Damian Wayne, the son of Batman and Talia al-Ghul, initially came off as a violent jerkass. But after he becomes the new Robin next to Dick Grayson's Batman after his father's death, many fans are surprised to find that he is becoming much more likable, thanks to some character development by Grant Morrison (his creator) and Paul Dini, who have effectively made him into the Tsundere youngest member of the Bat-Family who, despite his bravado, has grown to appreciate his new family (he has more-or-less grown to accept Tim Drake andStephanie Brown, and has admitted to preferring to work under Dick Than his father!) and has been told that there is much he still needs to improve on. But take notice that this is still at least a work in progress, as the fanbase at large has merely decided to changed their opinion from him being near universally reviled to seeing the character as a Base-Breaking Character.
Probably the biggest part of rescuing him from the Scrappy heap was when he started acting more his age instead of trying to pretend he was older and more mature. There's one moment in particular between him and Dick Grayson that shows how he's starting to open up more, has come to truly respect Dick, and is willing to show his vulnerabilities. It happens after Dick, Damian, and Alfred realize that Bruce really is still alive, and are exploring secret parts of Wayne Manor to find clues Bruce left for them in the past.
Damian: If my father returns... we can't be Batman and Robin any more, can we?
Dick: No, I guess not. It's a small price to pay for getting him back alive.
Damian: What will I do? Do you think my father will let me stay on as Robin?
Dick: You honestly think he'd put up with you the way I do? [pause] ...Damian, I'm joking.
This is also a reason people liked Colin Wilkes aka Abuse: Damian was interacting with someone his own age without showing massive disdain for the person. He even fist-bumped him! Given as Damian clearly was supportive of Colin being Abuse, many are hoping for his return to continue to prove Damian isn't a total prick.
Matter-Eater Lad of the Legion of Super-Heroes started out as a total weirdo with an incredibly lame power who was eventually written out of the storyline, first by going back to his home planet and eventually going into a coma after saving the universe by eating a "Miracle Machine" that was warping reality. During the "Five Years Later" era, though, he was re-imagined with a rock-star persona (Cool Shades and all), gleefully reveling in his own absurdity.
"All this roughhousing is giving me an appetite * CHOMP* and you don't want to give me *gulp* an appetite."
In the most recent reboot of the series, he bit a guy's finger off (the guy in question had electrical powers and was threatening to shove said finger through Matter-Eater Lad's eye socket and cook his brain — thus demonstrating the difference between talking like a badass and actually being one).
Brainiac 5: (to restrained villain) Move anything, and he'll bite it off. (We then get a shot of Matter-Eater Lad with a big-ass grin on his face)
Kyle Rayner initially received a lot of hate from Green Lantern fans (mainly Hal Jordan fans) when he replaced Hal Jordan after the controversial Emerald Twilight arc. However, over time, Rayner was presented as a likable character, thanks to Grant Morrison's run on JLA. Fans argue that under Geoff Johns, Kyle lost a good bit of his limelight, but given that he's got his own book (as well as being the sole White Lantern), it seems that he's still in a good place.
Once Rayner's creator, Ron Marz, got through his period of making him as unlike his predecessors as possible, he also helped temper his previously brash character quite a bit.
The filk-rock band Ookla the Mok have a song called "Arthur Curry" about what a lame hero Aquaman is. It includes the line "Not even Peter David can make me cool."
Superboy-Prime had, by Legion of Three Worlds, become a Villain Sue, a Straw Fan, and a positively colossal Jerkass. Then, there came Blackest Night, where he featured in a crazily metatextual story, became the butt of several massiveTake That, Scrappy! scenes, started receiving major repercussions, and was shown being almost heroic for once - trying to save the heroes of the DCU from getting killed off in the latest event, something you'd expect from a genuine fan. Some fans have since reevaluated him. Unfortunately, his next appearance put him back into has old Jerkass Villain Sue routine in the last issues of the pre-New 52Teen Titans.
Flamebird (formerly Bat-Girl) of the Teen Titans was one of the common characters to find on fans' "most hated Titan" lists due to her ditziness, her gaudy costume, and her one-sided obsession with Nightwing. Geoff Johns and Ben Raab attempted to make her a somewhat more serious fighter when she refused to accept Nightwing's demand for her to quit, and gave her a heavily revamped look. But this wasn't convincing for enough fans, as the character wound up back in limbo and was often just trotted out for crowd scenes. After her history with the Titans was erased in the New 52 reboot, JH Williams' Batwoman series went back to portraying her as ditzy and clueless to the point where she was brutally stabbed and left in a coma for several issues. Since her healing, she's now taken on the name "Hawkfire" and sports a Darker and Edgier costume and attitude about crime-fighting. Time will tell if it sticks.
