Early in the series, any character is bound to have a characteristic look. It can go from Clothes Make the Legend, a nice hat, a particular hairstyle or whatever.
While this is filed under Early-Installment Weirdness, the specific part of Early Installment Character Design Difference is that this can be something that varies with Art Evolution, and some Character Development (such as the Important Haircut, amongst others).
Some Webcomics use this as a Plot Point such as the characters changing classes (in a gaming webcomic), or the author, by some form of Art Evolution, removing the Limited Wardrobe trope from their arsenal.
A Sub-Trope of Early-Installment Weirdness. A Sister Trope to Costume Evolution. Compare Art Evolution, Suddenly Blonde, and Iconic Sequel Outfit. Can be a part of Characterization Marches On if the design and characterization are connected. Inverted by some examples of Cosmetically-Advanced Prequel, where a character or culture in a story set before their first appearance in publication/broadcast order is depicted with an appearance that they only took on later.
- Boo Berry of the Monster Cereals line originally wore a red bowtie, a yellow porkpie hat with a red band, and had chains attached to him. His chains were later removed, but he kept his outfit's coloration for a while. Eventually, the reds in his outfit were changed to purple, with the yellow to blue, to further give him a "blueberry" color. Non-food merchandise and retro-skewing boxes have the tendency to use his retro colors still, however.
- When The Jolly Green Giant first debuted in the late 1920s, he was neither jolly or even green, instead resembling a grumpy-looking caveman with a normal complexion and an animal skin instead of his trademark leafy tunic. He turned green a few years after his debut, but his design overall didn't actually begin to resemble how he would eventually come to look (nor did he gain his leafy tunic and jolly demeanor) until the mid-1930s when copywriter Leo Burnett came up with a newer, friendlier design. The Jolly Green Giant would gain his present design◊ (which gave him shoes) by the 1970s.
- Ronald McDonald in his debut commercial originally wore a costume of red and yellow stripes, white gloves, had brownish hair and wore a styrofoam cup over his nose as well as a tray of McDonald's food on his head. His appearance was later changed so he went bareheaded, had red hair, had his nose painted red and wore a yellow jumpsuit with sleeves and stockings of red and white stripes, yellow gloves and the McDonald's M on his breast.
- Grimace made his debut as a more villainous character called the Evil Grimace, who had four arms. He lost the extra arms once he was retooled into being a friendlier character.
- The Hamburglar originally had the appearance of a pointy-nosed, grey-haired man with buck teeth. Over time, he went through several redesigns to go with his more benign characterization, eventually obtaining the red hair and rounder, more childlike face most people are familiar with in addition to having the yellow spots on his tie become burgers.
- Birdie the Early Bird's earliest commercials depicted her with longer pigtails, thicker eyelashes, a pointier beak and her overalls being colored a lighter shade of pink in addition to having the image of a smiling sun over the McDonald's M emblazoned on her stomach (a nod to the now dropped logo for the restaurant's breakfast menu).
- Crazy Candies: All the main characters receive an overhaul to their designs in Season 3. While most of them are minor, such as Marshyo and Jackey's eyes being spaced closer together, Mr. Seed has such a striking redesign that he barely resembles his older appearance at all. He now has a lighter skin color without the stripes from his first design, a smaller nose and larger eyes, and he has clothes whereas he didn't originally.
- In earlier seasons of GG Bond, the pigs had pudgier and far less cutesy-looking designs than they would have in the later seasons.
- In the first two episodes of Happy Heroes, the villain Big M. had two spiky shoulder pads on his signature green suit of armor that never appear in any other episodes, and the Planet Gray insignias on his headband and belt lacked the antennae they would sport in all of the following episodes.
- Early episodes of Lamput gave Slim Doc buttons down his uniform, which were eventually removed to make him match Fat Doc.
- Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf: When Weslie's mother Lily first appears in the second movie, she has a different wool "hairstyle" than the one she has later on, and she doesn't wear her signature blue dress.
- In Simple Samosa's first episode, "Sumo Momo", Samosa's rival Cham Cham makes a brief cameo and wears light gray glasses. In all episodes afterwards, he wears black glasses.
- In early strips, Snoopy walked on all fours and was much more doglike in appearance and personality than he was in later strips.
- Woodstock and the other birds were also drawn more realistically as birds before Schulz developed the look of Woodstock.
- Schulz's drawing style changed considerably over the first ten years of the strip. Originally, the characters' heads were ellipsoidal, the faces were smaller compared to the rest of the head, their noses were pointier and their eyes were very far apart, but over time their heads became rounder, their faces became much bigger, their eyes got closer together and their noses became round. In Schulz's mature drawing style, the characters' eyes and noses form almost a single unit.
- Many of the characters, including Schroeder, Lucy, Linus, Sally and Rerun, start off as babies or very young toddlers before aging to approximately the same age as the other characters. Charlie Brown and several other characters were originally 4-year-olds but were aged up into 8-year-olds.
