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Rescued from the Scrappy Heap

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"Jar-Jar, you're a genius!"
Qui-Gon Jinn, Darths & Droids

Sadly, the Mary Sue's aura of awesome does not extend out of the pages she's written on, and that "sympathetic" teen genius Wesley and "adorable" feisty pup Scrappy aren't exceptions either. Even the "cool" plot twist can go awry. What's an author to do? There's always the option of Putting Them on a Bus, or hoping to succeed with an Author's Saving Throw, but this character, for various reasons, just can't be done away with like that.

Well, there's only one thing left to do... get them Rescued From The Scrappy Heap.

This is a reinterpretation of the character or idea, be it in the form of Character Development, a Retool, a Time Skip making the character mature a bit, or giving the actor acting lessons. In any event, they get fleshed out in a way that wins over bitter fans and breathes new life into the series.

A few series can even do this intentionally, and have an otherwise unlikable Smug Snake evolve into a more human, three-dimensional character.

Not to be confused with Took a Level in Badass, which, while capable of being a step in the right direction, is about a wimp becoming a badass. This is about a hated character becoming a much less hated character. To illustrate the difference:

  • If Scrappy Doo were able to fight the monsters on a roughly equal footing, then he'd have Taken A Level In Badass. It'd be a step in the right direction, but he'd still be a somewhat disliked character.
  • If Scrappy Doo were to grow up a little, and stop trying to fight monsters all the time and doing all his other stuff that irritates fans (while keeping his lack of monster-fighting skill), that'd be this trope.

Naturally, the two can be combined, if the main reason a character is disliked is their cowardice and lack of skill.

In video games, sometimes the balance of a single character often cause them to becomes Tier-Induced Scrappy either from being too strong or too weak. Rescued From The Scrappy Heap in this case comes in the form of patches that rebalance the character, ironing out some weaknesses or reducing some aspects frustrating to be on the receiving end of. A change in personality is not a necessity in this case.

In a way, this is the opposite of Canon Discontinuity, which excludes the character from the canon entirely. Compare Ensemble Darkhorse and Badass Decay. Contrast Author's Saving Throw, which is an attempt to Hand Wave away the offending element, rather than fix it outright. See Growing the Beard in case you feel this way about the show itself. Might overlap with Alas, Poor Scrappy, Reimagining the Artifact, or especially A Day in the Limelight.


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    Card Games 
  • Magic: The Gathering has had a few mechanics that have become rescued over time.
    • Green as a color. Its creatures have been powered up and cheapened over the years (compare Terra Stomper to Force of Nature, for example). In Rise of the Eldrazi, it has an affinity-like ability where Khalni Hydra gets cheaper for each green creature you control. It has gotten to the point where in Modern, blue is considered the worst color while green is one of the best.
    • Defender, or not attacking. Rise of the Eldrazi gave a lot of creatures with defender that count creatures with defender.
    • Big creatures. Normally they don't come out until you're dead. Shards of Alara made an exception, with Naya's "five-power matters" rule. Also, Rise of the Eldrazi again.
    • Lands. You either don't have enough or have too many. Zendikar (and Worldwake and Rise of the Eldrazi) made them relevant with the landfall ability, which triggers whenever a land comes into play.
    • Poison. While originally Poison was seen as too weak of a way to win, this was changed when Posion became a major mechanic of Scars of Mirrodin, Mirrodin Besieged, and New Phyrexia. Instead of "When CARDNAME damages a player, that player gets a poison counter.", infect creatures do damage to players equal to their power in poison counters while also dealing it to creatures as -1/-1 counters, making it mutable, and more deadly. Although this has caused a bit of a Broken Base in the Magic community, as there are plenty of people who absolutely hate the powerful Infect creatures running about Standard.
    • Lifegain. Historically seen as weak, but lifelink creatures and equipment, and cards where lifegain is a side effect made it playable. Life payment also makes it useful.
    • While Lifegain by itself isn't good, Commander 2013 introduced Oloro, a card that allows Lifegain even if you didn't cast the card, which can only be prevented once by a blue counter that must be able to stop activated abilities or with a Red Enchantment. While it's only 2 life in a format where everyone starts at 40, there's many ways to use/abuse it well given how Oloro allows both White and Black cards, both users of Life while also having accesses of blue.
    • Superfriends was mostly a fringe Commander deck archetype that revolved around trying to get a lot of Planeswalkers on the Battlefield. It gained an extreme amount of support when *Commander 2016* introduced Atraxa, a commander that has the ability to add a counter of any type to any permanent or player. Combined with Doubling Season, which doubles the amount of Loyalty counters a 'Walker can start with, one can easily activate abilities that usually would take a few turns (if nothing is damaging the Planeswalker) to happen almost instantly.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!:
    • The Elemental Heroes were hated for a long time for numerous reasons - in the anime, because Judai's obsession with using the same monsters over and over. In the card game itself, due to the near-uselessness of the cards and the fact that they flooded every single set through almost two years. When the Yu-Gi-Oh GX manga kicked in, though, it introduced two new additions, which greatly boosted the popularity of the Archetype:
    • The "Omni-Heroes", six Elemental Heroes that work by fusing any Hero with any Attribute monster, which not only managed to make them much more powerful, but allowed clever deck-building by combining multiple Archetypes.
    • The "Masked Heroes", which revived a long-favorite mechanic (Fusing with a single monster, introduced with the now-banned Metamorphosis) and made it relevant again.
    • Skull Servant was originally a useless normal monster and the butt of many jokes until Konami started releasing a series of cards that made the card into a semi-viable deck type.
    • The game has lots of Tier Induced Scrappys, like Dark Strike Fighter, who became one due to its ability to perform a OHK or even a FTK. However, changing the Errata, like so, made it playable again, shifting it from the Forbidden to Limited list.
    • Goyo Guardian is legal again too, but only in America. Magician of Faith is legal once again, as is Tsukuyomi. All of these were legalized again because they were far less broken in the current meta than they were before. (And indeed, Tsukuyomi seems barely worth using now as it did before.) While most players equate Raigeki becoming legal a sign of hell freezing over (seeing as it was one of the cards that required the creation of the List in the first place) it has become legal again to combat some of the swarming strategies that have arisen with the new Pendulum-heavy archetypes, at least for now.


