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Era-Specific Personality

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Some characters can have very long careers, managing to exist and maintain popularity for several decades. Due to the simple passing of time and countless writers, this means that the character as you know them today can be very different from older incarnations; even versions created just a few years later. We're not (just) talking a wardrobe or design difference either, but complete personality overhauls and behavior.

This can occur for a variety of reasons. Sometimes it's entirely intentional. For example, Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck began with the same basic personality, so the Boys of Termite Terrance deliberately experimented with new ones to avoid redundancy in the character lineup. Maybe the creators feel that the elements they are changing are ones that are negligible or could actively improve the character. Heck, if the character was unpopular enough, maybe they figured no one would mind if they scrapped everything but the name and design. Other times it can be accidental, though. Perhaps the writers inadvertently find themselves latching onto certain character traits and ignoring others because it makes writing the character easier or leads to more interesting stories: Flanderization can occur as a result of this. Whatever the behind-the-scenes reason, expect fans to debate heavily about which era of the character was the best.


See also Characterization Marches On, Interpretative Character or Adaptational Personality Change.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Benkei from the Getter Robo franchise has had a different personality in every appearance. Original Manga: pretty much Musashi. 70s Anime: A pacifist coach with stout strength. Getter Robo Armageddon anime: Team Dad and while a bad ass something of the Only Sane Man. New Getter Robo anime: a composite with Musashi, a reformed monk that's chaotic good.
  • Ash Ketchum from Pokémon has gradually changed his personality with each saga, though his heroic nature, fearlessness, and love for Pokémon remain constant. In Indigo, he was more brash and temperamental, with an impulsive streak, and frequently blew off actual training. By the end of the Orange Islands, the tendency to blow off training completely disappeared. In Johto, he greatly enjoyed training and while his impulsive, brash temperament remained, it was much less so than in Indigo. In addition, throughout the Original Series, he displayed a tendency to be a Deadpan Snarker. The Advanced Generation Ash Ketchum was much calmer and more mature, serving as an experienced mentor to May, though his stubborn streak remained. The Diamond & Pearl series Ash was very mature and experienced just as he had been in the previous saga, but also had the tendency to display angst, partly due to his rivalry with Paul, a cold and borderline abusive trainer. In both of these generations, Ash displayed great tactical ability and learned from his mistakes, though he could still be stubborn on occasion. Best Wishes Ash seemed to have a snapback to his Original Series personality, with stubbornness, immaturity, and impulsiveness, though admittedly not quite to the extent of the Original Series and thankfully it was toned down over the course of the saga. XY Ash was nearly infallible, once again, and moreso than in any other saga, serving as the wise, experienced mentor to his traveling companions, who, along with a few rivals, all idolized him. While he still retained all of his enthusiasm, he was still very calm, mature, and capable of planning ahead at times, while retaining his strength of thinking on his feet. SM Ash is more buffoonish and hyperactive than XY Ash, possibly the most since the original Ash, though he retains the competence and Simple-Minded Wisdom of XY Ash. In Pokemon Journeys Ash is for the large part a toned down rendition of his SM counterpart.

