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Tomboyness Upgrade

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Luna Loud, from shy Girly Girl to energetic rocker.
The inversion of Girliness Upgrade and Used to Be a Tomboy, this trope happens when a heroine starts off as conventionally feminine but, as time goes on, gains more masculine interests or starts dressing in a slightly boyish (or less girly) manner.

Sometimes she goes from a Girly Girl to a Girly Girl with a Tomboy Streak. Sometimes she's already a Girly Girl with a Tomboy Streak but the tomboy streak is flanderized over time, which may be in the later parts of a story, or even in a reboot, a sequel, or a later adaptation. In extreme cases, she starts out as a moderate Tomboy with a Girly Streak who later loses the girly streak completely and becomes The Lad-ette.

This may also be because the parents Wanted a Gender-Conforming Child and influenced the girl to be feminine in childhood. Once they grew up, they found their own (tomboyish) ways of expressing themselves.

It may overlap with Took a Level in Badass, but not necessarily. Compare Xenafication when a female character becomes an Action Girl in an adaptation, or Adrenaline Makeover when a shy girl evolves into a cool and adventurous character.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Dragon Ball Z: Videl is a Tsundere girl who has a streak for martial arts who feels something for her classmate Son Gohan. When they became a couple, she replaced the Girlish Pigtails and the skirt for a Boyish Short Hair and pants, also becoming more serious with martial arts and even learning the ki attacks of the other Z-Warriors. Conversely, when Videl became a mother in GT and Super, she got a Girliness Upgrade with long hair and more feminine clothes.
  • Family Complex: Fuyuki starts out as a demure Girly Girl with long hair and wears dresses. After learning to be more outspoken, she cuts her hair short, wears masculine clothes, and becomes a Bifauxnen.
  • Kimagure Orange Road: As a little girl, Hikaru was the girly girl to Madoka's tomboy. In the current story, their roles are reversed, as Hikaru is now a Shorttank with Boyish Short Hair (instead of Girlish Pigtails like her child self), while Madoka is a long-haired Head-Turning Beauty.
  • Pokémon Adventures: Sapphire. An aggressive, super-strong Wild Child, she is initially one of the most tomboyish female leads. Her arc eventually reveals that she started out a cheerful, feminine dress-wearing little girl before a traumatic incident. Once she and Ruby patch things up, elements of her old personality start resurfacing in the present, making her more of a Tomboy with a Girly Streak.
  • Yona of the Dawn: Yona starts out as a spoiled princess with extremely long hair and a very girly personality. After being forced to flee when her cousin usurps the throne, Yona's hair is cut short and she begins training with a sword and bow, becoming more aggressive and independent.

    Comic Books 
  • Archie Comics:
    • Betty was originally a flighty blonde, usually entirely focused on domestic pursuits, and generally as feminine as Veronica. By the '60s, she starts showing more interests in masculine activities, eventually becoming a Wrench Wench with Tomboyish Ponytail, and a tomboy foil to Veronica's Rich Bitch. The tomboyish traits are even more evident in the 2015 reboot comics, although this would later be inverted in Riverdale, where she has a Girliness Upgrade.
    • Midge was originally a generically feminine character who just served as a Satellite Love Interest when she wasn't joining Betty and Veronica for typical girl activities. Like Betty, later years gave her a few tomboyish interests such as playing softball.

