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Divergent Character Evolution

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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.

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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.
  • Lyrical Nanoha:
  • 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 from Ouran High School Host Club start out as Single-Minded Twins, but start to show differences in their personalities once they realize that Haruhi can tell them apart. 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 earliest issues were in black and white, but the colored issues had all their bandannas colored red. The 1987 cartoon differentiated them further by focusing each Turtle's characterization on a single trait ("Leonard leads, Donatello does machines, Raphael is cool but rude, Michelangelo is a party dude!"), while the color coding of their bandannas happened about the same time as the comics. 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.)
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     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.

    Literature 
  • 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."
  • Brooklyn Nine-Nine: At the show’s start, Scully and Hitchcock were pretty much The Dividual, indistinguishable from one another except in appearance. Over time, they were given more and more characterization to differentiate them; Scully is smarter and nicer, but in bad shape health-wise and often has poor self-esteem, while Hitchcock is more mean and perverted, but also more physically capable and confident.

    Music 
  • 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.

    Religion and Mythology 
  • In Egyptian Mythology, Sekhmet and Bastet seem to have both started out as lion-headed war goddesses. Over time, Bastet was depicted more as a housecat and a protector of the home rather than the nation, with some added associations with fertility, pregnancy and childbirth.

    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 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.

    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.
  • When the Secret Bakery first appears in Questionable Content, it's for the sake of a Similar Squad gag. As we see more of the characters this impression gets reduced. When Marten starts dating Padma, nobody comments on him dating Alternative Dora (the way they did when it turned out Angus used to get insulted by Renee), because by this point she's not except in appearance, and when they split up, the Bakery becomes Out of Focus until Renee returns as Brun's friend, and doesn't even look like Faye any more.

    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.
    • Word of God says this was the plan for two robots in the planned 2198 spin-off In-Universe. LXM-994 and LXM-1057, would have started as assembly line models, but when the Space Spawn invade and steal the Master Matrix, they would have lost their connection and started to develop unique personalities.
  • 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.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles had the four title characters as all being fairly homogeneous, the only difference being their Weapon of Choice. While the comics continued to evolve, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987) made some additional decisions that stuck with the greater franchise, streamlining their personalities and color coding their masks. The 2003 series upped it with some differences in skin tone and costume straps. 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.
  • Kitty Pryde's portrayal in X-Men: Evolution is an interesting meta-example. In the X-Men comics, her defining trait was that she was originally the lone teenager in a group of adult superheroes, and effectively served as the "little sister" of the team. But in the Evolution continuity, all of the X-Men (with the exception of Wolverine, Storm, and Beast) were reimagined as ordinary high school students, so Kitty's personality had to be significantly revamped to make her stand out. As a result, she's portrayed as the carefree Plucky Comic Relief of the group, and has several noticeable Valley Girl mannerisms—contrasting the shy Rogue and the studious Jean.

    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

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