Follow TV Tropes


Hidden Depths

Go To

Idris: Are all people like this?
The Doctor: Like what?
Idris: So much bigger on the inside.

People are rarely all that they seem at first glance. Without getting into An Aesop about books and covers and ugly ducks and swans and frogs that when kissed turn into robots, it's fairly true to say that people are mostly visually oriented, and go by first impressions. So when it turns out that The Big Guy who can bend steel bars is also a Harvard alumnus with a penchant for pontificating on the power of prose, people are justifiably taken aback.

This is not so much a character type being subverted as it is getting Character Development in unexpected directions. Much like Playing Against Type, it can be something that seemingly goes against the character type, or combines two different, seemingly opposite roles or characters into one more Round Character. The talent or quirk is rarely impossible for the character to have, just unexpected: people aren't just their job or surface personality after all. The Smart Guy who's a cooking wiz because he had to take care of his younger siblings, or The Ditz who's a Black Belt because her dad wanted her to be able to defend herself are two examples. Hidden Depths can be discovered in Back Story or organically as a story progresses, but if used improperly can crop up in a Plot Tailored to the Party to give a character the necessary skills. Why did they never mention it? "You Didn't Ask".


    Character type(s) and their usual Hidden depth 

This Rebus Bubble list might take a while to fill.

Of course, since these are common enough to have become a trope, they are less of a surprise than more — unusual depths. Indeed, some hidden depths are so common that making the surface and depth the same surprises the reader. In more extreme cases, a completely Flat Character becomes a Rounded Character.

If the audience is aware of the depths but not all the characters are, Dramatic Irony is almost bound to occur. If it happens gradually, it's essentially Flanderization in reverse. May be demonstrated when a character catches the Smart Ball.

For more examples, see the index.



    open/close all folders 

  • Head and Shoulders shampoo has done several ads starring NFL player Troy Polamalu due to his long, full-bodied hair; an ad for "Head and Shoulders Deep" depicts him as an accomplished classical pianist. "Deep... like me."
  • One of the reasons Joe Namath was picked as an "Olivetti girl" was his skill as a typist.

    Comic Books 
  • X-Men: Toad, of all people, has some depth to him. While being Magneto's Butt-Monkey for years, he's become quite a skilled mechanic; and while not innovative, can reproduce pretty complicated devices. He also grew a spine, led his own version of the Brotherhood, and was one of the chessmasters behind the resurrection of the reality-warping Proteus.
  • Most of the kids from Runaways fit this trope one way or another, particularly Chase, Gert, Molly, and Karolina.
  • Stan Lee was very fond of this:
    • The X-Men include Beast, a furry monster man (originally a human-ish jock type, on the surface) who is a brilliant polymath; Prof. Xavier, a guy in a wheelchair, who is the most powerful telepath on Earth etc.
    • Wolverine comes across as an uncouth, uneducated redneck until the team gets teleported to Japan. He picks up part of a newspaper and casually tells the others what it says. Over time, he is shown to be fluent in Russian, Chinese, Cheyenne, Spanish, Arabic, and Lakota, and has some knowledge of various other languages. He's also a highly trained martial artist and samurai.
    • In the Fantastic Four The Thing is likewise a very intelligent ex-fighter pilot. On his worst day, he's needy, pessimistic, and shovy; on his best, he out-braves Captain America. Sue is the most powerful member of her team and on her best day the Team Mom, but she's got self-esteem issues and doubts Reed's devotion to her and the family. Johnny is vapid, self-absorbed and manic—but he's also best friends with Ben no matter what, and usually the first into a fight. Reed is brilliant, but every so often he admits his deep guilt over causing the accident that made the Fantastic Four in the first place—even guilt over what happened to Victor von Doom, even though he didn't have a damn thing to do with it. Ben Grimm's depths are lampshaded in Fantastic Four vs. The X-Men, when Rogue kisses him, stealing his powers and psyche. "She expected to be kissing a toad. Instead she's touched the heart of a prince."
  • Superman, Batman and many other heroes play this with their alter egoes- Clark Kent is a mild-mannered, occasionally clumsy reporter, who no one would suspect of also being the Man of Steel; Batman is a terrifying vigilante, one that many believe is actually a mythical monster and some deny the existence of entirely, while no one at all would consider linking him with shallow, lazy playboy Bruce Wayne. In many stories, though, their identities are also shown to surprise other characters-Clark is also a brilliant, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist who can prove to be incorruptible and brave (evident when Supes loses his powers), while Wayne is also a highly respected philanthropist with a far cleaner business record than his playboy persona might suggest; also, while the death of his parents is public knowledge, most people don't seem to be aware of it.
  • A lot of people in-universe thinks Supergirl's a brainless, gullible Flying Brick that hits first and asks questions later. Though she's a member of the Kryptonian Science Guild and has plenty of hobbies: playing guitar, drawing, costume-designing... She also owns a pet cat she's very fond of.
  • Deadpool has gone through a lot of this. In the beginning, he was a violently amoral mercenary who would pretty much do anything for money, including switching sides in the middle of a fight if someone on the other side offered him more money. Gradually he's grown into a full Anti-Hero, has a pretty tragic backstory of a childhood that was far from easy, and has serious issues with how ugly he is and how his constantly healing brain has seriously screwed up his perceptions. He now has a fairly rigid code of honor, tries to do the right thing, keeps his promises, and has established that there are lines he will not cross.
  • Averted with the Punisher, as he has shown very little character development. Sure, his backstory has been expanded and fleshed out, but in his first appearance he was a vigilante who only cared about killing as many criminals as possible. Decades later, it's still all he cares about.
  • Sin City is a comic that's known for being Rated M for Manly but Frank Miller is careful to give each character a meaningful backstory. Take Marv, for instance. He's ugly and out of his mind, yet he is shown to be a very jolly drinking-buddy, a supportive friend, and is much smarter than he lets on. It was once mentioned that he fought in a war. His violent tendencies, paranoia and alcoholism could be the results of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
  • Geoff Johns specializes in revamping B-level villains by adding backstory and character depth to them.
  • Transformers: Wings of Honor: Parodied when discussing the concept of Alt-modes. Brawl tells them that his motto is to keep the body you're born in. Blast-off points out that his motto really is "aim for the mouth so you don't have to hear them talk." Brawl responds that he has many mottos and that's what makes him deep. However, Brawl's idea of a staying the same is in contrast to his species, which is defined by their ability to change. When Deathsaurus has his team pull a Face–Heel Turn, Brawl is the only one not swayed by bribery or self doubt, Deathsaurus merely lets Brawl's own violent tendencies guide him to the Decepticons.
  • Asterix:
    • Caesar starts out as a cardboard foolish, nasty mockery target, relying on the audience to find it funny in contrast to his real personality rather than displaying contrast in the work itself. Soon, he becomes an elegant, Shakespearean, rather pompous character whose high opinion of himself is always subverted by the personal pettiness of his meanness and the lack of respect he receives from the Gauls. This is his default characterization for a while, until he begins coming up with more nuanced schemes relying on psychological warfare rather than violence and his torment is portrayed more sympathetically (while the Gauls get more anarchic and crazy), making him more of a Worthy Opponent who has a point, much closer to his real-life personality. It culminates in a frustrated speech he gives in Asterix and the Belgians where he points out that Gaul surrendered, as a result of this surrender the Roman government is giving huge amounts of money to the chiefs including the village chief, and so the village is taking Roman money and giving nothing back. After this point, he becomes a Friendly Enemy, even throwing a banquet for the Gauls at one point.
    • Cacofonix is a Dreadful Musician + Hidden Depths — for starters, he isn't actually that "dreadful" a "musician", but a very educated, creative and multitalented one who just happens to have a truly horrible singing voice (although it varies in quality). He may also be Born in the Wrong Century. He also tends to be very arrogant about his talents when people are abusing him about his music, but, as soon as anyone actually wants to hear it, he gets insecure and often starts jabbering about audiophile stuff or loses his voice from stage fright, suggesting it may be an Inferiority Superiority Complex.
  • The Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye: Everyone gets a turn (the title of the comic, after all, is More than Meets the Eye, and it's not just talking about alt-modes), but Whirl, the resident Heroic Comedic Sociopath, is probably the most notable. He's angry because of the loss of his delicate hands to Empurata, making it impossible for him to ply his trade as a watchmaker; he's surprisingly good at getting inside Fortress Maximus's head when the latter has a psychotic episode and takes Whirl and Rung hostage; he considers Rung a friend, not that he was willing to admit to it prior to the above hostage incident; and he admits at one point that a lot of his anger is a defence mechanism, so he doesn't need to face up to the things he's done. Less dramatically, he's also a fan of Earth cinema, especially Jean-Luc Godard.
  • A staple of Leo Ortolani (best known for Rat-Man):
    • Rat-Man is well known as an outright moron and a rude and insulting man. When necessary, he can also prove himself an awesome hero (as Valker discovered the hard way when he asked him if he was the kind of hero who thinks he won't shoot or the one who thinks he can catch bullets with his hands: Rat-Man boasted he was the kind Valker could not shoot-because he stole his gun beforehand), and can be surprisingly nice and romantic at times.
    • Brakko is, by Word of God, "even stupider than Rat-Man, if at all possible", and a Running Gag is that he's the only one who doesn't know his wife cheats on him with literally the entire town and even their dog or that his son is actually the mailman's son, and spends an entire issue unable to realize that Cinzia Otherside is a transgender and a former(?) prostitue. Then, when influenced by the Shadow, he suddenly reveals he knew about his wife and son the whole time, he just loves his wife too much to hold it against her, and the issue where he first meets Cinzia has her told him outright and him hint he knew the whole time and just chose to treat Cinzia as the woman she saw herself as.
    • Valker is the main villain, a professional Hero Killer, and the host of the Shadow, and the main Running Gag about him is him hilariously maiming or killing employees or people who just pissed him off for minor transgressions. He's also Rat-Man's loving adopted father, and wiped out his son's memory of him, and his own of the son, before the Shadow could possess him to protect him.
    • Bedelia from Venerdì 12: a very shallow woman who Really Gets Around, when she broke up with Aldo he asked her "What will I do?", and she calmly took the chance to reply "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn" before driving away-on his car. As the series progressed it turned out she had good reasons to be so hard with him when they broke up (and in fact she was incredibly patient, with every single thing she told him in her "The Reason You Suck" Speech at the break-up being fully justified), and the night before the break-up, that she had long planned since the beginning (he even had a "best before" date tattoed on the thigh), she was outright gentle, trying to give him at least a good memory with a non-stop night of sex and not pointing out she knew he was a virgin to not hurt him-only for him to get nervous and lock himself in the bathroom, at which point she apparently spent the next day planning the harshest break-up she could and the theft of his car.
  • Jimmys Bastards: The titular Jimmy Regent is a James Bond parody, with class, gadgets, and pornomancer abilities aplenty (the title comes from his many, many illegitimate children uniting against him). He has none of his inspiration's misogyny, however, making no attempt to hit on his new sidekick (to her surprise, having heard of his reputation) because his experiences with women have left with with a sense of when someone is just not interested. As said sidekick is a black woman, he also asks, not if she got the job for Twofer Token Minority reasons, but rather if it annoys her that people think so (she has plenty of chances to prove her worth in gunfights). They also have long conversations on the meaning (or lack thereof) of the phrase "politically correct" and other social justice concerns.

