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Static Character

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Principal Skinner: If this episode has taught us anything, it's that nothing works better than the status quo. Bart, you're promoted back to the fourth grade.
Bart: Yeah!
Principal Skinner: And Lisa, you have a choice. You may continue to be challenged in third grade, or return to second grade and be merely a big fish in a little pond.
Lisa: Big fish! Big fish!

Change isn't always a good thing, nor necessary. Likewise some characters, be they round or flat, will end a story with pretty much the same personality and traits they began with. These Static Characters can go entire seasons or books without changing or experiencing the Character Development that a more Dynamic Character does. If they ever learn a lesson that might make them change noticeably, they will always immediately forget all about it by the next episode. Learned nothing and forgotten nothing, if you will.

This is NOT necessarily a bad thing, as some characters don't need Character Development. A badass does not have to decay into The Woobie to stay an interesting character — while some consumers may embrace the evolution, others will cry out, "We Want Our Jerk Back!" Such characters are useful in secondary roles, serving as yardsticks against which your central (and Dynamic) character's growth can be a foil. If you want your Static Character in the central role, just enforce it internally, using a Pygmalion Snapback or a painful collision with Status Quo Is God. Some comedies are built around characters whose personalities are set in stone and will never change, whatever happens. For that matter, every tragedy is built around characters whose personalities are set in stone and will not change, whatever happens.


Also note that Static Characters are not by definition boring. Obviously, it helps if you've got a Round Character, as exploring all their pre-existing facets can entertain without requiring character evolution. Furthermore, the introduction of Hidden Depths or an exploration of a Dark and Troubled Past accomplishes similar things; while the character is technically not evolving, the audience's perception of the character very much does. And these characters are ripe for internal conflict, since we already know a fair bit about them. Interest can also be wrung out of exploring how and why the character stays so constant in the face of the dramatic events of the plot — this can in itself be evidence of unusual self-assurance, determination or unflappability.

Having said that, Flat Characters who are also Static may begin to get dull unless the author takes care to make them entertaining somehow, be they the Butt-Monkey or perpetual Fish out of Water.


Despite their unchanging nature, a different personality during Early Installment Weirdness can still be a distinct possibility; Static Characters are frequently the result of Flanderization.