  • In Star Wars Legends, Abel G. Pena's retcons in reference books, making even such "gems" as Kadann and the Prophets of the Dark Side seem plausible.
    • The Lego Star Wars video games of the prequel trilogy achieved the seemingly impossible feat of redeeming Jar-Jar Binks... he was suddenly a worthwhile member of the team, with useful skills, actual combat ability and perhaps most importantly, zero lines of dialogue.
    • The Star Wars Shakespeare series takes Jar Jar Binks and turns him from bumbling idiot into a political radical that wants a better relationship between humans and Gungans that merely obfuscates stupidity
  • In A Brother's Price Corelle is a case of Big Sister Bully at the beginning of the novel. However, after she gets severely punished for her misbehaviour the punishment consists of having taken away everything she owns, except for her working clothes and guns she redeems herself by not whining about the punishment and protecting Jerin. At one point she even rescues him from dancing with a woman who embarrasses him, and comes up with a witty retort when the woman, who is a noble, objects.
  • It seems that most readers of A Song of Ice and Fire start out hating Sansa Stark. But thanks to her Character Development over the last three books, a lot of people have started to warm up to her, and she also has plenty of die-hard converted fans - an unusual instance of a character being rescued from the Scrappy heap via Break the Cutie. It might be a case of her initial unlikable status being intentional, since the Stark kids seem to exist to give numerous different perspectives on the path to maturity. Sansa starts as idealistic, naive, and, frankly, rather foolish, but is forcibly disabused of her innocence.
  • The Star Wars Expanded Universe book The Courtship of Princess Leia had an exceedingly two-dimensional, generic froth-at-the-mouth-when-things-go-wrong bad villain-of-the-book. Warlord Zsinj was also visibly overweight, petty, and rather stupid. In the early books in the X-Wing Series, set before Courtship, which don't show him directly, he's said to be cautious and opportunistic, and a character believes he's more dangerous than the notes on his file indicate. In the later Aaron Allston books of that series he's a major character, a canny warlord who uses Obfuscating Stupidity despite knowing that plenty of the people he worked with can see through the act. He's still evil, but entertainingly and memorably so. In fact Zsinj was stated as being perhaps the most powerful third party in the galaxy, after the Empire and the New Republic. This means he was considered more powerful than the Hutts (who run a massive criminal empire), the Hapes Consortium (a high-tech Amazon royalty with a very powerful military), and Kuat (a group of planets that's essentially a single massive shipyard). His biggest problem was his inability to properly administer his sector — he was a military officer, not a good politician.
  • According to Word of God, Lily Bart of House Of Mirth was intentionally made to be as unlikeable as possible specifically so that she could be redeemed in the latter part of the novel. Readers vary as to whether or not this was successful.
  • In Warrior Cats, getting your warrior name is apparently a pretty good way to be rescued—Cloudtail and Squirrelflight are both significantly less annoying than they were as apprentices. Berrynose shows that this doesn't always work, though.
  • Apparently this was the original idea behind Jane Austen's Emma. She wrote Emma as someone who was originally unlikable and slowly redeemed her through the book.
  • Mr Darcy and Miss Bennet from Pride and Prejudice are two jerks with hearts of gold redeeming themselves because of guilt and love, and guilt, gratitude and then love, respectively, after one half of the book spent misbehaving a bit. Emma is a shallow and entirely clueless and impulsive, but a very well-meaning heroine who slowly matures out of guilt alone. You can be very impressed by her journey from Spoiled Sweet Poisonous Friend to Reasonable Authority Figure trying to atone.
  • The Chronicles of Narnia:
    • Edmund and Eustace both had this effect built into their Character Development, starting off obnoxious and unlikeable but turning around thanks to their experiences in Narnia, and filling much more sympathetic roles in later books. Lampshaded in The Silver Chair as Eustace confides in Jill Pole that he really regrets having been a jerk in school (he was taken into Narnia during vacation) and Jill first listens to his self-hating rant, then says "well, you were a jerk, you know."