As of the New 52; it would appear Vibe of all people is getting this; getting a re-vamped backstory, a serious power-boost, membership in the new JLA and his own ongoing series. Not too bad for one of the long time contenders of "Worst Member of the Justice League EVER".
Cable used to symbolize everything wrong with the comics industry; now he's a fairly popular character, since he stopped being a '90s Anti-Hero and gained more characterization than "uses huge-ass guns". It also helps that he was teamed up with one of Marvel's most popular characters, Deadpool.
An example of that gained characterization was when the writers finally came up with a reason for him to be more proactive (aka challenging norms publicly, doing much larger-scale, more-public things) in his work than Xavier. Originally, Cable was just "the guy who gets things done because whiny idealism like Xavier's doesn't work." A big reason he shifted was because people in the real world started disliking overly violent/murderous solutions to things. A real turning point was in Cable and Deadpool where Cable admitted that his need to change things in a big way now can very much be a flaw (Truth in Television too - people who go in trying to fundamentally change a system right away are usually kicked/laughed out very fast).
Not only does Peter David have a knack for this, he has a vocal preference for it. He's practically the patron saint of forgotten or tragically uncool X-Men. The entire cast of every iteration of X-Factor is made up of C-list and D-List characters that no one else wanted. Under PAD's writing, they've all flourished and grown into their own.
Layla Miller debuted in House of M as an obvious plot device, to the point that fans nicknamed her Layla MacGuffin. When PAD recruited her onto the cast of X-Factor, he transformed her into an Oracular Urchin, Deadpan Snarker, and frequent Creepy Child, suddenly becoming a fan-favorite. Even after a big crossover punted her into the distant future, fan demand earned her a one-shot comic.
Hard to believe, but in the early days of Chris Claremont's epic run on X-Men, a vocal group of fans wrote letters demanding that Wolverine be killed off (70s readers weren't ready for a '90s Anti-Hero). It didn't help that co-plotter and penciller Dave Cockrum didn't like Wolverine either, focusing his attentions on his own personal creation, Nightcrawler. When John Byrne (a Canadian) replaced Cockrum, he liked the idea of a major hero from the Great White North, and became enamored of the little runt. A Moment of Awesome or two later, and an Ensemble Dark Horse was born...
Daken was widely despised by the fanbase during his initial appearances in Wolverine Origins, but started growing into a fan favourite after joining the Dark Avengers.
The mainstream version has become quite popular, due to getting his own series, Scarlet Spider, giving readers an anti-heroic and hilariously foul-mouthed Spider-Man whose main superpower seems to be making terrible decisions (actual tag-line for the series: "All of the Power, none of the Responsibility"), who is still heroic deep down, but struggles with his Dark and Troubled Past and the fact that he really doesn't like being a hero and just wants to sit on a beach in Mexico drinking margaritas for the rest of his life. Its cancellation saddened more people than you'd think... until they found out he was heading for the revival of the New Warriors. After that, Popularity Power made him an integral part of Spider-Verse, the Bat Family CrossoverDead No More: The Clone Conspiracy, and the new Scarlet Spider series.
The creation of the Marvel Adventures line saw a lot of characters getting a much-needed face lift, but by far, the best-received Retool was changing The Wasp into Giant Girl. Readers that hated the former loved the latter, and readers who liked the former adored the latter even more. Of all the characters who were axed when the MA: Avengers series was cancelled in favor of a continuity reboot in MA: Super-Heroes, Giant Girl was the one most fans were saddest to see go.
Red Hulk was introduced by Jeph Loeb taking down one major league hero or cosmic entity after another, with no particular motivation and a secret identity that no one cared about. He used to provide the page picture for Villain Sue. After Loeb lost control of the character it's been explained that his Villain Sue abilities were due to a Deadly Upgrade by a group that was using him to dispose of their enemies, then die. It's been removed, and Red Hulk subsequently went through the process of being cathartically (to both readers and characters) beaten up by the people he trounced while in God Mode and facing up to the consequences of his actions. Commentators on his newer storyline have mentioned how it just feels weird to actually be interested in Red Hulk as a character.
A similar rescue has taken place with the Red She-Hulk. Originally she was introduced as a generic 'sexy bad girl', complete with giant guns and a ludicrously ripped costume, and a prime example of Loeb's inability to come up with good names. Since then the firearms and the torn outfit were unceremoniously dropped, instead putting her and the Hulk into a well-received two-person Love Quadrangle.