Static Characters are not to be confused with the Character Static.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Lina Inverse from Slayers changes in subtle ways, going from an Anti-Hero to more a conventional hero, from loner into someone with a team, but in terms of her actual behavior, she can pretty much be expected to do certain things, such as put restaurants out of business with her appetite, and blowing up cities with her magical powers.
  • This is Griffith from Berserk in a nutshell, and his lack of development is Played for Drama. Ever since he was a child, Griffith wanted to obtain a kingdom for himself—so in pursuit of this goal, he decided to become a mercenary and work his way up the social ladder until he would reach his goal. At the cost of this, he abstained from any kind of emotional attachment to his troops to prevent himself from wavering. This got to the point where he eventually felt somewhat obligated to achieve his dream—for the sake of those who were willing enough to die for it. So Griffith grew more distant from his comrades and cultivated an extreme sense of tunnel-vision to ensure the Hawks' success—but even this fell apart when he became subconsciously dependent on Guts, whom he saw as a trusted confidant and ally. So when Guts left, Griffith's despair was such that he undid literally everything he had ever fought for in a moment of emotional dissociation. Now, after having thrown away his humanity in favor of his selfish desires, Griffith as Femto pretty much embodies this trope: an Emotionless Boy driven solely by his ambition and feeling literally nothing for those who stand in his way. No humanity or Character Development or emotional attachment to get in the way of his goals now. That is, unless you count the mild protective instinct he has towards Casca due to having used the body of her and Guts' child as his new physical vessel.
  • Homura Mitokado and Koharu Utatane from Naruto do not change a bit in the series. While nearly every major character in Konohagakure has the Will of Fire, the two are more militant and only concern themselves with protecting the actual village itself, and often lean in favor of Danzo's view points. Their static status is possibly due to their little interaction with other characters (aside from Hiruzen, Danzo, Tsunade, Shizune, and Itachi) and the fact that Naruto has yet to influence them like everyone else he has come in contact yet.
    • Jiraiya is accused of being this posthumously by Orochimaru, who claims he died without changing anything about himself.
  • Shu from Now and Then, Here and There is a rare example of a static protagonist. He faces torture, the deaths of several beloved characters at the hands of his friends, and somehow manages to stick to his principles. That he managed to both survive and avoid compromising his core self shows just how badass he is. Oh, and surviving oodles of torture.
  • Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei is adamant about not giving any of its characters any Character Development whatsoever beyond their one "unique" trait.
    • Sort of. Nozomu underwent a sort of reverse Flanderization as he tries to commit suicide less as time went by and has his heart of gold emphasized more. In contrast, Chiri retained her OCD, but had it dialed past eleven and straight into Ax-Crazy levels.
  • Cowboy Bebop has Ed and Ein, contrasting the more dynamic main trio. Jet is also arguably rather static as he goes through several instances of cleaning up his own past without it affecting his current outlook and lifestyle.
  • Bleach has a tendency to do this to anyone who isn't important, making them into this, Flat Characters, or monsters. However, it's subverted with some of the Arrancar except the fact that they never get to do anything with their character development.
  • Suzy Mizuno from Zatch Bell! is a prime example, seeing as how she remains a ditz throughout the whole series, while receiving no character development or any involvement in the Mamodo battles.
  • Elmer C. Albatross of Baccano! is a case that's both lampshaded and deliberately maintained - Over the 300 or so years that they've known him, all of the surviving Advena Avis immortals have noticed that Elmer hasn't changed in character at all, and this is one of the many reasons he unsettles most of them. It turns out he's doing it at Huey's request, though it wasn't actually very difficult for him.
  • Erika Kurumi/Cure Marine from HeartCatch Pretty Cure! is the only member of her team to not undergo significant Character Development. As explained here, she has no problem accepting herself, and her character arc revolves around her struggle with having others accept her.
  • In Kotoura-san, Yoshihisa Manabe is this in contrast to everyone else, notably Haruka. He's okay with who he is and how people see him, especially from Haruka's point of view.
  • Nagisa Hazuki in the first season of Free!...but in Eternal Summer this changes. His optimism is broken when faced with the threat of being forced to quit swimming due to his falling grades in school.
  • Outside of deciding to officially join the TSAB (which she was probably already considering), Nanoha from Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha doesn't change in the slightest over the course of A's. She went through all her Character Development fairly early on in the first series, and even then it amounted to deciding to gather the Jewel Seeds because she wanted to the right thing, rather than because she was helping Yuuno. This actually makes a lot of sense, since she doesn't have any emotional baggage or a Dark and Troubled Past that would require her to change (unlike everyone else). She's more about helping others go through their character arc's rather than going through one of her own.
  • Goku from Dragon Ball changes very little from childhood through adulthood. He is a simple man who loves fighting, loves his friends and family, and is constantly training to become better than he was the day before. This was only reinforced by some Character Rerailment after Goku had veered a little too far into active heroism rather than passive heroism while looking for a good fight.
  • In Bloom Into You, Seiji Maki is this, since he largely stays true to his belief that he'd rather be a spectator than a participant in the "play" of romance. He doesn't experience anything that would challenge this belief- in fact, he wasn't pleased to hear that one of his middle school classmates had developed a Matchmaker Crush on him. That said, he does realize that he and Yuu are Not So Similar, since Yuu wants to feel love, and when he tells her this, it helps further Yuu's Character Development.
  • Despite a constant presence over the course of the series, Hisoka of Hunter × Hunter hasn't changed at all and we've gotten scarce background information about the guy. He's still the same enigmatic Blood Knight he was during the Hunter's Exam.