    Comic Books 
  • Throughout the first year-or-so of Batman's existence, he's a menacing outlaw who recklessly taunts criminals, often kills them, sometimes using a handgun, and then he adopts a young boy named Dick Grayson, who joins him in the butt-kicking of evildoers... and swiftly becomes an upstanding noble hero with a code against killing (possibly before Superman) who's fully deputized by the police. By the 1950s, this characterization has become the rule, though it lets up just a bit in the mid-'60s. In the '70s, he's still basically a noble hero, but becomes more cynical and fallible. Beginning in 1983, Batman is more of a maverick, but it's the 1986/1987 reboot/retcon of DC Comics as a whole wherein Batman becomes more introverted and violent and yet also even more fallible than in the '70s. The events of 1988 (Barbara being shot and paralyzed, Jason being killed) cement this notion, as does the 1993 injury at the hands of Bane, and yet, by the end of 1996, Grant Morrison portrays him as an infallible genius—at-least in JLA stories—though still introverted and often violent (though not like "darker" anti-heroes). This has essentially been Batman's mode in the comics since that period.
    • One issue of Superman (Superman: The Man of Steel #37), during the 1994 Crisis Crossover Zero Hour! had a barrelful of Batmen show up, each based on a particular artist's rendition (e.g., Frank Miller, Neal Adams, Carmine Infantino, Dick Sprang, Bob Kane).
    • A Planetary crossover had them running into various versions of Batman as they shifted between Gotham realities. Batmen they encountered were, in order - modern Batman, Adam West Batman, TDKR Batman, Denny O'Neil Batman, original Batman and future Batman.
    • So it's no surprise that his most longtime recurring villain is the same. The Joker was a gangster with a gimmick, then a Harmless Villain, then the Clown Prince of Crime we all know and love in personality but different in motive. Will you finding him robbing banks? Planning to kill a whole bunch of people For the Evulz? Involved in a big Take Over the World conspiracy with a coalition of villains? ...yes. How dangerous he was would vary with the darkness of the era; in a grittier story he's murder incarnate. In a lighter story he's shooting acid from his lapel flower until going down in one punch. Eventually, it was decided that all versions of the Joker are equally valid: with his madness, nothing is stable about him, including what sort of villain he is. Making smiley-faced fish today, ending a talk show appearance with "I released poison gas when I came in the studio just 'cause I felt like it and the thousand or so people in the audience will drop dead in 3-2-1...!" tomorrow - that is what it means to truly be Chaotic Evil.
    • One issue of the Fanboy miniseries by Mark Evanier and Sergio Aragonés has Finster taking the role of Robin in one of his imaginary adventures. Along the way, Batman gradually shifts through just about every major portrayal from his original Golden Age depiction to the Batman: The Animated Series version.
  • Superman.
    • Early Golden Age, he had no problem sending a carload of gangsters to their deaths and was seen as an outlaw. His Kryptonian heritage is rarely referenced. He was rough-and-tumble, generally anti-authority, and was fond of just straight-up punching people like domestic abusers. His most famous moment was probably "How Superman Would End The War", where he decides to stop World War II by simply bumrushing the German lines, pulling Hitler out of his office, and hauling him before a criminal court, claiming in the meantime that "I'd like to land a strictly non-Aryan sock on your jaw."
    • Late Golden Age/Silver Age, he was a true genius, had a no-killing rule that extended to even the most vile of supervillains, and was a symbol of the establishment. His Kryptonian heritage was paramount to almost everything he did. He was also something of The Trickster, had major-league Complexity Addiction, and was Crazy-Prepared. He also had a noticeably morose side, strongly disliked forming close relationships, hoarded secrets like crazy, and clearly saw the loss of his homeworld as a tragedy.
    • The Bronze Age loosened up on the Complexity Addiction, but also made him noticeably more thoughtful, characterized by stories like Must There Be A Superman? He also tended to engage with cosmic threats a lot more, or engage with "real" issues, and perceived himself mostly as international and worldly. His infamously manipulative aspects mostly vanished, though he remained fairly secretive.
    • The 1986 reboot established Superman as fairly establishment-minded and much more overtly American, as well as ratcheting back his intelligence considerably. Additionally, while most prior stories treated Clark Kent mostly as a disguise, the reboot pushed for the idea that he considered Clark the "real" identity and Superman the disguise. He claimed to not regret the loss of Krypton itself, seeing it as just a curiosity, and was, if anything, resentful towards his heritage. Meanwhile, his difficulty with close relationships mostly vanished, culminating with marrying Lois Lane. His power went back down, though not by much, and he rarely faced cosmic-scale threats anymore.
    • After about the turn of the century, significantly more aspects of the Silver and Bronze Age takes started drifting in: his intelligence and strength went noticeably back up, there were more signs that his mannerisms as Clark were affected, he became significantly more a citizen of the world, and his disdain for Krypton was more or less dropped. This varied a lot Depending on the Writer, though, and he stayed fairly grounded in his interpersonal relationships.
    • Grant Morrison's take on Superman's early years for the New 52 relaunch is based on the earliest Golden Age character: an anti-establishment radical who appeared in stories like "Superman In The Slums". These stories took place in the past and his "present" character is somewhat more defined, except when written by Scott Lobdell.
    • Morrison's All-Star Superman, by contrast, is an ode to the Silver Age and Superman acts almost exactly as one would expect him to if they grew up on those comics.
  • In his earliest appearances, Wolverine was more of a wise-guy and gradually drifted toward the savage we know him as today. This peaked at some point, and by the time Wolverine & the X-Men (the comic book series) came around, he'd become much more tame and a more strict adherent to Xavier's dream than former noble leader Cyclops.
