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The core of the Retool: Anything Can Be Changed!

When a work gets started out the creative group are often experimenting with the particular tone they are going for. As they find a voice and better learn the talent that is involved alterations may happen to better suit the collaborative process. Among many things that can end up changing includes altering the premise and Driving Question, changing the cast, the setting moves some place more interesting, the tone skews darker or lighter, story structure finds its formula or a general emphasis based on what elements are working best. Anything is on the table to be "tweaked" in order to improve it, ranging from dropping superfluous characters early on to outright recasting them. This is generally the source of Early-Installment Weirdness. If it becomes a Long Runner similar things can be attempted later in the lifespan of the work in an attempt to feel fresh and stand apart, which may result in Later-Installment Weirdness.

Most of the more well-known retools have external causes ranging from poor ratings to someone leaving the show to network fiat. But the reasons can also be purely creative: there might have been very little room for characters to grow, or the previously established rules hindered story opportunities, they accidentally discovered two actors with great chemistry for a Will They or Won't They? plot, or just plain thought "X works better than Y." Not everything changes in the process but they are usually marked by a particular installment setting up the new status quo; some retools are subtle, some not so much. After all, drastic retooling runs the risk of alienating the current viewership ("change is bad!")... but if it results in a new, much larger viewership, then then it is generally seen as a worthwhile trade-off.

Many examples of retooling come between a show's pilot and the episodes made after the series is picked up. Others happen when a show isn't really getting off the ground or is in decline and the creators want to shake things up (which can lead to Jumping the Shark if done poorly and viewers realize they are running out of ideas). When done out of nowhere in the middle of the show, then you've got yourself a Wham Episode. A retool may also be the result of a Post-Script Season; the series ends up going in a strange new direction because all the prior conflicts were already resolved, and new ones need to be invented.

In some cases, when the retool is so drastically different, you are asked to accept what came before in Broad Strokes. Quite frequently, a retool will include one (or more) Tone Shifts.

The most extreme form of retool is the Continuity Reboot; one step below that is the Soft Reboot.

See also: Retcon, Revision, Rewrite.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Black Butler trolled the audience with the threat of a retool. The first season had a very conclusive ending: Ciel dies and Sebastian, as per their contract, devours his soul. The first episode of season two introduces us to the Earl Trancie, a rich brat with a very similar backstory to Ciel, and his Hypercompetent Sidekick of a butler, Claude. The deception goes far enough to include a new opening sequence focused on them just for this episode. Then just as viewers are starting to think that this isn't the same series they liked so much, a mysterious stranger with an oddly familiar voice shows up at Trancie's front door.
  • Dragon Ball repeatedly changed the story's basic focus at different points of its history:
    • The first storyline was a comedic adventure with episodic stories and more of an ensemble cast. After the first summoning of Shenlong, the story switches gears, becoming a more straightforward action story with the focus being almost entirely on Goku, a format the series stuck with until the very end. Looking back it's almost hard to believe Bulma, Oolong and Yamcha were major characters.
    • Several years later, the King Piccolo saga made story become far darker in tone, more focus being placed on defeating the main villain than gathering the Dragon Balls, and The Hero requiring a power-up to defeat said villain.
    • The following Piccolo Junior Saga is considered a sort of transitory stage. Though the Time Skip it started with wasn't longer than one before, it was the first that gave everyone has a growth spurt or new look. The main characters make prominent use of Ki Manipulation during the World Martial Arts Tournament, while before only they were mostly last resort trump cards.
    • The series past then, around the five years mark, shifts even more dramatically with a longer Time Skip to when Goku has a four-year-old son. The series became much more focused on fighting 24/7, several of the past characters had their roles reduced or were outright dropped, the series gave bigger spotlights to some of the current supporting characters while often shifting Goku to the background at times, and added a much more sci-fi feeling by revealing that Goku and Piccolo Jr. are both aliens. It's not surprising that these changes in the manga were what led to the anime being renamed Dragon Ball Z.
  • Dr. STONE had one early in its run. Initially the protagonist was Taiju, and a lot of the drama was just based on the fact that he Cannot Spit It Out to his Love Interest, Yuzuriha. Eventually the creator seemed to realize that their friend Senku was more interesting, and that a post-apocalyptic shonen story probably needed a different focus, so Taiju and Yuzuriha were temporarily Put on a Bus while Senku discovered Ishigami Village and converted it into the Kingdom of Science.
  • Pretty Cure:
  • Gundam: After the lesser success of Mobile Suit Victory Gundam, Sunrise decided it was time for a change. Leaving behind the Universal Century, Mobile Fighter G Gundam would begin the big round robin of alternate universes, thus no longer leaving viewers with major Continuity Lockout.
  • The original IGPX miniseries was a mecha combat tournament. The actual series is a racing anime.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure:
  • Tonko House is currently planning on getting the new Netflix series "Komaneko" green-light which is a different continuity to the original Japanese stop-motion series from 2009.
  • Pokémon: The Series:
    • Major retooling for the anime began after the Johto saga, when Ash would leave most of the Pokémon he carried with him at Professor Oak's and travel to the new region with just Pikachu. This is meant to create room on his team for Pokémon from the latest generation of games. The Hoenn saga would also introduce a secondary plot where Ash's female companion who's also a player character in the games would compete in competitions that are different from Ash's usual badge quest.
    • Another massive retool occured for Best Wishes, which in this case was nothing short of a Soft Reboot of the entire show. Best Wishes played heavily into Revisiting the Roots by resetting Ash's competence to that of a rookie, and once again focused on Ash needing to learn the basics of training, as well as having Ash catch more than six Pokémon at a time and putting them into rotation.
      • In addition, this series made Team Rocket far more threatening than in previous sagas where they were everyone's Butt Monkeys. This particular element, however, didn't really stick for later sagas and they ultimately returned to being comic relief characters. Similar to Ash, their Pokémon apart from Meowth (and Wobbuffet from XY onwards) are also deposited at the Team Rocket headquarters to free up space for new Pokémon.
    • Sun and Moon has had another one of the most drastic changes to the anime. Due to gyms not existing in Pokémon Sun and Moon, instead of traveling from town to town challenging gyms with 2 or 3 companions following his journey, Ash attends a Pokémon School with several classmates and he is also competing in the Island Challenges that's unique to Sun and Moon.
    • Pokémon Journeys: The Series features the biggest overhaul so far, as it isn't a purely a Pokémon Sword and Shield adaptation. While content from the latest games is featured, the plot has Ash travel all over the world as an assistant to a professor, with a new companion whose goal is to catch all the known Pokémon so far.
  • When Ranking of Kings eventually got actual compiled manga volumes 2 years after its online debut, Sousuke made a special chapter to be retroactively included in the first volume, entitled Chapter 13.5; there it's shown Bosse quickly grew to feel torn about selling the life force of his own firstborn to grow stronger to win the war after he sees little baby Bojji, while in the series' original online run the reader didn't have any idea Bosse would eventually be revealed to be a very layered character much later in the story. Back then, it seemed Bosse selfishly made a Dealwith The Devil without thinking, so said new chapter prepares new followers right away for what is to come.
  • The original anime adaptation of Ranma ½ originally lasted for eighteen episodes and aired on Fuji TV, but was canceled due to low ratings. The show's crew regrouped, gave the show a retool (most notably, the boys in Ranma's school now are completely oblivious to his transformation into a girl, whereas in the manga, they were fully aware) and relaunched it one month later as ''Ranma 1/2: Netto-hen", which proceeded to last for 143 episodes, two movies and a number of OVAs.
  • Yo-kai Watch got a retool as well, with the fourth film Yo-kai Watch: Shadowside - The Return of the Oni King as the starting point of the Shadowside Project, and Yo-kai Watch: Shadowside serving as a sequel series. The tone this time is noticeably more serious than the first anime, while mantaining some of its signature humor -albeit gags are less frecquent-, and instead focuses more on battles in addition to being plot-driven, complete with antagonists who appear in most episodes as opposed to the two-time Kin and Gin in the original series. Fittingly, the anime series now has a single-episode format instead of being broken in segments. As for the main cast, some of the human characters (Natsume and Keisuke) are Nate's children and three of the main characters are older than Nate (as at least two of them, Natsume and Touma, are junior high schoolers). The Yo-kai themselves also got a redesign on two forms both looking less cartoonish: The now default Lightside form and the combat-oriented (and much fiercer looking) Shadowside form, most notably with Jibanyan, Komasan, and Whisper. Yo-kai Watch 4 for the Switch featured Shadowside characters, and a line of toys -the Yo-kai Watch Elder and Yo-kai Arks- joined the Yo-kai Watch Ogre, Fudou Raimeiken and Enma Agito which were released at the time of the fourth movie.
  • The third season of Yu-Gi-Oh! GX drops the High School esque Duel Academy setting in favor of a much darker Trapped in Another World story where a lot of characters ended up dying. Or at least were believed to be dead, most got better. The darker tone also carried over to the fourth season which also laid more focus on the characters Coming of Age Story.