    Comic Strips 
  • Dykes to Watch Out For: Sparrow, described by the author as "the most cartoony of my characters," started as a fairly one-dimensional therapy-head and New Ager; she later came out as bisexual, had a child, became an atheist, and developed a grumpy side to her
  • Though he has an outward appearance of a typical bratty 6-year old, Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes at times displays a degree of philosophical depth and intelligence you wouldn't expect from someone his age; usually in his conversations with Hobbes. It's tremendously pronounced in Calvin's case; many adults aren't as intelligent as Calvin is. Calvin has repeatedly shown an intelligence of someone far older and even then, quite a few adults wouldn't be able to to make the same kinds of points that Calvin does with the same amount of articulateness or intelligence. It's even lampshaded in one of the later strips where Calvin's teacher humorously states that if he put a fraction of the energy he did into studying rather than avoiding it, he'd easily be a straight A student.
  • The Italian strip Lupo Alberto has Enrico La Talpa. He's usually just an obnoxious Jerk with a Heart of Gold, most infamous among the fans for his patently false war stories and overestimating his own abilities... And then, once in a while, he reveals some hidden skill, such as reading hieroglyphs (not as well as he thinks, but the fact he can do it at all and without any book to consult is already a lot), and a huge knowledge of trivia that few people can match. Best shown when he once jokingly compared the rainy weather to the summer of Cherrapunji and left almost the entire farm, in stunned silence wondering just what Cherrapunji was because nobody else was familiar with the place (the series of strip ended with Alcide, the local intellectual, trying to get the reaction from Enrico, not knowing it had been him to introduce the saying to the farm, only for Enrico to make him scream by replying "You can say it's the spring of Cherrapunji).

