Alternative Character Interpretation/Western Animation

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  • The New Adventures of Batman episode "Legends of the Dark Knight" had four kids giving their own interpretations of Batman, from the Bill Finger/Bob Kane version to Frank Miller's version to Joel Shumacher's version to the Bruce Timm version, and one who thought he was a bat-like monster similar to Manbat.
  • In regards to Gargoyles, Word of God has stated several viewpoints for Finella (who was introduced in the Avalon 3 parter). Did she aid Katherine and the others because she was disgusted by Constantine's actions? Or would she have gone along with Constantine had he not spurned her for Katherine?
  • The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy:
    • Perhaps Nergal is the result of what happens to Jon Irenicus at the end of Baldur's Gate II. Or, perhaps more creepily, he is Grandfather Nurgle from Warhammer Fantasy Battle: it strikes all the points - utterly disgusting and a family man - and he even has Nurglings. The only aspect they left out were the horrifying diseases, which wouldn't gotten by, even in this show.
    • Is Mandy a normal (if creepy) girl with bizzare abilities, or a Humanoid Abomination?
  • Teen Titans.
    • Terra: some fans see her as a wonderful person who is constantly misunderstood and persecuted (often times they are also Beast Boy/Terra shippers), or as a horrible bitch who betrayed the Titans and deserved what she got at the end of Season 2. (Usually Beast Boy/Raven shippers.) Few people realize what she was actually meant to be: a Broken Bird and Anti-Villain with complicated motives and very deep emotional issues. So she's a normal 15-year-old girl. Albeit one with geokinetic powers.
    • There are people who believe that Slade is really Batman, secretly testing Robin in season 1 and then playing a Batman Roulette against Trigon through the rest of the series. The only contradiction is his treatment of Terra in season 2... unless you think that she was on it and in reward she got fake death, depowering and memory wipe, so she can have a normal life.
  • The Simpsons has this with a number of characters; it just naturally goes with more than 20 seasons, Negative Continuity, and the Rule of Funny in play.
    • Homer is either naturally smart but crippled mentally by a crayon in his brain, or victim to the Simpsons' "stupidity gene" that passes on the Y Chromosome. But he couldn't have been that high functioning to think that was a good idea. Even so in the episode showing the simpson gene Homer's stupidity didn't kick in until two years later.
    • Bart usually has what seems to be ADHD, but his intelligence varies from somewhat dumb to "genius-level rivaling Lisa when treated for ADHD." Meaning the Simpson gene may only be a strong version of ADHD.
    • Maggie might be much more versatile and intelligent than the average infant: we get hints of it, such as orchestrating a Great Escape sort of plan to recover her pacifier from the Ayn Rand School for Tots, shooting someone trying to kill Homer, and making "E=MC2" out of building blocks.
  • Family Guy:
    • Meg Griffin: Practically everyone in the show and a good number of fans hate her. But does she deserve it? On the one hand, she frequently whines about how "ugly" and "fat" she is, and she's willing to do anything to gain acceptance by her peers and family. To cope with the constant abuse and ridicule that her family dishes out, coupled with the bullying at the hands of Connie, Meg has engaged in a number of questionable and destructive actions. Some of these include threatening to kill herself, doing drugs, throwing up after meals, and cutting herself. However, fans believe that she's just doing it to get attention. Maybe the reason Meg cuts herself is that the physical pain of it and watching the wound heal brings some sort of relief and comfort from all the emotional abuse she gets.
    • There's a slight Aversion of this trope with Peter-- they mention his being retarded *just enough* that people who pay attention know this is the cause of most of his jerk ass behavior. Others who are less avid fans of the show fall into the interpretation that Peter is just a stupid jerk (faulting him for things a person who was mentally handicapped in real life would probably be forgiven for)
    • Stewie Griffin switches from evil murdering genius whose inventions could help him conquer the world, jack of all trades in baby form, flaming homosexual, and innocent baby so much that he seems to be experiencing a Joker-style multiple personality disorder.
    • One episode had an in-universe example: Quagmire, who is a horrible, selfish person, points out in specific detail why Brian may not be the bastion of logic and morality that the viewers have been led to believe.
  • The Flintstones
    • The Great Gazoo could be the most evil character ever created. He was sent to earth as punishment for creating a doomsday device that would destroy the universe. And he is cute, not menacing. Obvious evil is easy to spot and thus not as dangerous; insidious or hidden evil is much worse.
    • The Flintstones has been interpreted as a Post Apocalyptic world ("bombed back to the stone age") who are trying to rebuild almost-forgotten technology with what they have available.Which makes a lot more sense if you consider that they celebrate Christmas and seem to have similar cultural norms to modern Americans.
  • Rampage of Transformers: Beast Wars. Is he a twisted, sinister monster, or a tortured, tormented misfit? "Both" is an option, but between the other two options, there was a voice for each... and there still will be if you bring up the topic in the right place.
    • G1 Starscream: an angry, conniving traitor to Megatron because he wants power for his own sake, or a Decepticon that just wants attention? Very special attention? From Megatron? The in-universe explanation is that, while Starscream is a lousy traitor, Megatron keeps him because he is so damn good at his job.
    • Megatron in various continuities gets this one also: Is he a freedom fighter trying to raise his fellow second-class citizen Decepticons up against the oppressive Autobot regime, or is he a tyrannical dictator whose rule will spell ruin for all of Cybertron and whose actions are why the Autobots come down so hard on his people to begin with? (Guess which one tends to be canon.)
    • Is Grimlock really stupid? Or does he just pretend to be stupid to throw his enemies off guard? Another interpretation is that Grimlock is quite intelligent but is unable to speak properly due to a malfunction in his speech processor, giving him a variant of Broca's aphasia.
    • The idea of Megatron-as-freedom-fighter has the most support in Transformers Animated, in which the Decepticons have lost the war and are a scattered, oppressed minority. We see only a handful of his minions; the majority of these are dead loyal, dislike the Autobots for whatever reason, or are Starscream. The Autobot Elite Guard, on the other hand, has a petty lying egomaniac as one of its most trusted members; and Ultra Magnus seems more interested in keeping the peace than doing what's right. While the protagonist Autobots aren't bad guys, as a faction the Decepticons seem to come out more sympathetic, even though they are more warlike and power-hungry as individuals.
    • There have been times where Megatron truly seemed to show concern for his underlings.
    • Sentinel Prime suffered severe psychological damage in the incident where Elita-1 was lost. Since then, rabid fear of organics and guilt over leaving Elita-1 to die have been gnawing away at his neural nets, turning him into a paranoid wreck who's convinced he's the Only Sane Man. Or just some self-centered jerk who just won't take responsibilities for his actions. A slight riff on the former: Sentinel and Elita-One were romantically involved—you see his arm around her waist and he puts in every effort he can to protect her, even covering her and Optimus’ retreat. When she fell to her “death,” he’s willing to throw himself into a damn inferno to save her. Yeah, he took her death pretty hard, especially since his and Optimus’ rule-breaking (going to that off-limits planet) caused Elita's death. Now, in the present, he’s convinced that rule-breaking will always cause heartbreak. That’s why he’s so obsessed with regulations and order, to keep others from suffering that same loss. He wants to do good in that regard, but he does need a little guidance; after you realize that, it’s hard to hate him. Alternate Character Interpretation, indeed.
    • Some more Transformers Animated specific examples: Do Lugnut and Blitzwing merely work together, or are they genuinely friends? Is Blitzwing crazy because he's a triple-changer, or is he able to triple-change only because he's crazy? Or are his nuttiness and ability to triple-change unrelated? Derrick J. Wyatt stated that becoming a triple-changer means going crazy in response to a question on his blog.
    • Tankor in Beast Machines. The writers intended him to have chosen evil of his own free will after having been twisted by his time under Megatron's control. A popular fan theory is that he wasn't evil -- his actions were caused by input from his awakened spark being filtered through a shell programme. Both interpretations fit what we see on the screen. (Given that, upon his death, he seemed genuinely repentant, the Shell Program makes a lot of sense.)
