Depending on the Writer

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Animal Man: How can they make me eat meat? I don't eat meat! I don't want to eat meat! I'm a vegetarian.

Grant Morrison: No, I'm a vegetarian. You'll be whatever you're written to be.
Animal Man, "Deus Ex Machina", Grant Morrison's last issue as writer

In some stories, a character is very different every time they appear—so different that it's almost a different character with the same name. This is particularly common with Long Runners and comic books, due to the large number of writers on staff. But there are some characters where even the same writer makes them different every time.

This is not Character Development—nothing happens in the story to justify the personality change. Writer on Board or Creator Breakdown might, though.

Don't get this confused with characters with some actual depth. Just because you can't predict a character's moves 100% of the time doesn't mean they're inconsistent. Now, if you can predict a character's moves 100% of the time only when you know who's writing, then they're definitely inconsistent.

Different writers with different ideas and understandings of the work are also the usual culprit of Continuity Drift.

If the writers themselves begin to notice this, they might attempt an Author's Saving Throw.

See also Ping-Pong Naivete.

Compare Alternate Character Interpretation, Depending on the Artist, Era Specific Personality, Interpretative Character, Armed with Canon, Running the Asylum, Character Derailment.

Examples of Depending on the Writer include:


Anime & Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

  • The closeness of Musashi/Jessie and Kojiro/James in Pokémon varies with each writer, as well as their good nature.
  • Sailor Moon: Minako/Sailor Venus' maturity varies wildly; sometimes she's the more mature, experienced one, and other times she's an overbearing, proverb-confusing oddball. This is more obvious in the anime than anywhere else.
    • Of course, most Senshi have their personalities considerably changed between the manga and the anime. Ditzy Minako was entirely invented by latter. In the manga she's dutiful second-in-command of Sailor Senshi.
      • The ditzyness actually stems from the Sailor V manga, so there's inconsistencies all over the place.
  • The original Getter Robo team generally alternate between the Heroic Sociopath characterization of the original manga and most of the more recent animated productions and the more conventionally heroic 1970s anime version.


Comics[edit | hide]