    Comic Books 
  • Most of the characters from most comics tend to revert to their usual look, behaviour, personality, and powers, sooner or later, aside from a gradual shift of power level at most. At least, that is true of the big name comic companies (DC, or Marvel, for instance). Smaller comic publishers have less to risk by committing to any permanent changes to their status quo.
  • Rorschach from Watchmen. We do see him change into what he is at the time of the story via Flash Back but within the main plot itself he's probably the only character that doesn't change in some way. He's definitely a tragic example of this trope. He's totally unable to give in or alter his moral code based on the situation which leads to his unavoidable death.
  • Batman usually suffers from little Character Development except in some Alternative Continuity stories like Batman: The Dark Knight Returns.
  • Most comic book villains, at least after their tragic backstories. And that's part of what makes them villains; they don't change. The Joker will always be a psychotic murdering clown, and he shouldn't be anything else. Any changes that do occur are due to Alternative Character Interpretation Depending on the Writer as opposed to character development per se.
  • Wolverine from the X-Men is a great character when he has little character development.
  • This is the trope driving Dream from The Sandman to his choice to commit suicide. Kind of. He did change a bit. That was the whole point of the conversation with Destruction. He only didn't change according to himself, but others (especially those who haven't seen him in a long time, like Destruction) are probably better judges in that regard.
  • In All Fall Down, we have Paradigm. Of everyone who's suffered a loss, he is essentially the same person afterwards as before.
  • Superman. Then again, part of his appeal is the fact that he very rarely gets into any dark and edgy personality traits. While he's oft-derided as a "boy scout", the fact that he still holds a moral code stronger than almost anyone else after all the crap he and the entire DCU have gone through, including dying and coming back to life in various ways, keeps him as the shining beacon for Metropolis and in fact most of the world. Attempts to alter him (besides serious threats that let him let his full strength out once in a while) are usually downcried far more strongly than any complaints about his "old fashioned" truth, justice and the American way outlook.
  • Tintin has always been the same character in all of his adventures. He has no backstory, no family, not even a last name. He is intentionally designed to be as bland and generic of a character as possible.
  • Throughout the entirety of Judge Dredd's career, his sole defining character trait has been JUSTICE.
  • According to Garth Ennis, Wee Hughie from The Boys ultimately won because he refused to let all of the crap the series put him through change him. At the end of the series Hughie's more or less the same person he was at the very beginning.
  • This was enforced towards the end of the original run of Star Wars (Marvel 1977). Post-Return of the Jedi, the characters were not allowed to move forward, as George Lucas had no idea on where to take the franchise at the time. This resulted in this odd story where Ensemble Dark Horse Boba Fett was discovered to be spat out of the Sarlacc, only to ultimately end up back in it.
  • Galvatron in John Barber's Transformers run. A major theme of the comic is people growing and changing into something better over time; Optimus becomes more pragmatic, Soundwave and Arcee more empathetic, Cosmos finds friends, etc.. Galvatron's the exception; from debut to exit he's a sociopathic asshole who cares only for himself and is stuck in outdated ways of thinking. Deconstructed, as it leads not only to him losing all his allies but also to Optimus realizing that Galvatron will never change and thus executing him for his crimes on the spot.
  • Wonder Woman: Olympians are resistant to change by their very natures, though some like Ares and Aphrodite have learned to adapt. Zeus on the other hand had entire arcs in Volume 2 and Volume 3 dedicated to showing no lesson he ever learns will ever stick, nor will he really learn any lesson to become less scummy in the first place with anything he does learn being twisted to fit his self-centered outlook in the process.

    Comic Strips 
  • Most comic strip feature static characters, especially if they intend to be funny. The set up gets easier if people can already recognise character traits that are now well established.
  • The cast of Peanuts haven't changed much throughout their extremely long run. Frankly, it would be fairly disturbing if they did.
  • Garfield always hates mondays and loves lasagne. He always loves Jon and Odie, deep down, but still teases Odie and takes Jon for granted.

    Fan Works 
  • Calvin and Hobbes: The Series has Socrates. This is especially notable, as he's the only main character to not undergo any changes during the series' run.
  • Infinity Train: Boiling Point deconstructs this trope with the idea of Static Passengers; a type of Passenger who's issues leave them unable to change, which can be identified by the Ominous Visual Glitch present in their numbers. Given the Train is all about Character Development, this presents quite the conundrum: Passengers enter the Train to deal with their inner demons, but Static Passengers can't work on themselves because of said issues, effectively leaving them stranded on the Train until they deal with their stagnation.
  • Ultra Fast Pony
    • "Now With a Sound Effect" lampshades this. After talking at some length about her shyness, Fluttershy declares "I hope all my episodes revolve around me being shy!" This is immediately followed by an image of Fluttershy shrugging, over the caption "Character development?"
    • It happens again in "So Random!"
    Twilight: Well, have you tried having some character development?
    Pinkie: Well, I was going to, but apparently only Rarity's allowed to do that.
    Twilight: Hey! I had character development!
    Pinkie: Bro, that was like, one time at the start of the very first season. You haven't changed since then at all.