  • Invader Zim::
    • Zim
      • Merciless Omnicidal Maniac... or just an ambitious little guy who is in it For Science! and affection? Some of the flashbacks show him as being a loving little smeet, latching on to the cold and unfeeling robotic arm for love. The Irken lifestyle would have left him starved for that. Since it glorified conquest and conquerors as worthy of love and admiration, he set out to be one hoping he'll be loved for it. His fiercest rival Dib and he are forced into alliances so often that they're practically friends! Also, Zim could kill Dib easily; no one on that Crapsack World would notice Dib's absence or care enough to do anything if they did. It's worth noting that, in the episode GIR goes haywire, he goes out of his way to reprogram the cop who discovers his base and alienness rather than killing him; by the end, he lets him go -- into an ocean full of sharks, but that part was unintentional. In short, Zim is intellectually into the idea of destroying and conquering the Earth, but the heart he is not supposed to have is not in it. It's speculation, but if the series had continued after Zim realized that the Almighty Tallest hates him, then he would likely switch to the side of humans completely... or start gunning them down actively.
      • Zim is a scientific genius in all things technological and lacks only one important characteristic -- common sense -- because he was given a faulty PAK, as shown in the unaired episode "The Trial."
    • Dib can be (and has been) interpreted as a heroic defender of Earth struggling against the Bats that surround him, a hopelessly deluded fool who can't realise that his Crapsack World isn't worth saving, a nutcase who's too excited that he found an alien to notice Zim's blinding incompetence, a selfish and vindictive little boy who is willing to do anything to receive the praise he feels he deserves, an equally affection-starved and sensitive soul for whom fighting Zim is the only thing that gives his existence purpose, or any combination of the above.
    • Though less common than either of the above, Gaz. Many choose to see her sympathetically, suggesting her overly-violent tendencies are the result of her father's neglect and that, despite her violence toward him, she truly loves her brother Dib on some level. Others think of her in less optimistic terms...
    • Even the Ensemble Darkhorse Tak is prone to this. Some see her as a total bitch; others put her on Woobie levels comparable to Dib. Nearly every character is subject to this.
    • GIR is normally seen as a loveable idiot who is too easily distracted to be much of a threat to anyone (at least intentionally). But there are moments in the series that suggest that he is less The Ditz and more a psychotic overlord in waiting. For reference, see "GIR Goes Crazy and Stuff," in which he's left alone and almost takes over the Earth by himself -- and specifically the terrifying moment where we get to see the world through his eyes: A bunch of sausages grow hats and canes and say: "Dance with us, Gir. Dance with us into oblivion."
    • The Invader Zim fandom even has alternative interpretations for minor characters. Is Dwicky genuinely trying to help Dib, or is he a constantly smiling sadist who thinks Dib is crazy? Did Dwicky believe Dib and lie to his coworker, or did he think the kid was lying from the start? Is Gretchen a cute girl too shy to reveal her feelings for the class weirdo or a deranged stalker who lacks the social skills to talk to Dib? Is Paranormal Investigator Bill right in his views of the paranormal (which on this show isn't much of a stretch), or was he deliberately trying to keep the twelve year old kid he was stuck with away from danger? Is he competent? Is Professor Membrane a jerk more obsessed with work than anything else, or is he just trying to leave his kids a legacy (and riches) via his inventions to better than world? Honestly, fandom takes this trope and runs with it.
    • Skoodge usually seems pretty harmless, but he may be the most terrifying character in the show. Not only was he the first invader to conquer a planet, but it was the planet of the slaughtering rat people! Then he survives being shot out of a cannon, and (for a while, at least) survives being attacked by the hogulus, and lives for a substantial period of time without his PAK! Skoodge is either really lucky, or an adorable yet evil badass who can survive almost anything.
    • The kid in Dib's class with the head with two bits of red hair sticking out and said Dib accused him of being an alien in "Mysterious Mysteries". His head is the shape of the Martian from the episode where Zim finds out Mars is an abandoned battleship. Maybe Dib was on to something?
  • Scooby Doo:
    • Shaggy being a marijuana smoker, based on his being portrayed as constantly hungry, usually shown wearing a dirty t-shirt and a scraggly beard, riding around in a psychedelically painted van, and having conversations with his dog. The Movie plays with this. An episode of Harvey Birdman also played with it, lampshading the theory when they get falsely arrested for being pot-smokers. Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back also plays with this: Jay and Silent Bob are picked up by the Scooby Doo gang and turn them on to "Doobie Snacks."
    • The most popular interpretation for the other characters is that Fred and Daphne always run off together to have sex, and Velma is a lesbian. (Velma being a lesbian started in reference to Sheila James Kuehl, the actress who played Zelda Gilroy, a character from "Dobie Gillis" on whom Velma was based. Keuhl was the first openly gay person to be elected to the California Senate.)
    • Alternatively, Velma is straight. But she's traveling with a dog, a pothead, a lesbian, and a gay man (the last two acting as beards for each other).
    • Scrappy-Doo could be a sympathetic villain. In the cartoons, he idolized his Uncle Scooby; in the live action movie, he wanted to destroy humanity with a plague of monsters. Maybe he found out what a coward Scooby was and that his own parents didn't want him around. He may have a genetic disorder that kept him at midget canine status, which made him twisted when he grew up. The bloated ego in the movie could be his need for attention and affection.
  • Disney's Kim Possible: Several of the lead characters of have multiple alternate interpretations. Much of this is a result of the show's Word of God professed "continuity by accident."
    • Kim Possible: Action Girl, and her literal catchphrase of "Anything is Possible for a Possible" applies. Alternately, she might be a Canon Sue, or a Little Miss Badass, or a Bratty Teenage Daughter; the real stars of the show are her human friends and foes, especially her Sidekick and later boyfriend Ron Stoppable. Then there's a Subtext with her nemesis and Evil Counterpart Shego. Foe Yay cuts both ways, especially when the makers respond to many fans' love of it. Also Kim's braggy "I can do anything" attitude could be interpreted as arrogant to the point that it is boarderlining on being Hubris.
    • Ron Stoppable:
    • Shego is most often the Dark Action Girl to Kim's Action Girl (she's the page image for that article); but she can also be the Classy Cat Burglar or (even better) the Dark Chick. These don't necessarily overlap in her Alt Interpretations, especially in Slash Fic, where she's the show's queen of Draco in Leather Pants. These interpretations probably come from her having the least developed background of any of the main characters.
    • Other characters, especially Kim's parents and her Arch Enemy, Dr. Drakken, also have multiple wide-ranging interpretations depending on which fans of the show you ask.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • Uncle Iroh comes off as a buffoon as often as he does a wise old mentor. But the buffoonery is in such diametric opposition to a long and storied career in which he was, until Ba Sing Se, an extremely successful general that the simplest explanation is that he does it to distract Zuko from focusing on how awful his lot in life is and to mask that he's surreptitiously setting up lessons for Zuko. If the buffoonery is genuine, then Iroh's buffoonery may border on a trope of a different color... but the line between buffoon and wise man isn't usually that pronounced. In Season 3, he's explicitly shown using Obfuscating Stupidity; any earlier "buffoonery" can be attributed to attempts to look harmless so his psycho little brother Ozai won't try to have him killed and endanger anyone who gets caught in the crossfire.
    • At least early on, 48% of Fanfic depicted Azula as a Psycho Lesbian who raped both her sidekicks and several of the Kyoshi Warriors; 47% depicted her as a Depraved Bisexual who also raped Admiral Zhao and her brother -- taking her standard character interpretation (that is, amoral sociopath) to a ridiculous extreme. The other 5% hunt for a Freudian Excuse or twelve (usually related to abuse as bad as or worse than what Zuko received) for being a Magnificent Bastard. Ironically, Azula does wind up having a Freudian Excuse at the end of the series, though it's only revealed through her Villainous Breakdown.
    • There's a subset that was so moved by her Villainous Breakdown that they decided she wasn't a sociopath. She's shown in canon to be cold and manipulative, using fear as a weapon and then calling it friendship; in stark contrast, part of the fandom seems to have decided that she's lost, scared, and just wanted Mommy to love her -- as opposed to, you know, being a murderous bastard caught in deep psychosis. A few think it's both -- one led to the other. If Azula was so lost and scared as a child, then becoming so powerful, manipulative, sociopathic bitch would (in her mind) seem like an ideal solution to erasing all the pain.
