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Characterisation Click Moment

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Not all characters start off fully fledged. Many undergo Character Development or, alternatively, even the writers don't figure out specifically what their shtick is until midway into the project.

While this is often a slow building process, very often there's a key moment where the shift begins, and the character gains a primordial core that will be built on in stories to come. This is that moment. When the future iconic cast Jerkass demonstrates their first selfish moment, when the upcoming Cloudcuckoolander makes their first non-sequitur, when the Small Name, Big Ego starts to take notice of their "potential". It may not be the most important and drastic evolution step (especially if Flanderization comes into play afterward), but it will be the clearest and most obvious starting point for where their later characterization starts to take over.

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See Characterization Marches On or Early Installment Weirdness to compare it to the earlier personality these moments overwrite. Compare Establishing Character Moment where the character intentionally demonstrates their personality as a first impression. Don't confuse with broader Character Development - this trope is about a distinct moment within the arc of the character where the characterization noticeably clicks in a way it never had before, not an organic change brought about by events within the story.

If the characterization click is key to the show's dynamic, it may also lead to the media Growing the Beard.


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Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Dragon Ball: While Goku does start out with freakish fighting skills, it isn't until the 21st Tenkaichi Budokai gets underway that he develops a passion for it, having lots of fun trying to match his opponents blow-for-blow and seeing how he measures up to them. This, alongside his ever-expanding ceiling of strength, becomes his defining character trait.
  • Pokémon:
    • In his first few appearances in the anime, Brock was fairly cool-headed and serious, often just posing as the Straight Man to Ash and Misty. "The School of Hard Knocks" establishes Brock's tendency to fall quickly for pretty girls, setting up the Casanova Wannabe persona that would define him in later episodes. Ash falls for the same girl in the episode, which in an opposite fashion counts as Characterization Marches On for his usual Celibate Hero personality.
    • The Team Rocket trio started off more sinister and graceful villains, and even after their quick conversion into more bumbling antagonists, their individual characters were not quite fully formed yet. From around the introduction of Giovanni in "Battle Aboard the St. Anne", they are established as downtrodden flunkies of the organization, with more focus on their pathos and frustrations. Some of their personality traits also begin to fully form around this time, with Jessie becoming more hot-headed and replacing the now more insecure Meowth as the Leader Wannabe and James becoming more of a bumbling nebbish.
    • During her appearances in earlier series, Matori was just Giovanni's secretary and the main Team Rocket trio's method of communicating with him. The Sun and Moon series however gives her a more active role monitoring the trio and shows some more comical dents to her personality, as well as establishing Jessie's Sitcom Arch-Nemesis chemistry with her.

    Comic Books 
  • In X-Men, the Beast was a blatant copy of the Thing for the first two issues. Issue 3 would cement him as the Genius Bruiser that most people remember him as nowadays.

    Fan Works 
  • Dragon Ball Z Abridged:
    • Gohan originally had the characterization of being a bookworm who loved his father but had a massive personality shift when angry, this took a sudden shift when Goku was taken over by Captain Ginyu and forced Gohan to fight his old body. Krillin tells Gohan not to hold back against the opponent in his father's body, but Gohan snaps and ferociously attacks Ginyu, blaming him for dying and leaving Gohan with Piccolo, then not being around on Namek, and now forcing Gohan to fight for him. This hidden, repressed resentment of his father would thus characterize Gohan for the rest of the series.
    • Likewise, Goku's aloof fatherhood was not touched upon until Goku appeared on Namek, where he greets Krillin and even Vegeta with warm welcomes, but responds to Gohan with a disinterested "Hey." From then on, Goku was portrayed as being an absolutely terrible father, while Piccolo pretty much stepped into the role of being Gohan's "real" father. Goku, meanwhile, forgets that he even has a son or that he is the person who should be taking care of him.
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    Film 
  • James Bond:
    • Roger Moore's first two films saw him still trying to get The Saint out of his system, while having a rougher style more suited to Sean Connery. The Spy Who Loved Me saw his dapper, lighter take on the role click.
    • In the first two films, Q was a straightforward bureaucrat who showed up to deliver Bond's equipment then leave. It was Goldfinger that cemented his dynamic with Bond - that of an exasperated schoolmaster dealing with an unruly pupil. In fact, Guy Hamilton told Desmond Llewelyn that he hates Bond. When Llewelyn asked why, Hamilton replied that Q and his team spend ages making gadgets that Bond shows no respect for.

