots: X-Men Origins: Wolverine showed Gambit as competent, charming, handsome and relatively low-angst card-shark who won a Cool Plane in a poker game, and Wolverine and the X-Men had Gambit as a mercenary, ruthless, charming, manipulative thief for hire (albeit in only two episodes). Whether or not this trend will continue is currently unknown, though his recent solo series, which compromises by having him return to his thieving roots and ultimately becoming King of Thieves, while remaining a loose faculty member at the Jean Grey School (Wolverine explains that they don't actually expect him to turn up much... but they trust him to be there when it counts, when he's really needed), before joining X-Factor, but still remaining King of Thieves.
    • However, his role in the Mutant Massacre brings him to derailment in other ways: he's a villain in both X-Men: Evolution and WATXM, because apparently leading the Marauders to the Morlock tunnels having no idea what's about to happen makes you a bad guy. However, it's softer in X-Evo, as he's found in the employ of Magneto, whose Character Development is well on its way (though he's still mostly in opposition to the X-Men) by the time Gambit shows up. Still, we last saw Gambit as an X-Man in animation in the 1990s series.
  • The entire purpose of One More Day was to get Spider-Man single again and make him "young and fresh" again. In order to do this, he was made to make a deal with Mephisto to save his aunt from dying, at the cost of his wife and unborn child, then was reset to being single, "young and fresh", and... living with his elderly aunt again. Safe to say, this didn't work out so well, but later writers have done their best to salvage it.
  • Shatterstar's an odd case in that the "rerailment" wasn't to his original characterization. X-Force had him slowly lose his rage, but handled it believably, and didn't give him Badass Decay. Rob Liefeld's work on the series snapped him back to his old self, but didn't do much with the possibilities involved. X-Factor toned him down again, and has had more of a positive reception.
  • Speedball's infamous transition from wacky comic relief to self-hating atoner in Civil War has been undone, redone, and partially undone again as different writers debate over the character. As of Heroic Age, he's still haunted by his memories, but he's slowly recovering.
  • In The Transformers: All Hail Megatron, Prowl, the normally level-headed second in command, reveals a darker side, and shows him as a schemer doing what may be unethical but necessary to win the war (here having the mind of a respected soldier altered to serve his purposes). In The Transformers (IDW) his personality does a 180 and he becomes a self-sacrificial maverick, tries to save a Decepticon, and acts like the kind of rule-breaker he previously hated, this carries over to Infestation, but not to the concurrent The Transformers: Last Stand of the Wreckers wherein he manipulated many events behind the story. The Transformers: Robots in Disguise has Prowl revert to his scheming, being more irrational and hot-headed, but still bending the rules for what he feels is the greater good. He remarks that his actions in the previous series were irrational and brought on by too much trust. He's caught in an Armed with Canon tug-of-war and prone to repeatedly deciding that he was wrong during the previous writer's take on him and should have stayed like the writer before that had him.
  • An issue of Chris Claremont's X-Men had the villain Arcade light a match on Doctor Doom's armour, with Doom just allowing it. Many felt this was Character Derailment, and as it turns out, so did John Byrne. During his run on the title, he retconned that the Doom who worked with Arcade was actually a Doombot, and when the real Doom questions it on how he killed Arcade for such an act, the Doombot says it did not, for it felt Doom may need Arcade. Doom then casually destroys the Doombot, exclaiming, "Doom needs no one." This actually became one of Doom's most memorable moments as a character.
  • Supergirl was originally a short-tempered but optimistic, sweet girl. When she was reintroduced in 2004, editors thought the best way to bring the character up to date was characterizing her as a permanently angry, immature, edgy jerkass. Fans hated it and mass-dropped the book. The next creative team hurried to revert her to her kind-hearted self, and writer Sterling Gates dismissed her initial weird characterization as temporary Kryptonite-induced craziness. No one complained.
  • Carnage became increasingly megalomaniacal in the 2011 Carnage USA and 2014 Minimum Carnage story arcs, taking over the town of Doverton, Colorado in the former and seeking to conquer the Microverse in the latter. In Superior Carnage Annual, however, Cletus remarks that he doesn't know what came over him and decides to go back to his roots as a chaos-obsessed mass-murderer.
    Cletus: Dreaming of taking over cities... conquering tiny universes. Thought I was thinking big! But those kinds of ambitions... they're lies. Now the cataracts have been peeled from my eyes! I can see clearly! Back to the basics! Simple... beautiful... random ...Carnage!

    Fan Fiction 
  • Fan Fic Sporkings sometimes have the characters derailed in the fic comment on what the character would have actually done in whatever situation the fic describes.