    • Also inverted with Eustace at the end of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader; after he returns to Earth, it's mentioned that his parents are upset with how he's changed.
  • The Wheel of Time:
    • Mat spends most of the first two books either being possessed or recovering from being possessed and is generally The Load and many peoples' least favorite character. Starting with the third book, where the lingering effects of the possession are cured and he promptly Takes a Level in Badass, setting himself on the way to becoming a Badass Normal Lovable Rogue and Guile Hero, he morphed into a substantial portion of the fanbase's favorite character.
    • The characters of the Wheel of Time have a tendency for this trope and the reverse. Examples for turning points besides the ones above are: Rand growing more ruthless, Rand changing dramatically by a Deus ex Machina, Rand turning from adventuring to court and cosmology, Rand turning back to adventuring for a book, Rand turning away from adventuring again (this repeats itself a couple of times), Perrin going back to the two rivers, Perrin getting mind controlled by his wife, Perrin trying to rescue his wife, Nynaeve alternating between being a bratty and ignorant youth and a merely impulsive (and quite awesome) young woman, and so on.
  • Balthamos from His Dark Materials. You'd expect the death of his lover to win him some sympathy points, but the fact that his portrayal of grief is to moan and wail extremely loudly until the twelve year old that he's travelling with is forced to tell him: "dude, calm down, you're going to attract the attention of the people who are trying to kill us" and that he abandons said twelve year old as soon as their enemies turn up throws him firmly on The Scrappy pile. However, by the end of the book he returns as a Chekhov's Gunman and kills the fanatical Father Gomez, thereby preventing him from killing the children about to save all the worlds in existence.
  • Roboute Guilliman in Horus Heresy. After that disastrous Ultramarines codex plunged the Chapter into Creator's Pet territory, Guilliman became fandom's chief Scrappy, with his very own mocking meme of "Spiritual Liege". In Heresy books, however, he's portrayed as responsible, paying attention to the common mortals, intelligent and actually critical of his Codex Astartes, earning him more sympathy of the fans.
  • Another victim of the Ultramarine codex, Cato Sicarius, finally got redeemed in Space Marine Battles. Pre-planned as The Ace, he came across more like Glory Hound until book Veil of Darkness came and turned him into rather sympathetic Broken Ace. It helps that it was the first time we've ever seen inside of his mind.
  • Abaddon in Black Legion. As mentioned in Tabletop Games section, for many years he was called by the authors the worst threat to the Imperium and a formidable general, while his track record was rather... pathetic. Black Legion retcons his character into A Father to His Men and gives him a plenty of badass moments. He's starting to get fans now.
  • In "The Railway Series": Toby, Trevor, Stepney, Oliver, Gordon (who was almost dumped into the sea by Bill and Ben), Duke, and several other minor characters were all literally saved from scrap.
  • In The Heroes of Olympus, Jason was seen by many as a bland and uninteresting character, especially compared to the rest of the Seven. In The House of Hades he finally gets some Character Development, and his treatment of Nico after Jason finds out about his crush on Percy in particular endeared him to readers.
  • In Divergent, Peter was an irredeemable bastard, making him The Scrappy. However, Insurgent showed his more admirable traits. First, he helped Tris escape execution. Sure, it was out of obligation, but it's still something. Near the end, he took the time to comfort his grieving mother after finding out his father died in the invasion. More so in Allegiant when he reveals that he knows he's a horrible person and disgusts himself but can't help it and decides to wipe his own memory in hopes of becoming better. Makes him almost cross into Jerk Ass Woobie territory.
  • Sam from the Eighth Doctor Adventures was hated by fans at first for being both generic and irritating, having a Depending on the Writer personality, no Character Development and Obligatory Swearing as her main quirk. This was fixed when Lawrence Miles wrote a Fix Fic explaining that she was an alien creation that would be the perfect companion, explaining her indeterminate personality and making it into something tragic and slightly metafictional. She's not exactly a celebrated companion, but she definitely had more fans after Alien Bodies than before.