    Comic Books 
  • Archie Comics:
    • Josie and the Pussycats began as a comic called She's Josie' (shortly afterward it was called simply 'Josie'). It was basically a Distaff Counterpart of Archie. When Hanna-Barbera asked the Archie company for another group to mimic the success of The Archies (and, more importantly, the success of the hit song from said cartoon "Sugar, Sugar), Josie suddenly shifted into being defined by her existence in a band. Best friend Pepper was dropped, the Token Black Friend Valerie was added, and the focus of the feature became "traveling band" instead of a regular teens in high school. All for make the upcoming cartoon more "accessible".
      • The cartoon itself was retooled for its second season - they went into outer space.
    • Several over the Sabrina the Teenage Witch series' comic book run:
      • A new "Sabrina" comic series was introduced shortly after the debut of the 1996 live-action sitcom. This series ran for 32 issues, between 1997 and December 1999. The new series incorporated elements from the live-action sitcom, including modernized fashions and appearances for the aunts, and Salem's personality and backstory.
      • Starting in January 2000, Archie rebooted the series from #1, this time based upon the 2000 animated series (the final issue of the 1997-1999 series had acted as a transition between the two adaptations). This new title was simply titled Sabrina and lasted for 37 issues; issue #38 acted as a transition issue, as the series was retitled Sabrina The Teenage Witch and resumed the conventional high school setting. However, elements of the live-action sitcom (Salem's backstory, the modernized appearances of Hilda and Zelda) were retained, along with the name of Sabrina's hometown (Greendale) from the animated series being incorporated into the comics.
      • Again in 2004, with issue #58, the comics were taken over by Tania del Rio with her manga-inspired art and design style. Concurrent with this, the comic ceased to be connected to either the live-action or animated series. The comics were then released featuring new characters and a slightly more serious, continuity-heavy plot. The manga Sabrina story wrapped up at issue #100 in 2009, albeit with a few unresolved subplots.
    • Katy Keene had two revivals, each retooling the story their own ways.
    • Thanks to a heaping dose of Screwed by the Lawyers, Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics) underwent a major retooling, returning the series to its game roots and jettisoning 20 years of Kudzu Plot, Romantic Plot Tumor and many other problems.
  • The Asterix album Astérix and the Falling Sky completely shifted the focus, theme and and tone of the series, transforming a historical comedy into a science fiction pop culture reference smorgasbord.
  • The "Batgirl of Burnside" revamp for the New 52 Batgirl series. Long story short, a new creative team took over the book and instantly gave it a Lighter and Softer tone, with Barbara moving to a trendy new neighborhood and becoming a hipster. She was also redesigned to have a more practical costume, which went over big with female readers. The book's success inspired a lot of imitators, with various other heroes suddenly getting similar makeovers and plot elements Ripped from the Headlines.
  • Batwing started off as a series about the exploits of the Batman of Africa. After 18 issues, it suddenly got retooled into a series about the adventures of the son of longtime Batman ally Lucius Fox.
  • The Defenders went through this several times:
    • It started off as a book with a fluid, non-committal roster usually anchored by the Hulk, Doctor Strange, Namor, and the Silver Surfer. At issue #125, the title was renamed The New Defenders and the roster was changed to a more official, government-sanctioned team consisting of Beast, Angel, Iceman, Gargoyle, Valkyrie, and Moondragon. Writer J.M. DeMatteis quickly left the title after realizing he'd sacrificed the book's more quirky, offbeat tone in favor of making it into another run of the mill Avengers clone.
    • The title was revived in the 90's as The Secret Defenders, which featured a revolving door Heroes Unlimited cast.
    • In 2013 it was relaunched as Fearless Defenders, an all-female team anchored by Valkyrie and Misty Knight.
  • Following the death of Johnny Storm, the Fantastic Four had undergone a temporary change with them becoming the Future Foundation. This had involved them donning black and white uniforms, adding Spider-Man to the team to replace Johnny, who had specifically named his old pal Spidey for the position in his will, bringing Doctor Doom and Mister Fantastic's time traveling father along for the ride and becoming a sort of superhero think tank. This new series ended up being well received.
    • In the late-1980s, Steve Engelhart tried to spruce things up with the 'NEW' Fantastic Four, with Reed and Sue Put on a Bus and replaced with Crystal and the second Ms. Marvel.
  • The Dutch comic series Gilles de Geus originally began as a gag comic, with stories that spanned only 1 - 3 pages, in which Gilles was a Hero Antagonist (he was a highwayman), and Status Quo Is God was in full effect. Starting from the story "Storm over Dubbeldam", the comic underwent a complete overhaul; it shifted to full length stories, broke the status quo by having Gilles leave his old home and join a travelling band of Geuzen, and Gilles himself became a genuine hero.
  • Green Arrow started off as a campy Batman wannabe. But during the 1970's, he was reimagined as a more liberal, street-level hero with a social justice slant. He began crusading against societal injustices and became an advocate for victims of oppression, often with a decreased focus on the bigger, more bombastic threats he used to face in the pages of Justice League of America.
    • The New 52 Green Arrow volume underwent one as well. The first year or so of the title brought the character back to his Batman-ish roots and had an increased emphasis on the Crime Fighting With Cash aspect. After this move was widely panned, Jeff Lemire took over the title at issue #17 and removed all of the corporate and high-tech trappings in favor of a Darker and Edgier street level feel.
  • The Detroit-era Justice League of America. Basically, Justice League wasn't as popular as it'd been in its heyday, so Gerry Conway got rid of most of the heavy hitters like Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman in order to focus on a younger, more diverse team of new characters like Vixen, Gypsy and Vibe. He was hoping to ape the success of the New Teen Titans and the X-Men, but it went over about as well as you'd expect. Thankfully, its failure led to a more successful Retool: Justice League International. The series was an action-comedy starring a new League with a more international purview, and consisted mostly of B and C-list characters like Black Canary, Guy Gardner, Blue Beetle and Booster Gold, with Batman and Martian Manhunter as the sole holdovers from the original team.
  • By 1968, the Metal Men were among the Denser and Wackier of DC Comics' output. That all changed in Metal Men #33, which began a Story Arc where the team could not control their increased powers and find themselves hunted by humans, who turned against them. It came to a head in #37, where the Metal Men were finally apprehended and left for dead in a junkyard. Mister Conan salvaged them and gave them human identities so they could continue to help the world in secret.
  • Mortadelo y Filemón: Mortadelo and Filemón originally had a private detective agency and were a parody of Sherlock Holmes and Watson (the comic's original title was "Mortadelo y Filemón - Agencia de Información"), not the James Bond parody they eventually became. As a relic of that time, Mortadelo still calls Filemón "Boss", despite they don't seem to have much different responsabilities in the T.I.A.
  • DC's New 52 relaunch has one foot in the Continuity Reboot camp and another in the retool camp. Some characters got retold origins and backstories (Superman had his early days retold, with him now being the first superhero in the DCU) while others simply got a change to the status quo (Bruce Wayne was the only Batman again, with Dick Grayson going back to Nightwing and Damian remaining as Robin).
    • The DC Rebirth relaunch is primarily a retool with some retconning, moving away from the New 52's Darker and Edgier approach and aiming to give the DCU some direction and history again.
  • The New Avengers:
  • Marvel Universe heroine Patsy Walker has gone through numerous retools. Started out as an Archie-style teen comedy, moved over into more straight romance, became a superheroine named Hellcat, became Darker and Edgier... Note that all of that stuff is still technically in-continuity.
  • The Punisher spent the better part of the late eighties and the first half of the nineties killing every kind of criminal on the planet. After he was brainwashed and supposedly killed Nick Fury in the Over the Edge event, he was sent to the electric chair at the start of his new series, only to be revealed that his death was faked by the Geraci family, who made Castle their new don. He still continued fighting criminals, but now at his "family's" interest.
    • This was followed by another retool, where Castle became an Empowered Badass Normal with weapons from Heaven, to coincide with the launch of the Marvel Knights imprint.
      • Then got retooled when Ennis took over and handwaved the Heaven Arc and made Frank Castle a badass normal again, followed by a back to basics approach.
  • Rat Queens was hit by heavy fan backlash during its darker third arc. The creator put the book on hold for a year. He then came back with a retool that ignored the controversial material, with the arc's conflict cleanly resolved offscreen and everyone back in Palisade.
  • Gail Simone got her hands on Red Sonja under Dynamite's control and promptly jettisoned most of the character's backstory. This scrapped the most problematic sexual elements of Sonja's past and set her free to wander the earth as an errant swordfighter.
  • Spider-Man:
    • Web of Spider-Man was originally just another Spider-Man book. Writer David Michelinie and artist Marc Silvestri eventually came onto the book and gave it a new premise starting with issue #16, in which Peter Parker travels around the world with Joy Mercado on assignment from NOW Magazine. This premise didn't last long, because a two-issue storyline involving the Provisional Irish Republican Army resulted in a bomb threat in the building Marvel's offices were located in at the time. The second part was hastily edited to replace the IRA with generic terrorists wearing black hoods, and the creative team subsequently disbanded by issue #22.
  • Superman:
    • Superman and his mythos have been retooled many times throughout his decades-long history, based on what DC perceived the market was interested in.
    • In the 1950's, Superman became nicer and less snarky and smug. He became more powerful, which in turn led to the creation of new colors of Kryptonite and new weaknesses like red sunlight to offset his universal-level powers. His adventures became more sci-fi-focused, and new Kryptonian survivors like Supergirl, Krypto, the Phantom Zoners or the whole city of Kandor became permanent additions to the cast.
    • In 1971, Julius Schwartz becomes the editor of the Superman titles and starts pushing changes right away. In Kryptonite Nevermore, an experimental "Kryptonite-Engine" made to provide cheap electrical power malfunctions, causing all the Kryptonite on the planet to become ordinary iron. Meanwhile, Clark Kent became a TV news reporter while an Evil Twin of Superman made of sand drained him of some of his powers. You can read the full saga here. Schwartz was forced to quickly backtrack due to fan backlash against the new direction, but some changes stuck: Clark worked as a newscaster for WGBS-TV until the 1986 reboot, Supergirl was depowered for a while in which she used a Kandorian exoskeleton to be a hero, the Legion of Super-Pets disappeared, and gimmicks like non-green Kryptonite, time travel, crazy science and super-criminals were written out or severely downplayed.
    • In 1986, Superman undergoes a full reboot. His alien side was greatly downplayed, his powers were severely nerfed, Supergirl and the other Kryptonian characters were retconned out of existence and banned from continuity.
    • In the early 00's, DC restored a lot of elements wiped out by the 1986 reboot. Superman's alien side was reemphasized again, Kara Zor-El was reintroduced as a troubled teenager, and Zod was reinvented as a well-intentioned extremist.
  • The Marvel Comics series Thunderbolts has always fundamentally had the same premise (a super hero team (that term used loosely) comprised of villains). However, the exact nature of the team has been changed several times, amazingly with the series lasting over 150+ issues only once being canceled and relaunched once.
    • Originally, Thunderbolts centered around a team of heroes that were actually Baron Zemo's Masters of Evil in disguise working to gain the public's trust so they could easily overtake them.
    • Eventually, the team (those that decided to reform and be actual heroes) came under the leadership of Hawkeye up until a short period where all the previous story lines were abandoned and the book was made into a super hero fight club. Shortly after that it was cancelled.
    • It was brought back soon after around the time of New Avengers' release with a cast featuring some new characters as well as old ones until the Marvel crossover event Civil War (2006).
    • During and after Civil War the team consisted of more popular villains like Green Goblin, Venom, and Bullseye working as "hero hunters" for the pro-registration side to capture anti-registration superheroes.
    • During Dark Reign most of the hero hunter team became the Dark Avengers and the Thunderbolts became Norman Osborn's personal hit squad.
    • After Dark Reign and at the onset of Marvel's Heroic Age the Thunderbolts became super villain prison The Raft's rehabilitation program for super criminals (this time including Man-Thing, Juggernaut, and Ghost among others), under the supervision of Luke Cage. Basically Marvel's answer to the Suicide Squad.
    • With #175, the title got renamed to Dark Avengers with characters from the second incarnation of the Dark Avengers joining the cast, still under the leadership of Luke Cage.
    • Marvel NOW!: the Raft program got shut down, Red Hulk took the Thunderbolts name for his black ops squad of antiheroes (a Shout-Out to his own secret identity), and the Dark Avengers found themselves independent once again.
    • All-New, All-Different Marvel: After the events of Avengers Standoff, most of the original Thunderbolts reunite with the Winter Soldier as their new leader.
  • Titans was originally a superhero book about the now-adult former members of the New Teen Titans. During Brightest Day, the concept was completely revamped, and the book ended up becoming about a team of Anti-Hero mercenaries lead by Deathstroke. When it was relaunched for DC Rebirth, it went back to its original concept.
    • The Rebirth version itself underwent a retool. It started as a pretty obvious attempt to copy the popular animated adaptations, featuring Starfire, Beast Boy and Raven; Damian stood in as Robin with the "NuWally" Kid Flash rounding out the group. This fell into an Audience-Alienating Era pretty quickly, though, so everyone but Damian and Wally was jettisoned in issue #20 and replaced by new characters who formed a more Anti Heroic team.
    • The original Teen Titans comic had a retool when the character of Lilith and Loren Jupiter were introduced. The Titans, minus Robin, abandoned their hero costumes and focused on teenage social issues. It didn't last.
  • The Steel Claw started out as a villain, before a Heel–Face Turn turned him into the Reformed, but Rejected Tragic Hero which remained throughout the comic. Another retool turned him into a secret agent, which became the status quo of the comic for some time until that was abandoned, and he became a private detective.
  • Tomahawk had two retools towards the end of its run. First, the comic was changed from "hey kids isn't Davy Crockett cool?" to "the Howling Commandos in the Revolutionary War", with Tomahawk gaining a colorful supporting cast and a direct affiliation with the Continental Army. After about five years of that, the book (retaining the same title and numbering) jumped forward some 40 years and focused on Tomahawk's son Hawk, with the still-living Tomahawk being Hawk's mentor/sidekick. "Hawk, son of Tomahawk" didn't last too long, as the book was canceled within a year of Hawk's introduction.
  • X-Factor started off as a reunion book featuring the original five Silver Age X-Men, initially masquerading as mutant hunters for hire (they were secretly helping and training the mutants they apprehended), but eventually dropping the act to become just an offshoot of the X-Men. In the 90's following The Muir Island Saga, the five originals rejoined the X-Men proper, and the X-Factor series was retooled into a government-sanctioned team of mutant superheroes led by Havok. Peter David later relaunched the title again in 2005 as a Noir detective title consisting of a bunch of former X-Force and Generation X members and led by Multiple Man, a veteran of the government team. It was Retooled again in 2014 as part of the Marvel NOW! event, with the book now focusing on a team of Corporate Sponsored Superheroes.
  • By 1970, X-Men was an unpopular series that was reduced to reprinting old material. 5 years later, after getting a new writer, putting most of the old team on a bus (temporarily) in favor of a new international team of mutants, and dedicating as much time to Character Development as fights, the series picked up a great many new fans.

