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Divergent Character Evolution

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Not just a Palette Swap anymore.

Named after the biological phenomenon known as Divergent Evolution, where two closely related species develop wildly different traits over time. Here it means an act of Character Development wherein a character who was extremely similar to another character is given his or her own identity.

This is extremely common in video games, where characters who were originally identical to the lead (usually to allow for two-player play, or just because the lead is popular) are often given their own special abilities and personality quirks in later games. It can also happen in crossovers when two characters that were very similar in their own series are allowed to interact with each other.

Related to Derivative Differentiation. See also Belated Backstory, Cast Speciation, Not So Similar, Replacement Flat Character. Compare Characterization Marches On.



Other Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Yakko from Akazukin Cha Cha started as Chacha's Dark Action Girl counterpart in her first appearance. After that she switches from magic to alchemy.
  • Assassination Classroom: Muramatsu and Yoshida were simply just Terasaka's two lackeys, but they weren't as quirky as Terasaka. They later gain distinctive individual traits and interests; Muramatsu is a Supreme Chef and becomes more snarky, while Yoshida's interests for vehicles eventually leads to him crafting some of those. Similarly, Hazama who was also hanging a lot with the delinquent trio also has become more distinct and her interests for dark literature and dark writing is often used for some jokes.
  • In Astro Boy, Astro usually has black "hair" just like the boy he's modeled after (Tobio). In the 2003 anime, Tobio has brown hair to differentiate them more. This change also helps establish Astro more as a failed Replacement Goldfish.
  • Played straight and also zig-zagged in Battle Angel Alita Last Order. Sechs, Elf, and Zwölf start as clones of Alita/Gally in the Tuned arc of the first series, but by the time they are reunited at the start of Last Order, Elf and Zwölf have switched to more waifish bodies and Sechs has gone feral. Sechs's divergence continues when she switches to a male body, while Elf and Zwölf's similarity to Alita actually increases over time.
  • Dragon Ball Z: Nappa and Vegeta were both bloodthirsty space pirates that worked under Freeza and wanted to use the Dragon Balls to gain immortality. While the former was killed in the first saga, the latter eventually became an Anti-Hero, started a family, and discarded the chance at immortality in favor of becoming Goku's rival.
  • Dragon Ball Super:
    • As it turns out Goku Black has undergone a severe case of this. He started off as an Alternate Self of Zamasu, who was indistinguishable from all other incarnations. He then used the Super Dragon Balls to swap bodies with the Goku in his timeline, gaining the latter's desire for strong enemies and comabt in the process. By the time Future Trunks meets him, he's adopted many of Goku's mannerisms and combat techniques, even trying to pass himself off as the real Son Goku and referring to himself as such. Nevertheless, he shares two elements with other Zamasus: hatred for mortal life and a plan to reshape the universe in his image.
    • Kale, the Universe 6 Saiyan, was created due to Broly's popularity. The first time she turned Super Saiyan, she behaved like a gender-swapped Broly of Movie 10. However, this side of her slowly changed so that her berserker transformation was treated more like a Hulk-like Superpowered Evil Side blinded by rage, instead of Broly's Ax-Crazy Blood Knight personality. By the end of the series, she managed to control such power and become distinct enough in terms of moveset and character relationship compared to her inspiration.
    • No. 17 and No. 18 didn't have very distinct movesets, and such, video games would often give them some moves of the other. It isn't until the Tournament of Power where their movesets starts to differentiate from each other, as No. 17's Barrier becomes his Signature Move and has different variations of it, whereas his older twin never uses a Barrier in the entire series since her introduction in the Cell Saga. In fact, No. 18's movesets is rather generic for the series' standard.
  • In Eyeshield 21 Jumonji, Kuroki, and Togano started out as stereotypical delinquents. This didn't last, with Togano becoming an aspiring artist, Jumonji outed as a smart guy hanging out with the wrong crowd, and Kuroki remaning a typical, but friendlier, thug. Despite all being linemen, they also began to be differentiated by their abilities, with Kuroki being the fastest, Togano the strongest and Jumonji the smartest and most technically skilled.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist has Maria Ross and Denny Brosh. In their first appearance, they're mainly comic relief and thus rather similar in personality. The 2003 show delegates this role to Brosh and makes Ross more serious; it also develops her into something of a surrogate mother figure for Edward. The manga followed suit to an extent, throwing Ross into the serious portions of the plot and leaving Brosh on the sidelines.
  • Gunslinger Girl Teatrino does this to Angelica and Claes in terms of design. In the manga and original anime they both have long, blueish-black hair and blue eyes. Teatrino changed Angelica's design so that she has brown hair and green eyes.
  • In Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha, Nanoha and Fate initially functioned very similarly in combat, save that Fate had more of a preference for Melee combat due to Bardiche's Scythe Form. Starting in A's Fate began to become more of a Fragile Speedster while Nanoha continued becoming more and more of a Mighty Glacier. This trend continued in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha Strikers.
  • Migi and Dali, being about scheming twins, initially had them start out as pretty similar (and intentionally so since they're pretending to be one person). However, as time goes on they become very distinct from each other; Migi was more emotional, a bit dumb and often seemed to rely on Dali to come up with plans (but had a knack for impersonating his foster mother), while Dali tries to position himself as the older brother but has a hot temper and a Big Brother Instinct when Migi is pushed too far.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam 00 featured a replacement twin who at first appears a lot like his murdered twin older brother. This lasts about three episodes when he starts to get pissed by it and shows some people he is very different. In the end, they are not 'that' different... they have similar core personalities, but simply handle life differently starting from there. Remarked when the surviving twin kills the Blood Knight who murdered his entire family, and who his brother died trying to get revenge against - yet doesn't do it out of revenge, but because the other rejected the Last-Second Chance he gave him. Well, that and the guy was about to shoot him.
    • However, outside of piloting the same Gundam set, they had slightly different inclinations. Neal was pretty much "The Sniper" of the team and would only resort to full frontal combat in dire situations. On the other hand, Lyle was more well rounded and while he was a skilled sniper as well, he usually would eschew the rifle in the favor of his handguns. You can see this better when the third gundam, which is tailored closer to his own abilities puts more emphasis on multi-targeting over outright sniping.
  • And then there's Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Astray, where the titular Astray Frames start out as palette swaps of each other until they end up in the hands of three different pilots: hot-blooded mechanic Lowe gives his Red Frame a silly loadout of melee weapons such as katanas and a makeshift Shining Finger, cool mercenary Gai outfits the Blue Frame with a large arsenal of guns and artillery, and Big Bad Rondo customizes the Gold Frame using parts scavenged from the recently destroyed Blitz Gundam, granting it stealth and pilebunkers.
  • Sakura and Ino from Naruto were originally both depicted as rather mean Sasuke fangirls. By the end of the Forest of Death, Sakura took a huge leap in terms of character development. She became nicer, her feelings for Sasuke were developing into actual love, and she received an Important Haircut. After Ino and Sakura rekindled their friendship, Ino began behaving nicer too and eventually stopped crushing on Sasuke. By Shippuden Ino was more fashionable and upbeat than Sakura, while Sakura became more tomboyish and fought with her fists more. In-series, Sakura and Ino actually were more individual pre-series but became more bratty and similar after they learned they both liked Sasuke.
  • The twins, Homare and Misao in Okane Ga Nai. There is no way to distinguish them from one another by appearance, but over the course of the series Homare is shown to be much more emotional, and eventually he realizes he is wildly in love with Ayase.
  • The Matsuno brothers of Osomatsu-kun started out as generally similar-acting sextuplets. By the sequel series Osomatsu-san, they've all grown personalities and appearances to set themselves apart: Osomatsu becomes a bullheaded young man with an "act first, think later" mentality, Karamatsu tries acting cool to impress girls, Choromatsu finds fault with the gang's actions, Ichimatsu became apathetic and lazy, Jyuushimatsu is a ball of energy, and Todomatsu became a manipulative Social Climber. For sake of the audience, they were also Color-Coded for Your Convenience.
  • The twins Hikaru and Kaoru Hitachiin get this in Ouran High School Host Club once they realized that Haruhi could differentiate them. Kaoru becomes the more mature of the two, but is overly self sacrificing. By the time the mini arc is over, they're beginning to force themselves to grow apart by dying their hair and nearly drop the twincest act, but decide that is too much.
  • Repeatedly happened to Minako/Sailor Venus from Sailor Moon, who Usagi was originally an expy of. In the original manga, the main difference is Venus' superhero persona is much more capable and composed. Other adaptations played with these extremes. Her live-action self was made almost completely serious and sober, while The '90s animated counterpart is an outright Fruit Loop.
  • The Big Five in Yu-Gi-Oh!. Initially they're an Omniscient Council of Vagueness, with the collective goal of taking over KaibaCorp for unspecified, but undoubtedly sinister intentions. In the "Virtual Nightmare" arc, they're all given separate personalities, and objectives, and while they all share the goal of defeating Kaiba and escaping into the real world, their reasons for hating him are fleshed out, with them gaining separate backstories and motivations. Big Bad Oshita/Ganzley and Amoral Attorney Ooka/Johnson are just greedy while the latter is also a cheating coward, the rather pitiable Otaki/Crump is furious at Kaiba for mocking his penguin obsession, Ota/Nezbitt's angry about his work being disposed of and his lab destroyed, and Daimon/Leichter's The Resenter par excellence and believes that he should have inherited the company.