    • It's possible she was simply a spoiled brat who was used to getting her way (as she got it from her father and those who feared them). Her mother, Ursa, loved her but didn't indulge her the same way her father did. While her father made her think the world revolved around her; her mother brought her down to earth therefore (according to Azula) she "hated" her. Either way you would blame Ozai for her behavior. But perhaps she doesn't deserve as much sympathy as the fandom has given her.
    • The real potential head case of the Avatar universe is Ozai. Viewing Zuko as a reflection of who he was as a child, a sensitive Momma's Boy who fails at every attempt to please Daddy, and his big brother whom everyone loves doesn't make things any easier. No Azula represents his idealized self,in THAT way along with her perfection as a Bender, intelligence and natural born leadership skills. He indulged Azula as he wished he could have been indulged as a child. Perhaps he genuinely loved Azula but spoiled her rotten for the reasons above, he tried to love Zuko but he couldn't due to his own self loathing.
      • It's also known that Ozai inherited the Fire Nation well into the Hundred Year War; there's also no mention of military accomplishments on his part, at least on par with his brother's. It's possible that his overzealous pursuit of glory for himself and the Fire Nation stems from an Omashu-sized chip on his shoulder. The way Zuko goes to him for advice during the sequel comic, The Promise, also implies that there was more, and more complex, issues on his solid-gold plate than figuring out which people and lands to subjugate. Any chance for sympathy probably ends when he decides to raze the Earth Kingdom to the ground, though.
    • Many viewers saw Zuko as a very troubled and sympathetic guy who legitimately struggles with various aspects of his life and himself, and sometimes has periods of whining (but understandably so), which thus makes his maturing a truly amazing story to watch. A number of others saw him as a pathetic, loser teen with serious anger problems and a general fuck-up who constantly causes unnecessary trouble for everyone, including himself.
    • About half the fandom considers Sokka to be a sensitive genius with occasional moments of idiocy and assholery. The other half considers him to be just the reverse.
    • Was Admiral Zhao's refusal to let Zuko try to rescue him from a vengeful Kaiju-class Ocean Spirit one last act of arrogant contempt for the boy, or a rare act of wisdom and honor in not letting the stupid kid get himself drowned too?
    • Is Aang the kind, childlike Air Nomad that everyone (including he himself) sees him as? Or is he a selfish, power hungry --or Naive-- child who cares more about his own wants than the happiness of his family and friends or the needs of the world, even if it means destroying the balance he's supposed to maintain?
    • Asking why Iroh never bothered to overthrow his murderous usurper of a brother and saddled his emotionally damaged teenage nephew with the job of running the Fire Nation will start arguments.
    • Iroh's retirement to his tea shop: old man stepping aside to give the younger generation a chance to build a new world order or covert political hostage to the Earth Kingdom in order to secure a peace treaty?
    • Is Katara a crazy bitch whose entire personality is mood swings and nothing else, or is she a very human teenage girl struggling to keep her head and everyone else's above water in dark times? Also, was her behavior towards Zuko mean and petty, or was it perfectly justified after what he pulled on her in season 2? It seems that the fandom will never be able to decide.
    • Koh is the Avatarverse Anti-Christ. Or the Avatar version of Cthulhu.
    • Was Ursa a perfect mother, a humanly flawed woman, or a bitch who blatantly played favorites and ruined her daughter forever? The show gives us the first characterization -- but it comes from Zuko's personal memories, making it possible that Zuko is simply idealizing her out of his love for her. Ozai and Azula would probably think of her as the second and third characterizations respectively.
    • This trope was deliberately cultivated for most members of the Fire Nation Royal Family. The writers were afraid that anything they came up with would be too dark even for this show. They intentionally left details vague so the viewers could make their own ideas.
    • Zutara shippers frequently portray Mai as a cruel, insanely jealous bitch, though she's just as easily a confused and possibly depressed teenager just as messed up as the rest of the Fire Nation characters whose character development, while less overtly stated than Zuko's, nevertheless paralleled his enough to give her a Heel Face Turn near the end of the series.
    • Sozin/Suesan - Conquering the world in order to share the country's economic influences; or a boy named Sue who becomes a Monarch of Darkness and seeks revenge on the world for cursing him with a girl's name.
    • Azulon - For a character that has had only a few minutes of screen time and a couple lines, there is so much debate about him and the ambiguous scenario involving him. Did he ask Ozai to sacrifice his son for a slight against his eldest? Was it a Secret Test of Character? Was Azulon speaking [1]? Did he even give that as an order or did Azula make it all up (for any various reasons) and Ozai went with it?
  • Sequel Series The Legend of Korra has an unusually tongue-in-cheek interpretation of The Stoic and terse Mako, born out of Memetic Mutation: Fandom!Mako is an emotional crybaby tormented by his own good looks, obsessed with his beloved scarf, plagued by his raging Tsundere crush on Korra, and permanently tortured by the very thought of his worst enemy, Hasook.
  • X-23 of X-Men: Evolution:
    • Sympathetic anti-hero trying to live her own life despite being raised as a weapon, or mentally ill mutant held back for the good of the general public? The answer depends on the fan, but her mood whiplash and the randomly placed flashbacks in her premiere episode may be evidence that she isn't stable enough to function outside the military. Even as a child, when they tried to socialize her, she would end up breaking things and having to be forcibly removed from the area. Perhaps HYDRA's holding her prisoner was a good thing.
    • Her instability could very likely be a result of HYDRA's treatment of her for her entire life (as a weapon, that is). Attempts to bring her outdoors were clearly more about making her blend in with society that genuinely trying to socialise her. To further this point, the doctor who gave Wolverine this information in X-23's first appearance seemed to lean towards this point and felt terrible about the way HYDRA treated her; and their attempts to recapture her in her second appearance. Add Wolverine's disgust with their treatment of her, and the episode largely implies that if she'd been raised as a normal child she would be more stable (her existence was about creating a weapon based on Weapon X, so ...)
    • Lance: did he really have a heroic side, or was it just a trick to get Kitty to like him? Can it be both in the end, with Lance starting to do good things just to get Kitty into liking him and then keeping up just because he was in the mood? And if it's either the first or both, just how heroic can he be: sympathetic Anti-Villain, hard-ass Anti-Hero, prospect Nineties Anti-Hero, or something else whatsoever?
  • Care Bears are supposedly Thought Crime enforcement thugs. You are not allowed to feel anything they do not approve of. They are on constant watch for inappropriate unhappiness. If you dare be melancholy, then a horde of bears will drop from the sky and Care Bear stare you down until you pretend to be fine and get back in line with the rest of the herd.
  • The band members of Dethklok aren't just lazy Jerkass rockers who are only (barely) good at music and contract negotiations and who are ushering in some sort of endtimes by rocking so hard and employing shoddy help. They are a band of Eldritch Abominations who have taken human form to bring about Cthulhu-esque levels of revelry. Hence, everyone who hears them live tends to die horribly, and those fans who live to see a second show are insane afterward. They have little regard for normal people and no idea how to do mundane things like shop; this suggests that they aren't human.
    • Or alternately, people whose 'gifts' are at least as much psychic as musical and are being manipulated by their frighteningly competent manager who would be the real Eldritch Abomination. The effects of their music would tie into the psychic abilities, and the invincibility of the manager (see the season one finale) with his being an Eldritch Abomination.
    • Another possible interpretation: They're a weapon used (possibly unwittingly) to bring The End of the World as We Know It by methods near Slaaneshi. Music that changes peoples' behaviour, making them crazy enough to find pleasure in horrific pain? Check. Daemon summoning? Check -- the troll could be a 40K Daemon without changing anything. They even bargain with the Devil! Pickles is so used to drugs that the daemon-possessed Totally Awesome Sweet Alabama Liquid Snake has no effect on him, consistent with Slaanesh-induced sense dulling. The amount of death they cause is comparable with that of unopposed 40K Chaos cults, and the descriptions of how they happen are nearly interchangeable. And so forth and on... They predate Slaanesh by about 15000 years -- but time means nothing to the Warp.