    Literature 
  • Discworld:
    • In The Colour of Magic, Death is mostly just portrayed as the job, and when he does show signs of personality it's an unpleasant one (killing people out of spite). He gets two click moments in The Light Fantastic, first being baffled by the rules to bridge, and then being utterly horrified by the red star cultists and their inhumanity, cementing his personality as being fascinated by humans and largely on their side.
    • The Patrician who appears in The Colour of Magic seems considerably at odds with later appearances of Havelock Vetinari, to the point that many readers assumed that this was the previous Patrician and that Vetinari had taken over between The Colour of Magic and Sourcery. However, Word of God from Terry Pratchett is that the two Patricians were the same man and the real difference was that he had become a better writer between the two books. The Patrician is identifiable as Ventinari in his second appearance in Sourcery, and fully formed by Guards! Guards! (the juxtaposition with Sam Vimes seems to be a major factor in helping to define Vetinari's personality).
  • In the Dr. Seuss short story "The Grinch and the Hoobub", the Grinch both looks and acts somewhat differently, posing more as a smooth-talking Lovable Rogue. It is his second appearance, How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, that solidifies the Grinch with his iconic personality as a curmudgeonly Card-Carrying Villain with a Hidden Heart of Gold, though with his original trickster side maintained as a secondary trait.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Blackadder:
    • In the first series, Blackadder was a Big Bad Wannabe and an unpopular and blithering nebbish, with Baldrick of all people serving as his Hyper-Competent Sidekick. While glimpses of their later personalities appeared here and there, it wasn't until the second series, Blackadder II, that they were cemented, with Blackadder now an extremely dry witted miser and Only Sane Man, and Baldrick his ever cheerful but clueless Bumbling Sidekick. This Blackadder did still bungle his way through dilemmas early on, though by "Money" he begins to develop his Schemer side more effectively.
    • A conceptual case occurred with Blackadder Goes Forth. The writing team had trouble thinking up ideas for Blackadder's Sitcom Arch-Nemesis Captain Cartwright, until Stephen Fry suggested renaming him to Captain Darling, suddenly turning a largely flat character into a comically bitter soul left high strung thanks to years of being referred to by all and sundry as "Darling" (with Blackadder, the one most mockingly aware of the comic opportunities, earning the most hatred from him over it).
  • In the early episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Buffy was a perky cheerleader, Angel was mysterious and kind of chipper (especially his first appearance) and Darla was whiny, cowardly, not particularly smart or capable, and seemingly not even all that important in the Master's hierarchy (Luke, for one, clearly outranked her). Then in "Angel", Buffy is a kind of grim optimist, Angel is brooding and Darla has a distant, haunting persona (since she died in this episode, this is better seen when she returns from the dead in Angel).
  • Cheers:
    • At first, Frasier's personality as a Romantic False Lead could be summed up as the "Anti-Sam", a skilled psychiatrist, but stuffy, too intellectual for the Cheers gang and prone to forced laughter. It's not until "The Heart is a Lonely Snipe-Hunter" that he starts growing out of this, and by the beginning of season 4 moves on. By the beginning of season 5, he's settled into the characterization he has for the rest of the show.
    • Cliff Clavin's role as the bar Know-Nothing Know-It-All is there right from the off, but it's not until season 3 that the other major part of his personality shows up — the fact he's a total Momma's Boy.
  • Doctor Who:
    • Tom Baker's debut story "Robot" was written before his character was defined, so he was largely based on Baker himself — a wacky goofball. His second story "The Ark in Space" saw his balance of whimsy, brooding and ruthlessness cement, especially in the famous "Humans are indominable" speech.
    • Peter Davison's first two stories saw him largely out of action and largely undefined. His third story "Kinda" saw him really find his footing, with his curious, eager, jovial, yet ultimately naive approach.
    • Sylvester McCoy's first season was largely written before he was cast, largely playing on his background as a comedian and children's entertainer. As a result, he comes off as a bumbling, clownish figure prone to slapstick, spoon-playing and mixing metaphors. "Remembrance of the Daleks" is where his familiar persona emerged — that of a manipulating chessmaster whose playful nature hid a dark past.
  • Frasier: Niles' dynamic with Frasier is established in the first episode, but it's not until the third episode that the other part of his characterization kicks in, when he gets his first look at Daphne, and is immediately smitten, starting the romantic plot that runs for the next seven seasons.