    Comic Strips 
  • Beetle Bailey started out as a strip about a ne'er-do-well college student. Then, very early in the series' run, the main character joined the army, where he has been ever since.
  • Blondie (1930) was originally about a flapper and her rich boyfriends. When she married one of them, Dagwood Bumstead, he was disinherited, had to get a job, and lived a life more of the audience could identify with. On top of that, said husband essentially became the main character. As for Blondie, she's been a wife and mom with her own catering business for so long, it's almost impossible to imagine her as a flighty socialite.
    • At least she kept top billing. Fritzi Ritz had a similar flapper theme, but was pushed to the side by her niece and the strip renamed Nancy.
  • When Garry Trudeau returned from his 18-month sabbatical, the main characters of Doonesbury left college (and the town the college was in) behind, got careers & families, and started aging in real-time. This caused a noticeable shift in the perspective of the strip (although its political nature never changed).
    • Although at the very beginning, the cartoon wasn't really oriented towards covering politics at all, being about the college life of its main cast and making this a double example.
  • Funky Winkerbean: Originally a lighthearted high school strip, with the death of creator Tom Batuik's wife, the strip became darker, focusing on the hopelessness of modern life and baser sides of humanity.
  • Funnyman started in October 1948 as the continuation of a short-lived comic book series. It focused on Larry Davis, a Danny Kaye-style comedian who dons an oversized nose to fight crime as the titular superhero. By early 1949, Larry got less and less focus...and in July 1949, he was dropped altogether in favor of a new character named Reggie Van Twerp, a rich idiot whose butler continually had to save him from trouble. The retool didn't do any better than the original, and Funnyman was gone by the end of 1949.
  • Rick O'Shay started out as a humor comic set in the present day; after about ten years, the setting was shifted back a century, and there started being more drama and continuing storylines.
  • There was once an 80s strip called Robotman. The title character was an alien robot living with a typical middle-class family. Eventually it was retooled into Robotman and Monty; the little robot now lived with a dorky bachelor, Monty Montahue. Then Robotman himself left. Since then, the strip has been Monty, and revolves around the geek and his weird friends.
  • Barney Google moved to a place full of hillbillies, then was written out in favor of Breakout Character Snuffy Smith.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Batman:
    • After Batman Returns came under fire from parents, watchdog groups, and merchandise-tie-in companies such as Mc's for being considerably darker, more violent, sexual and disturbing than its 1989 predecessor (as well as not even getting remotely close to equaling its box office intake), director Tim Burton as well as star Michael Keaton and composer Danny Elfman left the series. In their place for the Lighter and Softer (as well as brighter) third movie, Batman Forever came Joel Schumacher, Val Kilmer and Elliot Goldenthal respectively.
    • And after this direction proved disastrous in the follow-up film, Batman & Robin, the series lay dormant for eight years until a Continuity Reboot retooled the series again, putting as much distance as possible between the Batman franchise and the embarrassment that Executive Meddling had turned it into, resulting in Christopher Nolan's darker, more realistic, and more grounded Batman Begins, which became the first of a trilogy, The Dark Knight Trilogy, that was praised as a return to form for the series.
  • The DC Extended Universe has been trying to do this since the disappointment of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, as both it and Man of Steel were criticized for being "too dark" and "deconstructive". In particular, its sequel Justice League has a lot of soft Ret Cons (particularly regarding Superman's personality and how the world views him), and the movies coming after it are specifically aiming for a Lighter and Softer tone. The early movies were also criticized for trying to build its Shared Universe too quickly; later installments nod at other entries in the franchise but are designed to stand more on their own. Ironically though, the "unretool" Zack Snyder's Justice League was much better received than the 2017 theatrical version.
  • After G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra scored at the box office but received harsh reviews from fans and critics, the studio wanted to do a full-on Continuity Reboot. They settled for a sequel, G.I. Joe: Retaliation, which had a Darker and Edgier tone and a mostly-new cast of characters. Most of the original cast had A Bridge Dropped On Them off-screen, Baroness was Chuck Cunningham Syndrome'd, and Duke was killed off so that focus could shift to Roadblock (played by Dwayne Johnson).
  • Planet of the Apes: Starting with the third movie Escape from the Planet of the Apes, the franchise switched from following human characters in the far future to ape characters in the present or immediate future. Burton's remake attempted to return to the astronaut protagonist, but after its poor reception, the series went back to ape protagonists with the Rise of the Planet of the Apes Continuity Reboot.
  • The Rocky series was retooled in the third movie to be more action-oriented and contain less drama. The fifth film went back to its roots. The sixth film made over a decade later went for drama of a more realistic sort.
  • The Star Trek franchise features several notable film examples:
    • Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan retooled the franchise after the mediocre results of the first movie, by switching from "high concept" sci-fi to "action" sci-fi, bringing back a classic villain, and retooling Starfleet as more militaristic and naval-oriented than it was portrayed in the original series. The retool was wildly successful and paved the way for future Star Trek films and TV series.
    • Star Trek: First Contact radically redesigned the Borg in many ways. The most obvious one is cosmetic, they looked like they were being rotted out from the inside whereas their prior makeup was pale guys in armored suits. They then established the idea of the Borg Queen, because without a leader they are really just slightly more difficult zombies. Then it showed that they assimilate people en masse as well as technology, whereas in the TNG "Best Of Both Worlds" it was suggested that Picard was a one-time deal. And lastly, partially because of the existence of the Queen, they are shown to have a much greater sense of tactics and strategy that allow them to attempt the Time Travel plot, before becoming overconfident in their malevolence. But there is a reason First Contact is considered the best TNG movie.
    • Star Trek (2009) was more of a full Continuity Reboot than a retool, after the dismal box office results of Star Trek: Nemesis. The focus was changed to a different timeline following the (now changed because of Romulan influence) adventures of the crew from the original series.

