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Characterization Marches On
aka: Characterisation Marches On

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Nothing solves a past of animal abuse better than donut parties.note 

Aoi Asahina: What the heck's happened to you...? You weren't like this from the beginning, you know.
Yasuhiro Hagakure: Well, back then my personality hadn't quite solidified yet...!
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When a series starts out, the characters usually don't have firmly established personalities or appearance since the writers are just getting a feel for them. Time goes on, more and more episodes are produced, and the characters become better defined with their own set of personality and behavioral quirks. Or maybe their early personality gradually gave way to something very different due to Character Development and/or Flanderization. Whatever the case may be, though, their early incarnations are forgotten about as people look at the firmly established characterization.

In extreme cases, a character's actions in early instances of a work can actively contradict their later, established behavior. For examples, early adventures of the noted Technical Pacifist Batman end with him openly killing criminals. This is a subtrope of Early Installment Weirdness.

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A form of Continuity Drift. Compare the Out-of-Character Moment and Depending on the Writer, or Flanderization where a single trait gets largely exaggerated until it's all the character is known for. When the characterization is already firmly established, but still ends up changing to something completely different for unexplained reasons, then this is Character Derailment.

See also Character Check, when the writers abruptly remember that the character started out as different, and give him a few scenes where he acts like he used to, if only temporarily.


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Examples:

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    Advertising 
  • Grimace in the McDonaldland commercials started off as a more villainous character (the "Evil Grimace", as in a sinister smile) back when McDonaldland was first created in the 1970s, often stealing people's food which Ronald had to get back. The Hamburglar would eventually take over as the villain, and Grimace slowly evolved into the lovable oaf we know today.

    Comic Strips 
  • Calvin and Hobbes:
    • Early strips featured Calvin being part of a troop of Cub Scouts. Later strips however show Calvin as being someone who dislikes organized games, so Watterson abandoned the Scout strips. Although his personality was still the same — he really didn't work well with the Scouts and tried to avoid or lose them at every opportunity. It's easy to imagine he simply quit after it didn't work out (or more likely, got banned). Knowing Calvin's family, his dad probably urged him to try scouting as it "builds character."
    • The very first strip featuring Hamster Huey and the Gooey Kablooie had Calvin being very skeptical of the book's quality (he said, "How good can it be if it hasn't been made into an animated TV show?") while his dad wanted to read it to him. In later strips, it's the only bedtime story Calvin ever wants to hear, and his dad is sick of it.
  • Dilbert:
    • The character that would eventually become the Pointy-Haired Boss was initially an unnamed balding manager who was more cruel than stupid. Then one day, Adams accidentally drew the hair on the sides of his head slightly pointy and liked the resemblance to devil horns. Curiously enough, Adams then started making him more and more stupid but made his hair also more and more pointy...
    • A similar process may be occurring to the CEO, originally a bald man dumber than Pointy-Haired Boss, whose forehead has been becoming more elongated until he looks like... this.
    • Dogbert was originally just an actual pet (albeit able to talk and hyper-intelligent), even in one strip as having a leash and being taken for a walk. Nowadays, he is almost human-like and interacts with everyone on a human level (although he is still willing to take advantage of the legal implications of being a dog if it suits him).
    • Dilbert himself used to be a science-fiction genius whose wild inventions made up some of the plots. Once the comic started focusing almost exclusively on office humor and lost the sci-fi elements, he was just another engineer.
      • He still has his occasional moments of sci-fi genius, however, as shown in a storyline in April 2008 where he builds a particle accelerator and took an antimatter Dilbert to work with him.
  • Mo of Dykes to Watch Out For has always been on the uptight, Soapbox Sadie side but was a little bit more cheery in her younger days. Two scenes in the first year of the strip shows her idly singing to nobody in particular; "I Wanna Dance With Somebody", and then "Groovy Kind of Love" in another. It is extremely difficult to image the Mo we know now singing like that.
  • In The Family Circus, the dad was a stereotypical 60s buffoon: wore a hat, smoked a pipe, drank, was overweight, ignored Thel, et cetera. He was soon overhauled into a more sympathetic, trimmer father figure.
  • A Running Gag in FoxTrot is super-nerd Jason's undying enthusiasm for school, with him looking forward to every big test and dreading the arrival of summer break, much to the annoyance of his siblings. In early strips, Jason hated school just like they did.
    • Roger is so impossibly bad at chess that an Internet site which assessed his skill matched him up with a preschool student. In early strips, Roger was actually better at chess than Andy and she was always trying to guilt trip him into letting her win (which is also somewhat at odds with her current characterization).
    • One early strip has Jason playing Dungeons & Dragons with Peter, something Peter would never do once his character became more established.
    • Andy Fox is known for making horrible food that's apparently healthy. An early strip shows her making Mac and Cheese and salad, only using health food when Amend wanted the reader to have a Squick reaction.
    • When she was first introduced, Jason was actually upset by the fact that his new teacher Miss O'Malley was open-minded and unflappable, giving him extra credit for overachieving rather than "going batty" the way his previous teacher Mrs. Grinchley apparently did. However, in almost every subsequent appearance Miss O'Malley is obviously frustrated by Jason, assigning him detention for acting out in class and making grumbling remarks that suggest he makes her go through a lot of headache medicine.
  • Garfield:
    • In the early days, Garfield's behavior was much more like a real cat, with the humor being more about giving the audience a look at what a cat could think. Garfield was also more active in his early days as his catlike curiosity led him to explore in and around the house. This is a far cry from the wisecracking sarcastic and lazy character we now see. The modern Garfield also acts more like a human, doing things like walking on his hind legs, reading, writing and even operate modern technology like computers and mobile phones, while the early Garfield walked on four legs and explicitly mentioned how he would like to do some of these things but can't, because he is a cat.
    • Jon in his early days was a rather average cat owner living in the suburbs. His position in the comics was more to comment on his experience of owning a cat. Early Jon did not really possess any of the weirdness, social awkwardness and childishness the character is now known for.
    • Also, the dynamic between Garfield and Jon gradually reversed, as Jon was the Straight Man, getting frustrated with Garfield's antics, while Garfield himself frequently got himself into trouble. Nowadays, Garfield plays the Straight Man to Jon, frequently making sarcastic quips about Jon's strange behavior and how it gets Jon into trouble.
    • A very early strip has the eponymous cat commenting on how he likes Mondays because he doesn't have to go to work. His attitude would change by later that same year, as he would suffer unrealistic amounts of misfortune on Mondays.
    • For most of the strip's run, Dr. Liz Wilson's interactions with Jon largely consisted of snarky replies to his Casanova Wannabe attempts. After the live-action movie made Jon and Liz a couple, the strip followed suit, with Liz now having much more positive interactions with Jon, Garfield, and even Odie.
  • A very early Get Fuzzy strip shows Satchel being perfectly aware who Martha Stewart is, when Rob compares one of his meals to hers, and Satchel points out Martha Stewart doesn't use garnishes. However, a much later storyline (shortly after Stewart got jailed) involved Satchel trying to donate money for her, but not really knowing who she is, what she did wrong, and why she needed help. This possibly is more an example of Series Continuity Error.
  • Peanuts:
    • When Sally was first born, Linus was seen considering a relationship with her ("When I'm 22 and Sally is 17, do you think she'll go out with me?"). Quite ironic when you consider he would spend the next forty years fending off her advances.
    • Charlie Brown in the first few years of the comic was quite different from the self-hating loser that he would later become; he was rather cheerful, he liked to play pranks on others, and sometimes even boasted about himself.
    • In the first years, Snoopy actually acted like a normal dog and had no thought bubbles. He also appeared to be more of a neighborhood dog as opposed to being Charlie Brown's pet. He consistently called Charlie Brown by his name in early comics, but suddenly forgot and started calling him "the round-headed kid".
    • In her first appearances (as a baby), Lucy was a cute little Cloudcuckoolander, nothing like her later incarnation. One early also comic depicted Lucy as being able to catch baseballs on her own easily. This later looks downright ridiculous as she is shown failing to catch every ball for the rest of the series run.
  • Zits:
    • Jeremy's older brother Chad was initially depicted as a gleaming, near God-like figure with a square jaw whose full face is never seen. In later appearances, he is shown in full and more or less resembles Jeremy but taller and with a goatee (though that last was acknowledged in a strip where Jeremy questions Chad on why he grew the beard).
    • In his first few appearances, Pierce was more of an angry punk, instead of a manic and impulsive Cloud Cuckoolander.