    Fan Works 
  • Just like in Axis Powers Hetalia canon, Italy is not as he seems in Gankona, Unnachgiebig, Unità. Beneath his brilliant smiles and happy exterior, he was insecure and spiteful towards himself.
  • Last Child of Krypton:
    • When Asuka discovers Shinji plays cello, is an excellent cook and reads books in half a dozen of languages (including Japanese, French, Spanish, Russian and Latin), she is impressed.
    • When Touji uses words as “waif” or “encircled” his classmates get shocked. He complains that everybody assume he is a dumb jock only because he works out.
  • In the Jackie Chan Adventures fic Queen of All Oni (in addition to the examples in the canon Jackie Chan Adventures post below), once Jade becomes a Fallen Hero, not only do we see her being as cunning as in canon, but she seems to become even MORE cunning. And her normal, pre-Face–Heel Turn attitude is revealed to be rooted in the Parental Neglect (bordering on abuse) she experienced growing up
    • Finn and Ratso also show an example or two of being Genre Savvy at different points.
  • The Hunter in With Strings Attached. He starts out as an egotistical warrior who loves killing and scaring the crap out of people. But after several days observing the four (who detest him and speak with him as little as possible), especially how they relate to one another and how they do not use their formidable power to kill, he confesses to Paul just how lonely and friendless he is, and that he really doesn't think of killing as “fun.” He also reveals that he started out as a graduate student in botany and had a fiancee who's been lost to him for 20 years now.
  • Calvin and Hobbes: The Series
  • HERZ: In chapter 7 Asuka remembers that she was surprised when she found out that Shinji played cello, since she did not know that he had hidden talents.
    He had surprised her. She didn't know he played the violoncello. About his hidden talents.
  • Silver Spoon in Inner Demons. It's revealed that she actually hates Diamond Tiara, and only hangs out with her because their fathers work together and expect it of them. After developing a real friendship with Apple Bloom, her patience with Diamond grows increasingly thin, until she eventually snaps after one insult towards Apple Bloom and her friends too many, and delivers a "The Reason You Suck" Speech before breaking off their "friendship".
  • The Harry Potter fic To the Moon included a Crabbe and Goyle who were not only in a relationship with each other, but gave the impression of dimwittedness because Crabbe had dyslexia and Goyle spent too much time reading the textbooks to Crabbe to bother much about his own homework.
  • Tamers Forever Series: Every character has more to him or her than meets the eye. Bonus points for the fact that these Hidden Depths are perfectly compatible with the characters canon personalities.
  • In Perfection is Overrated, Bachiko and Meiko are planning on altering people's personalities and memories in order to set them up with their "ideal" matches as necessary. They also have to wonder whether they have done the same to themselves or each other, showing some awareness of the implications of their ability. When, however, they are dying after their defeat and the loss of their powers, it turns out that they did deeply care for each other without their powers.
  • The MLP:FiM fanfic Heart of Gold, Feathers of Steel reveals there is a lot more going on with Gilda than you'd expect just from watching Griffon the Brush Off.
  • Discussed in the Star Trek fanfic Heroes. Spock insists to Surak that Kirk is more than the warrior Surak insists on seeing him as.
  • Necessary To Win, which can be found here, often does this with the characters.
    • Takako Kubo, who's Black Forest's tankery coach in this fic, is a Drill Sergeant Nasty who uses corporeal punishment for minor mistakes. However, her discipline policy is based on the idea that those she coaches have the potential to improve, and while she has little patience for those who make mistakes, she has even less for those who simply give up.
    • Anchovy is arrogant and looks down on Miho, but also has a certain amount of respect for rivals who come up with clever ideas to help advance their causes, and believes that commanders must win for the sake of those under their command.
    • Mako Reizei appears to be Brilliant, but Lazy at first glance, but it's also revealed that parting from her parents on bad terms before they died greatly impacted her, and she hopes that Nodoka and Hana, who are in conflict with their father and mother, respectively, over doing tankery, won't waste any time in their efforts to reconcile with their parents, lest they risk the same thing happening to them.
    • Ami Chouno is a student of the Nishizumi school and a JGSDF instructor, but the teaching she gives to Miho and her teammates at Oarai is significantly different from what she got from both the Nishizumi school and the JGSDF. And as a military officer, she, by knowing the difference between tankery matches and war, keeps things in perspective, which is why she believes that Miho did the right thing when she saved the imperiled tank in the last tournament, at the cost of losing the match.
  • In Riddle and the Ancient Contract everyone treats Crabbe and Goyle as dumb muscle, causing them to hide their intelligence and dreams for the future - for Goyle, caring for animals, while Crabbe wants to be a librarian.
  • Fist of the Moon:
    • While she's a klutz now, Usagi has former gymnastics experience, as well as access to her ki. After Ranma reveals this and gets her confidence up there are times when she surprises even the other senshi with her competence and seriousness.
    • Also, Kasumi has a deep and abiding fondness of Star Wars
  • This is a big part of Heroes For Earth, as each of the main characters are not the one dimensional characters from the Captain Planet and the Planeteers cartoon. For instance, Wheeler, while a bit of a The Complainer Is Always Wrong in the cartoon, in the fanfic, he does have his womanizer, jerkish qualities, but he is also a caring old brother who works on a secret garden to honor his mother.
  • Ask Hoops and Dumbbell: Hoops and Dumbbell both. Both were jerks in the original show, and neither came off as particularly bright - but in addition to being lovers, Hoops is actually brilliant at math, and Dumbbell is great with kids, even studying to become an Elementary School teacher. It helps they have a year or two between the show and the Blog to grow.
  • Inverted in Ambience: Platoon (Moebius Four). Franklin is disappointed to discover that beneath Takao's serious disciplinarian is the Hidden Shallow of an irresponsible drinker.
  • In the rewrite of Sonic X: Dark Chaos, Tsali is revealed to be surprisingly Affably Evil underneath his genocidal psychopathic brutality, at least when he isn't on missions. He originally had a group of mercenaries to aid him in his genocide who he deeply cared about as a family until they betrayed him and tried to kill him. He also privately begins to doubt if all his evil actions would be worth it in the end. He also treats Trinity respectfully as a guest even after he discovers Trinity is an Angel spy.
    • Knuckles is given more depth to cancel out his Flanderization from the show. Though still hotheaded, he's often depicted as wiser, more perceptive, and more reflective than most of the others. He also has a nerdy side to him.
    • Astorath isn't anywhere near the stupid Blood Knight brute he seems to be; he comes to deeply respect Sonic and friends as enemies and has a strong sense of honor. He also correctly predicted that Maledict's master plan would never work from the start, but he was ignored. Even Jesus praises Astorath as an honorable Demon.
  • This is a persisting element in Soul Eater: Troubled Souls. You think you know a character, then something is revealed, whether a hobby or a characteristic, that changes your perception of them. It's best to read the fic itself or at least check out the character pages for details because there’s too many examples to list.
  • The Second Try: After meeting Aki, Rei shows herself to be quite the artist. Her pictures are pretty amazing, and she even got a letter from a gallery.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion: Genocide: After making amends with her, Shinji ponders that Asuka and he are more complex than other people thinks:
    Shinji nodded. He said nothing; neither did Asuka. Whereas he was used to being silent, having her do the same was decidedly weird. Her voice had a unique quality to it that filled a room whenever she spoke, though its shrillness, like her ego, kept people at a distance. The common perception of her as a arrogant and shallow girl was not entirely inaccurate, not any more than Shinji's label as an introvert.
    Asuka was those things, certainly, but she was more. Just as Shinji was more. They had both failed to see that in each other; it was both their fault, and they should shoulder the blame for that mistake together. Shinji intended to. Whether Asuka did would be up to her.
  • This Bites!:
    • Captain T-Bone of the Marines is one of the few benevolent and caring Marines out there who is loyal to the World Government, the ideals of justice and has a hate for anything crooked or corrupted under his watch. A conversation with Smoker reveals that his Marine contingent in the West Blue was assigned to the manhunt for Nico Robin alongside 12 other contingents, but T-Bone and his men protested that the ensuing collateral damage made the amount of force too high. Unfortunately, this dissension got out by means of one of their own, and his superior Vice-Admiral Sakazuki disapproved greatly and completely exterminated his entire flotilla, only sparing T-Bone's life because he claimed he saw the evils of his men and promised to devote himself to the Marine's Divine Justice from then on. But despite this conversion (which Smoker wonders if it was genuine or done out of fear for his life) he has retained his core morality and benevolence to this day.
      • Chapter 30 reveals it to be the latter.
    • Conis has trained alongside the White Berets in order to help defend Angel Island's borders from other pirates, and is said to be as dedicated as Captain McKinley himself. If that's not enough, her mother was a Roger Pirate.
    • Foxy had bought Big Pan the Wotan from Sabaody Archipelago. Also, the whole reason he is building up his crew with the Davy Back Fights is to weather the storm when the battle for the throne of the Pirate King reaches flashover.
    • What was it that swore Buggy, someone who has seen the insanity of the New World, off the Grand Line and made him stay firmly in the East Blue? Lily Carnation. His old crew weren't even that lucky.
    • Robin wore cowboy hats while in Baroque Works, because they reminded her of Saul and helped her feel strong in times of stress.
    • Why are Mr. 13 and Ms. Friday so stupidly tough and relentless? They're from Kuraigana Island, you know, the island filled with sword-wielding primates?
    • Boss somehow knows Grand Line Standard Sign Language.
  • Kitsune no Ken: Fist of the Fox:
    • From early in the story, Sakura comes across as shallow, vain, arrogant, overly proud of her academic skill, and outright snobbish...but it's eventually revealed that for some time she's been wrestling with the fact that her father's always staying out late at work and is consequently rarely home to enjoy a meal with the family.
    • Suigetsu is frequently shown as a self-centered prick who'll look for an easy way to make a quick buck and will antagonize people at the drop of a hat...yet he's also got a surprising amount of knowledge concerning the process of sugar production, something he credits to the fact that his father used to work in a food-processing plant, and he also has a fairly good idea that successful businesses offer things their competitors don't have, advice he shares with Hanabi for her lemonade stand. His money-grubbing ways are also revealed to be the result of him having a rather rough home life, with his father being a perpetual drunk, his brother a hardened con who's done prison time, and his mother having to work long hours at a low-paying job just to keep the family together. And as much as he's hesitant to admit it, he does care about his mother and wishes she didn't have to work so hard.
    • Kakashi, math teacher at Konoha High School, a pervert who reads dirty books and gets into verbal spats with fellow teacher Kurenai at every opportunity, quirky enough to constantly wear a dust-mask that covers the lower half of his face despite clearly not needing it...and also seeing himself as a Failure Hero for not being able to help his longtime friend Rin when she was suffering abuse at her boyfriend's hands. And, of course, he is a competent teacher, inside and outside the classroom, who won't hesitant to run to his students' help if they're in serious trouble.
    • Kushina is generally quite cheerful, spends most of her time at home cooking and doing typical housewife stuff, and on the more eccentric end she cosplays as the in-universe comic book character Shadow Fox and also owns her very own porn stash. However, under serious circumstance she proves to be a source of good maternal wisdom to whoever needs it. She also has some got some deep-seated resentment toward her husband Minato for distancing himself from his family, to the point of requesting Kushina to retake her maiden name, for the sake of protecting her and Naruto due to Minato's black-ops work, and subsequently leaving her alone to deal with Naruto's post-365 days trauma — all of which she hides very well.
  • A Brighter Dark: When Sakura meets him in Hoshido, Hans is shown to be much more cunning than his barbaric and brutal persona might indicate. He's smart enough to have memorized the appearance and name of every nobleman, both Nohrian and Hoshidan, and is willing to put aside blood lust for a moment when he sees an opportunity to improve his standard of living. Both things that you wouldn't have suspected based on how he was introduced.
  • In Clash of the Ketchums, shows an Ash who is fluent in three languages: the Pokemon equivalent of Japanese, Unovan, and Kalosian.
  • Besides the Will of Evil: Fluttershy can speak Laewtil, the deer language, as fluently as a native speaker, due to having been raised by the mule deer of the Everfree Forest.
  • In Dragon Age: Inquisition fanfic Walking in Circles, Evelyn's friend Signy is a quiet girl who mostly kept things to herself, but she often the first person who comes for Evelyn and helps her. She’s also a powerful and resourceful blood mage who practicing her arts by using her monthly blood instead of just cutting herself and risked being discovered like regular blood mages do. Her being a shy, meek, gloomy girl is also mostly an act to avoid drawing attention to herself, as Solas notice that after they left the tower, Signy stands straighter, hair pulled back, and meets everyone’s gaze directly, she talks more too.
    • Kinnaird may look like a selfish guy at first glance but it’s because he has to look out for his sister, as she’ll be the one to be punished if he does something wrong. He’s also a healer, despite his appearance suggests otherwise.
    • Danforth, before taking on the job of researching the Fade, used to be a healer who secretly helped female mages dealing with the result of their rapes, but he was almost made Tranquil and transferred to his current position when he was suspected to be a blood mage who killed a Templar. He didn’t but he does wish to be the one who did it, in a much slower and more painful way.
    • First Enchanter Monette is a Dirty Coward who looks out only to herself but she did manage to reach her current rank by playing the Game well. She's also an adept poison user who decorates her room with special flowers and teas, not to mention, she's not completely heartless as she gives Evelyn a change of surviving the Annulment with her gift, and when the two meet again, Monette takes the latter under her protection.
    • Evelyn herself lampshades this trope when she calls Solas out on his bigotry and condescending attitude. She points out that the reason he sees her as strong, kind, wise and more special than anyone is because he spends most of his times with her while deliberately avoiding all other mages. Had he tried to know others more, he’d have seen that they also have their own lives and stories to tell, how they also try to rebel against their oppressors in their own ways.
  • The Pieces Lie Where They Fell: On top of being Magi Supreme (the title for the captain of the Magi of Stars Guards), Violet Lulamoon is revealed as being the published author of a non-fiction work on amulets.
  • Explored in Of Siblings and Masks, as Suzaku reflects on just how many people truly fail to recognize just how smart Nunnally is, and how much she really is Lelouch's little sister.
  • In Break it down, Butterfly, in a rare moment of sincerity, Plagg nearly breaks down in tears when he sees Nooroo after all these years.
  • Russel in Service With A Smile has the Face of a Thug, partially due to his mohawk but is an excellent waiter and all of his references gave him glowing reviews when Jaune called them. Jaune and Team RWBY all note that when in uniform, his looks make him look adorably wild rather than looking like a delinquent.
  • My Little Pony: Totally Legit Recap:
    • DWK, the narrator and creator, likes to play himself off as just drunken Jerkass loser, making fun of a little girls show, but deep under his cynical, snarky, perverted, crude, and alcoholic personality lies a surprisingly insightful fan who has a great appreciation for the show, its morals, and characters, even if he loves to poke fun at them. The narrator is also shown to have some deeply-rooted personal issues and cynicism, as noted in his recap of "Flutter Brutter," where Zephyr Breeze's personality and character flaws really hit close to home for the narrator.
    • Despite a little bit of Adaptational Villainy, Twilight makes it clear that deep down, she still wants to do the right thing and help everypony, even if her methods can be... questionable.
    • Scootaloo is implied to be one of the more insightful characters and is definitely wiser than her big sister figure Rainbow Dash.
      Scootaloo: [to Apple Bloom, after she starts to think they're growing apart] Dude, we just want to have hobbies. What's the big deal.
      Apple Bloom: But I don't like change.
      Scootaloo: Dude. Apple Bloom, life changes all the time and you just have to deal with it you know. I mean, if you can't cope with change, your life is just going to be a waking nightmare of constant dread, as you wonder if today is going to be the one that shatters your fragile illusion of a status quo, you'll be a nervous reclusive wreck of a person and that kind of life's not worth living. Also having hobbies is neat.
      Rainbow: Bra, you don't fucking get it, I've been dealing with this shit my entire life. When somethings been bothering you since you were a kid, it can be pretty hard to be cool with it, because it puts you back in that head-space where you were young and confused about your feelings.
      Scootaloo: No man, I do get it. Most people have an elaborate interconnected web of bullshit with their parents and it spans a life time and I guess it's not fair for an outsider to come bursting in and making judgement, but part of becoming an adult is processing those clusterfucks of poorly defined emotion you had as a kid and dealing with them in a constructive manner.
      Rainbow: Dude! You're like twelve man, how are you saying all these psychologist words?
      Scootaloo: Because this is the part of the video where this pretensions pseudo-intellectual faggot, does the oh so deep life lesson bit, and I'm the only other character in this scene, so shut the fuck up.
    • Starlight apparently has a successful hip hop career on the side.
  • In Fractures, Padparadscha is fully aware of how much of a burden she can be, believing she lacks the physical prowess and super-abilities to be any help for the off-Colors, leading to Pink Diamond to console her.
  • In Danny Phantom fanfic ResurrectedMemories: While Ember is a wild rocker at heart, she is shown to be fiercely loyal and protective to those she deems as her friends. Also, she shows to be a genuinely hard working student, managing to get good grades on her own merit, as well as Lancer's respect due to her actually trying to work hard in class.

