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Simon Belmont: Badass, and wannabe badass.

"Kristin Kreuk isn't she?"
15 Reasons We HATE Chun Li with Evil Craig, commenting on the race lifting done in Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li. note 

Sometimes writers who make adaptations change aspects of plots and characters to the point where they remove most of the characters' qualities, or even to the point where you don't recognize them. To many fans, every aspect of a character's personality, ability, etc. should be preserved. Sometimes writers do this for the fans... with a catch.

Usually in newer versions of older media (say an NES game or horror film) a character's design is changed to the point where that character can only be recognized by incredibly minor details (or a name being posted on the picture). This is done to modernize characters for a new generation, much like any remake or adaptation. Sometimes this change doesn't sit well with the fans, but in some rare cases people will accept the newer design, saying it is a great change overall. Changes to old designs usually end with people getting used to them until the next change is made where a vicious cycle is restarted until the product comes out and people are settled.


Compare Not as You Know Them (where the appearance is the same but the personality isn't) Race Lift (a specific form of this), Adaptation Dye-Job (same), Adaptational Attractiveness (when their looks improve), Progressively Prettier (same), The Nth Doctor (when there's an in-universe reason for the change), The Other Darrin (an unexplained change of actor), Early Installment Character Design Difference (characters whose designs looked different early on) and Adaptational Ugliness (when adaptations make them look less attractive). See also They Changed It, Now It Sucks!. Can lead to Your Costume Needs Work. Also compare with Off-Model and Depending on the Artist. When it happens to locations, see Chaos Architecture.



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    Multiple Media 
  • The Roman Army is usually represented as completely made of heavy infantry equipped like these re-enactors (the only variation is when they wear leather variants of the armour), with their officers wearing the muscle armour, no matter the period. As the Roman state spanned about a thousand years (twice that if you count the Eastern Roman Empire), the equipment and composition of the Roman Army depended on the period (especially as the soldiers were supposed to pay for their own equipment until the first century BC) and even deployment: Roman soldiers in the colder north always wore warmer local clothes (that included pants) under their armour. The 'classic' Roman soldier is actually a soldier of the Parthian/Persian border between 70 AD and the Tetrarchy, while the muscle cuirass was reserved to the richest officers and had all but disappeared before the appearance of the 'classic' armour. It also always included other kinds of troops, both from citizens and subjects/allies (Roman citizens were heavy infantry only from the Marian reform in the first century BC, and that was reversed by Caracalla giving Roman citizenship to all subjects in 212 AD).
  • Transformers:
    • Thanks to multiple universes, this isn't as big a deal as in other franchises. In-universe, the process of reformatting (where a Transformer gets a brand new body, usually due to severe injury) or upgrading can result in this. For example, in The Transformers: The Movie, Starscream had trouble recognising Galvatron as a rebuilt Megatron. This isn't even getting into the various characters who are truly In Name Only, serving only to keep the name in circulation.
    • Transformers Generation One:
      • In the original Generation 1 line, many characters had their designs tweaked to look more humanoid than the toys they were based on, which were originally piloted mecha. This often resulted in discrepancies between the two; most notably with Ironhide and Ratchet having heads when the toys didn't, Reflector having two of his components completely ignored in favor of all three being clones, and Jetfire, who legally couldn't resemble his toy in the cartoon (and even had his name in it changed to Skyfire).
      • Later on in the run of the cartoon, characters would often be designed based on prototype toys that were redesigned in development, then tweaked further. This is perhaps most pronounced with the Combaticons: they have the right head designs and (mostly) the right colors, but everything else is off to some degree. Even their vehicle modes are noticeably different; Swindle's toy is an XR 311 (a prototype military vehicle similar to a Humvee), while his character model is some kind of jeep.
    • This was done as a joke in Beast Wars, when Optimus Primal got his upgrade to his Optimal Optimus form (thanks to temporarily fusing with Optimus Prime). The other Maximals initially didn't recognise him, leading Rattrap to quip about him switching bodies a lot. Come the Maximals' reformatting in the premiere of Beast Wars' Sequel Series Beast Machines, and no one looked like their former selves.
    • Transformers Film Series:
      • The series changed most of the characters' looks so that they could fit their licensed vehicle modes or look more realistic (not that most of them had previously had consistent looks anyway), but Starscream had usually been fairly recognizable before, but now had a large triangular body with long arms and chicken legs (supposedly to allow him to be an F-22 Raptor without dwarfing the other robots). This was met with criticism of being unable to recognize and/or distinguish them.
      • The Fallen. In the G1 continuity, he's squarish and is on fire, but in the Movie continuity, he's scrawny and red-hot! And yes, Word of God confirmed that those two are actually the same character (for a while, anyway).
    • Characters named "Optimus Prime" generally look more or less the same (with the movie design mostly within the typical parameters), but for a while, every Megatron was completely different when it comes to physical appearance. Even within the same continuity, his three Unicron Trilogy designs look nothing alike, and only the Energon one looks anything like a prior design (that being G1 Galvatron). Starting with Transformers Animated, however, it's common for his design to be a combination of his Generation 1 and movie designs, waxing and waning between the two depending on series.
    • Late-aughts IDW stories were somewhat infamous for taking Depending on the Artist to extremes, as the editorial policy was that it was up to artistic interpretation what a character's design was as long as they stayed mostly recognizable. This led to characters going through radical design changes practically on an issue-to-issue basis. It was most obvious with Bumblebee, since he was a character who did go through an explicit upgrade and redesign during that period that was treated as a moment of character growth for him, and yet still had his appearance altered regularly depending on who was drawing him.
    • The 'Bots and 'Cons from the Transformers Aligned Universe are notorious for flip-flopping their designs depending on which branch of the story they're in. Transformers: War for Cybertron, Transformers: Prime, and Transformers: Rescue Bots all have wildly different aesthetics, and even if you brush that aside, the actual details of their designs don't match up at all; Starscream goes from a red-white-and-blue Top-Heavy Guy in WFC to being slim, lanky, and all-silver in Prime. The only thing they have in common is wings on their shoulders and a chest cockpit (elements shared by pretty much every version of Starscream). Even voice actors and personalities tend to change regularly.
    • The TCG uses art from the IDW comics (which can spoil some plot points, such as Megatron's Heel–Face Turn) for its regular cards, but has other art for its double-sized character cards. This is most visible with Arcee, who appears in her IDW!G1 incarnation (mostly pink, with some bloodstains) on the battle cards, but her character card uses her blue and purple Transformers: Prime look.
  • In the early days of the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise, Dr. Eggman (then known as Dr. Robotnik in the West) was redesigned for Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog by Milton Knight to have almost no resemblance to his original design beyond his moustache. This design then bled over into almost every piece of Western Sonic media in the 1990s, with Sonic the Hedgehog (SatAM) tweaking it to have a robotic right arm, a thinner moustache and a more threatening look. The latter design was reused in Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics) and Sonic Underground, while the former was adopted by Sonic the Comic (switching from its original game-influenced design to it due to Executive Meddling) and Western box arts from the mid-1990s (despite the games themselves still using the classic game design).


    Anime & Manga 
  • Mobile Suit Gundam Wing: The Gundams designed by Kunio Okawaranote  were redesigned by Hajime Katokinote  for Mobile Suit Gundam Wing: Endless Waltz. For the most part, Katoki sought to streamline the Gundams and make them sleeker, removing a few weapons (with the exception of Heavyarms, which got More Dakka) and accessories and rearranging others in the process, keeping them functionally identical to their TV counterparts for the most part. Word of God even stated that they were, in fact, the exact same machines with the exact same performances, and were in fact retconned into replacing the TV versions. However, this didn't stop groups of fans from insisting that the movie versions are vastly inferior to their TV counterparts, even to this day, for those very same reasons. It also didn't help that Endless Waltz had a minor Series Continuity Error by showing the final versions of two of the suits in a flashback to before the beginning of the series, before those suits received their Mid-Season Upgrades, and that the Wing Zero Custom was so heavily redesigned that it lost its Neo-Bird flight mode. Adding more fuel to the fire were the "Ver.Ka." model kits of the pre-upgrade versions of the Gundams; while most of them addressed some of the issues by reinterpreting previously-removed elements of the Okawara designs to bring them closer to their TV counterparts, the Wing Gundam Ver.Ka. was nearly identical to the Wing Zero Custom, which was a separate mobile suit altogehter.