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    Film 
  • Before The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (see below), the Sherlock Holmes meets Jack the Ripper film Murder by Decree made a good-faith effort to rescue Watson from his post-Nigel Bruce image as a dundering blockhead. James Mason's Watson is an occasional Deadpan Snarker who makes one of the biggest contributions to solving the case, when he isn't taking out a much younger man in a fistfight.
  • Curse of Chucky brings the titular killer doll back to his original characterization, and out of his flanderized Stupid Evil traits.
  • With Stephen Hillenburg back at the helm of The Sponge Bob Movie Sponge Out Of Water, the characters in the SpongeBob SquarePants franchise are closer in characterization to the first three seasons than when he stepped down.
  • In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014), Vernon's portrayal which sees him as friends with April who helps her and Raph rescue the others has him closer to how he originally was portrayed in the first season of the '87 cartoon before he Took a Level in Jerkass and became April's cowardly rival.
  • After some criticism about how Hot-Blooded and impulsive the previous two films made him out to be, Star Trek Beyond was well-received by fans of the original series by depicting James T. Kirk much closer to the Shatner version - brave, loyal, and assertive, for sure, but also distinctly level-headed and a born leader who's a better strategist than he is an action hero.
  • It's argued that The Dark Knight's Joker is a rerailment of the character as he appeared way back in the Golden Age: he doesn't bother with giant jack-in-the-boxes or acid-squirting corsages, used public announcements to terrify Gotham, and despite having an evil laugh, he was far from a giggling loon (in fact, his expression was usually pretty dead).
  • Similarly, one of Batman & Robin's many unforgivable sins was turning Bane into the very most boring and cartoonish type of Dumb Muscle. The Dark Knight Rises fixed that and then some by reintroducing Bane as the intimidating Genius Bruiser terrorist leader he was meant to be, who's both strong enough to break the Bat and smart enough to successfully separate Gotham City from the mainland. And he had a much better costume to boot.
  • Rogue One and The Last Jedi take two of the original trilogy's most beloved characters back to their roots in magnificent fashion: In Rogue One, Darth Vader is shown as an unstoppable, terrifying, borderline-horror film-level MONSTER who wades through rebels like he's carving a cake, and The Last Jedi undoes many years of Flanderization by returning Yoda to the goofy, expressive, optimistic Trickster Mentor he was in the first films, and keeps his famous speech pattern to an appropriate minimum. Plus, he's also portrayed by an actual puppet rather than CGI.
  • Justice League (2017): After being a Classical Anti-Hero with emotional hang-ups in the first two movies, Superman is portrayed with his more traditional characterization. Even his costume has its color back.
  • After the mockery which appeared in X-Men: The Last Stand, Deadpool 2 introduces a version of the Juggernaut which, while still somewhat weaker than in canon, nevertheless has the same appearance and (it seems) background.

    Live Action TV 
  • Doctor Who:
    • The Doctor himself:
      • The Third Doctor era had done a drastic Re Tool into a Spy Fiction-influenced series, with the Third Doctor being a radical departure from the first two Doctors in that his TARDIS was broken and, stranded on Earth, he'd taken a job with the military. While this era is well-liked, some regard the characterisation as Doctor Who In Name Only, between the Doctor tending to throw his social class around a lot more and the fact that the setup seemed to play down the appealing points of the character. When he regenerated into the Fourth Doctor he reverted to a clownish characterisation quite similar to the Second Doctor (although this developed in a more nuanced and rounded direction after his first serial) and cut most of his ties to Earth and UNIT, in favour of the wild space travel and battles with monsters upon which the first two had focused.
      • The Seventh Doctor era attempted - at first - to make the Doctor a lot Lighter and Softer, making him a foolish Cloud Cuckoo Lander who didn't seem to have a clue what was going on and would break into vaudeville spoon-playing and clowning. In addition to this being a very shallow interpretation of the Doctor's characterisation, it caused severe whiplash coming as it did after an era with a particularly Jerkass Doctor who had featured in some very dark and violent stories. However, once the Executive Meddling eased up, the script editor and Sylvester McCoy teamed up to gradually rerail the Doctor back into being a mysterious, powerful and frightening figure, who just also happened to be a loveable figure of fun into the bargain as well, as he had always been before that and will likely always be after.
    • The Cybermen from Doctor Who were originally an emotionless and monotone species of cyborgs. From Earthshock onwards they turned into generic gun carrying evildoers. This was finally fixed in the New Series and Big Finish Doctor Who audio stories.
  • The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (and its successors) went to great pains to avoid the image of Watson as a fat, blundering old moron who couldn't see that the sun had risen until Holmes point it out to him, and turned him back into the young, fit, and incredibly accomplished surgeon with military background who, while still nowhere near as bright as Holmes, was still very intelligent in his own right.