  • The comics made of the various Disney icons. Such as Donald Duck.
    • Don't forget Scrooge himself: heartless bastard tormenting Donald for the sake of a few more cents, perfectly willing to exploit workers, destroy the environment and let his own family die in the name of profit? Indiana Jones-style treasure hunter? Jerk with a Heart of Gold who prides on having made his fortune "fair and square" and deeply cares by his family and his friends? Complete and utter badass? An eccentric old man who's not really good or evil?
    • Depending on the Writer, Scrooge's money bin may be a simple box made of stone or a blue and red dome; the Beagle Boys may frequently hide out in an old trailer or a shack or under the very foundations of Duckburg; Flinheart Glomgold may live in South Africa or in Duckburg as a member of the Billionaires' Club (or alternatively, he may not exist at all, with John D. Rockerduck in his place); Donald may range from being an average chef to a Lethal Chef; Magica de Spell may be a real powerful sorceress or a normal person who dabbles in sorcery; Granma Duck may be Scrooge's sister or not related to him at all; Gladstone Gander may be really lucky because a Triple Distelfink sign was painted on the barn door on the day of his mother's birth or because the goddess of fortune is in love with him.... The list goes on.
    • The Beagle Boys' competence (and numbers) also seem to flip-flop (from few as three or as many as eleven). And do they use guns, or are they simply too poor to even afford those?
    • Even Rockerduck himself, despite not even existing in most writers' minds, has flip-flopped between honorable businessman Scrooge likes to screw with for fun, slightly crooked bastard who enjoys spying, swindling and bribing to get his way, white-collar criminal, and murderous gang leader.
  • Wonder Woman might as well be the patron saint of this trope. Every writer since her re-creation in the 1980s has wanted to put their own stamp on the character to the point where they pretty much flat out ignore what the previous writer has done with the character. Her revolving Supporting Cast and extraordinarily minor Rogues Gallery are testaments to this.
    • Post-Crisis, the biggest element to swing back and forth with her is whether she's going to be the man hating Straw Feminist that makes a little more sense when she first leaves Themyscira, or the more mature rounded character who actually has a sense of humor and good relationships with several male characters.
    • Cassandra Sandsmark (the second Wonder Girl): Is she a confident Cute Bruiser? Is she filled with Wangst and ill-tempered at the level of the Alpha Bitch? Has she gotten over her boyfriend's (temporary) death or not? And is she the Tomboy or The Chick? Such writing inconsistencies have derailed her character practically since she became a Teen Titan, though she originally started out as The Scrappy when written by John Byrne. It took Peter David to deliver the first "fix" on her character, though Byrne decried it, along with the very idea that Cassie would ever join a superhero team. According to Byrne, she was not supposed to be "unique". Byrne would later become incensed by the revelation that Cassie's father was Zeus, as well as the idea that she would lose her virginity to Superboy.
  • Most of the temperament and Superboy issues have happened in post-Johns runs of Teen Titans. Felicia Henderson is the most blatant example of her bitchiness. There's a reason most readers are jumping for joy at JT Krul replacing her...
  • Batman has had so many writers, he's barely the same character in some appearances. And that's just in the main DCU, and not going into All Star Batman and Robin, the movies, and various TV shows based on him. To list all the different ways he's been portrayed (is he a really good detective or not? Is he admirable or a Jerkass? Is he the craziest or the Only Sane Man of the Justice League?) would take up way too much space.
    • This is perhaps best represented in the Batman alignment chart
    • Former sidekick Nightwing arguably gets it worse. While DC will usually run with one interpretation of Batman in all the books and then shift to another, Nightwing gets to be a relatively happy and well-adjusted leader of men in the Bat-books, but shifts into a dark and broody Batman 2.0 in team books.
      • Maybe they are both right. He's grim and broody. But compared to Batman, he looks cheery and well-adjusted!
    • And don't even get us started on the Joker... from the earliest comics to the Dark Knight Trilogy to the various animated series, he's been portrayed as a Complete Monster, Harmless Villain, Magnificent Bastard, The Mad Hatter, Affably Evil, Faux Affably Evil, Bored with Insanity... listing everything he's been would warrant its own section!