  • The Diary of a Wimpy Kid series went through a major tone shift starting with its ninth installment, The Long Haul. In contrast to the satirical, relatively grounded style of the previous books, the later books take on much Denser and Wackier plots than before, in addition to having more condensed plots that cover much shorter timeframes.

  • After nearly four decades as a knockoff of MAD, Cracked morphed into a "lad mag" akin to FHM or Maxim. This retool was short-lived and the magazine died soon afterward, only to be revived online as the list-heavy humor site it is now.
  • The British magazine heat launched as an entertainment-focused, hipper alternative to the Radio Times. Although this was well-received, it didn't do well commercially. A series of quick makeovers saw it repositioned as a more downmarket, gossip and soap/reality-celebrity focused publication aimed mainly at women, and it's now one of the UK's biggest-selling magazines.

  • P!nk's first album, 2000's Can't Take Me Home, had an R&B sound, and while it sold well—double-platinum in the US—it was considered So Okay, It's Average by music critics. For her second album, 2001's Missundaztood, she exerted more creative control and took her sound in a pop-rock direction with a heavy punk influence. This change proved successful, as Missundaztood became her biggest-selling album and she has kept the pop-rock style ever since.

    Multiple Media 
    • LEGO attempted this in '09, with the Bara Magna saga. The story was moved to a new planet with completely new characters belonging to entirely new races. The line lost many of its signature traces, such as Kanohi Masks and elemental-powers (although the Elemental Nation-setting stayed), the new characters were mostly organic as opposed to mostly robotic, and due to LEGO's newer violence policies, the fights became actually gory. Yet, the retool failed: not only did all these new ideas come too suddenly, the story got tied back to the original within half a year, with the introduction of Mata Nui (the former Big Good) as the new protagonist. Now, the basic idea was to have him back as the focus of the rest of the new story, until the Grand Finale which would bring both the old and new stories to a close some years later. But Mata Nui brought with him way too much continuity way too early, which alienated new fans. Meanwhile, all the Retcons and needless explanations brought about upset some old fans. The line was canceled in 2010 with a very haphazard ending, although LEGO was reluctant to let it last beyond 2009.
    • The original Kanohi Masks were designed to be the collectible aspects of the toys, and in the story they could be merged to form a "Golden Kanohi" which held the powers of all the ones collected before. After the Mata Nui Saga ended, the collectable aspect faded away from Kanohi into whatever was the current macguffin of the story, eventually doing away with the "collectable" part entirely, replacing them with ammunition packs for the weapons the toys carried.
    • Each generation of Toys usually had a built-in "action" feature, beginning with the Toa Mata/Nuva's arm-swinging gimmick. These usually required a simple gear system set up and all sets in some form had a "action" feature built into them. After the Visorak saga, these were instead dropped in exchange for more posability in the sets, in turn resulting in many of the future sets following a certain "formula" (coined the "Inika" due to the Toa Inikas first using it) for builds, with whatever function being relegated into their weapons instead. While some sets got a bit creative (most notably the Barraki sets), the repetitiveness eventually caused fatique in buyers, as at that point the only interesting things about a new set was maybe one or two armor pieces and the mask/helmet.
  • Hero Factory went through a retool in its final wave, when the Heroes were made into standard LEGO Minifigures that rode giant mechs and fought with huge monsters, which were actually standard-sized toys.
  • Beginning with the Hero Factory 2.0 line, LEGO retooled their "Constraction" building style drastically, dubbing it CCBS (standing for Character and Creature Building System). Most of the newer figures are built around a highly articulated base-skeleton with armor panels and many accessories attaching via ball-joints, pegs or clips (instead of the usual pins and rods). BIONICLE (2015) also utilized this system, though with a retool of its own: introducing a new type of mask connection and bringing back Technic-based builds and functions, but keeping the articulation and customizability of CCBS. The line's story is rebooted, however.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • The infamous "World Entertainment Wrestling" era of FMW, which saw the company best known for their crazy violent garbage wrestlers take on a more "sports entertainment" approach, which still looked like a bunch of crazy violent garbage wrestlers to non fans but to the FMW Faithful, was both watered down in violence and in variety, as FMW boasted multiple weight classes and tag team divisions, including a strong enough women's division to go head to head with both LLPW and JPW, prior to "WEW", which favored talking and audacious angles. WEW ultimately put FMW into dormancy for thirteen years, during which time members of the roster experimented with which style was better before folding into the Apache army until it was time for FMW's proper revival, which attempted to go back to the roots.
  • After AAA broke away from EMLL and put Lucha Libre Internacional out of business, EMLL changed its name to CMLL (basically from Mexican Enterprises to World Counsel), crowned its own world champions (independent of the NWA, whose belts it still borrowed despite no longer being an official member) and sought more international partnerships.
  • All Japan Pro Wrestling's equally infamous "Puroresu Love" era(2002-12), in which the "real sport" presentation of promotion it was best known for the Japanese majors was abandoned as it was suddenly losing ground on that front to Pro Wrestling NOAH. AJPW took on a more "sports entertainment" approach to its shows in an attempt to win advertisement spots, sponsors and push merchandise. Unlike WEW, which took FMW from its highest to its lowest, "Puroresu Love" actually saved All Japan, despite being as equally derided by the promotion's fans. Nobuo Shiraishi's acquisition of AJPW from The Great Muta would see yet another downturn that necessitated Jun Akiyama's hostile takeover and another retool in 2014, also shooting to return AJPW to its Giant Baba roots.
  • Jaguar Yokota left Yoshimoto Women's Pro Wrestling Jd' after coming to the conclusion the promotion wasn't going to grow any further and it was time to become a free lancer. As the promotion more or less existed for the sake of reviving Yokota's career, Hidenobu Ichimaru decided it was time for a change. That being starting the "athress" program in 2001 and turning the whole operation into JD Star in 2003, with the goal of getting pro wrestlers noticed by film or television companies who would make them actresses and eventually crossover pop stars.
  • In 2012, the show for Booker T's PWA school was relaunched as Reality Of Wrestling. In 2014, ROW got a new television deal and started doing internet pay per view.
  • Pro Wrestling Respect, which existed mainly to showcase the Ring of Honor and SHIMMER trainees, was retooled into what was basically an extension of Chikara in 2013, "Respect" becoming part of a "Wrestling Is" family with "Art", "Awesome", "Fun", "Cool", "Heart", and "Intense", and played a small role in the Titor Conglomerate storyline.
  • In 2016 when the WWE rebranded the Divas Division into the Women's Division, it began to phase out the swimsuit models as well as Fanservice matches such as Bra and Panties matches and pillow fights in favor of hiring indie wrestlers with unique gimmicks as well as Money in the Bank ladder matches, Hell in a Cell matches and the Royal Rumble match. In addition, women's matches on RAW, Smackdown, NXT and the PPVs began to increase during that period while women's storylines become more violent and are focused on pure hatred toward each other and not fighting over a male wrestler or a heel making fun of her babyface's rival's looks.