    Comic Books 
  • In Justice League of America, all of the characters originally came from self-contained comic books, and they all played the role of The Hero to their own supporting casts. After they united to form the Justice League, their personalities became more diversified so that they could play off of each other more effectively. Superman became more friendly and idealistic, Batman became more cold and stoic, Wonder Woman became more proud and regal, Green Lantern became more cocky and adventurous, and The Flash became more plucky and fun-loving.
  • Justice Society of America started out as a precursor to the more well-known Justice League of America. Like the League, the Society was an alliance of DC Comics' most popular superheroes, who joined together to fight evildoers too strong for just one of them. But once the Society was revived after the Justice League became a major hit, the writers had to find a new core concept for the team so that they wouldn't be too similar. They went through several different schticks over the years; first they were an alternate universe version of the Justice League, then an aging group of semi-retired superheroes, then a group of senior citizen superheroes, and then—most successfully—a multigenerational family of superheroes who united to train the next generation of heroes. In the first issue of Geoff Johns' 2007 run, Batman explicitly lays out the differences between the two of them:
    "The Justice League is a strike force. The Justice Society is a family."
  • Throughout the Silver Age, Batman's major enemies were all pretty similar to each other. Due to the standards of the times, they couldn't be much more than giggling, haughty robbers with different gimmicks. In modern times, they've gone in very different directions: the Joker is a terrifying homicidal lunatic, the Penguin is a crafty businessman and black marketer, Catwoman became a morally-ambiguous antihero, Two-Face is a tormented gangster with a split personality, Poison Ivy is a seductive ecoterrorist, Mister Freeze is a brilliant and stoic mad scientist, etc. The Riddler has struggled a bit, being a cybercriminal, a drug dealer, a private eye, or just a resentful guy trying to lash out at his former employers.
  • This occurred to the original comic book Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, who, after starting out as flat characters, eventually began developing individual traits. The 1987 cartoon differentiated them further by focusing each Turtle's characterization on a single trait, and all subsequent adaptations have taken their cues from that.
  • Green Lantern Guy Gardner started out somewhat more generic when he was first introduced as the other guy the ring could have gone to but was developed into a Jerkass when he became a regular (and then a Jerk with a Heart of Gold). Johns went to even further lengths to distinguish the various Lanterns, when he brought back Hal Jordan and the Corps, by showing how the personalities of the Lanterns affected how they used (or didn't use) their rings and what sort of constructs they built. Case in point, Rebirth goes into detail about the way Rayner, Gardner, Stewart, Jordan, and Kilowog use their rings. Stewart, being an architect, has constructs that look like a blueprint, with every individual detail within them planned out. Rayner, being an artist, often uses a construct pencil to "draw" other constructs, and the eraser construct to change details about them. Gardner's ring is literally leaking green light at all times, because "his willpower can't wait to escape". Jordan likes to go for a combination of brute force and precision, hence boxing gloves, missiles, etc. Kilowog's is the only ring among the regularly appearing characters that makes a sound, and it sounds like a cannon.
  • Robin:
    • The second Robin, Jason Todd, was originally a Suspiciously Similar Substitute for Dick Grayson, differing only in hair color and style. When the universe was revamped with Crisis on Infinite Earths, Jason was turned into a troubled juvenile delinquent.
    • The first three Robins (Dick Grayson, Jason Todd, and Tim Drake) tend to have their differences emphasized when together. Dick is the heart, Jason is the muscle, Tim is the brains.
  • In the 1980's DC introduced Deathstroke, a Badass Normal mercenary who frequently fought the Teen Titans. A few years later Marvel would introduce Deadpool, essentially an expy of Deathstroke with a slightly different costume. However, while Deathstroke has remained pretty much the same over the years, Deadpool has transformed into a fourth wall breaking cloudcuckoolander with powerful healing abilities.
  • Quicksilver and Hawkeye were arguably created as Marvel's equivalents of The Flash and Green Arrow ("If they were villains!"), but grew to be quite distinctive in their own rights. After they both underwent a Heel Face Turns and joined the Avengers, they became antiheroic superheroes with fully fleshed-out histories and character dynamics; Hawkeye's characterization was largely defined by his checkered past and his tumultuous relationship with Black Widow, and Quicksilver's characterization was largely defined by his arrogance and his troubled relationship with his father Magneto.
  • Transformers: Skywarp and Thundercracker spent a lot of time as just characters meant to fill space and be pallet swaps for Starscream. Their bios only giving them character. The IDW comics start with them just being two minions, Thundercracker slightly smarter. In The Transformers: All Hail Megatron they divide up, Thundercracker abandoning the cause, and Skywarp being more solidly devoted to it. Come TheTransformersIDW Thundercracker has pulled a Heel–Face Turn and helps the Autobots, while Skywarp tries to prove his worth as the Big Bad of Bumblebee's mini-series.
  • Shazam started out in the 1940s as "Captain Marvel", a hugely popular superhero who was inspired by and similar to Superman—to the point that National Comics (predecessor to DC Comics) sued his publisher for copyright infringement and got his series cancelled, largely because they were angry that it was outselling Superman.note  DC Comics eventually bought the rights to him, and he became a character in the DC Universe who inhabited the same continuity as Superman.note  The two characters took on their own identities after that, where Captain Marvel's stories tended to emphasize his magical origins (since he got his superpowers from a wizard), while Superman's stories emphasized his sci-fi origins (since he was born on another planet). Captain Marvel also became noticeably more innocent and optimistic (since he was a child in an adult's body), while the adult Superman became more wise and mature with age.
  • When Green Arrow started out, he was Batman, except with a Robin Hood costume and all his gadgets had arrows stuck to them instead of looking like bats. Rich playboy persona, underground cave, goofy themed car, red-clad teen sidekick, he had it all. Later books evolved him to be fairly different from Batman, highlighting Oliver Queen's "playboy" part over the "rich" part. He eventually branched into politics of all things, becoming a famously loud-spoken far-left activist, something fairly unheard of among superheroes at the time.
  • When Alpha Flight first appeared in the pages of X-Men, the twins Northstar and Aurora first appeared as Half-Identical Twins with identical mutant powers (super speed, flight, and generating blinding light when they touch), matching costumes, and being stereotypical Snooty Quebecois. But when Alpha Flight spun off into its own series, this trope was invoked in force. Northstar had long disapproved of Aurora's relationship with teammate Sasquatch, and when things came to a head, she ended their informal partnership and had Sasquatch, a geneticist, alter her powers to be distinct from her brother's to where she can generate light on her own, at the cost of her speed being slightly slower. She also designed a new costume for herself. Even though they eventually healed their rift, they remained distinct and even developed further, with Aurora being defined by her Split Personality and tumultuous romances, while Northstar came out as gay (the first mainstream superhero to do so) and having closer ties to the X-Men.
  • In the early 2000s Archie Comics tried to censor reprint issues containing Cheryl Blossom, who was a controversial character due to being very fanservicey even compared to Veronica. They created Ginger Lopez and replaced Cheryl with her. Eventually they stopped this practice but made Ginger into an individual character. This involved smoothing out her design a little bit, so her earliest appearances have a more angular look similar to Cheryl.
  • In Sonic the Comic, Amy looks less "Sonic but pink" than her initial design from Sonic CD thanks to one lil' change: her quills. Until the final arc gave her the modern bob quillstyle, Amy wore her quills upwards instead of backward like Sonic's.
  • In the first few issues of X-Men, most of the core characters were clear expies of characters from the more-popular Fantastic Four. Professor X was a fatherly scientist like Mister Fantastic, the Beast was a tough-talking brute like the Thing, Marvel Girl was an innocent young ingenue with levitation abilities like Invisible Girl, Iceman was the cocky young Plucky Comic Relief like the Human Torch (but with ice powers instead of fire powers), and Magneto was a megalomaniac super-villain with a distinctive metal helmet like Doctor Doom. But as the series gradually became more popular, most of the characters gradually developed their own unique roles and personalities: Professor X became more of a Mentor Archetype and a political activist, while his surrogate son Cyclops came into his own as the team leader; the Beast became a Badass Bookworm who uses flowery speech, even as his appearance became more bestial note ; Marvel Girl became a powerful telepath, and started going by her real name "Jean Grey"; and Magneto became a tormented Well-Intentioned Extremist who eventually redeemed himself and became an antihero.

    Comic Strips 
  • In the Over the Hedge comic, Verne used to be a lot more like RJ; you could usually swap their dialog with neither one seeming out of character. Then the cartoonists decided they needed more conflict. Today, Verne has so little in common with RJ that we wonder why Verne doesn't leave. (He does sometimes, but never for long.)

     Fan Works 
  • Ninten and Ness from MOTHER look near identical. To distinguish Ninten from his more popular expy Ness, fans redesign Ninten in fan art. Fans almost always draw Ninten wearing a handkerchief around his neck (something taken from the live action commercial for Earthbound Beginnings). Some differentiate him even more from Ness by changing the colors of his shirt (usually to red, white, and blue instead of its canon blue and yellow, which also comes from the commercial).
  • Adeleine and Ado from Kirby. Officially, it's currently ambigious wether they are the same character or not, but evidence from prior to the release of Kirby 64 makes it seem fairly clear that Adeleine was at the very least originally meant to be Ado herself. Most notably, the design used for Ado in manga adaptions looks almost exactly like Adeleine's eventual look. But these days, fans who consider them to be different characters distinguish them via the different traits their sport in Dream Land 3 and Kirby 64 respectively.

    Films — Animation 
  • In The Little Mermaid Ariel's sisters had more-or-less the same face and no known personalities. Future adaptations, such as the The Little Mermaid cartoon, licensed comics, and The Little Mermaid III: Ariel's Beginning prequel film, give them more varying designs and more individualized personalities.
  • This is even clearer in Cinderella and its sequels. In the original, Drizella and Anastasia are nearly indistinguishable, in terms of personality, except that Drizella tends to take the lead. The sequels develop this, making Drizella truly mean-spirited, but Anastasia a doormat who's been overpowered by her mother and sister all her life, and who eventually undergoes a Heel–Face Turn and full-on redemption.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Rare inverted example; In Cruel Intentions, both Kathryn and Sebastian were attractive, intelligent young people who pride themselves on their ability to bed any member of the opposite sex they choose. The two main differences between them are their sex organs and the expectations society has of them due to said organs. In the prequel Cruel Intentions 2, Sebastian is kind and considerate, and Kathryn is cold, calculating, and uses sex as a weapon; and frequently destroys other peoples lives for her own amusement or revenge. Both try to convert the other to their way of thinking, but Sebastian is broken by Kathryn and ends up becoming a male version of her.
  • In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014), the individual turtles are much more visually diverse than in any past incarnation. It goes beyond color coding their masks and weapons, to major clothing differences and physical stature.
    • Raphael is incredibly muscular compared to the other three. On top of that, his mask is a bandana fashioned like a do-rag, and he's covered in training bandages. He also has a character scarred onto his right shoulder.
    • Leonardo sports shoulder guards and other samurai style armor garments. He's also the most "average" build of the four.
    • Donatello is decked from head to shell in various gadgets, including goggles mounted on his forehead and stereotypically taped Nerd Glasses. He's also the tallest and thinnest of the brothers.
    • Michelangelo has a puka shell necklace, sneakers, and a hoodie around his waist. Even when he's serious, his general facial composition still makes him look dopey. He's also the shortest and roundest turtle.
  • Inverted in The Parent Trap. Both versions of the girls start out easily identifiable by clothing, hairstyle, hobbies and accents. While pulling off the Twin Switch to fool their parents, they modify their appearances so they look identical. They then teach each other about their relevant hobbies and behaviours, all so they can easily impersonate each other. As a result, it's very hard to tell who's who in the final part of the film.