  • Alan Moore's run on the Supreme comic starts this way, with Supreme encountering various iterations of himself stretching back to at least the 1930s. His arch-nemesis Darius Dax has a similar experience, including an encounter with "edgy Eighties serial killer Dax."
  • The Question, big time. First created for Charlton Comics by Steve Ditko, he was more of a mouthpiece for his creator's Objectivism. When he joined DC and got his own series in the 80s the character become zen-like and tried to control his berserker urges. Then there's his famous expy from Watchmen, Rorschach, who was intended to be Ditko's Question but had to be changed, dialed up closer to psychopath. The reason why Rorschach is here is because The Question's DCAU version is more like a toned down Cloudcuckoolander conspiracy theorist Rorschach. Then of course there's the second Question.
  • Older readers of British comics such as The Dandy and The Beano will point to the Golden Age of some of the long-running characters being the 1960s and 1970s, when an artist called Leo Baxendale drew and scripted the long-runners such as Dennis the Menace (UK). Baxendale's combination of lunatic surreal humour and way-above-average artwork is still reverenced today.
  • Parodied in Radioactive Man, the defictionalised comic based on Bart Simpson's favourite superhero. In comics that supposedly run the whole of comicbook history, the title character is largely unchanging while his teammate Miles Mando constantly reinvents himself to fit the current trends: in The Golden Age of Comic Books he's a Captain America style Military Superhero called Purple Heart; in The Silver Age of Comic Books he's an Iron Man style heroic arms-dealer called Brave Heart; in The Bronze Age of Comic Books he's a Green Arrow style preachy liberal called Bleeding Heart; early in The Dark Age of Comic Books he's a Rorschach style Conspiracy Theorist called Heart of Darkness; and in the late Dark Age he's an Image Comics style '90s Anti-Hero called Bloody Heart.
  • Betty Cooper of Archie Comics in early comics was nothing like the modern day Betty and Veronica type tomboy we know today. She was more yandere, was often a Dumb Blonde, and often tried to break up Archie and Veronica.
  • Paperinik, Donald Duck's superhero/antihero alter ego, had many different interpretations:
    • In the first stories Paperinik the Devilish Avenger was exactly that: an avenger of himself with devilish cunning and a sadist streak a mile wide, who'd steal from Scrooge as revenge for something he suffered as Donald and steal his money-filled mattress while he's sleeping on it because the sacks of money in the room were too easy. He's also an outright criminal and the terror of Duckburg.
    • Shortly after the early stories Paperinik became a superhero, even if still a rather terrifying, cunning and sadistic one and liable to return to his origins if provoked. As this is the most popular version, he's currently written this way by most authors.
    • A third interpretation is that of a staightforward superhero, rather close to the 1966 Batman and complete with Paperinik-signal featuring a bat wearing Donald's hat.
      • This version has its own sub-versions, namely the Adventurer Archaeologist and the goofy hero (this one being rather popular with Brazilian authors).
    • The fourth version is the Paperinik New Adventures incarnation, mid-way between the Terror Hero and the straightforward superhero... That with time came back to the Terror Hero take.
  • Wonder Woman has long held a reputation for issues with writers disregarding her previous backstory, supporting cast, attitude and even powers:
    • Charles Moulton's 1940's The Golden Age Wonder Woman is a compassionate snarky inventor who follows a strict no killing rule from Paradise Island given a miraculous fatherless birth by Aphrodite and Hippolyte, with a very overt interest in bondage and a secret identity as Diana Prince. Her powers are Super Strength, Super Speed, Super Senses, Super Toughness, Personal Mass control, Enhanced Healing, and Telepathy. Robert Kanigher' s 1950's Wonder Woman sticks superficially to the previous iteration but drops the Personal Mass control and Enhanced Healing powers and all of the BDSM themed speeches and acts more "appropriately" feminine and is critical of Etta's weight and behavior. Kanigher's Silver Age Wondy is more removed from the Golden Age Diana and is much weaker with no telepathy and the added ability to "glide on the wind", and her inventions are now attributed to Paula von Gunther. The "Mod Era" Diana gave up her powers and fought as a Kung-Fu Action Fashionista. Her Post-Crisis revamp was the soul of a murdered girl given a new life and body by the Amazon's five patron goddesses and started out far more naive than any previous version, even having to learn English after she'd arrived in the US. Infinite Crisis did away with her long-standing no-killing rule and in Wonder Woman (2006) Diana is willing to kill opponents if the situation calls for it, most memorably chucking an axe into Ares' head. Wonder Woman: Odyssey has an even more violent and cynical Diana, who wears black leather pants. Her New 52 iteration is the most bloodthirsty yet with her iconic lasso taking backseat to a sword, as the daughter of an incestuous relationship between Hippolyta and Zeus and all of her powers are due to Zeus' parentage rather than granted by/learned from women as in every previous iteration. Wonder Woman (Rebirth) acts as a Reconstruction of the character.
    • Steve Trevor became noticeably more sexist and useless after Marston's death, morphing from the group's Sneaky Guy Do-Anything Soldier with Improbable Aiming Skills to the poster boy for Useless Boyfriend. While happily married to Diana (eventually) in both the Gold and Silver ages his Post-Crisis itertion is much older than her and is married to that version of Etta Candy instead, removing any and all romantic connotations between him and Diana.
    • Etta Candy's confidence and competence took a dive after Marston's death, and her Silver Age iteration went from Acrofatic Badass Normal Boisterous Bruiser to a more conventionally attractive Damsel in Distress. Her Rebirth iteration has had her confidence and competence restored and is now a lesbian African Amercian rather than a short straight white gal.