  • Ben 10 Alien Force:
    • Gwen's and Kevin's crushes on each other are just their way of repressing that they're both attracted to Ben. Both attractions are at least partially taboo -- Gwen's because Ben's her cousin, Kevin's because Ben's a guy -- so the only solution is to try to force themselves to fall (however improperly) for each other. Because they're both lying to themselves and each other, they're both getting their signals returned, which is encouraging the charade. This explains why Gwen tells Kevin to ask her out without wanting him to, why Kevin tries to make himself appear attracted to Gwen without making a move, and why they both show Ben so much more subtle and genuine affection.
    • Another alternative interpretation is that it's simply terrible writing, though that's less of a character observation.
  • Captain Murphy of Sealab 2021:
    • A sociopath with no impulse control and less sense of self-preservation (that is, he knows exactly what he's doing, but he has no sense of consequences), or merely Too Dumb to Live?
    • Or maybe Captain Murphy has achieved Medium Awareness and realises that, no matter what damage he does, it will all disappear by the next episode.
  • In regard to Pinky and The Brain ("one is a genius/the other's insane"), whether we should take the first line to refer to the Brain, or is the true genius Pinky for saving the world every single night? If Pinky is a genius, then by process of elimination, the Brain would be ... who are we kidding? He's trying to take over the world! He's insane!
    • Consider these three episodes:
      • Brain calculates that Pinky is the reason all his plans fail and tries to make Pinky smarter to help him take over the world. Pinky then shows Brain that every plan has some sort of flaw in it. Turns out, the initial calculation is flawed as well; the correct answer is that Brain is causing every plan to fail.
      • In another episode, Pinky's thought process is revealed. As it turns out, Pinky thinks logically and makes leaps between subjects quickly. His nonsense responses do make sense; but we never hear his thought process in any other episode, so they seem completely random to us.
      • Brain goes to a therapist who learns the root of Brain's desire to take over the world. Before becoming a lab rat, he lived with his family in a peach can. As he was captured by researchers, he glanced back at the can; its logo was the last thing he saw before getting caged. The logo? The world. He just wants to go home but tries to take over the world because he can't tell the difference.
      • Further supported by the fact that The Brain's character and voice are based on Orson Welles. Welles's most famous character being Charles Foster Kane, a ruthless, megalomaniacal man whose motivation is revealed to be nothing more than a desire to return to the carefree innocence of his childhood.
    • Therefore, Brain is crazy with a poor grasp of reality; Pinky is the genius and just misunderstood.
    • Also, if we take "one is a genius/the other's insane" to apply to them respectively, notice that Pinky's name comes first.
  • Tweety, of Warner Brothers' Sylvester and Tweety or, at least, the Sylvester and Tweety Mysteries. Innocent victim of a homicidal cat, or equally homicidal sadist who lives to torment the cat in question? He has been known to get Sylvester seriously hurt or in trouble even without the usual provocation of Sylvester trying to eat him, apparently for his own sick amusement.
  • Tom and Jerry:
    • Jerry the mouse has the same character ambivalence to Tweety early on, but he seemed to mellow out in the late 1950s and stopped being a Jerkass.
    • Many Jerry fans see Tom as a bully, if Jerry so much as walks outside his mousehole Tom will catch him in his deadly paws. We could see him in a different perspecitve, as the poor mistreated pet who's only doing what his owner told (and kicked and threatened) him to. Or, Jerry could be considered a criminal, stealing cheese and living in a house which he never paid the bills for. And Tom works like a policeman/law enforecer who can't seem to catch Jerry.
    • Nibbles: cute kid who doesn't know better, or murderous psychopath? (For the record, his reaction to hearing Tom's execution in the Three Musketeers theme episode was, "Poor, poor pussycat... C'est la vie.")
  • Speedy Gonzales' cousin Slowpoke Rodriguez could be interpreted as a stoner. He has big baggy eyes, he talks in a slow manner, he sometimes snickers, and he constantly complains that he's hungry.
  • Perhaps the animated Flash from Justice League acts as flippant and flirtatious and downright not serious as he does because he's fully aware that one day he'll run fast enough that he'll vanish into the Speedforce. He knows that his power will eventually kill him -- though the speedforce seems like a neat place for his kind to end up, and he probably knows that, too. He's keeping the "every moment counts" mentality: no sense in wasting time being angsty -- you might run out of time to laugh and have fun. "Divided We Fall" supports this.
    • Not sure if anyone noticed, but when Shayera told him to take her hand so she could pull him back... he didn't. Maybe he didn't want to.
    • Certainly, after Lex Luthor switches minds with him, we see what he could do if he wasn't incredibly careful in how he uses his power. His seeming carelessness, obnoxiousness, and immaturity might be how he lets off the steam of having to be so tightly controlled all the time.
    • The reason behind The Flash's antics is the focal point of "Flash and Substance." The episode strongly implies that the Flash acts like that for both civilians and other League members. Most of the other members are stoically serious; the Flash is capable of giving them necessary emotional relief. The people look up to him because they can relate to him. They find him genuinely fun to be around, contrary to Superman's constantly stressed "workaholic" nature or, worse, Batman's. Orion even makes use of the trope himself, realizing that it helps the Flash get through League stress as well.
      • The alternate Flash's death causes alt-Superman to kill Luthor, which causes the Justice League to become the Justice Lords. Hard evidence there.
  • Dexter from Dexter's Laboratory has awkward social tendencies, which may be a result of his having Asperger's Syndrome. He is a genius, but he doesn't seem to have a basic understanding of things outside book smarts and the like. He apparently is unable to have much of an imagination about anything.
  • Danny Phantom has characters who can be construed in different ways: Vlad, Danny, Sam, Jack, Dark Danny... but most notably, Vlad, who has before-and-after Villain Decay selfs to play with.
    • There was a Fridge Brilliance take where Sam may be in love with Danny Phantom more than Danny Fenton; thus, why she acted so pissed during the Grand Finale when he briefly and willingly took away his own powers.
    • Vlad: sympathetic villain who deserves the love he's sought, or a jerk who lost that chance years ago and needs to get his karmic justification?
    • Considering how easily Tucker is corrupted by his vice and how little time he's given in Season 3, it's possible that he's secretly devising an evil plot to wipe out his friends and take over the world. He becomes a mayor by the end of the series, giving him a significant portion of power in his hometown.
    • Sam and Jazz both suffer at the hands of Alt Interprets a lot, as does Danny's semi-requited love Valerie. All three can be cast as controlling Action Girl types, Badass in Distress, getting clubbed with the Distress Ball, or Plucky Girl or Extraordinarily Empowered Girl... not that all these aren't correct, but it makes the ladies of DP ephemeral and often interchangeable.
    • A somewhat common interpretation for Danny is that has developed into a Stepford Smiler, explaining why he's remained pretty damn chipper through the whole show, especially after the events of "The Ultimate Enemy," which by all means could have (and should have) traumatized him.
  • Moral Orel:
    • Orel: Is he an eternal Cheerful Child that is the butt of abuse by his parents and almost everyone around him? Or is he a dangerously overeager little bastard whose abuses are a form of karmic justice for being a murderer, rapist, abuser, and perpetrator of other gross injustices?
    • In universe example, Orel is told that Judas can be seen as the hero of the bible because without him, all the other stuff would never have happened.
  • Winx Club fans divided on the Bloom/Riven pairing often cite season one episode "The Day of the Rose" as a make-it-or-break-it for the couple. Either Bloom was flirting (badly) and Riven stormed off because he hit on her, she "rejected" him, and his pride was hurt; OR Riven was being a Jerkass for the sake of being a Jerkass, and Bloom told him flat-out to screw off.
  • The Fairly OddParents:
    • Vicky has this: There a fan interpretation that Vicky's bullying toward Timmy is a result of a troubled childhood past, based on Vicky's confessing of this to Timmy in the episode Snow Bound. The creator of the series, Butch Hartman, has also named this episode as one of his favorites for this reason.
    • Her little sister Tootie is shown to be very similar to Timmy in many cases, including their shared torment at the hands of Vicky. This has led to many fans calling for her to receive a fairy, which in a way comes true in the FOP movie.
    • There are some people that believe Trixie Tang has a troubled existence, based on her repressed love for comic books.