  • In The Hunger Games Katniss' prep team starts off as basically one character. But through Catching Fire and Mockingjay, Octavia is more emotionally unstable, and Venia is slightly more level headed than the other two.
  • Originally, The Hardy Boys were fairly interchangeable from each other. Right around the time the series switched publishers in the 1970s, however, they decided to split the characters apart, making Frank much more bookish, shy, and logical, and Joe more athletic, boisterous, and impulsive.
  • Prince Tommen and Princess Myrcella Baratheon of A Song of Ice and Fire start out as Those Two Guys but the latter is revealed to be Wise Beyond Their Years when she is shipped off to Dorne.
  • Harry Potter:
    • For most of the series, Draco's friends Vincent Crabbe and Gregory Goyle are his interchangeable minions but in the last book, Crabbe turns out to be more ruthless than Draco when he defies him and actively tries to kill Harry.
    • Fred and George are an identical pair of trouble makers (and are twins to boot). In the final book, George gets an ear blown off by dark magic, making it easy to tell them apart. And then, of course, Fred dies.
      • Although, if you look closely at the scenes they're in (the clearest of which is Goblet of Fire, where we see them arguing about whether or not to blackmail Ludo Bagman), it's clear that Fred tends to take the lead, and is the more aggressive and has the shortest fuse of the two. After the series George marries Fred's ex-girlfriend Angelina.
    • Parvati and Lavender are two girls who spend their time together and don't have any defined personality traits to distinguish them. But in the sixth book, Lavender becomes Ron's clingy, dramatic girlfriend. Parvati meanwhile shows embarrassment at her best friend's Sickeningly Sweethearts behaviour.
  • Inverted in St. Clare's, where the twin protagonists, Pat and Isabel, start off as distinct individuals—with Pat being the more rebellious and outgoing of the two. As the books went on, Pat matures and becomes as responsible as her sister is. It gets to the point where, when they were both made candidates for the school's Head Girl, the teachers decide that they are both too similar to pick one from, and they end up giving the position to both Sullivans.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Starting late in the first season of Maverick, episodes started to alternate between focusing on series mainstay Bret Maverick (played by James Garner) and his brother, Bart (played by Jack Kelly). Although Bret and Bart were written identically (writers were told to always write for Garner, and the producers would later just select which character would lead due to scheduling), the actors' portrayals quickly established Bret as the fun-loving, wisecracking brother, and Bart as the more serious-minded of the two. The same process happened to a later Maverick as well, as Roger Moore played Beau Maverick as a refined gentleman, at odds with the other two brothers' portrayals, despite the character, again, being written exactly the same. As for the final Maverick brother (Robert Colbert as Brent Maverick), he only appeared in two episodes, and thus never really found a personality of his own.
  • The Cylons of Battlestar Galactica started out mass-produced, with each model line sharing an identical personality. By the end of the series, the models most sympathetic to humans, especially the Sixes and Eights, had diverged to having unique identities (and even names for the Sixes). Meanwhile the antagonistic models such as the Cavils (Ones), Dorals (Fives), and Simons (Fours) remained monolithic and identical.
  • In Farscape, main character John Crichton was split into two identical beings (not cloned- the original Crichton was transformed into two Crichtons, each with an equal claim to being the "real" John Crichton), who were distinguished only by the colour of their shirts. The crew split up into two groups on two different ship, each one taking a Crichton with them. The groups were separate for almost a whole season, and the two Crichtons lived different lives and developed different personalities, and one of them died. This was symbolised by them playing an endless game of rock-paper-scissors when they were first split, and constantly tying, but when the crew reunited, they played one last round (the survivor against a recording of the dead one), and finally broke the tie.
  • On Stargate Atlantis, the Wraith started off being interchangeable, down to all the male ones being played by James Lafazanos and all the female ones being played by Andee Frizzell. The only exceptions were when more than one Wraith was on-screen at a time. Eventually, Friendly Enemy "Todd" (Christopher Heyerdahl) and Jerkass Woobie "Michael" (Connor Trinneer) came out of the literally nameless mass.
  • In early episodes of 30 Rock, Grizz and Dot Com were pretty much just a pair of dim-witted bulkheads who follow Tracy around. Now Grizz is an emotional soul and Dot Com is a well-spoken Smart Guy. Their initial lack of characterisation can be put down to no-one ever paying attention to them, which remains a Running Gag.
  • Brittany and Santana on Glee start out as Quinn's interchangeable minions (Brittany in particular had next to no lines and was basically a prop), with the occasional throwaway line about them secretly having sex. Over the course of the series however, the two gained distinctive personalities of their own: Brittany a Brainless Beauty but a Lovable Alpha Bitch, openly bisexual, and one of the two best dancers in the Glee club; and Santana became one of the best singers in the group, as well as a Spicy Latina and Lipstick Lesbian whose gayngst was perhaps the most beloved storyline of the third season. And their relationship went from a minor running gag to being fully explored. After Finn's death, they became the show's Beta Couple behind Kurt and Blaine.
  • In The Big Bang Theory, Amy was introduced as a Distaff Counterpart to Sheldon, more or less exactly like him in every way. As the show progressed Amy began to spend time with Penny, became her "Bestie", and began to open up socially, revealing a lonely and troubled childhood responsible for how she is, and developing normal desires for attention and romance from Sheldon that eventually lead to him declaring them an Official Couple.
  • At the beginning of The O.C. Summer and Holly were distingushable only by hair colour, both being vapid, self absorbed party girls who happened to be friends of Marissa. Summer grew more likeable, became a main character and hooked up with Seth. Holly had an affair with Marissa's boyfriend and was quickly Put on a Bus after the cheating was revealed. This is actually Lampshaded by the show in the "The Chrismukk-huh?" where see an alternate universe where Summer continued to be friends with Holly rather than going through Character Development. It is not a pretty picture.
  • In Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Agents Fitz and Simmons were originally treated as near-identical quirky British lab techs. In fact, in the series premiere they were first referred to as "Fitz-Simmons" and it was only later clarified to the audience that they are in fact two separate people. Their only major differences at first were gender, place of birth, and specialty, with Leo Fitz being a Scottish male engineer and Dr. Jemma Simmons an English female biochemist. Over the course of the first season more differences crop up; with Fitz being a Cowardly Lion and having a crush on Simmons but not being able to say so, while Simmons is a bit of a Nightmare Fetishist but a horrible liar. The second season has split them up and put them in different situations several times, and by the time they admit their love and become a couple in the third season, they have both adequately evolved into separate characters.
  • The Worst Witch:
    • Fenella and Griselda are Those Two Guys. In the first few episodes, Griselda seems to be more snarky while Fenella is more caring. This difference is dropped quickly, and both become Cool Big Sises to the first years.
    • Ruby and Jadu were the Token Minority characters in the Five-Man Band without too much to distinguish them. As the show went on, Ruby's love of modern conveniences was expanded on to make her something of a Gadgeteer Genius. Jadu doesn't get the same development, but does show herself to be a great motivational speaker more than once.
  • When Laverne and Shirley were introduced on Happy Days, they were both tough-talking blue-collar women with no real difference in personality. When the characters got their own Spin-Off, the writers made Laverne a tomboy and Shirley a "girly girl."

  • John Frusciante of the Red Hot Chili Peppers was initially a clone of the man he was replacing, Hillel Slovak. It's especially evident in live performances from the Mother's Milk period, where he nails the old funk-punk songs perfectly (he had been an RHCP fan since the first album and learnt all their songs). However, he had melodic traits which developed over time. Rick Rubin encouraged the band to utilise them, paying off when Frusciante wrote the ballad "Under The Bridge", the band's biggest hit ever. During a period of time away from the band, in which he was addicted to heroin and cocaine, he created some extremely odd, dark and trippy solo music, which was mostly acoustic and not performed with a band. Some of this style, though raw, laid the blueprint for RHCP's own musical evolution into an alternative rock band, notably the ballad "Femininity". When Frusciante returned to the band, he fed some of this dark and melodic playing style into the album Californication, notably in such tracks as "Otherside". Frusciante's next album "To Record Only Water For Ten Days" featured synth textures and drum machine, and an entirely melodic collection of songs. It went over well with the band and producer Rick Rubin, and the style of next album By The Way evolved directly from "To Record Only Water"'s atmospheric qualities, and the full band style of By The Way fed back into John's solo album "Shadows Collide With People". Frusciante, however, kept experimenting over the years, surprising fans with his Letur-Lefr EP and subsequent releases, which were electronic based and didn't feature as much guitar or vocals, to the point where his current style is considerably distinct to the style he created with RHCP that is still their trademark. Unsurprisingly, he has no interest in returning to the band, something which a lot of fans fail to accept.
    • His replacement (and previous solo collaborator), Josh Klinghoffer, seems to be going in the opposite direction - when he started, he was trying to emulate John's melodic style, but over time, he has shown such a knowledge of RHCP's funk back catalogue that fans hope he will steer them back into that direction.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • Many people who debut as a tag team start very similar to each other but break apart and start developing their own personalities and move sets, see Shawn Michaels and the Marty Jannetty, Matt Hardy and Jeff Hardy, Sting and Ultimate Warrior, and Edge and Christian. Usually doesn't happen in the case of identical twins, though.
  • Inverted in the case of twins Dave and highly prolific referee Earl Hebner. Dave Hebner was the assigned official for an explosive 1988 rematch of the legendary Hulk Hogan vs. André the Giant title match from the previous year's WrestleMania III. But unbeknownst to Hogan, André's manager Ted DiBiase had bribed an unknown to get plastic surgery to look like Hebner (in the unknown's role was Earl Hebner. Earl and Dave are identical twins, so this was easy to pull off). In Dave's place in the ring (while Dave was locked in a closet backstage), Earl played the Evil Twin, counting a clearly invalid pinfall against Hogan. Although the twin referee angle was thoroughly explored in WWF Magazine, it was very quickly dropped though due to Dave suffering an injury. Earl would later become a normal "good guy" referee like his brother.
  • When Angel Williams and ODB first met in IWA Mid-South, the two were very close in size and body type, even closer in wrestling style. As the years went on both got implants but Angel became skinnier and accordingly a lot more methodical and vicious while ODB became wilder and rougher to the point the cross body catch was about the only thing they had in common by the time they were helping to found TNA's knockouts division.
  • The Bella Twins's initial act was as a pair of identical sisters who looked, wrestled and acted the same (so they could pull off a Twin Switch). As of 2013, Nikki had gotten breast implants and started powerlifting to give herself Amazonian Beauty in contrast to Brie's waifier frame. Total Divas established Brie as a level-headed, hard-drinking Granola Girl, and Nikki as a passionate lover of high fashion and expensive gifts. Ring-wise, Nikki came to wrestle a more power-based offence and Brie opted for more aerial moves.
  • Bullet Club and The Kingdom were coincidentally similar in that the were both heel power stables who frequently did homages to older acts(nWo and DX for the former, CM Punk and Hardy Boyz for the latter). However, before the Club made it to ROH, they lost Prince Devitt and replaced him with AJ Styles, a wrestler the fans had all but given up on seeing in ROH again. After his successful IWGP Heavyweight Title Defense at War Of The Worlds, Styles would be attacked without provocation by Kingdom leader Adam Cole, who incidentally was the one member most unlike anyone in Bullet Club at the time, and be saved by Hiroshi Tanahashi and Jushin Thunder Liger, giving Styles strong association with established baby faces and allowing the rest of the Club to collectively Heel–Face Turn in ROH as they went on to support Styles as he sought retribution against Cole and inevitably ran into the rest of The Kingdom.
  • The Beautiful Fierce Females were a Terrible Trio of vain Alpha Bitches with no traits to distinguish them. Summer Rae eventually morphed into an air-headed bimbo who could only get fluke wins. Charlotte was the first of the group to make a Heel–Face Turn into Good Is Not Nice - acknowledging many of her challengers as Worthy Opponents. Sasha Banks meanwhile became far more ruthless and sadistic, while also adopting a rhinestone-loving ghetto girl persona.