  • The Pokémon Squad:
    • When RM and May were dating, RM didn't make any real attempt to move on from her, and was in a normal, healthy relationship. In post-breakup episodes, RM has been seen almost as desperate for a woman as Brock. Now, when he does get a girlfriend, he tends to go full Yandere and scare her away/anger her.
    • In the Sailor Pikachu episodes, Barney is (mostly) Affably Evil. After Sailor Pikachu left, he had definitely become more of a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing. He also appears to have gotten smarter, as he successfully fooled RM into stealing the Declaration of Independence in "Trapped in the Cage".

  • In the 1951 film Superman And The Mole Men, Superman is a rough & tumble crusader. In the 1978 film Superman: The Movie and its sequels, Superman is a noble figurehead of the establishment.
  • In the 1966 film, Batman: The Movie, Batman is a noble figurehead of the establishment. In the 1989 film Batman and its immediate sequel, he's a rough & tumble crusader.
  • James Bond and the world around him change via decade, along with expectations of what a spy character should be like. Naturally, the Daniel Craig version's got a little Jason Bourne in him.
  • For his first decade on the screen, Godzilla was a fearsome force of nature meant to be a physical incarnation of the atom bomb. The later Showa films of The '60s and The '70s portrayed him as a protector of humanity who was grumpy at worst. With his reintroduction in The Return of Godzilla and through the subsequent Heisei era films in The '80s and The '90s, he was once again a fearsome creature hostile to humans, albeit one that often saved humanity by accident in his battles with other Kaiju. This portrayal continued into the Turn of the Millennium, with the exclusion of Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack!, where he is a supernatural being of pure evil. Godzilla (2014) once again makes him the terrifying force of nature he was in his earliest films but also continues the Heisei/Millennium portrayal of him being an unintentional defender of humans from other monsters. Shin Godzilla shows Godzilla closer to his original portrayal as a malevolent monster out to destroy humanity.