    Multiple Media 
  • Kiina from BIONICLE. Many fans disliked her brash, impatient Genki Girl personality and her tendency to shout "WOOHOO!!!" at the top of her lungs as per her portrayal in The Legend Reborn. However, in more recent Bionicle media, she seems to have undergone some Character Development, being more sensible and thinking before she acts, as well as displaying a more gentle side — but without being any less badass in battle. The novelization of said movie also retroactively justified her personality therein, explaining that she actively forced herself to appear joyful, fearing that otherwise The Hero (who she hoped would save her people) would have bailed.
  • The Punisher has had three failed movie adaptions and among comic book fans was widely seen as a dated relic of the The Dark Age of Comic Books, despite predating it by about 15 years. Then came his stint in the second season of the critically acclaimed Daredevil Netflix series, which heavily emphasized his moral ambiguity, leaving both characters and viewers skeptical about where the lines between understanding him, sympathizing with him, and/or condoning his actions lay. A particularly powerful performance by Jon Bernthal also gave it emotional weight that the previous ones lacked. This has had the effect of winning over both mainstream audiences and comic fans alike. He was eventually even greenlit for his own show.

  • Metallica, after their We're Still Relevant, Dammit! shark jumpage between the albums Load and the critically despised St. Anger, were rescued when they released the album "Death Magnetic," despite its production issues, to the point where fans begged for a better remix and pirated Guitar Hero DLC versions of the songs.
  • Megadeth released Risk which garnered a similar hatred as Metallica's St. Anger, though for different reasons; St Anger was hated for its ghastly production quality and for the drums that made it sound like Lars Ulrich was banging on trash cans, while Risk had decent production but represented a drastic change in style (however, hardcore Megadeth fans who argue that if you judge the album as just an album and not as a "thrash metal" album that the songs are quite well written, evoke genuine heartfelt emotion, and are actually quite catchy). Rescued from the heap to a lesser extent by 'The World Needs A Hero', and to a greater extent by the band's "second golden age" (mostly with Shawn Drover, Chris Broderick, and David Ellefson) starting from United Abominations till Thirteen. Then Super Collider came out and got Risk levels of hatred again (hilariously because of the same reasons) and then they got rescued again by the release of Dystopia that returned to their know agressive style.
  • Swedish Death Metal band Hypocrisy has gone through several stylistic changes throughout the career and experimented with a number of different sounds. Generally, they were very well received...except for the Nu-metalish album ''Catch 22" which was almost universally panned by their fans. As an apology of sorts to the fans, the band re-recorded the album with much better vocals, more powerful drumming, and remastered production. The re-recording was much better received by fans.
  • Blaze Bayley was the Replacement Scrappy in Iron Maiden, but that doesn't stop his solo career from being very well-received (the guy he replace also had some success, but unlike Blaze people didn't hate his guts). The guy he replaced being Bruce Dickinson, who had a couple of false starts but has made three albums widely regarded as classics in a row since Accident of Birth, Blaze's solo career being more successful is very debatable.
  • In 2005, electronic musicians Daft Punk released Human After All, which was a great disappointment to critics and fans alike; the songs were criticized as being boring and tedious, particularly when compared to the vibrancy of the duo's two previous albums. Three years later, most of those same songs were performed on their live tour, and they are awesome.
  • After their first return in 1985, cult Post-Punk group Wire drew much ire from much of their fanbase by releasing a string of poppy, overproduced records, culminating in the critical disaster that was 1991's Manscape. Live, however, the songs often took on a very different character, though Wire, being the contrarians that they were, never released a proper live album from this period... Until 2010, with the inception of their "Legal Download Bootleg Series", one of the first of which was an 1988 performance from the Astoria in London. To summarise the average fan reaction: Hot damn.
    • Or, somewhat earlier, their revival of various '80s numbers on their 2000 comeback tour.
  • James Blunt when he appeared on Top Gear via a healthy dose of Self-Deprecation and good humour.
    James Blunt: Come on you little ***!