  • Bratz:
    • In the 2010s, the Bratz line tried to rebrand itself. It was originally themed around "cool" fashionable teenage dolls and was a Hotter and Sexier alternative to Barbie. After years of being criticized for that, it was decided to tone that down and focus less on fashion and more on creativity. To quote:
    The Bratz are back and more creative than ever before! The Bratz believe in thinking for themselves, creating the things they dream of, and making every day an absolute adventure.
    • After the failure of Bratzillaz, the franchise was put on hiatus in 2014. It was brought back in 2018 with the characters being designed more like their traditional designs.
  • Marvel Legends was launched by ToyBiz with a wide variety of Marvel Comics heroes and villains, often mixing in characters from various franchises like the X-Men, The Avengers and the Fantastic Four in each wave. The line was almost exclusively based on the comics, with only a select few movies (Daredevil, Blade II and The Punisher (2004)) getting figures. Once Hasbro took over Marvel Legends, they added characters from X-Men: The Last Stand and the Spider-Man Trilogy, but otherwise stuck with the original premise established by ToyBiz. When the line faltered and went on hiatus for several years, Hasbro decided to shake things up by capitalizing on the success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Starting with Iron Man 3, Marvel Legends began doing themed waves based around each successive MCU film (and The Amazing Spider-Man 2), as well as individual comic-based waves for the specific franchises (Spider-Man Legends, X-Men Legends, ect.) that used to be mixed together under ToyBiz. The movie waves are also used as a Trojan horse to include tangentially-related comic figures, such as Iron Fist and Nico Minoru appearing in the Doctor Strange (2016) wave, or Namor and Black Bolt appearing in the Black Panther wave.

    Video Games 
  • God of War (PS4) is a distant sequel to the original God of War series, taking place several centuries in the future and in an Norse Mythology setting. While Kratos is still the protagonist, he is markedly different than he was in the previous games; he has not only grown a thick beard but possesses a more controlled demeanor in contrast to the vicious vengeance-obsessed brute that he used to be as well as raising a young son named Atreus. While the game is still an action game, the combat is massively overhauled, taking more inspiration from Dark Souls and less from Devil May Cry as well as putting a bigger emphasis on exploration and loot-gathering.
  • The Jak and Daxter series immediately saw this with its second entry; Jak II: Renegade. The first game was closer to a 3D Platforming Collectathon like Super Mario 64 and its spiritual predecessor Crash Bandicoot complete with a Heroic Mime main character. The sequel decided to follow the Wide-Open Sandbox trend kickstarted by Grand Theft Auto III. Jak II saw the character become Suddenly Speaking and an edgy badass, the setting was changed to a Darker and Edgier Future Dystopia, and while the gameplay still had elements of platforming, it became more of an action game.
  • Metal Gear Solid was this for the Metal Gear franchise. The first two games do dabble in advanced elements for the time, with thriller plots, postmodern elements and very inventive gameplay, but had Snake as an Action Genre Hero Guy, and a goofy, 'video gamey' tone. For Solid, established character designs and lore that was mainly All There in the Manual were discarded and replaced with the work of Yoji Shinkawa, who has a very distinctive and unusual style that caused a dramatic shift in the feel of many characters. The tone of the series maintained its signature goofy humour but got much more cinematic and emotional, and plot elements like Snake being a clone and wrestling with the morality of what he was doing became prominent. The Video Game 3D Leap divorced it further from its predecessor, technical innovation made voice acting possible for the first time, and most of what happened in the previous two games was pushed into Broad Strokes.
  • The Persona series received a retool with Persona 3, which departed stylistically from the original Shin Megami Tensei series and incorporated more social simulation elements into the series. The games before Persona 3 have had only token relevance outside a couple of PSP remakes since then.
  • Donkey Kong was an arcade game starring the eponymous ape and a mustachioed carpenter named Mario set on a construction site. Mario would later have his occupation changed to a plumber, and would instead spend his time in the Mushroom Kingdom fighting a turtle-like monster named Bowser, rather than fighting an ape in the real world (which was later retconned into being New Donk City as of Super Mario Odyssey). Meanwhile, Donkey Kong was replaced by his grandson of the same name, but this Donkey Kong wore a tie, lived in the jungle, and instead fought a giant crocodile named King K. Rool, with the original Donkey Kong now known as Cranky Kong.
  • The Sonic the Hedgehog franchise has undergone three notable retools in its lifespan:
    • The series took a hiatus after the release of the 3rd game with no real major releases outside of spin offs and ports, skipping the Video Game 3D Leap that occured in the 5th generation of gaming. It wouldn't be until 1998 that Sonic would make it's proper 3D debut with Sonic Adventure, in which the characters were redesigned, given voices, and the plot took a turn for the dramatic.
    • This would hold true for the next couple of years of the series until declining reception would cause the series to undergo a second retool after the infamous Sonic the Hedgehog (2006). There was no major redesign this time, but the series would gradually phase out staples that were established with the aforementioned Sonic Adventure, namely the wide open and explorative gameplay, additional playable characters with their own unique playstyles were Demoted to Extra aside from Sonic himself, and the plots became more whimsical and lighthearted in nature focusing more on comedy than drama.
    • After opinions on this Tone Shift soured, and Sonic Forces made a failed attempt at being Darker and Edgier, a third shift occurred starting with spinoff media Sonic the Hedgehog (IDW) and TailsTube and continuing into mainline installment Sonic Frontiers: the tone returned to the seriousness of the Adventure era, the old cast regained their playability and had their Character Development highlighted, continuity was strongly-emphasized and made more streamlined (the Classic Era games are now definitively set in the past and feature younger versions of the cast, the IDW comics are now fully canon), and several comics writers began to write for the videogames.
    • Series lore and tone aside, the modern era's gameplay underwent a noticeable Retool with the daytime segments of Sonic Unleashed. Previous 3D Sonic games were typical 3D platformers with a slightly faster than normal protagonist. Unleashed instead took inspiration from Sonic Rush: linear levels with layered branching paths like the Genesis games, alternated 3D and 2D segments, gave Sonic a Boost mechanic with level design encouraging its use, and gave his Homing Attack a targeting reticule clearly showing what it was aimed at. For better or worse, this "Boost formula" would stick as Modern Sonic's defining gameplay style ever since, to the point where it and Classic Sonic became distinct playable characters in Sonic Generations.