  • The episode "The Client" in The Office (US) established a number of traits for both Michael and Jan; in Michael's case, the rapport he established with the client he took to Chili's (resulting in Dunder-Mifflin getting a contract for almost all of the government agencies in the county) showed that despite the numerous flaws he had as a manager, he was still an outstanding salesman. In Jan's case, her recent divorce and drinking heavily throughout the meeting marked the start of her relationship with Michael and her increasingly erratic behavior.
  • Power Rangers:
    • When Adam Park joined the cast of Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, he was a quiet, shy nice guy as a way distinguishing himself from his predecessor Zack. Johnny Yong Bosch claimed it was Power Rangers Zeo where he realised that Adam could be funny, so he became more sardonic. An earlier moment would be Bosch's ad-libbed "I'm a frog" moment in Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers: The Movie.
    • In the same series, Rocky DeSantos was little more than a replacement meant to fill in for Jason as the Red Ranger and had no outstanding traits at least in comparison to his fellow replacements. This was largely due to Steve Cardenas' lack of acting experience which the man himself admits wasn't very good in his early tenure. In Zeo, due to being able to emote more distinctively, he's shown to have some comedic quirks that were otherwise not visible before and his civilian plots are more interesting to watch.
  • Seinfeld: Jason Alexander initially thought George Costanza was based on Woody Allen and played him as such until one day he walked up to Larry David claiming to be unable to make heads or tails of one of George's antics seeing as "not only could this never happen but no human being would react like this". David explained it happened to him and this was how he reacted. It was then he realized George was David's Author Avatar all along.
  • Star Trek:
    • Star Trek: The Original Series: Originally, Spock didn't have the impassive, scientific characterization he is famous for. Leonard Nimoy said the character first began to click for him in "The Corbomite Maneuver" when someone suggested he react to Balok's threatening ship with "Fascinating."
    • In the first season of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Q was wacky, over-the-top and slightly comical. The scene in "Q Who" where he coldly dismisses the deaths of eighteen crewmembers added a whole new dimension to the character. And it was all down to John de Lancie changing what was in the script.
  • Victorious: Jade was originally set up as a stereotypical Alpha Bitch who served as a rival to Tori. Then the episode "Wok Star" revealed that she wanted to prove herself to her father, who disapproved of her dreams of wanting to be a performer. This gave her character more depth and established the strained relationship with her father, which would be hinted at throughout the rest of the series.

    Puppet Shows 
  • Several of the mainstream Muppet characters debuted in The Muppet Show, thus a lot of them formed their personalities during the show itself:
    • At the show's inception, Fozzie Bear's personality was ill-defined, coming off as a bit of a pathetic Jerkass whose constant failures came off as more as sad than funny. However, it was with the "Good grief, the comedian's a bear!" routine from Episode 110 (the Harvey Korman episode) that Fozzie's role was established as a hapless and sympathetic comedian who took his art very seriously and often looked to his friends for their assistance or approval.
    • Like many Muppets, Gonzo started life in several one-off appearances before the show, and even in its first season was characterized somewhat differently, being a more pathetic frustrated failing actor. The bizarreness of Gonzo's performances had been established from the first episode, however, and his performer Dave Goelz eventually came to the conclusion he worked better more zany and upbeat, redesigning his puppet to be more expressive and less somber-looking in time for Season Two. Goelz credited Episode 204 (the Rich Little episode) as being a particularly key moment he solidified his Cloudcuckoolander personality due to ad-libbing his now-iconic attraction to chickens in one sketch.
    • Frank Oz recollected an early rehearsal puppeteering Miss Piggy that "crystallised" her character for him. The script called for Piggy to slap Kermit, and Oz, limited by Piggy's hand-rod controlled arms, instead made her throw an over-the-top karate chop.

    Video Games 
  • BlazBlue: In the first game, Ragna the Bloodedge was a dark, violent, and hateful individual, with side materials showing that he killed indiscriminately on his way. The second game re-imagined him as a weary Straight Man to the universe's darkness and daffiness, with his Deadpan Snarker responses adding some much-needed levity to proceedings. They even went so far as to Retcon some of his more violent actions as propaganda.