    Films — Animation 
  • Helen Parr/Elastigirl from The Incredibles, particularly when compared to the rest of her family. During the entirety of the film's main events, she's the most well-adjusted to living a normal life and experiences very little if any character growth over the course of the running time. Even while being the central focus of Incredibles 2, the plot is specifically about her going out to discover the identity of the Screenslaver and legalise superheroes again, and because of that she doesn't really develop as a character there, either. To be fair, though, it's likely that her gradual adjustment to a standard family life would have happened offscreen, so this could potentially work as a justification for her being a static character.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • A zigzagging is played beautifully by Michelle Pfeiffer in Stardust. By the end, when the heroes have killed her two sisters, she breaks down and laments that the only people in the world who she loved are dead, and immortality without them (by stealing Yvaine's heart) would be intolerable, and so she says she'll let the heroes go. Then she telekinetically locks the doors, cackles, and starts exploding glass all around the heroes, thanking them for killing her sisters so that she doesn't have to share immortality. Of course, given that all her sisters did throughout the film was nag her and act like Jerkasses, one can see why she wouldn't be inclined to mourn them.
  • James Bond. Although 007 is portrayed differently by each actor (Connery and Brosnan are more suave, Lazenby is subdued, Moore is comical, Dalton and Craig are brutish), its always essentially the same guy, and these minor changes in personality are rarely portrayed as being the result of Character Development. Somewhat averted by the Craig films which provide a bit of the back story to how Bond became 007.
  • Dollars Trilogy:
    • The Man with No Name is quite possibly the ultimate static character, in that he doesn't even have a name. We are told nothing about his backstory (save for a little snippet in A Fistful of Dollars when he reunites a husband and wife), and the only change he ever goes through in his films is the size of his wallet.
    • Tuco Ramirez and Angel Eyes, the other two members of the eponymous trio in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, don't change either. In Tuco's case, however, we learn more about him and why he became the way he was.
  • Indiana Jones Indy is exposed to proof of the supernatural in each of his adventures, but it doesn't cause him to admit the existence of any such things at the start of the next adventure. The most jarring example is how he gains a respect for the power of the Shankara Stones in The Temple of Doom but denies the existence of God in Raiders of the Lost Ark. (Although, that might possibly be because of what he saw in India, "proving" a nonchristian religion to be "the right one".)
  • X-Men Film Series
  • Scarface (1983): Tony Montana starts off as a Cuban immigrant washing dishes at a greasy spoon cafe. He climbs all the way to being a crime lord kingpin, all the while being no more happy or fulfilled than when he was a street hustler.
  • The Big Lebowski: The Dude doesn't change much in his world, and isn't in the least bit changed by it either. Yea, verily, "the Dude abides."
  • Captain America: The First Avenger and its sequel, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, revolve around this trope. The last words said to Cap by his mentor are "No matter what happens, stay who you are. Not a perfect soldier, but a good man." Steve fulfills this request, remaining roughly the same good-natured, if brash, person he always was (with maybe a little more savvy and seasoning as time goes on). In the second film, this becomes a MAJOR plot point, as the world around him has changed in a darker direction, which he doesn't accept and slowly forces others to wake up and realize as well.
  • Yojimbo: Sanjuro, being the inspiration for the aforementioned Man With No Name, is naturally also an example of this trope. Over the course of the film, we see a softer side to him that isn't obvious at the beginning, but he himself doesn't change.
  • The Maltese Falcon: Sam Spade is exactly the same cold, hard, no-nonsense private investigator at the end of the film as he was at the start. There are suggestions of his softening at points, but they are quickly repressed.
  • Compared to Luke and Han, Leia doesn't really change much as a character over the course of the original Star Wars trilogy (she does develop a romantic relationship with Han and finds out the truth about her family, but it doesn't drastically alter her personality). However, she's still a well-rounded and proactive heroine, and is one of the saga's most well-known and popular characters. She starts out as a feisty, confident rebel leader and remains this way right to the end, no matter what life throws at her.