  • Television did this for both Perry Mason and Ellery Queen. In different series of movies in the 30s and 40s, Mason was depicted as a hard-living playboy with lavish offices and expensive tastes, while Queen was a comic bungler who was Too Dumb to Live. It took Raymond Burr (Mason) and Jim Hutton (Queen) to bring those characters back to the authors' original characterizations (which were far more serious and sensible).
  • In Charmed Phoebe's character was seriously derailed in Season 5 and remained loathed by the fanbase. But when Season 8 came along, we saw a return to a maturer version of the original Phoebe. She was a lot less self-centred and less boy crazy - her Serial Romeo lifestyle was actually Deconstructed.
  • After a bout of serious Flanderization and Character Derailment in the previous seasons, the characters in Community are returned to their original personalities in the fifth season, particularly Chang and Dean Pelton, who had become obnoxious cartoon characters by the fourth season.
  • The last season of True Blood rerailed Bill Comptom. In the first two seasons he was brooding guy with a few secrets like being a spy but was trying to make up for his vampire nature by being nice and helpful to people and only drinking synthetic blood. Then in season three through six he became increasingly manipulative and callous and eventually megalomaniac. In the last season Bill saw the error of his ways and started trying to get rid other evil vampires and started being nice to the main cast again, especially main character Sookie who he finally started conversing with regularly again.
  • Game of Thrones: Jaime's current storyline in the books ends with him being fed up with Cersei's madness and abandoning her, as snow begins to fall in his area, indicating that winter has finally come. Season 6 finale teased it with a Death Glare he gave Cersei in the end after she blew up the Sept of Baelor with wildfire, but then he spend all Season 7 firmly at her side. Then in the Season 7 finale, he finally does the same decision as in the books, just as the snow begins to fall.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Warhammer 40,000 this seems to be happening slightly to Khorne. In recent fluff, he has been going back to his older self, his hounds are stated to be sent to hunt down any of his Champions who kill an innocent (or at least offer them to Khorne). Not much, but hey. Progress.
    • Those hounds also sent to hunt down those who run away from battle and abandon their fellow warriors.

    Video Games 
  • In Donkey Kong Country Returns, Cranky Kong is cranky again. (Yeah, how THAT Character Derailment ever managed to happen in the first place we'll never know...)
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • According to Yuji Naka, this was the reason behind Sonic's redesign in Sonic Adventure. Despite being the Trope Codifier of Mascot with Attitude, once he blew up in popularity, his image gradually morphed into something more cutesy. To counter this characterization drift, Sonic Adventure attempted to restore his intended personality, and updated his design to strengthen his original “bad boy” image.
      • Around the time of the series' Dork Age, A lot of Sonic's attitude was abandoned in favor of presenting him as more of a typical nice guy. As of Sonic Colors, Sonic's sass returned, and he was back to making fun of his enemies.
      • Of course, a few years on, people began to note that it felt like Sonic was now too sassy, making him annoying and more of a hinderance to the animals he tried to save - most infamously, him screwing up in Sonic Lost World to the point that Tails gets captured, the world is drained of energy and everyone on the planet almost dies...because he got impatient. This only got worse in Forces, with his endless snark jarring horribly with the darker direction of the story (including the whole "tortured for six months" thing).
      • Oddly, it would be Super Smash Bros. Ultimate that would reign him in a bit; the World of Light trailer has him slow down and stretch out his hand in an effort to save Pikachu, though both are eventually killed doing so. This act keeps truer to his older personality of risking his own life to save small animals and never even thinking of saving himself first, especially given how it would be possible for him to outrun the beams that were disintegrating everyone else.
    • Earlier in the series, Knuckles went from a smug echidna who laughed at being able to outwit Sonic to a completely serious guardian who is a bit gullible. Sonic Heroes attempted to combine the two portrayals into a bumbling Lancer who is smug at getting one over Sonic. The game also marked the point in which Knuckles' Hot-Blooded nature and bumbling naivete started to get exaggerated in a case of Took a Level in Dumbass and Badass Decay. His role as guardian of Angel Island is also frequently neglected in favor of being another generic associate of Sonic. And then he returns to his Adventure persona again in Sonic Runners. They're still working on the "being a Guardian of the Master Emerald" thing. In the Sonic Boom continuity, they addressed the derailment...by taking the bumbling nitwit characterization and running with it for the most humor, making him the Dumb Muscle of the team. The Guardian aspect was dropped due to the Master Emerald not existing in the Boom continuitynote . Sonic Forces slightly re-re-rails him, restoring his more serious demeanor and a bit of his intellect, having him make the plans for the Resistence.