    Fan Works 
  • Calvin's personality in Calvin and Hobbes: The Series goes from just like the comic strip to a Gadgeteer Genius.
    • Then there's the Klein family. The first appearance of a Klein has him annoyed at Calvin's antics. Every Klein since then have been "the only cool adult [Calvin's] ever seen."
    • For the Calvinverse at large, we have Rupert and Earl's crew. In their original appearance in Calvin and Hobbes: The Movie, they were competent threats to the duo. They progressively got dumber in later appearances until finally fitting into their current characterization. (The rewrite of The Movie has them in their new characterization.)
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • A general example of this happened to Princess Luna. Luna became extremely popular in the fandom despite having only two short scenes and a handful of dialogue. In the gap between season 1 and 2, a commonly accepted Fanon personality for Luna emerged as a Shrinking Violet Woobie who was extremely demure, shy, and easily frightened, with most fanworks and fanfic utilizing that characterization. Then Luna appeared in season 2, and basically shot that interpretation to hell; Canon Luna turned out to be a Large Ham with a taste for the macabre, whose main issue with other ponies was in trying not to accidentally intimidate them. The canon characterization quickly became even more popular, with the result that all of the fics written before season two looking ridiculous. The contrast between pre-S2 Luna and post-S2 Luna is so sharp that many fans consider the old characterization to be a completely different character, generally referred to as "Woona". "Woona" still gets used but it's mostly regulated to Luna's childhood.
    • Lyra's fanon personality underwent flanderization as time went on. What started out as jokes about her sitting upright became meta jokes about bronies and furries where Lyra was a human fangirl. This interest in humans warped into Lyra wanting to be human. It overtook most of her previous fanon characterization. After the 100th episode, this has been reversed because Lyra has more canon characterization.
    • Most early fan-works wrote Derpy Hooves as Inspirationally Disadvantaged and oftentimes she spoke in gibberish (with certain words being associated with certain things, like her fan-daughter Dinky being called "muffins"). Overtime this turned into her just being The Ditz, with "muffins" just being an Affectionate Nickname for Dinky.
    • In the first episode of Friendship is Witchcraft, Celestia seems to honestly like Twilight Sparkle, even if they're not as close as in canon, and actually solicits a friendship lesson from her. In later episodes, Celestia is shown to consider Twilight Sparkle obnoxious at best and creepy at worst, and to resent the letters she receives unasked — she simply made the mistake of finding it endearing when Twilight wrote her letters about her lessons when she was a filly.
    • Early on in Ultra Fast Pony, Twilight was basically an expy of her Friendship Is Witchcraft counterpart: she was completely self-righteous, an egomaniac, and constantly abused her adopted son/slave Spike in some form in pretty much every scene they appear in together. But, as the series continued, both these aspects were gradually toned down, until her ego pretty much disappeared in favor of having her as a one of Ponyville's resident Butt Monkeys note  and though she still mistreats Spike, it isn't shown quiet as often and she does have moments of affection towards him every now and again. To a lesser extent, her views on non-ponies, as she is initially shown to be prejudice against the cows in the fourth episode. But in the very next episode, she is shown to be the only pony in town who isn't xenophobic. Or, at least open to befriending non-ponies.
    • The God Squad:
      • The eponymous squad becomes very different as the story marches on, namely the princesses. Luna was set up to be the leader of the group while Celestia was the boring but smart sister. By the second season Luna has shifted so that the entire squad takes the lead while Celestia has become just as goofy as the rest of the cast.
      • The sisters' relationship with Tydal. In the beginning comments are made that while he raised them they see him more as a big brother. But the end of the second season Celestia commonly refers to him as her father and Tydal tells Tirek that they are his adopted daughters.
  • Sword Art Online Abridged: When Asuna first appears she's Hopeless with Tech, doesn't really know how to play Sword Art Online, and doesn't show signs of being a jerk. When she reappears later, she actually knows what she's doing and has turned into jerk, making her more like Kirito.
  • Kyouko wasn't always The Ditz in You Got HaruhiRolled!. An early appearance actually has her be a Gadgeteer Genius.
  • Mineta in The Undead Schoolgirl: Dead Pulse starts as his canon Chivalrous Pervert self. By the time of class starts at U.A., he's toned down his perversion by reading a sort of self-help book meant to help him keep from speaking his dirty thoughts all the time. Mineta's rather proud that he got through an entire conversation with Izuku without talking about her figure.
  • Fate/Gamers Only: Early comics have Rikku use her canon name "Gudako" and lack the Unlimited Wardrobe that becomes a recurring character trait.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Casual fans of the Friday the 13th films might find Jason Voorhees' earliest appearances—particularly in Friday the 13th Part 2—a bit jarring, as he's a far-cry from the hulking, implacable brute that has become entrenched in popular culture since the '80s. Though still a serious threat, Jason clearly has human vulnerabilities, he actually plans his attacks in advance, and he doesn't rely entirely on brute strength to bring down his victims; he can be heard grunting with exertion and pain in several moments, he occasionally retreats when his victims manage to defend themselves with weapons, and he uses pre-set traps (including a tree snare) in addition to handheld weapons. Part of this is due to Early Installment Weirdness: Jason wouldn't gain many of his well-known qualities until Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives, when he was resurrected as an immortal zombie with very little of his intellect intact.
  • Godzilla. In the appearance of the second Godzilla in Godzilla Raids Again, he acts just like his predecessor in Gojira where they were very destructive. Next comes King Kong vs. Godzilla where his personality changed to comical Jerkass, then acting like his old self, then laughing hysterically in Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster. If that's not enough, he became a superhero archetype in the 70's. Then it all ends with Destroy All Monsters. No wonder Ishiro Honda quit the series after Terror of Mechagodzilla.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • In Peggy Carter's first appearance she's a very serious no-nonsense woman who's not particularly funny. In her own series while those personality traits are intact, she's shown to be more of a Deadpan Snarker and gets a little bit of a dorky side. Additionally Howard Stark's womanising ways didn't really show up until Agent Carter where he's essentially a 1940s Barney Stinson.
    • Agent Coulson had his Unfazed Everyman shtick from the beginning, but for awhile it was pretty much his only consistent trait. For instance, he's kind of a dick in Thor, which would seem at odds with the Nice Guy personality that was eventually established in The Avengers and cemented on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
    • Thanos' character wasn't fully decided upon until Avengers: Infinity War, so earlier films tend to depict him as more of a generic Evil Overlord rather than the "Kill half of the universe to save the other half" Well-Intentioned Extremist he eventually became. His appearance in The Avengers stinger also clearly alludes to his original comic book motivation of wanting to court Death, which subsequent movies promptly dropped.
  • Sanjuro was always a grizzled, scruffy yet very wily and very powerful ronin. He was, however, much more brutal and active, much more lively in Yojimbo, if cynical. In Sanjuro his personality is the same, only he Took a Level in Kindness somewhere along the way, his moral streak being strengthened by Mutsuta's wife's advice. Additionally in Sanjuro, he becomes the very definition of Brilliant, but Lazy ; he's smarter than everyone else but prefers to doze in a corner when he has nothing better to do.
  • The original X-Men noticeably portrays Magneto as something of a Mad Scientist, implying that he's a skilled inventor of genius-level intellect. Not only does the plot hinge on him inventing an advanced super-weapon capable of turning humans into Mutants, it's outright stated that he built his psychic-proof helmet himself, and that he and Charles Xavier built Cerebro together. The later films mostly abandoned this aspect of his character, simply portraying him as a charismatic terrorist leader with superpowers. And after Continuity Drift set in, it was established that he actually stole the helmet, and that a group of government scientists really invented Cerebro.