  • Pride and Prejudice:
    • Lydia is, from beginning to end, a spoiled brat who cares for nothing except flirting and officers. Interestingly, her mother, Mrs. Bennet, is also a Static Character. While she does change opinion rapidly about a suitor based on how likely they are to want to marry one of her daughters, this never varies through the whole novel.
    • Mr. Collins is a static character too. Frankly, he wouldn't be nearly as entertaining if he wasn't.
  • Sherlock Holmes is basically the same in every single book.
    • He does get some minor developments, though not enough to move him out of this territory. In A Study In Scarlet, he doesn't know that the earth revolves around the sun, deeming it unimportant to detective work, but later his knowledge of things unrelated to detective work is seen to increase substantially. The most recent TV adaptation, being a bit of a Compressed Adaptation, is an aversion only because Sherlock's relatively modest Character Development took place over a matter of months rather than a couple of decades.
  • J. R. R. Tolkien claimed that in heroic sagas like those of the Vikings or the Ancient Greeks, characters do not develop; instead, different aspects of their fixed, essential nature are revealed by new circumstances.
    • He put this theory into practice in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings: the modern, anti-heroic characters (the hobbits) are dynamic and get Character Development, while the archaic, heroic characters like Thorin and Aragorn are static.
    • For example, at the end of The Lord of the Rings we know a lot more about Aragorn (and he knows more about himself) than when we met him in Bree, but who he is hasn't changed. Ditto for Legolas, Gimli, and Gandalf. Frodo, Sam, Merry, and Pippin, on the other hand, have changed a lot. Note that Peter Jackson changed this in his films, making Aragorn a dynamic character, and even Legolas and Gimli have a few shades of further development now.
      • Gandalf is actually a mixed case. He did undergo development of a sort, one that Merry and Pippin observed, but that change came with his death and rebirth, so it may have been development reached on his own, or development from an outside force.
      • It also isn't clear if he really changed at all, or just became/revealed more who and what he is.
  • Twilight: The vampires. Word of God is that a vampire is forever frozen at the level of emotional maturity they had when they died: hence how Edward can be an Emo Teen at over a hundred years old.
    • A similar setup exists in Angela Sommer-Bodenburg's Little Vampire series, where one of the characters was unfortunate enough to become a vampire while in the middle of puberty.
    • On a different level, the only real difference in Bella Swan's character from the beginning of Twilight to the end is the fact that at the end, she has everything she's ever wanted. Her character and personality are never particularly changed.
  • Harry Potter has a few major characters who don’t change too much over the course of the series. They’re mostly the adults because their role in the story is to help Harry grow and learn along the way:
    • Albus Dumbledore is an example of the static-character-as-yardstick device. He is a Cool Old Guy and former trope namer for the Eccentric Mentor, but he’s there to guide Harry into his inevitable fate, not grow as a person. Also, as we find out belatedly, he's already had a ton while also being a Hero of Another Story that’s told elsewhere.
    • Snape stays the same mean-spirited, sarcastic asshole until the bitter end. Although Harry grows to appreciate his bravery and sacrifices after learning the whole story, he goes to his grave hating Harry, an innocent bystander, for being a living reminder of the worst mistake he made in his life. Dumbledore even asks him at one point if he’s grown to care for Harry, which he denies.
    • McGonagall grows to be more openly affectionate to Harry but she never really deviates from her hardass but loving self. Harry also never learns anything about her family or youth like he does for Dumbledore and Snape.
    • Hermione’s role in the story is to be Harry and Ron’s rock so she changes the least of the trio. She mostly stays her bossy but well-meaning self. She does go through some changes, particularly in the first book where her initially rocky relationship with the two starts to soften, but what she experiences is still quite minor when compared to a majority of the other characters. She mostly just learns to be more open-minded.
  • The Main Character Palinor in Knowledge Of Angels is a Static Character, though this may be excused by the book being something of an Author Tract, with Palinor being the Author Avatar.
  • Lampshaded in Prince Caspian by Trufflehunter the badger. According to him, all of Narnia's Talking Beasts have this as their Hat.
    Trufflehunter: I'm a beast, I am, and a Badger what's more. We don't change. We hold on.
  • Alice from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland mainly just wanders aimlessly through Wonderland and reacts to things that happen along the way. Given the fact that Wonderland is a place where weird and impossible things happen, this makes sense, and she could be seen as an Audience Surrogate due to this.