    • Tails as well. For a few games, he simply became a walking toolkit for the team, losing the childlike and friendly aspects that made him interesting and likable in the first place (and that his character was built from). Sonic Colors undoes some of the damage, especially that done to his friendship with Sonic. Sadly, later games like Sonic Lost World and especially Sonic Forces would derail him even further, to frankly depressing levels.
    • Amy Rose. Originally an All-Loving Hero with a giant hammer that she kept pulling out of nowhere, who had a crush on Sonic. She got a Plot-Relevant Age-Up from eight to twelve come Sonic Adventure, in which she became an All-Loving Hero and got much more persistent about her attraction to Sonic without being entirely unreasonable. Cue Sonic Heroes, where being a Stalker with a Crush had completely taken over her character. She derailed even further in Sonic Riders, becoming a Spoiled Brat, albeit one that had some good points about Sonic's actions at times. She was eventually rerailed in Sonic Unleashed, back to somewhere between Sonic CD and Sonic Adventure levels of crushing, though she'd have much less of a storyline role in the games onward. In the Sonic Boom continuity, they addressed fan perceptions of the derailment by treating the Boom version as more of an Action Girl, with elements of her All-Loving Hero status returned. Her crush on Sonic is more nuanced and tolerable along the lines of CD and SA1-2, along with her trying to hide said crush instead of showing it. She is also the leader for the Resistance in Sonic Forces and the IDW Comics.
    • Some games tried to make Eggman a more serious villain and downplay his comedic attributes, only for the next game to backpedal and revert him back to his comedy relief self. Starting from Sonic Unleashed onward, he's kept the comic relief persona but the true dastardliness of his plans is hidden if you only concentrate on that aspect of his character. Much like Sonic and Tails, Sonic Colors undid problems that he had in the modern era, such as falling victim to whatever forces he was using for world conquest, and he was ultimately the final boss of the game. Unlike Sonic or Tails, however, Eggman would generally improve with each game, becoming more dastardly (and often, more successful) in his plans while still keeping his bombastic visage.
    • That being said, what counts as Character Derailment or Rerailment depends on the fan, due to the Sonic franchise's notoriously Broken Base (and the series' constant admission onto the Cerebus Rollercoaster). Fans who started during the more serious periods, between Sonic Adventure and Sonic the Hedgehog (2006), consider the shift to the more humorous and less plot-intensive games from Sonic Unleashed and onwards as Character Derailment and yearn for the serious, complicated stories of that middle era.
  • Axel from Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories underwent massive characterization changes and Badass Decay in Kingdom Hearts II. Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days, set between the two games, attempts to explain how this happened; he had been friends and co-conspirators with Saïx, but gradually ended up bonding with Roxas and Xion instead, and using manipulative and underhanded means for what he at least claims is their own good, leading Roxas to leave the Organization and Xion to die fighting Roxas and be erased from everyone's memory.
  • In The Sands of Time, the Prince of Persia was a snarky, slightly naive teenager (possibly) fresh from his first battle. In the Rated M for Money Warrior Within, he became dark, brooding, and occasionally yelled obscenities at his enemies. The Two Thrones backpedaled to the characterization from Sands, but justified his attitude in Warrior Within as the Prince's darker side — who manifests in The Two Thrones as the Prince's Superpowered Evil Side.
  • In Backyard Sports: Sandlot Sluggers, every character from the original games (except Pablo) went back to their original characterization (though not their look), winning huge applause in the process.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Crisis Core did this for the Final Fantasy VII cast, particularly Cloud, Aerith and Yuffie. They weren't exactly the same as before, but this was justified by the game being set five years before the original game, and they were a lot closer to their original counterparts than they were in Advent Children and Dirge of Cerberus. Aerith got her flirtiness and Plucky Girl traits back, Cloud regained his sense of humour and realistic levels of Angst, and Yuffie regained her snarkiness and manipulativeness.
    • The original Dissidia: Final Fantasy had portrayed Terra as a fearful, Wangst-ridden Damsel Scrappy who gets tormented in a vaguely sexualised manner by the villains and saved a lot by various boys, a radical and borderline offensive departure from her original personality. This came under much criticism from fans in both the West and Japan. The expanded rerelease, Dissidia 012, fixed as much as it could by rewriting her non-voiced dialogue to be braver and more optimistic, willing to do her best to fight but unhappy with the need to fight in the first place, but she's still wimpy in the cutscenes. The developers of Dissidia (2015) stated that they redid Terra's voice and moves for their version because they wanted her to be "optimistic" this time.