    Literature 
  • Discworld:
    • In his first appearance, in The Colour of Magic, the Patrician of Ankh-Morpork was portrayed as an obese Bond Villain parody. In Sourcery, he's still got the Bond villain thing going on, but is remarkably skinny all of a sudden but not remarkably clever. However, by Guards! Guards!, he's become the enigmatic, supremely manipulative Magnificent Bastard that we know today. (And no, it's not a different Patrician. Word of God states that it's the same guy, just written by an author who hadn't figured out what he wanted to do with the character yet.) The British Sky 1 television adaptation of The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic rectifies this by casting Jeremy Irons as the Patrician as seen in the later books, complete with the tiny little dog mentioned in some of those novels.
    • Moreover, in Night Watch, we get to see the Patrician as a young man (Time Travel was involved), and he's just as enigmatic and manipulative as ever. So, not only did his characterization march on, but it was also been retconned into always having been that way. Then again, if you do the maths, the past-set sequence in question takes place close to the time of Sourcery, meaning Vetinari couldn't have been the Patrician back then. Annoyingly, Sourcery is the first novel where the Patrician is directly named as Lord Vetinari... Night Watch also takes place after Thief of Time, where time was shattered and history had to be restitched. This, and the fact that it goes on fairly regularly according to the History Monks, canonically explains every inconsistency in the series.
    • Additionally, The Colour of Magic portrays Death as actively causing deaths (and speaking in Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe), whereas later novels establish him as merely collecting the souls of the already dead. Indeed, the very second book considerably softened his originally malevolent image. This was because one segment of The Colour of Magic was a more direct parodynote  of the Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser series, where Death was an actively malevolent antagonist of the heroes.
    • Rincewind was clearly a shadier character originally, his defining feature in The Colour of Magic being more greed than cowardice (though he is clearly a coward). He even tries to outright fleece Twoflower and is stopped not because he felt guilty but because the Patrician forced him to look after the tourist. Perhaps this can be explained by the fact that Rincewind had a dangerous spell in his head which could potentially destroy the Disc. Once it left his head in The Light Fantastic, his personality may have changed back to what it was before the spell got in there.
    • Ysabell is introduced as almost Ax-Crazy in The Light Fantastic, making a serious attempt to kill both Twoflower and Rincewind. By her appearance in Mort she is much more a normal teenage girl, albeit one with several quirks from her upbringing.
    • The Granny Weatherwax in Equal Rites is a much more humble figure than the one she would eventually become.
    • In Men at Arms Lord Rust is a shrewd, pragmatic and not unsympathetic minor character. In every subsequent book he appeared in he has been an idiotic, stiff-necked straw aristocratic.
    • The Bursar is introduced in Moving Pictures as the Only Sane Man among the Unseen University's staff. He started to go insane during the events of Reaper Man and stayed that way, though at least in this instance there's an in-universe explanation (Ridcully's behavior gradually and inadvertently drives him crazy, whereas they'd only just met in Moving Pictures).
    • Moving Pictures also characterised Ponder Stibbons as lazy, fat Insufferable Genius. After becoming a member of Unseen University's faculty he became a slim, Mad Scientist type character and one of the least quirky of the staff.
    • In Guards! Guards! Sam Vimes has no strong opinions about Ankh-Morpork getting a king; he is cynical about the idea but more out of general cynicism. In later books even the idea of monarchy is practically his Berserk Button.
  • In The Thrawn Trilogy, Grand Admiral Thrawn is a Magnificent Bastard who is slightly less cruel to his subordinates than more famous Imperials, who plays mind games with his opponents, gets a slightly frightening amount of data from art, does not tell anyone his plans, and is pragmatic. That characterization holds true throughout. But every subsequent appearance of the man plays up his magnificence while minimizing any evil-ness. He was Affably Evil; he claimed to be helping his secret death commandos while poisoning their planet, he associated with Joruus C'baoth and promised to give him Leia and the twins, he lied and was going to torture Talon Karrde, and he was certainly not infallible. Very, very good, yes, but he could be taken off guard, he could lose, he could misread things or miss them altogether.
    • The Hand of Thrawn duology does not actually feature Thrawn himself, but his old Commander Contrarian Pellaeon regards his memory with a combination of admiration and awe, and believes that the various times that Thrawn ignored his protests and carried on with counter-intuitive plans were a form of teaching. But his reputation certainly could have fluffed up after he died.
    • In Outbound Flight a younger and slightly more benevolent, almost Martial Pacifist Thrawn meets Jorus C'baoth - the original - and gets Force-Choked. He learns how to properly pronounce "Corellian" and that there is a word for striking first. In Survivor's Quest he's been dead for thirteen years, and Luke and Mara both think of him with a kind of nervous awe. Mara, speculating that he's Back from the Dead for real, says that she didn't inquire too closely, since if he's back, he's not their enemy now. ...She would not have said that thirteen years ago. Partly this can be explained as Thrawn getting more jaded and pragmatic over the years, more willing to look past the means to the end.
  • The early Star Wars Legends novel Splinter of the Mind's Eye was written before The Empire Strikes Back. In it, Luke has a lightness and a sometimes silly nature which he lacks in later works. That can be chalked up to Character Development; he hasn't been through as much. However, this Luke is also a born liar with a Con Man's skill at weaving intricate, convincing explanations at the drop of a hat, and can even force himself to cry on command.
  • In the New Jedi Order novels, Nom Anor is initially introduced as a typical (and very highly ranked) Yuuzhan Vong who happens to also be a devious political manipulator. By about a third of the way into the series, his characterization settles as a duplicitous Dirty Coward and atheist who is very out-of-place among his people (to the point of essentially seeing himself as the Only Sane Man among them), and whose rank is unimpressive, though his skills give him a vastly disproportionate amount of prestige and influence. He does, however, find the appearance of orthodoxy incredibly useful. This characterization endured for the rest of the series, and made him one of its most popular characters.
  • Happens a couple of times in The Wheel of Time especially when a character is introduced as being a typical member of a group before being portrayed as atypical of that group in later books. The most obvious is Darlin Sisnera who in his first appearance is portrayed as a borderline sadist who wants to flay Mat and Juilin for attacking the Stone of Tear, when he reappears he is noble, cares deeply for Tear and her people, and regrets forming the rebellion against Rand.
    • When first introduced, Mat's reputation is mostly as a young prankster, and the sort of pranks he pulls are the kind you expect of a young child. By the third book, despite spending a bulk of the first two books recovering from being possessed, he is suddenly a worldly-wise gambler and ladies' man, despite being from one of the most remote villages in that world. And yes, this is before being granted knowledge by the Aelfinn.
  • Erek from Animorphs is a robotic Actual Pacifist. Near the end of the series, the Animorphs have to blackmail him (by threatening to kill people if he doesn't help them) to get him to follow their plans. Which is fine, until you go back to his earlier appearances when he's very much intent on fighting the Yeerks and sees his nonviolence programming to be something of a hindrance (even after he decides that he doesn't want to experience the horror of actually taking part in fighting again). In #26 he deliberately withholds from the Animorphs information that would portray the Howlers in a more sympathetic light, which seems very out of character compared with his pacifist rants in the final book.
  • In the first Sherlock Holmes novel, A Study in Scarlet, Holmes had a number of character traits that were dropped afterward. In particular, he was initially a bit of an idiot-savant who knew everything there is to know about crime and its detection but almost nothing about anything else. Though his claim not to know or care that the Earth goes round the sun does get one callback in The Hound of the Baskervilles, in most of the later stories he's shown to be a much more well-rounded person with deep knowledge on a variety of topics.
    • Also in A Study in Scarlet, Watson observes that:
    Holmes was certainly not a difficult man to live with. He was quiet in his ways, and his habits were regular. It was rare for him to be up after ten at night, and he had invariably breakfasted and gone out before I rose in the morning.
    However, later stories establish Holmes as a man of very irregular habits who is very difficult to live with (due to his great untidiness and eccentricity) and who — far from going to bed early — is very much a night-owl.
  • Supreme Commander Anatole Leonard of the Southern Cross segment of Robotech was depicted as a stubborn commander in the animated series. At worst, he was a poor strategist, preferring a "throw everything we've got at them" approach, rather than studying the enemy and vying for peace, like Rolf Emerson. However, the Jack McKinney novels turned Leonard into a obsessive, megalomaniac, religious fanatic with some weird BDSM fetishes. The Southern Cross did have fascist leanings, but it wasn't mustache-twisting evil about it. However, McKinney wrote the definitely evil General Edwards as having connections with Leonard. In the original Japanese Super Dimension Cavalry Southern Cross (and to an extent, Robotech itself), Leonard was simply depicted as a dedicated, no-nonsense military man who had a difficult job in defending the planet and keeping a group of bureaucrats and politicians satisfied. Additionally, the McKinney novels turned those bureaucrats and politicians (including the Prime Minister) into Leonard's puppets.
  • In P. G. Wodehouse's "Extricating Young Gussie", the short story that introduced the world to Jeeves and Wooster, Jeeves is a bit player with only one line. At one point, Bertie finds himself in trouble and acknowledges that he doesn't know who to go to for help. He doesn't consult Jeeves—something that would become unthinkable by the very next story, fittingly titled "Leave It to Jeeves".
  • In the first Miss Marple book (The Murder at the Vicarage) by Agatha Christie, Miss Marple was characterized as a nosy, bossy, rather unpleasant woman that the narrator of the story didn't like. Realizing that this character wouldn't stay very popular if she was kept like this in later books (and perhaps not wanting to have repeat the experience of disliking a protagonist, as she did with Hercule Poirot) Christie significantly toned down the character in later books.
  • The first published Horatio Hornblower book, The Happy Return (or Beat to Quarters for Americans) has the title character as much more ill-tempered and choleric than his other appearances. Although taken as a whole, you can rationalize it as young Hornblower being moody and less confident, middle Hornblower (i.e. the first published books) being more settled but also irritable with the various fool's errands the Navy puts him on, and the late-chronology books having him mellow out with age (something Hornblower notes in The Commodore).
  • Luke Castellan from Percy Jackson and the Olympians was established, in the last three books of the original series, as a complex Anti-Villain and Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds with a case of Even Evil Has Loved Ones towards his old friends Annabeth and Thalia. This is why it's rather jarring to see him act much more overtly evil in the second book, The Sea of Monsters, the first book set after The Reveal of him as a villain, where he goes so far as to order Annabeth Eaten Alive in front of Percy just to spite him.
  • In The Scorch Trials, Jorge was introduced as a brute willing to commit murder for minor insults, and savagely beating one of the protagonists. In The Death Cure, this turns out to almost totally be an act and he's later a generally inoffensive pilot and a sort of doting uncle to Brenda.
  • One frequent criticism of the later Flashman books is that their protagonist goes from full-blown Magnificent Bastard who kicks the dog at every conceivable opportunity, to a more conventional hero who occasionally does unpleasant things.
  • In the older Max and Ruby books by Rosemary Wells, Ruby was more of a Deadpan Snarker and sometimes strict with her brother Max. Which can be seen in "Max's Chocolate Chicken" and "Max's Christmas". She even said to Max "Max, you'd have trouble finding your own ears if they weren't attached to your head" in Max's Chocolate Chicken since Max didn't gather eggs and was busy gathering acorns and making an Acorn Pancake. In later and more recent Max And Ruby books, Ruby became more cheerful and kind around Max but is also a Control Freak and her Deadpan Snarker personality was toned down. Especially in the Nick Jr. animated series for Max & Ruby.
  • In Tomie DePaola's Strega Nona series, the character of Bambolona first appeared as a minor character in the second book – an Abhorrent Admirer to Big Anthony. In the third book she became Strega Nona's apprentice, and for the rest of the series was a competent, Closer to Earth assistant in contrast to Big Anthony's irresponsibility. Her crush on him also disappeared.
  • In the second Land of Oz book, The Marvelous Land of Oz, the Wizard of Oz is revealed to have conspired with Mombi to usurp the Ozian throne. He taught her all the magic she knows and gave her the infant Princess Ozma so that he could become ruler of Oz. In the fourth book Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz, suddenly he's a benevolent man who has never even met Ozma. This retcon was because children disliked the Wizard of Oz and thought he was a villain for all that he did. L. Frank Baum tried to soften up his character.