  • Charlotte from Making Fiends:
    • Is she a naive, destructive innocent little girl? Or is she a depressed child who is trying to get over the death of her parents and who wishes for nothing more than to be loved? Or is she a sneaky, brilliant sadist who picks on Vendetta because she's a clumsy, foolish bully who wouldn't last a second if Charlotte wasn't screwing around for fun?
    • Maybe she's a depressed child trying to deny the deaths of her parents, so much that her grandmother played along?
  • Leonardo of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Is he a bossy teacher's pet and Jerkass control freak, or a sympathetic older brother figure burdened with the responsibility of his family's safety? The answer often seems to depend on whether Raphael is a person's favorite Turtle.
  • Is the Pointy-Haired Boss in the animated adaptation of Dilbert phenomenally stupid, or just vastly ignorant because of a sociopathic lack of interest in anything that isn't himself? It doesn't help that his voice actor said he didn't know if he was stupid, or stupid like a fox.
  • Rebecca and Baloo from Tale Spin: Belligerent Sexual Tension, Platonic Life Partners, or something else altogether?
    • There treatment of each other as a whole is up for debate. Is Rebecca an abusive Bad Boss that exploits her ownership of the Sea Duck to force labour from Baloo or is she an Extreme Doormat that constantly grants employment and a salary for her incompetant Jerkass employee? Similarly is Baloo working for Rebecca solely to buy back "his baby" and bail outta there or is he actually a provider and bodyguard for his new surrogate family that is merely holding onto said vow out of pride?
  • Does the mother of Gazpacho exist from Chowder? Maybe Gazpacho is a sad, lonely Mammoth who can't commit to a relationship, and so he says his mother doesn't let him kiss other girls and uses his mother as an excuse to his odd behaviour. Maybe his mother moved away from him or died; he can't take it mentally, and so he thinks of her as always around.
  • King of the Hill:
    • Is Hank Hill really what the creators consider the Only Sane Man? It seems that he's almost permanently stuck in the 1950s, when women are at home and everyone was more patriotic and full of morals. Is it just a mental barrier to keep him moral, unlike his immoral "friends" and co-workers and his own family? Or could it be that he's slightly autistic and has more emotional attachment to objects and his pet then to people and has to put up with a crazy-ass father and wife and is preoccupied with things everyone considers "Manly" and is too insane to watch a magician perform because he doesn't like things that can't be explained instantly?
    • A different interpretation: He isn't stuck in the 1950's but he has a classic mental-block caused by the traumatic memories of his childhood. He became so used to being beaten down by Cotton in his youth for showing the slightest sign of weakness that he in essence built a mental fortress around himself, a sort of shelter. He is afraid of anything "new" or "modern" penetrating this mental fortress out of a subconscience fear of Cotton's retribution.
    • He could also be autistic and his Jerkass father didn't help at all. It's fully possible given the timeframe the show takes place, as well as Hank's age, that he could have been on the spectrum but nobody knew.
      • Did Cotton really kill fitty men? Ok, probably not, but did he even kill anyone? Or maybe his constant reminding everyone that he killed "fitty men" is just a way to cope with his massive PTSD and the fact that he got his shins blown off.
  • The Smurfs:
    • Some people see it as Communist propaganda. At the least, their Utopia has a few similarities with communism. They don't use money; they are nearly identical, nameless (identified only by job), and nearly sexless; and their primary enemy is a Franciscan friar lookalike who wants to turn them into gold (or eat them). One episode with an attempt to use money ended disastrously, and Brainy Smurf was tossed out of the village again.
    • They have also been seen as an allegory for the Ku Klux Klan, with the leader having a red pointy hat and being able to do magic (a reference to the Grand Wizards of KKK), all the others having white pointy hats, their all sometimes dancing around a big fire, the lone female a walking Aryan stereotype, and the villain looking like an "evil Jew."
    • The movie Slacker argues that the Smurfs are Apocalyptic Hindu propaganda: The goal is to get children used to the idea of people with blue skin so that they'll be comfortable with the blue-skinned Avatar of Vishnu who is due to incarnate in the near future. (The movie also argues that Scooby-Doo is capitalist propaganda: When the other characters need Scooby to do something, they bribe him with Scooby Snacks instead of appealing to his sense of social justice.)
    • Maybe they're fascists. They have the anti-intellectualism (Brainy) and anti-Semitism (Gargamel resembles a classic Jewish caricature, and is fixated on gold). Also, Fascists emphasize conformity and tend to be misogynistic; Smurfette's redemption comes through acceptance of traditional gender roles, not rejection of them. Although their 'smurfy' language sort of resembles doublespeak, so who knows?
  • Inspector Gadget, idiot over his head or a man traumatised by being turned into a cyborg who blocks it all out?
    • One guy's take on this is here, and another is here
    • Or does he simply do things a little differently, making everyone else think he's stupid? The world may never know.
    • He could be the ultimate case of Obfuscating Stupidity, tossing the exploding notes back to Quimby as a gag, stumbling through Doctor Claw's schemes so the henchmen keep underestimating him, and generously letting Penny and Brain think they've solved the crimes while he had the whole situation under control (and letting them think they're letting him think he solved the crime). Hey, you never know -- he did save Penny a couple of times even in standard canon interpretation.
    • Some also have gone further and interpreted this as he acts incompetent and takes credit for solving all the crimes so that Penny and Brain remain safe on purpose, that he's well aware that they're the ones doing the detective work while he merely bumbles around then apprehends the criminals. They actually have this to a T; Gadget keeps everyone distracted while Brain and Penny solve the crime and he apprehends them, being a very good actor. When Penny is in danger and Gadget knows it, then he goes into Papa Wolf mode and becomes scarily competent.
    • Perhaps he is secretly training Penny and Brain to become the world's greatest detectives and crime fighters.
    • Gadget might actually be a robot built by Penny. She's obviously a genius and her first robot, Claw, went rogue so she created Gadget and Brain to help her fight Claw. She also uses Gadget as her official guardian so the courts don't put her in foster care. Claw must be a robot, since despite being a criminal mastermind bent on conquering the world, he never actually hurts anybody (See Laws of Robotics). The big question is did she make Gadget an idiot deliberately so he wouldn't turn on her or so he could function as a distraction while she and her robodog do all the real crimefighting.
  • The Venture Brothers - The sheer jackassery of Rusty Venture has caused some people to believe he is a Villain Protagonist. Dr. Killinger believed this as well (or did he?) and tried to help him become an Evil Scientist. The fact that the episode in question itself ends with Rusty, while rejecting Killinger, earnestly asking Brock about whether or not he's a bad guy (and Brock's hesitation to respond) lampshades this.
  • At least one Yin Yang Yo fanfic has described Ultimoose as a notorious womanizer. Nothing in the show seemed to directly contradict this, until the Series Finale, when it's revealed that Ultimoose does not only have an inflatable girlfriend, but a whole inflatable family.
  • Mojo Jojo in Powerpuff Girls: a mortal enemy or a big brother having a bit of a (superpowered) sibling rivalry with the girls? Especially in the movie, his actions could be interpreted as a Xanatos Gambit to make the girls, who hated and rejected by everyone at that point and had no direction or a real paternal figure, into heroes, or siblings of the new king (Mojo).
  • Also this very interesting article of Cartman.
  • The Nightmare Before Christmas:
    • Did Dr. Finklestein create Sally to be his daughter, his servant, or his wife and/or Sex Slave? Arguments will vary. One interesting aspect to this is that in an alternative ending Dr. Finklestein was Oogie Boogie, jealous that Sally preferred Jack to him and was trying to teach her a lesson. Also, back when Nightmare was a Cult Classic, many people referred to Sally to relationship to the Doctor as his companion (or, on occasion, his servant), including 1998 edition of "Disney's Encyclopedia of Animated Characters" by John Grant. As the film got more popular as a family friendly movie, discussions began to say Sally is Dr. Finklestein's daughter, accidentally making a case of Incest Is Relative. The next person the Doctor creates to replace Sally appears to be a wife, looking exactly like him and sharing half his brain.
  • Ed, Edd 'n' Eddy:
    • Is Eddy the most generous kid in town? Whenever he gets money the first thing he thinks of are his friends, and that's why he scams. The other kids have money, even his friends, but won't buckle in a cent no matter the circumstance.