    Films — Animation 
  • Tangled:
    • Played for Laughs with the thugs in the Snuggly Duckling; they may be criminals, but they're also florists, mimes, pianists, romantics, even singers! They even become Big Damn Heroes to break Eugene out of jail.
    • Eugene casually mentions that he used to read to the other orphans at the orphanage he grew up in. Also, that he really dreamed of being a character from the books, whose wealth let him do all sorts of things, which puts a new light on his Greed.
  • In An Extremely Goofy Movie it's revealed that PJ (a Rounded Character already), who is shown to be sensible but usually not very intelligent in the academic sense, is somewhat skilled in the field of free-verse poetry. This managed to surprise not only Bobby, but also Max, who had been friends with PJ for seven years at the time. His poem is about how people tend to overlook overweight people without noticing how interesting they can be.
  • The studio's elephant mascot from Cats Don't Dance is a talented pianist. In fact, it's arguably part of the plot that their depths have to be hidden because of the prejudice in Hollywood; all of them are remarkably skilled in some way (for example, the goat and the fish are actually extraordinarily skilled tango dancers), but Hollywood won't give them a fair shot, forcing them to play bit-part and/or demeaning roles to make ends meet.
  • My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Rainbow Rocks: Sunset Shimmer reveals that she can shred out a pretty good guitar solo at the end of the film.
  • Trolls:
    • Poppy is perpetually optimistic to the point of naiveté, but she's also very resourceful, as shown during a musical sequence in which she survives multiple dangers in the forest even before Branch joins her. Also, the reason Branch joins her is because Poppy came up with a plan to drive him out of his bunker by inviting all the other Trolls, banking on the knowledge that Branch will prefer a dangerous mission than be at a perpetual party.
    • Branch also has hidden depths, revealing a rather poetic and romantic side when secretly feeding lines to help Bridget on her date.
  • Zootopia: Chief Bogo seems like your typical tough guy chief, but some of the comments he makes imply he's more aware of the broken system than is readily apparent.
    Chief Bogo: The world has always been broken. That's why we need good cops.
  • Ralph Breaks the Internet: When Vanellope meets the Disney Princesses, they all reveal that they're not as "perfect" as they're made up to be in the worlds of their respective movies. Notably, Jasmine's allergic to cats, Snow White needs glasses to see, and no one can understand Merida due to her thick Gaelic accent. It's also revealed that the Princesses themselves don't know anything about modern fashion until they meet Vanellope.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • This trope is the point of the 2008 documentary American Teen. The documentary follows five high-school students in a very rural and average Midwestern town in Warsaw, Indiana: Hannah, Colin, Megan, Mitch, and Jake. Each of them are all meant to be some kind of person that you would have known in your own high school: the quirky and unique girl, the all-star athlete, the popular girl with everything going for her, the heartthrob, and the nerd/gamer, respectively. Hannah has a hard time fitting in with a rural town because she's so liberal and she falls into a severe depression when she's dumped in the beginning of the film, Colin's entire future is riding on getting on a basketball scholarship and his father rides him hard over this, Megan is under tremendous pressure to be accepted into the prestigious University of Notre Dame because the rest of her family went there, and Jake worries about finding a relationship that's meant to last.