    Video Games 
  • Super Mario Bros.:
    • Luigi is the former Trope Namer. He was originally a Palette Swap of his brother Mario created for multiplayer, and identical to him in every way. Since then, Luigi's become taller and more slender than his brother and he has a different gameplay style, being able to jump higher at the cost of low-traction. Their personalities have drifted apart as well; Mario eventually developed into a Hot-Blooded adventurous type, while Luigi became more reserved, developing a second-banana complex, a fear of ghosts, and a tendency towards bad luck. He is also said to harbor dark secrets and hidden resentment. Some fans prefer Luigi to the perceived squeaky-clean Mario for this reason. Luigi's development into a different character started with the US version of Super Mario Bros. 2 (a re-skin of the Japan-only Doki Doki Panic). Because Doki Doki Panic featured multiple characters with differing abilities, rather than a Color-Coded Multiplayer, Luigi was given a taller look to distinguish him from Mario and received the high-jump ability originally belonging to the Mama character. While Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario World had Luigi back to being just Mario in green during gameplay, his official art used the tall design and when Mario 3 and Mario World got updated graphics for Super Mario All-Stars, Luigi got his taller and thinner design back.
    • Daisy was so similar to Princess Peach in her original appearance that many fans assumed she was the same character. (The movie doesn't help the confusion, either.) Daisy has since been split off into a more tomboyish cowgirl portrayal, especially shown in games such as Mario Strikers. She's also become a potential love interest for Luigi. Daisy was originally nearly a palette swap of Peach, with the only exception of being redesigned for the Nintendo 64 era to have slightly tanned skin while Peach was fair skinned. By Mario Party 4 and later, Daisy's skin became fair like Peach's again, but Daisy's hair was shortened to neck length, she received a different hairstyle, a wider face, a brand new voice actor in Mario Golf: Toadstool Tour, and her eyes were made larger in comparison to Peach's eyes. Her body frame was also changed to look chubbier than Peach's in Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash.
    • Another example from the Mario series is the Koopalings Lemmy and Iggy. While the two looked rather similar in earlier games, Iggy's appearance in New Super Mario Bros. Wii has him looking... well, like this. It's also notable that Iggy seems to have apparently gone insane... Well, more insane...
    • Wario was once simply an evil Mario, but has since become more of a greedy Anti-Hero.
    • Goombas were given an odd change in appearance and behavior in Super Mario World. These Goombas would eventually be renamed to Galoomba and would occasionally appear in future games alongside the original Goombas. This is a Dub-Induced Plot Hole being fixed as they were always different in Japan.
  • Super Smash Bros.:
    • This trope's original name, "Luigification," came from Smash Bros. fandom, referring to Luigi becoming less of a Mario Moveset Clone between the original Super Smash Bros. 64 and Super Smash Bros. Melee. Naming it after Luigi was very fitting even ignoring Smash Bros., as noted above.
    • In Super Smash Bros. Brawl, the characters that were clones in Melee got more of this to the point that there are no true clones in Brawl; there are only semi-clones. This continued onward into Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U, with Dr. Mario becoming more of a Mighty Glacier compared to Mario than in Melee, while retaining similar (but not the same) movesets. Roy also received significant changes when he was released as DLC, gaining a different stance and attack animations from Marth and turning him into a true Lightning Bruiser.
    • In Brawl, Giga Bowser, as Bowser's Final Smash, had all of the same moves, just made significantly more powerful. In for 3DS/Wii U, Bowser has been redesigned to be closer to his appearance in the main Mario series, with many of his moves changed to make him less bestial and more agile; Giga Bowser, on the other hand, remains exactly the same as in Brawl, the contrast further accentuating his monstrous, feral nature.
    • The effects of character evolution can be seen clearly in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, which branded Moveset Clones as "Echo Fighters". Characters that were blatant clones in for 3DS/Wii U and hadn't had time to diverge from the originals, Lucina and Dark Pit, were reclassified as Echoes of those originals; while those that had diverged continued to be considered separate characters.
  • Street Fighter:
    • Ryu and Ken originally played the exact same way in Street Fighter I. They have since been differentiated in both moveset and characterization. Although they are both use the same fighting style, Ryu is now a Hadoken specialist and usually fights defensively, while Ken is more aggressive and prefers the Shoryuken. The divergence got a lot bigger in Street Fighter V. While Ryu is relatively close to how he was in previous games, Ken went through some radical changes, utilizing a much more aggressive moveset and V-Trigger compared to Ryu. He also no longer wears his trademark gi, which only drives the point further. Similarly, Nash plays nothing like he did in the Alpha series, thus diverging himself from a Guile clone.
    • Street Fighter III introduced twin brothers Yun and Yang. Originally, they played identically (to the point that they shared the same slot in the player select screen; you'd select Yang with a kick button), but in 2nd Impact, Yun and Yang were officially made into separate characters with different Special Moves and Super Arts.
  • Soul Series:
    • Siegfried and Nightmare had their movesets almost entirely differentiated in III after being nearly identical in the first game and different costumes for the same character in the second.
    • In III, Amy (making her debut as a playable character), Li Long and Hwang Seong-Gyeong (returning) had the generic create-a-character Rapier, Nunchaku and Chinese Sword movesets; thus they had far fewer moves than normal characters, were largely semi clones of Raphael, Maxi, and Yun-Seong, respectively, and aside from Hwang had no side throws. In SCIII: Arcade Edition, the three were shifted into more intricate arcade-worthy characters. This served as the last time that Li Long and Hwang were playable, while the loss of the create-a-character specific weapon disciplines in IV meant that Amy had nothing to be compared to.
      • Zig-zagging the trope, Li Long and Hwang's appearances in Soulcalibur IV and Broken Destiny's Quick Match mode have them use the same moves as their replacements Maxi and Yun-seong respectively.
    • As an inversion, because the create-a-character classes were different enough from the originals for them to be missed in Soulcalibur IV/V's create-a-modes. Many fans of III were pissed that their characters had to fight the exact same way as the main cast.
    • Lizardman was almost entirely a clone of Sophitia in his first appearance, only evolving as the series went on. Later he'd get a more animalistic style, including a crawl stance. In V, he ditched the shield entirely for two axes.
    • Kilik and Seong Mi-na were very similar at first, but they evolved into two different characters, although still sharing some moves, as time went on. The true point was Soulcalibur VI, where Seong Mi-na gains many unique moves and even inherits moves from Xiba in V, making them play little like each other apart from their base weapon.
  • WarCraft:
    • Orcs and Humans were pretty identical in the first two games, but in Warcraft III, humans are the Jack-of-All-Stats while orcs have powerful but expensive units and weak magic.
    • In Warcraft II, the two races were identical in every aspect, except their respective Magic Knights (Paladin and Ogre-mage) and true mages (Mage and Death Knight) had different spells. The Orcs had most of the advantage with Bloodlust over Healing, but Mages had some tricks up their sleeve in the late-game with Invisibility and Polymorph.
  • World of Warcraft
    • The Shaman and the Paladin class both inverted and played this straight. The Shaman was originally Horde-only, just as the Paladin was Alliance exclusive. While both classes are Magic Knights, the problem was that they functioned in entirely different manners and it turned out to be a pain to balance out. They tried several things, including making the two classes more and more similar. This was not really liked (particularly as the classes have very different functions outside of buffing), and the first expansion gave both factions access to them, the Alliance gaining Draenei shamans and the Horde getting Blood Elf paladins. They were then free to start their divergent evolution without worrying about wrecking the faction power balance.
    • The sixth expansion to the game, Legions, plans on overhauling many of the class specializations so they stand out more. One of the best examples is the Rogue class specializations ("specs" for short). Before, all three specs were more-or-less the same (Subtlety relied on Stealth a bit more than the other two, Assassination used poisons sometimes, Combat was some sort of weird jack-of-all-trades). In Legions, Subtlety was revamped to focus even more on Stealth, even using the shadows themselves to attack the enemy. Assassination focused on heavy bleeding and poisoning to drain the life out of their targets. Combat was renamed "Outlaw" and eschewed Stealth almost entirely (Ambush is pretty much their only Stealth-attack), focusing more on cheap shots and dirty tricks, including bringing a gun to a knife fight and literally bribing an enemy with (fool's) gold so he fights as an ally for a short time.
    • Hunters are also being heavily differentiated in Legions. Beast Mastery is still classic Hunter, combining ranged attacks with your loyal attack animal, but Survival Hunters get rid of most of the ranged attacks, preferring to grab a melee weapon and fight right next to his/her pet. Marksmanship Hunters can skip having a pet entirely, and emphasize ranged attacks, focusing on high-damage sniping.
    • Gnomes were originally nothing more than shorter Dwarves with different class options, until the lead-up to Cataclysm finally gave them some focus by making the liberation of their lost capital city Gnomeregan a major in-game event. Post-Cata, Gnomes were given their own starting area, New Tinkertown (the reclaimed portions of Gnomeregan, named after the Gnomish district in the Dwarven capital Ironforge), and with Goblins becoming a playable race for the Horde, greater emphasis is placed on their rivalry.
  • In the Star Fox series, all of Fox's wingmen were pretty much the same at the beginning, other than in personality. This was changed in the unreleased Star Fox 2, which allowed you to choose your character, with each flying a different ship with different properties. It reverted back in Star Fox 64, where you could only play as characters other than Fox in multiplayer, and that being a purely cosmetic choice. Things stayed that way until Star Fox: Assault, which gave the players different stats on the ground (health, running speed, accuracy with weapons) and different strengths in vehicles (Falco was the best Arwing pilot, Slippy was the best Landmaster driver, Fox was a Jack-of-All-Stats, etc.). Star Fox Command took things even further and finally incorporated the different ships choices from Star Fox 2.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • In Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Sonic and Tails played the same way. Starting with Sonic the Hedgehog 3, Tails was given his own play style (he is unable to use the shield power-ups as double jumps, but gains a limited flying ability). Tails' play style has gotten to the point of being unrecognizable in some of the more recent games, most memorably walking in a mecha in Sonic Adventure 2.
    • Also, Shadow in Sonic the Hedgehog (2006). His techniques went from being very similar to Sonic in Sonic Adventure 2 and Sonic Heroes to a different style. However, the fact that he became slower could raise different questions.
    • Sonic Generations has a variation involving stages. Seaside Hill was originally a complete throwback to Green Hill Zone, having palm trees and checkered soil, but since Green Hill Zone has reappeared playing up those elements, Seaside Hill in Generations plays up the ruins and water aspect more and even adding underwater elements.
    • Amy was originally a spunky but sweet girl. After Cream was introduced in Sonic Advance 2 less focus was put on Amy being The Heart and more emphasis was put on her spunk and attitude. This ended up flanderizing her into being more a temperamental Bratty Half-Pint than she originally was. Cream took over as the sweet little girl of the franchise. With time this was reversed. After Sonic Generations more emphasis was put on Amy's nice side and her energy was dialed down, while Cream was Demoted to Extra.
    • When reintroduced in Sonic Generations, Classic Sonic was simply Sonic as a child. By Sonic Forces he is a completely separate Sonic from a parallel dimension. He's also differentiated from his Modern design by being a Heroic Mime.
  • Inverted in the F-Zero series. The series originally featured four characters with markedly different play styles, but as the cast expanded to include Loads and Loads of Characters, those original four have drifted to the middle, becoming little more than mildly differentiated Jacks of All Stats.
  • In The King of Fighters, Kyo and Iori, like Ryu and Ken, were essentially clones of each other in their original appearance, but their gameplay styles began to diverge as times went by: Kyo lost his fireball and gained more powerful normal moves while Iori became quicker and more mobile.
    • And then, by The King of Fighters XII, Iori had lost his fire powers completely, while Kyo pretty much lost his fiery "Rekka-style" moves and had regained his fireball... (Though in XIII, the Rekka-style Kyo and Flames Iori are available as DLC alongside the more "classic" Kyo and the flameless Iori.)
    • Even more so, Clark and Ralf from the same series (working for an actual honest-to-gosh Colonel Badass, Heidern) start as nearly identical wrestler/brawler characters, but over the years have differentiated so that Ralf has more punching-based "brawling" special moves and fewer and less-effective command throws (although still more than the average character) and Clark has become almost a pure wrestler, with more throws and almost no other special moves. At the same time, their personalities were distinguished, with Clark being the quiet, sensitive, friendly guy and Ralf being quite the Boisterous Bruiser. They are both still complete badasses, of course, and compared to the rest of the cast, effectively Badass Normals.
    • The same goes for Mature and Vice, Rugal's Sexy Secretaries who made the jump to playable status as members of Iori's team in KOF '96. While they already had clear signs of differentiation from the beginning (Mature is a speed-based character, Vice is a grappler), every appearance of theirs since then (excluding XIII due to the shift to redrawn, HD sprites) has furthered the gap.
  • Ryo Sakazaki and his best buddy Robert Garcia, the Ryu and Ken analogues of Art of Fighting, have this as part of their backstory. Ryo's principle of Kyokugen Karate, while well-balanced, seems to have a slight emphasis on punching and striking techniques, whereas Robert's style focuses on kicks. Note that this difference was established well before Ken would start incorporating a larger repertoire of kicks into his moveset in later iterations of Street Fighter.
  • In Super Robot Wars Alpha, the player built up their own character by selecting genders, choosing a face (from four males and four females), giving them names, and adding a personality (Cool, Shy, Weird, or Hot-Blooded) and accompanying voice. The Super Robot Wars Original Generation sub-series combined these factors and fleshed them out into the characters Kusuha Mizuha, Brooklyn "Bullet" Luckfield, Rio Mei Long, Ryoto Hikawa, Leona Garstein, Tasuku Shinguji, Yuuki Jaggar, and Ricarla "Carla" Borgnine (which were the default names associated with each character archetype/gender combination).
    • Alpha 2 and 3 then adopted the Kusuha and Bullet characters as the canon heroes of Alpha (with the "player" and main character assumed to have been Kusuha) and developed them even further, taking their story and character development to appropriate extremes.
    • It's worth noting that Super Robot Wars 4 did this, as well. However, only two of the eight "standard" characters (those being Irmgult "Irm" Kazahara and Ring Mao) have been included in Original Generation at this time. As a Mythology Gag, in OG (and their cameos in Alpha) they're significantly older than they were in the games they first appeared in, and instead of being a standard couple as per 4 and its re-releases, they bicker Like an Old Married Couple.
  • Elves in Dragon Age: Origins were short humans with pointed ears. In Dragon Age II, the elves have acquired a much more distinct facial structure and a cultural preference for going barefoot (compare Marethari in Origins to Marethari in DA2).
  • Metal Slug is a very well known case of progressive Divergent Character Evolution. In the first game, Tarma is basically just a Palette Swap of Marco, who even had the same death scream as him. In 2, although Fio is not an exact Palette Swap of Eri, she also has the same death scream as her. In X and 3, every character had a different death scream at last, and was given some backstory. And finally, in 6, they were completely differentiated by being given different in-game abilities.
  • Virtua Fighter's Sarah and Jacky Bryant have very similar fighting styles at first. Throughout the sequels however, they have developed far different fighting styles and backstories over the course of five games. Sarah's official fighting style has been changed from Jeet Kune Do to just Martial Arts (or more specifically, what the Japanese definition of the English term "Martial Arts").
  • In a very odd bit of differentiation mixup, the Dead or Alive series features the extended ninja sub-plot playing itself out in the characters' fighting styles as well. Kasumi and Ayane, the game's Bash Brothers pair, are similar in fighting style, though with differences: Kasumi's moves set up follow-up combos far more easily, while Ayane is greased lightning with lots of very fast but proportionately weaker strikes. Hayabusa, Kasumi's bodyguard and friend, shares some of her moves, but is slightly more powerful than either for sheer hit potential and has more grappling techniques. Hayate, Kasumi's brother, first appeared in Dead or Alive 2 as Ein, an amnesiac, featuring a similar fighting style to Kasumi, but with much more emphasis on punishing single hits and short combos, though he kept some of the acrobatics. Then Dead or Alive 3 introduced Hitomi, his training partner during his amnesiac phase who is a pure karate practitioner as opposed to Hayate's karate/ninjutsu hybrid, and is slightly harder hitting and faster than him, but much more linear, lacking Hayate's jumping abilities.
    • Definitively Leon and Bayman. Bayman was in the first Dead or Alive, but was replaced by Leon in Dead or Alive 2. They retained their similarities in Dead or Alive 3, where they both appeared, but in Dead or Alive 4, Bayman has gained a bit more speed to his moves, while Leon retains a more powerful strike potential, and Spartan Nicole-458 uses their shared Russian Sabo style as a skeleton upon which the rest of her unique style was built up from.
    • This is fairly common in Dead or Alive, as much research was put into replicating the fighting styles of the individual characters from real life martial arts. As such, fighting arts with common roots often show it quite well.
  • Super Double Dragon differentiated Billy's and Jimmy's fighting styles by giving them different basic moves, giving Billy the faster attacks and Jimmy the stronger ones. No other Double Dragon game attempted to give the Lee brothers different moves besides the iPhone version and the two fighting games.
  • The all-girl fighting series Variable Geo has done this exactly twice. Initially, Yuka and Chiho played very similarly to one another, with the only real difference between them being their differently animated special moves. However, as the series went on, Chiho developed into more of a Glass Cannon by playing up her ninja-ness and giving her new abilities while Yuka remained largely the same balanced character. When Yuka was sidelined for a later game's story mode, she was replaced with Tamao, an Ascended Hero-Worshipper who copied all of Yuka's moves. The following game had them diverge by once again keeping Yuka more or less the same, while turning Tamao into a borderline Joke Character who botched her attacks and had to improvise on the fly to stay in the game.
  • The original Konami Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Arcade Game tried to balance the characters: Raphael is the fastest (but with the shortest range), Michelangelo is the strongest (but slowest), Donatello has the most range (but is the weakest) and Leonardo is the second in all attributes. The later games had Raph becoming the strongest and Mike the fastest, as it fits their personalities more.
  • In Raiden and its sequels, the red Raiden (1P) and blue Raiden (2P) play identically except in Raiden DX, in which the two ships differ in which axis they move faster along (Red is faster vertically, Blue is faster horizontally). In Raiden Fighters, the two ships are significantly different; the red Raiden (Raiden mk-II) uses the toothpaste laser and a delayed-detonation bomb for its weapons, while the blue one (Raiden mk-II Beta) uses missiles, spread shots with no rapid-fire capability, and a weak cluster bomb.
  • In early versions of Akatsuki Blitzkampf, Adler was a palette swap of Elektrosoldat, but when he was turned into his own character his moves got radically different inputs and properties. Similarly, in the arcade version Perfecti is no longer a palette swap of Mycale - she is instead an entirely different character with no shared moves.
  • Hurdy used to be a Palette Swap version of the Mooglings in Final Fantasy XII. In Final Fantasy Tactics A2, he takes off his hat and had his own unique clothing, along with his other Moogling brothers Sorbet and Horne.
  • The first Twisted Metal's character roster contained a dune buggy called Pit Viper which spat out acid blobs as a special attack. However, when the time came for the sequel, instead of repeating the same move (projectiles were extremely common as it stood), they gave it a new one (a jump-based slamming attack) to differentiate it more from other vehicles, and they also redid its color scheme, calling the vehicle Grasshopper from then on.
  • Fire Emblem:
    • In what may be a shocking discovery for recent Fire Emblem fans, in the first game the Fragile Speedster Pegasus Knights promoted into the Mighty Glacier Dragon/Wyvern Rider class, making the latter simply an upgrade of the former (and just as dodgy). Eventually Genealogy of Holy War put an end to this madness by making them different classes, albeit the previous game started this process by giving Pegasi a decent Resistance (Magic Defense) stat that they lost when promoting (this also applies to the remake of the first game).
    • Character-specific example: In the original versions of Marth's games, axe fighters Bord and Cord had identical portraits. The remakes give them much more distinct appearances, and the same was done for Dolph and Macellan.
  • Mortal Kombat:
    • The series was infamous for having several Palette Swap characters. It started with Scorpion and Sub Zero—same sprite, same basic moves, different special moves, different standing animations. Then they added Reptile as a hidden boss—the same sprite, only green, and with both Sub-Zero's and Scorpion's special moves. Several sequels and home versions later, there were eight palette swapped male ninjas, four palette swapped female ninjas, and three palette swapped cyborg ninjas. Once the games became 3D, all characters were each given a unique model and, since they were no longer sharing the same digitized sprites, they could have different basic moves. Appearance-wise, the two most drastic changes were making Reptile more animalistic and giving Ermac a floating stance and mummy-like costume.
    • In Mortal Kombat 4, Jarek and Tanya were Suspiciously Similar Substitutes of Kano and Kitana, respectively. The two older Kombatants were Dummied Out when Executive Meddling demanded more new characters. While Tanya has always been distinct by having a more acrobatic fighting style compared to Kitana's punches and fan-slashes, Jarek was nothing but a Moveset Clone of Kano, right down to possessing Eye Beams despite not having a cybernetic eye. His only unique ability was his signature Rhino Stomp, but even that was most likely meant as a new move for Kano. It took until Armageddon for Jarek to reappear with a new moveset consisting of lasso attacks in order to stand out.