    Music 
  • Vocaloid: Kagamine Len was portrayed as a sensitive crybaby in the song "Nakimushi Kareshi" by HoneyWorks. In the sequel, "Suki Kirai", he's turned into a perverted idiot.

    Podcasts 
  • The Tres Horny Boys of The Adventure Zone: Balance, particularly Taako and Merle, who didn't plan out much of their backstories before the game began. For example, when asked to label themselves before taking the Bureau's reclaimer test, the boys decide to call Taako the bravest, Merle the smartest, and Magnus the strongest. Magnus's title stays fairly accurate, but the other two choices seem absolutely bizarre in hindsight. One could argue that Taako and Merle rightfully earn each other's titles in later arcs- Taako by blossoming into a dangerously creative Combat Pragmatist, and Merle by selflessly offering up his life to the Hunger dozens of times during parley.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • Largely applicable to almost everyone due to gimmick changes and whatnot, but several examples stand out.
  • El Santo was supposed to be a mysterious rogue terrorizing the EMLL roster but the crowds were so enamored with the mysterious part that he ended up close to a paragon numerous people wanted to hang out with.
  • Gorgeous George was a good, clean wrestler, seemingly long divorced from his delinquent roots, before he became, well, the Trope Namer for Gorgeous George.
  • Triple H: Hard to believe that reasonable COO of the WWE started out as a Wicked Cultured Blueblood, became Shawn Michaels' Anything That Moves sidekick and later leader of D-Generation X, to a Smug Snake Jerkass dragon to The Corporation and the Corporate Ministry, then a Magnificent Bastard before and during the McMahon-Helmsley Era, Determinator Designated Hero after the quad injury, Bastard/Monster with with money in Evolution, Fourth-Wall Observer after the DX reunion and finally, a Blood Knight vs. The Undertaker at WrestleMania 27. At heart, he was always a jerk, he just got A LOT more mic time as he rose to power.
  • Becky Lynch might be the epitome of this now; she debuted with an Oireland stereotype gimmick - complete with green gear, ceili entrance music and a jig as a taunt. This was quickly phased out due to backlash and Becky became a mosh pit girl instead. Also on NXT she was presented as a smart tactical Only Sane Man in comparison to the more exaggerated characters. As of her debut on the main roster she was portrayed more as a Genki Girl who loved puns and wordplay - which is more or less incorporating her own real-life persona. And THEN she slapped friend Charlotte Flair in the face, evolved into 'THE MAN' and became the face of the entire company, including winning both women's titles in the MAIN EVENT of WrestleMania 35.
  • You know, not many men can say they've been a fun-loving rapper, an evil king, a demon, a casanova, and a thug for hire in one lifetime. WWE's Viscera can.
  • Edge: Began as a dark loner and became a jerkass with a bit of Jerk Jock who pulls his own hair out like a crazed madman when he's about to finish someone. Is also, in his 2010 feud with Kane, apparently a Manipulative Bastard with a tendency to use lifelike mannequins. Plus in between all this he had a comedic slant during the time when Mick Foley was commissioner. He also was a vampire early in his career - and, except for his comedic tag pairing with Christian around the Turn of the Millennium, he's never lost his dark side, even as a face.
  • Remember when John Cena wasn't a rapper? That gimmick lasted about one night. Unless you look far back enough into his pre WWE career and see he was originally a cyborg as a way of explaining his lack of charisma.
  • Delirious initially wore a white mask, stalked around seething and shouted random, unintelligible things in Gateway Championship Wrestling. The Unintelligible part stuck but his mask became green, he became known for sprinting around without direction at the sound of the bell and having a motor mouth. Similarly, Chikara's Hallowicked initially just screamed a lot before he met Delirious and also became known for unintelligible babbling.
  • Molly Holly's heel gimmick originally started out as a Hardcore Holly type who wanted the division to be more serious. This eventually evolved into a self-righteous prude who gets mocked for having huge buttocks. Funnily enough she reverted back to her initial persona around 2003 or so and the Hollywood Pudgy was dropped.
  • Randy Orton. When he first debuted, he was a clean cut babyface, and even when he turned heel a few months later, he still had his optimism — compare that to the modern-day Orton, a psychotic sociopath who hears voices in his head, and it's like seeing two entirely different people. There's an in-universe justification for this, which is frequently referred to: his ousting from Evolution, something Randy never got over. From that point on, his obsession with the WWE Championship and his seething resentment over the betrayal gradually drove Randy to the depths of insanity, and even now, almost a decade after the stable fully dissolved, one can still see Evolution's influence. The event functioned as his Start of Darkness, and eventually came to define his entire career — it took a continuous effort from 2004 to 2011 for him to get closure over the issue.
  • Samoa Joe's transition from Ring of Honor to TNA. Previously, as a simple "assassin" of Christopher Daniels' Prophecy Only in It for the Money showed his one standard was a refusal to compromise his integrity and break the Code of Honor. In TNA, Joe had no standards showing an outright derision for what AJ Styles called the honor code of the X-division. Unlike most cases, Joe remained in ROH for three years after he started showing up in TNA, so it could be measured side by side for a time until he was pulled out of the former for seven years. By the final year of his TNA run, his "characterization" had marched to the point it came full circle though.
  • Remember when Mickie James was a lesbian? Skip that, remember when she was a complete psychopath?
  • Santino Marella: Began as a foreign everyman, became the eternal loser, added Chick Magnet to this repertoire and graduated into a slightly more competent Plucky Comic Relief with his similarly evolving, albeit in the apparent opposite direction, tag team championship partner Vladimir Kozlov.
  • Back about 2006-2007, many fans were thinking of The Miz as the single most worthless WWE Superstar there was. But today...
  • Kaitlyn was initially portrayed as a clumsy ditz on the third season of NXT but soon morphed into a quirky Ladette to match her BFF AJ Lee.
  • LayCool started out as a rather generic heel tandem with Alpha Bitch tendencies. They eventually became much hammier, obsessed with their looks, much ditzier and a borderline lesbian couple.
  • Bayley began as more of a starstruck Shrinking Violet, who appeared to be a little touched in the head. She quickly developed into an All-Loving Hero who wanted to hug everyone. Her shyness and Promoted Fanboy nature disappeared after a while.
  • Sasha Banks when she first turned heel was pretty much a generic Beta Bitch. After the crowd started chanting 'ratchet' at hernote , Sasha started to add more rhinestones to her gear and act a bit more ghetto. As she had appeared in a leaked promo class video playing a snobby ghetto character weeks before she actually turned heel, this appears to be somewhat intentional.