  • The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time: As Christopher's entire character is based on his autism, which he can't change, he remains exactly the same person at the end as he was at the beginning. The only thing that changes is his relationship with his father, but that's entirely a consequence of his learning new information, not a change in his personality.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The titular character of Monk went through almost the entire show without much of a change, despite a dizzying array of both traumatic and hopeful events. It was only at the end that he overcame many of his difficulties.
  • M*A*S*H: From his first episode to his last, Major Frank Burns was a whiny, self-absorbed, power-mongering hypocrite who could barely perform surgery.
  • Star Trek: Voyager. Ensign Harry Kim starts off as an ensign and seven years later is still the same rookie doing the same things, apparently because Rick Berman believes that every iteration of Trek needs a Wesley — which is actually a disservice to Wesley, who formed relationships, found new interests (abandoning his science studies to train as a pilot, and later becoming a sympathizer to the Maquis rebellion), and was unrecognizable seven years later. Despite being one of the main characters and thus subject to all the traumatic events that befall a Star Trek character (in fact, he died enough times to become a fan joke) Harry ended his series as the exact same, thinly-sketched person from the pilot. The most notable thing to happen to him was a "promotion" to — the night shift, with no advancement in rank or any other commendations. Hence why "Timeless", the Bad Future episode featuring a bitter, cynical Harry suffering from post-traumatic stress is widely considered the only time Harry came close to an intriguing character.
    Joe Ford: A fascinating peek into the life of Harry Kim on Earth is ruined by the fact that it is Harry Kim that we are examining. He’s so completely bland that rather than greet his girlfriend with a kiss and a smile he becomes stiffer than ever and starts treating her like an alien abductor! I realise she is an alien abductor but that’s not the point…you would think he would at least show some gratitude to be home considering he is the one who yearns for it the most. Imagine how interesting this episode could have been if it had been the same premise but focused on Janeway and Mark instead. You just knew Harry would have model spaceships and all the certificates of his achievements in his house, didn’t you?
  • Star Trek: Enterprise, Ensign Travis Mayweather was mixture of this and a Flat Character. Despite being born in deep space and having more field experience than even the Captain, he was nonetheless relegated to being a low-ranking Ensign to fill the Wesley void. He had very few plotlines (that didn't involve being injured, killed, or otherwise incapicitated), let alone a mandatory line in most episodes. He was there, consuming oxygen, but got about as much development as the chair he was sitting on. According to rumor Brannon Braga was solely tempted to kill him off, but was hamstrung by syndication concerns.
  • Sam from iCarly started off as a mean, bullying jerk, and ended the show as a mean, bullying jerk. There was no development, no self-awareness, and only the out of universe realisation from the writers that she was going into a Spin-Off and couldn't be the lead and behave like she did meant there was even a little toning down towards the end of the show.
  • Joey from Friends is a prime example of this. When he was one out of six characters in an ensemble, and had little (to no) development, he was great. And when he received a Spin-Off, Joey, it didn't work at all.
  • All the main (and most of the supporting) characters from Seinfeld, being the Sadist Show that it is. While the status quo does change, it mostly has to do with how much the characters could get away with rather than any actual Character Development. Kramer, being The Fool, usually manages to avoid the consequences of his actions and, therefore, develop the least.
  • Pretty much all the members of The A-Team are fairly rounded, but they never really develop, except for Face, possibly, who starts out as a fairly generic Con Man and ends up a Handsome Lech who is in touch with his inner math/finance geek (and revels in that).
  • Power Rangers:
  • Sheldon Cooper in The Big Bang Theory. He suffers from some episodic out of character behavior, but he always reverts to his "normal" self.
    • Well, it is worth noting that he did somewhat evolve over time. From being a very stiff spock with No Sense of Humor, to being slightly more prone to joking (even though he still fails at the sarcasm department sometimes). By season 5 he's even upgraded his She Is Not My Girlfriend status with Amy!
  • Many of the mains on Battlestar Galactica remained unchanged from beginning to end; Starbuck, for instance, gets new traits but doesn't really overcome her original flaws. (This was a show that lived on the gloomy end of the Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism.)
  • Tom Baker often says in interviews that the Doctor in Doctor Who is "not an acting role" as the Doctor's character never changes that much - "he'll never turn towards evil, he'll never become interested in romancenote ...". Of course, this isn't quite true - the Doctor certainly changes a lot over time, in as literal a manner as possible - but within those incarnations, some Doctors develop, some remain relatively static, some remain static for as long as possible before slowly developing into someone contemptible just in time for a regeneration, and some change inorganically between several mostly-static archetypes as soon as a new producer is brought in. Tom Baker's Doctor was something of the last one.