  • Done with several boss characters in Tekken:
    • Kunimitsu was initially a gender-neutral Palette Swap of Yoshimitsu, but in the second game was clearly modeled as female and given a slightly different moveset. The first Tekken Tag Tournament uses her Tekken 2 persona and moves with a few additional touches, but in Tekken Tag Tournament 2 she was given a brand new move set that differentiates her from Yoshimitsu.
    • Jin started as a Suspiciously Similar Substitute for his father Kazuya, but with a few moves from his mother Jun (who was also absent). Jin got his own fighting style when Kazuya came back in 4.
    • Anna started out as what amounted to an alternative costume for her sister Nina. Nowadays Anna has an almost entirely different moveset, and some of the moves she still shares with Nina have been given a personal twist. Notably, she was only included in Tekken 3 at the last minute, whereas other clone characters weren't, which meant they significantly changed her moves from that point on.
    • In the first two games Lee was a clone of Marshall Law with the occasional special move. From Tekken Tag Tournament onward, he grew to be a more distinctive character with better combos.
    • Jack and P-Jack had the same moves in the first Tekken game, although P-Jack was more powerful and looked cooler. In the second, P-Jack can fly whereas Jack-2 can't. This was carried over to Gun Jack and all the Jacks afterwards, as well as being retroactively applied to Jack-2 when he appeared in Tekken Tag Tournament.
      • In the first game, Jack, P. Jack, Kuma and Ganryu used almost entirely the same moveset. This was expanded slightly in Tekken 2, giving them individual special moves, but they still had a lot of the core moves. P. Jack notably introduced his flight ability. Tekken 3 sought to resolve the similarities by getting rid of clone characters, so it removed Ganryu, only included one Jack (Gun Jack) who had P. Jack's introduced moves, and introduced Kuma's son, who can't hit as hard as the original Kuma and has some comedy special moves, as well as his clone, Panda. Ganryu was absent from Tekken 4 as well but had an updated moveset when he returned in Tekken 5. Also in Tekken 5, Kuma and Ganryu were both given different punch moves to differentiate them from Jack-5. By Tekken Tag Tournament 2 you can play as all four and they are all sufficiently different.
    • In Tekken 4, Miharu Hirano once shared the moveset of her friend Ling Xiayou. It's not until Tekken Tag Tournament 2 where she finally becomes her own character and different moveset variations. Not to mention that she got Progressively Prettier.
  • Metal Gear Solid 2's Raiden starts out playing identically to Snake. It isn't until the very end of the game that he gets the sword that allows him to showcase his Implausible Fencing Powers, which Snake doesn't possess. His switch from being a gameplay clone of Snake to having his own play style is actually part of the plot.
  • Mega Man X3 gave Zero his first playable appearance, where he played like X but with a Beam Saber upgrade (which X could gain later in the game). In the next game, Zero traded his Z Buster style for a purely close range style to completely distance himself from his partner.
    • X7, with Axl's debut appearance. Aside from his Copy, dodge, hovering and a couple of different guns, Axl was very similar to X in style and how he used enemy weapons. X8 modified Axl's play style: he retained his Copy, dodge and hover moves, while getting the unique ability to aim his gun in the eight cardinal directions (though he had to stand/hover in one place while firing, unlike X). For each boss defeated, he instead received a new gun that fired projectiles based on a secondary attack each boss used, with different looks and properties from X's, and without needing weapon energy to boot.
  • Mega Man Battle Network contains an interesting example that applies to the series as a whole. One of the basic concepts behind BN was the idea of a divergent timeline where Dr. Light turned to network technology rather than robotics. This idea informed the series up until Battle Network 4, which introduced an alternate version of Classic Mega Man character Duo... problem is, Duo shouldn't have had an alternate version, since he's from outer space. From then on, Battle Network was less and less informed by the Classic series, and its sequel Spin-Off, Mega Man Star Force, didn't even bother to look back.
  • Happens in the Sengoku Basara series with Matsu and Kasuga. Both formerly used Kenshin and Sasuke's movesets before gaining their own in the second game. Similarly, a few NPCs who used polearms merely had copies of either Toshie or Shingen's movesets before actually getting their own.
  • In Rhythm Heaven for the GBA, the Space Dancers and Cosmo Dancers were interchangeable, the Cosmo Dancers only representing a higher difficulty level. In the DS version, both sets of dancers received minor redesigns and hobbies, with the Space Dancers being the focus of the Rhythm Rally games and the Cosmo Dancers being the focus of the Space Soccer games.
  • The original Parodius for the MSX gave its characters different personalities, but they all used the Gradius moveset. Parodius Da! did give Vic Viper, Octopus, Twinbee and Pentarou each a different moveset.
  • When Marvel vs. Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes came out, this trope came into play with Iron Man and War Machine (who debuted in the previous game as a palette swap of the former). Originally, War Machine had a very similar moveset, with one extra special move (a ducking laser) and one extra Hyper. However, even with that game, there was a secret palette swap (Hyper Armor War Machine) that used missiles for his special attacks instead of lasers. So when Iron Man and War Machine were used in the same game, they went with his alternate missile-heavy moveset for War Machine while keeping Iron Man's original laser-heavy moveset.
  • In Battletoads and Battletoads and Double Dragon, the toads all played the same, and while large sprites and artwork gave them individual designs, their in-game sprites were just recolors. Battletoads in Battlemaniacs gave them different combos and finishing moves (though they still functioned the same) and their sprites now reflected the different designs from the artwork. The arcade game took this even further with by making Rash a Fragile Speedster, Zitz a Jack-of-All-Stats, and Pimple a Mighty Glacier, all with their own moves.
    • Similarly initially all the toads used the same transformations, mostly blunt objets like ram horns, boots, and wrecking balls. Battlemaniacs gave them individual themes, with Rash prefering razor sharp weapons like axes and claws, while Pimple took the bludgeoning techniques Up to Eleven using anvils and stone fists. When the arcade game came in, Zitz used his greater intellect to create technology like bulldozers and power drills.
  • In the original Valkyrie Profile, Lenneth was the only playable valkyrie, so there was no need to set her apart from her sisters. She could use swords and bows in battle. Hrist appears as an enemy in the game as well, but she's just a Palette Swap of Lenneth, with black armor and hair and a red Nibelung Valesti. In the second game, all three valkyries are playable. Lenneth loses her ability to use bows, and they become the weapon of choice for Silmeria. Hrist uses spears in battle, a weapon that Lenneth couldn't use at all in the first game. All three sisters use swords for Nibelung Valesti, though.
  • The Materials of the Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's Portable games. When they were originally introduced as a trio of Evil Twins in The Battle of Aces, they were basically Palette Swaps of the three Aces except with different stats. When they returned in The Gears of Destiny sequel due to popular demand, they received their own unique move sets to differentiate them from their originals. This gets several Lampshade Hangings in sequel and the supplementary materials related to it, such as the Materials explaining that the time they spent recovering from their deaths was used to devise their own fighting styles and spells, and other characters pointing out that for copies, they don't actually act, fight, or even look that much like the people they were supposed to be based on.
  • Zigzagged throughout the Disgaea series. In the first game, many of the basic creatable classes have male-female variation, which except for sprites and tiny Stat variations, are exactly the same. In the second game, each class is given different unique passive abilities to differentiate them, and there are more variations to the Stat spread of the male-female variants (like how the Male Warrior has better HP and DEF and is better at Axe while the Female Warrior has more HIT and SPD and better with Spears). The third game, however introduces more male-female variants to the existing single-gender classes (for example now there's a male version of the previously female-only Archers), with differing Evilities and secondary weapon (the male archer can also learn Sword skills while the female can learn Spear skills), but nearly identical Stats. The fourth game then removes nearly all gender variants introduced in the third game.
  • In Pac Man Party, the four iconic ghosts of Pac-Man were given more distinctive looks in order to differentiate one another. No longer were they simple Palette Swaps of one another. Each of the ghosts had distinctive "hairstyles". Blinky retained the basic ghost shape, Inky was made skinnier, Pinky was given more feminine features, and Clyde became fat and huge.
  • In Higurashi: When They Cry Matsuri Hanyuu's daughter Oka looked exactly like Rika except that her hair was darker. In the Kotohogushi-hen arc in Kizuna for the Nintendo DS she received a slight redesign and also received her own artwork.
  • "Soap" MacTavish was the typical silent protagonist for the British missions in Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare who played identically to, and was effectively interchangeable with, Paul Jackson from the American missions. In Modern Warfare 2 and 3, he was made into a non-player character for several missions, and accordingly given a strong personality and voice actor.
    • Price's first playable level in CoD4 likewise had him play identically to Soap, right down to being silent despite the dialogue he gets in the rest of the game. When he's playable again for the finale of 3, he's taken a cue from the Call of Duty: Black Ops cast and talks just as much under your control as he did when an NPC, and for the first half of the mission he's also given Nigh Invulnerable Juggernaut armor that Soap and all the other player characters never had access to.
  • Kid Icarus has a rather strange example in that it originated in an entirely different series: Pit has a Palette Swap in Super Smash Bros. Brawl which gave him black hair and black wings, but it differed in appearance only. In Kid Icarus: Uprising they took that palette swap and turned him into the anti-hero Dark Pit, with an entirely different personality and having layers of depth. In the Kid Icarus canon Dark Pit spends the first 15 minutes of his existence thinking he's the real Pit, and for most of the game he's really bitter about being a clone, seen by the world as little more than an Evil Knockoff. Eventually he finds out that Good Feels Good (in contrast to regular Pit who indulges in the Knight in Shining Armor image) and settles into a comfortable rhythm. Things came full circle in Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U, in which Dark Pit is a separate character from Pit, but with almost no difference in moveset (which the following game would term an "Echo Fighter") and little opportunity to display the difference in personality.
  • Punch-Out!! has a fair few characters that have evolved over the years, the most notable being Aran Ryan. In the SNES game, he was a bland palette swap of Pizza Pasta who fought by the rules. In the Wii game, he's a complete lunatic who threatens Mac, the referee and the audience. He breaks just about every rule of boxing, from using his elbows to loading his gloves with horseshoes to tying a rope to one of said horseshoe gloves and using it as a flail.
  • Pokémon:
    • Pokémon Gold and Silver have four executives of Team Rocket, who are all unnamed and (aside from the one woman) identical in appearance. The remakes, HeartGold and SoulSilver, flesh out their characters, giving each a unique name and design. Similarly, while Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire were the only games to have two villain teams, Team Aqua and Team Magma, the members of said teams were practically identical in every way but appearance in spite of their diametrically opposed objectives. Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire do a lot to make them more unique, with a distinct look and personality for the admins and leaders; even grunts get differing dialogue and demeanors between versions.
    • With Pokemon themselves, quite a few species that were similar to previous species may end up getting changes between generations that make them more distinct. To list them all would take up the rest of the page, but one example would be between Clefable, Wigglytuff, and Blissey. Previously they were all pink girly Normal types with high hit points, but bad attack and defense. But after their introduction, they've started to diversify, with Pokémon X and Y bringing the most dramatic change: The Fairy type. Clefable was retconed to be a Fairy type, Wigglytuff was made a dual Normal/Fairy, and Blissey remained a Normal type.
  • The Kuniang sisters from Strider. In the first game, the three use the same Palette Swapped sprite and have the same attack, and only their leader (Ton Pooh) got an official description and dialogue, the other two being merely Filler for the boss fight. In Strider 2, the three were given different designs and hairstyles, with Bei Pooh becoming a Femme Fatale with a large ponytail, Sai Pooh getting a pigtailed childish look and Ton Pooh retaining the original design. Finally, the 2014 Strider gave each a Weapon of Choice and fleshed out the two sister's personalities, turning B/Pei into an Ax-Crazy Blood Knight and Nang Poohnote  becoming the Only Sane Woman keeping both her more hot-headed sisters in check.
  • The Persona 3 and Persona 4 crossover, Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth, did this for both its main protagonists and the Mission Controls Fuuka and Rise.
    • The protagonists of 3 and 4 are both identical in their base games in that they can change their Personas constantly, and thus they have no fixed stats or skillset, unlike their teammates who only have one Persona each. In Q, however, everyone can equip a sub-Persona in addition to their main ones, so both protagonists are given differing builds. The P4 hero is a Jack-of-All-Stats who specializes in lightning magic, while the P3 hero's stats are generally higher than the rest of the party and specializes in fire magic. The P3 hero's higher stats are likely to compensate that he starts off weak to two elements (one being the instant-killing dark element).
    • The two support characters, Fuuka and Rise, served identical roles in their games, although in the Golden re-release of P4, Rise was given additional battle-assisting skills that Fuuka never got in P3. In PQ, Fuuka's skills revolve around healing, while Rise's skills streamline and make battles more efficient (she can cut SP costs for on round, and her ultimate skill makes the party completely immune to damage for a turn).
  • Bloody Roar 2 handles this rather oddly: for starters, the clone character, Shenlong, is a literal clone of the returning character Long. On top of that, it's Long who gets a new moveset, while Shenlong has Long's moves from the first game. From 3 on they switched, with Long getting his old moves back and Shenlong getting a similar but simplified moveset. Similar cases involve Yugo and Uriko, whose movesets changed rather drastically in the second game (Yugo going from an untrained kid to a professional boxer, Uriko going from a Brainwashed and Crazy Super-Child Soldier as the Final Boss to a playable student of the aforementioned Long) and, respectively, Fang (secret character in Extreme who shares Yugo's moveset from the first game) and Uranus (secret character in 3 onwards who is essentially a playable version of final-boss Uriko). More traditional examples involve Shina (the adopted daughter of Gado) and the second Bakuryu and Kohryu (respectively the legacy and a resurrected mecha-clone of the original Bakuryu), who play rather similarly to, but still distinctive from their originators. Not to mention as well Jenny and Stun, who are straight-up replacements for Fox and Mitsuko and keep their general playstyles while adding more moves to make them unique.
  • Subfactions were introduced in the later Command & Conquer games to give the existing factions diversity in multiplayer matches; previous games with different countries/factions/whatever simply had one or two slightly-changed attributes that you are never made aware of (Command & Conquer: Red Alert) or one unit/ability no one else gets or has to rely on tech buildings to use (Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2).
  • BlazBlue: Zig-zagged with Nu-13 and Lambda-11. Nu was written out after the first game, with Lambda replacing her with some balance changes (Nu was still present as her Unlimited Form). Lambda was written out after the second, with Nu coming back with the ability to use both movesets, then in the Updated Re-release, Lambda came back, Nu lost the extra moves, and while the two do still have very similar movesets, their Drives (character specific gimmick) and Overdrives (temporary power up) work differently, Lambda going for quality and Nu for quantity.
  • The Gundam Vs Series has an odd example of this with Wing Gundam Zero. Firstly, Gundam vs. Gundam Next had only the TV version, but the home version added the Endless Waltz version, which was given unique traits. The sequel series Gundam Extreme Vs. started with only the movie version (which was a Composite Character of the Next incarnations), but Extreme Vs. Full Boost brought back the TV version, which required re-divergence. Ironically, this lead to the two swapping some of their traits: In Next, Wing Zero TV was ranged-centric and fired continuous beams from its twin buster rifle while Wing Zero EW was more melee-focused and fired beam shots; in Extreme Vs. it's the other way around. Other changes include Wing Zero EW being more agile (since it's not a Transforming Mecha) while Wing Zero TV has the ZERO System as a temporary buff that negates enemy tracking.
  • In the original Conquest Of The New World, all European powers were created equal, and only the High Native player functioned differently. In the Deluxe Edition, this was changed to give each power (including the Natives) a buff, causing each power to play slightly differently. For example, the French get better native relations and dominant cavalry, while the Dutch are masters of finance and the European trade.
  • Genbei "Jaguar" Yagyu inverts this trope between Neo Contra and Contra ReBirth. In Neo, he's slower but more powerful than series protagonist Bill Rizer, and you can unlock the option to replace one of his guns with a powerful but melee-range katana. In ReBirth, he not only plays identically to Bill, but dresses like him, too.
  • StarCraft was derisively called WarCraft "IN SPACE!", but the two have diverged over the years with the former staying mostly true to its RTS roots while Warcraft has transformed into an MMORPG.
    Artanis: This is not Warcraft in space! It's much more sophisticated!
  • The Command & Conquer: Red Alert Series started as a possible prequel spin-off of the Command & Conquer: Tiberian Series. Red Alert 2 made that portion of the franchise known for being Denser and Wackier.
  • When Hyrule Warriors first came out, an art book revealed that the developers had toyed around with the concept of a female version of Link before rejecting it. When making the Legends Updated Re-release, they brushed off the concept and made a new Canon Foreigner character called Linkle. Instead of just being Link only female, like the original concept art portrayed, Linkle's final design bears some similarities to Link (green clothes, blond hair, pointy ears) but also some sharp contrasts: Link is a legendary hero while Linkle only thinks she's one, Linkle is a Genki Girl in contrast to how (adult) Link tends to be The Stoic, and Link is primarily a swordsman but Linkle is The Gunslinger with dual crossbows.
  • Donkey Kong and Mario started on the same game but the latter got his own game franchise known for its speed and wide open levels while the former remained a slow-moving puzzle game. DK got a second lease on life when Donkey Kong Country was released on SNES and he finally got his own fast-paced game complete with distinct gameplay and style.
  • Kirby:
    • While not "characters" in the traditional sense, Bomb Kirby and Mirror Kirby were originally Palette Swaps of Sword Kirby and Beam Kirby, respectively. Newer installments of the Kirby series have given Bomb Kirby and Mirror Kirby more distinct designs to make it easier to tell them apart.
    • Something similar happened with Ninja Kirby and Stone Kirby, both used the same sprite: Kirby with a samurai hat but with different body colors. Later installments have changed this to have Ninja Kirby wear a Naruto-esque Robe and Stone Kirby to wear a stone crown with bull horns, dismissing the samurai hat idea entirely.
    • In Kirby & the Amazing Mirror, Dark Meta Knight was simply a Palette Swap Evil Twin of Meta Knight and shared the latter's fighting style. Later games give him a more threatening look with tattered wings and a scarred mask. He also received a brand-new fighting style that emphasizes wild and reckless attacks to contrast Meta Knight's finesse and restraint, along with mirror-based attacks to reflect his origins as a resident of the Mirror World.
  • The Doom series has the Hell Knight, introduced in Doom II as a less durable palette-swapped Baron of Hell that fought exactly the same by throwing green fireballs. In Doom 3 they got a different appearance and served the same role as the Baron of Hell, being a more durable enemy that still threw green fire. Come the 2016 game, the Hell Knight is now a Close-Range Combatant with similar looks to its Doom 3 incarnation and lacks a fireball attack, while the Baron of Hell fights with both close and long range green attacks while still retaining its looks from the first game.
  • In Paladins, Cassie originally used a bow as her weapon. When another archer was added in the form of Sha Lin, Cassie was later redesigned with a crossbow to differentiate the two. It helps that Cassie's bow acted more like a crossbow in the first place, lacking the Charged Attack expected from bows.
  • Although there was never a game that featured the singular character, early versions of Overwatch had Genji and Hanzo's designs and abilities rolled into a single cyber-samurai character named Genji. Eventually, a diverge was made to give the character's name, cybernetics, and more ninja-like powers to Genji, and the remaining bowman characteristics were given to Hanzo.
  • An inverted example from Final Fantasy VII and Final Fantasy VIII: Cloud Strife and Squall Leonhart. While they both start as difficult and selfish people, and undergo significant development during their respective games, they actually had very distinct personalities. Cloud is a cocky, arrogant tough guy with plenty of light and goofy moments, while Squall starts off as a solitary jerkass who puts up a false wall of confidence to hide his emotional turmoil. Then you look at any version of them from Advent Children onwards, and they've practically swapped: Squall is the confident, snarky one and Cloud is constantly brooding, plagued by crushing doubt.
  • Giana's sister in The Great Giana Sisters started out as simply a green haired Palette Swap of her. Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams revamped her design to be more individual. While Giana has blonde hair in a bob and wears a blue dress, Maria has her green hair in a long ponytail with a ribbon in it and wears a red dress. Her design in the endless runner spinoff Dream Runners however dials her back to essentially a palette swap, however all the characters in that game look near-identical.
  • In The Elder Scrolls series has a Justified example when this happened to Peryite, the Daedric Prince of Pestilence, Tasks, and Order, upon the introduction of Jyggalag, Daedric Prince of Order, in Oblivion's Shivering Isles expansion. Peryite's association with "Order" became downplayed and replaced with "Natural Order", essentially the cycle of growth and decay. Meanwhile, Jyggalag came to represent the idea of "Perfect Order", essentially inorganic stasis. The implication is that Peryite became tasked with representing the greater scope of "order" while Jyggalag was sealed as Sheogorath, because Someone Had To Do It. It also helps to explain why Peryite is looked down upon as a "loathesome" Butt-Monkey by the other Daedric Princes, who are primarily chaotic in nature. Come Skyrim, Peryite's quest fully emphasizes his association with pestilence.