- When she entered the strip in 1951, Violet wore her hair in a braid. Her more familiar ponytail came a few years later.
- In Jon, Garfield didn't have any tabby stripes aside from a few on his tail. He also had a much uglier face with heavy drooping jowls. By the time of Garfield proper, his design was a more polished take on the Jon design but with stripe. He also looked looked more cat-like and was always depicted on all-fours. He started becoming more streamlined and humanoid by 1980.
- Jon had a radically different, more realistic look in Jon.
- Odie, known as "Spot" in Jon, originally looked more like an oversized Chihuahua. By Garfield, he gained his more floppy-eared appearance. Also his ears were originally black, but changed to brown, a decision that Davis implied was done to make him look less like Snoopy.
- Hobbes (of Calvin and Hobbes fame) was drawn in a fairly simplified and cartoonish fashion early on, and looked more like the stuffed toy everyone but Calvin saw him as. As the years went by, he became much more realistically tigrine, and the pads on his hands/forepaws were eliminated, as Watterson came to find them too visually distracting.
- Jucika's title character changed a lot even later in its run, but the first hundred or so strips, printed without color in a different magazine than the rest of the series, often had her look a tad more average than her better known "cuter and hotter" design. She had a tall nose-line taking up space on her face, inconsistent head shapes, less prominent hair, at times thick brows and no sclerae or even dot eyes. In fact, her gradual design shifts just about made her face look younger if anything.
- Andy, the mother of the Fox family in FoxTrot, originally had bangs just like her daughter Paige. They were trimmed in a 1988 story arc and never grew back. According to cartoonist Bill Amend, this was done because readers had trouble telling the two apart.
- In The Family Circus, Bil (the dad) was originally much more of a buffoonish Bumbling Dad stereotype: he was overweight, hunched over, and balding; he usually wore a trenchcoat and hat in public; and he was constantly shown to be smoking and/or drinking. After a few years he was changed to a more friendly appearance and personality, with softer features, glasses, combed-over red hair, and a sweater. Also, youngest child PJ was originally completely bald, but gained short hair after a few years.
- The King in The Wizard of Id originally had a small nose. After a time his nose became as big as the rest of his head.
- Prior to the Gustavus series, a prototype Gustav appeared in the 1961 short cartoon Passion as a tall man with thin limbs, a rectangular head and one strand of hair, wearing a red sweater and black pants. The 1963 short Beginning with Tomorrow introduced his "proper" design that was mostly carried over into the series. Gustav became short, had a rounded head bigger than his torso, large, tall, oval shaped eyes, a cheerful face and two hairs, wearing grey and/or black clothes and a hat. Over the years the art fluctuated, especially once the shorts went from theaters to television. Gustav's head shrunk and his body grew, partially returning to his Passion proportions but keeping the roundness. Co-director Marcell Jankovics finalized Gustav's design in the 70s, making him tall, more proportionate, grotesque and pathetic, with small, beady eyes, an out-of-shape body and manic expressions.
- Something that isn't exclusive to Citadel of the Heart by MF 217, rather all of his works in the past up until then as well, is the fact a recurring original works character of his, named Mirror M, was first uploaded publicly as a Bomberman OC as seen here in August 18th, 2010. Over the course of 4 years, the author decides to slowly begin the steps to making Mirror M transition from a Bomberman OC into a proper original works character, by starting with renaming him from his original name of Marty into the Mirror M namesake he's known as today, with Mirror M meaning that he's only a reflection of his former self. About 4 years later would this only see its ultimate resolution starting with an upload on July 28th, 2018 as seen here, in which every single element of his original design that connected him to Bomberman in the first place was completely and absolutely purged from his overall design. The last time Mirror M was ever drawn as a Bomberman OC was in January 24th, 2017, almost exactly a year and a half before the finalized design of Mirror M would come into being, in which the author drew Mirror M and two others in Super Bomberman R's art style as a Swan Song to the fact Mirror M and the other two shown would be no longer be depicted as Bomberman OC characters.
- When Piglet first appeared as a cameo in Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree, he looked vastly different from his finalized design, being much smaller, a paler shade of pink with a darker nose tip, a different head shape, and short sleeves on his jumper. His more familiar design would debut in the next short, Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day.
- DC Animated Movie Universe:
- The post-Flashpoint versions of Batman and The Flash in Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox were just the pre-Flashpoint selves in New 52-based costumes with Batman having a visible upper lip and the Flash sporting Tron Lines, rather than the designs used in the other films.
- Superman's appearance in Justice League: War featured a slightly different belt design and lacked the "S" on the cape as opposed to the subsequent appearances in the universe.
- When The Joker appeared on a monitor in Batman: Hush, he had a relatively smoother face. When he finally got a proper speaking appearance in Batman: Hush, he gained more lines on his face, including cheekbones, and a different jawline shape.
- In The LEGO Movie, Green Lantern uses his 2011 Comic-Con appearance based on the movie released the same year due to it being his only physical minifigure at the time. The LEGO Batman Movie and The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part both use his New 52 appearance, which was physically released in 2015.