    The 2010 manga The Glory of Losers, a retelling of the series, attempts to reconcile all of this. It uses Katoki's designs for the Gundams from the start, with the "Ver.Ka." "original" designs getting their mid-season upgrades to the EW "Custom" designs. The Wing/Wing Zero issue is resolved by Katoki redesigning Wing Zero again, this time reincorporating the Neo-Bird mode and other design elements from the TV version, into Wing Zero's original Super Prototype design, and then having Zero receive a mid-season upgrade to the Wing Zero Custom, with its design being influenced in-universe by the both the Wing Gundam and a new mid-season upgrade to the Tallgeese.
  • In the original Fist of the North Star manga, Zengyo, the assistant of Ryuken's old rival Koryu, originally resembled an ordinary middle-aged man with no real qualities that made him stand out. When the character was adapted to the anime series, he became an elderly ninja master for some reason.
  • Vision of Escaflowne: Millerna Aston was a blonde princess in the anime, who wanted to become a medic and Marry for Love. The movie drastically changed her apperance to an orange-haired woman that was second-in-command to Allen, and an Action Girl.
  • Jojos Bizarre Adventure:
    • Because Hirohiko Araki's art style is constantly changing, this is inevitable whenever he redraws one of his earlier characters. For reference, compare Jotaro Kujo as he appears in Stardust Crusaders with his design from Stone Ocean; while the basic elements of his design still remain, the facial build and proportions are so vastly different that he's almost unrecognizable in the latter image.
    • In turn, the Art Evolution in the manga affect the character designs in the anime. Unlike the manga, the art style in the anime stays consistent throughout, but only in each given Part. The art style for the anime of a new Part will be different from the last.note  For example, here's how Jotaro looks in Stardust Crusaders, then Diamond is Unbreakable.
    • The king of this, though, is probably Jonathan Joestar, the protagonist of the first part. As his original design was basically defined by being a musclebound giant and a none-too-subtle Kenshiro knockoff (and he's canonically 193cm/six-foot-five, and a rugby player), the Cast Full of Pretty Boys aesthetic that Araki's artstyle has evolved towards since then has left him looking flat-out unrecognizable.
  • Virtually every character in the Tokyo Majin anime does not resemble their original character designs. Some characters such as Marie and Kozunu have it worse than others in that they not only do not look like their original designs but their personalities were also drastically altered.
  • Pocket Monsters:
    • At the start of the manga very few Pokémon resembled their official designs. Rumor has it the designs were based off what the mangaka thought the sprites looked like, not their actual designs, which looked incredibly off. In one case, a Diglett looked so off that it was widely mistaken for an unidentified manga-exclusive Pokémon by fans[1]. As the series went on the Pokémon started looking more like their game counterparts, even resembling the official art better then other adaptations in some examples such as Pikachu.
    • Characters in this manga tend to look really weird, too. Case in point: compare Prof. Oak from the games with his character designs in the respective aforementioned mangas. And can you believe that this guynote  is supposed to be Blue/Green? Or that this is Agatha? Would you believe us if we told you that this is Earl? Or that this thing is supposed to be Bill!?
    • Oddly, this has occurs even within the manga's canon. When first introduced Bill was a huge ugly gonk with scruffy facial hair. Come Johto and he's suddenly in his younger, game accurate design.
  • Red from Pokémon Adventures has noticeable bangs that poke out of his hat, which makes him look little like his Red counterpart from the Pokémon games. He resembles Red even less so now due to game Red's redesign starting at FireRed/LeafGreen. Red in the games has light brown hair and brown eyes while his Adventures counterpart has longer, black hair and red eyes. Red in Pokémon Adventures is also lithe, while Red as of Pokémon Sun and Moon is slightly muscular.
  • Pokémon:
    • Anime!Blaine looked really differently from the way he does in the games and other adaptations. Curiously, his design is actually accurate to a prototype Blaine character design, which was replaced in late post-production. The disguise he initially uses resembles his usual design (if it weren't for the wig).
    • Kanto was very creative with how accurate they kept the character designs, however Bill is still something else. Both personality and design wise, he is little like Bill in the games. In the games he has brown hair and wore a simple brown shirt. He was transformed into a Pokemon by accident while testing out a machine. He has a Kansai accent however this isn't translated in the English versions (though Pokémon Adventures gives him a thick Southern accent) and is a computer programmer who invented the Pokémon Storage System, and is also described as a Pokémon collector and Poké Maniac. Bill in the anime is a green-haired rich man who wears a red robe and was stuck in a Pokemon costume. His Kansai accent is presented as a British accent in the English dub. He isn't a programmer, but a Pokémon researcher, and is never called a Pokémon collector and Poké Maniac. Bill was also Demoted to Extra, only appearing once in Kanto, when his game counterpart is a recurring character.
    • In a more unusual case of this trope, in the anime, Erika was depicted as having blue hair and wearing a green dress. In Pokémon: I Choose You! (which is an Alternate Continuity), Erika strictly resembles her game self, including having black hair.
    • In Sun and Moon, the characters go on a field trip to Kanto. The Cerulean Gym looks nothing like it did in the Original Series.
    • Giovanni. In the games, he had really short black hair and wore a black suit. In the anime, he had brown hair with a slightly different shape, (rather bafflingly) wore an orange suit, and had bigger, more triangular eyes. In the XY and Sun and Moon series, however he was redesigned to look more like his game self. He swapped his orange suit for a black one, became paler, and gained beadier eyes, although his hair is still brown.
  • One Piece:
    • Big Mom went from looking like a typical Gonk in her appearance as a silhouette to horrific when she actually appeared, and finally to a middle point between the two when her respective arc began. However, it's possible that Oda wanted to tweak her character design to make her more intimidating for when we first see her. Justified as Oda is constantly going through Art Evolution so an improved design would not be surprising, as her design was made during the end of the Water 7 Arc, which is a LONG way away from the end of the Fishman Island Arc. Kaido appears to have gone through the same development now that he's been introduced, though his final design does maintain some continuity with his original silhouette.note 
    • During Coby's first appearance at the beginning of the manga, he was a somewhat chubby and short kid with a round chin, but when he reappears nearly 420 chapters later during the Post-Enies Lobby Arc, he is thinner, taller, and has a more defined chin. Even his nose is shaped differently. Please note that a year hadn't even passed within the story when he reunites with Luffy. Oda states that during Coby's bus ride, he went through a growth spurt and tightened his muscles due to Garp's training. He still has his signature pink hair and round glasses, but he looks more like his past self's older brother now. If you look at his face and build only (not hairstyle/hair color, clothes and glasses), he actually looks a great deal like Luffy now.
    • When Alvida first appeared she was an obese, ugly, toad like woman with small Black Bead Eyes, after she ate the Devil Fruit she lost a lot of weight and became a thin beautiful busty woman with a prettier face and big green eyes.
  • The Comic Bon Bon childrens' manga adaptation of Armored Trooper VOTOMS took quite the liberties with characters' designs, between the black-and-white interior pages and the colored artwork. Fyana's hair became somewhat shorter and colored black, with her eyes being green (instead of her having brown hair and brown eyes). Several characters in the Kummen arc were also drawn radically different compared to how they appeared in the anime, with Ru Shako receiving a black bowlcut and Kanjelman's gray hair also changing to black. Ypsilon received long hair, while the Schmitel brothers suddenly lost their eyebrows and received bulging, insect-like eyes.
  • Nagisa Momoe, who is introduced in the Puella Magi Madoka Magica sequel movie Rebellion, qualifies despite not even being in the original 12-episode series. Well, technically, she is there, but only as the Witch Charlotte. She spends most of the Rebellion movie as Team Pet "Bebe", who looks like Charlotte save for the face (presumably to allow a wider range of facial expressions).
  • Future GPX Cyber Formula SAGA and SIN are designed by My-HiME's art directors, which causes everybody to look at least 5 times more Bishōnen than the ways they were in the TV series and two previous OVA titles. Furthermore, backflashes retain the old videoclips, resulting in several Art Shift thoughout the show.
  • Fujiko from Lupin III changes looks with every animation staff. Possibly Justified by her being a Master of Disguise with a bounty on her head, so she could be changing her looks in-universe, and possibly Lampshaded in Lupin III: Episode 0: First Contact (Fujiko in the flashback has brown-reddish hair and in the present is blonde with a different hairdo) and Lupin III: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine (where she changes hairdo, hair colour and dresses every episode).
  • Space Battleship Yamato 2202: Take the original Comet Empire characters, add a bit of Klingon fashion sense, and you get the re-imagining of Gatlantis. Lady Sabera gets hit with this particularly hard, and is closer in look to her appearance in Arrivedeci Yamato than the original tv series.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • In one of the Zelda manga based off The Legend of Zelda, Zelda looks nothing like her game version. Her game version was a prepubescent brunette Princess Classic while the manga had her as blonde, teenage, and overall very different looking. Link looks mostly like his game design but wears overalls instead of his signature tunic.
    • Some of the bosses from The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past look way different in the Akira Himekawa manga. Kholdstare turns from a cloud creature similar to Kracko to something that looks like a giant Piloswine and Vitreous, originally a giant eyeball surrounded from a bunch of smaller eyes resting in a pool of toxic ooze, is now a one-eyed female giant swamp monster. Also, Link's Dark World form is changed from a rabbit to a werewolf.
    • The Zelda in the adaptation of The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures doesn't resemble her game counterpart. She instead looks like the Ocarina of Time or Wind Waker interpretation of Zelda. Her hair is far lighter and not in a ponytail.
    • Zelda in The Hyrule Fantasy by Kobayashi Susumu doesn't resemble her appearance in the original game at all. In the games she is a kid with puffy '80s Hair and an equally puffy pink dress. The manga aged her up into a teenager and went with a more realistic medieval design. She's much more covered up as well.
  • Ritchie in The Electric Tale of Pikachu looks absolutely nothing like he does in the Pokémon anime. He has completely different clothes, is a blond rather than a brunet, and looks less like Ash.
  • The animated adaptation of Parasyte changes a number of character designs as part of its Setting Update.
  • Princess Ozma in the Land of Oz books has long, wavy ruddy-blonde hair (which is depicted as dark brown or black in illustrations), wears a long white dress, and wears a circlet crown on her head. In the The Wonderful Wizard of Oz anime Princess Ozma is a short girl with short, curly light brown hair who wears an Elizabethan collar, red clothes, white tights, and a more generic crown. She resembles a Tomboy Princess in the anime.
  • Apollomon Whispered of Digimon Fusion looks like this in his official artwork, but he has a completely different color scheme in the anime.
  • The Satou Kashi no Dangan wa Uchinukenai manga completely redesigns Nagisa and Umino from their Light Novel appearances. In the novel, they both have purple hair. The manga gives them more realistic designs and shortens Nagisa's hair.
  • Bakugan: Battle Planet: Dan looks nothing like he did in Bakugan. He has a different hair color, blue eyes, and a red Skunk Stripe in his hair.
  • The president of the United Federation was slim and brown haired when introduced in Sonic Adventure 2. He's older, portly, and grey-haired in Sonic X.
  • Dictators: No Peace: Israel, Kazakhstan, Nepal, and Singapore lose their signature Non-Standard Character Design from the Polandball comics (a cube, a brick, a rawr, and a triangle, respectively), becoming regular balls.
  • Robotech
    • Dr. Emil Lang in his two appearances in the original series and then there is his makeover in Robotech II: The Sentinels. Along with the required distancing itself from the original Haruhiko Mikimoto character design seen in the original Macross animation, it does make Lang appear much more charismatic, given that the design inspiration was apparently Charles Bronson.
    • Vince Grant is dramatically made over for his appearance in Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles, mostly with the goal of making him less stereotypical.

    Comic Books 
  • Marvel Comics characters sometimes gain new costumes which may or may not be kept depending on fan reaction.
  • DC Comics' New 52 version of Amanda Waller, who is much slimmer and more attractive in appearance than the pre-New 52 version of her. Despite her looks, Waller's personality is still the same.
  • Zelda and Hilda Spellman have changed so many times in Sabrina the Teenage Witch since the 90s, more than probably any other character. Their classic designs look like traditional witches, with them being a Fat and Skinny duo and Zelda having green hair.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics):
    • When Breezie the Hedgehog first appeared in Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog, she looked less like a hedgehog and more of a hedgehog-ish Jessica Rabbit. When she made it into the comic, she was redesigned, making her more in line with modern day Sega-type hedgehogs while still giving the impression that this was Breezie.
    • Issue 281's cover showed another redesigned character, this time Dulcy the Dragon from Sonic the Hedgehog (SatAM). The original design was more of a Western Dragon with a large nosering which was used in pre-reboot comic. Her post-reboot look turns her more into an anthropomorphic dragon, ditching the nosering gaining what appears to be some armor.
    • Ray the Flying Squirrel tended to look considerably different from his game counterpart. For starters, before the reboot, he had no membranes, making him technically a regular squirrel.
    • Compared to his Sonic the Hedgehog (SatAM) counterpart, pre-reboot King Acorn has always looked older, slimmer and frailer.
  • Almost every Jem received redesigns for the Jem and the Holograms comics. While they are recognizable enough there are clear differences. For example Kimber is now much lankier and her normal hairstyle is a sidecut.
  • Aqualad is usually a human looking boy, however Teen Titans: Year One puts an emphasis on his fish-looking aspects and he gives him a bluish skin tone.
  • Artists for IDW's My Little Pony comic series were often given little direction for how certain characters looked, resulting in blatant discrepancies between the comics and the show.
  • Wonder Woman (1987): During The Contest Hippolyta is discussing her plan with a thin pointy chinned Amazon with long wavy brown hair, who turns out to be Philippus, who has always been depicted as a square jawed muscular woman with black kinky hair meaning that she is entirely unrecognizable.
  • The New 52:
    • The redesign for Solstice looks nothing like her original design. She was originally an Indian girl that dressed in light colored clothing. Her redesign has her as completely jet-black and shadowy, with blue hues.
    • The New 52 infamously redesigned Lobo as a Pretty Boy. Reader backlash was such that DC eventually ended up bringing back the classic Lobo design.
    • Wonder Woman (2011): The only Olympians that look anything like their previous incarnations are Zeus and Hera. Poseidon goes from a bearded man to a giant fish monster, Ares goes from a buff blonde Tin Tyrant to an skinny elderly man with a long beard, Hades now looks like a pale skinned child with candles in place of hair, Demeter is a green haired green skinned plant lady and Hermes has solid black eyes, blue skin and talons for feet.
  • In September 2017, Pie-Face in The Beano suddenly had much longer hair, a hat, and glasses. It was done to match his appearance in the new CGI cartoon Dennis And Gnasher Unleashed.
  • Spider-Man and Batman: Disordered Minds depicts Ashley Kafka with longer hair and wearing glasses. Making it weirder is that iconic Spidey artist Mark Bagley is the artist and has drawn Kafka before, including during The Clone Saga.
  • For some strange reason, Nadia van Dyne was depicted with shoulder-length hair in Avengers (2016) despite every other appearance, including her own title, showing her with a bob.
  • The Nintendo Power comic adaptation of The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past plays pretty fast and loose with the designs from the game, particularly when it comes to the monsters. Moldorm and Trinexx stand out the most, going (respectively) from a centipede-esque creature to a Giant Spider, and a three-headed rock monster to an organic, three-headed, eastern-style dragon.
  • Superboy (Kon-El, a.k.a. Conner Kent) in the 2003-11 series Teen Titans. Not only was his superhero costume swapped for a T-shirt and jeans, but he also suddenly began being drawn with a huge jacked physique as though he'd doubled in mass. This was possibly to make him look more like Superman, as it was also retconned at this time that they were blood-related after all. This change lasted up until the New 52 reboot, and was the basis for Superboy's design in the Young Justice cartoon. However, since Conner's reappearance in Young Justice (2019) he has gone back to looking much more like he did in the 1990s, albeit with more of a punk look to his costume.