    The only one who doesn't seem to have any substantial depth like the others is Mitch, who, perhaps coincidentally or not, is focused on significantly less than the other four and is even left out of some posters for the film. Playing video games doesn't really cause a bunch of angst.
  • The whole point of the Breakfast Club, the students reveals plenty of emotional baggage that they never showed before to their friends or family.
  • Mean Girls - Gretchen confesses to Cady that she's secretly miserable as Regina's friend and has to pretend to like and not like certain things to get Regina's approval.
  • Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day - Both Delysia, a ditz, and Miss Pettigrew, a governess have a lot more depth than their labels who imply.
  • One could argue this is the point to Reservoir Dogs. Orange has many scenes revealing his hidden depths, Blonde turns out to have a hidden depth that was right out in the open, and White has his hidden depth come out at the end.
  • Played for laughs in Black Dynamite. Randomly during the film, the Jive Turkey cast reveals they have a lot of esoteric knowledge of Greek Mythology.
  • There are several instances in American Beauty such as Angela, the pretty cheerleader who is a virgin and Frank Fitts, Ricky's Marine father who wants Lester sexually. When rebuffed, he kills Lester.
  • Molly in You, Me and Dupree takes a liking to Dupree when she sees beyond his party boy persona and sees a kind, talented, hopeless romantic of a man.
  • David from the Sabrina remake knows a lot about the family business despite spending all those years as a playboy ne'er do-well.
  • Batman
    • Michael Keaton, in both his personas of Bruce Wayne and Batman, normally gives a subdued performance as both characters in Batman (1989). But then, during the scene with the Joker at Vicki's apartment, Bruce Wayne, unknowingly faced with the murderer of his parents, decides to, without any warning at all during his conversation with him, get nuts. He's doing it to protect Vicki; the audience should already know the Joker is their killer, but Bruce doesn't find out until the end of the scene when the Joker gives his signature line (and shoots him in the chest). Bruce is so shaken by The Reveal that he completely drops out of his crazy act. (It's a VERY well written and well acted scene all around.)
    • Max Schreck in Batman Returns, a stereotypical Corrupt Corporate Executive, is revealed to love his son and his deceased wife, and also seems to have some hidden resentments towards Bruce Wayne and the rest of the silverspoon crowd.
  • Col. Kessler from Battle of the Bulge seems like the perfect soldier, strong, loyal and professional. Until The Reveal that he's an Ax-Crazy Blood Knight.
  • Army Daze's effeminate and seemingly un-military Kenny also runs a mean obstacle course.
  • In Runaway Jury Herman Grimes is almost booted off jury duty because of his blindness, but once he threw his knowledge of the law in the judge's face, he was accepted. It was this event that caused the jury to vote him as foreman.
  • In Another Time, Another Place, you could be forgiven for thinking during most of the movie that Janie isn't much more than a twenty-something stuck in the emotional mindset of a teenager who's going to get eaten alive by the big, bad world. While it's true that she's unworldly and perhaps a bit naive, she reveals herself to have some serious moral fibre when she goes to the authorities to to exonerate Luigi at a great personal expense with no hope of ever seeing him again. Luigi might be a shiftless waster but he's not a bad person, and he certainly doesn't deserve to go to jail for a crime he didn't commit. However, you get the feeling he wouldn't have been in any hurry to stick his neck out for Janie if the roles were reversed.
  • Bob in The Drop. He's as silent as a sphynx, is simultaneously meek but very hard to scare. He's also capable of a lot of compassion, which is surprising since he's affiliated with the mob and killed a man in cold blood.
  • In Kingsman: The Secret Service, Eggsy at first glance appears to be a typical Lower-Class Lout, however his love for his family and (possibly misguided depending on your point of view) loyalty to his friends suggest a more upstanding person underneath the exterior. Before going off the rails he was also known for a high IQ, gymnastic ability and was on course to qualify as a Royal Marine (which takes someone truly exceptional).