  • Lita was actually presented as something of a Spicy Latina when she debuted as Essa Rios's valet. When she hooked up with Team Xtreme, she adopted the punk rock Ladette image she's better known for.
  • Sable was a bit of a Plucky Girl when she was competing in the women's division. Upon her return in 2003 she played up her Femme Fatale traits and was more of a dangerous seductress who liked to play mind games.
  • Paige was initially a Blood Knight who happened to be a face, making her more of a Wild Card. By mid-2014 she became much hammier, resembling her clowny persona from the indies. As of a 2015 face turn she also became more of a Deadpan Snarker and Cool Loser in comparison to the Alpha Bitch Bella Twins.

    Roleplay 
  • Dawn of a New Age: Oldport Blues:
    • Ivan as he was originally conceived was intended to be more amoral (including one non-canonical instance of him attempting to manipulate the stock market for personal gain), but he's since developed into someone with a more upstanding and decent attitude.
    • Initially Ivy was written as being unapproachable, too concerned with her routine to bother with small talk. This characterisation was dropped fairly early in favour of making her less haughty and more shy, and her initial traits were picked up by Jacob.
    • Originally conceived as a one-dimensional rich jerk, Benedict's personality was greatly expanded as the GM got a better handle on him, making it so that much of his attitude was due to an abusive upbringing from his homophobic, classist father.
  • In The Gungan Council, commonly happens due to changing tastes and styles of writers, especially if a character has been written for a long time.
  • Eddie Cohen of The Insane Quest started off as more of an apathetic Emo Teen who would only do the bare minimum to contribute to his team's goals. As time went on, however, he was flanderized into a cowardly, inept Butt-Monkey who was friendlier towards the other members of Smoosh and mostly avoided obstacles out of fear rather than laziness.
  • Survival of the Fittest:
    • The original characterisation of Sean O'Cann was as an abusive and rude Jerk Jock, somehow he managed to wind up as slightly brusque and somewhat sarcastic. The difference is such that without the name you wouldn't be able to tell it was the same character.
    • From the same version, Lyn Burbank was initially a cold, calculating psychopath ready to die as long as she could take down as many people as she could. It only took a small handful of threads before she changed dramatically: becoming bitter, more emotional and prone to breakdowns, her intended murderous rampage becoming focused on Frost instead, the narrative focusing more on the more woobie-ish parts of her character, and the revelation that she was in fact terrified of dying. Her original self was handwaved away in the end with the explanation that she was just trying (and ultimately failing) to play the part she thought she was expected to play.
    • In version 4, we have Aileen Borden, who in her early pre-game posts started out as a shy Emo Teen. As her characterization was more fleshed out, though, she changed radically. By the time v4 actually rolled around, her originally intended personality became more clear as a sarcastic Knight in Sour Armor, and ultimately became a Foil to Aaron Hughes in-game. Her handler has said that the reason why was simply because it was taking a while to really get her characterization down.
  • In We Are Our Avatars, not only did the Homestuck Trolls take this route, but various canon characters have marched onto new designs.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Chronicles of Darkness:
    • Changeling: The Lost: the True Fae in the first edition were depicted as Always Chaotic Evil bastards with Blue-and-Orange Morality who actively kidnapped humans on regular basis to turn them into Changelings for the sake of it. Their motivations were gradually fleshed out over the course of the various books, and the second edition eventually establishes the ones who go kidnapping humans are only a fraction of the whole; there are countless more who, while just as subject to Blue-and-Orange Morality as their kin, are content to stay in Arcadia, pursuing their own interests, rather than go mess with humans.
    • Similarly, earlier drafts of Beast: The Primordial depicted all Heroes as irredeemable, Ax-Crazy Knight Templars with an ego problem who hunted Beasts out of Fantastic Racism. The final version of the book clarified there are actually good Heroes who actually deserve the titles, the Beasts just tend to run mostly into the ones with low Integrity. The supplement Conquering Heroes then provided sample Heroes with various shades of gray and motivations, clarifying not all of them fit this description.
      • The draft version also had Heroes as people who had undergone a psychotic break after being attacked or fed on by a Beast, while the final version had them as humans born with an innate sensitivity to the Primordial Dream.
  • Games Workshop games:
    • In Warhammer, early portrayals of Karl Franz make him into a cowardly and inept leader. Today he is known as a badass Emperor who fights with his Griffon.
    • Warhammer 40,000:
      • The first named Space Marine was Pedro Cantor of the Crimson Fists. The guy was little more than a rude lout who wouldn't look out of place in a mob of football hooligans. In fact, all the Space Marines were psychopathic thugs in graffittied armor with beaked helmets. And for a bunch of bio-engineered supersoldiers, they were awfully weak. They were somewhat stronger than a regular human but had exactly equal amounts of Toughness. Not to mention that Space Marines were classified as humans in terms of race and so they had the exact same maximum stat limits as any other human character. Later editions would see the Space Marines get further fleshed out in detail and have them take a couple of levels in kindness and badass (after detailing the 19 different organs that they get implanted with and writing their chapter histories) Pedro would return as Pedro Kantor, now Chapter Master of the Crimson Fists, and not only show considerable depth and consideration for the common folk of the Imperium, but also one of the more badass and disciplined Chapter Masters to boot.
      • When initially introduced at the end of 2nd Edition of the game and the beginning of 3rd, the Necrons lacked a lot of character, consisting of mindless automatons dedicated to wiping out and harvesting the galaxy's lifeforms with only the C'tan, the Deceiver in particular, showing any real personality. The 5th Edition Codex expanded the faction's characterisation, background, fighting style and unit choice considerably, handwaving a lot of the early characterization as damage from their eons of stasis.
  • The Magic: The Gathering planeswalker (mage of significant power, typically also recurring characters) Nissa Revane was originally an Elf supremacist when she debuted in 2009. At a panel in 2015, Wizards of the Coast explicitly stated that they were dropping that aspect of her character for Magic Origins, and to paint her in a much more heroic role as she defended her homeland from the Eldrazi in Battle for Zendikar.