  • Crash Bandicoot:
    • In earlier titles, Coco mostly just plays the role of The Smart Girl and is fairly passive and down to earth. Crash Tag Team Racing, however, established a more hot-headed Genki Girl side to her, with it and most games after letting her take part in the cartoon antics more often and demonstrate a Not So Different side towards her brother, with even the later remakes of earlier titles retconning her personality as such.
    • In the first two installments, Aku Aku was merely a power-up assistant. It is only in Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped that he gained his first proper speaking role and story involvement, taking the helm of Big Good and a gentle elder mentor to the bandicoots when his brother Uka Uka is released.
    • In his first appearance, Tiny Tiger was a random feral creature of ambiguous allegiance who pursued Crash in Cortex's space station. Like Aku Aku, Warped gave him more sapience, having a proper speaking role and depicted as openly serving Dr. Neo Cortex this time, establishing himself as a dopey, loyal henchman for Cortex.
    • Nina Cortex's first handful of appearances lacked a consistent direction for her, swerving from anything from a Silent Protagonist to a Kiddie Kid. Like Coco, Tag Team Racing defined a lot of the quirks that would make her finalized characterization, making her a moody, conniving Bratty Half-Pint, as well as giving her spoken dialogue for the first time.
    • Tawna, despite appearing in the very first game, was pretty much a voiceless Satellite Love Interest for Crash, Demoted to Extra after Coco appeared, and only getting a few sporadic cameos throughout the series afterward. The N. Sane Trilogy version of Crash 1, however, retooled the cutscenes to give her more of an Action Girl personality, with Crash Team Racing: Nitro-Fueled capitalizing on that, giving Tawna her first full speaking role and establishing her as the sassy confident leader of the Nitro Squad (themselves evolved from the blank trophy girls in the original game).
  • Devil May Cry:
  • Mortal Kombat:
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • While most of the original cast in Sonic Adventure maintained influence from their earlier media and bio portrayals, Amy for the large part had been little more than a plucky Satellite Love Interest for Sonic in the 2D era. The use of dialogue and gameplay allowed Amy to be fleshed out, not only giving her an age-up and redesign but establishing her temperamental Genki Girl personality that would be utilized from that point onward.
    • Similar to Amy, the Chaotix didn't get a lot of personality establishment in the 2D games, relying on bios or side media. Sonic Heroes reintroduced the main Chaotix trio as quirky, money-seeking detectives and gave each of them their individual personalities.
  • Street Fighter:
    • Sagat was originally introduced as an Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy who held a martial arts tournament, lost, and then held a grudge against the victor, Ryu, for the rest of the series. However, in Street Fighter Alpha 2, his loss was retconned as actually being a technical victory, where Sagat soundly trounced Ryu and then went to help up his opponent only for Ryu to activate his Superpowered Evil Side and heavily wound Sagat. It wasn't the loss, but the sheer insolence of Ryu's actions in addition to being credited for a win he didn't deserve, that drove Sagat to join M. Bison and Shadaloo. At the end of Alpha 3, Sagat is given a brainwashed Ryu to fight as a "present" by M. Bison but realizes that this isn't the victory he seeks and helps Ryu overcome the brainwashing. (The introduction of Dan Hibiki, who has his own vendetta against Sagat, also helped bring Sagat to a Heel Realization.) The two then make up and become Friendly Rivals through the rest of the series, with Sagat mellowing into a philosophical Spirited Competitor (much like Ryu) who is also shown to be quite friendly to the people of his home village.
    • Ryu himself was originally portrayed as the greatest martial artist of his era, especially after defeating Sagat. Aside from his best friend, Ken, no one was capable of defeating Ryu 1-on-1. This was changed in the Alpha series, after the Satsui no Hado was introduced. Afterwards, Ryu was characterized as a very skilled, but still extremely inexperienced and rather overconfident fighter. While he still had the reputation of being the best (or one of the best), he quickly learns that he is more of a Normal Fish in a Tiny Pond and true masters of fighting, like Akuma, Oro, Gen, and even M. Bison, easily outmatch him. Since then, Ryu has kept the portrayal of a very strong martial artist who acknowledges who still has much to learn, and later learns to overcome the Satsui no Hado to find his own path.