    Comic Strips 
  • Popeye's recurring adversary, the Sea Hag started off with her own unique look with her long black robe and hood and Eyes Always Shut, and a much smaller chin. As the years went on, however, especially when Bud Sagendorf took over the strip, she began to look more like Popeye in drag, but with warts and Perma-Stubble.
  • Opus' mother in her first appearance in Bloom County, looked like Opus, but with Tertiary Sexual Characteristics. When she appears in the spin-off strip, Opus, she had a far more individualized, and grotesque appearance.

    Fan Works 
  • An In-Universe version of this happens in Pokémon Reset Bloodlines. When Ash arrives to the Cinnabar Gym, he's rather surprised when he sees Blaine, as he now looks like his in-game self instead of how Ash remembered him (see above in the Anime folder).
  • Happens In-Universe in Imaginary Seas. Percy notes that Chiron looks younger than he remembers and has blonde hair on top of not having horse legs. Despite this, Percy is able to recognize him on sight and rushes to his aid, though he's quick to bring up the discrepancy when they meet up.
    Chiron: Percy?
    Percy: [relieved] Looked like you could use some help. Gods, am I glad you remember me. I wasn’t sure you would, in this world. You look, uh, different.

    Films — Animation 
  • Tanya Mousekewitz looks and acts different in every single An American Tail movie. Most prefer her design in Fievel Goes West.
  • The Lion King II: Simba's Pride:
    • Kiara at the start of the film. There are many differences (such as no black ear tips and being a different colour) between her and the infant at the end of the first film, who fans tend to call "Kopa" after Simba's son in The Lion King: Six New Adventures, which has caused a lot of Epileptic Trees.
    • Both Simba and Nala look different between The Lion King and The Lion King II: Simba's Pride, even at the beginning that takes place after Kiara's birth. Simba is bulkier and more similar to his father, while Nala's eye color changed. This has helped the theories that the film doesn't really take place after the original film, but instead Kiara is the second cub.
  • The Once-ler from The Lorax looks nothing like his original book counterpart. In the book he was The Faceless but in the movie he looks like a young, handsome man. His non-flashback design is truer to the source.
  • Batman Unlimited: Monster Mayhem, based on a kids' toyline by Mattel, both plays this straight and averted with the Joker. Played straight in the sense that he doesn't resemble that figure from the toyline these movies based based on, which feature a Joker in militaristic gear with jagged teeth. Averted in the sense that his depiction is far more in line with traditional versions of the character.
  • In The Angry Birds Movie the characters are radically re-designed from their game counterparts. Most notably they now have hands and feet!
  • This has often occurred in a few of Nickelodeon's movies based on their shows:
  • The character designs between the original The Sissy Duckling book and the Animated Adaptation are very different. Elmer has upright head feathers in the book but a mop-top in the special.
  • The Disney Fairies series has a few. Notably, Queen Clarion's design drastically changes from the books to the movies. She turns from wearing flower-petal dresses like everyone else into a taller fairy with a dress made of glitter and massive golden butterfly wings for no apparent reason.
  • The characters from Charlotte's Web 2: Wilbur's Great Adventure look absolutely nothing like the character designs from the original Charlotte's Web which it is intended to be a sequel to.
  • The CGI models for Vuk, his wife, and children look from A Fox's Tale look nothing like the original designs from Vuk the Little Fox.
  • The Angry Birds Movie 2: While all the other characters had at least some resemblance to their game counterparts, Silver looks completely different from her game version.
  • The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh: Piglet's cameo appearance in the intro to Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree has him looking completely different from his final design: He is smaller, his head is shaped differently, he has a small black nose, his ears are the same color as his skin, and wears a red striped shirt instead of the leotard-like garment he usually does. Ultimately, he was redesigned for Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day.
  • All the characters from the Miramax BIONICLE films look different compared to the toys. They were given basic things like fingers, emotive eyes and expressive masks and visible muscles under their armor, while some were drastically altered and reimagined. Various movie characters were actually based on unfinished toy prototypes, and some toys were based on movie concept art and altered from there. There were also pragmatic reasons at play like budget limitations. Makuta for instance uses the same model in movies #1 and #2 (this time with extra wings), whereas his two toys look nothing alike. Certain characters like Krekka or Nivawk only very vaguely resembled their toy counterparts.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Galactus from Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer was a huge cloud. He still ate planets, though. However, the cloud was lit up by periodic flashes from within, revealing shadows that looked like Galactus' angular helmet. Word of God states that the big purple guy is inside the cloud, to be unveiled when the Silver Surfer movie comes out. Which it won't.
  • Spider-Man Trilogy:
    • A common fanboy criticism of Spider-Man was that the Green Goblin looked nothing like his comic design. He wore green armor and had a mask more like a helmet (the "Weird Al" Yankovic song "Ode to a Superhero" described it as a "dumb Power Rangers mask") and didn't wear his trademark hat. Some photos have the long part of his head tinted purple to evoke the hat, but in the film itself, it's pretty green, making it look like Gobby just has a huge head.
    • The casting of Topher Grace as Eddie Brock (aka Venom) in Spider-Man 3 was pretty infamous. Nearly everywhere else, he's a large adult bodybuilder. The film version? A skinny guy who looks like he's 20.
  • Spinal Tap:
    • Most characters in the 1982 short "Spinal Tap: The Final Tour" were played by the same actors later to appear in This is Spın̈al Tap (even Paul Benedict as the 'twisted old fruit,' this time without his bizarre glasses), except for keyboardist Viv Savage. Rather than the curly-haired, slightly large version played by David Kaff in the final film, the original Viv is a much more energetic, thin, blond actor who remained uncredited.
    • The prototype Spinal Tap seen on Rob Reiner's 1978 ABC special look dramatically different from their 1984 counterparts, particularly Nigel, who has much longer hair and glam-ish makeup. However, it can be argued that this was simply a different era of their career than what was seen in TIST, and their looks matched their preferred style at the time.
  • In nearly all media featuring the Rutles, rhythm guitarist Stig O'Hara is portrayed by South African musician Rikki Fataar. However, when the characters made their debut (on Saturday Night Live in America, and Rutland Weekend Television in England), Stig was David Battley, better known as Charlie Bucket's science teacher in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.
  • X-Men Film Series:
  • Aldrich Killian in Iron Man 3. In addition to gaining major Adaptational Attractiveness, he goes from being a meek, middle-aged geek to a good-looking blonde with a strong build. This is actually a plot point, since he starts off as a meek nerd closer to his comic counterpart, but later ingests a Super Serum that greatly enhances him. The movie also gives him superpowers, which he lacked in the comics.
  • Both James Bond and Batman have been played by different actors with very different looks, even when the films suggest they take place in the same continuity as earlier installments (e.g. GoldenEye, Batman Forever).
  • Godzilla:
    • In Godzilla (1998), Godzilla was given a more raptor-like stance and a prominent chin. In fact, the new design was such a departure from the norm that it was later reused for a different giant monster character, simply called Zilla, which appeared alongside a more traditional looking Godzilla in certain media. However, because of copyright reasons, this design is still used to represent both the 1998 Godzilla and Zilla, with the distinction between the two characters being muddled by legalities.
    • Gigan in Godzilla: Final Wars Took a Level in Badass, as evident by the extra spinning blades.
  • Night Watch changes many of things from the novel (such as removing most of the magical elements in favor of pointless action scenes and twisting many plot lines). What most fits this trope is the appearance of Zabulon, the head of the Moscow Day Watch. In the novels, he is consistently described as an unassuming-looking man in his 20s-30s wearing a grey suit and glasses. Since that wouldn't look good on-screen, the character now looks much older and is Hell-Bent for Leather.
  • In Jem and the Holograms, Synergy was made into a pocket-sized Robot Buddy who communicates in beeps and blips – nothing like the the holographic woman that Synergy is in the cartoon. Not to mention that Jerrica Benton was portrayed as a chest-length haired brunette rather than the shoulder-length haired blonde she was in the cartoon. Similar case with Kimber, who was a redhead in the cartoon, although Kimber in the live-action version had some red streaks. Shana is also portrayed as black-haired and multiracial rather than purple-haired and African American.
  • In Fantastic Four (2015), Doom lacks the helmet, armor, cape and other characteristics of his comic counterpart, resembling a robot instead. This has been given the Fan Nickname of "Crash-Test Dummy Doom", and Todd in the Shadows once likened Doom's appearance to a "melting C-3PO". On the Fantastic Four themselves, human Ben Grimm is a lot smaller than his counterpart in the comic, and Johnny Storm has been given a race lift, no longer the blonde Caucasian in the comic.
  • Leslie in the Bridge to Terabithia is a ten-year-old tomboyish girl with dark Boyish Short Hair who dresses in unisex, plain clothes like tees and plaid shirts. It's mentioned that Leslie can pass for a boy. In the 2007 film she's played by the AnnaSophia Robb. She doesn't look anything like either her book or 1985 film versions. Leslie is instead a twelve-year-old with blonde bob-length hair and she dresses in bright, girly clothes.
  • In the second George of the Jungle film, George looks almost completely different from how he did in the first movie, thanks to not being played by Brendan Fraser. This being George of the Jungle, they lampshade the hell out of it.
  • Nermal in the Garfield film has almost nothing in common with his comic strip incarnation. Nermal in the comics is a smart but self-centered gray tabby kitten. Nermal in the film is an adult Siamese cat who acts as Garfield's dumb sidekick.
  • A rare historical figure example happens with Erich Ludendorff from Wonder Woman (2017) bearing no resemblance with the figure he is based off of.
  • Cats changes the designs of various characters from the traditional Cats play designs. For example, Rum Tug Tugger is leopard-print instead of a calico with mild leopard printing, while Grizabella is a dark furred tabby instead of a long-furred grey.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (2020): Aside from his clothes, Dr. Robotnik looks absolutely nothing like he does in the games; he's skinny instead of fat, has a full head of hair, keeps his mustache well-groomed, is more well-kempt, and even has a higher pitched voice. At first. Over the course of the movie, as he steadily goes crazy, he begins to look and act more and more like his canon self. By the end, he's gone bald, has let his mustache grow wild, looks much more disheveled, is gaining weight, and starts talking in a more gravelly voice similar to that of Mike Pollock.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Smallville:
    • Lana Lang is altered from a Caucasian redhead to a part-Asian woman with dark brown hair.
    • Peter Ross is white and blonde in the comics. In Smallville, he portrayed by a black actor with black hair.
  • The Sabrina the Teenage Witch characters barely look like their comic book counterparts, a fact that has been lost by many due to many qualities being added into the comics and due to Adaptation Displacement. Sabrina's hair is far longer than her signature bob haircut and is a golden blonde instead of a Mystical White Hair tier of platinum blonde. The usually green haired Hilda is a brunette, and Salem went from having orange fur to being a black cat. Hilda lacks a Gag Nose, Zelda is much skinnier, and both dressed in contemporary fashions instead of looking like traditional witches.
  • Saki in the manga Sukeban Deka is a tall, lithe, 17-year-old with pink hair. Her live action counterpart is shorter, younger, wider, and has black hair. When seen side by side they look nothing alike.
  • Code Lyoko: Evolution swapped the traditional animation of Code Lyoko for live action segments. Odd's actor doesn't match his original look or his CGI "Lyoko" design. He looks jarringly young compared to everyone else and is quite short. He doesn't even having the same hair colour as his animated version (having a brown/dark blond tone instead of light blond).
  • The Norwegian series Vazelina Hjulkalender invokes this trope with Santa Claus, revealing that his traditional look with a big belly and long white beard isn't how he really looks at all — he's actually skinny and has a thin, whispy, barely-there-at-all beard. For public appearances he wears a fat suit and a fake beard so that he'll fit the public perception of him, otherwise nobody believes he's really Santa Claus.
  • For some three or four episodes in season 2 of Mystery Science Theater 3000 Tom Servo was given a "haircut," giving him a thin tube for a head instead of the gumball machine bulb he has at all other times. The reason for the change was the feeling that Servo's head was too obtrusive during the theater segments (as opposed to Crow's giant beak, I guess). Fan complaints caused the change to be very temporary.
  • Superman & Lois:
    • Lana Lang is subject to this once again. This time she is portrayed by an actress of Moroccan-Jewish descent with black hair.
    • In the comics, Jonathan Kent has black hair and was a preteen before getting a Plot-Relevant Age-Up. In the show, Jonathan has sandy blonde hair and is {[Age Lift}}ed into a teenager.