    Web Animation 
  • In Red vs. Blue, Donut and Caboose were originally just an identical pair of dumb rookies. But now, Donut is Ambiguously Gay with somewhat-below-average intelligence, and Caboose is a complete idiot who thinks electricity is invisible magic.
  • Giggles and Petunia from Happy Tree Friends. They were originally just girly girls with no difference in personality. Giggles' personality stayed basically the same, although with her getting more generally associated with romance (being the girl most commonly paired up with male characters and having a Valentine's Day-themed Smoochie) and having a brief stint as an enviromentalist in one episode. Petunia, however, gained a more concrete character trait in the TV series in the form of a serious Neat Freak streak.
  • In Starship Goldfish the Robot Buddy Ghostworth gets killed and brought back from a backup copy creating New Ghostworth, initially New Ghostworth is angsty about it but thanks to a conversation with an automated kitchen he gets over it, meanwhile we find out the original, or Classic Ghostworth survived and turned out rather different.
  • Yang's biological mother Raven was given this visually in RWBY. When she cameos in volume 2, she looks like a palette swap of her daughter. Her updated design in volume 4 makes her look older and adds some design differences, such as the way their hair looks.

    Web Comics 
  • Happens to Nick and Shep in Schlock Mercenary. Originally, they were both idiots. Shep gradually got smarter, moving up to about average IQ; Nick...didn't.
    • Nick also didn't follow the fate of the other beef-chunk recruits either though, he's still with the company (Shep retired and Hob died).
    • There's 750 million of Gav's gate-clones. It was kind of fun until everyone used to them, but... Eventually they started "The Diversity Engineering Institute". After all, 750,000,000 borderline mad scientists will obviously do more and better if each have somewhat different perspective.
  • Occurs with Akuma and Kari in the sprite comic Akuma TH. They both started out as literal Shotoclones, both using the same fighting style. They diverged fairly quickly however, with Akuma focusing on energy attacks and Kari focusing on punches and kicks. Kari did the most deviating, most notably with her signature Monsoon Kick, a hurricane kick that rotates vertically and moves horizontally, instead of the other way around.
  • In El Goonish Shive, Tedd and Elliot started out being alike in perversion but over time due to Characterization Marches On Elliot became more and more reserved. Eventually it got to the point where he actually failed at thinking perverted thoughts. Meanwhile, Tedd also underwent Character Development and became more of a Chivalrous Pervert but a pervert nonetheless.
    • Elliot and Ellen started out being almost exactly the same apart from their genders, but that is justified since Ellen is a Opposite-Sex Clone of Elliot and was "born" with a perfect copy of his memories and personality. However, her initial Cloning Blues and subsequent attempts to establish her own identity led to this trope. (Which is also illustrated in the same "failed at perversion" comic above.)
    • Rich and Larry were originally two guys of jerkish speech whose only distinguishing traits were that one was fat and the other was taller. Once they got some real focus, Larry was shown as less homophobic and more willing to listen when people tell him he's wrong, which results in him promising to try to act better in the future at the end of the arc. Rich, meanwhile, was shown to be something of a conspiracy theorist.
  • When Tabitha first appeared in Far Out There, she and Layla looked virtually identical. As time as passed, Tabitha has gradually become much, MUCH taller and skinnier, while Layla has become neither (especially the latter).
  • In his very first appearance in The Order of the Stick, Nale was nearly identical to his twin brother Elan, even going so far as to multiclass to have the same powers as a bard. This was enforced; once Nale had his Face–Heel Turn, he dropped the facade to reveal the cunning mastermind beneath, and has been going further in that direction ever since while Elan becomes even more Genre Savvy in line with his bardic training. After Nale's death, Elan began to adopt more of his brother's traits; he was no longer restrained to being the "Good" Twin, and felt no guilt for letting their father fall hundreds of feet from an airship.
  • The earlier strips of PHD portrays the University professors as a group of sinister Hive Mind whose sole purpose of existence is cause misery to the students during Quals. They have since gained individual characterisation and personalities.