    Toys 
  • From LEGO's BIONICLE franchise:
    • Big Bad Makuta Teridax is the most apparent example, having gone through at least four or five distinct characterizations. While his changes are perhaps the most embraced by the fandom, it is still a controversial topic.
      • Early on, he was envisioned as an immaterial concept rather than a living being. Franchise co-creator Christian Faber based Makuta on his illness at the time, while Alastair Swinnerton thought of him as the force of destruction. Neither evil nor good, he was merely the other side of creation, essentially the act of taking apart LEGO models so they could be rebuilt into something else.
      • The LEGO company itself wanted a villain they could eventually actually sell as a toy, so Makuta was given a physical form. The 2001 Mata Nui Online Game stuck close to his original idea, but presented him as a monstrous, shifting mass of LEGO elements. Still, he wasn't evil, just a force of the universe.
      • One 2003 character bio, never officially made public, re-imagined him as a misguided, tragic villain who had his own distinct personality and body. No longer a godly entity, he was compared to an illness that makes one's immune system stronger. His goals were ultimately benevolent, but his justifications and actions were controlled by the evil Mask of Shadows he wore. This characterization served as a basis for Makuta in the Mask of Light movie, but he was eventually distilled into a generic cartoon villain in the prequel film — lurks in shadows, always angry, monologues to himself, releases hordes of Mooks and is humiliatingly beaten at the end. By this point, his previous incarnations had been wholly abandoned.
      • In 2005, comic and book author Greg Farshtey got a free hand to write a novel about anything he wanted, and he made use of the opportunity to transform the character into a highly mastermind that turned his former defeats to his advantage in his Evil Plan, and had a dry and sarcastic sense of humor, often coming off as a Large Ham. He was no longer "the" Makuta, much less an immaterial force, but rather a member of an entire species of Makuta with an elaborate backstory, a character, his own agenda and a new name: Teridax.
    • Sidorak was at first characterized as a capable warlord whose only weakness was his love of combat, so he spent too much time out in the field to notice that his viceroy Roodaka had been scheming against him. One of the movies then depicted him as a weak and cowardly buffoon who was only interested in marrying Roodaka. Despite outspokenly disliking the movie, the writer later on combined the two characterizations while Retconing Sidorak's former accomplishments as those of Roodaka. The new Sidorak became a Glory Hound who stole the credits of Roodaka's victories from her to become the leader of the Visorak horde, and while still a capable leader knew deep down he never earned his position and so tended to overcompensate by making his victories as impressive as possible, which made it all too easy for Roodaka to string him along.
    • Kongu was, among the generally playful and fun loving Air Matoran, the mostly serious and battle-ready leader of the Le-Koro Airforce. Upon upgrading into a Toa, he became a standard, wisecracking Air character who specialized in making lame one liners and complaining about stuff. When another character called him out on this, his response was that Toa Lewa, another Toa of Air, had taught him to loosen up and that somebody needed to keep the humor up in a group that was so serious.
    • Jaller (aka Jala) was first a no-nonsense military commander, speaking with strong words. He was fearless, tactical minded, but also passionate when it came to his intolerance of selfishness and foolishness. (He was also, by the way, a surfer and dancer, but these roles were swiped from canon early on, never brought up in the story.) Two years later in the Mask of Light movie, he was still a respected captain, but far less stern, more hotheaded, emotional and comedic, talking in a whiny "surfer dude" voice to boot.

    Web Animation 
  • DSBT InsaniT:
    • Balloon started out as just a character who gets killed over and over, but by episode 4, he started to gain more of a prominence to the story instead of just a gag.
    • At first Dave only existed to be The Bully to the point of being a Hate Sink, but episode 5 opened up some Hidden Depths for him and shown that he has an Inferiority Superiority Complex.
  • The Most Popular Girls in School:
    • Trisha Cappelletti was far bitchier in her debut episode, almost nothing like the Nice Girl she currently is.
    • Brittnay Matthews started out as a stereotypical Dumb Blonde whose only qualities were anger and vapidness, but she had gradually evolved into, in the creators' words, a lot smarter, more independent "hardened diamond of hell".
  • The PONY.MOV series' take on Rarity changed — voice-wise and appearance-wise — drastically between APPLE.MOV and DRESS.MOV, from excited teenager to obese sweatshop runner.
  • In very early episodes of Red vs. Blue, it's pretty clear that most of the personalities haven't really been defined yet, especially on the Red side. Flanderization sets in quickly as they find clearer, more defined roles in the overall cast dynamic, and by season two the characterization has gelled - from then on, most major change falls under Character Development.
  • RWBY:
    • The first two trailers don't show off the characters well. Ruby and Weiss are unusually somber, without note of their Genki Girl and Academic Alpha Bitch personalities.
    • Ruby initially displays a shyness and anxiety she otherwise lacks. It's gone after the first few episodes, but it reappears (and is emphasised) in the second manga adaptation.
    • The Yellow trailer and Yang eyeing boys in an early episode imply that she has a flirty side to her character, but this is dropped early on. Her free-spirited and thrillseeker side is also later de-emphasised to put focus on her as a Genki Girl and Team Mom. In the second episode, Yang is shown to have a lot of friends and tries to distance herself from her sister Ruby in order to make Ruby more outgoing, but this is not referenced outside of the second episode; the closest is when her character short revolves around her teaching Ruby to fend for herself.
    • In Volume 1, Blake's character wasn't clearly defined. In some scenes she's an introverted loner yet in others she goes along with her team without issue. Eventually they settled on making her the quiet one of the team.
    • Blake describes Adam as a mentor in Volume 2, before he becomes her ex-boyfriend in Volume 3. He was calmer in the first two volumes but became easily-angered and violent afterwards.