Maria Hill started off as Nick Fury's replacement after he went into hiding, and her main character trait seemed to be "Mega Bitch", specially in regards to superheroes, and she became one of the poster children for what was wrong with the Pro-Registration side during the Civil War. Then upon giving up her position to Tony Stark, she was subsequently changed into a much more likable character, one of Tony's closest confidants and quite badass.
Invincible Iron Man rescued her for a lot of people, as she was given a backstory, character development, and ended up walking away from Tony when she discovered that he'd do Civil War all over again because he thought he was right. The run eventually led to Maria racing into the middle of Osborn's Dark Avengers to save Thor's life. Even if people don't like her, she's definitely not a Scrappy now.
Spider-Man: Ever since "Spider-Island", Carlie Cooper has slowly gained more fans as Peter's ex-girlfriend than she ever did while dating him. At first, she was a classic bad fanfic Mary Sue of the "perfect love for the main character because I say so" type. Then she got in the hands of a writer who wasn't basing her on his own daughter, got some character traits that weren't clippings taken from Gwen or MJ, and you can actually go a panel without everyone telling us over and over and over how perfect Carlie is for Peter even when they're the last characters you'd expect it from. By now, Carlie... almost makes people not see red at the mention of her name. (Her origin and the whole One More Day thing mean that'll be the best she can do for at least a few more years, though.)
When first introduced, Carnage was not met with a warm reception since many had viewed him, as with comics during the 90s, as a poor man's Joker whose character shtick was being a violent nihilist who devotes his entire existence to murdering as many people as possible just because he can. It didn't help matters that he was meant to replace Venom, one of Spidey's most famous foes, when the latter became good. Then he was killed off by the even less likeable Sentry, causing many fans to actually miss the character wishing him to return. They finally got their wish when Carnage was brought Back from the Dead, and given much more characterization as a villain. With that as well as seeing his Inverted self in AXIS, Carnage for the most part has been cemented as being redeemed by many of his detractors and has since rivaled Venom in popularity, the character he was supposed to replace as one of Spider-Man's most infamous foes.
Dan Slott also introduced a scrappy of his own, Silk, during his Spider-Man run. Silk got a lot of flak for basically having all of Spidey's powers but better, and instantly becoming Spidey's new love interest thanks to said powers causing Fantastic Arousal. But as soon as she was moved to her own comic under writer Robbie Thompson and artist Stacey Lee, she became one of Marvel's most-liked superheroines. Largely they toned down her 'superiority' to Spider-Man (she's the fastest of the Spiders, but she's notably not as strong and her spider-sense is fickle, making her the Fragile Speedster of the bunch), and her Fantastic Arousal powers were completely retconned out, to the point she went from being Peter's love interest to being more Like Brother and Sister, and her personality was completely overhauled, turning her into an Adorkable rookie with huge anxiety issues, making her something of Marvel's counterpart to DC's Jessica Cruz.
The early years of the Fantastic Four had the Invisible Girl be very much The Scrappy. It was even alluded to in the comic book itself much to Sue Storm's dismay and despite her team mates jumping to her defense. Come issue #22 and her invisible shields were introduced for the first time and she was rescued from the Scrappy heap...
The Sentry was roundly despised outside of his original miniseries, being named the poster boy for Character Shilling, a massive God-Mode Sue, and a compulsive whiner with an inconsistent mental illness. His death didn't win him any favors, as more popular characters waxed poetic about good deeds he'd never performed on-panel. The Age of the Sentry miniseries ended up winning him a fair number of fans, primarily because it showed him actually doing the stuff everyone lauded him for, recasting him as a version of the Silver Age Superman. Unfortunately, since Age of the Sentry is pretty dubious in canonnote To expand: the Sentry, like other Marvel heroes, has in-universe comics based on his adventures. Age of the Sentry is basically Reed Richards reading those comics to Franklin with his own interpolations, so how much of it actually happened to 616-Sentry isn't certain. (It did all happen to an Alternate Universe Sentry, who featured in the post-Secret WarsContest of Champions.), plenty of fans didn't make the connection, and treat the likeable Sentry who teamed up with cavemen as basically a separate character from the one who ripped people in half.
He got a bit of a rescue on his return in Uncanny Avengers, in large part because the Void was nowhere to be seen and the Sentry was now entertainingly batshit insane in his own right.