  • Multiple characters received a revamp when they were transferred over from Dawn of a New Age to its Continuity Reboot Dawn of a New Age: Oldport Blues:
    • Amy Bang was a tough, pig-headed girl who's power- taken from Toad of X-Men fame- caused her to look like a, well, toad. In Oldport Blues she's much more chipper, attractive, and popular, and her power instead turned her into data.
    • Luna Black in the first thread was a slender white girl with a goth aesthetic and a Broken Bird personality. In Oldport Blues she's been race lifted to black, is a punk with some nerdy hobbies, and is more boisterous and confrontative.
    • Michal Harvins was chubby, wore glasses, and took his power from Blue Beetle. In the new thread he's skinny, doesn't need eyewear, and his power is changed so that he controls fire.

  • In the Broadway adaptation of The Little Mermaid, Ursula's iconic appearance is heavily altered, probably due to the difficulty of bringing her fanciful design to the stage (as with most of the characters). Here, her white wavy hair heavily increases in size, her tentacles are a slimy shade of green rather than black, and her skin, depending on the actress portraying her, is a sickly pale white as opposed to purple. But perhaps the most noticeable physical change is her size. While she still has, as Sherie Rene Scott (who originated the role on Broadway) puts it, "a giant, giant ass", Ursula is portrayed as much slimmer than her obese animated counterpart. In some cases, this could also count as Adaptational Attractiveness. Downplayed in the retooled production, where she more closely resembles her original design.
  • The Broadway musical version of The Lion King for some reason actually portrayed Ed the hyena's costume with Pluto's face!

    Tabletop Games 
  • The characters of Candy Land have gone through multiple redesigns. Princess Lolly in particular has changed designs, hair colors, hairstyles, clothing, and ages often. She's sometimes not even royalty.
  • Dungeons & Dragons has changed art styles a few times, most notably between second and third editions. A few monsters and races got significantly changed in the transition: halfings notably now look more like small elves than their previous hobbit-like appearance, and dragons all developed signature design elements—particularly blues, which went from fairly standard-looking dragons to having very large rhino-like horns and oversized ears.
  • When Mechwarrior Dark Age came out, numerous Battlemechs from BattleTech were used, but given radically different appearances, some to the point of not even being recognizable as the same mech. When stats for the original game were finally published, they established that the Dark Age machines were actually new variants of the mechs or, in some cases, actually new mechs that were built as replacements for designs that were no longer in production.

  • Happened all the time in BIONICLE, due to all the various transformations the characters had to go through in order to still be purchasable. This has of course lead to fan complaints, especially when the original Toa characters got redesigned into flying "Phantoka" and "Mistika" forms — the Mistika had it worst, having become utterly unrecognizable and lacking all of their former defining physical traits. This redesign was actually exploited by the writers, who explained prior to their release that the characters would be wearing Adaptive Armor but looked like their old selves underneath — except for Pohatu, whose color had to be changed from tan and brown to orange and gray because brown sets sold bad. In a later wave, they released a new Tahu figure that was, in-story, supposed to be exactly the same as the original toy, but, well, compare them.
  • C.A. Cupid from Monster High has skeletal wings and out-there hair and makeup, but when the gods reassigned her to the eponymous school of Ever After High, she got feathery wings and looked normal.
  • While Kenner's DC Super Powers figures were generally spot-on when it came to representing characters from the DC Universe, Orion was completely redesigned to accommodate his face-switching action feature. The resulting figure bore little resemblance to its comic book counterpart, with Orion's trademark mask replaced by a large helmet that left his face completely visible.
  • The Ultron figure from ToyBiz's Marvel Legends line is infamous among toy collectors for looking nothing like any iteration of the character featured in the comics, complete with a weird, rabbit-like face.
  • My Little Pony:
    • There are many examples in the franchise, but one of the most notable is the human character Megan from the G1 series, whose animated version is almost completely different from her toy; the former being a tomboyish farmgirl, the latter a preteen girly girl in a princess-like dress.
    • G2 stands out like a sore thumb, which is part of the reason it bombed in most countries. The series usually looks like small, Shetland ponies at minimum but G2 gives them a more realistic, "horse like" design. G3 promptly returned to the classic look with Animesque influence, while G3.5 and G4 use a highly stylized look. G5’s art style is a sort of halfway point between G3 and G4, combining the more realistic pony bodies of the former with the big heads and large, expressive eyes of the latter.
    • G3 reused some G1 characters (thus is why a few were able to be reused in G4). Their designs were completely redone. The orange furred and flaxen haired Applejack became a deep red furred pony with a green mane and a different Symbol in G3. G4 returned her to her original colouring because Lauren Faust took inspiration from G1.
  • The current design for Skipper from Barbie looks very little like the traditional Skipper. Her hair is dyed brown instead of its previous blonde and she's also hit puberty.
  • Some of the 25th anniversary Rainbow Brite redesigns are this. In addition to being given an Age Lift Moonglow has blue hair instead of light pink and wears a different outfit.
  • Some of the earliest Ariel dolls produced by the company Tyco following the release of Disney's The Little Mermaid are examples of this, with unflattering face molds and light auburn hair as opposed to Ariel's signature vibrant red. However, this was only the very first release, as Tyco quickly worked to improve their quality of work and released several more accurate Little Mermaid dolls that same year that better reflected Ariel's iconic design, with better face molds and increasingly redder hair.