    Web Original 
  • Chris Bores of The Irate Gamer fame:
    • His review show called The Breakfast Rant was eventually retooled into I Rate the 80's in order to broaden its scope.
    • In 2018, his channel was retooled to dedicate it to his new show Chris NEO. It's still about video games, but with less emphasis on comedy — the Irate Gamer characters, skits and special effects have been retired — and more focus on the games themselves.
  • Jimquisition:
  • Brad Jones' podcast The Random Button featured himself and (usually) someone else viewing and then reviewing a random obscure film off of Netflix. After a few episodes this element was dropped and the podcast was retitled Snobcast, and became just a general discussion show.
  • After being Uncancelled, The Nostalgia Critic changed up the format of the series: First and foremost, his movie reviews now cover any film as long as it is not in theaters. Reviews are now bi-weekly, with every other week devoted to short editorials. Also, two of Doug Walker's cast members from his series Demo Reel, Rachel Tietz and Malcolm Ray, joined the cast as regular members (although Rachel has since left to pursue other career opportunites and was replaced by her old roommate, Tamara Chambers).
  • Phelous had started out doing primarily horror film reviews (though he also did video game movies here and there), but after seemingly being Killed Off for Real in the Jacob's Ladder review he shifted towards animation for the most part along with the ups and downs of franchises like Ghostbusters and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, with horror reviews only occasionally showing up.
  • Allison Pregler, who hosted the Obscurus Lupa Presents for several years, retooled the show into Movie Nights. Rather than the more typical format for review videos, Movie Nights is unscripted and more discussion-based and has an actual set rather than it being in her bedroom. She has also retired the 'Obscurus Lupa' name for her videos, going just by Allison.
  • Briefly with Projector. Starting with The Imitation Game and '71, Mathew Buck switched from covering one film per episode to a pair, sometimes with a similar theme, with single reviews are being used for special episodes instead. However around February 2016 he switched back to doing single reviews only.
  • DBX, a Spin-Off of DEATH BATTLE!, underwent a retool for Season 4. A new host, the Ringmaster, was introduced as well as a new setting, the Exhibition Ring. Instead of two characters duking it out, Popularity Power was installed, with fans voting for the winner of the next match.
  • In its earliest incarnation, gaming channel NODE was actually a variety channel, with various shows hosted by several different personalities. Most of those shows gained little traction save for LAN Party, so soon after launch the "variety" part was phased out entirely and LAN Party was made the focus of the channel, which itself ultimately dropped the show name and simply became NODE.
  • Retsupurae is centrally a channel of Slowbeef, Diabetus, and occasionally their fellow goons riffing off preexisting media, but the content has changed several times in its lifespan. It was originally born out of making fun of bad Let's Plays (hence the channel name, a corruption of the term), but quickly drifted into new sub-shows covering other content, such as video games in their entirety through pre-recorded longplays (in a subseries titled "Wrongpurae"), bad online Flash games ("Retsufrash"), bad creepypastas ("Crappypasta"), bad crowdfunding campaigns ("Kickstarter Nonstarter and "IndieNoGo)", and others. A lot of this had to do with the two main hosts' increasing discomfort with exclusively targeting Let's Players, partly because it started to come off as bullying, partly because some of the subjects they riffed attempted retaliation via false copyright claims, and partly because due to Retsupurae's increasing popularity, some were intentionally making troll videos to get featured on their channel.
  • Back in the mid-2000s, a YouTube channel named Fat Man Judgeth began making overly-mad reviews of Sega Genesis games in the style of The Angry Video Game Nerd, but that eventually petered out. Then around 2010 the channel was relaunched as a review channel covering a broader range of games and with writing more towards self-deprecating humor and snark. But in 2016 he released a video called "The Haters Guide to the 2016 NFL Playoffs", which exploded in popularity and heralded a change in focus to sports on his channel to what we now know as UrinatingTree. The previous video game review background can still often be seen in his current sports-related videos with the incorporation of music themes and sound bites from older video games.