His recent appearances in Doctor Strange's series, and his own miniseries, which actually explored his Robert Reynolds persona (distinctly ordinary guy in his late 30s who's getting by, working in a diner and living in a crappy apartment) and his Sentry/Void persona (which is kept in check by a kind of dream-machine, where he has adventures as the Sentry in his dreams in a kind of Silver Age utopia), his interactions with his former kid-sidekick (who's lost an arm and deeply resents that he doesn't have/no longer has powers like the Sentry's, and becomes the villain to get them back), one of his very few genuine villains, Cranio, and the end result: Robert merging the Sentry and Void personas, accepting the latter in particular, and becoming something... new.
The Superior Foes of Spider-Man has been doing this for a whole slew of c-list supervillains and superheroes by giving them fleshed-out backstories and personalities when they had once been generic, one-off crowd fillers or red shirts. Most notable with Mach VII (who wasn't a full on Scrappy, but not many people cared about him) and the Looter (who was widely seen as nothing more than a Silver Age embarrassment).
Daredevil villain PurpleMan used to be a symbol for lame supervillains with wasted potential, barely doing anything notable despite his terrifying power (aside from a brief couple of issues of X-Man, where he successfully manipulated the titular hero, before finding out that a bad-tempered Omega Class Psychic and Reality Warper is not someone you want angry at you). But then, Brian Michael Bendis revamped him into a frightening, ruthless, and amoral sociopath in Alias, and now Purple Man may never face Villain Decay ever again. His popularity as a villain only increased in Mark Waid's run on Daredevil, in which he gained more character depth and actually came incredibly close to defeating Daredevil.
Like Bucky, Doug Ramsey of New Mutants was in this position - he was a mutant with the ability to understand all language. Compared to the likes of Cannonball, Wolfsbane and Magma, he was just lame. He was murdered part way through the title's run and was seemingly resurrected into the form "Douglock", a combination of Doug with his old friend Warlock (it was later revealed that Douglock was actually Warlock with some of Doug's memories). Flash-forward to the 2000s where Doug was truly resurrected and heavily modified his all language powers to not only include computer language, but also body language. Doug wasn't a bad person - he was just a mutant introduced a few decades too early.
For the first ten years or so of his creation, X-Men villain Azazel was noteworthy mostly for being in one of the most universally hated X-Men stories of all time, Chuck Austen's infamous "The Draco". Between that and his status as Nightcrawler's father supplanting the popular "Mystique is Nightcrawler's father" fan theory, Azazel made far more appearances on "Top 10 Worst X-Men Villains" lists than he did in stories. But then along came X-Men: First Class, which reimagined the character from a second-rate Belasco wannabe into a blade-wielding Russian mutant (and all around Badass) who managed to be powerful but not to Villain Sue levels. It would have been easy to make Azazel his own Canon Immigrant after this (something the comics have done before with popular movie revamps) but for his next appearance, writers gave Azazel a reinvention of their own, fashioning him into a Large Ham pirate archetype. This change was received well, and while he will probably never be an A-list villain, Azazel's rescue from the dregs of Scrappydom seems complete.
Similarly, Blackhawk's Chop-Chop started out as a rather horrendous "Chinaman" comic-relief stereotype (even, arguably, by the standards of its time.) Subsequent eras gradually improved the character. By the '60s, Chop-Chop was recognizably human, and by the '80s, he was a competent equal member of the team in the Evanier/Spiegle run, and a worldly, sophisticated, and articulate character going by the name Weng Chan in Howard Chaykin's re-tooling of the series.
Simon Furman goes too far with this in his Transformers comics, rescuing Grimlock from being a brute with no consistent characterization to a cunning if arrogant and temperamental warrior who cares just as deeply for his own troops as does Prime for all Autobots, and who only uses lines like "Me Grimlock" because he feels intellectuals don't get respected enough. Thankfully, he seems to have learned his lesson.
Some people think Furman's approach to Grimlock has come right around and done the opposite with Grimlock. This could be due to him enduring a bit of Wolverine Publicity.
IDW's Spotlight did this for Wheelie, not only emphasizing his survival skills to a near-badass level (remember, the kid did used to live on a planet full of Sharkticons), but also provided a plausible reason for his constant rhyming.
Drift was rescued from the Scrappy heap thanks to fan-favorite writer James Roberts including him in his new ongoing series, severely downplaying his brooding faction-switching swordsman tendencies in favor of playing up his trend as The Fundamentalist with his blind loyalty to the Circle Of Light and playing with his constant habit of delivering pseudo-philosophical speeches about war and morality by making him Rodimus's speechwriter. He's even being written as being flawed and still distrusted by many (and not in a "poor Drift gets no love but he should" way), with Ultra Magnus even considering his likelihood of returning to crime "off the scales".