    Video Games 
  • Zero's transition from Mega Man X to Mega Man Zero could be considered a drastic change. Justified in Zero 3, when it's revealed that Zero is actually Zero in a copy body. Played straight during the final minute of the game, when Final Boss Omega crosses the Bishōnen Line by...shedding off his enormous armor, revealing his true form, Zero's original body, which now looks exactly the same as his new one with a slightly darker color scheme. The reason for this change is due to the change of the character design artist. For the sake of convenience storyline-wise, Zero has always looked like this.
  • Alice's appearance in Primal Fury is drastically different from her debut in the original Bloody Roar. Can be justified by her growing during the time gap, though.
  • The King of Fighters:
    • Ralf and Clark were radically redesigned when they were reintroduced into this series from Ikari Warriors series, which worked for the better since the original designs were just generic Rambo-clones anyway. Maxima from KOF '99 was also a transplant from an earlier Neo Geo beat em' up titled Robo Army, but the KOF version looks nothing like the original character.
    • A majority of the alternate costumes in the Maximum Impact spin-off series radically alters the appearance of their characters as well. Falcoon, the producer and main illustrator of the Maximum Impact games, received flak for this, and even admitted he felt wary messing around with such iconic designs for the "Another" costumes.
    • It was then done again within KOF itself due to a massive Art Shift in the twelfth and thirteenth installments, with alterations ranging from slight details to changes in whole body structure. The most obvious cases are (again) Ralf and Clark, who both gained several pounds of muscle, more deeply tanned skin and are now headswaps of each other again (thereby undoing 15 years of evolution). Other design changes include Athena and Yuri, respectively 18 and 20, whose appearances were both changed to the point of looking actually younger than Little Miss Badass Kula. Kula is fourteen.
    • Protagonist Kyo Kusanagi, who started off as a masculine and rough-looking (but still rather handsome) Japanese Delinquent, largely managed to keep kept a relatively consistent design throughout the series despite numerous costume changes. However, in XIV he's now a slim, youthful and androgynously beautiful Bishōnen with a sudden hairstyle change, to the point many fans literally did not recognize him at first. Even stranger is that Kyo's concept art from the same game, drawn by Eisuke Ogura (the main illustrator for XII and XIII who was also responsible for the character portraits seen in NeoGeo Battle Coliseum), is very much in line with how he normally looks.
  • The Castlevania series is slightly guilty of this, though mostly due to the Art Shift between games and the fact that the original games were for the 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System and the only way to know how a character was supposed to look like was through the games' covers and manual art:
    • Compare the anime-style character designs of Richter and Maria from Rondo of Blood to Ayami Kojima's more gothic designs in Symphony of the Night, Chronicles, Lament of Innocence, Curse of Darkness, and The Dracula X Chronicles. (Kojima also handled art duties for Aria of Sorrow, though that game has slightly less of a gothic feel on account of taking place in the 21th century.)
    • Most notably, Dracula, who is featured in every game in the series, has almost as many different appearances within the game series, as he does in every other unrelated movie and comic, etc. This is justified by how he possesses a different body every time he reanimates. That and the fact they'd have to pay the Lugosi estate a fortune to use the most famous likeness of the character, coupled with also trying to reference any number of other actors who have played the character...
    • Castlevania: Judgment has even more changes, as a result of Takeshi Obata (re)designing the characters. However, this game happens in an Alternate Universe where the timelines have converged into one.
  • Metroid:
    • Samus Aran has gone through some changes herself. Only starting with Metroid Fusion has she started to develop a consistent appearance.
    • Ridley has some major appearance changes - while his design used in Super Metroid has stuck with some minor changes in later games, in the first game, his ingame sprite depicted him as a more humanoid dragon around Samus's height... and if that wasn't enough, the art for Ridley in the American manual shows him as this... thing which has zero resemblance to the sprite at all!
    • Likewise, Kraid altered his appearance in the change from Metroid to Super Metroid.
  • Most of the characters in the Soul series go through various changes, sometimes to the point that their default costumes are completely different than in the previous game. That said, most of the fighters are still easily recognizable and identifiable between appearances:
    • Presumably to make her look more mature and less anime-like, Xianghua's face was changed between Soulcalibur and Soulcalibur II, giving her smaller eyes, a larger nose, and removing her perpetual smirk. It didn't stick, and she went back to her original Moe facial features for every subsequent game.
    • There's Lizardman, who seems to take after another species of reptile with every sequel, picking up and dropping different crests, frills and horns with each new appearance. His actually being a cursed human might have something to do with it, and Soulcalibur V implies his newly acquired Cannibalism Superpower courtesy of Ares may also be a factor. Oddly, he commands several other lizard mooks that closely resemble his original incarnation.
  • The main character of Dig Dug, Taizo Hori, has this going for him in the game Namco × Capcom. This also happened earlier with both the cover to Dig Dug Deeper and Taizo's Super-Deformed redesign in the Mr. Driller series, though the latter style would be kept for most subsequent appearances, including Dig Dug: Digging Strike.
  • Tales:
    • Cless, Mint, and Klarth from the original Tales of Phantasia for the Super Famicom looked drastically different from their original character designs, if their face portraits were any indication, making this a possible case of this happening within a single work. All the remakes and other games featuring or cameoing the characters have used sprites that fit the original design. This was because the character designs were originally done by Yoshiaki Inagaki, which were used for the game sprites. However, due to Executive Meddling by Namco, the character designs were replaced by the ones done by Kosuke Fujishima, but it was too late to change the sprites at that point. The sprites were changed in the remakes to reflect Fujishima's designs.
    • In general, Summon Spirits, like Efreet, Gnome, Undine, and Sylph have almost never looked the same from game to game, though they hold on to certain themes (Efreet is a demonic burning beast, Sylph is a fairy, etc.). Gnome notably changed from a legion of lumps of dirt (Phantasia) into a big-nosed hamster creature (Eternia) between his first two appearances in the series. A more direct example of this trope would be Efreet himself turning from a vague fire monster in the original Tales of Phantasia into a clear red humanoid with a fiery head and arms in the remake for the PSX. The drastically different appearances of the Summon Spirits was once explained during a Skit in Tales of Symphonia where Sheena explains to Lloyd that the Summon Spirits can change their appearance at will and simply decide what they look like for convenience's sake.
  • Tokyo Mirage Sessions ♯FE has several Fire Emblem characters, who were redesigned to make them look more otherwordly. In-game it's explained that they lost parts of themselves in order to adjust to Forever War they've been locked in.
    • Chrom and Caeda mostly look the same, with the exception of new armor, Chrom's Glowing Eyes of Doom, and Caeda's helmet/visor being fused to her head.
    • Cain and Abel are cyborgs, with parts of them resembling their Animal Motifs.
    • Tharja has her arms fused with cape, spandex combining with skin, and mask grafted into face. Because of the first point she also has to levitate her staff. Her outfit is also predominantly Purple, as opposed to black and dark grey from the original.
    • Virion is completly encased into white armor and has large crossbows fused with his forearms.
    • Draug appears to be an Animated Armor. He also dual-wields axe heads, even though in original he used lances or swords and had a shield.
    • Navarre has purple Rapunzel Hair, has a mask, and his right arm can only be described as a length of coiled steel, as if he was an ARMS character.
  • In Sonic the Hedgehog (2006), Dr. Eggman underwent a drastic redesign, looking like a realistic version of his Sonic Adventure appearance, omitting the goggles on his head and his cartoony limbs. This was very quickly abandoned, and the cartoony Adventure design has stuck ever since.
  • Ladd Spencer (or Rad, depending on the version) from the NES Bionic Commando has been redesigned at least thrice already: the first time for the Game Boy version, followed by the Rearmed remake, and then the 2009 console sequel for the PS3 and Xbox 360. Only the Rearmed version looks anything like the original NES character. While Ladd from the NES game looks nothing like the protagonist in the arcade version, he doesn't count as a redesign, since the player character in the arcade game was just a nameless soldier (except in the American localization, which claimed he was Super Joe).
  • Double Dragon:
    • The series gradually changed the designs of its twin protagonists as the series progressed. In the original arcade game, Player 1 had blond hair and a blue outfit, whereas Player 2 had brown hair and a red outfit. In the NES version, Billy Lee wore a blue outfit and had reddish brown hair, whereas Jimmy wore a red outfit and had blond hair. Technos would try to depict Billy and Jimmy as distinct from each other as possible in promotional art, a practice which eventually made its way into the actual games in the NES version of Double Dragon III (at least in its cutscenes and character portraits) and later in Super Double Dragon (in the actual in-game sprites), which depicted Billy and Jimmy with different hair styles as well. Later games in the series made by other developers after Technos went out of business were inconsistent as to which style to use. For example, Double Dragon Advance and the iOS version used the distinct versions of Billy and Jimmy Lee, whereas Double Dragon Neon and Wanders of the Dragons went with the identical palette swapped designs and original hair colors.
    • The Neo Geo fighting game based on the movie featured radically redesigned versions of not just Billy and Jimmy, but other characters from the previous games, namely Marian, Abobo, Burnov and Duke. Billy and Jimmy in particular wore torn t-shirts and sweatpants as their normal outfits and their super mode outfits only vaguely resemble their original ones (they look more like fancier karate gis instead of The Warriors/Fist of the North Star-esque ensemble they actually wore in the old arcade/NES games).
  • The black-haired Ray Poward from the Appaloosa-developed Contra games (Contra: Legacy of War and C: The Contra Adventure) looks nothing like the original blond-haired character from Contra: Hard Corps.
  • Wipeout:
    • Wipeout HD: Fury is an expansion pack to Wipeout HD that replaces all of the vehicles with freaky, vaguely shattered-looking redesigns. They're almost completely unrecognizable.
    • Ditto with Wipeout XL, which replaced the pseudo-realistic homologized ships of the first Wipeout with extremely differentiated counterparts.
  • Star Fox:
    • The Arwing has a different design in every game it's featured in. Only in Command was it given a genuine canonical upgrade in the form of the Arwing II.
    • To a lesser degree, Fox McCloud's design. The shape of his head in Command gives him a significantly more stylized and cartoonish look than his Nintendo GameCube appearances.
    • All the characters look (and act) a bit differently to how they did in the original Star Fox. And the manual, where they were represented by actual puppet-like things.
  • Calypso in the Twisted Metal series has barely ever bothered keeping his design consistent.
  • King Boo in all appearances. Luigi's Mansion had him look plain horrifying, later games made him a normal(ish) goofy looking Boo with a crown who was just a standard King Mook. Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon has King Boo back to his regular scary self, though inexplicably with his Mario Kart: Double Dash!! voice. It's like Nintendo can't decide on a final design for this guy, though some have theorized that his Luigi's Mansion design would be considered too creepy for a game like Mario Kart, as Luigi's Mansion is Darker and Edgier than most Mario games.
  • Five Nights at Freddy's:
    • Even accounting for them being old and damaged animatronics, the Withered animatronics in Five Nights at Freddy's 2 look rather different from their appearance in the original game, with larger eye sockets, Freddy having top teeth, and Chica's head being two pieces. As it turns out, this is what they looked like before they were refurbished for the events of the original, which happen years later.
    • In Freddy Fazbear's Pizzeria Simulator, Springtrap has drastically changed his appearance following the ending of Five Nights at Freddy's 3. Most notably, his head now looks somewhat like Golden Freddy (or, as displeased fans may say, Goofy), suggesting he used (a) Golden Freddy's suit to repair himself.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • The FMV opening in remakes of Final Fantasy II depicts, in rough order of appearance, the Big Bad Emperor Palamecia The Hero Firion, The Big Guy erm...Guy, Black Magician Girl Maria (image mildly NSFW), and Black Knight Leon. And some mooks, but no one cares about them. See the opening here. and marvel at the differences. Leon doesn't get it too bad, Guy is badly altered but still basically "Guy," Firion and Maria resemble the actual character only vaguely, and if you hadn't been told beforehand that that was the Emperor, you would not recognize him.
    • Final Fantasy V:
      • This applies to all characters in the game, as Yoshitaka Amano's designs for the characters are all radically different from the in-game sprites. Galuf is a nice demonstration, where his sprite shows greyed-brown hair and a Badass Beard, while his Amano art has his hair tied back, completely gray hair and a moustache where his beard should be. Stuff like this is perfectly visible in the Game Boy Advance version onwards, which have portraits all based on Amano's art.
      • Faris has several designs. Her most well-known design is the purple haired one used in her sprites; however her canon design is far more formal and has blonde hair.
      • About the only thing Bartz's sprite art has in common with his concept art is that they're both young men who wear something that could be described as a blue shirt. Brown hair or white hair? Sleeveless or long-sleeved? Cape or no cape? Popped collar or plunging neckline?
    • Final Fantasy IV:
      • In the PSP-remake there is a jarring diversity between Cecil's field and battle sprites, from hair length and outfit to eye colour. Considering Cecil's menu portrait and other designs, the field sprite seems more likely.
      • The clash between Amano's art and the game's sprites is also present in this game, too, but on a way lesser extent than its sucessor. While Kain's case is only a palette problem, Cecil as a Paladin looks quite different from Amano's art. The DS remake, however, does its best to approach the characters' models to Amano's art.
    • Rounding off the SNES trilogy, Final Fantasy VI does a somewhat better job of it, but still has some notable outliers.
      • Terra in her concept art: blonde hair, cape, stockings. Terra in her sprites: green hair, no cape, pauldrons, bare legs. Unhelpfully, she also has green hair in her portrait. Her appearances in other media tend to go back and forth between green hair and blonde hair, as well as mixing and matching aspects of her two designs.
      • Celes's outfit between her concept art and sprites is completely different. The former: tight black top, yellow vest, pants, and arm coverings, white boots. The latter: green leotard and headband, white cape, silver pauldrons, blue boots. Unlike Terra, who tends to mix and match, Celes is more likely to swap between her two designs depending on the kind of tone her appearance is going for.
      • To a lesser extent, Kefka's field sprite is based on a piece of concept art where his outfit was mostly green, while his boss sprite is based on one where it was mostly blue and red. His field sprite also seems to be lacking the chalky-white facepaint of his boss sprite. Most future appearances seem to have decided the boss sprite is the "right" one.
      • The Magitek Armor's concept art and cover design depicts it as sleek, black, vaguely organic, and having two legs and no arms. Its ingame appearances are based on a different piece of concept art, and depict it as much more utilitarian and militarized, with an olive-green color scheme and large arms with two-clawed hands. The opening cinematic also gives them a notably humanoid stance that isn't really seen elsewhere. As ever, future appearances tend to go back and forth—though notably, one idea that seems to have stuck is that even if the other armors are green, Terra's armor is black.
    • Coinciding with the Tales Series example above, Final Fantasy is known to keep changing the summon designs from game to game while maintaining the basic image. Shiva is a blue-skinned icy lady, Ifrit is a horned fierce fire beast, Alexander is some winged machinery, etc. However, the details behind these descriptions change drastically.
  • The entire original Alone in the Dark trilogy is the only time Edward Carnby ever kept his appearance consistent. Carnby himself has his appearance changed about three times, and that's not counting the Uwe Boll movie but rather counting his ingame appearance after the boxart of the 2008 reboot!
  • Quake II's Strogg race have received a total makeover in Quake IV.
    • In the same vein, the Demons of Doom 3 only somewhat resemble their counterparts from the earlier games in the series (though 3 was a reboot, so...)
  • Dante's design in DmC: Devil May Cry bears little resemblance to the original Dante's. His hair is black and neatly-trimmed instead of a white mop top, his build is much less muscular, and his red jacket is in a completely different style.
  • Guybrush Threepwood from the Monkey Island series was originally supposed to be red haired as can be seen on the original cover art for The Secret of Monkey Island. However, the game portrays him with blondish hair due to the limited color palette. Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge has him with a brown ponytail and a beard. The third game, The Curse Of Monkey Island gives him a bright blond messy ponytail and this is how he's stayed for the rest of the series. The Special Edition remake of Monkey Island 2 has him with blond hair, which led to fan backlash.
  • Kid Kool's design in the box art for Kid Kool And The Quest For The Seven Wonder Herbs for the NES has him look like a tough character, with black hair, muscles, sunglasses, a white shirt, a sleeveless leather jacket, sneakers and ripped jeans. The Kid Kool character in the actual game itself looks completely different; he is chubby, has brown hair and wears a brown shirt and white overalls. Are we talking about the same character here? You can blame American Kirby Is Hardcore for this. The original version of the game starred Kakefu-kun (a TV star from the mid-80s), but since nobody outside of Japan had heard of him, they changed the cover of the localized version to that. Yeah.