    Western Animation 
  • Action Man (2000): In season 1 the series began with story arcs that spanned multiple episodes, a notable supporting cast, and a serious storyline. The longer arcs were dropped in the second half of season 1, with episodes becoming standalone stories (aside from the occasional two-parter). As of season 2, the Merchandise-Driven trope kicked into full gear. A great number of side-characters were ditched without an explanation, the stories became even more generic, tied to toy-related concepts and every episode had at least 30 seconds of shilling the fancy tech he used. Episodes became more formulaic and a "Today on Action Man..." intro often spoiled the whole episode's plot.
  • Season 5 of Archer starts with ISIS being shut down by the FBI and the characters deciding to start a drug cartel. The season has even received the official nickname of "Archer Vice."
  • Atomic Betty's third and final season was titled Mission: Earth to reflect the series formula getting retooled to move all the action from outer space to Betty's hometown. In addition to the status quo changes brought about by the Galactic Guardians and villains moving their respective headquarters and priorities to Earth, the show also got a new intro and credits, added two new main characters (Betty's crush/Penelope's brother Chaz and a Token Black Friend for Betty named Regeena), added scene transitions, and became Denser and Wackier with a stronger focus on comedy (exemplified by the addition of a silly skit at the end of every episode).
  • About halfway into its second season, The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes got retooled to try and raise the sagging ratings by making it more like the movie. Iron Man, Captain America, the Hulk, and Thor (the four Avengers with solo movies in the MCU) were given increased prominence, leading to the other Avengers falling Out of Focus. The new creators also tried to minimize potential Continuity Lock-Out moments by making most of the episodes into done-in-ones, in contrast to the serialized nature of the first season.
  • Batman: The Animated Series underwent this for the final season, with the title changed to The New Batman Adventures. Aside from new character designs and a new art style, the show added Batgirl to the main cast, had Dick Grayson become Nightwing, and introduced a new Robin as his successor. New voices were also used for a number of characters.
  • The Batman went through a lot of trouble, living in the shadow of the above-mentioned show. The first two seasons focused on Batman's tensions with the police, and had Ellen Yin, a cop based on minor comic character Ellen Yindel, as the Deuteragonist. She proved a Base-Breaking Character, so she vanished after that, save one mention. Seasons 3-4 had Commissioner Gordon take over the police and added Batgirl and then Robin to the cast. Then a second retool came at the end of season four, introducing other superheroes to the setting, so that season five often had Batman teaming up with another superhero to fight a member of that hero's Rogues Gallery. (Word of God calls that their "Justice League season.")
  • Big Hero 6: The Series: Season 3 has the show switching from 22-minute episodes to 11-minute ones while putting a greater emphasis on comedy. This is according to executive producer Bob Schooley.
  • After Bubble Guppies was Un-Cancelled in 2019, its fifth season recieved a major retool that completely does away with its traditional sketch comedy formula. It has shifted to a new fantasy format, which features the stories told during the "Outside" segment and extending them so that they take up the majority of the episode; the dance songs, field trips and playtime segments were removed; there is no prologue that shows the characters going to school; and the "Shop" and "Lunch" segments were incorporated into the story itself. Molly and Gil's in-between sketches were also removed, and Mr. Grouper now waves goodbye to the viewers after the story ends, and it cuts straight to the ending theme.
  • Thanks to legal disputes between DIC and Nelvana, Care Bears (1980s) had to drop every character that wasn't the Care Bears themselves when the latter took over for its second season. In later seasons, the show also moved away from the "Care Bears help some kids with their problems" formula common in the first, in favor of focusing on a small core cast of the title characters and their lives.
  • ChalkZone received a minor retool while it was on Oh Yeah! Cartoons, occurring between the first two shorts in 1998 and the remainder of them in 1999, and eventually into the show itself. Starting with the second season of Oh Yeah! Cartoons in 1999, Rudy was aged up from eight to ten (Word of God says this was due to Nickelodeon wanting to give the short a TV show, but requested that Rudy had to be aged up) and Penny was added as a third protagonist. Besides that, the only other difference was that the art style improved (compare Snap in the first two shorts to the rest of the shorts and the show).
  • Beginning in 2016, the purpose of the Disney Princess franchise was changed. Instead of being about helping girls live out their own princess fantasies by buying The Merch, it was given a slogan, "Dream Big, Princess", which means that the girls the franchise is aimed at will be inspired by the choices the princesses make to achieve their dreams in their respective films. This slogan now appears at the end of several commercials for merchandise, and a video explaining the retooled franchise is shown before airings of Elena of Avalor on Disney Junior and Tangled: The Series on Disney Channel.
  • When Doug moved from Nickelodeon to ABC, many characters and locations were redesigned, and the show was renamed Disney's Brand Spanking New Doug. There were in-show reasons given for most of the changes.
    • This was also played with in-show, with the James Bond Ersatz "Smash Adams", who was retooled into a fat and bumbling secret agent.
  • In the second season of Gargoyles, the show changed its stationary New York City setting for a loooong arc following Goliath, his long-lost daughter Angela, Eliza and Bronx on a magical tour around the globe, most of whose episodes were a Poorly Disguised Pilot for some animated spin-off that were never picked.
  • Production of the 2nd season of G.I. Joe Extreme was moved from Sunbow Entertainment to Graz Entertainment and many changes were done to the show: the live-action cold openings were replaced by Previously on… recaps, the theme song was changed to be much shorter and less "extreme", continuity between episodes was stronger, the musical insert sequences were removed, the Mecha-Mooks were dropped, Ballistic was renamed "Eagle Eye" (the result of a new law banning firearm-themed names on children's shows) and slightly redesigned and the existing SKAR henchmen were sidelined (Inferno didn't appear at all, Wreckage was only in one episode, and Rampage was Put on a Bus for most of the season).
  • Hero Factory's Invasion from Below episode showed shades of this. It ignored the previously set up Cliffhanger(s), gave all the characters new voices, new designs, disregarded some of their earlier character traits, and had a new intro and closing sequence. This coincided with the toy line experiencing a retool of its own, though it was canceled after that line, along with the animated specials.
  • The second season of The Incredible Hulk (1996) added Grey Hulk to Bruce's alternate personalities, promoted She-Hulk to co-lead, and dropped the plot point of the US military and SHIELD pursuing Bruce.
  • For its fourth season, Jake and the Never Land Pirates was retooled as Captain Jake and the Neverland Pirates. It features a revamped title sequence and look for Jake. Many of the show's signature songs have been changed or done away with entirely. There's less focus on conflicts with Hook and the gold dubloons are only even mentioned at the end of each of story, with a new Team Treasure Chest sequence. The songs in the closing credits have been dropped in favor of an entirely instrumental outro.
  • Jimmy Two-Shoes underwent one for its second season, which is most evident in how the intro and credits sequence were completely changed, as well as a shift in animation due to a production change from Toon Boom to Adobe Flash. The series' tone and writing became even Denser and Wackier than before, with less of the slapstick-style Black Comedy and more of the random humor, and the setting became less Hell-like, with Funny Animals and Animate Inanimate Objects being used for more than just one-off jokes. The main characters also underwent Flanderization, some secondary characters largely disappeared (like Saffi) or were given more screentime (like Dr. Scientist) while a few new ones were introduced (like Peep), and on a more minor note, about half of the background demons used in Season 1 were replaced with new monsters. Ultimately, fan reception to all this was mixed, with some feeling the show remained enjoyable and others believing the results were a textbook case of Seasonal Rot.
  • Johnny Bravo experienced a minor one in its second season. After being initially cancelled at the end of Season 1, Cartoon Network resurrected the show for another 2 seasons, which lacked most of the first season's production crew (including creator Van Partible). The show received new intro and credits sequences, the humour became more slapstick-y, Johnny Took a Level in Dumbass, new characters like Carl and Pops were introduced, and Little Suzy got a redesign to fit the shifts in art style. Season 4, which marked Partible's return to the series, saw some of the changes (like Johnny's intelligence) reversed.
  • KaBlam! got slightly re-tooled in its second season, giving new personalities to Henry and June, changing the overall look of the characters, and Art Evolution and new theme tunes for some of the shorts. Also, the jokes were less "random" than the first season.
    • The show was also briefly retooled in the fourth season. The comic book-setting was pretty much abandoned (with the exception of "turning the page", though they really couldn't get rid of that, as well as the opening and ending themes), the show's TV studio setting was more apparent, the jokes in the Henry and June segments became less random and more "mature", and most of the "classic" shorts skipped a few episodes.
  • Spoofed by an ad campaign which aired between seasons of King of the Hill. The second season ended on a cliffhanger with the local Mega-lo Mart (a Wal-Mart expy) being destroyed by a propane explosion. Four characters, including protagonist Hank, were inside at the time, and FOX told viewers that one of them would die. Ads that aired throughout the summer showed viewers a "behind the scenes" disagreement between Hank and FOX, which threatened to kill him off unless he agreed to allow the show to be re-tooled by moving it to Los Angeles and retitling it "King of the Hollywood Hills." Hank refused, and eventually got his way thanks to Bobby accidentally getting a hold of some compromising photos of a FOX executive. Of course, in reality, there was no such dispute and the writers had always known from the start who they were going to kill off (Luanne's boyfriend, Buckley).
  • Starting in season 3, Miles from Tomorrowland changes its name to Mission Force One, and the plot is changed from Miles and Loretta connecting the universe with their family to Miles and Loretta forming Mission Force One with Mirandos, Blodger, and Haruna, and protecting the universe.
  • The third season of Nina Needs to Go! had its' focus changed from potty-training to how to behave in certain situations after complaints from parents over the original format of the show teaching a bad lesson to kids.
  • Disney's One Saturday Morning was retooled twice. In September 2000, the original hosting segments from 1997-2000 which took place inside the One Saturday Morning building with live action hosts on the virtual set were axed, along with all the shorts which aired in-between programs (Excluding Schoolhouse Rock! which ran until 2001). The new on-air bumpers would feature live-action kids playing in a park (Along with the "1" logo, and in the opening, the cast of Recess, The Weekenders (2000-2002), Teacher's Pet, Lloyd in Space (Beginning in 2001), and Teamo Supremo (2002; replacing The Weekenders), which was also used for the new version of the theme song along with said characters. The new theme song was the same as the old one, but sung by a young girl and was shortened. In 2002, shortly before the switch to ABC Kids, repeats of Disney Channel shows began airing.