- In Toy Story, Andy's mom has brown hair. In the sequels, she has blond hair.
- Freddy's Krueger's sleeves were solid red in color instead of being striped like the rest of his sweater in the original A Nightmare on Elm Street.
- DC Extended Universe:
- The New God Steppenwolf appeared as an Early-Bird Cameo hologram in the extended cut of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Come Justice League (theatrical cut), and his design has drastically changed (this was due to Executive Meddling). Zack Snyder was eventually allowed to complete his version of the film (which the theatrical was not) and used a Steppenwolf model (the one that was originally intended before Executive Meddling scrapped it) that looks very much like the Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice hologram.
- In Aquaman, both the titular character Arthur and Deuteragonist Mera look extremely different than they did in their debuts in both versions of Justice League, with the theatrical version coming out only came out a year before. Arthur pretty much looks the same as he did in JL but never wears his JL costume◊ in Aquaman and gets a completely different costume◊ from a dead Atlantean king, based on the comics. Mera not only gets a completely different costume from JL◊ but her hair is significantly brighter.
- In Back to the Future Part II, the picture of Buford Tannen from the museum video was an early makeup test, which is why he looks different than when we finally see him in Back to the Future Part III (Buford is pictured with◊ a Beard of Evil in Part II instead of a mustache◊ in Part III). Word of God said that if they had the time, they would have replaced that picture with one featuring his final look.
- Friday the 13th: Jason Voorhees initially wore a sack over his head in Friday the 13th Part 2, his first major appearance. It was in the third film that he obtained his iconic hockey mask.
- Harry Potter:
- When Richard Harris portrayed Dumbledore in the first two films, the headmaster sported a maroon colored outfit. When Michael Gambon took over in the subsequent films, Dumbledore now wore baby blue.
- In his very brief appearance in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Tom the bartender of the Leaky Cauldron looks like a rather ordinary middle-aged man. In his more prominent appearance in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, he's a bald hunchback.
- Despite being played by the same actor, Professor Flitwick's appearance dramatically changed between the second and third films, from an older-looking, balding and grey-bearded appearance to a much younger one with black hair and mustache. This happened because the producers wanted his actor, Warwick Davis, in Prisoner of Azkaban, even though Flitwick wasn't in the script. So Davis was cast simply as "Choir Master," and later Mike Newell, the director of the fourth movie, liked the look and decided to make the Choir Master Flitwick.
- In the first movie, Voldemort had a large nose and red eyes. When he was resurrected in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, he more closely resembled his noseless appearance in the books, albeit with blue eyes. Granted, he's in a very different state in the first movie than he is from Goblet of Fire on, so it's plausible that he might look somewhat different.
- Cornelius Fudge had tanner skin and a grey ponytail in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets which is very different compared to the rest of his appearances.
- In a particularly controversial example, Lavender Brown is played by a black actress in the first two films, in an unspeaking but credited part. When she gains a more important role in the sixth movie, she is re-cast with a white actress. (Though this may have been a necessary race lift since the sixth book implies she's Caucasian.)
- In the original movies Grindelwald had two blue eyes but in Fantastic Beasts he has heterochromia with one blue and one brown eye. The character's look was also significantly re-tooled between the second and third films due to a recast. When Johnny Depp played the character, he was vey pale, had bleached hair, and the heterochromia was very noticeable. The Mads Mikkelsen version of the character keeps his normal complexion and dark blonde hair but with a dyed white streak, along with more subtle contacts for the blue eye.
- The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring: Gollum's brief appearance makes use of his original design that incorporated a muzzle-like mouth, though it's fairly difficult to notice. When he makes his full appearance in The Two Towers, his design has been altered to a more human face. His design was further altered in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey by making his eyes bigger and his skin darker.
- An Unexpected Journey also provides a glimpse at Smaug, who is depicted as a traditional European dragon with four legs and wings. When he is seen more extensively in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug and The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies he is instead a more modern "wyvern" style of dragon, with his wings doubling as his front legs much like a bat. The blu-ray release of the first film is actually altered to line up with the sequels in this case.
- Marvel Cinematic Universe:
- Thanos' debut during The Stinger of The Avengers (2012) features significant differences to his later appearances in the MCU. His skin is a much deeper shade of purple, and features piercing Creepy Blue Eyes. Damion Poitier also portrayed him using prosthetics and make-up, while the later films featuring Josh Brolin as Thanos used motion-captured CGI. From there, his cameos in Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) and Avengers: Age of Ultron give him indigo skin and a fairly comics-accurate face. By the time he has a major role in Avengers: Infinity War, they've settled on a design, with lavender skin and facial features that resemble Brolin's.
- Howard the Duck makes his first of several cameos in the MCU in Guardians of the Galaxy (2014); in that film, his face resembles a real duck's, but with front-facing eyes (still beady and expressionless like a real bird's) and a toothy beak. When he appears again in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, he's been redesigned, having a taller head, more expressive eyes, a shorter and toothless beak, and chubby cheeks, giving him a closer resemblance to his 1986 film counterpart.