Drift is a major case of a phenomenon you see a lot in comic books: a Mary Sue is hated by all but the writer, then the next writer gets his hands on the character and opinion turns around. Evidently, it takes someone who can step back and figure out where he fits and who he needs to be instead of the creator who can't get past his "I adore him, so, you must too, and I'll keep him onscreen 24/7 until you do!" feelings about his pet.
A weird case took place with Getaway. When introduced, he was a reasonably badass spy and escape artist who worked with Skids before. In the second "season", after Dark Cybertron, he became widely hated for creeping on and grooming Tailgate. At no point in his rescue from the Heap did he become a better person, though; instead, Roberts made him even more of an asshole and unambiguously positioned him as a villain, and even the people who hated him became more willing to put up with his presence in the hope of something bad happening to him eventually. Which it did, in case you were wondering.
Virtually every character in Warren Ellis's Stormwatch. Ellis deepened the characterization and turning the focus somewhat away from action. Ellis's run on the title is now considered one of the most important in comic book history and one of the best of the nineties. Most of the characters ended up dead anyway in the crisis crossover.
Ian Flynn's run on the Sonic the Hedgehog comic series has done this for a good number of characters. Some of these include turning Sonic's Evil Twin, err, Evil Sonic, into a more distinctive character named Scourge. He's also managed to do this for the almost universally despised Monkey Khan, turning him from an obnoxious Journey to the West parody into a more well rounded, sympathetic, and tragic character.
Though his degree of success is debatable, he is also blatantly trying to do this to Princess Sally, subverting her Positive Discrimination status by having more moments she admits to making a mistake. The bad blood received from slapping Sonic and breaking up with him in public also seems attempted to be rectified, with a couple of conversations where she discusses the situation with another, blatantly ashamed and remorseful over how she acted. Many fans do tend to agree that the Continuity Reboot ended up making Sally much better, dumping the baggage the previous 250 issues gave her and made her a much more daring Action Girl than she was before. It also helps that many of her diehard fans make articles and Youtube videos dedicated to defending her from any hatred she has received in the past by using swift logic to successfully debunk any of the major reasons (and some of the most ridiculous reasons as well) why many people hate her, including the issue where she slapped Sonic out of anger.
To a degree, Shadow the Hedgehog and Rouge the Bat. After their appearances for the Sonic Adventure 2 issue, they rarely appeared elsewhere and it seemed that Bollers and Penders had absolutely no idea what to do with them, relegating them to either background status or as villains. This was made even worse when there was no adaptation for Sonic Heroes, thus their more heroic natures couldn't be explored. It would take Ian's takeover to have them pull a HeelFace Turn and later become the much beloved Team Dark.
Jetta was always the most controversial Misfit by far due to her attitude and because she was a Jerkass even towards even her bandmates. However, her comic incarnation is possibly even more popular than Roxy. Her ladette qualities and redesign make her quite appealing to fans. Her negative aspects are also heavily toned down.
Rio has been toned down considerably. He isn't in love with Jem, is no longer a hypocritical asshole who rants about how he hates liars, no longer has an attitude, and isn't overly jealous towards Jerrica. This leaves him a much more likable character to fans.
Kimber was often seen as annoying in the original show because she was the one with the catchphrase and she was the most immature member ofher band. She's still an immature Genki Girl but is less bratty than before and her peppiness comes off as more endearing. She also doesn't cheat on her lovers anymore; not that she Really Gets Around anymore (she's exclusively into her girlfriend Stormer). If anything, Kimber is now the most popular Hologram member.
Aja and Shana weren't scrappies, but they weren't too well-liked as they were Out of Focus compared to Jerrica and Kimber. The comics gave them expanded roles and more personality.
The comics give the terribly Out of Focus Raya some much needed spotlight, which has caused fans to like her for her sweetness and cute design.
Rapture was a Flat Character in the original cartoon due to the fact the series was Cut Short in the season she was introduced in. Fans typically disliked her due to her being a con-artist with no real good points. The comic helped her image by giving her more characterization.
Paperinika / Super Daisy, Daisy Duck's superhero alter-ego and Distaff Counterpart of Paperinik / Duck Avenger. While abandoned for years by Italian authors after a rather bizarre story, Brazilian authors made her pretty much The Ace who constantly one-upped and humiliated Paperinik. As Paperinik was introduced as Donald's chance to escape from his regular Butt-Monkey / Chew Toy status, these stories did not go over well with Italian fans. In Ultraheroes, Paperinika's no longer The Ace, and the two develop into a bickering but efficient Battle Couple with some ironic romantic tension (as they don't know they're already romantically involved in their civilian identities), which resonates much better with the fans.