  • BIONICLE has many due to its Loads and Loads of Characters, but Onua and Pohatu stand out in particular, as they're the two main characters who've been around for the line's entirety yet still haven't changed much. Onua's the wise and solemn but incredibly badass kind of guy, and Pohatu's a perpetually optimistic friend-to-everyone, so their only roles are complementing their other four teammates and soothing the tension between them if need be, with Onua at times doing tasks that the others can't bring themselves to do.
    • There was even a scene acknowledging this when Pohatu's evil clone accuses him of being The Generic Guy of his team to weaken his will. Pohatu takes it in stride and claims he is glad to be the team's everyman that anyone can rely on. Unfortunately, the scene was never officially published in media, showing up only in LEGO's internal style guide document.

    Video Games 
  • Final Fantasy VI has Edgar Figaro, whose contribution to the story is notable, but doesn't include much in the way of a personal arc. Why does he never change? Because he already has his act together by the time we first meet him.
  • Fire Emblem: Three Houses:
    • The game has Raphael. He's a simple guy, and the event that caused him to mature as a person (the death of his parents, effectively putting him in charge of his family) happened years ago. By the time he appears in the game, he's more or less got his entire life figured out, and thus grows very little over the course of the story, instead acting as a cheerful emotional anchor for his more conflicted friends.
    • The Blue Lions have Mercedes, who is introduced as the kind, motherly, emotional centre of the house and she pretty much stays that way during the entirety of the game, even talking about mundane things like having tea parties after the timeskip with a war going on. Like Raphael, she often serves as a nurturing guidance towards her considerably angstier classmates, particularly Dimitri, Dedue and Sylvain. She herself admits that once she left Adrestia during her childhood, she and her mother pretty much drifted from one place to the next because she was waiting for the Goddess's will to guide her before finally getting accepted into the Officer's Academy, so she doesn't have much drive to change herself in the first place.
  • Asch in Tales of the Abyss. This is in sharp contrast to Luke (significant because Luke is a clone of Asch), who goes through many stages of Character Development.
  • Jacob Taylor fits this in Mass Effect 2. Unlike his teammates, Jacob doesn't carry any emotional baggage, so most of his dialog tends to be focused on the present mission. It's even lampshaded in his Shadow Broker file, which notes that he was put on Shepard's team as much for the stabilising elements of his personality as his combat skills. However, since he rarely has anything interesting to say and almost never interacts with other characters he instead comes closer to The Generic Guy than anything else.
  • Iori Yagami. Not only he actually was one of the many characters to keep the same outfit till XII came out, but his vendetta with Kyo became a literal running line for the entire series.
    • Members of Ikari and Art of Fighting teams are also these, except you couldn't expect Robert and Leona changing outfits all of a sudden.
  • Although Mao from Disgaea 3 goes through several character revelations, by the following scene he returns to acting to his old stuck-up friendship-hating violent ill-tempered rude demon self.
  • While most character in Tales of Rebirth end up developing their characters in one way or another, Eugene Gallardo remains the sensible Team Dad and Cool Old Guy. This is even lampshaded in a skit.
  • An odd case in Assassin's Creed, in the 2nd game Ezio goes through a character arc from naive young man, to badass assassin. Then by the time the next game roles around, we're still playing as the badass, tough as nails Ezio and there isn't much more development to even do.
  • The Sonic the Hedgehog series features quite a bit of Character Development, especially in the Dreamcast era, but the title character himself isn't the subject of any of it. This is because the development of other characters usually plays off of him, such as Tails learning to be less dependent on Sonic, or Blaze learning about friendship from him. Even in Sonic and the Black Knight, which is renowned by the fandom for giving Sonic some of the deepest characterization in the series, the events of the game simply reaffirm his philosophy of living life to the fullest rather than change him in any significant way.
    • The same rule applies to Sonic's archnemesis, Doctor Eggman. Doctor Eggman motivations may change between the games (ranging from wanting to build a amusement park or a better world in his image), he may team-up with Sonic to stop a menace he himself unleashed, but at his core he is always the same character: an amusing Mad Scientist who wishes to reign over everyone.
  • In The Last of Us, protagonist Joel doesn’t change much. It’s Deuteragonist Ellie who gets all the Character Development. Ellie just brings out who Joel is deep down but hid under a gruff exterior after his daughter died.
  • In Final Fantasy X, Auron is the only guardian who does not undergo significant Character Development. He already went through it long before the game started. His story is already over.
  • John Marston, the main character of Red Dead Redemption, stays pretty much the same throughout the whole game — a former outlaw who left that life behind him years ago and is now trying to live an honest life with his family, who are taken hostage by the proto-FBI to get Marston to hunt down his former gang. However, the off-screen Character Development he went through before the first game happened is put to good use in the prequel.

    Visual Novels 
  • Franziska Von Karma from Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Justice for All is pretty much the same through the series as of Ace Attorney Investigations, the most development she gets are the revelations of some Hidden Depths regarding her rivalry with Edgeworth.
  • Pretty much the entire cast of Dies Irae end the story as the same people they where as when it started. While there is some character development sprinkled in, it is not a focus. Instead, the story works backwards, slowly showing the viewer what kind of people it's cast is and how they got to where they are now.
  • In Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair, out of the surviving students, Sonia Nevermind and Akane Owari both stay pretty much the exact same person they were in the Killing Game, despite the tragedies they've endured and losing close friends along the way.