- In an unusual example where the early installment was actually released second, Brie Larson shot her scenes as Captain Marvel for Avengers: Endgame before production of her solo movie began. Larson and the crew of Captain Marvel were still working on the character's look so her costume, hair and make-up all look slightly different in Endgame which came out a month later.
- MonsterVerse: Godzilla's design has changed in each successive film appearance after Godzilla (2014), and from Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019) onwards he features maple leaf-like dorsal spines that actually look more like classical depictions of Godzilla. The tie-in comic Godzilla: Aftershock states Godzilla's dorsal spines changed shape due to being broken off in his battle with the MUTO Prime and subsequently regrowing.
- Star Wars:
- Darth Vader's suit had slight differences in A New Hope compared to his subsequent ones. For instance, the chest and shoulder armor is underneath his tabard instead of on top of it, the lenses on his mask are tinted red instead of black (though this is only noticeable in certain scenes) and his chest panel doesn't light up.
- The Emperor's appearance in the original version of The Empire Strikes Back is this. Notably, Ian McDiarmid isn't playing him, but he is instead portrayed by Marjorie Eaton and voiced by Clive Revill. While the overall template is the same, the prosthetic makeup worn by Eaton had a far more deformed look than the prosthetics worn by McDiarmid, his Sith eyes were chimpanzee eyes superimposed (badly) onto the actor and the hood looked quite sloppy. This early look was so out of sorts that the 2004 edition saw this Emperor's scene reshot with McDiarmid in the role and is one of the few Special Edition changes that nearly all fans approve of.
- Arthur's Nose features the cast looking far more like the real-world animals they were designed after. As the books progressed, they became increasingly anthropomorphic, with Arthur in particular changing from a realistic aardvark to a teddy bear-esque creature whose species was purely an informed one.
- Francine didn't wear her signature red sweatshirt or blue jeans in the early books either, instead she wore dresses (which is something the current tomboy Francine almost never does.)
- The Tibble twins were originally Token Human characters but were later redesigned as bears.
- In the first 30 Geronimo Stilton books, Trap wore a white shirt and red suspenders. His now-iconic yellow Hawaiian shirt, ponytail and earring appeared first in the 31st book. Also, in the earlier books he was called Trap Blockhead rather than Trap Stilton.
- Warrior Cats: Dovewing's eyes went through this twice. Her eyes are accidentally referred to as golden in her introduction book before changing to blue next time they're mentioned. They stayed blue for several books but illustrations depicted her as green eyed. In order to make her illustrations match her text, Dovewing's eyes were later officially changed to green.
- Land of Oz:
- Princess Ozma is called a "ruddy blonde" in the text of her first appearance. Illustrations have always depicted her with dark hair and all future writers mention her having dark hair. As a result, Ozma is usually either a brunette or a raven.
- The original illustrations for The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by W.W. Denslow depict Dorothy with her signature dark Girlish Pigtails. The illustrations by John R. Neill for the third book, Ozma of Oz, introduce a blonde Dorothy with shorter hair. Dorothy's hair isn't discussed in-text so either could technically be accurate, but most books in the series are illustrated by Neill and use the latter design.
- In the third Rotten Ralph book, Rotten Ralph's Rotten Christmas, Percy was smaller than Ralph and lacked accessories. In later books, Percy would be closer to Ralph's height and wear glasses and a bowtie.
- The Moomins:
- In early works before the main book series, the Moomins themselves look way uglier, with big noses instead of snouts. Also, Moominmamma originally didn't wear her apron, and thus looked pretty much like a bigger version of her son.
- In the first book, Moomins and the Great Flood, the Hattifatteners have visible legs.
- In The Beatles earliest performances they dressed in leather jackets and presented themselves as Greaser Delinquents. Once Brian Epstein became their manager he made them switch to the collarless suits everyone thinks of when they think "early Beatles."
- Murdoc from Gorillaz originally had tan skin and one red eye. Later on, his eye turned grey and his skin turned green. The latter is handwaved as being the result of tanning.
- Eminem's first music video, "Just Don't Give A Fuck", shows Slim Shady as a fleshy B-boy in a baseball cap with a shaved head, dressed in all black, with aggressive and sneering mannerisms, and shot through a sepia filter so it's harder to tell he's white. By Eminem's second music video, "My Name Is", Slim's lost weight (therefore literally slim), and has his signature cute mannerisms and expressions, white tshirt, and cropped platinum blond hair.
- Eminem also appears with dark hair on the cover of The Slim Shady LP, though it's not easy to see apart from his sideburns. (He's his expected blond on the back.)