    Live Action TV 
  • Doctor Who:
    • In the case of the Doctor, the show provides a notable justified version of this trope. Thanks to the regeneration plot device, Time Lords are in fact expected to change their personality whenever they're recast.
    • Some Doctors even change personality while still being the same Doctor thanks to different showrunners and fanbase preferences -
      • The First Doctor starts the series as a hostile and sinister figure who borders on being an antagonist at times, before Character Development settles in and he becomes a friendlier, more mischievous trickster type who is a better fit for being the central character, before gradually becoming more vulnerable, fallible and weary closer to the end of his tenure. Furthermore, he is totally different in his original comics line, and in his merchandising line again, shows up in two Dalek films played in a totally different way by Peter Cushing, shows up with a completely different appearance and personality in "The Five Doctors", shows up with another completely different appearance and personality in "Twice Upon a Time", and gets another totally different characterisation in a lot of his Expanded Universe stuff (especially the 50th Anniversary ebook A Big Hand For The Doctor, which Word of God has said was intentionally written out-of-character to represent how he'd imagined the first Doctor as a child from reading Target novels).
      • The Fourth Doctor has three different personalities to go with his three different showrunners, between their conscious attempts to dictate the show's tone to the writers (first Gothic Horror Black Comedy, then witty Campy comedy, and finally very serious mystical science fiction) and Tom Baker reinterpreting his performance to fit those. In the first, he's cheerful and amiable but has a dark, brooding side; in the second, he's off-the-wall bug-eyed crazy; in the final, he's more solemn and introspective. See also his characterisation in the Doctor Who Magazine comic strips compared to his personality on the show - he loses virtually all of his dark side and is more sugary, childish and crazy than he ever gets to be on-screen.
      • The Sixth Doctor has a totally different personality in the 80s comics featuring him because they switched to using him before his on-screen characterisation was known, had to invent a personality for him out of educated guesswork, and decided to keep running with that personality even after it was Jossed.
      • The Seventh Doctor is goofy and bumbling in his first season (1987), then becomes increasingly serious, introspective and manipulative but still quite cheerful, well-intentioned and light-hearted (1988-1989), and in the Doctor Who New Adventures (early-to-mid 1990s) he's a ruthless, tormented chess-master Anti-Hero who at times even borders on a Villain Protagonist.
      • The Eighth Doctor is probably the most extreme case, as due to the limited amount of television featuring him, his characterisation is flexible enough that he can be used as a sort of 'generic Doctor' with lots of Depending on the Writer scope, and so tens of different arms of the EU developed him in tens of wildly different ways.
      • The Twelfth Doctor is extremely dark in his first series, to really hammer home that we're Revisiting the Roots with an old, more morally ambiguous, asexual Nightmare Fetishist Doctor. His character arc through this series sees him slowly lighten up and get a better sense of who he is, and so in his second series, he becomes a lovesick, hyperactive, sunglasses-wearing, guitar-playing rock-dad. His character arc through this series sees him going through major tragedy and coming to terms with it, and so in his final series, he is a more foreboding professorial figure who is better at reading human nature (when his inability to do this had been a running joke in his previous two series), and tends to repress his fears and weaknesses rather than asking for help (when he'd rhapsodised on the power of his own fear in his first season).
    • Even setting incarnations aside, the Doctor can be loosely split up into decades:
      • The '60s: Short, twinkly, Ambiguously Human, the source of his powers is a Riddle for the Ages, generally grandpaternalistic or avuncular, and often content to remain in the background coming up with answers while the companions or guest characters handle the bulk of the plot. Usually takes a small gaggle of companions, usually a mixed-gender team. Usually apolitical - he'll break out lectures and he'll protect humans but he won't stick around to fix their long-term social problems. The heavy implication is that he's on the run from something, and stopping, or drawing too much attention to himself, would mean his doom - he stops to help people who are suffering because that's just what a gentleman should do. Occasionally untrustworthy due to his mercurial nature and mysterious motives.