    • Poison barely had a personality in Final Fight, but she received hints of it in Street Fighter III, where she had a cameo as Hugo's wrestling manager who wanted to recruit others to their wrestling circuit. Her return in Street Fighter X Tekken and Ultra Street Fighter IV, however, established her as a very confident and fame-and fortune-obsessed diva who not only managed fighters like Hugo but was also pretty good in a fight herself. She was also established as a very extreme example of The Tease, who loved showing off her body and actually liked the fact that people gossiped and guessed about her gender. Some aspects of Poison's personality, like her provocative nature, did show up in earlier titles like Final Fight Revenge and Capcom Fighting All-Stars, though the former was subjected to Canon Discontinuity and the latter was canceled.
  • Super Mario Bros.:
    • The title character, Mario, had no defined personality in his initial appearances in the arcade, 8-bit, and 16-bit eras. All that was known about him was that he was an "Italian Plumber from Brooklyn", which led to him having stereotypical Brooklyn personality traits in various adaptations. It was Super Mario 64, along with being Suddenly Voiced by Charles Martinet, that established him as the squeaky-voiced Fun Personified character that we know and love today. Likewise, his accent became less Italian-American and more simply Italian, and the Brooklyn angle was gradually dropped.
    • Luigi originally had very little personality just like his brother and was often portrayed as simply an echo of whatever scraps Mario had. However several spin-offs, such as the DiC cartoons made Luigi a Cowardly Lion Plucky Comic Relief to distinguish him from Mario (who was often a Red Oni to his Blue Oni), with the games themselves finally becoming uniform to this approach by the time of his first spin-off game, Luigi's Mansion.
    • Bowser was originally a generic villain who wanted to take over the Mushroom Kingdom. His campy character and Villainous Crush on Peach weren't cemented until the first Paper Mario.
    • As late as Super Mario 64, Princess Peach was a standard Princess Classic. It wasn't until Paper Mario and especially Super Mario Sunshine that she became a parody more than a straight example, being more lighthearted and slightly ditzy than the norm.
    • Mario Golf: Toadstool Tour cemented Princess Daisy as a Totally Radical Tomboy Princess.
    • Wario's earliest appearances portrayed him as a deranged villain who was obsessed with getting even with Mario due out of jealousy over Mario's popularity. It was when Wario finally got his own game in Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3 that he became more of an Anti-Hero and developed his trademark greed, which became his primary motivation in pretty much every game he's appeared in since then.
  • Tekken:
    • Kazuya was introduced in the first Tekken as an Expy of Ryu from Street Fighter, right down to their looks. The main difference was that Kazuya was characterized as wanting to defeat the tournament-giver (his father Heihachi) for Revenge rather than simply To Be a Master. There were small clues hinting at it, but Tekken 2 revealed that Kazuya was possessed by/an unknowing vessel for an entity known as Devil and, after defeating Heihachi, took over his family's Zaibatsu and turned it into an even more corrupt organization. From that game on, Kazuya has been portrayed as one of the most evil members of the cast whose only goals are power and world domination.
    • Jin Kazama, son of Kazuya, was originally introduced in Tekken 3 as a pure-hearted hero who simply wanted to avenge the death of his mother Jun. He is betrayed by his grandfather and left to die, and his rage over this betrayal is the first step of a Start of Darkness and Protagonist Journey to Villain. He remains heroic (even sparing his father and grandfather) until Tekken 6, where he starts a world war and causes death and suffering to resurrect the progenitor of the Devil Gene that cursed his family. Tekken 7 tones down his evilness again, with Jin now portrayed as The Atoner who fights to fix the problems he himself started.
    • Paul Phoenix and Marshall Law started out serious martial artists, with Paul even being a rival to Kazuya. Starting with Tekken 4, however, Paul became portrayed as mostly a joke whose main rivalry was shifted to that of Heihachi's pet bear (who he lost to). He and Law were then continuously portrayed as eternally poor and trying crazier and crazier schemes to earn money. Paul also developed an obsession with becoming the "strongest in the universe" at this time, which for him meant fighting and defeating aliens.
    • Lee Chaolan was portrayed as Kazuya's sinister step-brother in the first two Tekken games who wanted to defeat both his adopted brother and father and take over the Zaibatsu for himself. In Tekken 4, however, it's revealed that he mellowed out and came to the conclusion that revenge and constant feuding with the Mishima family was not what he wanted and instead created his own company, Violet Industries, which became a very successful corporation in its own right. From then on, Lee/Violet has been portrayed as a neutral party in the feuds between/against the Mishimas, but usually on the side of the "heroic" characters simply because it's good business (though T6 and T7 show he's not above genuinely kind deeds as seen with the aid he provides Lars and Alisa). While he still hates the Mishimas, he rarely goes out of his way to antagonize them and instead is content manipulating things from the shadows.