    Web Comics 

    Web Videos 

    Western Animation 
  • While it's subverted in Steven Universe due to a major point of the series being that anyone can change, the Diamond Authority as a whole seems to enforce this on all of its citizens, to the point the Fusion Dance every member of their species can do (which can create new gem types and powers not found normally) is an illegal act punishable by death, and every gem who "emerges" as an Off Color is murdered on the spot if they're caught. Even the Crystal Gems, defectors from Homeworld, spent over 5000 years never changing or growing as people, despite the many issues they had from the war and living among humanity for all of that time.
  • American Dad!
    • Almost every episode after the first season has Stan act controlling or bigoted, ending with him learning his lesson, only to forget said lesson by the very next episode. The Gay Aesop is the only lesson he's never had to learn again after the first time he learned it. Aside from that, the only changes he's gone through are non-positive ones such as Badass Decay from the first season, where he was a macho Badass agent, only to later be depicted as just as out of shape and Flanderization of having his stupidity played up more to the point where by the time the show moved to TBS it would be hard to pin-point what separates him from Peter Griffin intelligence wise.
    • Steve's personality is wildly inconsistent, with him sometimes being a pervert Casanova Wannabe, a Cool Loser, a whiny Mama's Boy who actively seeks his parents approval or just a straight-up brat. In some episodes, he takes Stan's word like gospel and acts much younger than he is, and in others he doesn't listen to his dad at all and is much more assertive. Sometimes he switches personalities in the same episode, but there's one thing that never changes, he goes through very little Character Development.
    • Thanks to being the show's resident Hate Sink and the fact that members of his species will die if they don't let out their bitchiness (meaning that he needs his current characterisation in order to live), Roger has never once been allowed to receive even the slightest ounce of positive development to his character.
  • While Felix the Cat's personality is inconsistent throughout his various series, one thing that does stay consistent is that Felix never undergoes character development in any of them.
  • The overwhelming majority of over-the-top comedic characters, from Bugs Bunny to Donald Duck, to Yakko/Wakko/Dot to Johnny Bravo to The Fairly OddParents. Most likely, because of the Rule of Funny. note 
  • Many of the secondary characters from Avatar: The Last Airbender — Suki, King Bumi, and Uncle Iroh for instance — precisely because they're secondary characters. However, Toph doesn't particularly evolve either, able to get through the entire series on her existing personality except for becoming a bit softer and more willing to work with others (of course, she never got to go on a life-changing field trip with Zuko like the other three did).
    • Iroh had already gone through a life-changing experience before the series started. His job was to help others, primarily his nephew Zuko, develop, but we do come to understand the character development he has already been through as we find out more about him.
  • Avatar's sequel The Legend of Korra has a similar issue with it's secondary characters, and a bigger problem with it's main characters Asami Sato and Bolin. Asami was originally going to have a character arc of being The Mole but the creators liked her so much they relented and just left her with her initial traits of being a beautiful, compassionate, rich, sensible, brilliant inventor. Bolin though never evolved beyond being comic relief and just went from job to job depending on what the writers needed of him.
  • Skeletor, from pretty much any incarnation of Masters of the Universe and related series. Despite his undeniable iconic status, he's one of the most one-dimensional characters in the entire franchise. He wants to conquer Eternia. Why does he want to conquer Eternia? Because he's evil. (According to Paul Dini, writers on the Filmation series were actually told by Mattel to not do anything interesting with Skeletor. He was to be the boss of the bad guys. Period.)
  • Phineas and Ferb is a show that thrives on the status quo, with all sorts of drastic changes and events occurring and eventually reverting to normal, so most characters fall under this. However, there are a few exceptions, such as Phineas going through a bit of Characterization Marches On from his first appearance, and Vanessa, who becomes less cynical and more caring about her dad.
  • Gizmo from Teen Titans. He didn't really get any Character Development. He just stayed Gizmo.
  • Soundwave of Transformers fame, especially in the show Transformers: Prime, where his status as The Voiceless (not to mention The Faceless) and well nigh emotionless listener adds a lot to his creepy factor. He's broken his vow of silence for a single sentence only to gloat, but that's the deepest his character has gone.
  • While most characters in Code Lyoko get a little development, Odd doesn't really change at all. He eats a lot, he dates a lot, and he makes bad jokes. And that never changes.
  • Sergeant Cosgrove from Freakazoid! fits this trope.
  • Lynn Loud Jr. from The Loud House was considered the least developed of the ten Loud sisters. Whereas the other Loud sisters became more rounded as the series progressed, Lynn stayed a Jerk Jock during the first two seasons while her sisters got spotlight episodes and character development.
  • Deconstructed in Infinity Train. Given that the train's very purpose is to inspire Character Development, all the protagonists mature, learn lessons, and grow as people over the course of their journeys... except one. Simon is a clinical narcissist, which means he is fundamentally incapable of admitting he's wrong, or even realizing he's wrong in the first place. He has a complete Lack of Empathy and a bad case of Moral Myopia, so whenever he's confronted with evidence that he did something bad, he does whatever mental gymnastics are necessary to justify his actions, even sliding into full-on I Reject Your Reality mode. The fact that Simon is quite literally unable to change is unambiguously a tragedy; since admitting your mistakes is a huge part of growing as a person, he never grows, and only gets worse and worse.


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