    • After his first trip down the angst mines for Kingdom Hearts in 2002 where he was given dialogue written for Vincent, Cloud is gradually being readjusted to be closer to his original game personality in newer material. His bio in Theatrhythm describes him as an arrogant showoff, the trait that was originally the core of his character but had been since forgotten. Dissidia Final Fantasy (2015) had the developers hyping up that Cloud would have "a positive personality" in the game, with trailers showing him smiling while fighting, despite him having been a Perpetual Frowner ever since his original appearance. Super Smash Bros. 4 goes back to his classic power-set and gives him quotes and poses emphasising his Inferiority Superiority Complex, and his design in Final Fantasy VII Remake is more heavily based on his old design and less idealised.
    • Even the aforementioned Dirge of Cerberus undid some of the damage for Cloud, showing that, with all of the emotional baggage he was still carrying from the original game finally out of the way along with the cure of his Geostigma (which further contributed to his feelings of guilt, depression, and isolation), Cloud was capable of dryly cracking a few jokes with his friends, even lightly ribbing on Vincent once or twice. (And he gets to talk to his motorbike like it's a person.) Kingdom Hearts II gave a brief glimpse of Cloud's original personality as well, as seen with the banter between him and Leon during The War Sequence, though this was greatly overshadowed by Cloud's plot arc with Sephiroth and Tifa, which was essentially a retread of Advent Children with Tifa taking on Aerith's role.
    • Cloud's plotline in Mobius Final Fantasy is there to serve as a (re)introduction to the character for fans who don't remember the original, and writes him extremely close to his original game characterisation. When his memory problems begin to make him doubt his own existence, he reacts with snark and determination rather than angst, at one point eyeing the camera to say "I got sick of moping." His arrogant streak is back, with his backhanded compliments to Wol and rudeness to Echo driving a lot of the storyline's humour. He's still aloof, but not so unreasonably that he isn't able to express open gratitude when Wol and Echo try to give him emotional support.
  • World of Warcraft:
    • Cataclysm turned Sylvanas back into her old bitchy, vengeful, bitter, snide, condescending, determined, manipulative self that had been gone since Warcraft III, motivated now with self-preservation rather than revenge.
    • Mists of Pandaria tried this with Tyrande. It didn't work and most people instead saw her as impulsive and stupid, failing basic military tactics and requiring someone several thousand years her junior to set her straight.
    • Burning Crusade turned Illidan, a very complex character that threaded the line between Anti-Hero and Anti-Villain, into a generic Evil Overlord just for the sake of giving the players a raid boss. Naturally fan outcry ensued, and many years later, in the Legion expansion, Illidan was brought Back from the Dead and was restored to his previous personality of a morally ambiguous character willing to do anything to fight the Burning Legion.
  • Mortal Kombat 9 does this to most of its cast. Johnny Cage is shown as being a Hollywood douchebag with a heroic spirit, instead of the Butt-Monkey who serves no purpose aside from being killed off as a gag. Likewise, Jax goes from being a stereotypical Blaxploitation hero back to his role as the badass Straight Man of the cast. And Shao Kahn finally stops being a regular playable character, and returns to his spot as the overpowered Final Boss.
  • Tales of Monkey Island rerailed most of the Monkey Island characters, especially LeChuck, who was truly evil and threatening again after his disappointing apparent subservience to Ozzie in Escape from Monkey Island.
  • This was one of the selling points of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies. After the loss of his badge and his subsequent derailment into a Manipulative Bastard in Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney, a lot of people wanted the old Adorkable Nice Guy Phoenix back. So in Dual Destinies, he's back to being a lawyer again, and he's not half as much of a jerk — though he's kept a few of the Apollo Justice-era mannerisms, and he acts a little more like a Team Dad Trickster Mentor, so his character in Dual Destinies is closer to a combination of this and Character Development.
    • Ema Skye's characterization from Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney also ruffled some feathers because she was no longer cheerful and enthusiastic but bored and disinterested because she hated her current job. She sat out a game (Bobby Fulbright taking her place in Dual Destinies) but has returned to the cast in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Spirit of Justice, having successfully achieved her dream of becoming a forensic investigator and sporting a better outlook on life, more reminiscent of her teenage years.