      • The '70s: Tall, dazzling and dramatic, a bit Hotter and Sexier and much more likely to be portrayed as a leading man or action hero. Tends to take just one attractive female Implied Love Interest companion and tends towards Vitriolic Best Buds towards the male ones. Explicitly an alien with Bizarre Alien Biology (two hearts, telepathic powers, etcetera), a variety of New Powers as the Plot Demands, a home planet in the form of Gallifrey and a friendly Evil Counterpart in the form of the Master. Unlike his fallibility in the previous and succeeding decade he's so brilliant at everything he borders on The Ace or an Invincible Hero. Has a much more political bent and is greatly concerned with fairness, equality and freedom - but at the same time it's clear he does what he does because it's fun and he loves showing off. Occasionally scary due to his lack of connection with Earth and his emotional inhumanity.
      • The '80s: Deconstruction of the Doctor's moral code, mental instability and bizarre lifestyle. The Doctor becomes much more emotional and vulnerable and is much more often shown making bad decisions or being physically helpless. Soap opera-influenced relationships with companions begin, but aggressively asexual ones; the Doctor also steps back from the in-your-face lead role of the 70s in order to allow companions to take focus more often. He dispenses with the spirituality of the 70s and his main moral concern is justice, to which he will go to some very dark extents to achieve. By now, he does what he does because he's a mystical, legendary force of justice, with a couple of incarnations (the 80s version of the Fourth and the Seventh) dipping heavily into Wizard Classic symbolism.
      • 00s: A Hurting Hero who destroyed his entire race in order to kill the Daleks except he didn't, he just forgot that for centuries due to Timey-Wimey Ball. Much Hotter and Sexier, most companions being explicit love interests to some degree. Messianic Archetype symbolism abounds but so does internal criticism of this. The Doctor is now a 'big' character who often goes on epic, blockbuster adventures (unlike his smaller-scale predecessors).
      • The New '10s and early 20s: Same as the 00s, but with the subtle return of the political bent, the mercurial nature and mysterious motives, a Blue-and-Orange Morality view of justice, and a more introspective, even more emotional personality reflecting on what it means to be the Doctor, particularly in reaction to major changes to the show's lore in the 2013 specials and Series 12. Also much more of an Ace Pilot outright experimenting with Stable Time Loop and Timey-Wimey Ball.
    • The Daleks, like many popular monsters, reflect popular anxiety of the time.
      • In 1963, the height of the Cold War, they were a Nuclear Nasty.
      • The nuclear radiation concept was soon dropped to focus on a string of Space Opera stories where they tended to be shouting, imperialist 'space-Nazi'-like characters - playing up the Putting on the Reich elements of the Daleks to put a transparent allegory for the Battle of Britain in "The Dalek Invasion of Earth", Those Wacky Nazis in "The Chase" and cunning political machinators using networks of spies and trying to complete an allegory for a nuke in "The Daleks' Master Plan".
      • "Power of the Daleks" switches to a Red Scare allegory with an apparently harmless Dalek 'worker' that makes humans see things its way and subverts the political structure of the entire colony. "The Evil of the Daleks" carries on in this vein - the Daleks discover how to 'Dalekise' humans and make them think like them.
      • The mid-1970s introduces their creator Davros, who becomes a key figure in every Dalek story from that point on. Related to this, the 1980s results in a series of stories about an increasing schism in the Dalek Empire divided between Daleks who are loyal to the Dalek Emperor and a breakaway faction of Daleks who gradually become the dominant faction by the end of the 1980s who are loyal to Davros.
      • The revival series saw them retooled as religious fanatics with a distinctly Post-9/11 Terrorism Movie vibe under Russell T. Davies' tenure as showrunner.
      • Steven Moffat made them more into shifty politicians exploiting recession fears - under him Daleks have a complicated parliamentary democracy, find hatred beautiful, and claim to care about their people but beg for personal mercy. Notably, the WWII allegory is subverted by having WWII-era Daleks fighting on the side of the British (albeit as part of a larger scheme).
    • The Cybermen are Transhuman Aliens whose lack of emotion has made them almost enlightened in "The Tenth Planet", Red Scare Body Horror from "The Moonbase" onwards through the rest of the 60s, killer robots with a gold allergy in the 70s, and rather emotional gun-toting baddies in the 80s so allergic to gold that they die if they get hit with gold coins. The 90s almost saw skeletal, Terminator-esque Cybers, and the new series rebooted them with a new origin story as The Virus, with a marching, zombie-like vibe, so emotionless that they die if they feel emotion and are often defeated by the Power of Love.
  • The evolution of Star Trek's Captain Kirk:

    Multiple Media 

  • Marilyn Manson's discography can be broken up into eras by album, with each album bringing a new look, sound and on-stage mannerisms.
  • The Beatles went through this over the course of their career. If you look at a photo of them from the early 1960s next to one from the late 1960s, you might almost be forgiven for thinking you were looking at two different bands. Roughly, it goes something like this:
    • 1957-1960: basically your average 1950s garage 'skiffle' band.
    • 1960-1962: the "Hamburg/Cavern Club" years; after cutting their teeth in the red-light district of Hamburg, they kind of had a proto-punk rock thing going on. Long hair, leather jackets and lots of anarchic leaping about the stage. Drug of choice: amphetimines (to help with the long gigs).
    • 1962-1964: the "lovable mop-top" years; Brian Epstein comes along, becomes their manager, and cleans up their act into the "Fab Four". They wear nice matching suits, the long hair settles into the distinctive 'Beatle-cut' style, and their music has a very poppy vibe. Drug of choice: weed (at least, from 1964 onwards).
    • 1965-1966: the "Fab Four" look starts becoming a bit rougher around the edges to correspond with the band getting increasingly frustrated and isolated with their image and the constraints put on them by their act. Their music is still quite poppy but starts getting a more experimental art-rock feel as well. Drug of choice: still weed, but they're beginning to experiment with LSD. They stop touring towards the end of 1966 and become a studio band, leading to...
    • 1967: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band/Magical Mystery Tour; the hippy period. Love is all you need. Everything's psychedelic and trippy. Drug of choice: still LSD, but they're also dabbling in Eastern spiritualismnote . Sadly, Brian Epstein passes away towards the end of the year, gradually leading to...
    • 1968-1970: Everything gradually falls apart. The band grows distant from each other (reflected in their increasingly divergent personal and musical styles and facial hair) and gradually split up. Drug of choice is varied, but John Lennon falls into heroin addiction.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • In a rather pathetic example, at WCW Halloween Havoc 2000, October 29, 2000, during the Sting vs. Jeff Jarrett match, they had several people attacking Sting imitating his different looks over the years.
  • Another wrestling example might be Wrestling Society X's Matt Classic, a wrestler who was "in a coma for 40 years" and therefore uses moves, mannerisms, and phrases from 1960s pro wrestling.
  • The Undertaker has had several different "eras" with his persona, such as his original zombie gimmick, his Ministry of Darkness persona, and his biker gimmick.
  • Born John Hennigan, and best known as John Morrison, he changes his last name depending on where he is wrestling at the time. ("Johnny Mundo" for Lucha Underground, "Johnny Impact" for Impact Wrestling, "Johnny Blackcraft" for Blackcraft Wrestling, etc.)

  • Barbie characters personalities have changed with the decades. For example, in 2011 they revamped her teenage sister Skipper as a "techie" Gamer Chick and Phoneaholic Teenager. Prior to that she was just awfully similar to Barbie.

    Video Games 

  • Spinnerette has an arc involving various era-specific incarnations materialising in the present.

    Web Original 
  • Homestar Runner
  • The trope is also used in the Mega Man centric sprite comic Bob and George. The time frame is measured by bittage: 8 bit is the past, 16 bit is the present, and 32 bit is the future.
  • I'm a Marvel... and I'm a DC:
    • At one point in "After Hours", Superman, Batman, and Spider-Man go back in time to shortly before Marvel Comics was founded. Superman and Batman briefly revert to their Silver Age personalities, which was signified by the use of older action figures. When they revert to their modern personalities, Superman remarks that he'd forgotten how nice Batman used to be.
    • Lampshaded again in the "movie tournament" series. Captain America faces off against 50s Superman, who tells him to look up Superdickery.
  • Four Swords Misadventures does this to an extent. In the manga based on The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures, Green is virtuous and heroic, Red is a Wide-Eyed Idealist, Blue is aggressive and overconfident, and Vio is The Strategist. In this series, though they don't start out with much of a consistent personality at first, they eventually do get personalities similar to the manga, but three fourths of the Links get the personalities swapped around. Green Link is kept the same, while Misadventures!Red becomes more like Manga!Blue in personality, Blue is more like Vio, and Purple is more like Red.