    • Ling Xiaoyu was originally portrayed as a young martial artist who just wanted to have fun and planned to fight Heihachi Mishima so he'd build her own theme park for her. Heihachi was so impressed by her brashness that he personally enrolled her in his high school with a fully paid tuition. Then, in her ending to Tekken Tag Tournament, she is shown trying to chat with Jin Kazama while he appears indifferent to her. While the two were established to be friends in T3, that scene would go on to encapsulate Xiaoyu's entire story arc from that point on. Jin eventually disappeared after being betrayed by Heihachi, and Ling came to miss and fall in love with him. From Tekken 4 onward, Xiaoyu's entire story has revolved around Jin, focusing on her desire to protect him, redeem him from his villainous downfall, and fall in love together. How effective a Morality Pet she actually is for Jin, however, seems to fluctuate between games as well as related media and spin-offs.

    Web Animation 
  • The characters in the Helluva Boss pilot had a lot of differences from the show proper:
    • Moxxie was initially as amoral as the rest of the cast (i.e. only being bothered if they took out the wrong target). Episode 1 would establish him as the Token Good Teammate who cared about whether or not the targets deserved to be killed regardless of whether I.M.P. was being paid or not.
    • Stolas was originally Blitzo's Depraved Bisexual Abhorrent Admirer in both the pilot and the first episode. It wasn't until episode 2 that he became more of a Reasonable Authority Figure whose interest in Blitzo is more a case of genuine affection and other traits (namely, a bad marriage and doting on his daughter) were established.

    Western Animation 
  • In most early segments of Beavis and Butt-Head, Beavis didn't really have that much of a distinct personality, just going along with Butt-Head's actions. In "Most Wanted", however, he suddenly goes off on a rant, which would later become a semi-recurring action for him (in addition to making him become steadily more deranged and unhinged over the course of later episodes).
  • Classic Disney Shorts:
    • Goofy, originally called Dippy Dawg, didn't have that much of a personality until animator Art Babbitt created an in-depth analysis for the character in 1934, establishing him as a loose-jointed, good-natured simpleton. An early version of the familiar Goofy appeared in 1935's "On Ice", and would be fully-defined the following year in "Moving Day".
    • In his first appearance in the Silly Symphonies short "The Wise Little Hen", Donald Duck was a supporting character and was depicted as a lazy so-and-so (which was a given, since the story is a morality tale). His next cartoon, "Orphans' Benefit", which would also be his first pairing with Mickey Mouse, established the egotistical, cocky, hot-tempered duck we all know and love.
  • Much of the early series of The Dreamstone was just a Villain Protagonist formula for Sgt Blob, Frizz, and Nug. As the show went on, however, other characters gained more Sympathetic P.O.V.:
    • While Urpgor was always the Mad Scientist and Sitcom Arch-Nemesis of Sgt Blob and his men, he was a fairly minor character in the first season, usually just serving as another bullying authority figure. However, the second season episode "Urpgor's Island" reveals that Urpgor does all the scheme processing in Viltheed and has to answer to Zordrak whenever Blob screws up a mission. This episode and many after give more Sympathetic P.O.V. to Urpgor and his neuroses trying to maintain stability in one of his schemes and stop Blob's squad ruining them, making him much more central to plots.
    • The heroes, Rufus and Amberley, struggled to find an agency against the Urpneys' sympathetic dynamic for most of the early series, often just playing Immune to Slapstick Hero Antagonists and interchanging between Unscrupulous Heroes or The Fools depending on the nature of the villains' schemes. However, the third season slowly evolves them into more crafty, passive dogbodies and gives them a more palpable grasp of humor, with "A Day Out" establishing a solid enough provocation to let them stop the Urpneys and still look clear-cut heroic. A similar more put-upon role as Urpgor is also established in "The Stowaways", where it's Played for Laughs that they have evolved into pretty much doing everything, though since the show had reached its final season by this point, it counts more as Later Installment Weirdness.
    • Frizz and Nug's Cowardly Sidekick role was mostly defined from the start, though "The Invisible Blob" (an episode where they were invisible for the long run and thus had to converse a great deal) was where they really grasped them as the snarky Genre Savvy Drag-Alongs to Sgt. Blob.