    Webcomics 
  • 8-Bit Theater:
    • D'rizzl has his IQ go up 120 points upon joining the Dark Warriors, since the team needed a straight man.
    • The very first strips also have Fighter as not-dumb (he even remarks "Dude, that line sucks" when Black Mage does a Storm impression) and Black Mage as not-evil (he kinda feels bad for accidentally blowing up a forest. Really!). It says something about the comic when saying "Thanks. What's up?" to a guard instead of murdering him for speaking to him is out of character.
  • It takes a while for the characters to get established in Achewood, and there are too many out-of-character moments in early strips to count. However the most egregious (and squicky) would have to be when Philippe — later established to be perpetually five years old — has sex with Ultra Peanut.
    • Well, all we really see is that they've taken their clothes off. Chris Onstad suggests in the book that they went outside to play in the sprinklers.
  • In Ansem Retort:
    • Zexion was originally supposed to be the Only Sane Man who would exist for Axel and Marluxia to play off. He developed into a King among Jerkasses.
    • Marluxia started off as Axel's partner in crime and psychopathy. When Zexion's characterization marched on, Marluxia became superfluous and was Demoted to Extra. After that, he turned gay. Then he got re-promoted to main character, in more or less the Straight Man role Zexion was originally going to play.
    • Namine was originally a television addict disconnected from reality. Then she became the Only Sane Man among the cast.
  • Minor example in Bob and George: In an early strip, Chadling is excited by the prospect of bananas. Bananas never come up in the comic again, and the rest of the time, Chadling's Trademark Favorite Food is ice cream (like most of the other dumb characters). In the commentary, David Anez says that the love of bananas was a reference to a friend of his whom Chadling was named after, and he never got around to using it again.
  • Marc from Com'c was originally intended to be a stereotypical teenager with a love of music (with similar tastes to the author), but he quickly evolved to more of a sensible teenager, taking over the original role of Victor to some extent (his love of music is unchanged, but is focused on less). Victor, on the other hand, became slightly sillier than the original idea already in the first strip.
  • Sil'lice from Drowtales brutality and cruelty seems to have been toned down in the later remake chapters compared to the earlier chapters. She actually seems to be somewhat reasonable now and has two little twins whom she clearly loves. It's widely agreed to be an improvement. And most of the worst traits she had before now seem to have been transferred to her daughter Kadara, whose viciousness when dealing with two children who are also her cousins seems to take Sil'lice aback.
  • In the earliest El Goonish Shive strips, Elliot and Tedd were alike in perversion, and Sarah was a borderline Straw Feminist. These days, it's hard to imagine Sarah giving more than an annoyed glare to Tedd's suggestion to strip, and it's hard to imagine Elliot going along with it.
    • Tedd, for his part, while his libido hasn't really changed, has lost a lot of his Mad Scientist cred with the revelation that he's just been reverse-engineering alien tech, and parts of it (which work on the same principles as Earth "magic") remain a mystery to him. He also went from straight-up pervert to Chivalrous Pervert, to the point of removing an x-ray function from his glasses because he thought it was too unethical.
    • Grace is much less naïve in early strips (in the most glaring case, later retconned as having been explained to her, realizing what people would think of a woman wearing nothing but a trenchcoat), something Dan admits he regrets.
    • rincipal Verrückt's first appearance was a quick "the principal is Adolf Hitler" cutaway gag, complete with Gratuitous German; in his very next appearance, Ellen points out just how he looks with a wig, and from then on, he's bald with a bushier moustache, never once speaks another word in German, and comes off as a good-hearted bumbler.
    • Ashley was a Tsundere (of the non-violent, sullen, in-denial sort) with regard to Elliot in her first couple of appearances. Once she began actually to interact with him, however, she abruptly became a perky, blushing, sweet-natured, honest and open about everything—even her fetishes—and has remained that way, with no hint of tsundere, since.
  • Franz from Elijah And Azuu started out as an All Gays Are Promiscuous gag character, which feels at odds with the devoted relationship he's in once he has some Character Development. In particular, the author said that he regretted making Franz have a three-way with his boyfriend and mother because it was awkward to write around in a later, more serious story arc.
  • In General Protection Fault, Trudy starts out as a Card-Carrying Villain who routinely drops safes on GPF's competitors, killing them. In the year before Surreptitious Machinations, she gradually evolves into a Magnificent Bitch who manages to take over the world in an alternate future, becoming emotionally unhinged after killing Nick for rejecting her, the first time she had ever killed someone herself.
  • Homestuck:
    • Dave is known as The Stoic who can go off into epic wordplay at the drop of a hat and has a very consistent demeanor that's incredibly difficult to falter. However, the few times we see him talk to John pre-naming, he comes off as more emotional and brief, actually using punctuation and emotion, with John able to casually troll him with a simple reference to Little Monsters.
    • There's also the Trolls, though in their case not much was known about them at the time. Compare their earlier pesterlogs in Acts 3 and 4 to what is later revealed about them in Act 5.
    • Hussie also notes this happening to John in the notes for the second book:
      Also this conversation is kind of interesting because as the story moves along, John kind of smooths out slightly into more of a Straight Man to the ridiculous ravings of others, but in this first conversation there was more of a smartass give-and-take.
  • On her introduction in Inverloch, Neirenn made a number of cryptic statements that implied some kind of clairvoyance. This was quickly dropped, and she acted like a normal (magic-wielding and mysteriously motivated) teenager from then on.
  • Least I Could Do's main character suffers from this. At first, he is a Lovable Sex Maniac, an idiot who gets laid a lot, a lot like Joey from Friends. His stupidity was emphasized in early strips. As the series progress, his stupidity becomes immaturity, making him a very smart guy that just likes to act childish from time to time. He also gets geekier and geekier, up to the point where he is One of Us.
  • The Order of the Stick:
    • The Monster in the Darkness started out as an incompetent sidekick to Xykon and Redcloak. It was Affably Evil, albeit somewhat dim, and generally hinted to be less terrifying than implied by Xykon. As the series continued, the Monster gradually became a stupid and naïve creature virtually incapable of comprehending much of anything, behaving and speaking almost like a child in most circumstances. Though the kernel for this existed from the get go, Flanderization took the character sufficiently far from its original form for this to become noticeable.
    • In one of her earliest appearances, Celia blasts Nale with a lightning bolt to punish him for pranking her into thinking her family was dead. Later strips have established her as an Actual Pacifist who won't willingly harm another living creature even when her own life is threatened.
  • Lisa of Penny and Aggie, in her earliest appearances, bears little resemblance to the cheerful, extroverted Genki Girl she's best known as. Instead, she's presented as a somewhat alienated and angry sort, apart from her friendly overtures to Aggie. Writer T Campbell later explained in the comic's forum that Lisa was in a "transitional period" then as a New Transfer Student, and was also going through a "rebel phase" which put more distance between her and others than she's usually been known to maintain.
    • Also, Sara: in one of her first appearances (in fact, only the fourth panel ever), she expresses interest in Italian boys. This seems very strange in retrospect given her later Coming-Out Story. It didn't take long for that subplot to start being foreshadowed, though, and you could always just wave it off as her trying to fit in.
  • Problem Sleuth, at the beginning of his series, didn't have the crippling phobia of ethnic cheer murals that he shows later on. He originally considered the mural in his office money well spent.
  • In Questionable Content, Hannelore was first introduced when Marten was so drunk he went in the wrong bathroom, and she tried to pick him up. Later, her OCD was seriously played up. Eventually, she explains her earlier behavior by saying that she "was on some pretty powerful anti-anxiety meds" and "wasn't myself". Hanners is also smoking in that comic, something even less likely for the OCD character she has developed into. She seems to be deflanderizing a bit.
  • In Rascals, the best example would have to be Mitzu as she was originally a hired gun on this page ; however, it is later revealed on this page that she took the job as personal beef with Reiko.
  • The Reverend in Schlock Mercenary started out as "more of an irreverend"; in most future appearances, while he's willing to snark as much as anyone else, he approaches his duties a lot more seriously.
  • Non-work safe comic Sexy Losers.
    • In particular, early "Madame X" strips featured a couple of friends who mainly existed to bounce exposition off of... at first. Later strips saw the characters earning the Fan Nicknames Abusive Friend and Swearing Friend, based on strips like this. As the author put it, "But you said nothing happened last time," practically sounds like a doctoral thesis coming from a character known for lines like "Your fuck is shit, dickass."
    • This is also true for the Suicide Girl comics. At first, he would ask the girl if they would have sex prior, making you believe he would have either or. Now he's only interested in corpses.
    • Also true for the Kenta's Hot Mom comics. At first, Kenta actually had feelings for his mother. This gets weird seeing how he is openly disgusted at his mom's sexual advances in every other comic.
  • For the first year or so of Something*Positive, Davan is portrayed as being completely hopeless with women. He's shown being rejected by women multiple times, and the few relationships he has had have been with women who were either mentally unstable or who spontaneously decided to cheat on him (and in one instance, both). This changed due to a bit of outside interference: according to Word of God (in a YouTube post), Milholland had the idea of Davan meeting a really cool girl in the bar he frequented, then having her be creeped out by his getting involved in an altercation. A friend suggested that instead of going for the thousandth downer, that he cut Davan a break and let him be happy for once. His going for this idea and starting a romantic plotline for Davan probably killed the whole "women hate Davan" gag; since then, Davan has been involved with a handful of reasonably stable women, including some friends-with-benefits closet-action. Davan still references the idea that he only attracts crazy women, but then nobody in the comic seems entirely sane.
  • Hogan from Survivor: Fan Characters is widely remembered by fans as a good-natured Ace with a playful sense of humor who was the series' first big "heroic" character, so it can be quite jarring to reread Season 1 and discover that he was actually a massive Jerkass with barely a trace of humor for the first couple of episodes and didn't become really likable until halfway through the season. Suffice it to say that the Hogan from All-Stars would never have tried throwing an immunity challenge solely because he hated almost all of his tribemates and wanted to vote them off.
  • Whomp! Ronnie starts off as an angry Jerkass who frequently stood up to Motivation Dude. Later he would be a weepy Extreme Doormat.
  • Exaggerated and Played for Laughs in this Tricksy Wizard comic with a Dungeons & Dragons character who starts out as a literal clown, going so far as to use the classic Pie in the Face gag against a troll in the 1st session. In the 40th session, the same character is seen performing a Heroic Sacrifice as a Load-Bearing Hero, complete with him and another character sharing a Dying Declaration of Love. The author notes cite Taako as inspiration for this gag.