    When Hart tries to come up with an example of a lower-class person making a radical change, Eggsy claims to have never seen Trading Places, Nikita or Pretty Woman, but has seen My Fair Lady, to Hart's astonishment.
  • Discussed in Tropic Thunder. Kirk Lazarus explains in his "full retard" speech that characters with mental illness only are well received if they have qualities that make them special. Tugg Speedman tried playing a character who was only severely retarded, and ended up making a flop.
  • All three of our main characters in L.A. Confidential, but especially Jack Vincennes and Bud White:
    • Vincennes works Narcotics, and on the side, gets kickbacks for tipping Hush-Hush tabloid writer Sid Hudgens off to celebrity arrests that will attract readership. However, he does have a conscience and is a highly competent investigator when he can be bothered to put the work in.
    • Bud is shown to be a Wife-Basher Basher. But as it turns out, his hotheadedness towards those who physically harm women stems from his father being an abusive drunk who eventually murdered Bud's mother, and Bud witnessed this. He's also a lot smarter than even he's willing to admit.
  • Bats: Sheriff Kimsey turns out to be a fan of opera. He even lampshades that it'd make him lose points as a badass if anybody else in town knew it.
  • Blade Runner 2049: Luv debatably may be trying to save the child of Deckard from both Wallace and K. She is visibly horrified when Wallace murders a Replicant in cold blood and also possesses the ability to lie, which most other Replicants don't possess. Also from Luv's point of view, K is merely a killer of his own kind and was given the assignment to kill the child. She is however killed by K before we can truly know her motives.

  • In the early years of his career, Ricky Nelson was almost exclusively considered a pretty boy, white-bread-and-mayonaise fake rockabilly singer who hitchhiked to stardom as the son of Ozzie and Harriet. Then in 1971 he recorded Garden Party, an effective retort to the fans at a Madison Square Garden "all-star" concert who booed his updated dress and new country-rock songs mixed in with Nelson's more familiar oldies. The song was a hit, and it gained him new respect as a songwriter and an artist.
    • Nelson's newfound respect also forced a reevaluation of his 1950s music, especially the innovative guitar work of sideman James Burton.
  • Duran Duran's bassist John Taylor was, by all outward appearances, a stereotypical '80s pinup boy and was often the subject of lust/crushing by many, many teenage girls. What he hid? The fact that when he was a teenager, he was a massive bespectacled nerd who was quiet and unpopular to the opposite sex and spent hours in his bedroom wargaming (yes, wargaming). Fast forward to the 2000s and John Taylor started being highly regarded for his bass playing. In fact, most of his fellow band mates had hidden depths: the weedy-looking Nick Rhodes was apparently extremely popular with the opposite gender as a teen, the complete opposite of his childhood best friend John Taylor, and lost his virginity at the tender age of 13; the heartthrob and Lothario Simon Le Bon was apparently a massive Shakespeare nerd while growing up (as a child actor and model) and spent time in an Israeli kibbutz doing lumberjack and tree surgeon duties while penning contemplative poems during his down time; and Roger Taylor, who looked like a baby-faced James Dean and had a lean appearance, had a real passion for Motown R&B and worked on the assembly line at a factory while the band were waiting for their big break.
  • Marilyn Manson, for all his outward appearances and habit of causing moral outcries the world over, grew up a bullied geek. However, it's his Berserk Button to have anyone be "surprised" by his intelligence. Besides for that, despite his tendency to be highly sexual on stage and offensive to religions, he's actually quite shy and conservative in bed (his favorite fetish object apparently is "thigh-high pantyhose" and he himself describes himself as sexually conservative), and he's quite spiritual, taking aspects from many different religions into his own homebrew. He's said he hopes to be reunited with his mom after he dies, he believes in some rather weird things about dreams (namely, that you have access to all of time and space in them), uses symbolism from the Chinese I-Ching belief, has an encyclopedic knowledge of The Bible, even the most obscure history of Christianity, extra-Biblical Christian myths, the occult, and alchemy. In another universe, he could be a religious history scholar.
  • Have you seen the pretzels Ken Ashcorp baked?
  • Blind Boy Boat Club of the Music/Rubberbandits recently got his Masters degree from Limerick University in Social Practice and the Creative Environment, and his late-night phone conversations on RTÉ2 show serious insight into current events, such as Ireland's relationship with England and its monarchy, the Baltimore riots and the ethics of the death penalty, despite the Rubberbandits' music generally being humorous and/or surreal.
  • Wesley Willis was known for writing a number of songs with vulgar titles and lyrics, such as "Suck My Dog's Dick" and "Lick A Donkey's Ass". The reason he did that wasn't because he thought it was funny in a sophomoric way, but because he was schizophrenic, and he wrote and performed the songs as a way to make the voices in his head to go away.

  • Each character in the Cool Kids Table game Bloody Mooney has a hidden talent. JT is a good dancer, Jessica is a skilled cook, and Keri is great at fighting.
  • Brought up by GM Shannon in Sequinox. According to Sargas' character notes, he has a little garden that he tends to despite also being an omnicidal star.

    Pro Wrestling 

  • Cyrano de Bergerac: This is one of the central themes of the play: not everyone is what he seems.
    • Roxane the refined intellectual surprises her three suitors by proving quite the adventuress, sneaking behind enemy lines to deliver food to the French soldiers and then staying with them once the battle starts.
      Roxanne (slightly annoyed): Monsieur de Bergerac, I am your cousin!
    • Christian gets written off by many who haven't read the play as a male bimbo. While he's not as book smart as Cyrano or Roxane and is utterly hopeless at talking to women, he's witty enough to think of several nose-related puns on the fly when he first meets Cyrano (not to mention the Brass Balls to say them to Cyrano's face).
    • Cyrano has to delay de Guiche for fifteen minutes. What he will do? Insult him? Challenge him to a duel? Make a simple excuse? No, tell him a fantasy/science fiction tale about a trip to the moon... and de Guiche is spellbound!
      • This doubles as a Shout-Out to the real Cyrano de Bergerac's most famous work.
    • Given Raguenau’s status as the Butt-Monkey in Act II, he could be considered a mere Plucky Comic Relief character. Then we have Act IV where Raguenau risks his life to smuggle food to the Gascon Cadets in the siege of Arras. He has proved is a brave man, but then you apply Fridge Logic and realize that Raguenau was the man who not only cooked all the food, but also found a way to occult it in Roxane’s carriage so they can fool all the check posts the Spanish Army has in the battlefield, making him not only a Supreme Chef but an Chef of Iron: Someone capable of smuggling food to troops.
  • Lampshaded in The Philadelphia Story.
    "C.K. Dexter Haven, you have unsuspected depth!"
  • Played with in Mary, Mary. When Dirk calls Mary a puzzle, she tells him that she always wanted to think she was a tigress underneath, but she really isn't: "Underneath this plain, girlish exterior, there's a very plain girl."
  • In Pokémon Live!, Brock knows sign language, which lets him communicate with a deaf trainer.