- Most wrestlers will have simpler, more generic looks in the early stages of their career (as they have neither the money nor status within the industry to be afforded such elaborate attires) compared to their prime years. Some noteworthy examples:
- Hulk Hogan:
- Hogan made his WWF debut in 1979 as a heel who wore blue tights, red kneepads and boots and colorful robes instead of his tearaway shirts, and sported a full head of hair as well as body hair. While Hogan's iconic yellow trunks and boots with red kneepads was an attire he wore fairly regularly during his early career, they would not become his standard look until some time in the mid-80s.
- During his first appearance as "Hollywood" Hulk Hogan, he lacked his signature black stubble.
- Randy Savage debuted in 1973 as "The Spider", a gangly masked wrestler (he was still playing minor league baseball at the time and wrestled during the off-seasons, so he needed the slender physique for baseball and wore the mask to hide his identity from his coaches). Even during his more familiar "Macho Man" gimmick, people outside the wrestling fandom might be surprised to see that he wore simple trunks and boots, sequined ponchos and headbands to the ring in the eighties instead of his Iconic Outfit template of the cowboy hats, tassel-covered jackets and long pants/bodysuit that he wore in the early-to-mid nineties. (While the 80s were the peak of his career, his 90s look got more media exposure).
- Ted DiBiase started his career clean shaven and with no millionaire tuxedos.
- Even though the look lasted ten years, anyone born after the early 1990s would likely be shocked to see that the long-dark haired, monochromatic, Crow-like Sting started his wrestling career as a bleach-blond California surfer dude-type with neon colored outfits, as he had spent the later two-thirds of his career with the Crow look, or some variation thereof.
- The bald, goateed, tough-as-nails Texan "Stone Cold" Steve Austin got his start in wrestling as "Stunning" Steve Austin: a blond-haired, clean shaven pretty-boy wannabe from Hollywood, California. He also wore colorful long tights before switching to trunks circa 1993, though he wouldn't start wearing all-black until 1996.
- Arn Anderson wore fedoras in his early career.
- Scott Steiner started off with a long, dark brown mullet and clean shaven, wearing a singlet and sporting a smaller (yet still impressive) physique, then became "Big Poppa Pump", sporting short-blond hair and beard, going shirtless and gradually bulked up to unnatural levels. Like Sting above, it's not really "early" though as the look lasted for about a decade, but most fans think of the "Big Poppa Pump" look.
- Ric Flair had dark hair, a mustache, and about sixty or so extra pounds on him in the seventies.
- Scott Hall's run in the American Wrestling Association, years before achieving fame in the WWF. He sported a curly mullet, a large mustache, and bulked up to 300 pounds (which he attributed to steroids).
- Kurt Angle had a full head of hair when he debuted in 1999, but he then started quickly losing it, so his head was shaved bald in 2002 as part of a storyline and he has kept it shaved ever since.
- CM Punk was a blond in his early days, but is better known as a brunet.
- Sasha Banks is best known for dying her hair various shades of red, purple and pink, but started off with her natural medium-length dark blond hair. The same can be said for Becky Lynch, though her preferred shade is orange.
- Bayley wore pretty standard wrestling attire during her independent days and later first few months in WWE. She didn't adopt the colorful look until later.
- Take a look at Samoa Joe in the early 2000s and he is damn-near unrecognizable, being much thinner and having dyed-blond hair.
- The Undertaker looked far scarier in his early days as a pale redhead. By the mid 90s he had started tanning, dying his hair black and getting tattoos.
- Rey Mysterio's mask originally had a crown design on it but was changed to a cross when he remasked for his WWE career. Also, he wore tights (of various different designs) prior to his unmasking. After unmasking, he first wore dungarees, and then switched to baggy pants due to a knee injury - and they were redesigned to the familiar ones with logos during a brief spell in the indies prior to his WWE signing. His early name, as is well known, was Rey Misterio Jr, corresponding with his uncle, Rey Misterio Sr, who himself remodelled his attire after Rey Jr. after the latter hit it big.
- John Cena once wrestled in traditional tights and boots, rather than the jean-shorts and sneakers he's known for now.
- Randy Orton once had a thicker head of hair and fewer tattoos.
- Bryan Danielson, during his independent days, was fully clean shaven. Even after becoming Daniel Bryan in WWE, he remained clean shaven at first and later grew a short neat beard. His signature long beard did not debut until the Team Hell No days.
- Christian began his career with hair about as long as Edge's, not cutting it until around the time they split up.
- The Miz wore baggy shorts at the beginning of his career. He didn't start wearing trunks until after his 2009 feud with John Cena concluded.
- Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns, and Dean Ambrose all wore traditional wrestling trunks in their pre-Shield days.
- Bray Wyatt was clean-shaven and a lot fatter during the time of his previous gimmicks, and wore plain old trunks.
- Lita was a blonde when she started in ECW. She would be most famous as a redhead.
- At the start of his run in the WWE, Triple H wore tights and kept his hair pulled back in a pony tail. His hair was also a lighter shade of blond.
- During Eddie Fatu's first few appearances as the Umaga character, he sported wild red hair as opposed his usual black braids. He also had a septum ring, which would later be abandoned.