    • The Riddler... Nerdy Milquetoast with a debilitating gimmick who is considering not even worth killing by other members of Batman's Rogue gallery... or a Suave, Calculating, Magnificent Bastard with an intellect possibly comparable to the Dark Knight himself?
      • There's also the fact that some interpretations have him as hyperactive and rather reminiscent of the Joker (think Frank Gorshin and Jim Carrey), while others portray him as more of a smooth-talking, calm intellectual (think John Glover and Robert Englund).
    • Killer Croc gets altered CONSTANTLY both in appearance and character. Is his intelligence below average, is he retarded, is he an animal? Is he just a thug, a thug with a cannibalistic MO, or just a savage monster who wants to eat everyone in the room? The only thing writers seem to agree on is that he's not very bright and has some sort of skin condition.
      • Croc gets it worse than most examples here in that they can't even keep his race consistent. Is he a white old-time gangster film heavy? A black inner city thug? Or is he just a big green reptile?
      • Of course, none of these interpretations are even remotely in line with the pre-Crisis version of Croc, who was a rather intelligent (not super-genius or anything, but still at least average) gang leader that just happened to have a skin condition. He wasn't even green.
      • Early on, there was even some debate as to the character's proper name, and he would variously be King Croc, Killer Croc, or simply, as he was listed in Who's Who, Croc.
        • And this same Who's Who profile claimed that Croc had no actual powers; he just had leathery skin and was abnormally, not superhumanly, strong. Compare most modern versions and you'll see the obvious discrepancy here.
    • The Planetary / Batman Crossover "Night on Earth" is essentially an issue-long Lampshade Hanging of this trope as it pertains to Batman; it involves reality 'shifting' around Crime Alley in Gotham City, with the Planetary team meeting variations of Batman ranging from Adam West to Frank Miller to Neal Adams and more besides in their varying universes. However, the actions of the issue still play out exactly the same and perfectly in character for each version of Batman, the point being that for all the different interpretations they're all nevertheless the same essential character.
    • Damian Wayne, the latest Robin, gets this too. With his creator, Grant Morrison, he tends to be written as a Heroic Sociopath who is excellent at everything. Other writers tend to have him as a more believable inexperienced child who is on his way to becoming a successful crime fighter.
      • Damian Wayne is NOT an inexperienced child, however - he was a child assassin groomed and trained since birth. Being hyper-competent makes sense within the character. He's even killed before, and has stated in the comics that the only reason he won't kill while crime fighting is that he promised Bruce he wouldn't. His personality seems to vary wildly between writers as well.
    • Don't forget the Mad Hatter. Sometimes he's a somewhat sympathetic Carrol-Obsessed loony, who truly seems to think of his mind-controlled henchmen as his friends, however delusionally. Other times he's a murderer and a child molester... with a thing for blonde girls.
    • Two-Face's "schtick" tends to ping-pong between a genuine split personality, with the Harvey and "Two-Face" personas engaging in discussions (and, in No Man's Land, a courtroom debate) with disputes between them being resolved by the coin, to a single personality with a violently extreme case of bipolar disorder and obsession with duality. Or a mixture.
  • Jason Todd/Robin II/Red Hood. Is he an Anti-Hero, an Anti-Villain, or just a full on villain? He has more interpretations than hair colors.
  • Superman is probably worse, considering he is the Trope Codifier of the Flying Brick. That was the main thing that made Superman II fail for the fans, because he was given random powers that had never appeared before. When handled at his most popular, his powers are fairly straightforward: Flight, Invulnerability, Heat Vision, Ice Breath, and the super abilities of Super Senses, Super Speed and Super Strength. Power Creep, Power Seep aside, writers would give him the most bizarre super-"whatever" power (including super-marble playing and the "S" saran wrap shield). This is probably what gave fan Jerry Seinfeld his thoughts about him having "super humor."