    • Is his brother a simple case of Jerkass bully older brother or an abuser or worse? Are either Edd, Jimmy or Ed gay?
    • If anything EDDY is a repressed transgender, as referenced in the boomerang episode and his overall pseudo-macho attitude.
    • Double D's "feminine" behavior is probably a result of how he was raised; in other words diabolically (or fetish fuel for some) he is being (or has been) feminized by his parents that way he's easier to control.
    • Whatever is underneath Edd's hat and why he hides it is an alternate character interpretation in itself.
    • Some fans say that Edd has a severe case of psoriasis on his scalp. For some reason, it only affects his scalp, and he hates people staring at the swollen pink blotches and grayish scales the disease causes, so he wears a hat to hide them. Ed thinks the blotches and scales look cool, being a monster movie fan, and says so when Edd's hat is pulled off by a ceiling fan.
  • The Magic School Bus: Ms. Frizzle could be seen as a character in the vein of Willy Wonka, using the field trips to find a sucessor (possibly to the Time Lord-like organization that gave her the bus and taught her how to timetravel). Since there's promotional material with Arnold by her side, she could see the most potential in him and wants to break him from his neuroses to train him. Other candidates could be Ralphie for his eccentricities & DA for her knowlege.
  • Dora the Explorer is a brave girl whose careless parents let her freely roam a dangerous jungle or an imaginative little girl with her stuffed animals using puddles and a sandbox to keep herself entertained in her backyard. She is either surrounded by friends that are always there for her or only has one friend and he only hangs out with her because they are cousins.
  • Phineas and Ferb:
    • Is Phineas really so Oblivious to Love and that much of a Chaste Hero as we think he is? Why else would he occasionally borrow Isabella's Catch Phrase, and use it on her in a tone that evidently resembling hers? Now, people imitate each other's gestures, expressions, behaviour, attitude and ways of talking when a feeling of connection and intimacy is desired, but this is also a common technique used in flirting. Phineas has also been uncomfortable telling lies to Isabella, scratching his ear, stuttering and giggling nervously whenever he had to do it, yet he seems to be very laid-back and convincing while lying to his mother or Candace. It's possible that he's just an extremely clever boy playing dumb with everyone around. Or simply has not realised his romantic feelings yet.
    • He doesn't lie to his mother or Candace; his Mom thinks he and Ferb are just playing make-believe whenever he tells her of their adventures.
    • Even in "The Lake Nose Monster". He just gave a very specific answer. It was something along the lines of "A ferocious man eating lake monster does not exist in Lake Nose", and then he said he couldn't prove if a nice monster lived there. Both of them were completely truthful since the monster was nice and he couldn't prove it existed. He could of just out right lied to them but he decided to be truthful.
    • Is Candace a control freak who wants to bust her brothers because she can't get away with the things her brothers do when she trys them or is she only trying to bust her brothers so they don't hurt themselves and end up in a hospital, brutally wounded from their inventions? Or both, and the latter is on a subconscious level.
    • Similarly, is Stacy on Candace's side and supporting in her wanting to bust Phineas and Ferb, or does she think Candace needs to branch out and not be so uptight, and getting sick of holding back on the offchance that she ever will?
    • Is Roger really a Goody-two-shoes as Heinz claims to be? The only scene we actually see without being a center of his evil scheme and/or on mayoral duties is setting up for the fall he didn't want to take, and not caring enough of the citizens to pay giant robot destruction insurance and used it as a coffee piece. And it won't be surprising considering how much crap Heniz already went through.
    • Isabella: Sympathetic dogged nice girl or Stalker with a Crush? For that matter, the Phinbella pairing could be (and occasionally is) seen as a kid and his stalker being Strangled by the Red String.
    • Did Doofenshmirtz-2 really turn evil because he lost that toy train? Or did he have a past so unbelievably traumatic that he blocked it out, and funnels all those negative emotions into the loss of his beloved childhood toy? Or was he a horrible person even as a kid and is just using the train as an excuse?
  • Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines:
    • Is Muttley secretly on Yankee Doodle Pigeon's side? Is he really a mole, planted to foil the Vulture Squadron's plans from within? Perhaps the US military figured that a dog--albiet an egotistical, snickering glory-hound--would be an ideal spy to bungle Vulture Squadron's counter-intelligence. Notice episodes like "Operation Anvil," where Muttley single-handedly botches the squadron's plan to flatten the pigeon and then remains in the air for the rest of the episode, having a snicker at Dick Dastardly's expense.
    • Come to think of it, maybe Klunk is a mole instead of or in addition to Muttley! All those weird sound effects are really his way of saying, "Ha ha! I'm trying to put one over on you by designing killer planes that don't work!" Zilly, meanwhile, pretends to know what Klunk's talking about to cover his behind.
  • Total Drama:
  • Recess: Is Spinelli a FTM transsexual?
    • There's a similar interpretation of Moose from Pepper Ann.
  • Jimmy Two-Shoes:
    • Is Beezy really such a nice guy? Sure, he's not actively evil like is father, but he's still a Lazy Bum who puts his sloth above everything else, and is quite a Poisonous Friend to Jimmy, especially when it comes to sharing him with Heloise. In season two it's noted that his entire plan in "My Best Friend is a Weavil" involved manipulating the feelings of a weavil (whome he bluntly has Fantastic Racism towards) and loves the events of "Panda-Monium" because he got laughs at Heloise's expense.
    • Is Jimmy really such a nice guy? He is in a place that if not Hell, is at least a reasonable substitute. Is he Cute and Psycho, or is he even secretly evil and hiding his true nature?.
    • Does Lucius have any redeeming qualities? Does he care for Beezy on some level, or is he merely interested in turning him into a worthy successor? Does he care for Jez, or merely see her as a trophy girlfriend? He mentions that Samy is his best friend, does he care about him is his own, twisted way? Is he a Jerkass Woobie or just plain Jerkass?
  • Tangled:
    • No Disney villain evokes this more than Mother Gothel. Did she only care about Rapunzel's hair and just pretended to be a doting mother, or did she come to genuinely love her in the 18 years she raised her? Rapunzel's hair is more important in the end, but Gothel does small things that make one think twice like her "I love you" "I love you more" "I love you most" game and her surprising Rapunzel by cooking her favorite food. Fans are still debating.
    • However if you pay attention, when she says "I love you most" she kisses her forehead. This could be taken that she loves her Hair most.
    • Or she's just that good of an actress to fool the audience with a rather convincing performance. It helps that she happens to have a lot of very subtle hints.
    • It can also be interpreted that Gothel also wanted to take Rapunzel away forever because she was afraid Eugene would, since her plan to get Eugene to dump her failed. Still though, It's mostly for the hair.
  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame: Speaking of Disney Villains, Judge Claude Frollo gets this too. Is he really a Complete Monster or do we see flashes of guilt and torment in him that make him more sympathetic? Did he really feel nothing for killing Quasi Modo's mother or did he take seriously the Archdeacon's plea to adopt Quasi Modo out of guilt and a genuine fear of God. Do we see signs of him suffering and desiring to become a better person in his villain song, or is it more important that the experience makes him act even more evil than before?
  • My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic:
    • It has sparked speculation about the true nature of Princess Celestia and Night Mare Moon. Could the Creation Myth holding that Celestia defeated her jealous sister's mad plan to bring about The Night That Never Ends be propaganda stretching the truth? Is Night Mare Moon a Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds who went mad after being sealed away for a thousand years?
      • Given how well Celestia and Luna have gotten along in the seasons since her return, the character interpretations involving them being secretly at odds or Celestia plotting against her sister are pretty well invalidated by now. Luna's comments to Apple Bloom in the season 5 episode "Bloom and Gloom" about how one can be so afraid or full of self-doubt that 'their entire life seems like a bad dream', an obvious reference to Nightmare Moon, would also seem to indicate that Luna's turn as the Nightmare was the result of succumbing to neurosis, not the cause of it.
      • The season 4 opener shows us the scene where Nightmare Moon is banished via magical postcognition on Twilight Sparkle's part. Celestia is shown as being confronted by a Luna who is completely out of her mind and banishing her as a desperate last resort, after all attempts to plead for reason have failed.