  • To an extent, Roger Waters of Pink Floyd. His last album with the Floyd, The Final Cut, was an Anvilicious, dark, polarizing album and a slow seller, and he carried the Wangst and Control Freak tendencies well into his solo albums. He gained a certain amount of bad press over the lawsuits and public arguments over the rights to the name "Pink Floyd", as David Gilmour's Lighter and Softer Floyd gained success in the late 1980's and early 1990's. By the end of The '90s, his feelings over Pink Floyd and the media cooled and he started performing Floyd-like arena shows with heavy emphasis over his former band's works, to the delight of many, with full performances of The Dark Side of the Moon and later, The Wall, and slowly patched things up with his old bandmates. This culminated in the Floyd's reunion show for Live 8 in 2005, and since then he has had great success and better press lately, and his full-scale performance of The Wall is a massive success.
  • Whenever Kanye West releases an album it almost makes you forget that he's a douche. Almost...
  • Christina Aguilera rescued herself by appearing on The Voice.
  • Whenever a One-Hit Wonder releases a new single that becomes a hit, this happens. The most notables examples being Jason Mraz with "I'm Yours", The Chainsmokers with "Roses", and Mike Posner with "I Took a Pill in Ibiza".
  • Rascal Flatts had been gaining increasing criticism for Dann Huff's bloated production, Gary LeVox's screechy melismatic oversinging, and over-reliance on formulaic Power Ballads, for their latter albums with Lyric Street Records (starting with Me and My Gang). Moving to Big Machine after Lyric Street's closure saw them gradually begin to move back to their earlier, less heavy sound, though some of the criticisms were still there at times as Huff was still on board. Finally, they ditched him in favor of producing either by themselves or with Howard Benson on 2014's Rewind, which has been praised as one of their best albums since their earliest days.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The Pathfinder book Misfit Monsters Redeemed attempts to do this for ten of the corniest monsters in D&D history (Including the infamous flumph, no less.) by turning their ridiculous characteristics upside-down. The aforementioned flumphs are instead benevolent Eldritch Abominations, lava children become child-like monsters rather than child-headed, the adherer's sticky bandage-like skin is instead ethereal webbing from horrible experiments by the phase spiders, and the Wolf-in-Sheep's-Clothing's lure-growth is the puppeteered corpse of a previous meal. To put is simply, Paizo succeeded.
    • Half-Elfs and Half-Orcs in 3.5 were some of the worst race options a player could pick (outside of Diplomacy maximizing for Half-Elfs), with only some minor boosts to skills and immunity to sleep effects that high level characters are immune to anyways (Half Elfs) or the only race feature to make up for their unbalanced racial modifersnote  being Darkvision, which other races have anyways (Half-Orc) compared to a Human's bonus feat and extra skill points. In Pathfinder both races get to pick +2 to any attribute with no penalties. Half-Elfs can pick any Skill Focus or Weapon Proficiency feat for freenote , can pick two favored classes and have the best Bard and Summoner favored class alternatives. Half-Orcs have actual racial features and a decent range of alternate features to customize themself with.
    • Goblins received this right off the bat, going from generic cannon fodder for low-level adventurers, to something the creators describe as a cross between Stitch and the Gremlins, as well as making them a race of insane Improbable Weapon Users. They've become so popular now that they are the game's unofficial mascot and even have their own comic book.
    • Pathfinder's take on Soulknife (via third party publisher Dreamscarred Press) finally reworked it to such a point that it was actually a viable choice by letting it wear medium armor, giving it full base attack bonus and good hit die, having its signature ability actually scale properly, giving it a bunch of archetypes that let their mind blade be a Laser Blade, Energy Bow, Elemental Punch, a slew of floating blades, and more, and giving it a bunch of 'blade skills' that function a lot like rogue talents.
  • The Necrons in Warhammer 40,000 were criticized for the Story-Breaker Power technology, boring play style, and lack of unique characterization. After the newest Necron codex, their technology was tweaked and they were given a distinctly different motivations along with a variety of different viable strategies.
    • Not everyone would agree with that. Many people did like the scary Eldritch Abomination and Enigmatic Minion aspects of their lore, and flipped out when these were removed. The general consensus of the Oldcrons vs. Newcrons debate seems to be "Newcron game mechanics and units are better, but Oldcron lore and their general theme is better". The Forgeworld Imperial Armour release: Fall of Orpheus helped as well, by demonstrating that it was quite possible to keep many of the enigmatic horror elements that made the Oldcron fans loved, while still keeping with the new fluff.
    • The Dark Eldar were also unpopular because of their ugly models and lack of good story material. The new Dark Eldar line of models fixed most of the problems, leading to a surge in popularity.
    • The Chaos Spawn which is often seen as the worst unit in the whole game recently got a nice buff, gaining actually useful mutations and rules as well as a decent points drop to make them cheap yet surprisingly durable meat shields/shock troops.