    • One strip has him use super-puppeteering to put on a play for Lois, and super-memory to learn the script quickly.
    • His character in the comics tends to vary as well, from being completely content identifying as a human to being all too aware of his status as an outsider.
    • Superman's powers were never really set in stone during the Golden and Silver ages. Superman was rife with New Powers as the Plot Demands up until John Byrne's post-crisis revamp gave a definite set of powers for Superman, removing some like freezing breath, forgetting others like "Super Ventriloquism" and "Super Elastic Facial Muscles" (this is not a joke), and limiting others like his super strength and speed. (Seriously, how else could a mook like the Toyman be even kind of a threat?) That is until later writers decided to undo all of that since a superhero with limits just wasn't "interesting" enough.
    • At the Superman rollercoaster at Six Flags Great Adventure, there are giant plaques hung up that you can read while advancing through the line. Superman's plaque lists one of his powers as "Super-Intelligence".
      • We are talking about a guy who, canonically, built functional android duplicates of himself realistic (and powerful) enough to take his place if he's indisposed. He actually is supposed to be scary smart. But, well ... you know.
    • Superman's reality warping enemy, Mr. Mxyzptlk, flips back and forth between sociopathic pest and Stealth Mentor.
    • His weaknesses suffer this too. Kryptonite is often shown to have him on the ground in pain in seconds just from waving it in front of his face while red sunlight shuts his powers off instantly. Then he'll turn around and fly through an entire asteroid belt and a red star and still somehow survive a crash landing on a planet before his powers completely fade. Though some of this is genuine retconning. Red sunlight was changed to cause rapid power depletion instead of instant powerlessness for a couple of decades before it went back to being his off switch.
      • His vulnerability to magic can be even more confusing. Do you have a pencil that's magically enchanted to write what you say? You can stab Superman with that even though nothing about the magic actually makes it a better weapon. On the other some writers have him able to square off with Thor and Captain Marvel who should be able to tear him apart if the above was true.
  • Many comic-book villains alternate between Noble Demon and baby-eating psycho depending on who's writing them (Dr. Doom and Magneto being the most obvious). It's very strange to see Magneto go between being Claremont Well-Intentioned Extremist Magneto and Grant Morrison's parody Silver Age drug addict Magneto.
    • ...which is why Grant Morrison's Mags officially wasn't him. And afterward Magneto (written by Chris Claremont) commented "Why would anyone think I was capable of that?"
  • John Byrne's Alpha Flight were (his protests to the contrary) well-Rounded Characters with depth and interest. After he quit, they rapidly went to being whiny losers and have never been portrayed consistently since, until they all died to show how powerful a random villain was (and pave the way for Omega Flight).
  • X-Men example: Cyclops tends to go from bad-ass leader, whiny emo-kid, to punchable asshat who treats his women like shit due to his constant infidelity. Wolverine is even worse, as he can be a murder-happy asshole, honorable warrior, fatherly mentor, and the gruff veteran super-hero whose violent nature is a source of conflict within him.
    • His personality being all over the place is pretty much par for the course, but combine that with his tendency to be everywhere at once in various different costumes.
      • His powers aren't even consistent. He goes from taking a gunshot to the stomach and taking a few days to heal to standing right next to Nitro when he goes off and regenerating from only his skeleton in seconds.
    • Both Wolverine and Colossus have an actual physical problem in this area: writers can't seem to decide once and for all whether adamantium and organic steel are magnetic... which is kind of important given who the X-Men's most frequent recurring big bad is.
    • One of the worse examples in the X-Men has to be Polaris and Havok. Either they are insane with rage at the treatment of mutantkind, running screaming into the hills to try and live normal lives (their original default personalities BTW), or are being written as the brainwashed pawns of the villain of the week.
    • In one old X-men comic, Colossus is shown to be especially weak to Storm's lightning because he's made of metal, the tiniest spark sending him into bouts of pain. Only a few issues later, he takes one of Storm's normal lightning bolts with a smile on his face. Maybe he just became a masochist.