    Film — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 

  • Harry Potter: Ginny was a shy little girl in Chamber of Secrets, especially around Harry. In later books, after getting over her shyness, she evolves into a tough Fiery Redhead and accomplished Quidditch player. Harry at one point notes that Ginny growing up with six brothers probably "toughened her up a bit".
  • Land of Oz: In canon, Tip is reluctant to become a girl but once the transformation happens Ozma is nothing but The High Queen. Many adaptations, such as the The Wonderful Wizard of Oz anime, portray Ozma as either a Tomboy Princess or a Girly Girl with a Tomboy Streak. This is due to a long-standing, decades-old fanon concerning Ozma being Raised as the Opposite Gender.
  • My Name is Brain Brian: In this YA novel by Jeanne Betancourt, a girl named Isabel is bullied by her classmates. Midway through the book, she surprises them by cutting her hair short, wearing a leather jacket, and projecting a more "tough girl" attitude. She even tells the main character she wants to start weightlifting.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Big Bang Theory: In season 1, Penny is introduced as a ditzy Ms. Fanservice with a girly lifestyle in contrast to the main guys. Over time, she's revealed to be The Lad-ette who is stronger and more masculine than the nerdy guys she hangs out with. While she's still considered attractive, in later seasons she becomes an Unkempt Beauty who is usually seen in tracksuits, oversized football t-shirts, and Messy Hair.
  • Elementary: In season 5 Watson began wearing more androgynous and masculine attire than she previously had.
  • The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air: Ashley starts off as a rich little girl who wears very feminine dresses. As her character becomes more rebellious as a teenager, she starts wearing more casual and tomboyish clothes.
  • iCarly: In one episode, Carly tries to stay with Spencer and turns herself into a punk chick with full black clothing, metal spikes and chains, and a streak of blue hair. She was back to normal by the end of the episode because Status Quo Is God.
  • Power Rangers RPM has this as Summer's backstory. She was previously a Rich Bitch (admittedly who still did karate and rode a dirt bike) obsessed with pretty things. As part of her Character Development, she becomes a more tomboyish Power Ranger.
  • Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon: In the original series Sailor Moon, Makoto always has the status of the resident Tomboy, but never actually acts masculine — it is her size and strength, rather than any concrete interests, that are what makes her tough. In this show, however, she tends to act more butchy and never wears skirts or dresses where she would in the source material.
  • Veronica Mars: In the backstory, Veronica was shown to be a rather typical girl, who wore long dresses and hung out with girls and seemingly lacked interest in solving mysteries like her father did. Then, after the murder of her best friend and the rape she went through at a party, the show starts a year later, with her new best friend being a guy, her hair shorter, her style more masculine, and her big hobby being to take part in her father's PI work.
  • Xena: Warrior Princess: Gabrielle starts off as the naive Girly Girl to Xena's tough Tomboy. In later seasons, she becomes a fighter with Boyish Short Hair.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • Both of the Chick Busters. According to Kaitlyn, when they were on NXT AJ was not allowed to wear Chuck Taylors and Kaitlyn herself was forbidden from wearing a dress that "wasn't colourful enough". She says that management wanted all of the Divas to wear sparkly dresses. But as time went on, both of them developed their own signature styles - and became popular for their Lad Ette sense of style.
  • Nikki Bella. After the Bella Twins Heel–Face Turn in 2013, the two started exploring different styles for themselves. Nikki opted for more tomboyish looking wrestling outfits (a t-shirt, baseball cap, and soccer socks) and a more power-based offence. Though in a weird way, Brie gets a Girliness Upgrade - wearing her hair in girlier styles and favouring outfits with ruffles on them. This gave the twins a Tomboy and Girly Girl dynamic.
  • Becky Lynch. While she was already a pretty big tomboy to begin with, her transformation into "The Man" only further increased her masculine characteristics and her aggression levels. She basically became the modern equivalent of Stone Cold Steve Austin and adopted all the in-your-face attitude, boisterous nature, and violent ways that came with it. She started wearing shirts, pants, and sneakers and eventually traded her long hair for a Tomboyish Ponytail. One of her default outfits when wrestling as of 2019 is a black and yellow attire which looks like a colour inverted version of Bruce Lee's battle suit. Affiliated nor paired with any more feminine women wrestlers (unlike other tomboyish women on the roster such as Sonya Deville or Nikki Cross, who have arguably experienced very mild, relative cases of this trope since their debuts onto the main roster) and usually the foil to them (like she was against Charlotte, Sasha Banks and Lacey Evans) in her feuds, Becky has easily become the LEAST girly of all the women in the WWE.
  • Trish Stratus was Ms. Fanservice when she arrived in WWE, often appearing in fur coats, tight minidresses, and sparkly jewelry. Her ring gear was even styled femininely at first. As she Took a Level in Badass, any overt girliness was dropped in her character and it became quite rare for her to be seen in a dress (outside of the Hall of Fame ceremonies).
  • Michelle McCool found her feet in WWE as a sexy teacher who was in bikini contests and bra & panties matches. Then with a Heel–Face Turn, she instead became known as a casual All-American Face who emphasized her fitness background. Her Face–Heel Turn in 2009 saw her become a ruthless Blood Knight who was out to severely injure her opponents and deliver a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown to anyone. And then, she went through a Girliness Upgrade with the formation of LayCool to become a ditzy Valley Girl (albeit retaining some of her former ruthlessness).
  • Rhea Ripley is probably one of the most well-known modern examples, debuting on NXT as a typical face with long blonde hair and more traditional "girly" wrestling attire, before changing it up completely with a short undercut, black heavy metal costumes, and an aggressive, take-no-prisoners attitude.
  • The entire WWE Women's Division as a whole ever since the division was rebranded back in 2016. Unlike the WWE Divas Era where matches mainly focused on Fanservice such as bra-and-panties matches, costume matches, substance-in-a-pool matches and pillow fights as well as childish promos and model-like looks, the current WWE Women's Division is a lot like the WWE Men's Division in terms of fighting like their male counterparts, have edgier appearances and serious trash-talking. In addition, women are now allowed to compete in such match types as the Royal Rumble match, the Elimination Chamber match, the Hell in a Cell match, the Money in the Bank ladder match, the TLC match, Falls Count Anywhere matches, Street Fights and other match stipulations that were previously been reserved for men.