- Hulk Hogan:
- Snorky from The Banana Splits was originally designed to look almost mammoth-like, with long hair that covered his entire body, along with sunglasses that entirely hid his eyes. Starting with season two of the show, he became a clean-shaven elephant in design, along with wearing a vest and having eyes visible under his sunglasses.
- The Muppets:
- Kermit the Frog looked different when he first appeared on the show "Sam and Friends". His body was leaner, he lacked his signature spiked collar, and his feet, when they were visible, were round nubs instead of flippers. He wasn't even referred to as a frog until a decade later when he appeared in Hey Cinderella! and Sesame Street, at which point, his body became more barrel shaped, and he gained his collar, and flippers.
- In Season 1 of The Muppet Show, Miss Piggy had a homelier face and dirty blonde hair and almost always wore a silver evening dress. Over the course of the series and movies, she became prettier, with brighter hair and a varied wardrobe.
- Also in Season 1, Gonzo had perpetually sad-looking eyes with green lids. Later his eyes were redesigned with yellow lids and a mechanism to move them, giving him a happier, more energetic look.
- In the Muppet Babies sequence in The Muppets Take Manhattan, Baby Piggy wears a pale pink dress and a white hair bow. In Muppet Babies (1984), her dress and bow are both a bright shade of pink.
- Warhammer 40,000 has many changes in between editions and codexes.
- Compare, for example, the dreaded Carnifex◊ to its first edition incarnation◊.
- In the first edition of the game, the Space Marines had helmets with a pointed face, resembling a beak or a knight's bascinet. Starting with the second edition, they had the iconic grill-faced helmet they've kept since. The beaked helmets still pop up from time to time, with the explanation that they come from an earlier model of power armour that some Marines still use.
- Cheerilee from My Little Pony (G3) was originally a unicorn with a slightly different coloring and a different Cutie Mark. For the "Core 7" soft reboot she was combined with another pony named "Cherry Blossom". She now uses Cheerilee's name but Cherry Blossom's design.
- Elizabeth from American Girls Collection was originally a brunette with brown eyes. After she was portrayed by a blue-eyed blonde in a film, her doll was given similar looks.
- Thanks to the toys coming from existing toylines, many Transformers: Generation 1 characters had toys that were drastically different from the redesigns accompanying media would create (and subsequent iterations would use):
- Ratchet and Ironhide's toys had no head, instead having a face sticker on their seats.
- Megatron's gun barrel rests at hs side, rather than pointing up behind his back.
- Many 1984 Autobots such as Bumblebee, Gears, and Huffer had robotic masks and visors for faces, while the Marvel comic and Sunbow cartoon would give them more humanlike faces.
- Jetfire was a repainted VF-1S Super Valkyrie, and (likely for legal reasons) he was heavily redesigned in most media to have a blockier form with a humanoid face, with the cartoon even renaming him "Skyfire".
- Barbie had "cat eyes", as many fans call them, until sometime in the early 1970s.
- Barbie's first sister Skipper was originally a titian haired preteen. In 1979 the "Super Teen Skipper" doll changed her into a blonde haired teenager. 1985's "Hot Stuff Skipper" gave her dimples and a longer face, while 1988's "Teen Fun Skipper" made her taller. In 1997, Skipper made her an even older teen and she has stayed that way since. She's almost as tall as Barbie and has a new design. In 2009 she was briefly decreased in size but has since gone back to being in her mid-to-late teens. In 2010 Skipper was redesigned from a blonde to a brunette (presumably dyed) with purple streaks in her hair.
- Tamagotchi: Mametchi, the series mascot, was a blue-colored female on North American releases of the 90's toys, which was changed to a yellow-colored male for the modern releases. Averted on Japanese releases, where he was a yellow-colored male right from the start. He also started out with a squatter, hamster-like design with small black eyes rather than his modern design with a large head and large blue anime-style eyes.
- Players of the 2001 Game Boy Advance game Quest for the Toa could customize their character, but official media initially showed him with a bright blue mask, yellow body and arms and red feet. In the sequel Mata Nui Online Game, which revealed his name as Takua, he had a red body and arms and yellow feet. In his 2003 Direct to Video film Mask of Light, his feet became red and his mask was a mix of dark blue and red, whereas his actual toy released together with the film retained his bright blue mask but turned his feet dark blue.
- Some other early Bionicle characters also infamously had their masks mixed up by the Mata Nui Online Game developers, which lead to Hafu and Taipu accidentally switching designs. Kapura also had the wrong mask type, and his feet inconsistently switched between yellow and red. These mixups were only rectified in the game's 2003 sequel.
- In 2001, Kopeke had bright blue feet and wore a similarly colored Noble Komau◊ mask, but by 2003, he suddenly sported dark grey feet and his mask was switched to a Noble Matatu◊.
- In the original sprites for Higurashi: When They Cry, Shion wore a red necktie and a grey blazer over her school uniform shirt. The remakes, anime, manga, and Steam release all change it to exclude the blazer and change the tie to a blue bowtie. The original uniform is instead her old boarding school uniform.