  • A perfect example of how this trope can lead to a Broken Base is the case of the Brotherhood of Steel from Fallout. When introduced in the first game, the Brotherhood were essentially a bunch of xenophobic jerks who claimed a vaguely noble origin/ideology of "protect the Wasteland from people abusing the technology of the past", but who were pretty clearly shown to be just douchebags who wanted to hog the best tech for themselves and use this to bully those around them. This is emphasized in the second game, where they have lost their stranglehold on the supply of advanced technology and so are becoming increasingly irrelevant to the goings-on of the world around them. Then came Fallout 3, where the Capital Wasteland Chapter of the Brotherhood had abandoned essentially all of the original Brotherhood's teachings and instead set themselves up as futuristic knights, striving to protect and defend the good people of the Capital Wasteland. Though it was called out In-Universe that this isn't the traditional ideology of the Brotherhood and the "Outcasts", Brotherhood members who left the Chapter rather than abandon their traditions, became an interactive minor faction in their own right, many older fans bitterly complained about the change, even as newer fans found them quite interesting. Fallout: New Vegas attempted to rerail by showing how other Brotherhood Chapters elsewhere were still following their old traditions... slowly dying out in the process. Finally, in Fallout 4, the Capital Wasteland Chapter of the Brotherhood of Steel re-emerged after having shaken off their former leader's philosophy and returning to their roots... which lead to fans of their depiction in the previous game complaining about the apparent Character Derailment.
  • Samus Aran of the Metroid series has historically been something of a Heroic Mime, thanks to the lack of other characters to interact with. Metroid: Fusion gave her some private monologues, but the characterization matched the badass image she'd cultivated previously. A few games down the line, we got the highly-controversial Metroid: Other M, which many fans viewed as nothing short of character assassination. Clumsy writing turned her relationship with former commanding officer and father figure Adam Malkovich into full-on abuse by stripping Samus of any agency she would've had if Adam weren't around. Then there was the infamous scene where Samus suffers a Heroic BSoD upon seeing Ridley, something which had never happened in the series before, even in games set before Other M. Seven years later, Nintendo decided that Metroid II: Return of Samus deserved the Metroid: Zero Mission treatment, and Metroid: Samus Returns was born. Once again, Samus is back to the stoic Determinator of old; if there was ever any doubt, she even charges into the fight against Ridley at the very end of the game.
  • Raiden took the role of the Cyborg Ninja in Metal Gear Solid 4 and, while it made him a lot more popular, his characterisation as a deeply depressed, hollow shell of a Blood Knight '90s Anti-Hero who thought of himself as a monster was very different from the rather comical This Loser Is You character he'd been in his initial appearance. Once fans had warmed up to him and no longer viewed him as a Replacement Scrappy, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance shifted his personality substantially closer to how it had been in 2, showing a much more humorous, earnest and slightly geeky side while still retaining the Ninja's coolness and protectiveness.
  • Gilgamesh of Fate/stay night, while a popular Awesome Ego and Smug Super, was noted by history-driven fans to be at odds with his real-life mythological counterpart. The mythological Gilgamesh started as an arrogant tyrant but became humble and more mature over his adventures, while the Archer-class Servant from Fate remained a self-centered tyrant that lives only on his whims, as if his Character Development never happened. Fate/Grand Order remedied this discrepancy by introducing a Caster-class version of Gilgamesh, who represents Gilgamesh after the entirety of his Epic and the ensuing Character Development: though still sharp-tongued and prideful, he is a genuinely good king that cares for his subjects and overworks himself to govern his kingdom. In contrast, the Archer version is Gilgamesh in his physical primenote , the aspect who just met Enkidu and had yet to temper his tyrannical urges, and while he remembers the events of the Epic he never really experienced them.

    Webcomics 
  • One of the darker arcs (Dark!Jareth arc) of the Mega Crossover Fan Webcomic Roommates invokes this in-universe mixed with a liberal dose of You Can't Fight Your Canon: After trying to be the hero (and failing) for 150 or so pages Jareth snaps and reverts back to his original characterization and this Superpowered Evil Side of his tries to force the others back too. It's heartbreaking and asks the highly meta question: "Is it even possible for a fictional character to change or redeem himself? Or does the story define everything he can ever be?"
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    Western Animation 
  • The DCAU team has admitted that Superman got derailed into a punching bag during the first season of Justice League and took steps in the subsequent seasons to remind viewers why he's, well, Superman.
  • Ben 10:
    • One of the main points to the first season of Ben 10: Ultimate Alien is to finally mend Kevin's abrupt, unexplained shift in characterization and powers that occurred in Alien Force, ultimately culminating in using his old, sanity-warping powers as a means to save the world, and becoming evil again as a side-effect.
    • Mileages vary as to how well this worked out in the end though, as some feel that this effort to connect his original series characterization with his new one only succeeded in derailing both of them, with his old one being retconned from truly sociopathic to a result of alien heritage, and his new one treated so seriously that his sudden change back to comic relief after the first season finale, with no more mention of what transpired before, was not taken well.