    Web Animation 
  • Camp Camp:
    • Max seems like just a cynical and uncaring little Jerk Ass who hate the camp with a passion, on the surface. But underneath his harsh exterior, is a boy lashing out due to his uncaring parents, dumping him at the camp without even bothering to sign him up for any camp activities, just so they wouldn't have to deal with them. Also, while he generally hates participating in camp activities, he has picked up some useful skills from them, like knitting.
    • David at first seems to be just an idealistic and overly optimistic idiot, foolishly thinking he could help others, while being blind to the cynical and harsh world he's in and the fact that Camp Campbell and the man who founded it, aren't as great as he thinks they are. Than come the season one finale, where David finally confesses he's well aware that the Campers don't care, the Staff doesn't care, the Founder (his hero) doesn't care, the camp he loves is a scam and completely unfit for the Campers, but he feels he has to keep trying against all the negativity alone because no one else tries for themselves, placing all the burden on himself.
      • When he discovers in the Season 2 finale that Max's parents don't give a crap about him and that underneath all that anger lurks a lonely kid, he's self-aware enough to realize that that pretending that everything is okay when it's really not doesn't help anybody.
    • Gwen, despite clearly not caring and hating Camp Campbell, she honestly cares about the Campers and even David trying to make them feel better about being shipped to a camp they didn't want, and even ordering David to take a day off.
    • The camp bully, Nurf, is surprisingly eloquent and observant, when he wants to be. At one point, he gives a surprisingly long and detailed speech, criticizing David for assuming he is just a bad kid, when for all David knows, Nurf could have been shaped into a bully by circumstances out of his control... then stabs David in the hand, calling into question how much of that speech was genuine or if Nurf was just messing with David.
    • Space Kid is generally The Ditz in almost every other subject, but he actually does know a lot when it comes to space, at one point even correcting David, who was reading out of an outdated text book.
  • Boomstick of Death Battle possesses a surprising amount of knowledge about dinosaurs, raptors in particular.
    Wizard: Wow, Boomstick. I…didn't know you knew so much about dinosaurs.
    Boomstick: Yeah. I always wanted me pet raptor. I was gonna call him Barney after I found out what irony was.
  • DSBT InsaniT: Killdra's secret talent is singing, something nobody else had any idea of. She is very passionate about it too.
    • Not only does Dave have a very deep passion for sports, he runs a sports equipment store too.
    • As Lisa told Asia in 'The Camping Webisode', there is a lot about her that Asia doesn't know. What exactly she is hiding has yet to be revealed though.
  • Magnus of If the Emperor Had a Text-to-Speech Device appears to be an Insufferable Genius most of the time, but finally admits that he's not all-knowing, made a stupid decision and had no idea whose side he was on back in Heresy days, or what the sides even were. He also seems rather uncertain and confused of his current situation.
  • Miller the Killer from an arc of the Nameless series was fairly deep, especially considering the series he appeared in. In his 11 or so minutes of total screen-time, we learn that he's a non-stereotypical homosexual who was sexually abused by his mother and impulsively murders women. This is about a billion times deeper than any other character in the series. This, combined with the fact that he's adorable, has made him fairly popular.
  • Red vs. Blue:
  • RWBY:
    • Yang. At first she just seems like a short-tempered, laid back, thrill-seeking brawler who's very protective of Ruby. Then in Volume 2, we find out that her mother left her not long after she was born, and that searching obsessively for answers to why nearly cost her and her toddler sister her life. She still is looking for her mother and for answers, but she's promised herself that she will never let that search control her.
    • Jaune at first appears to just be a lovable idiot who's there for comic relief, but later events show him as deeply troubled at his lack of skill, desperately seeking to be a great warrior despite not having the training for it, and hating the fact that he doesn't measure up to his teammates and friends. He's also revealed to know how to play the guitar and is a skilled dancer (he grew up with seven sisters, apparently).
    • Professor Peter Port is a braggart of a man who comes across as trying too hard to be funny and interesting to be either. Beneath the blustering exterior, however, he's a profoundly perceptive and insightful person.
  • The Large Beetle from Water-Human. He looks just like a (talking) beetle, but apparently he can feel that his friend is in danger and figure out where he is. Oh, and he has Frickin' Laser Beams.
  • In Smash King, Lots of the Nintendo characters have this, but Link is probably the most memorable.
    • Dedede is shown to be perverse, and a bit of a womanizer... But he's also fairly good-hearted, and incredibly perceptive, going into detail about Bowser's fight with Donkey Kong.
    • Ganondorf, surprisingly. Although he's the Big Bad, this tribute video (made both as a tribute to the character and his original VA Lioncourt) paints Ganon in a more sympathetic light.