    • Nightcrawler, another member of the X-Men, falls prey to this trope as well. In his initial appearances, he's Fun Personified, though some later writers downplay this quality and a few remove it almost entirely. It also happens with his religion, initially he didn't talk about it much and said it was just a matter between him and God, but some writers make him more religious, even to the point where he's training to become a priest.
    • A storyline from late in the Chris Claremont's classic run has the team killed and resurrected, which renders the lineup at the time, which included Rogue, Storm, and Wolverine[1] invisible to cameras, a fact referenced and exploited frequently throughout the rest of his run. This is completely forgotten by the next writer, and since then, whenever one of the eight shows up, they turn up on camera unless it's written by Chris himself, who makes references to this trait well into the noughties.
    • Another is the use of the word "human" by sympathetic characters - certain villains, of course, draw a bright line, but whether aliens feel the need to specify "humans and mutants" or whether the X-Men themselves refer to "humans" or "non-mutant humans" depends far more on the writer than the characters.
  • Is Black Canary a genuine, butt-kicking, Action Girl? Or is she a Faux Action Girl who, as Green Arrow's Shallow Love Interest, needs Green Arrow to get her out of trouble? Depends on who's writing her, and what comic it is. If it's Birds of Prey, expect the former. If it's anything with "Green Arrow" in the title (or if Judd Winick is at the helm), expect the latter.
  • Namor the Sub-Mariner has had this basically non-stop since he was first published in the late thirties. He's either a violent and bitter anti-hero with an unjust grudge against humanity, a noble leader who is only seeking the best for his people, a stalwart pragmatist whose loyalty to his comrades is without question, or some combination thereof. In fact, his writing varies so much that Marvel eventually canonized it: he has a disorder caused by his amphibious physiology that manifests in that way.
  • Runaways: The portrayal of Chase Stein has always swung between Jerk Jock and Cute but Troubled, but Terry Moore seems to have taken the "Idiot Jock" interpretation and run with it, giving Chase a very immature personality.
    • Chase wasn't the only one, virtually all the characters were heavily derailed by Terry Moore. Nico went from a leader to a megalomaniac, Molly went from playing naive and innocent to throw people off to actually thinking "we could build a fort!" is an appropriate response to an emergency, Victor stopped being funny, Xavin became too funny, and Klara lost anything resembling a personality. The closest thing to a consistent character is Karolina, who still seems to have lost her backbone.
  • Johnny Storm of the Fantastic Four has alternated between self-obsessed prima donna and self-obsessed whiny asshat, while Susan Storm has switched between defenseless butterfly to empowered female. Additionally, every new writer of the book seems to like to take a socially well-adjusted Ben Grimm and throw on the angst about his condition so they can take him out again. Reed Richards? Always a dork, but it's not quite clear how many shades of Badass Bookworm he has.
    • Some FF writers, most notably Tom DeFalco, have tried to upgrade Johnny to at least being savvy about his powers and status. Later ones felt the need to make him dumb and dumber both. Also, a character who can end up spending months away from Earth aiding his team and family is frequently taken to task for not going to college. Some courses are crazy, and require you to show up for class.
    • None of this compares to Victor Von Doom. Dr. Doom is swung back and forth from being a baby-eating psycho, to practically being an Anti-Villain more noble and courageous then Reed Richards, and everything in between. In particular, the way he runs his country comes under fire from this- does he make it a complete utopia with happy, contented citizens, or is it just a facade the citizens put on because Doom will kill anyone who disagrees, and Doom himself only cares for them as a master would care for his pet? Writers almost always wind up disagreeing with one another about Doom's correct portrayal and declare stories they don't approve of to have been Doombots instead.
      • Just going to note that "baby-eating psycho" isn't an exaggeration of how some writers view him. Here's Mark Waid's take on the character:

"The truism that Victor von Doom is, despite his villainy, a noble person is absolute crap. A man whose entire motivating force is jealousy is ridiculously petty, not grandly noble. Yes, Doom is regal and yes, whenever possible, Doom likes to act as though he possesses great moral character because to him that's what great men have... [but Doom] would tear the head off a newborn baby and eat it like an apple while his mother watched if it would somehow prove he was smarter than Reed."

      • Dr. Doom gets an additional layer about running his own country. Does he truly care about his citizens? Does he act the monarch just for arrogant sense of self-entitlement, and to gain access to the resources of an entire nation and diplomatic immunity? Are the people of Latveria genuinely happy under his rule? Is Latveria a police state where no public display of malcontent is allowed?
  • In most Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles adaptations, Raphael is portrayed as a brooding loner who frequently breaks from the group and fights with his brothers—particularly Leonardo, who has a much more commanding presence as a leader. In others, like the original Fred Wolf animated series, Raphael is a good-natured albeit sarcastic jokester while Leonardo seems more toned down and unofficial in his leadership role. Michaelangelo and Donatello remain constant for the most part.
  • Depending on who's in control, Solomon Grundy can be incapable of saying anything more than "Solomon Grundy, born on a Monday" or perfectly capable of rational speech. The differences can get quite jarring at times. Surprisingly, there's actually an explanation for this. Every time he dies he comes back with a different personality, and it's very hard to stop him without killing him. A recent miniseries is focused on him returning with his mortal personality and trying to break this cycle. The first arc of the Justice League revamp began with, surprisingly, Solomon Grundy as the Big Bad and actually the brains behind the whole scheme (which was to steal Red Tornado's new robot/android/cyborg body and place his soul in it so he'd stop dying). It was extremely odd seeing Grundy looking like a buff, albino gangster.
  • How about The Punisher? Generally a good man who's committed to trying to make sure his family's deaths don't happen again? Psychopathic monster who'll kill people for littering or being junkies? A man on a mission with a singular purpose and great at planning? Barely rational gun-toting lunatic?
  • The second female Hawk of Hawk and Dove named Holly Granger was a case of this in her tenure in the comics. Was she a bad-tempered bratty younger sister with a punk edge? Or was she more of a promiscuous seductress? Did she speak in a phony British accent with slang or not? And was she Dawn's younger or older sister (the latter which would technically make her a case of Christmas Cake when she slept with Power Boy in that Squick-inducing scene, thank you very much, Judd Winick.). Is it any wonder she became Blackest Night cannon fodder?
  • The Hulk has numerous factors of his character that vary between writers; Whether he's a dumb brute that can only speak in Hulk Speak, a completely mindless monster who can't talk at all, or someone with a fairly average intellect with a somewhat odd speech pattern. This is somewhat justified by Banner having multiple personality syndrome and there being thousands of Hulks in his mind. Also depending on the writer is the Hulk's powerlevel; while it is in a state of flux depending on his emotional state, some writers have him being knocked out by an average python choking him for less than a minute, and dying from being impaled by a triton when he's previously survived wounds that make that seem like a papercut by comparison.
    • One telling comparison is to look at a few recent depictions of the Hulk by three very different writers. Greg Pak has been the main writer on the Hulk for about five years now and has gone into great lengths to give the Hulk, rather than Bruce Banner, some in depth character development through such storylines as Planet Hulk, World War Hulk, and Fall of the Hulks, which paint a complex and sympathetic picture of the Jade Giant. Then there's Mark Millar's run on The Ultimates and the Old Man Logan mini series. The former shows Banner as weak willed and insecure(not completely unjustified given it's meant to be early on in the character's history) and the Hulk as a boarderlined Complete Monster who, among other things, is an active cannibal. The latter shows Banner/Hulk as an insane red neck who leads a gang of his inbred mutant children(sired with his cousin, She Hulk, suggested to have been by rape) and rules over the ruins of the west coast. Granted, Millar's versions are an alternate universe and Bad Future, respectively, but one gets the idea that he doesn't think highly of the character.
  • Portrayals of The Authority vary from writer to writer, to the point where it's not consistent whether they're the Wildstorm Universe's greatest force for good or a bunch of sociopathic fascists. Also doesn't help that they get used as punching bags in series other than their own.
  • John Constantine in Hellblazer suffers from this trope. Is he just an ordinary blue-collar bloke who happens to attract a lot of supernatural attention and who learned some magic in order to deal with this, or a master sorcerer who can casually bend the laws of time and space at will? A more or less decent guy at heart who struggles with his conscience like anyone else would in his situation, or an utter and unrepentant bastard who'd throw anybody under the bus without a second thought? Is he in fact sane, or isn't he? Some of his writers have tried to explain away the changes they make to his personality (an example that springs to mind is externalizing all his guilt into a demon infant and tossing it off a cliff) and some haven't.
  • The relative goodness of Deadpool varies. Sometimes he's depicted as heavily mentally unstable, even Ax Crazy covered up by a facade of goofiness, whereas at other times, he's a Crazy Awesome anti-hero who would Never Hurt an Innocent. The Hulk Vs series kind of splits the difference, having an amusing Deadpool who is also completely malevolent.
  • Fin Fang Foom's size, intelligence, backstory, and alignment vary wildly between appearances, as discussed here.
  • The New Gods. Oh boy the New Gods. You have some names and some basic relationships. Just about nothing else will remain consistent between writers or even in different appearances by the same writer. This falls broadly into two camps: people who never actually read the thing and people who did but changed things they didn't particularly care for. Examples: the nature of the Anti-Life Equation, the nature of the New Gods themselves, whether Neo Genesis and Apokolips were somewhere in space or another dimension entirely, and what their actual size is.
  • The team formerly known as the Micronauts has kept reappearing occasionally since 1996 revealed that Arcturus Rann, Mari, and Bug were somehow still alive. They've appeared in Cable, Captain Marvel, Earth X, Realm of Kings, Son of Hulk, and Alpha Flight. Rann and Mari have had different personalities in each. In the Cable appearance, Rann was rather genial and avuncular, Mari was taciturn and humorless (along with sporting a lesbian look). In following appearances, they've ranged from having no personality other than a sci-fi plot device (Mari technobabbles like a Star Trek episode), to Realm of Kings, where Mari acts like a ditzy motormouth amazon and Rann acts bored. Admittedly, since Bug is no longer part of the team, the comic relief falls of the shoulders of Mari and her android sidekick Carl.
  • Spirou changed writers many times over the years. Aside from being very visible, the storylines vary, too. Rob-Vel started Spirou being an actual bellboy, Franquin turned him into an journalist adventurer, Fournier made him run into more surreal stuff, various other writers had their own stint before Tome and Janry made the series return to the Franquin era, with the stories getting progressively Darker and Edgier, while starting a Spin-Off about Spirou in his youth, and, after a commercially failed attempt at a (sort of) realistic story, Morvan and Munuera took a more Manga-style take at it, the stories no longer stuck to the present day. With the recent sacking of the latter two, the series currently has no writer, however a new one, with their own views, will turn up acit some point.
  • The Archie Comics are famous for this.