    Web Original 
  • =3: Benatar and Axel started off looking very similarly, with the same features, facial expressions, same hairdo (except Benatar's was blonde and had shorter hair) and the fact they were both just background characters. With the new art style, Axel retained the hairstyle, facial expression and background character status but his muscles grew larger, while Benatar turned into a more Pretty Boy type with softened features and also gained more prominence in the band.
  • Dorm Life: Britney and Courtney started off as seemingly-interchangeable Alpha Bitches, although there were subtle clues from the beginning that Britney was much smarter than Courtney. Once Britney and Mike started bonding, Britney's Hidden Depths came more into play. Since an entire season of Dorm Life would be produced at one time, this was done intentionally.
  • Ink City has a crack community called Labocabana, the events within being noncanon to the main game. This has resulted in certain characters developing very differently within Labocanon, such as Yakko and Dot. This has had direct effects on the main story, thanks to Labo!Dot crossing the Moral Event Horizon and her mun trying to prevent IC!Dot from making the same choice by showing her what happened through the Fourth Wall.
  • Zig-zagged by The Nostalgia Chick and The Nostalgia Critic. She started out being just a simple girl version of his basic traits - snarky manchild doing linear reviews – but then something changed. She got a three dimensional characterization of her own, as well as adopting more analysis-review Style, but the similarities ran much deeper (to name but a few; both have histories of abuse, bad inferiority superiority complexes, desperation for power and psychopathic child tendencies) as well as their differences turning ying-yang (overly dominant/worringly submissive, emotionally repressed/can't hide anything, hates kids but loves animals/hates animals but loves kids), much to her self-loathing denial and his clingy love.
  • Alex Kralie and Jay both started off as somewhat awkward film students with spotty memory, shaky camera hands, and writer credits on Marble Hornets. Since then, Jay's become less of an Audience Surrogate and Alex has likewise diverged.
  • Linkara and Holokara in Atop the Fourth Wall. Holokara is a hologram programmed with all of Linkara's memories, whom he calls in when he leaves to find out why his magic stopped working, and starts off as basically identical to him. Then Linkara finds out that his magic stopped working because he was starting to become increasingly arrogant and self-centered and the magic gun feared he was becoming evil. This leads him to begin working on improving himself. While he's doing this, however, Holokara (who never had such an epiphany) heads further and further down the slippery slope, eventually threatening to brutally murder 90s Kid and Harvey if they get in the way of his reviews and developing a plan to bomb the Marvel offices if they don't Retcon all the ways they've screwed up his favorite heroes over the years. And this is what Linkara would have become had he not gone on his journey.
  • In Noob, Couette started out as Sparadrap's Distaff Counterpart before she started showing signs of being more self-centered than him (e.g. sometimes complaning about the state of her clothes in the middle of a battle) and knowing random pieces of in-game trivia. In the meantime, Sparadrap remained the franchise poster boy for Kindhearted Simpleton. The divergent evolution is at different stages depending on the media between Couette being a frequent no-show in the webseries, the novels covering short timespans with much bigger time skips between them and the comic storyline being less advanced than the two previous.
  • The Happy Video Game Nerd: The Happy Nerd started out with the gimmick that he was the opposite of the Angry Nerd, and many of his early videos are shot-for-shot remakes of the Angry Nerd's videos, only with him extolling a good game instead of swearing at a bad one. Now, he does his own thing, although he still dresses like the Angry Nerd and drinks at the end of every review (which is actually something the Angry Nerd has generally stopped doing).