  • In a bizarre inversion, the Fallout franchise mentions the Desert Rangers multiple times across the continuity. One is first encountered in the first game, where he is described as wearing a trench coat and gas mask, but uses the standard model for a character wearing combat armor. An actual suit of Desert Ranger Armor can be acquired over the course of Fallout: New Vegas, which looks exactly like Tycho's getup is described—but nothing like how Tycho actually looked in the first game.
  • Both Spyro the Dragon continuities and Skylanders completely redesign the purple dragon. In the Classic series he is a tiny, cute purple dragon with really small wings, in The Legend of Spyro trilogy he is more armor plated with a different personality and had another redesign to make him larger after a Plot-Relevant Age-Up, and in the Skylanders series he is smaller again with his original personality, but now looks much less cute and has larger purple wings and a much bigger tail spike. The fandom is divided about these changes, to say the least...
  • Super Smash Bros.:
    • The official art of Pit from Kid Icarus in the first two titles. Super Smash Bros. Brawl combines the two looks while making him look older, which also serves as an Early-Bird Cameo for Kid Icarus: Uprising look.
    • A similar case to the above could be made for the Super Smash Bros. interpretation of Marth, from Fire Emblem Akaneia. While he retains the basic design tenets, he looks fairly different from his appearances in earlier games and subsequent games. In the case of subsequent games, this was accidental - the Shadow Dragon redesign of Marth was finalised just as they'd finalised his appearance in Brawl, with neither development team having any idea of the other redesign effort until the SSB group came to show the Fire Emblem group their finalised Marth. This was finally amended in the fourth game, where Marth's design is mainly rooted in his depiction from New Mystery of the Emblem.
  • StarCraft II gives Jim Raynor almost a complete redesign. This is him in the original Starcraft, while this is him in the sequel. Justified by greater graphical fidelity and several years of in-universe time.
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • Emperor Uriel Septim VII has the dubious honour of looking completely different in every game he's in. In Arena, he looks like a stereotypical king, with short hair and a full beard. In Daggerfall, he's bald and clean-shaven, and in Oblivion, he's hairy again, but he now has shoulder-length hair and no beard. His chancellor, Ocato, experiences a similar phenomenon - in Daggerfall, he's bald human and has a goatee, while in Oblivion, he's a clean-shaven Altmer with a full head of hair.
    • The "Beast Races" (Argonians and Khajiit) have changed drastically over the course of the series, though this may have more to do with the enhanced graphical capabilities as the series had gone on.
  • Kid Niki from Kid Niki Radical Ninja looked more "radical" than his Japanese counterpart, Yanchamaru, but the Japan-only sequels for the Famicom made more drastic changes to his appearance.
  • Before the Marvel vs. Capcom series leapt into 3D with Marvel vs. Capcom 3, there were 10 Secret Characters that were Palette Swaps of other characters. 2 of them (both of which appear in Marvel Super Heroes vs. Street Fighter) don't look like the characters they're based on, despite their names.
  • The MSX2 version of Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake featured photo-realistic character portraits (most of them being obvious traceovers of popular celebrities at the time) in lieu of the more iconic character designs by Yoji Shinkawa featured in the later Metal Gear Solid and its sequels. While the game's renditions of Solid Snake, Roy Campbell and Big Boss vaguely resembled their future MGS incarnations (with Snake looking a bit older than he did in the original MGS), the original designs for Master Miller and Gray Fox are bit more jarring in contrast: Master Miller has a distinctively Asian appearances in the MSX version instead of being the blond-haired Caucasoid he was in MGS and Peace Walker, whereas Gray Fox is a Tom Berenger lookalike with bronze skin and brown hair instead of being white haired like he was from MGS and onward. Later ports of Metal Gear 2 replaced the original portraits with new ones drawn by Shinkawa, but this change was most likely done to avoid likeness infringement than any attempt at maintain consistency.
  • The video game version of The World Is Not Enough had several characters that looked nothing like their actors from the movie. For example, Robinson had a full head of hair and beard, Moneypenny had very short hair and a face that didn't remotely resemble Samantha Bond's, Sir Robert King was balding and had a mustache, but the most egregious has to be Q, who instead of looking like Desmond Llewelyn, looks like an overweight, younger man with brown hair and glasses.
  • Fatal Frame altered Miku's design for the western release, in order to make her appeal more to a western audience. As seen here, her head was made narrower and her eyes and nose shrunk a bit. Her hair lightened to a more noticeably brown shade, her lips getting a bit of color, and the Sailor Fuku designs of her Japanese appearance were removed. However, this re-design went over so well, it became the official design for the Xbox port and further appearances.
  • The Updated Re-release of Persona 4 features a new extended epilogue, set one year after the events of the game. Most of the characters have new outfits, but are otherwise still clearly recognizable... and then there's Kanji, who looks so different it's hard to believe it's the same guy. Seriously, show anyone who hasn't seen the epilogue this photo, and they'd most likely tell you Kanji wasn't in it at all.
  • Pokémon:
    • Red from Pokémon Red and Blue is a scrawny looking kid with black Anime Hair. His current design, which has been used since the remakes (Firered and Leafgreen), is more Bishōnen and mature looking (along with being a Perpetual Frowner in all his official art, in contrast to his original design which usually smiled). He has light brown hair in a slightly different style and his clothes have the same colours and style but are styled differently.
    • Many other characters have seen even more drastic redesigns for the remakes. Two notable examples are Morty and Sabrina, whose Generation IV onward clothes bear little resemblance to their styles in previous generations (more so Sabrina). Sabrina cut her hair and started dressing in a much more casual style, implied in-series to be to seem more approachable.
    • Several members of Team Aqua and Magma have been drastically redesigned as seen in Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire compared to the original Ruby and Sapphire. In this image from top left to bottom right, we have the Team Magma Grunts, Team Aqua Grunts, Courtney (whose design stayed mostly the same), Shelly, Tabitha, Matt, Maxie, and Archie. Maxie mostly averts this, as he still closely resembles his design from the original games, minus the widow's peak and of course, different attire and glasses.
    • According to early promotional art and adaptations such as Pokémon Zensho, Red's mother in Red and Blue had bob-length brown hair in a wavy style. By the remakes FireRed and LeafGreen she had been redesigned. She wears different clothes and has long blue hair.
  • Crash Bandicoot:
    • Almost all the characters got vastly redesigned for Crash of the Titans. Prior to that they had redesigns but they were far more subtle. Crash is shorter and with different body proportions. He no longer has gloves but has tattoos on his fur. Coco had slowly been aging since Nitro Kart but it's in CotT where she began looking really pubescent. For the sequel, Mind Over Mutant, she looks even older and dresses in a more tomboyish style.
    • Even amongst a whole cast of characters looking and behaving very unlike themselves, Tiny Tiger in Crash of the Titans stands out as bearing no resemblance at all to his previous depictions. In previous games, he was designed to resemble a Tasmanian tiger and characterized as a big, brutish Dumb Muscle and a Third-Person Person who also spoke in Hulk Speak, with no greater desire than to crush Crash under his feet. In Crash of the Titans, he's quite indisputably a normal, Bengal tiger, and is turned into a Mike Tyson parody who speaks with Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness and seems quite friendly towards Crash, only antagonizing him on Dr. Cortex's orders. A player not paying attention would probably just assume this to be a new character entirely.
  • Mac from Punch-Out!! never looks the same. In the NES game he was a very short (4'8) guy, with pale raven hair but come SNES and he's suddenly blond, and with a totally different face and haircut at that. In the Wii title he's revamped again to be darker skinned, younger looking (he is seventeen), almost a foot taller, and with a different haircut. It's even worse with the proto-Mac from the arcade game. He looks like a 20- or 30-something-year-old with bright green hair. The Nintendo GameCube version of Fight Night Round 2 features the player character from Super Punch-Out!!, who is erroneously identified as "Little Mac" (it's implied, he's just a generic boxer name). Super Smash Bros. Brawl for the Wii, being a proper Nintendo-produced game, used the actual Little Mac from the NES game. When Mac is introduced as a character in the Wii U and 3DS installments he uses his remake design.
  • Resident Evil:
    • Beginning with Resident Evil 7, the series use of the RE Engine opened the door for photo-realistic designs and face models, leaving many returning character barely recognizable compared to previous entries (which isn't helped by them constantly changing voice actors). As such, many fans to began to speculate that "Redfield" was a fake and not the Chris Redfield of previous entries (a theory since put to rest).
    • Resident Evil 2 (Remake):
      • Birkin's mutated form undergoes one minor and one major change compared to his previous depictions. On the minor side; whereas previous games depicted Birkin's mutated flesh as an extremely dark red, almost black in color, the RE2make instead goes for a twisted pink-and-white "fleshy" hue, less similarly to the skinned muscle of the past. On the major side, instead of mutating into a hexapedal beast for his second-to-last form, Birkin in the RE2make remains bipedal in that form, but visibly breaking down, dissolving into semi-shapelessness akin to his final form.
      • The Ivy monsters are so heavily redesigned that fans refer to them as an entirely new monster—the Ivy Zombie. Originally, the Ivy design consisted of a plant warped into a very crude semblance of a human outline, with a bifurcated stalk "legs", drooping vines for "arms", and a large pod for a head. The Ivy Zombie, in comparison, is visibly recognizable as a once-human corpse that has been utterly infested with parasitic vines and creepers that worm their way into the flesh, with the once-human head now splitting apart into a gaping maw.
    • Resident Evil 3 (Remake):
      • The Nemesis' redesign includes a distorted, nearly removed nose, an exposed heart with an armored plating and tubes covering it, and the replacement of its original Badass Longcoat with what seems to be a shiny plastic bodysuit covered in yellow Caution! stickers. This goes all the way into Divergent Character Evolution, as the Nemesis gained entirely new mutated forms in this game that never appeared in the original Resident Evil 3: Nemesis.
      • The Hunter Gamma has gone from a scaly, blue humanoid frog to a pallid, tumor-speckled gray bipedal salamander, complete with a stubby tail. It's also more forward-hunched in posture, giving it a silhouette not unlike a Pinky Demon from Doom, and its arms have dwindled into near vestigial appendages. Most startlingly, its massive mouth now features a set of four teeth-lined prehensile tongues, which it uses to ensnare and crush prey before swallowing it whole.
  • Schala in Chrono Trigger - a tall girl who looks around 16+ with long blue hair, long purple robe and some jewelry. Schala in Chrono Cross - significantly shorter, appears to be half the age she was before, and now has short blond hair and is suddenly wearing a white dress and no jewelry for no explained reason.
  • The March Hare and Dormouse from American McGee's Alice eventually undergo a major redesign for Alice: Madness Returns, the former being much more noticable.
  • Keith Wayne and Annie Hamilton from Power Instinct got major changes to their look from Gogetsuji Legends in 1995 to Matrimelee in 2003, but their moves remained the same. These 2 were the only returning characters from old games who have a change of look, which got back for pachinko game CR Goketsuji Ichizoku.
  • Heroes of the Storm:
  • The North American box art for Zeliard depicts what appears to be a stereotypical viking with Popeye arms. The main character in the actual game is wearing a completely different outfit, and is depicted as a fairly standard 80's anime hero in the cutscenes (which is also where you discover that the lines on his sprite's helmet are wings, not horns). Pretty much the only thing they have in common is red hair.
  • This was the norm for American and European box arts of Japanese games back in the 80s and early 90s as a result of the American Kirby Is Hardcore trope. Back then, when games were localized, it was common practice to "Americanize" them and redesign their characters to the point they became unrecognizable, creating a stark contrast between the character designs, tone and style of the box art and those of the actual game that baffled many gamers. So you ended up getting things like a game whose box art depicted an adult woman drawn in a realistic style with badass looking characters and elements next to her and in the background, when the actual game used a cute anime style and depicted her as a young moe girl. Mega Man is the most well known example of this.
  • Assassin's Creed:
    • In the early games, Desmond Miles' face changes slightly in every game so that he can more resemble whatever ancestor the game was starring.
    • In a more extreme example, we have Al Mualim's appearance in Altaïr's Chronicles, where he has a completely different face and outfit, and even a short black beard, in contrast with the usual long grey beard. You'd never know that this character was actually Al Mualim if the game didn't outright call him that.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • In The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, while Link's facial features look the same as always, he is completely lacking his iconic green tunic to the point that even the merchandise doesn't have it; he wears a blue shirt instead. Miyamoto has said that he doesn't even know if the tunic will be in the game.Probably because nobody specified which one was "the" tunic, since you can find multiple versions in the game based on previous incarnations of Link and a brand new one for the Hero of the Wild.
    • In a case of Early Installment Character Design Difference, this is why Link and Zelda look so off in the first two games. The Zelda in the original game has light brown hair in a medium-length hairstye and wears a simple pink dress. The "Sleeping Zelda" from the second game has curly red hair and wears a similar dress. Come A Link to the Past and the standard Zelda design began to emerge. Since then, every Zelda has been a blonde. Likewise, the Link from the first two games is the only brunette Link. These three characters stand out compared to the rest of their incarnations. This seems to have since been retconned into a timeline thing, as almost all of the dirty blonde and brunette Link's belong to the "Downfall Timeline".
    • The Link in The Legend of Zelda: Oracle Games,The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening, and The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past are the same Link. Despite this, Zelda's design is completely different between ALTTP and the Oracle games. She went from a yellow blonde to strawberry blonde, changed her hairstyle, and changed the design of her dress. Her Oracle design is Ocarina of Time inspired.
  • Discussed In-Universe in LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham. At the beginning of the game, Batman and Robin end up encountering Killer Croc and are shocked at his change - previously, Croc was just a normal LEGO Minifig, but after LEGO Marvel Super Heroes introduced the Bigfig, Croc was one of those who got that changed into one.
  • In Captain America and the Avengers, Juggernaut is one of the villains the Avengers face down. However, instead of his usual hulking design, the Juggernaut's the same size as every other villain and, for some odd reason, he has a red... window?... on his helmet, making him look more like a robot than the real Juggernaut.
  • We have Javier Escuella of the Red Dead Redemption series. Aside from his facial hair, he looks quite changed due to his Undying Loyalty to Dutch van der Linde since the last time we saw him as a handsome guy in Red Dead Redemption 2.
  • In Tekken 1, Kunimitsu, the kunoichi rival to Yoshimitsu, used the same base model and voice as him, leading viewers to mistake her for male, whilst the second game onwards gave her a more curvaceous physique and a proper female voice.
    • Yoshimitsu himself has undergone numerous radical redesigns over the course of the series, looking less human and more alien. E.g., in the third game, his head design resembles the Xenomorph Queen from Aliens, the fourth game gave him an insectoid appearance, complete with wings, and the latest entry depicts him with octopus-like tentacles.
  • Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne lampshades this when Max encounters his MP 1 self during a Dream Sequence.
  • Pretty much all Western covers from the Wonder Boy series. For instance, the Western box art for Wonder Boy in Monster World shows a heavily misinterpreted version of the player character's sprite, as apparently the artist never looked at his concept art.
  • Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town:
    • Carter has been redesigned from the ground-up and doesn't resemble the same character. He wears completely different clothes, has a hat on, has a different hairstyle, and has dark brown hair instead of dirty blond hair.
    • The Harvest Goddess isn't in the classic design she uses in most games. Her signature Odango Hair has been let loose and she's wearing different clothes.
  • Dixie Kong's younger sister Tiny Kong from Donkey Kong, when she first appeared in "Donkey Kong 64" she was the smallest of the Kongs and was portrayed as a little girl who wore a white shirt and blue overalls with a flower on the front, when she returned for "Diddy Kong Racing DS" she has aged into a teenager who looks older than Dixie, she now wears a sports bra and sweatpants with only her pigtails and rainbow colored beanie being retained from her original design.
  • In Spider-Man (PS4), many of Spidey's costumes you can unlock are given minute changes so that they look more high-tech yet retain the same designs. However, the Bombastic Bag-Man costume is the least like its comic counterpart. In the comic, it was a loose-fitting Fantastic Four uniform with no gloves and boots with just a basic paper bag. In the game, the uniform is form-fitting, retains the boots and gloves and adds in hand-drawn lenses over the eye-holes.
  • Giana Sisters: Punk Giana was heavily redesigned between The Great Giana Sisters and Giana Sisters DS. Her hair is red instead of red-and-green, she's ditched her mohawk for a messy ponytail, and she's more gothic than punk.
  • Kingdom Hearts II: Jessie, who has a completely different appearance in addition to the trademark changed backstory, if she is meant to be the same Jessie otherwise.
  • Cyberpunk 2077:
    • Downplayed pre- to post-release example: on the E3 2018 demo, we see that female V has dark hair with red tips, fair skin and quite a lot of make up. In the newer promotional materials, she's an Ambiguously Brown Dark-Skinned Redhead with a magenta undercut. Her male counterpart's design was kept consistent.
    • In the original tabletop game, Johnny Silverhand had blonde hair and was based on David Bowie. In the game, he's played by Keanu Reeves, so he has black hair and a different build. His design also leans into the "punk rebel" aesthetic much more than the original glam rock influence.