Fanfiction[edit | hide]

  • Very common in fanfics written by more than one author, which is sometimes two existing authors on the same site, but more often than not two friends, or a group, writing together using a shared account. Only ten percent of these are done well; the rest of the time, you can usually tell which chapter was written by a different author under the following criteria: characterization, shipping preferences, and what direction the plot goes in, no matter how improbable.
  • Touhou fanworks. It's extremely common to see takes on characters that either hew close to the official details, exaggerate them for parody or drama, or blatantly ignore them. Complicated with endless arguments about what is canon and fanon. One doujin can make one character extremely nice, another a complete Jerkass, another an Axe Crazy mass murderer.


Literature[edit | hide]

  • The Star Wars Expanded Universe has some very bad examples of this, especially in the long, interconnected series of novels. The New Jedi Order series (19 novels, 27 stories, 12 different writers) was legendary for this, and its followup, Legacy of the Force, managed to be almost as bad—despite being only three writers writing three books each.
    • Even before then, some parts of the Bantam Spectra-era Expanded Universe had some serious Character Derailment, Depending on the Writer. Largely this is because writers apparently didn't like one anothers' work and did as they pleased, ignoring the fact that the Star Wars EU is supposed to be continuous. This led to quite a few Fix Fics—and see that article for how this was eventually repaired in Canon.
    • The best example is probably the character, Tahiri. She has managed to cycle through being the girl Raised by Natives, the Victorious Childhood Friend, the shell shocked torture victim, the widowed lover, Ax Crazy, the girl with split personalities (which later merge into a 3rd personality), the cultish bug girl, a Sith apprentice, the lover who just won't let go, a pedophile seductress, the Femme Fatale and is now on the journey to find herself. Oh and did I mention that these all occurred with little to no character development and all function subsequently from each other? Oh boy....
      • About the first half are justified- the first two and the fourth are both aspects of her unified character, and the next three are all results of being a Yuuzhan Vong Shaper's guinea pig. Everything from there on, though, is pretty inexcusable.
      • In Fate of the Jedi: Ascension, you can add The Atoner to the list. Though, considering the above, this characterization makes sense.
    • The Black Fleet Crisis, Callista and Jedi Academy Trilogy books portrayed Luke Skywalker egregiously bad. He went from The Hero to The Obi Wrong to everywhere in between. They even managed to introduce The Scrappy in Callista and Akanah.
    • In a word: Mando'a. Depending on the writer—that is, depending on whether the writer is Karen Traviss or not—the Mandalorians are either gruff, psychologically diverse mercenaries and warriors with questionable pasts and practices, or eternally morally-upstanding Warrior Poet heroes of Mary Suetopia who show the Jedi what they're really supposed to be like. Traviss's work has included A Jedi dropping his saber and joining them, and an attempt to justify Order 66. Traviss's moments of Small Name, Big Ego don't help matters.
    • Are Imperial stormtroopers a bunch of faceless mooks, poorly equipped, poorly armed, half blind, disorganized, blindly obedient, dim-witted, in fragile armor, easily killed, and fundamentally evil so it's okay to kill them? Or are they a widely disparate military force of individuals, who joined the stormtrooper corps for many reasons including the desire to protect civilians, who may question the orders they are given, who think of themselves as preservers of order and justice, highly trained and well equipped, a Badass Army that too often gets led by incompetents and evil people? Depends. Are you reading most EU novels, or are you reading anything by Timothy Zahn?
      • Generally this depends on how much character development the Imperials get. For example, the TIE Fighter video game, which had the player as an Imperial pilot the entire time, have the Imperials on the right side of morality in virtually every battle, with some "questionable" secondary objectives.
      • Also any ex-Imperial military personal (Stormtrooper, Officer, Pilots, etc) instantly becomes elite if they join the Rebels or mercenaries. That is a pretty strong indication they are well-trained, just forced to use ridiculously bad tactics.
    • Another good one for a long while was Luke's love life. You could see the canon wars as practically every single writer made a new beautiful girl for Luke to fall for, convinced that his creation was the future Mrs. Skywalker. Timothy Zahn just got the last shot.