    • Kevin's rerailment was tried again in Omniverse, with even more mixed results. It reached its most base-breaking level when it was Retconned that almost EVERYTHING about Kevin's backstory and personality from the sequels was a mental fabrication by an evil faction of the Plumbers and that his Heel–Face Turn was all part of their master plan. Granted, Kevin redeems himself for real after learning this instead of follow through with his intended mission, but many fans of him from the previous sequel shows felt cheated all the same at having invested themselves in a total phony.
    • The is zig-zagged with Ben himself in Omniverse. His personality owes to the exaggerated moron from Season 3 of Alien Force, much to the irritation of the fans who liked him as a more competent and heroic character, but some episodes like "Malefactor" or "Max's Monster" do showcase him as smarter and more competent. Unfortunately, by the next episode he usually tends to get back to be a moron, and the writers hadn't settled on either portrayal by the series' end.
    • Vilgax's characterization and vocalsnote  in one of the Alien Force video games, Vilgax Attacks!, was much closer to how he was portrayed in the Original Series. He also regained his original series personality in the Grand Finale of Ben 10: Ultimate Alien, what with outsmarting a Eldritch Abomination God and what not.
    • Zombozo, in the original series, was an undead, supernatural Monster Clown who was rather dangerous. Ultimate Alien seemed to remove the supernatural aspects in favor of a much more Joker-like character. Omniverse reworks the character to showcase him as more of a walking corpse who can stretch his arms, bringing the supernatural aspect of the character back. He's a little less effective and a little more comical, though.
    • Charmcaster had an accumulative derailment process in both Alien Force and Ultimate Alien, with a totally new look and personality, and eventually practically crossing the Moral Event Horizon even though she'd never been that heinous a villain before and had in fact previously seemed to have a Heel–Face Turn. Omniverse restored her to her design from the original series, gave her a zanier version of her old immature personality, and an arc about going back to her old power-seeking ways as a means to heal from a mental breakdown: essentially a metaphor for her undergoing this trope. She's also left in a far better place for her to both mentally and morally improve at the end of the series, Gwen even lampshades the fact.
  • The Simpsons:
  • Family Guy subverted this trope with Stewie: in the season 9 premiere, he killed a character for the first time in years and revealed that he still wanted to kill Lois, although this still hasn't happened.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants: Many of the characters have undergone Flanderization after the movie. SpongeBob and Patrick Took a Level in Dumbass, though the most notable change is Mr. Krabs' greed stooping to horrible levels. During Season 9, many of these changes were decreased and the characters began to act somewhat like their former selves, and even more in episodes aired after the second movie, which can be attributed to creator Stephen Hillenberg returning to the series.
  • Most of the Character Derailment in Total Drama Action was reverted in Total Drama World Tour. Trent (although only a minor character) was back to being normal, Courtney stopped being evil and started being the holier-than-thou Small Name, Big Ego she was in season 1. Most of the characters who were flanderized like Owen and Bridgette returned to having multiple dimensions.
  • Recent characterizations of Daffy Duck have attempted, with varying levels of success, to get him back to his daffier roots.
  • Although unintentional, the real reason why Waspinator was portrayed as the Butt-Monkey of the Transformers franchise is because Hasbro actually found his cartoon voice extremely stupid. As a result he ended up getting kicked around and being blown up every single time, while muttering to himself "Waspinator has plansssss..." as he tries to put himself back together again. At the end of Beast Wars' final episode, poor Waspinator is rescued by tribe of natives and crowned their leader, causing him to finally become "happy at last", but in Beast Machines, he for some reason returned to Cybertron where he is immediately rehired by Megatron, who then wipes his memory clean and transfers his spark into that of the Vehicon Thrust's (who is smarter, stronger, and more dangerous than Waspinator). When Waspinator-as-Thrust finally gets his memories back, he eventually starts to get kicked around and being blown up again, and when the Maximals turn Cybertron into a second Earth, they also transfer Waspinator's spark back into his original (but smaller) wasp mode again. In Transformers Animated Waspinator returns, but is now known as Wasp instead, and he is changed into an extremely terrifying and powerful villain.
  • Zigzagged with Mickey Mouse: He was originally depicted as a brave action hero, but later shorts changed him into a laid-back slacker while Donald Duck took the spotlight. Now, he's either back to being an action hero in several video games, is the owner of a nightclub for other Disney characters, or a Dora the Explorer-esque kids' show host.
  • After suffering Badass Decay throughout most of Ultimate Spider-Man, Agent Phil Coulson reminds us that he is a SHIELD agent by fighting off a trio of Asgardians mounted on fire breathing wolves using a pair of BFGs that are almost as big as him.
    Coulson: No running in the halls.