  • The Easy Bake Oven. The later models are more unisex looking and marketing is trying to appeal to boys as well as girls. Other toys of this period were marketed equally to boys and girls; look up "pink Lego controversy".

    Video Games 
  • Kingdom Hearts: Downplayed with Kairi. After receiving a Girliness Upgrade in Kingdom Hearts II, Kairi is at her most action-oriented in Kingdom Hearts III, where her hair is shorter again and she's upgraded to what look like combat boots.
  • Super Mario Bros.: Downplayed with Princess Daisy. She originally filled the same role as Princess Peach and was just as feminine as her early on, but starting with Mario Party 4, to better contrast to Peach, she would be given more tomboyish attributes, including a raspier voice, shorter hair and a more fiery and energetic personality. That said, she still retains a girly streak in spite of the changes.

    Western Animation 
  • The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius: Cindy, from the movie to the series. While shown to be a good fighter during the climactic battle in the movie, the series upgrades her skills to the point that she can compete even with a member of a warrior race of aliens, and in general puts more emphasis on her passion for karate. To match, she trades her Girlish Pigtails for a Tomboyish Ponytail.
  • Ben 10: Kai Green. In the original, despite looking like a tomboy (plain shirt, shorts, and casual shoes), Kai is quite feminine in personality, being very soft-spoken and mild-mannered, showing affection for Ben in his werewolf form, and being into ritual dancing. She contrasted very strongly with the more snarky and short tempered Gwen. In Omniverse, she changes her long hair for a Tomboyish Ponytail, and becomes a lot more witty and snarky, takes several levels in badass, and herself ends up as the tomboy to Esther's girly girl.
  • DuckTales (2017):
    • Webby Vanderquack in the original series was very much a Girly Girl, but in this reboot, she is far more of a tomboy, albeit one with a prominent girly streak. She's an adventuring enthusiast who is the most capable in a fight of all the kids. She also has a bit of a violent edge. Then it is revealed that in this continuity she is the Opposite-Sex Clone of the adventurer Scrooge McDuck which means that it's In the Blood (it also helps that she was raised in McDuck manor and idolizes Scrooge).
    • Gandra Dee is less girly than her 1980s counterpart. Rather than being a feminine receptionist, she is a punk rock scientist, complete with a grunge aesthetic. And also works for the bad guys...but is not actually evil.
    • Della Duck is another example. Granted, there isn't a lot to go on as Della rarely ever appeared in any other stories or media prior to this show, and most of what there was to go on was mere mentions. But the most well-known depiction of Della's classic self does seem to indicate she was originally a much more feminine character than the rough and tumble, adrenaling loving, rambunctious action adventurer that this show turned her into.
  • Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts: In the five-year flash forward at the end of the final episode, Kipo is shown to have adopted a more masculine sense of style, with a leather jacket, shorter hair, and a double-sided undercut.
  • The Loud House:
    • Luna Loud provides the page image. She used to be a shy Girly Girl who played the violin, but one Mick Swagger concert later and she's now a tomboy and an energetic rocker.
    • Lynn Jr. downplays this, as she's always been a tomboy. In early seasons, she also had a girly streak but seems to have dropped the streak in later seasons in exchange for becoming completely masculine (compare seasons one and two where she squeed at the idea of Lincoln having a crush and got involved in Lucy's makeover to season four where she is disgusted by romance and dating altogether). Then there's the fact that she was previously less aggressive and abrasive before going to Middle School in the past. Strangely, her flanderized masculinity has not made her more one-note otherwise, as she experienced Character Development around the same time.
  • W.I.T.C.H.: In the comics, Irma, despite her snarky and sassy personality, actually has the girliest clothes and interests of all the main girls. The cartoon adaptation made her a tomboy, probably to create a Tomboy and Girly Girl dynamic with Cornelia, which is different from the one they had in the comics:
    • In the comics, both are feminine, but Cornelia in an elegant Proper Lady way, while Irma is a normal, fun-loving, girly teenager who is snarky towards Cornelia.
    • In the cartoon, Irma becomes a sarcastic tomboy. Her immature Valley Girl traits from the comics are given to Cornelia.