      • Aaand, the season 5 finale gives us a brief look at an alternate timeline where Nightmare Moon won. In that timeline, Celestia has been banished to the sun for 1000+ years, and Her Nocturnal Majesty rules over a land of endless night with an iron hoof. Admittedly, Nightmare Moon comes across in that timeline as a pony version of Victor von Doom, ruling over her equine version of Latveria as a grim and foreboding tyrant yet legitimately devoted to preserving the well-being of her subjects, but she's still clearly in villain territory.
    • There is also "Trollestia," a theory that Celestia is intentionally screwing with everybody (or everypony, as the case may be.)
    • Then there is the "Molestia" interpretation, which is pretty much what it sounds like. Compounding it are all the sub-categories of this persona; from a shiftless layabout who has grown bored of her duties and dodges actual administration to watch porn, to a very open but harmless nympho with a light BDSM fetish, to a serial-rapist and pedophile.
    • In a more minor example, Applejack's brother Big Macintosh has been portrayed in fanon as a simple, big-brother type, a civilized, not-quite-country boy with a lot going on in his head, and in the case of one particularly moving fanfic based from a short three-panel comic, a veteran shocked or similarly motivated into silence by what he saw. Oh, and a Chick Magnet.
    • Pinkie Pie also qualifies for this, considering speculation that her past may have led her to develop manic-depressive disorder and a severe phobia of rejection, especially from friends. And, well... Cupcakes.
    • There's another interpretation out there: Pinkie Pie is immortal. She grew up on a rock farm because that was an actual job during Discord's reign, and he made her as weird as she is to cause strife within her family. The rainbow blast and rainbow she saw afterwards wasn't from a Sonic Rainboom, it was from Celestia and Luna using the Elements of Harmony to defeat Discord. So that really was how Equestria was made.
    • Also with all the comments about Pinkie's constant breaking of the fourth wall, a few fanfics and other stuff have hinted she may be more powerful than the princesses...and no one, not even herself, really knows it.
    • Because of season one's finale, Fluttershy has been thought of as more than a little unstable due to her rather terrifying outburst.
      • And her psychotic episode in season 2's "Putting Your Hoof Down" was worse. Fortunately, since then Fluttershy seems to have acknowledged that she has a problem regarding social anxiety and repressed anger, and has found healthier coping strategies.
    • Just who exactly is benefiting from the friendship reports that Twilight sends to the Princess? Is Twilight on the autistic spectrum and the reports are for her own personal growth? Or are they for Princess Celestia as a way to understand the common pony and how to interact with them? Or are they for Luna?
    • Or maybe it's for all those reasons.
    • It could also have something to do with some kind of future plan that will come into play later that may end up saving the world. Take for example the fact that Celestia's re-sending them all back to Twilight helped her to defeat Discord.
    • "Lesson Zero" seems to give more insight into Twilight's personality, specifically, her deepest fears: She's absolutely terrified of failure and the thought of not meeting the expectations of others. There's also the (unfounded) fear that she'll be sent back to magic kindergarten. Add her general social awkwardness, the fact that she always wanted to throw a slumber party (even though she and her friends are now adults) and even the lyrics of the theme song (I used to wonder what friendship could be...) and you get the idea that Twilight's early childhood was a less then pleasant experience (victim of bullying perhaps?). Her obsession with studying and being a good student may have been to avoid the pain of being alone and friendless and to validate her own self-worth. Now that she has real friends, she's completely terrified of losing them and reverting back to the lonely and scared filly she once was.
    • Rainbow Dash is often implied to be a Lazy Bum, yet she has also been shown working her rump off when it's important to her (such as constantly practicing her moves) or to Ponyville (she's a team leader in Winter Wrap-Up). Is she lazy, or is she bored by what she sees as trivial duties and consequently slacks off?
      • One Youtube commenter had the idea that Rainbow Dash has Winston Churchill complex- she equates affection with achievement and assumes that if she isn't the best at what she's doing, her friends won't love/respect her, which would possibly explain her fear of failing/losing and her increasingly erratic behaviour in "Sonic Rainboom" and "The Mysterious Mare Do-Well."
    • A common fanon portrayal of The Great and Powerful TRRRIXIIEEE depicts her Miles Gloriosus streak as a mask over a Dark and Troubled Past with a side order of woobie. (It's quite possible you get bonus points for the degree of cruelty with which you kill off the parent who inspired her to start a magic act.)
      • Others have suggested that Trixie suffers from an Inferiority Superiority Complex; she didn't make it in magic school because she was a bully whose only real talent was using her telekinesis to pick on others compared to other unicorns that can do much more useful magic. Similar to common fan theories about Applebloom's nemesis Diamond Tiara, this theory holds that Trixie is such a showboating Jerkass because her talent is nothing special and she's desperate to convince herself and everypony else otherwise.
    • Gilda gets viewed in a couple different ways, ranging from a full-on Jerkass thug who feels overly possessive of Dash, a Tsundere Jerk with a Heart of Gold that got caught on a bad day, or a genuine Cool Big Sis character who got tripped up by cultural boundaries which Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie didn't consider and overeacted to.
    • Scootaloo is the only member of the Cutie Mark Crusaders who has had no familial connections shown or even hinted at, and is rarely seen apart from her two closest friends. Additionally, she's a pegasus unable to fly for anything but short distances, and is rarely seen without her crude wooden scooter. As such, Scootaloo is often depicted as being stuck in an abusive family, or as a homeless orphan.
      • Season 4's episode "Flight to the Finish" confirms that Scootaloo lives in a home with a family, although her parents or guardians are never seen on-screen. That same episode also confirms that Scootaloo is physically challenged in some way, as its explicitly stated that in the normal course of events a pegasus filly of her age would already have been flying for some time, and yet Scootaloo tries and repeatedly fails to despite putting in an obsessive level of effort.
    • One popular theory is that Fluttershy witnessed her father being eaten by a dragon, traumatizing her. Her mother then pushed and forced her into all the best flight schools and camps, not noticing (or possibly, not caring) that Fluttershy was a weak flyer, causing her to fall behind...
    • In Sweet And Elite, Twilight says to Rarity that she understands her going to the other party as being work related. However, they immediately afterwards crash the party and make complete asses out of themselves and proudly declare their association with her. Was it merely all in good fun, or were Rarity's friends being spiteful over Rarity lying to them?
      • A popular alternate interpretation is that both the overly forgiving and good-natured response of Rarity's friends and their immediate descent into embarrassing jerkdom and total lack of indoor voice both derived from the same root cause -- they were drunk. Supporting evidence for this lies in the fact that her friends had already been partying for some time before Rarity showed up, and there were foaming mugs of cider (and Equestrian cider is hard, i.e., containing alcohol) visible at the birthday party.
    • Blueblood's behaviour at the Gala has been interpreted by some as him recognizing Rarity's dream, and was screwing with her because he's met countless other mares with the same vapid dream and he's not willing to play the part.
    • Some people don't really buy Mr.Cake's explanation of why his children are a pegasus and a unicorn. They believe that magical fertility treatments or infidelity may be involved somehow.
    • In the iTunes redub of the beginning of "The Last Roundup", The pony formally known as Derpy Hooves was made to sound more "intelligent" and her eyes are no longer as "derpy" as before. This could make her wanton destruction of the town hall to be completely senseless. Is she still genuinely slow or was she Trolling Rainbow Dash?
    • Is Discord a truly malevolent being who loves to torment others for his amusement, a crazy but not necessarily evil being who is only doing his job as the God Of Chaos, or simply a mere Jerkass God who merely finds the ponies as little more than entertainment but doesn't hold any malevolent feelings towards them? Or, all three?
    • The nature of the Dragons as a species is also debated. Common interpretations are that wild dragons tend to be JerkAsses and Spike's a nice guy because he was raised by ponies, while others suggest that adult dragons are powerful and dangerous when provoked but also intelligent and non-malicious, in which case they are the antagonists because we keep seeing them at their worst; the red dragon was unreasonable because it was exhausted and the Mane Six kept interrupting his nap, the green dragon overreacted because he thought Spike wanted to steal all his food, and the teenage dragons were immature idiots that hadn't learned how to behave.