    Western Animation 
  • Classic Disney Shorts:
    • Both Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse were much more mischievous and aggressive in their earlier appearances.
      • This is touched on in The Prince and the Pauper, with Mickey Mouse playing both roles. While Pauper Mickey is a nice everyman as depicted in his later portrayals, Prince Mickey is a mischievous rascal as he was in his earlier appearances.
      • Referenced in a Quack Pack episode where Donald Duck was being age-regressed. Instead of getting younger looking, he started reverting to older character designs and became more of a troublemaker (at first; eventually, he actually did become younger-looking).
    • Daisy Duck has changed a lot throughout the years. Originally she was literally a genderswapped Donald with the same temper however afterwards she became his straightman and more of a voice of reason. Quack Pack has her as a sarcastic Deadpan Snarker while House of Mouse upped her ditzyness and made her more outgoing. Currently she's written in her House of Mouse persona.
  • The Batman: The Animated Series episode "Legends of the Dark Knight" featured children speculating about what Batman's really like; their interpretations are pretty much directly lifted from the '60s Batman series (and the '70s cartoons based on it, as well as Dick Sprang's work in the comics), Frank Miller's graphic novel Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, and Joel Schumacher's much-maligned "Batman in a tight rubber suit" movies. (The kids themselves are Classic Dick Grayson, Carrie Kelly and, er, a kid version of Joel Schumacher.)
  • When Woody Woodpecker was revived in the 1990s, they used the wilder, more irreverent 1940s version, rather than the softer 1950s version that had been used until then.
  • In the Looney Tunes shorts, Daffy Duck went from being a wacky trickster to cowardly and non-too-bright to being rather serene and positive, and from there on became cunning and greedy, to be used as a foil to Bugs Bunny.
  • Scooby-Doo
  • Homer Simpson of The Simpsons got this treatment on a meta level. In the original shorts and first season of the show, Homer wasn't too bright, but still a fairly lucid and conscious, if hot headed parent. Following this, Homer became increasingly dopey and more childlike, with more plots spawned from him being ignorant or self centered. The era where Mike Scully was the showrunner was known as the "Jerkass Homer years," with Homer being at the height of his callousness and stupidity. Around season 13, the writers actually made a conscious effort to tone both of these down without sacrificing his basic character, to great success.
  • When Betty Boop first appeared in the early 30's, she was portrayed as a teenage (sometimes young-adult) flapper-girl with an outgoing personality and loads of sexuality. After The Hays Code of the mid-30's however, Betty was aged up to her mid-twenties, wore long, conservative dresses and became more passive and less wild. However, as she experienced a re-birth in popularity after the 50's, she reverted back to her sexy, Jazz Baby persona in most portrayals and is remembered by these images and behaviours mostly today.
  • Parodied in The Fairly OddParents episode "The Crimson Chin meets Mighty Mom and Dyno Dad"- The Crimson Chin has wildly different Era-specific personalities, from the 30s pulp-fiction Chin, to the "super-edgy" 1985 Chin, who got cancelled for swearing.
  • The My Little Pony franchise tends to do this. In contrast to Hasbro's premiere boys' franchise Transformers, where basic characterization sticks between incarnations, in MLP the rule is less "same character, updated for the new generation" and more "new character entirely, with a name we already had trademarked." For example, My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic (aka G4) has the most of the Mane Six take their names and color schemes from the previous G3 characters, while their personalities come from all over the place, but (allegedly) were inspired mostly by G1. Allegedly because the only thing G4's Twilight Sparkle shares with her G1 counterpart Twilight is that... they can both teleport. The older incarnation barely did it anyway.
    • To go more in-depth, the page image is Rainbow Dash. In G3, she was a fashionista (though she liked riding rainbows as well) and spoke with a British accent, until G3.5 removed the British accent and emphasised her Girly Girl aspects. G4 Rainbow Dash is an athletic Tomboy with a Girly Streak (a very small one) whose main defining aspects are her competitiveness, love of speed, ego and immense loyalty to her friends; G3 Rainbow Dash's girlishness, love of fashion, and British accent seem to have been transferred to G4 Rarity (and even she wouldn't dream of singing a song about painting her nails).
  • Thomas the Tank Engine went through various changes throughout the evolution of the original The Railway Series novels and the TV series. In the earliest of Rev W Awdry's books, Thomas was established as a "cheeky" Bratty Half-Pint, then as more engines were introduced he developed into a more mature but highly arrogant hard worker. Both Christopher Awdry's books and early stages of the show reverted to both interpretations when fitting, though as the series became more iconic, Thomas was mellowed into a more altruistic and gentle protagonist. Hit Entertainment's Lighter and Softer tenure makes something of a compromise of the former and latter, turning Thomas into a well intentioned Keet.
  • While the Noops, Rufus and Amberley tended to consistently play a supporting role compared to the Urpneys throughout The Dreamstone, their roles as reactors to them distinctively altered with each season and change of writer. In the pilot episode, they are Crouching Moron Hidden Badasses. For the rest of Season One they become Hero Antagonists with a hidden vicious streak. Season Two defangs them completely into cheery Fools, only ever winning through the villains' self sabotaging or their peers' intervening, while Seasons Three and Four turned them into more crafty and snarky dogsbodies whose agendas keep colliding with those of Blob's squad.


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