    Web Animation 
  • Parodied in Limozeen: But they're IN SPACE! where Mary Palorocini is actually drawn with red hair and a potbelly "because he's the comic relief!"
  • The Bratzillaz web-series doesn't give the characters the animesque Bratz-style faces the franchise is famous for. They also are Off-Model to their toys, such as Meygana's hair being less wavy than it should be, Sashabella's skin being too light, and Jade looking mukokuseki rather than Asian.

    Western Animation 
  • South Park:
    • Thanks to a much higher budget in the later episodes, this happened when Mecha Streisand made her reappearance. It's even lampshaded by one of the people activating her, who remarks that she somehow looks even more terrifying than last time.
    • Ben Affleck, Geraldo Rivera, Al Gore, and Conan O'Brien were also radically re-designed after their first appearance.
  • Captain N: The Game Master:
    • Pictured: On the top, Simon Belmont as he appears in the packaging illustration for Castlevania (specifically the X68000 version). On bottom, Simon Belmont as he appears in Captain N: The Game Master. He goes from a Conan-esque Pelts of the Barbarian to an Adventurer Outfit, his bare legs and sleeves are covered up, his color scheme goes from mostly warm brown to navy blue, his headband turns into goggles, and his hair goes from Barbarian Longhair to '80s Hair. Not only does he not look like Simon Belmont beyond being a muscular man with a whip, but he doesn't even look like a guy who would be alive at the same time as Simon Belmont (the original Castlevania takes place in the late 1600s).
    • Though not to quite the same extent, Mega Man is colored green on the same show (said to be a mistake from the coloring artist), while King Hippo is teal. The latter is particularly noticeable because the first season's opening features footage of Little Mac fighting a decidedly non-teal King Hippo in Punch-Out!; this article, which analyzes the show's character designs and their possible influences, suggests that this was a conscious change to make King Hippo fit in better with the rest of the villains.
    • In fact, almost all of the video game characters in Captain N bear little to no resemblance to the genuine articles: Mother Brain in the games was a giant cybernetic brain with eyes in a pickle jar, though contrary to popular belief, her cyclops design didn't come 'til the SNES era. In Captain N, she was still a giant brain in a jar... but with a trampoline-like stretch of face that had huge lips and the voice of Levi Stubbs. Part of this may be a misinterpretation of her NES sprite, whose horns and tube resemble a jaw with a grimacing expression.
    • The Castlevania III episode is particularly hilarious in this regard, making Alucard a Totally Radical skateboarding teen, and having a nameless male wizard who is presumably Sypha. Of course, Sypha being female wasn't revealed until the game's end.
    • According to interviews with the staff, the game companies sent NES cartridges for the animators to play through and little else; this, combined with the extreme difficulty of many of these games, forced the character designers to come up with their own designs for many game characters. While this explains the designs of certain enemies, especially end-game bosses, it still doesn't excuse the odd look of the heroes who are seen at the start of the game.
    • Doc Robot looked absolutely nothing like his game self, as they clearly misinterpreted his name as him being a Doctor Robot. In reality, Doc is supposed to come from the Japanese word "dokuro", which means "skull". Granted, part of the blame lies on the game's localization team, as a more accurate translation of his Japanese name would have been "Skull Robot".
  • When Cleveland Jr. first appeared in Family Guy, he was a thin hyperactive boy with a short attention span. When he was transplanted into The Cleveland Show, he was turned into a slow-talking dimwitted fat kid. In other words, he became the black version of Chris Griffin, except opposite on the intelligence scale. Lampshaded in the B-Plot for one episode where the new Cleveland Jr. explains that he is actually a secret agent who killed the original Jr. in order to assume his identity as a cover (that Cleveland Sr. didn't notice is relatively consistent with his parenting skills). Not exactly canon since nobody has yet mentioned this outside of that particular episode.
  • In their first appearance on Space Ghost Coast to Coast, where they spun-off from the Aqua Teens from Aqua Teen Hunger Force look different.
  • The New Adventures of He-Man are, well, new Adventures of He-man. But it's set in the future. The only characters from the old series to appear outside the first episode are He-man, Skeletor and the Sorceress, and they don't look or sound like themselves. In the early episodes, Skeletor is very soft-spoken, almost nice. This is in stark contrast to the verbally abusive Skeletor from the original show. However, he does sound less kind as the series goes on. His head looks less skull-like than it used to, and he has eyeballs instead of eyeless pits.
  • Alvin and the Chipmunks:
    • In the cartoon versions, the chipmunks are Funny Animal played straight. The films, on the other hand, make them look more like real-world chipmunks.
    • True from animated series to animated series. The Alvin Show chipmunks look different than the 80's series Chipmunks (lampshaded in the episode "Back To Our Future") who look somewhat different from the "A Chipmunk Christmas" version.
  • The narrow gauge engines in Season 5 of Thomas the Tank Engine don't look like how they did in the season prior. Many details were changed, and some engines had completely remodeled faces. It is said they made new larger models to capture more detail, though the main reason was that the smaller models were too troublesome to operate. The worst offender being Rusty, with a large drawn-out face going all over his front, as opposed to the earlier model, which had a smaller face. Especially jarring in Season 5, since the original smaller models are used for scenes requiring the narrow gauge engines to communicate with Standard Gauge engines, or take place on sets alongside standard gauge rails. The new models are used for scenes where the narrow gauge engines are on their own.
  • Toonami: As part of the block's Framing Device, TOM, SARA, and the Absolution would get redesigns every few years, usually with a short miniseries or comic explaining what happened. TOM's designs had a range of body types, but his One-Way Visor, Chest Insignia, and overall shiny and futuristic appearance always remained intact. TOM's fourth design instead had more of a Used Future appearance, with a more generic "cartoony-robot" design with a flat torso, thin tube-limbs, and most jarringly, a face. With the block's cancelation in 2008 and subsequent revival in 2012, TOM 4.0 was retconned into a separate robot, and a shinier TOM 3.0 (later dubbed TOM 3.5) was once again hosting the block. Later designs would retain elements of TOMs 1.0 - 3.0.
  • Pete Jr. looked nothing like how he is drawn now in his debut short, Bellboy Donald, where he is actually drawn like Mickey Mouse, but with cat ears. His currently accepted design looks like a younger and friendlier version of his father, Pete.
  • Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer in his cameo appearance in Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town, his appearance in Frosty and Rudolph's Christmas in July and his appearance in Rudolph's Shiny New Year. Rather than reuse his models from Red-Nosed Reindeer, they simply created new ones for those films, none of which resemble each other or the original Rudolph.
  • DC Animated Universe:
    • Every character in the Batman: The Animated Series was resigned when it became The New Batman Adventures. Most of which looked a lot more toony:
      • In Batman: TAS, Commissioner Gordon was fairly heavy, had a sort of "whippy-doo" as part of his hairstyle, and carried a pipe. In TNBA, he was positively gaunt in comparison, had a crew cut, and lacked the pipe.
      • Baby Doll looks almost like a completely different character in TNBA thanks to her becoming heavily stylized. Where she originally resembled a child due to her condition, she looks more mature despite that.
      • Other characters included The Scarecrow (whose lanky hobo look is now much more imposing with him sporting a hat and a noose around his neck), Poison Ivy (now pale-skinned, having a darker shade of green in her outfit, and missing the leggings from her original outfit), Killer Croc (now greener, and his facial designs look flatter), Catwoman (whose new outfit is completely black save for a pale mouth area and all-white eye holes; her civilian look was also changed from a blonde to a brunette) and Riddler (sporting a design similar to his 60's incarnation).
    • When he made a guest appearance in the final season of Superman: The Animated Series, Aquaman resembled the version of himself that appeared in Superfriends. When he appears later as a semi-regular character in Justice League, he looks more like as he appears in 90's era comics.
    • Madelyn Spaulding from Static Shock, a character who appeared in two episodes (the second season's "Attack of the Living Brain Puppets" and the fourth season's "She-Back!"). Her redesigned appearance for "She-Back!" almost makes her look like a whole different character. In "Brain Puppets", she had green eyes, a round face, and was slightly curvy, but now, she has black eyes, a leaner face, and a skinnier body. It's as if she lost some weight during her absence and was wearing green contact lenses all along. At least Kimberly Brooks voiced her for both appearances. It's made even stranger when newly animated flashback scenes of the "Brain Puppets" episode are shown in "She-Back!" and Madelyn is sporting her second design (with a different hairstyle and clothing), all while Static was correctly wearing his first costume.
  • In the second of season of Captain Planet and the Planeteers, after production changed from DiC to Hanna-Barbera, Gi suddenly has shoulder length hair.
  • American Dragon: Jake Long went through a radical Art Evolution between season 1 and season 2. Even accounting for the artstyle, some of the very redesigned.
    • Hayley originally was purple in her dragon form but season 2 made her pink.
    • Sara and Kara (the Oracle twins) are a pair of redheaded Polar Opposite Twins. In season 1 they are identical, wavy haired redheads however the moody Kara dresses in a punk/grunge fashion while Sara has a flower in her hair to show her girliness and a green dress. In season 2 Kara is a raven haired goth while Sara is a stereotypical blonde blue-eyed prep.
  • All Ben 10 sequels brought some change to the characters' designs and personalities, which was usually justified through a Time Skip, although some cases played this trope straight (Cooper, Charmcaster, and Elena come to mind.) Omniverse, on the other hand, takes place less than a year after the events of previous sequel Ultimate Alien and involves a large amount of flashbacks to the original series. Yet, in both the flashbacks and present episodes, aliens and characters are all redesigned to the point some of them bear few similarities to their model.
  • In The Real Ghostbusters, the more famous the actor in the movie Ghostbusters, the less his character resembled him. Winston Zeddemore's only major deviation was that he didn't have a mustache (which Ernie Hudson would ditch in the second film anyway), while Egon Spengler was blond and had a much different hairstyle, he didn't differ that much from Harold Ramis either. However, Ray Stantz looked nothing like Dan Aykroyd but was, instead, a stout redhead with a pot belly (before Aykroyd was known for being chubby) and Peter Venkman looked absolutely, positively nothing like Bill Murray but instead, a tall, thin "leading-man" type, although his voice remained similar. Animated Ray looks more like his voice-actor, Frank Welker. He's only missing a pair of huge, eighties-style bifocals.
  • A Pup Named Scooby-Doo: In the episode involving Daphne's room being stolen, Daphne's parents are shown to look reasonably different from her, with an example of her mother having blonde hair. In the second-to-last episode of the cartoon, Daphne's parents are seen again, except this time their look is that of adult carbon copies of her and even have her "There's no such things as ghosts!'' verbal tic.
  • In the 2006 Sequel Series of Biker Mice from Mars, Modo's nephew Rimfire is given a redesign. While still having orange lightning-shaped highlights in his hair, he has a different hairstyle and his hair and fur colors are changed from black and greyish-brown respectively to completely pale brown.
  • Ariel's sisters from The Little Mermaid look different in the original film and The Little Mermaid III: Ariel's Beginning than in the show.
  • Bowser (or King Koopa, as the show called him) and Princess Toadstool in The Super Mario Bros Super Show!. Princess Toadstool is based on her original sprite rather than her official art, and thus she looks like a young redheaded teenager rather than the more mature-looking, blonde Peach most fans know. Bowser's animated counterpart differed from his depiction in the games because his entire body was colored green instead of just his shell and he was bald and wore a crown instead of having fiery hair (again, this was based on his in-game sprite, with some elements of Wart mixed in, such as the crown).
  • In Spider-Man: The Animated Series, Blade made an appearance but so did a pre-movie Whistler. Whistler looked and sounded nothing like the character played by grizzled Kris Kristofferson in the movies. Animated Whistler was younger, cleancut, and voiced by Malcolm McDowell who spoke in his usual mid-atlantic accent. The animated appearances predate the movies by about four years. And the character of Whistler was created for the films (he had not appeared in the comics), so the writers of the animated episodes simply had access to an early, possibly unused draft of the film script. Both get a pass since at that time, there was no indication as to who would be eventually cast as Whistler, if a film was made.
  • Spiderman Unlimited: Carnage looked almost nothing like himself. At least the other villains' bizarre designs were justified by the fact that they were supposed to be merely counterparts to Spidey's foes, but Carnage was the regular Carnage from Peter's Earth...
  • The Simpsons:
  • Many of the characters featured in the DiC Entertainment continuation of G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero look very different from how they appeared in the original Sunbow series. Notable examples include Serpentor's snake costume being green instead of yellowish orange, Snake Eyes wearing a red visor instead of his grey one with slits, and Destro initially having a golden mask instead of a silver one. Being a Merchandise-Driven show, though, in most cases this was the result of a new figure for the character in question.
  • The Powerpuff Girls, as they appeared in the one-off special "Dance Pantsed," underwent a bit of a change in appearance. Their heads were almost square with rounded corners and their eyes didn't taper to the sides of their heads. Even Mojo Jojo looked ragged and emaciated.
  • Tiny Toon Adventures:
  • In Mega Man: Fully Charged, most characters with game equivalents, although taking mild to extreme liberties with their original designs, do at least loosely resemble who they're based on—except for Air Man, who is colored white, has two small fans on either side of his body instead of one large one in his chest, and sort of looks like a helicopter/airplane. In fact, many fans thought he was supposed to be Wind Man until his debut episode aired. The only things that really give him away as a reimagining of Air Man are his name, and his character theme being a remix of Air Man's stage music from Mega Man 2. He does share his game counterpart's Small Name, Big Ego personality, although that was previously limited to supplementary materials due to the games' barebones plots.
  • In the Captain Sturdy [adult swim] pilot Captain Sturdy: The Originals, Captain Sturdy's sidekick Ultra Boy is noticeably redesigned from how he was depicted in the What A Cartoon! Show pilot Captain Sturdy: Back in Action. Unlike his depiction in Back in Action, Ultra Boy in The Originals isn't balding, doesn't have stubble, and is a bit more attractive.
  • Xiaolin Chronicles: While nearly every character from the original series had their design altered in some way, most of them are still recognizable. Le Mime, on the other hand, looks little like the character he is based on. He has a different outfit, a more oval-shaped head and is bald, while his original series counterpart had black hair.
  • In The Batman: Joker looks competently different than he normally does, sporting long hair styled into dreadlocks, red eyes, large jagged teeth, and even wearing a straitjacket when he first appeared.
  • Young Justice: Several of the villains in the series look radically different from their comic counterparts.
    • Blockbuster and Mammoth both have very monstrous appearances, whereas in the comics they both look like normal humans who are just large and muscular.
    • Mister Twister is a normal human in the comics whose Weather Manipulation powers are the result of using a magic staff, here he is an android made by the same scientist who created Red Tornado.
    • Atomic Skull doesn't have his traditional flaming skull head. Instead he has a normal head with a wrinkled face and wears a helmet
    • Ma'alefa'ak is not the brother of Martian Manhunter. He is the brother of his niece Miss Martian, is much younger, and is also a white Martian unlike in the comics where he is green.
    • Lex Luthor's assistant/bodyguard, Mercy Graves, rather than being a normal human, is actually a cyborg with a mechanical Arm Cannon. Although because her outward appearance still looks the same, its left ambiguous exactly how much of her body is cybernetic.