    • Diamond Tiara is usually thought to be a simple Alpha Bitch (although see the Trixie example for one way some people interpret her more sympathetically), her friend Silver Spoon is sometimes suggested to be a much nicer filly who is mean to Apple Bloom because she's imitating her best friend. Silver Spoon is noted to genuinely care about Diamond Tiara's feelings, seeing how she tried to cheer her up at the end of "Call of the Cutie", but she's also one of the first to applaud Granny Smith's story about how the Apple Family founded Ponyville despite Diamond Tiara refusing to.
      • Season 5's "Crusaders of the Lost Mark" has given more character depth to Diamond Tiara -- the root cause of her behavior was revealed to be her incredibly demanding and emotionally abusive mother, Spoiled Rotten, who not only pushed Diamond Tiara to succeed at everything and harshly punished even the slightest failure but also taught her daughter the worst possible lessons about social skills and interpersonal cooperation. (Specifically, that the entire idea of mutual cooperation was a suckers' game and that in 'real life' you either trampled all possible rivals underfoot or were the one being trampled, no middle ground.) Upon finally cluing in that her mother is a horrible pony, Diamond Tiara face turns and makes peace with her former victims.
  • A number of Doug fanart usually portray him as an Adorably Precocious Child, while he's more Adorkable in the actual show. Some view him as crazy
  • In Season 1 of Blinky Bill, Shifty Dingo is either an Adorkable clumsy sweetheart or a Jerkass Bratty Half-Pint Creepy Child troublemaker. In season 2 however, he decides on staying a good guy.
  • The Donkey Kong Country cartoon has Bluster Kong, who was interpreted by TJ Omega as a more evil villain than K. Rool himself. Where as K. Rool sees DK as a Worthy Opponent and seeks to only defeat him, not kill him, Bluster Kong wants DK dead and doesn't care if K. Rool would enslave them all so long as he gets Candy.
  • Adventure Time:
    • There is a certain school of thought that says that none of what Finn is experiencing is real, or is at the very least vastly distorted from the true (and likely terrible) reality he lives in. Word of God states that Ooo is an After the End world suffering from what is referred to as the Mushroom War. The possibility exists that what Finn views as adventure might be a great deal more harrowing than his mind allows him to process... throughout the series, there are examples of destroyed or submerged buildings, half-buried and wrecked cars, Broken televisions, abandoned military equipment, and notably, a river of trash. The opening sequence briefly features a barren field of bombs and bare trees, as well as an arm reaching out, and several of the situations in the show could be read as euphemisms for what is really taking place (such as the Rainicorns attempting to eat Finn, then substituting him for 'soy people' as a euphemism for cannibalism; the Ice King's obsession with kidnapping princesses as a euphemism for slavery; the relationship between Finn and Jake being perhaps a master-slave relationship with Jake the master; the absence of Finn's (and most other characters') parents, the fact that he lives in a tree; possible deformity or mutation represented by Candy People and various other non-human characters, etc). Word of God states that this isn't the eventual revelation of the series... while throwing in sounds of Finn screaming and machine-gun-fire over a freezeframe. There are some similarities between Adventure Time and A Boy and His Dog, as well. Is he suffering from radiation-poisoning and starvation-induced hallucinations, and repainting his life as a coping mechanism, or is it all true with the context of the story? Who knows.
    • From said series, it may not be too hard to see Princess Bubblegum as a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing. Her actions towards Lemongrab, her creation to take her place in case something happened to her. She treats it with nothing but scorn and hates his mere existence. And she's technically HIS MOTHER. He's pretty unstable to life and just doesn't care. The same goes for the Tart-Toter. He's insane and she doesn't show signs of wanting to help. So far it doesn't seem like she does much royal duties outside of episodes. And in "Too Young" after she's deaged she barley affected of her brief love for Finn saying "That was years ago".
    • One episode featuring Chaotic Neutral immortal Marceline's memories shows a young her in a Falloutish post-apocalyptic wasteland. Also, "mushroom" could be a euphemism for "nuke", as a nuclear explosion causes a mushroom cloud. The world has been shownn to be both insane and creepy, lending creedance to the "Finn is the real duke of nuts" theory. Marceline could be considered the only sane woman, as her motivation seems to be just hiding from the world, and not getting involved, like an apocalyptic survivor's sense of self preservation. The frozen businessmen that appear at one point are clearly traumatised by their experiences, the Duke of Nuts could be some form of Ghoul, etc.
    • Speaking of Lemongrab... Is he a mentally unstable, jerkass weirdo with anger management issues, or is he someone who has been genuinely abandoned, and hurt, by Princess Bubblegum, and is actually suffering? Word of God stated that after he was born, PB stuck him a castle to be raised by servants. Is his inability to read social cues and relate to others the result of being brain-damaged, or is it the result of the actual social and physical isolation the princess imposed on him?
  • SpongeBob SquarePants:
    • Is Mr. Krabs a mild villain who shows affection to his employees, loves his daughter, and is entirely synmpathetic all the time? Or is he a Complete Monster who abuses his employees, doesn't care about his daughter anymore, gets into massive amounts of financial related trouble because of his greed, and relentlessly tortures his arch rival Plankton For the Evulz?
    • Is Spongebob a sweet, clueless and innocent Adult Child, a Stepford Smiler hiding a depressed and disturbed personality, or a sociopath using a childish facade to torment others? Or all of the above at the same time?
    • Some fans speculate that Patrick (at least post-Flanderization) just acts like an idiot so he can get away with things.
  • Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers:
    • Is Gadget Hackwrench a simple Genius Ditz with a heart of gold? Or is she harboring an amoral dark side that needs to be harnessed for good by the Rescue Rangers lest it grow out of control (such as the "salesman traps" that Chip and Dale ran into in the pilot right before they met her, many of which were quite lethal)?
    • Also one of the most divisive topics in the fandom: is she completely oblivious to Chip and Dale's romantic advances, cognizant of them but uninterested, or does she harbor feelings for one or the other, and if so, which one? There's plenty of Ship Tease in the show to support any side of the argument, which is why the topic is so hot.
  • In The Amazing Chan and The Chan Clan, Henry's treatment of Stanley varies depending on the episode (episode 10 has him being quite verbally abusive, but in episode 7 he appears to be amused by Stanley's antics even as he tells him to cut it out). Alan and Tom's chauvinism towards Anne is either a cause for minor tension between them or nonexistent, and Mimi's bossiness towards Scooter ranges from playful chiding to her behaving like a strict mother would towards him.
  • Kids Next Door:
  • Life With Louie: Andy Anderson - is he really Phony Veteran and Fake Ultimate Hero who lies about how amazing he is because he is simply ashamed of his rather humilating act of heroism during the war? Or maybye he is Shell-Shocked Veteran that extragerates his stories beyond belief to cover how much war changed his life?
  • Daria:
    • There's a lot of evidence suggesting that Sandi is a complete Alpha Bitch who loves to socially dominate the girls and cares little for them since they're just her personal shilling crew. However; there's also some proof that she does like them and cares about their safety.
    • There's a lot of stuff going for how Sandi is just a pure Alpha Bitch. But in "Fire", Sandi actually smells a rat with how the bellboy appears to know just where Quinn is and is handing her and her friends free stuff. It's very easy to read this as not so much spite that it's for Quinn and not her, but because she senses that the bellboy is a stalker. In "The Daria Hunter", Sandi gets angry that the fashion club members aren't wearing goggles because it's against the rules of Paintball. (And that's a SAFETY rule!) Also to liking other friends, in "Fat like Me", Quinn's kindness towards Sandi to helping her get out of the Despair Event Horizon drives her to tears.
    • Mr. O'Neill actually gets this a lot. Is he a cheery guy who really tries to make people happy despite his spectacular inadequence at it, or does his failure to learn from his mistakes (or notice them, a lot of the time) indicate that he doesn't really care at all?
  • In The Looney Tunes Show, is Daffy Duck a malicious Jerkass who constantly torments his "friends", or a mentally-ill, pathetic Jerkass Woobie who genuinely doesn't know any better?

Back to Alternative Character Interpretation
  1. Ozai would lose a son because Iroh would adopt Zuko as his son and heir completely by-passing Ozai's chance to the throne