    • Mention of the Chaos Spawn and no mention of many of the 6th edition updates? Abaddon is shown to not only have the 13 Black Crusades perfectly under control, Possessed are now more reliable (or unreliable in an awesome way), Belial gained himself a perfectionist character, and some could argue that Ethereals are now a must have in a Tau list, thanks to how much Vettock improved them.
    • Writer Matt Ward is generally not very popular at all within the fandom, for his favouritism of the Ultramarines and the Grey Knights and for being the guy who changed the Necrons into what they are now. However, he has earned a surprising amount of respect from Eldar players, because despite all his failings and bad writing, he's the only current writer who treats the poor pointy-ears as a credible force in the galaxy, rather than the universe's piss-stained punching bag.
    • Things continued to improve for Roboute Guilliman once he was reintroduced into the universe at the end of 7th Edition leading into 8th. Instead of the impossibly brilliant Creator's Pet Matt Ward created him and his Chapter into, Guilliman is shown to be surprisingly insecure about his position and perfectly open to criticism. Additionally, he spends a good chunk of Rise of the Primarch weeping over how bad things got after the Heresy, even going as far as to say it would have been better for Horus to have won instead of the Imperium becoming a theocratic hellhole.
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • Psionics had been a Scrappy Mechanic since the game's inception, with much grumbling about it being overpowered, underpowered, needlessly weird, and psionicist fitting in with neither most parties nor many gameworlds. 3.5's Expanded Psionics Handbook saved the concept, dumping the "psionic combat" system in favor of a power point system to set manifesters apart from Vancian Magic - which, as it turned out, wound up being far more intuitive, sensible, and better-designed than the clunky, oft-broken Vancian system. Add in a set of fun, playable races and classes (and the soulknife), a massive amount of unique content that made an all-manifester campaign quite feasible, and being a generally more balanced alternative to the hideous Game-Breaker that was 3.5's magic system, and for the first time in the game's history, "Can I play a psychic?" was met with something other than a weary groan.
    • Zigzagged with many of the changes the 4th edition deliberately made in an attempt to fix previous problems. Whilst fans of the edition generally agreed that their attempts succeeded, the fact it was such a strongly polarizing edition made many fans refuse to even look at what it'd done, and that resulted in a lot of these changes being abandoned for 5th edition.
      • To end both the Linear Warrior Quadratic Wizard trope and the "dullness" of martial characters, Vancian Caster and the complex combat system were removed and replaced with a universal "Powers" system, endowing each class with a mixture of directly offensive and utility abilities that functioned under a universal at-will/encounter/daily system.
      • Classes that had problematic elements found those problems removed. Monks, rather than needing to invest in almost everyone one of the six ability scores, instead only needed two, making them compete on an equal level with other classes. Rogues became better at contributing to battle because the near-universal immunity to their defining combat trick, Sneak Attack, was removed from the game.
      • Psionics got even stronger than they had been in 4e, but still maintained a unique flavor; they modified the powers system to instead consist of at-will & daily powers, along with a simple mana-based subsystem that gave them the ability to augment at-will powers to be competitive with encounter powers. Thus, they remained distinct in how they operated, but required only a minimal change to the rules, instead of the somewhat large and clunky alternative magic system they operated as in 3.5.
      • Races also saw many changes. Halflings, once derided as blatant Hobbits, received new fluff as adventurous river traders and bayou dwellers. Gnomes, who had a previous poor reputation as "comic relief dwarfs" or "halfling wizards", received a dramatic new backstory involving slavery and an escape from the Land of Faerie. Half-orcs were mechanically beefed up into strong, tough and agile combatants whose abilities meshed well with many combat classes, and also lost their default Child by Rape backstory. Half-elves became mechanically empowered to serve as team players, with many ways to support a party, whilst also sharing the role of "the versatile race" with humans, who themselves had gone from the bland average to the most multitalented and versatile race in the game.
      • Monster Adventurers also became much more viable in this edition, as the scourges of ability score penalties and level adjustment were both removed. Goblins and kobolds in particular went from the tabletop equivalent of Joke Characters to capable and lethal combatants.