    Web Original 
  • In the long-running Neopian Times series Al the Chia, Peacepaw (a nonconformist New-Age Retro Hippie among the wolflike Lupes) initially comes off as so saccharine that he's in his own little world, and being in his own little world with all his happy little friends quickly becomes unbearable for a third party, like Al. In later installments, he's still a hippy with all that that entails, but he's much more approachable and likable.
  • The Foundation itself from the SCP Foundation is subject to a lot of this. Early articles and tales portray a much smaller, much more disorganized Foundation subject to the whims of a motley collection of Bunny-Ears Lawyer scientists. The current community, including the creators of most of the aforementioned characters, regards this as form of Early Installment Weirdness and frowns on use of many story ideas that were popular early on, such as cross-testing anomalies with one another and a Foundation that believes that We Have Reserves.

    Web Videos 
  • The Angry Video Game Nerd was initially the Angry Nintendo Nerd, and only started calling himself by his much more well-known moniker after realizing there were quite a few other games and game systems he would receive requests to do reviews of. He also mostly stuck to games from the '80s, didn't have a theme song, and his first two videos were incredibly strange for two opposite reasons; the first video didn't show the Nerd at all, while the second was just him sitting at a computer and talking to the audience with only the odd screen shot.
    • Also The Nerd was much more thoroughly in-character during the earlier videos, and came off much less of a Jerk with a Heart of Gold compared to later and recent videos. Well, by comparison anyways...
  • The Ninja from Ask a Ninja was much more creepy, ominous, and stoic in the first episode. Later episodes portray him more as a comically upbeat, Affably Evil Cloudcuckoolander.
  • In his early videos, Gronkh tended to put things much more bluntly and was much less talkative than he is now; all in all, his in-show personality wasn't developed yet.
  • The Happy Video Game Nerd: He started out aping the AVGN style as closely as possible, to the point that a few of his videos are directly "inspired" by specific episodes (the intro to Metal Storm was lifted from The Karate Kid; Nightshade is a riff on Bugs Bunny's Birthday Blowout). Over time, he's dropped most of the AVGN (and anti-AVGN) elements, and now all that remains are the name itself, along with a few props (the shirt and the wine).
    • Those are gone now, too. Strictly speaking, so are the HVGN videos. After one of the final episodes of the HVGN, the creator, Darek Alexander, noted that he had dropped all of his parodic elements, including his black shirt and wine. No one pointed it out in the comments, so he concluded that the HVGN had, more or less, run its course. He still makes videos regarding video games, but under the moniker "Stop Skeletons from Fighting," with a style that is no longer directly inspired by James Rolfe.
  • The Nostalgia Critic:
    • Fans of the Critic may be surprised to see that in the character's first ever appearance, he is commenting on the first live-action Transformers movie in a style closer to that of Doug Walker's other character, Chester A. Bum. Over the course of the next few reviews, The Nostalgia Critic became the cynic most viewers are familiar with, and the "hyper" style was given to Chester A. Bum. This was lampshaded when The Nostalgia Critic briefly resumed the prior characterization when reviewing Transformers II: Revenge of the Fallen, and Chester A. Bum walked in at the end and asked "Did he just steal my act?"
    • In a much more character-based example, and confirmed by Doug in the Cartoon All-Stars commentary, he was much more manlier and much less pathetic/woobiefied back in the earlier reviews. For example, when he screamed back then, he sounded scary and angry. When he screams now, it's more like he's seriously getting freaked out. And there's a lot more crying involved.
  • The Nostalgia Chick seems to have gone through stages. First she was just a female version of The Nostalgia Critic, with the slightly-milder yelling and the funny "WTF" reaction shots. Then she was a dry, girly Only Sane Woman with a couple moments of being Not So Above It All. It wasn't until "Top Ten Disturbing and Inescapable Christmas Songs" that she started to develop the kinda scary, gold-hearted Bitch in Sheep's Clothing Broken Bird persona that we all know and love. Her reviewing style also has gradually morphed from being a straight-through synopsis that pokes fun at various Fridge Logic (like the Critic's reviews) and become more of general study of the review subject's themes, characters, plot (and plot holes) and so on. Even in reviews like Grease or Mulan, she takes time from the synopsis to analyze various details.
  • In Noob, Gaea and Sparadrap were respectively the Audience Surrogate and a typical Noob when introduced in the webseries. They eventually turned into the greedy Dirty Coward and Stupid Good player they get more obviously introduced as in the novels and comic. Couette also started out as Sparadrap's Distaff Counterpart before Divergent Character Evolution took place in all three media.
  • In the earliest Sanders Sides videos, Virgil (the personification of Thomas' anxiety) was portrayed as being actively malicious, intentionally causing problems for Thomas, and enjoying himself while doing it. However, as his personality developed, he became much more sympathetic — a lot of the videos centered on Virgil point out that being the manifestation of anxiety, fear, and insecurity, and consequentially being The Friend Nobody Likes on top of that isn't exactly a picnic for him, either.
  • When Two Best Friends Play released their first video, Matt was focused on the game while Pat provided light-hearted commentary. In the next one, their roles switched, and Matt became sort of a bumbling doofus while Pat was an angry guy pissed off by his friend's incompetence. As time passed by, Matt gained more seriousness while staying a light-hearted character, while Pat mellowed out a bit.
  • In Screen Rant Pitch Meetings, the screenwriter usually proposes scripts full of bad ideas and plot holes, which he weakly justifies, and the producer usually lets said decisions pass without much resistance unless they're outrageously bad. In the very first pitch meeting, for The Last Jedi, the screenwriter proposes killing off Leia in a "beautiful" death scene, but then is overruled by the producer, who tells him to have Leia save herself using the Force. People used to subsequent episodes may be surprised by the producer not only overruling the screenwriter, but actually telling him what to do.

    Real Life 
  • This is actually quite realistic. A person may act like a bully one day and beat someone up for no reason but the next day (even without being punished by authorities or caught) he may be the friendliest person in the world even to his victim. A person may have been able to disarm a knife with a thug one time. But even in the next time even in the exact same circumstances he was unable to disarm and gets stabbed. In real life actions and people's personality are not always consistent and a person who was genuinely a hard worker may suddenly become lazy one day for no reason and remain lazy the rest of his life (although there usually are hidden reasons for such changes in character).

 
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Alternative Title(s): Characterisation Marches On

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Phineas' Personality Change

Phineas is shown to be flat and snarky toward Candace when the series began, when in the rest of the series, he's upbeat and optimistic and doesn't care what she is up to.
This is a comparison of "Rollercoaster" and "Rollercoaster: The Musical!", showing the difference in Phineas' reaction to Candace being in charge.

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