    • The block was then retooled and rebranded into ABC Kids in September 2002, the same day Disney's purchase of the Fox Kids assets following their buyout of Fox Family (into ABC Family) which was included with the sale. The new motif was that the on-air bumpers had each show's characters interacting in a stadium setting. Due to the retool, every show on One Saturday Morning that weren't repeats of Disney Channel shows were quickly cancelled, with the remaining episodes of Teacher's Pet, The Weekenders, Lloyd in Space, and Teamo Supremo would be dumped off on Toon Disney. The only show to survive the block switch was Recess (Which was in reruns), due to high demand (It was the highest-rated ABC animated show, highest-rated Saturday morning cartoon, and third highest rated animated series in the late 1990s) and ABC wanting to renew the show for another season to add to the initial sixty-five episodes...which unfortunately never happened. The only new shows to premiere on the block were Fillmore! and various Power Rangers series following the purchase of the franchise. Everything else on the block were repeats of Disney Channel shows, and by the time the block came to an end in 2011, the entire lineup was made up of nothing but Disney Channel reruns.
  • Pinky and the Brain was retooled into Pinky, Elmyra & the Brain after Executive Meddling forced the annoying Elmyra into the main cast.
    • An in-universe example happens when the show's ratings go down a tiny bit and the executives decide to add a few new changes to the show. Instead of a lab, they now live in a house in the suburbs with their adopted kids (one of them being an Urkel Expy) and a sassy robot. Naturally, Brain immediately quits. It's been suggested that this was written as a response to what the writers knew was coming. The network didn't get the message and the retooled series lasted five or so episodes.
  • The Replacements saw a number of changes in its second season. The art style was significantly overhauled to have a warmer color palette, and characters would receive various design changes such as thinner linework, new body proportions, five-fingered hands, and overall more angular designs. Meanwhile, the story format shifted from Two Shorts to half-hour episodes, and the premise of main characters Todd and Riley having the power to replace anyone they wish with another person is used much less frequently, being downplayed in favor of more character-driven stories surrounding the main and supporting cast.
  • After Rescue Heroes was Un-Canceled by Kids' WB!, the series underwent a major overhaul. The characters were redesigned look less cartoonish (and in the case of Jake Justice and Rocky Canyon, less stereotypical), the show's budget was markedly improved, the theme song was rearranged and opening titles changed, and episodes began venturing into more dangerous situations, such as flooding, space disasters such as satellite impacts, tornadoes hitting crowded playgrounds and other kinds of peril. These episodes are often referred to as the Global Response Team era.
  • Rugrats was retooled three times over the course of its nine seasons.
    • The first time was the fourth season, where the tone became lighter, due to brighter animation, the use of less intense background music, hidden adult humor being greatly reduced, and Angelica going from Jerkass to Jerk with a Heart of Gold. The episode title cards also changed from red to black.
    • Rugrats would be retooled again in the sixth season, mainly due to the birth of Dil. Many of the episode's plots started to revolve around Tommy's relationship with Dil.
    • The show would be retooled the third (and final) time in the seventh season, where Chaz is now married to Kira, introducing her, her daughter Kimi and their dog Fifi. Much like Tommy and Dil before, many of the episode's plots would revolve around Chuckie's relationship with Kimi. Grandpa Lou also moves out of the Pickles' house. The show's opening sequence was also changed for the first (and only) time since the beginning.
      • The show would be rebooted in 2021. The tone of this series is most inline with the first retool of the original show.
  • Parodied on The Simpsons in the episode "Homer to the Max". Watching the first episode of Police Cops, Homer is thrilled to discover he shares his name with its Don Johnson-like lead character (catchphrase: "And that's the end of that chapter!"); the next week Homer is horrified to see his character retooled as a blundering doofus (catchphrase: "Uh-oh, Spaghetti-Os!"). He seeks out the show's producers and writers.
    Homer: Uh ... so, I just wanna know how come you made your Homer Simpson character so ...
    Producer: Stupid? [laughs] Well, I can assure you, it happened organically.
    Homer: It better have!
    • Another episode featured a RoboCop Expy. Homer wanted to watch it before it got retooled. A couple of seconds later the robot (who was also a father) quit the force and got a job at a fashion agency.
    • Yet another episode showed that the Krusty the Klown Show used to be a serious socio-political talk show during The '60s.
    • The Simpsons themselves went from having Bart as de facto main character early on to Homer, who became more and more stupid with each season.
  • For most of its run, South Park ran on standalone episodes with Negative Continuity. Season 18 shifted to season-long story arcs and continuity. Season 20's story bit off more than it could chew, however, so after that it underwent a softer retool where it still has continuity but with less focus on arcs.
    • In-Universe in the episode "Quest For Ratings". The boys host the school's news program, but Craig's show Funny Animals Filmed With a Wide Angle Lens beats them in the ratings. They retool the show into the more sensational Sexy Action News, only for Craig to again best them by changing his show into Funny Animals Filmed With a Wide Angle Lens Wearing Hats.
    • Another In-Universe example in "Whale Whores"; Stan takes over the Whale Wars reality show and begins taking radical actions to save whales and dolphins, but everybody sees it as just a retool of the show.
  • Star vs. the Forces of Evil originally focused on Star trying to fit in on Earth, the comedy was fast paced with a large amount of comedic action sequences, and most episodes were episodic with small teases towards the show's Myth Arc. The final two seasons switched settings to Mewni, the comedy slowed down and became mostly dialogue-driven, and episodes became more concerned with progressing various story arcs than giving audiences one-off episodic adventures.
  • Parodied in a number of Teen Titans Go! episodes, where the characters retool themselves in response to critcism. Of note is one Control Freak episode where he specifically threatens to reboot the Titans and reveals he did once before to Teen Titans (2003). He admits that was a mistake.
  • Superfriends had this multiple times, but the first was the most dramatic: whereas the first version had an hour long story format with rather plodding plots and usually nigh-useless Kid Sidekick trio, the second version (The All-New Super Friends Hour) had each episode divided into four stories, Three Shorts and a half hour long one featuring the entire team, which prompted faster paced plotting and the Wonder Twins who were more useful with actual superpowers.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles:
    • The '80s-'90s cartoon version of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was retooled for its eighth season, going through significant changes in audiovisual style and tone. The episodes after the retool are commonly known in the fandom as the "Red Sky Episodes", since this was the hue the backgrounds almost invariably took. The story itself became darker, with the Shredder going from Affably Evil to total Big Bad and more threatening than ever, and the Turtles becoming wanted by the NYPD for failing to stop Shredder from blowing up the Channel 6 skyscraper.
      • In the ninth season, the series received more changes. Shredder and Krang were Put on a Bus and replaced by Lord Dregg, who would became the main villain for the rest of the series. The Turtles also got a new sidekick named Carter, and there was also a new subplot involving the mutagen, that turned them the way they are at the very beginning, going wrong, turning them into large mutant monsters.
    • Like its predecessor, the second Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated series was eventually retooled. During its sixth season, its setting was changed from the present day to the year 2105 via accidental time travel. "Fast Forward", as the season was subtitled, featured a shift in art style (simpler) and in tone (lighter), and the abandoning of most of the show's supporting cast in favor of completely new characters. A second, milder retool occurred with the seventh season, which featured the turtles' return to present day, yet another Art Shift, and a new subtitle — "Back to the Sewer".
    • The third animated series of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was also eventually retooled, which happened after the fourth season, where the show was retitled Tales of The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Splinter and Shredder were now dead, as were Kraang Prime and Sub-Prime. The theme song was also changed. Unlike the past seasons, every episode was now part of a mini-arc. The show lasted only one more season after the retool.
  • Thomas & Friends had a minor retool in Series 5 when it stopped adapting the Railway Series stories it had previously been based on. A further retool was in Series 8 when a new theme song and story format was bought in, and many characters such as Duck were dropped with no explanation.
    • In 2009, the series dropped models and created new episodes exclusively in CGI.
    • In 2018, the series has underwent a major retool along with a new title: Big World! Big Adventures!. The narration is dropped completely in favor of Thomas talking of the events, Henry and Edward are replaced with female newcomers Nia and Rebecca, the episodes are more fast-paced and feature an Imagine Spot at least Once per Episode, and some episodes feature Thomas traveling the world, hence the new name. The episodes are also bookended with a sketch of Thomas presenting them as a flashback to a past event, and telling the viewer the lesson learned during that adventure.
  • The Tom and Jerry Show (2014) was replaced in 2021 by Tom and Jerry in New York, a series with the same crew that moves their antics from the suburban landscape of the classic theatrical shorts to New York City (as seen in the simultaneously released feature film).
  • Cartoon Network's acclaimed Toonami block received this in 1999, ditching preexisting Hanna-Barbera character Moltar in favor of an original character, a robot named TOM voice by Steve Blum, as host. TOM and his various incarnations would come to be so linked with the identity of the block that very few people are aware that Toonami predated the character.
  • The third season of The Transformers picks up where the movie left off, meaning a good chunk of the original cast is now dead with new characters having taken their places. The series also became much more space-focused, with very few episodes taking place on Earth and an noticeably lower budget in the animation department.
  • Ultimate Spider-Man (2012) caught a lot of flak for its Denser and Wackier tone and giving Peter a set of unlikable teammates. Season two managed to redeem some of them, but season three went in a different direction by having them Demoted to Extra, instead having Peter travel alone through the multiverse and team up with other Marvel heroes. Season four continued the trend into more serious storylines and also having Nick Fury and Nova, the two least popular characters, outright Put on a Bus until the end.
  • The second season of Wander over Yonder completely shifts the show from Slice of Life to a more story-heavy format, giving it a more serious tone and major plot points that carry from one episode to the next.
  • Space Ghost Coast to Coast underwent some minor retooling throughout its run.
    • Season 3 introduced an all new original opening sequence rendered in CGI, with comets and planets functioning and moving about, as well as the camera crashing through Ghost Planet Industries and navigating through the hallways.
    • Season 4 introduced a "Begin Transition" screen that replaced the static "Start Feed" and "Interrupt Feed" screens and an alternate closing credits theme.
    • In Season 5, the intro was changed to a black screen with "Waiting" in white lettering and music/sound effects that varied from episode to episode.
    • Seasons 6 and 7 had various intros. The eight season brought back the original opening theme with occasional alterations in some episodes.
    • From Season 7 onwards, the adult humor was increased and the characters would swear in some cases.

    Real Life 
  • This happened en masse in the firearms industry in the 1990s thanks to the idiosyncrasies of American Gun Politics. Because the (now-lapsed) federal "Assault Weapon" ban and several existing state laws derived from it regulate weapons based on external features and accessories, manufacturers redesigned all the affected designs into otherwise-identical versions without those features.