- In Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc, Komaru had square bangs, her hair went to the bottom of her neck, and she wore a brown uniform, while Toko had her hair in braids. Come their starring role in Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls, both gain the Idiot Hair typical of the series's protagonists, Toko's hair is loose and her uniform is torn in places, while Komaru has a white and blue uniform and pointed bangs with her hair being much shorter.
- AstroLOLogy: All of the characters were changed in appearance between the 2016 Flash shorts and the 2018 CG shorts, some more greatly than others. Of note, every character initially had their sign somewhere on their person and most of them had eyes with colored irises before they switched to simple black eyes in the final product.
- Aquarius/Albert had dark yellow eyes and braces and his sign was on his headband.
- Pisces/Priscilla had pink eyes, a cyan mermaid tail, the fish tail shape in her hair leaned forward instead of being in the back pointing upward, and her sign was on her earrings. She would be given legs and a cyan dress, as well as a larger mouth.
- Aries/Aaron had light blue eyes, his hood appeared to be a bodysuit that covered all but his face and had slightly different horns, he had a sleeveless dark green shirt with his sign in a yellow circle at the top and a yellow stripe at the bottom, and his pants were yellow. The bodysuit was removed and the hood left intact, his shirt was changed to a long-sleeved light green shirt, and his pants were changed to red.
- Taurus/Tiny had a large, round Gag Nose with a bull-like septum ring, his tie was yellow instead of orange with his sign on a pin in at least one design, and he had hooves instead of normal feet.
- Gemini/Gerry and Gary had their signs on their hats, Gerry had yellow eyes and Gary had a green eye. They were both ovular in appearance, but Gerry was changed to be cylindrical later.
- Cancer/Candy had turquoise eyes, her dress had a red body and a white bottom with a pink stripe, she wore red shoes, and her sign was on both of her tail holders. The dress was changed to pink with a darker pink stripe and she was given dark purple stockings.
- Leo/Leonardo's hair was more like a lion's mane, he wore a belt with his sign on the buckle, he wore shorts and no shoes, and he had a Big Ol' Unibrow.
- Virgo/Victoria had green eyes, her dress was green with her sign at the top and a white stripe at the bottom and covered her legs, and she had brown shoes. She would later wear a shorter white dress with a blue collar and red stockings.
- Libra/Larry had red eyes and his sign was on his hairpiece, but he was otherwise the same.
- Scorpio/Scotty had grey eyes and an eyebrow ring and wore a belt with his sign similar to Leo's. His legs were also much shorter.
- Sagittarius/Sally had orange eyes, one of them obscured by her asymmetrical bangs, a red jumper with a green and yellow sash, and brown hooves, and her sign was on her tail holder. She would be given a green tank top and more humanoid legs with brown pants and light brown shoes that give the impression of hooves, her bangs were made symmetrical, and her tail holder now had an arrow going through it.
- Capricorn/Casey had dark green eyes, a dark green mermaid tail, a belt with his sign, and his ears were brown in one design. He would be given legs and would wear lime green pants with brown suspenders and a white hat.
- Bravest Warriors had some noticeable differences in character design between the web series and the original Random! Cartoons pilot.
- Chris Kirkman's blond hair was originally less wavy and had a lighter shade of yellow.
- Danny Vasquez had a different hairstyle in addition to his hair being black rather than brown.
- Wallow used to be less muscular and had a shaved head as opposed to being completely bald.
- Happy Tree Friends:
- In the early episodes, Flippy's face looked like it usually did upon becoming Fliqpy. Later on, his Fliqpy face looked a lot more menacing.
- Russell the Pirate had a solid gray five o'clock shadow in Season 1, though it was since removed.
- In a 2001 Ramyun Boy (a South Korean flash animation series for children that was popular in the early 2000s) episode, the titular main character and his love interest look different from their final appearances. Examples are Ramyun Boy looking chubbier and Ramyun Girl having visible hair.
- In the "Red" trailer, Ruby is depicted with a giant cross. This was later changed to a rose.
- During his brief cameo in The Stinger of the Volume 1 finale, Mercury Black's design differs from the one seen in Volume 2 onwards in a number of ways. He lacks his fingerless gloves as well as the armor he wears on his arms. His hair is also significantly different, being purple instead of gray and styled differently in the front.
- Outside of battles, Nora originally wore a bow behind her skirt. This was scrapped after Volume 1 because the bow was hard to animate.
- Blake's cat ears were purple when she first revealed them in volume 1 but they later turned as black as her hair.
- The Meta Red vs. Blue debuted in the Recovery One miniseries as the mostly unseen antagonist, but he does briefly run across the screen at one point, and if you pause at the right time, you can make out that his armor is brown and red. As the miniseries is filmed using Halo 2, and full armor customization wasn’t introduced until Halo 3, the Meta simply uses the same armor type as all other human characters on the show up until that point. Later seasons, including the flashbacks that chronologically took place before Recovery One shows The Meta using customized white and brown EVA armor.