  • Family Guy:
    • While Peter was already undergoing a bit of downward spiral beforehand, it is arguably in the appropriately titled "Petarded" that he officially transitioned from a well-meaning but abrasive and dim witted Bumbling Dad to a selfish and moronic Psychopathic Manchild.
    • Originally, Brian was intended to be Peter's sidekick, with Stewie being a loner who was focused on killing his mother and taking over the world. Then "Road to Rhode Island" showcased their potential as a comedic duo. Since then, the Brian-Stewie relationship has become a major focus of the show.
    • Glenn Quagmire's initial characterization was a Rat Pack-esque swinger and party animal who tries and fails to pick up women. The writers name this bit from "Love Thy Trophy" as the moment where his character clicked, especially his attitude to women:
      Woman: Hey, Glenn, I have a question for you: What do you do for a living?
      Quagmire: [wearing a lecherous grin] And I have a question for you: Why are you still here?
  • Looney Tunes:
    • While Daffy Duck would retain shades of his Cloudcuckoolander persona for many years after, the Looney Tunes short "You Ought to Be in Pictures" is the first defining moment of his more devious, glory-obsessed characterization of later shorts, duping Porky Pig into leaving Warner Bros. so he can take his place in the spotlight. From this point on, Daffy would slowly evolve into a more ambitious and self-centered character, with "Rabbit Fire" cementing his transition into a jealous Butt-Monkey rival for Bugs.
    • Bugs Bunny himself started out as a character known at the studio as Happy Hare, who was identical in personality to Daffy Duck. He was given a calmer demeanor in the cartoon "Elmer's Candid Camera", but it wasn't until "A Wild Hare" that the character we now recognize as Bugs — the unflappable, wisecracking Karmic Trickster — started to gel. Specifically, it was the moment he steps up to the hunter and calmly and casually introduces himself with what would become his Catchphrase, "What's up, Doc?"
    • The same cartoon was also the Click Moment for his longtime nemesis Elmer Fudd. He began life as Egghead, an odd-looking patsy who first acted as a Butt-Monkey Everyman, then was treated as a walking Non Sequitur who would interrupt the action before providing the punchline for the closing gag. Again, "Elmer's Candid Camera" started establishing his present personality, as well as his distinctive voice, but it's in "Wild Hare" that Elmer as we now know him makes his first true appearance.
    • The first prototype of Tweety Bird first appeared in the cartoon "The Cagey Canary", and the first shades of his personality started to form in "A Tale of Two Kitties", which is also the very first use of his Catchphrase: "I tawt I taw a puddy tat! I did taw a puddy tat!". However, Tweety in this form was an extremely violent and downright sadistic obstacle for the antagonists, gleefully inflicting pain and taking any opportunity to humiliate them at any turn. He also showed elements of the Karmic Trickster archetype demonstrated with Bugs Bunny, such as disguising himself as an Air Raid Warden. His appearance was also heavy with Early Installment Character Design Difference, being a "naked" and fetus-like bird with no feathers whatsoever. The cartoon that Tweety took his most iconic shape was Friz Freleng's "Tweetie Pie", which was also the debut of Tweety's archnemesis, Sylvester. Here, Tweety was established as much more cute, docile and good-natured. And while still somewhat capable of defending himself to a point, Tweety is most often saved by another character catching and punishing Sylvester for trying to eat him, rather than harming the cat himself.
  • Twilight Sparkle spent most of the first season of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic being the Fish out of Water of the group (though there were elements of her later personality traits like her obsessive skepticism in many episodes). The second season episode "Lesson Zero" is considered to be where her Super OCD busybody personality starts to hone in and make the subject matter of most of her limelight episodes.
  • The Simpsons:
    • Lisa for the large part in the early shorts and episodes was just a slightly more savvy version of Bart. The first season episode "Moaning Lisa" however, established a more precocious, self-aware, and melancholy side to her (as well as her passion for jazz music), that would slowly transform into the insecure TV Genius characterisation she had in seasons after.
    • Much like Lisa, Marge was a fairly passive character in the shorts and early episodes, with even Homer sometimes being a more proactive voice of concern. While signs of her Wet Blanket Wife persona do seep in at times in late Season One note , the second season episode "Itchy and Scratchy and Marge" codifies her overprotective moral guardian role, with later episodes making her more comically out of touch and prone to nagging.