    Real Life 
  • Charlie Chaplin once entered a lookalike contest. He lost because nobody thought he looked like Charlie Chaplin.
  • Former Chicago singer and multi-instrumentalist Bill Champlin went from look like this to this within the span of three years. Yes, that is the same guy in both pictures.
  • When Groucho Marx didn't have his trademark fake mustache, most people didn't recognize him. When he went on to host You Bet Your Life he grew a real one so people would recognize him.
  • Michael Jackson went through numerous nose jobs starting in 1979, as well as a chin operation circa 1985, massive weight loss in 1981, and a proven bout with vitiligo: a skin disease which created white splotches on his skin. His use of makeup and, later, bleaching creams would make his skin appear gradually lighter. That, in addition to different wigs and tattooed "eye-liner" made Michael look completely different by the end of the '80s, and more so as time went on. The Michael Jackson of 1978 would look completely unrecognizable to people mainly familiar with his appearance starting in the '90s.
  • Dolly Parton lost a Dolly Parton lookalike which all the other entrants were drag queens.
  • Older Than Steam example: Michelangelo's Moses bizarrely has horns on his head. This is due to a "Blind Idiot" Translation: in The Bible, Moses is said to have "qaran" coming out of his head after he came down with the Ten Commandments, "qaran" is a Hebrew word which can mean either "rays" or "horns". The intended context was that he had rays of light emanating from his head, however someone mistranslated this as saying he had horns grow on his head after he came down and Michelangelo, not knowing Hebrew, went with this and gave Moses horns.

Alternative Title(s): You Dont Look Like Yourself


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