- A in Alphabet Lore had white skin, a smaller mouth, and a white tongue. This was before the actual short released.
- Angel Down: A number of characters had their design changed after the comic jumped to color.
- Ariel, Samuel, and Bernard all received more complex facial and body markings
- Ariel's mechanical arm received a more complex design
- Bernard's hair went from a slicked back style to loose, curly hair.
- The Order of the Stick:
- Burlew has played with this trope a few times and it is shown with Haley's hair (cut really short at one point, to recovering it to look like Lady Godiva for a one-panel joke, before returning to normal since Long Hair Is Feminine). At one point in the story, the characters comment on some of the clothes used in the past of the comic.
- Elan originally wore traditional bardic clothes, including a sash and cape. At one point, he disguised himself as Locke. While he abandoned the bandana and wig, he kept the outfit and has been wearing it ever since.
- 8-Bit Theater: The sprites change when the party changes jobs with the rat tail soup.
- City of Dream: While some characters act on the Limited Wardrobe, some others have taken this route. Jessica in particular has stopped cosplaying Momo, and moved onto a somewhat varied wardrobe of pants and shirts.
- El Goonish Shive:
- When Ashley first appeared, she had messy bangs that hung in front of her face. Later on, these evolved into Anime Hair spikey things. These would be drawn thinner and longer over the years until she barely resembled her original look.
- In many of the earliest strips (2002-2003), when Tedd wasn't showing any particular emotion, he often lacked a mouth. Dan admits in the commentary for one strip that he finds these instances bizarre nowadays.
- Multiple characters' appearances have become exaggerated over the years in Crystal Heroes. Garrett has gone from slightly spiky slicked back hair and angular eyebrows to wild, messy slicked back hair and practically T-shaped eyebrows. Meanwhile, Marina has gone from slightly wavy hair with right-parted bangs to massive, curly, floofy hair with left-parted bangs.
- Kill Six Billion Demons has had several characters undergo redesigns mid-comic as a result of Abaddon's fleshing out his understanding of who they are and how they act. Cio went from a bug-eyed, insect-like humanoid to a Cute Monster Girl as her desire to leave her past behind (in which she was an insectoid Humanoid Abomination) became apparent. Solomon David's color scheme went from deep purple accented with red to white accented with deep purple to reflect his status as a Light Is Not Good God-Emperor. Most jarring is Gog-Agog, however, who turned from a vain, unhinged madwoman who copied other peoples' mannerisms into a cheerful, unhinged Monster Clown — though given Gog-Agog, her earlier design could easily just be a phase she went through.
- Monsterkind: When introduced, Ben is a slim and scruffy man with relatively clear skin (having a skin tone just a little darker than Wallace), whose horns were barely noticeable in his hair. By his next major appearance, he has pudged out into a Big Beautiful Man with a notably darker skin tone, and his horns were much more noticeable.
- Discussed in the Critical Missives of Rusty and Co.'s 8th chapter with Derek's character, as a reader asks: "What's up with your design? It seems like you changed how you were drawn, in this level." Although his basic features remain mostly unchanged, his face appear rounder, his build seem less muscular, and his hair shorter and spikier, thus giving him a more youthful and cartoon-like appearance.
- Lampshaded in Sleepless Domain with Heartful Punch, whose first appearance had her with different-shaped eyes and without her trademark bangs. The comic's Alt Text has this to say:
I'm sure this character won't look super different next time she shows up
- In Weak Hero, Gray's initial flashbacks to his best friend Stephen showed that Stephen had dark, unkempt hair. Later on, when a Whole Episode Flashback shows Gray's time in middle school, Stephen instead has a light brown, two-block haircut, making him appear more clean-cut.
- Certain Neopets characters have evolved greatly over time, even beyond the extent of the site-wide Art Evolution. For instance, Bruce was originally a photograph of British television host Bruce Forsyth, and then a caricature of the same, before becoming a penguin-like creature; Kau was originally a caricature of American R&B singer Macy Gray (and was named "Macy Gray" to boot); and Mynci started out as a redheaded human named Mellish.
- In the 2001 Mata Nui Online Game, the Matoran look like their toy prototypes instead of the final designs (having flat and thin arms, no "rim" on their heels and a different head), and the appearance of the Pakari◊ and Ruru◊ masks are almost always wrong. These were due to the rushed development and to the game sprites being based on bad photographs and primitive 3D assets from other games. Some confusion also stemmed from the Tarakava beast, which had a Pakari mask on its snout but the prototype had a Ruru. The game artists created various combinations of the two masks before getting them right and multiple characters who wore a Pakari were drawn with a Ruru and vice versa. The 2002 web animations redid most masks to be accurate to the toys but certain characters still had the wrong types and the Matoran still retained their prototype bodies. In the 2003 sequel game, the bodies were redesigned and the masks were finally fixed.