    Web Comics 
  • Darths & Droids:
    • Jar Jar Binks is turned into a likable making him the imaginative product (and character) of a nine-year-old girl playing an RPG. Sadly, by their own admission, they may be throwing R2-D2 onto The Scrappy heap in his stead (making him the character of an annoying Munchkin).
    • A FanEdit of Episode I titled Balance of the Force vastly improves Jar Jar by redubbing his dialogue in an alien language and subtitled to make him into a Deadpan Snarker Jerk with a Heart of Gold.
    • Star Wars: The Clone Wars is hard at work with this, upplaying his slapstick Butt-Monkey nature, beastmastery and acrobatics while downplaying everything else.
  • An in-story example of this can be found in The Order of the Stick, where one of the marks of Roy's Character Development is how his feelings change about the Spoony Bard Elan: originally, he thinks of him as an annoying, worthless member of the party, but eventually, he considers him a true friend (at least to the "will rescue him from a gang of bandits" level). It helps that Elan himself learns to make himself more useful. In the Empire of Blood storyline, Elan has become the main character, with everyone else taking a backseat. (True to the strip's usual meta attitude, the arc villain strives to make Elan the main character, myth arc be damned.)
  • Chris Hazelton, author of Misfile, lampshades fan reaction to the comic's resident Scrappy, Missi's, rescue from the heap in this strip. She's still getting in the way of Ash and Emily's relationship, so she's not out of the woods yet. This fanfiction does the same for Jenny the Second.
  • Mike from Something*Positive. While still quite prone to forays into dumbass territory, he has become a much wiser, more mature, and more decent person than he was in his first appearance. He has handled the pressures of being a family man with amazingly few missteps, and he was depicted as dealing with a stint working fast food with surprising grace. When you consider that most of the strip's antagonistic characters either stay antagonistic or sink to new lows, his evolution as a character is remarkable.
    • Similarly, Kharisma, whose self-absorption, vanity, and contempt for others had her squarely in the scrappy zone from her first appearance. She's suffered quite a bit since then, but in the process she's gained quite a lot of sympathy from the readers. As the author put it: "I have to say I'm surprised by how many people actually look forward to Kharisma strips and more stunned it's not to see her suffer."
  • Marigold from Questionable Content . During her first appearances she was your stereotypical otaku/ gamer nerd: far less attractive than any other character, a virgin, ridiculously slobby, a stereotypical Yaoi Fan Girl with bad skin and No Social Skills. The first story arc she was used in involved her lusting after a guy who wanted another girl (one of the main characters) instead, and was written in such a clumsy way that implied otaku/geek-girls are untouchable. Lately, she's become a lot more likable (and less offensive), with her appearance being updated ( or to be more accurate, "completely changed"), quickly getting over her crush after she learns it wasn't viable and being less mopey and self-obsessed than most of other main characters.
  • Lyonel from Samurai Princess was introduced in such a way ( Giving a well liked character a Traumatic Haircut) that he was doomed from the start. He is now becoming a more likable and enjoyable character.
  • Melissa from El Goonish Shive was introduced as a Clingy Jealous Girl and Stalker with a Crush who betrayed Justin's trust by publicly outing him, insisted his homosexuality was "just a phase," and constantly hounded him for dates, refusing to take no for an answer. The New and Old Flames story arc toned down her psychotic tendencies and revealed a surprisingly compelling backstory, even giving her a few genuinely badass moments.
  • Magick Chicks: When Faith's character was first introduced, she was perceived as a smug antagonist to Mel, who most readers felt was too powerful. But her development following the Layla incident and Hecate's attack revealed she was well-meaning (albeit morally grey), causing a significant portion of the readership to change their opinion of her - with some becoming fans of her character.
    • There was also speculation that Faith was somehow mind controlling the student body, in order to seduce them; causing some readers to question whether any of her trysts could be considered consensual. The truth regarding whether her powers were at work was revealed to have occurred without her being aware of it. Faith was sufficiently horrified when faced with the realization.