    • Not to mention holding his own against the Beetle (who in this version has nearly Iron Man-grade Powered Armor and previously was a difficult enemy for Spidey, Iron Fist, Power Man, Nova and White Tiger as a team) using nothing but a steel pipe he found lying around.
  • Rufus and Amberley of The Dreamstone started off as Badass Normals with distinctive personalities in the pilot, before quickly downgrading into generic incompetent Hero Antagonists afterwards. Season 3 onward gradually reverts back to their original personalities and level of competence (if not higher). Their Unscrupulous Hero tendencies were also dialed back by the start of season 4, making them look more sympathetic and provoked against the Urpneys.
  • Many of the engines' slowly waxed and waned in the long run of Thomas the Tank Engine, some becoming almost polar opposites of their former selves. From Season 17 onward however, a new writing team was brought on board, reverting back many of the engines to their original personalities and refreshing its roots to The Railway Series. Some traits introduced in the TV show remain, albeit more as Hidden Depths.
  • Wabbit: A Looney Tunes Production:
    • After being a whiny cynic on The Looney Tunes Show Bugs Bunny is back to his KarmicTrickster personality he is better known for.
    • Adding onto the above example, when Daffy Duck is reintroduced in the second season, his persona harks back completely to the initial Screwy Squirrel incarnation, perhaps more so than any appearance of him since the 1930s.
  • Many fans disliked the Mayor of Townsville from The Powerpuff Girls after he devolved into a moronic and insensitive manchild in the show's later seasons, but his older characterization of being a Nice Guy who is only slightly ditzy turns up in the 2014 special Dance Pantsed. When Professor Utonium enters the Despair Event Horizon after Mojo Jojo controls the Powerpuff Girls' minds, the Mayor encourages the Professor not to give up on the girls. In addition, the Mayor feels remorse for insulting Ms. Bellum when she refused to open his jar of pickles and later apologizes to her for it.
  • After all four of them suffered from Character Derailment in the previous season, the third season of The Legend of Korra rerails Korra, Asami, Bolin and Lin Beifong. Within the first few episodes of that season, Korra's Hot-Blooded nature reaches a reasonable level again, after previously being amped up to a full blown Hair-Trigger Temper; Asami's back in action, after inexplicably suffering Chickification and sitting on the sidelines for most of season two; Bolin's ditched his Acquired Situational Narcissism, and shed his downright moronic persona, returning to his previous characterization of well-meaning but somewhat immature supporter; and Lin is no longer relegated to playing the stereotypical police chief and inexplicably ignoring evidence for the sake of the plot, instead getting a subplot of her own, multiple chances to show off her badassery and a showcase for her detective skills.
  • This affects Franklin himself in Franklin and Friends at the start of an episode, right after one that contains a Snap Back or an Aesop Amnesia that affected him.
  • Onua's personality from BIONICLE was very inconsistent despite him being a Static Character. Originally a Genius Bruiser who only spoke if it was really necessary, the first movie (and the non-canon tie-in game) portrayed him more as a tough but jolly muscle guy. His Generation 2 counterpart was also meant to be wise and smart, to which the 2015 online webisodes didn't quite do justice, mostly due to how dumb the voice work made him sound. Finally, he got re-railed in The Journey to One animated mini-series: a soft-spoken and mature heavyweight, equally capable physically and mentally.
  • Hey Arnold!:
    • In the last two seasons, Arnold, who was originally just a nice, normal kid was flanderized into an omnibenevolent, advice giving savior who was never wrong and could do pretty much anything. He also became very flat and Out of Focus, to the point where the much more developed Helga almost completely overshadowed him as the protagonist. Perhaps in response to this, "April Fool's Day" and "The Journal", the final two episodes (though the latter was a two-parter), returned the focus to Arnold and he more or less behaved like a normal kid would. But since this happened so late in the series, and the episodes aired Out of Order, it seems like a waste.
    • Sid returns to his pre-Season 3 characterization (where he was much less of a Jerkass) in Hey Arnold! The Jungle Movie and he spends the film being kind and courteous to his friends.
    • To some degree, Harold and Stinky get some as well after taking some levels in the later seasons along with Sid. Stinky seems back to his confused but friendly southern demeanor and Harold doesn't bully anyone or boast about himself throughout the course of the movie. Harold is even seen beating a junky replica of Arnold when they are first imprisoned by Lasombra, only to be snuggling the same dummy later that night crying about how he misses Arnold.
  • Archer: In Season 5, Pam developed a cocaine addiction, and her whole character suddenly revolved around this. Not only this made her incredibly unfunny, but also turned her into The Millstone. After noticing how much fans hated this, in Season 6 her character was returned to her much beloved persona from Seasons 3 and 4.

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