    Western Animation 
  • Lemongrab and his clone from Adventure Time were both originally equally bizarre and angry. After he tried to eat his clone, the original Lemongrab became incredibly, insanely evil and much fatter, while the other became nicer and skinnier. Then they were caught in an explosion and were reformed back into one person.
  • In early artwork the titular brothers of Alvin and the Chipmunks were a trio of identical, realistic looking chipmunks. The Alvin Show made them into the vaguely chipmunk looking Big, Thin, Short Trio they're best known as. Adding further onto this, while Simon and Theodore were for the most part more sensible counterparts to Alvin initially, the 80s series gave them more spotlight and quirks; Simon became The Smart Guy and the Only Sane Man, while Theodore became the Adorkable Big Eater.
  • In the first season of The Amazing World of Gumball, Gumball and Darwin were sometimes The Dividual, both perpetually enthusiastic and naive, often acting in unison. Other times, Gumball was very dumb and reckless, while Darwin was smarter and more moral, but so passive that he usually went along with whatever Gumball was doing. Which one was written first is hard to tell given the season aired extremely Out of Order, but from the second season on, they're given a milder form of the latter characterization, where Gumball is reckless but not a complete idiot (and can even be the Straight Man between the two) while Darwin is assertive enough to actually argue with Gumball and can be incredibly aggressive if provoked.
  • Ty Lee from Avatar: The Last Airbender is an in-universe example of this happening (off-screen): She claims she ran away to join the circus in order to differentiate herself from her six identical siblings.
  • In their first few appearances, Chip 'n Dale were identical in every way. Later, Dale gained a red nose, buck teeth, and a goofier personality. Chip more or less kept his original looks, but became more of a Straight Man to Dale. This is tuned up even further in Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers. Not only were their personalities and drive more polarized than ever, but Chip picked up a leather jacket and fedora to represent his bravery and intelligence, whereas Dale picked up a Hawaiian shirt to represent his laid back attitude and sloth.
  • On Daria, Quinn's friends in the Fashion Club are a slight example—originally they were more or less interchangeable, though Sandi had a bit more personality as the leader. Characterization Marches On kicked in to make Tiffany dumber and vainer than the others, while Stacy became a sweet and intelligent Extreme Doormat (until Character Development in the last season gave her more of a backbone).
  • Originally Donald Duck's nephews Huey, Dewey and Louie were pretty much identical in both personality and design. Later they were given different colored clothes and by the 90s they had gained distinguishable personalities. Different works opt for different personalities:
    • This is made most noticeable in Quack Pack. Huey is the proactive leader, Dewey the clever thinker, and Louie the most simple minded.
    • The triplets have always been clever, adventurous, and mischievous, and while they retain these traits in DuckTales (2017), they each emphasize a different one: Huey is the brainiest, Dewey is an adventure junkie, and Louie doesn't even contest the other two labeling him the Evil Triplet. Additionally, the producers decided that since they're always listed "Huey, Dewey, Louie", in that order, that that's their birth order, and they've drawn some characterization from birth order tropes. Huey, the oldest, is more responsible; Dewey, suffering from a bad case of Middle Child Syndrome, does whatever he can to stand out; and Louie, the youngest, is content to go with the flow.
  • The Dreamstone:
    • Frizz and Nug started off as two interchangable Cowardly Sidekicks for Sgt Blob. Further on in the first season, Frizz became increasingly cynical and neurotic, while Nug became more dopey and upbeat.
    • Reversed for Rufus and Amberley, who started off with rather contrasting personalities in the pilot (Cloud Cuckoo Lander Hidden Badass and Plucky Innocent Prodigy respectively) but were downplayed to almost interchangable Kid Sidekicks for the Dream Maker for the majority of the series afterwards (albeit with Amberley remaining the slightly more competent of the two).
      • Played straight for the final season, where they start to revert back to original personalities.
  • The Fairly Oddparents: In a similar vein to the Simpsons example, Cosmo and Wanda began life as "two halves of a whole idiot," a pair of cheerful, wacky fairies. By the start of the second season, said traits were absorbed and amplified by Cosmo, while Wanda became more down to earth (and increasingly naggy, while Cosmo became increasingly childlike) in order to balance off the couple.
  • Gargoyles: The Pack. Each member had a different personality, but in their debut they all shared the same motive and all were basically just assassins who wanted a good fight. As the series went on, each got Character Development, and episodes away from the others:
    • Fox was revealed to be a very adept schemer and was manipulating the pack for Xanatos, who she had fallen in love with and married.
    • Wolf, The Dragon mutated himself into a Wolfman and became The Starscream to the new leader Coyote, later he teamed up with his ancestor, the very man who killed the series gargoyle clan.
    • Jackal and Hyena were just the Ax-Crazy Brother-Sister Team Hyena developed an attraction to the robot Coyote, and Jackal gained the power over death and attempting genocide on the world.
    • Dingo, the explosives expert and the most practically minded went on to leave the pack as the others began to get lose their humanity, worked with Fox as a security guard (as their original security guard was in jail), before revealing his dream of being a hero, and teaming up with a Hive Mind robot. Dingo would later be one of the stars of a Spin-Off comic.
  • On Invader Zim's first episode, the Almighty Tallests basically take turns between being The Ditz and the Straight Man for each other. By "Backseat Drivers from Beyond the Stars" Red was established as the smarter one while Purple was more emotional and impulsive. (Though they still both spend most of their time yelling at people and stuffing their faces.)
  • Twilight Sparkle and Moondancer in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic were, in flashbacks, literal Palette Swaps of each other (save for Moondancer's glasses). However after blowing off Moondancer's party to go to Ponyville, Twilight learned the value of friendship and kept her original appearance, while Moondancer became embittered and reclusive, letting her eyebrows grow thick, donning whatever clothes she had laying around, and tying her hair back rather than bothering to get it cut. She gets better personality-wise, though keeps her new appearance.
  • Like Pac Man Party from which it bases its character designs on, Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures gave the ghost gang distinctive designs. The Pac-Worlders other than Pac-Man and his parents also count as in most iterations, many of them simply looked like Pac-Man but with a few distinguishing physical characteristics and pieces of clothing. Here in this adaptation, not only do all of the Pac-Worlders have various different body shapes but they also vary in color.
  • The Penguins of Madagascar:
    • In the transition from the Madagascar films to the spinoff TV series The Penguins of Madagascar, the chimp characters Mason and Phil have evolved into Mason being a Neat Freak and Phil being slovenly and relaxed.
    • Rico's appearance wise evolved too; in the movie he looks like a taller and skinnier Skipper and you could barely tell him apart from him or Kowalski. But in A Christmas Caper and later the series he has a scar on his beak and three feathers sticking up like hair to help him stand out.
  • The Powerpuff Girls has had this happen with the actual series after the original "Whoopass Stew" short and the two What A Cartoon pilots, as well as some Invoked examples within the series:
  • In the Rainbow Magic movie, Rachel is quieter and more serious, while Kirsty is outgoing and positive. In the books they're pretty much interchangeable.
  • Rugrats originally treated the twins as one entity. As the seasons went on, Phil turned into more of a Deadpan Snarker who was a borderline Audience Surrogate. Lil meanwhile became more headstrong and emotional. By the time of All Grown Up! Phil had kept their original obsession with grossness, while Lil was desperate to fit in and prove that she was a Girly Girl.
  • The Simpsons:
    • Bart and Lisa Simpson started out as a pair of interchangeable brats. Both were shameless pranksters and not too bright, their main function being to drive their parents up the wall. This worked well for the original three-minute Ullman shorts, which didn't have much time for characterization. The first few episodes of the regular series feature this portrayal as well, with Lisa causing as much trouble as Bart. The writers decided having two identical characters wasn't very interesting in a half-hour format, so the episode "Moaning Lisa" was produced, which re-creates Lisa as artistic, sensitive, and very intelligent, but insecure and obnoxiously self-righteous. Basically the total opposite of her brother. This version of the character has remained ever since. Note there were some slight differences in the original shorts, where Lisa was a delinquent, but still somewhat wilier and reserved than Bart and usually more a Greek Chorus to his antics (and eventual comeuppance).
    • Lenny and Carl are also an example, starting as two of Homer's dumb friends, now Lenny's somewhat of a Cloud Cuckoolander and Carl is now a Deadpan Snarker.
    • Patty and Selma. When they were created, there was almost no difference between them. Later it turned out that Selma is interested in marrying a man (having several failed marriages over the course of the show) and having a child; Patty initially just Does Not Like Men but later comes out as a lesbian. Also, Selma is shown to hate Homer a little less than Patty, Depending on the Writer. (Most particularly, in "I Married Marge" she helped them get back together when she saw how miserable Marge was without him.)
    • An inversion with Nelson and the trio of Dolph, Kearny, and Jimbo. Nelson's first episode establishes him as The Bully who picks on Bart, while the others were juvenile delinquents who often encouraged Bart's misbehavior. The distinction vanished pretty quickly, with Nelson joining the others to form a quartet, and all four being content as delinquents or bullies as needed. Though Nelson could still be called somewhat distinct due to his relative friendliness with Bart and Lisa's crush on him.
    • On that note, Dolph, Kearny, and Jimbo started out fairly interchangeable. Over time, Kearny has been established as having an infant son (to emphasize how many times he's been held back), while Jimbo has a softer side (along with religious and feminist tendencies) and good home life. Dolph, on the other hand, hasn't gotten much development.
  • Kyle and Stan from South Park used to have pretty much the same personality in earlier seasons. Now they are still very alike, but their interests and attitudes differ. Kyle is smarter and more reactionary, especially when Cartman is around. Stan is more down to earth, often taking the role of the Only Sane Everyman, as well as being a bit more sensitive at times.
  • On Teen Titans, Speedy was originally a Robin expy, playing his Foil in his first appearance. He soon became more of an egotistical "Bad Boy." It's even lampshaded in one episode after he saves a child's cat:
    Boy: Thanks, Robin! I like your other costume better though.
    Speedy: I'm not Robin!
    • Inverted in Teen Titans Go!. Speedy is more like Robin than ever before. They even have the same body shape and voice. Exploited in-universe, where they swapped clothes and hairstyles and nobody knew the difference.
  • As mentioned in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles entry in the above comics section, this has happened with the protagonists, though the 2012 show took it even further by giving the turtles body-types that are plausible given their individual life-styles (Leonardo is able-bodied, Raphael more muscular than the rest and has a chip on his plastron, Michelangelo being the shortest and skinny, and Donatello tall and lanky), that makes them far more recognizable without their bandannas and weapons. Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the very next incarnation, even makes them different species of Turtles (Leonardo is a red-eared slider, Donatello a soft-shelled Turtle, Michelangelo a boxed Turtle, and Raphael a snapping Turtle) while carrying over most of their design traits from the 2012 series.
  • Gordon, Henry and James of Thomas the Tank Engine, while having many solo stories, usually acted as a near interchangeable trio of arrogant peers, bickering with other engines or making pompous remarks. As season passed the three began to appear together less and gained more individual characteristics. Henry in particular became far less egotistical, converting into a sensitive Hypochondriac and Nature Lover. James and Gordon retained their vanity as their defining quirks, however while Gordon became the main team's Grumpy Bear, James became more cheerful and mischevious (and by Season Seventeen seems to have become The Prankster). This evolution occurred in The Railway Series novels as well, albeit to a lesser extent due to the show's more evident Flanderization.
  • Subverted in Total Drama, Katie and Sadie originally had pretty much the exact same personality—eternally-happy, sweet, innocent girls who couldn't bear parting from each other. Then the two were placed on opposite teams in the very first episode, much to their mutual horror, only to be allowed to switch in the second. After Katie's early elimination forced the two apart, it seemed to be the start of this, with Sadie beginning to bond with Lindsay and face a fear that had nothing to do with Katie... And then, after that episode she pretty much just went near-silent, doing next to nothing of note for four straight episodes (three of which were her team's longest winning streak in the season!) before being eliminated as something of an afterthought. They've returned to being The Dividual pretty consistently ever since, and never competed again. Later characters defined heavily by their interactions with each other, like what Geoff and Bridgette as well as Lindsay and Beth would become in Action, Samey and Amy in Pahkitew Island would be better at distinguishing its halves consistently, and pretty much every duo with even a smidgen of focus on Ridonculous Race end up being quite different from each other, with the exceptions of characters already clearly distinct, some of the early cannon fodder, and the stepbrothers.
  • The Venture Bros.:
    • The eponymous Venture Bros. were originally written exactly the same - Pollyanna Hardy Boys parodies that were forever trying to solve mysteries. By the end of Season 3, Hank has become the more masculine and adventurous of the two (as well as a bit of a wannabe Casanova) while Dean is sensitive, intelligent and extremely afraid of sex.
    • Justified as at the end of season 3, all of the brothers' clones are killed in a large battle as a makeshift army of soft zombie-like bodies (It Makes Sense in Context) and now have to live as anyone else does instead of the convenience of death being incredibly cheap for Dr. Venture when you can just roll out more clones and have no personality developments as a result.
  • Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse were designed as Suspiciously Similar Substitutes to Oswald the Lucky Rabbit and his wife Ortensia after Walt Disney lost the rights to them. As a result, Mickey and Minnie looked near-identical to the originals except for a species change. The main clothing difference between the males is that Mickey's shorts are red while Oswald's are blue, and that Mickey wears shoes while Oswald does not. With their wives, Minnie originally wore a flower hat and skirts like Ortensia. By 1939 Minnie's flower hat was phased out for her signature bow. Minnie still wears skirts, especially in retraux designs, however she is usually completely clothed (mainly in a dress).
  • Voltron: Legendary Defender: The Lions in the original series were largely identical aside from color while the ones here have their own unique designs and abilities, the red lion is a Fragile Speedster Glass Cannon, the yellow lion is a heavily armored Mighty Glacier that frequently fights by ramming opponents, the blue lion is a Jack of All Trades that gets even more powerful underwater and the black lion is significantly bigger than the other lions and is a Master of All.
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars did this with Clone Troopers. In Attack of the Clones they all wore almost identical armor which by Revenge of the Sith changes to highly specialized and distinctive looks, but this series showed that the clones are going out of their way to create personalities for themselves, adopting nicknames, hairstyles, tattoos, and helmet art. The series also featured dozens of unique clones in very distinctive character roles.

    Real Life 
  • It's extremely common for young writers and artists to create OCs who are basically Expies of other popular characters, even their own. Over the years, however, after developing them enough, they show similar traits, but on the while they end up being quite different than how they started out.

Alternative Title(s): Luigification