    Web Original 
  • Happens from time to time in Survival of the Fittest, usually because of Character Development and/or Characterization Marches On. The most classic example would be v1's Nanami Nishida who was universally considered annoying by most handlers when she was alive. Sometime after her death, though, handlers started to realize just how much her life sucked. Likewise, in v4 Liz Polanski and Raidon Naoko had many handlers skeptical when their profiles first came up (the former being a Broken Bird drug dealer, the latter being a Japanese immigrant whose father was a member of the Yakuza). Once they officially made their first appearances on the island and turned out to be a Crazy Awesome Trickster Archetype and Anti-Villain Philosopher respectively, however, many handlers changed their minds and adored them. There are countless other examples that it's impossible to name them all.
  • In Sim Brother Network's "Sim Big Brother USA", Maya. Week 2, she gets in a huge physical fight with Shantel and becomes disliked. Only reason people voted to evict Shantel over her? Because Maya would make drama. However, Alex and Nicola became the new antagonists as they broke Duncan's Heart and rubbed it in his face after a night of drinking. When Duncan was near the Despair Event Horizon, Maya said that what Alex and Nicola did was despicable and was there for Duncan, especially after Big Brother asked her to. She then proceeded to become a "hero" for the rest of the season with Duncan as The Woobie and finished in second.
  • In Death Note: The Abridged Series (kpts4tv), Takada and Near are far more likeable and/or interesting than their canon counterparts. Takada is a reasonable and likeable Only Sane Woman and Near is Laughably Evil.
  • Cortana in some ways in Arby 'n' the Chief. In her first appearances in Season 2, all she did was flirt with Todd while complaining about how awful her life is with Arbiter and Chief and ultimately wound up disappearing along with Todd and Travis. However come Season 7, she returns and is more outgoing and voluntarily helpful to Arbiter and Chief. This however is sadly short-lived.
  • The Lizzie Bennet Diaries did this with Lydia; many people who found her unbearable in the original book grew to love her more likeable personality in the webseries and consequently hate Wickham even more for his emotional manipulation of her.
  • Animator vs. Animation III has Clippy, loathed by everyone who has had to use Microsoft Office, put up a surprisingly good fight against the Chosen One.
  • The addition of L. Dan Avidan & Ross O'Donovan to Game Grumps was a highly controversial move for the channel, especially due to Dan simultaneously replacing Jon Jafari as "Not so Grump" and their Steam Train sub-series premiering on the same day. It didn't help that Steam Train 's first episode was recorded before Jon's departure and mentioned him quite frequently. However, fans gradually warmed up to both new members over time, finding their humor and interactions with the rest of the Grump crew being both funny and memorable, and Dan's stories being genuinely entertaining. This moment was when the fanbase did a complete 180 and accepted Dan as a part of the group.
  • In the FTLKestrelAdventures, Cremity. He seemed useless and whiny at first, but after his significant arc, he has proven himself to be a character with depths and potential for growth.
  • Phelous and Film Brain were not very popular reviewers until they got to show their true acting skills in Kickassia, prompting fans to start checking out their channels.
  • Carmilla's Mel, Danny's rival in the Summer Society, was a truly loathed character at the start of the second season, due to her Jerkass attitude, casual cruelty towards fan-favorite Kirsch, siding with that season's bad guy, and complete brutality. However, towards the end of the season, she began to regret her actions, and offered to help the heroes out with battling the villain. The moment that rescued her for some people was when she was clearly horrified at Danny's murder, and saw to it that she got a proper funeral despite her and Danny not getting along. Then came Season Zero, a prequel season featuring Mel before she became a Summer. That season properly rescued her, as it showed her confidence problems, her younger, more Adorkable self, her jumping in to defend Perry when she's being bullied, and, lastly, showing that her Jerkass-ness wasn't really her doing.
  • Bowser Junior was originally one of the most unlikable characters in the SuperMarioLogan universe, mostly due to his obnoxious behavior and the large number of episodes focused around him along with Chef Pee Pee and Bowser. However, his character gradually improved as he went from a spoiled Jerkass that along with Bowser constantly tormented Chef Pee Pee, to more of a Jerk with a Heart of Gold.
  • Sword Art Online Abridged does this with Yui. While the canonical character gets some flak for being little more than a loli moeblob, Abridged!Yui is intelligent, manipulative, and devastatingly snarky - which incidentally makes her a good fit for the series' takes on Kirito and Asuna. Her adoption by those two fits into their weirdly sociopathic relationship, and her time with them also leads to some humanizing Character Development as well.
  • Out of all the Inanimate Insanity contestants from Season One, Balloon and Knife were the least liked. Since Season Two began, their statuses, both as characters and the fans' liking of them, has much improved thanks to them getting some much-needed Character Development.