    Web Comics 
  • Questionable Content seems to like this trope:
    • Raven, who seems to be an all-around boy-chasing ditz, turns out to have quite the eye for interior design. It is also revealed that her parents are both quite intelligent — her father is an astrophysicist, and her mother is a nuclear physicist. Eventually we find out she's going to college to study physics.
    • Pintsize, in spite of basically being 4chan's /b-board given physical form, takes his duties as a companion A.I. to Marten very seriously, and is more than capable of eloquently explaining the rationale behind his wackiness. "Pintsize has hidden depths. Unfortunately they are all full of porn."
    • Emily resents that other people consider her weird and use that as an excuse to not take anything she says or does seriously, but she also rejects this trope because, no, she has no "hidden depths", she really is weird, through and through, but that's no excuse for other people to just sort her into some shallow "funny weirdo" demographic and then treat her like she hasn't got her own fair deal of serious thoughts and problems.
  • A lot of the characters in El Goonish Shive. Being all mysterious helps.
  • Paulo from Bittersweet Candy Bowl seems like he has trouble being serious and is a Casanova, but he has deep feelings of loyalty towards his friends and, despite his skirtchasing, when he is actually given the opportunity to have sex he is reluctant to do so.
  • Liriel from Drowtales is a drunk because she's trying to silence the voice of a dead drow queen in her head.
  • Girl Genius:
    • The Jaegerkin seem to be progressively acquiring/revealing more depth as the comic progresses. Introduced as little more than Plucky Comic Relief monster henchmen, the comic has since shown them to have a strong sense of loyalty and honour, be a lot more intelligent than they let on (a fact lampshaded more than once in the comic), and, unusually for a GG-verse Henchmen Race, have free will. Add in their general likability and the whole hat thing, which may or may not be a sort of religion and they've ended up being downright intriguing.
    • Also, Higgs seems to becoming this. He's hiding something, it's just not clear what it is yet.
  • Homestuck:
    • Karkat initially seems like just a violent Jerk Ass with a Hair-Trigger Temper, but is later revealed to have some very astute wisdom regarding troll relationships. He is further revealed to take his role as team leader very seriously and has a strong sense of responsibility about it, despite the childish way in which he declared himself leader. It's actually this awareness of the various issues with troll psychology (including his own flaws) that makes him seem shockingly normal compared to the rest of the trolls we're introduced to.
    • For the first 13 years of his life, John is convinced that his dad is a street performer with a harlequin obsession. Then, John sees the inside of Dad's room for the first time, and realizes that Dad was just an ordinary businessman, and his apparent interest in harlequins was just an attempt to bond with John.
    • Similarly, Rose is convinced that her mom's extravagant gifts are actually passive-aggressive barbs. It comes as a shock to Rose when she realizes that Mom really did care for her, and wasn't playing the role of a doting mother facetiously. It's later implied that Rose and her mom shared a lot of interests, but Rose was too deep into believing passive agression to notice.
  • From Darths & Droids: Darth Maul is actually one of the most well developed characters in the whole story, being a Pragmatic Hero at worst. Also, a lot of the Clone Troopers seem to be genuinely sorry when they are ordered to kill the Jedi.
  • Paz from Gunnerkrigg Court initially has little characterization, and is simply a Chew Toy from Spain. However, in "A Bad Start", when Kat is reeling from a particularly nasty revelation about the Court's past, it's Paz who gives her a pep talk about changing the system from within, demonstrating a degree of level-headedness that Kat desperately needed at that moment.
  • In Sidekicks we have Darkslug. He's initially portrayed as a complete Jerkass of a master to his Sidekicks and a person who only cares about his public image and his next bottle of wine. Opinions of him begin to change when we get a flashback of Darkslug picking his newest sidekick, when he chooses Lamia over Olivia despite the latter being an all-round better candidate. By the end of the season, Darkslug is shed in a completely different light to when we first saw him.
  • In Strays, Holland. Meela even demands, "What else are you hiding?"
  • The comic TV Eye Presents: 151 Hidden Depths is built around this trope, giving every original Pokemon a different backstory.
  • Schlock Mercenary did it a few times. Schlock himself is "a violent, amorphous sociopath". Also, there are a few details that pop up slowly — Schlock's species being evolved out of memory banks, can be really clever and insightful when really want to, oh, and he already was a semi-mythological figure among them even before enlisting to the company.
  • In Sunstone, Ally at first seems like a confident and successful person; but it becomes clear that she is terribly lonely and has some regrets she can't manage to overcome. Also Valerie first appears to be a condescending bigot, but in chapter three it's revealed that this was a case of Unreliable Narrator; Lisa was too caught up in her new lifestyle to see Valerie is actually concerned for her friend Lisa.
  • Larisa from Sandra and Woo is, despite her best efforts to come across as nothing but a somewhat shallow rebellious Fille Fatale with pyromantic tendencies, by no means a flat character. That said, we sometimes get some indications that beneath the depths she's covering up, there are even deeper depths we're not privy to.
  • Generally, in Ménage à 3 and its spin-off Sticky Dilly Buns, what you see is what you get from the characters — but secondary character Jung seems to exist to prove otherwise. He's generally taken for a plump, snarky, food-loving geek, because that's what he is. When he turned out to be a talented costume designer and maker, that just looked like a minor eccentricity, while his flashes of helpful sensitivity were rare, if real. But then it turned out that he had not only recently gained a girlfriend, he had taught himself to be an excellent, thoughtful lover, from scratch, by the time it was needed.
  • In A Tale of Two Rulers, the Hot-Blooded warlord Ganondorf reveals that countless Past-Life Memories have given him exhaustive expertise on pregnancy and childbirth, even noticing Zelda's pregnancy well before she had any inkling of it.
  • The Order of the Stick: When the Token Evil Teammate Belkar — an id-driven Heroic Comedic Sociopath whose worst impulses are barely kept in check by the rest of the Order — briefly falls prey to a Lotus-Eater Machine, the readers catch a glimpse of the idealized world it creates for him: one where he's happily cooking fish for his pet cat and the cat's former Cool Old Guy owner.

    Web Original 
  • Touch makes some of its best moments of this trope, largely attributable to the thought the author seems to place in each of the individual characters. A standout thus far in the series is the beginning of the third arc, when Tasha, the archetypical tough girl and tomboy, turns around to give her friend a heartfelt word on why his experiences with abuse don't make him any less of a person, because she knows they didn't break him.
  • In the Whateley Universe, even a lot of the side characters and villains get backstory or character development. For instance, Notorious Jerk Ass Mad Scientist Belphegor turns out to have some painful backstory explaining why he doesn't handle things well. The thirty-ish Headmistress turns out to be Lady Astarte, one of the great superheroines of the age, but a woman who's really over seventy years old, and still hurting from things that happened to her decades and decades ago.
  • Worm has this in spades, partly thanks to including characters from various other prototype hero stories the author had written. Every character has histories and motivations explaining their actions. What really marks it out are the interludes, bonus chapters from other characters' perspectives which shed light on side characters and villains. We see the view points of Knight Templar white supremacists, anti-hero bigots and the odd Eldritch Abomination and all of them appear more sympathetic or at least some kind of Tragic Monster after their Day in the Limelight.
  • In Void Domain, Catherine the succubus is introduced with the Glamour, casual sensuality, and disregard for mere mortals that are typical for her breed of demon. Later, she's revealed to be an expert in Ritual Magic circles to such an extent that Devon swallows his Fantastic Racism and collaborates with her, and to be a rarity among demons for pursuing personal growth. She's also a Closet Geek for MMORPGs.

    Web Videos 
  • In Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, Penny thinks her new boyfriend Captain Hammer is really sweet deep down, even if he is a bit full of himself, and tells Billy that sometimes people will surprise you because they're layered like that.
    Billy: Sometimes, there's a third, even deeper, level, and that one's the same as the top surface one.
    Penny: Huh?
    Billy: Like with pie.
  • Zack from Echo Chamber knows what After Effects is, how to use it, and may or may not have an advanced degree in art.
  • The Nostalgia Critic reviewers:
  • The Autobiography of Jane Eyre: Book Jane is a talented artist who draws and paints. Webseries Jane passionately likes photography, and she's quite good at it and it makes her happy. It also represents a bond with her late friend Helen. Jane tells directly her viewers that this skill of hers might be surprising since she's generally Hopeless with Tech.
  • Cammy from A Couple of C*nts in the Countryside may act like a drunken fool and swear like a trucker, but when he's expounding on politics or religion, he reveals that he's actually very intelligent.
  • From Hat Films, Smiffy used to be in a bluegrass band and is still a huge fan of the genre, having written a surprisingly sad song "Wardens", about death row inmates and their last moments. He also loves geckos and has adopted a pair, noting at the same time that he feels conflicted since he's technically endorsing captivity. A subversion later happens when the trio are playing Garry's Mod with Sips and Turpster, when Trott starts spouting some seemingly good German phrases; it later turns out that he's been looking up German words on his phone. Smiffy calls him out and lampshades the seemingly sudden fluency.
  • Urinating Tree absolutely hates the Pittsburgh Steelers... or does he? Though he took them to task with his Professional Football's Pharisee rant, he's more or less admitted since then that a part of him, no matter how small, is still attached to and roots for the franchise, despite the fact that on the whole he abhors not only them but their fanbase as well. He rejoices when the team succeed and lashes out when they lose, more strongly in fact than for any other franchise he covers. Whether he lashes out at or with the team depends on whether he feels they lost because they got in their own way.