    • Ned Flanders started off as merely an Always Someone Better foil for Homer, with few other characteristics besides his Verbal Tic. The Season Two episode "Dead Putting Society" not only fleshes out the rivalry between the two and introduces the other Flanders family members, but establishes most of Ned's God-fearing do-gooder personality (right down to his incessant bugging of Reverend Lovejoy).
    • In most of his early appearances, Milhouse was just an average friend of Bart. However, the second season episode "Three Men and a Comic Book" first shows some facets of his comically clueless and wimpy persona, being an indecisive middle man between Bart and Martin when feuding over the comic and bawling terrified during Bart's Friend or Idol Decision.
    • Smithers was depicted as a Yes-Man to Mr. Burns from his first appearance, but it's the Season 2 episode "Brush With Greatness", where he very passionately expresses his sincere love and devotion to Burns as a person in a conversation with Marge (in spite of simultaneously getting kicked around by him), that shows his forming into a rather sympathetic and conflicted sycophant. Later in the same episode, he faints at Marge's nude painting of Burns, also clicking the more extreme fondness he has for Burns.
    • Mr Burns himself, while having his basic characteristics established from day one, was mostly only a standard Mean Boss in Season One. It is with "Two Cars in Every Garage and Three Eyes on Every Fish" in Season Two, that he begins his penchant for Zany Schemes and hones his role as a behind-on-times Corrupt Corporate Executive.
  • South Park:
    • In the first four seasons, Cartman was more of a whiny and naïve Spoiled Brat who hated almost everybody. The Season 5 episode "Scott Tenorman Must Die" marked a major turning point for the character, turning him into the cunning, manipulative psychopath he is today.
    • For the first two seasons, Butters was largely just a Living Prop with no specific characterization. However, the Season 3 episode "Two Guys in a Hot Tub" gives him his first major role, establishing him as a meek but tragically optimistic Kiddie Kid, making him a good foil for the other cynical characters. His appearances become more frequent and fleshed out following this, with him elevated to main character status by Season Six.
    • Craig was originally created with the Running Gag that he constantly flipped people off. Later he was positioned as the leader of a group that rivaled the main boys, but that was only used in a few episodes. The "Pandemic" two-parter put him center-stage and gave him a sarcastic, Genre Savvy personality, which proved immediately popular and has remained ever since.
    • While Randy's bumbling habits had recurrently perked up since he first appeared, he was generally no worse than the other residents of South Park and in some cases was one of the relatively more easy-going parents. Season 4's "Something You Can Do with Your Finger" was the first episode to focus on his individual penchant for Serious Business melodramas towards whatever was going on with the kids or elsewhere in South Park. By "Child Abduction Is Not Funny" in Season 6, he has taken the mantle of spearheading clueless town mobs over whatever is the hot topic.
  • Steven Universe: Steven was always a friendly kid willing to help anyone, but never really got the big picture and had trouble reading people. "The Test" marked the point where Steven realizes the Gems have their own doubts and insecurities to worry about, and pretends he doesn't know the test they made for him was rigged to make them feel better. After that episode, Steven takes much more care into recognizing how those around him are feeling and begins pushing back his own feelings in favor of helping others deal with theirs, things that would become central elements of his character for the rest of the series.
  • Thomas the Tank Engine:
    • Toby mostly just followed his characterization in The Railway Series novels, acting as The Straight Man to the other engines. However, the fifth season episode "Toby's Discovery" toyed with a more jittery, easily spooked side to the character. While the trait came at varying levels Depending on the Writer, the show tended to consistently play Toby as a more endearing and nervous character from that point on, granting him a foible.
    • Thomas himself similarly acted mostly like his Railway Series incarnation in the earliest seasons (though shades of Adaptational Heroism appeared here and there). Season 3's "Trust Thomas" (one of the show's first original stories) is one of the first episodes to convey Thomas as a more altruistic and happy go lucky character, with his more self-important and bratty characterization from the novels being downplayed somewhat.
  • Chuckie always had a fearful, neurotic side in Rugrats, though it didn't really exceed past being an Only Sane Man for most of Season 1. However, the season finale, "Stu Maker's Elves", plays on Chuckie's more comical and obscure phobias and insecurities, as well as properly showcasing his best friend relationship with Tommy. This more sympathetic Cowardly Lion version of Chuckie immediately took on from the start of Season 2, when he starts gaining his own limelight episodes and is used almost as prominently as Tommy.

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