    • The Millennium Falcon's speed. Does "Fastest Ship In the Galaxy" apply to realspace and hyperspice both, or just hyperspace. The movies, Word of God, and several pieces point towards the former (the Falcon is clearly shown flying the fastest in Return of the Jedi, but some writers, perhaps drawing too much from the tabletop RPG, make it slower than fighters. But it was also shown being outrun by a Star Destroyer in "The Empire Strikes Back" (hence Han's line about "We can still outmaneuver them"), though admittedly this was while it was in a state of disrepair.
  • Pretty inexcusable overall is just about every writer meddling with the H.P. Lovecraft mythos.
    • H.P. Lovecraft never really attempted to portray his stories as a single, consistent mythos. A few names and ideas are shared, but there's no actual continuity. Lovecraft is practically a one-man Depending on the Author.
      • Which is rather fitting given the themes...
    • The problem is not the continuity, but the mood of the setting. For Lovecraft, it was heavily about how the universe just doesn't care about mankind. Later writers making humans more important and worth the notice of Cosmic Horrors is what is often complained about.
  • Conan the Barbarian is pretty much always an Anti-Hero, but what kind of anti hero very much depends on the Author. Howard himself wrote him mostly as a Type IV, subsequent authors as anywhere from Type II to Type V, the Marvel Comics mostly as a Type II and the Movies as a Type III while the cartoon Conan The Adventurer had him as a straight hero.
  • War of the Spider Queen series suffer from this trope very badly. In a sextology where each book was written by a different author, this sounds like it should have been inevitable, but RA Salvatore was billed rather prominently as the series' editor (most likely for other reasons). All of the characters got hosed with this from book to book.
    • Deadpan Snarker and fan favorite Pharaun Mizzrym in particular suffered from wildly inconsistent characterization in the later books of the series. And then was killed off.
    • There was also Halisstra, resident Heel Face Turner and Defector From Decadence, who was pretty consistent in her first few appearances as a scheming but not-particularly-cruel drow who jumped ship when a nicer deity than Lolth came down the line. Then after her conversion she got flanderized into an idiot who shouldn't have lasted a day in drow society and made some utterly boneheaded moves that ultimately got her forcibly converted into Lolth's Brainwashed and Crazy bloodhound. Sigh.
  • As regards the Doctor Who Expanded Universe Eighth Doctor Adventures... the Eighth Doctor was played on-screen by a man who is about 5'8", and it happened to come up that he's 160 lbs fully (over)dressed with shoes on. He's no Noodle Person. He is shorter than average, with a compact, athletic build. Nonetheless, in the novels, even the same author sometimes cannot decide whether he is very tall and skinny, slight, or merely a little shorter than your typical human, Human Alien, or Ambiguous Human. Fitz, previously described as so tall he feels mismatched standing next to a woman who does not seem to be excessively petite, is in one scene surprised that a 6'6" young woman is taller than the Doctor. Who, like I said, ought to be a full eight inches shorter than her. This also happens to eye colour—in Fitz's intro book, his eyes are twice mentioned as Gray Eyes, and once as blue. They eventually settle on gray. The Doctor's eyes can't decide whether to be pale blue, electric blue, blue-gray, blue-green, or green. Also, almost every character is written inconsistently to some extent. Sometimes the Doctor is basically just The Messiah with a side of Cloudcuckoolander, and sometimes everyone spends the whole book shouting, "What the Hell, Hero??!" at him. Fitz's intelligence fluctuates, and he runs the gamut of Kavorka Man, Chivalrous Pervert, and, on rare occasion, comes across as Doctorsexual. He once committed contempt of court because someone insulted Anji for her ethnicity, but he once asked her if her people speak Hindu, and continues bugging her even when she gets obviously annoyed—considering the fact his father was a German immigrant (hey, Fitz do your people speak Dutch or something?) and Fitz is most of the time practically The Chick in that once you get beyond the snark, he's a ridiculously sweet, caring person, it's all the more egregious.
  • This happens in the Dragonlance series of novels as well. Elves in particular can get very different portrayals depending on the writer. They are sometimes depicted as being vegetarians, and being disgusted with eating meat, or they are depicted as having no problem with eating meat. They are also sometimes depicted as having a somewhat different mindset than humans due to their long lives, other times they are very human-like and have no trouble relating to humans. The world as a whole can either be depicted as a gritty, medieval one, or a fairly tame Renaissance Faire-like world.
  • The Arthurian mythos. Dozens of medieval authors created works related to the Matter of Britain - and the number of knights, the location of Arthur's court, not to mention countless minute details, tended to vary from one writer to another.
  • Atlanta Nights manages to do this within a single book, which makes sense considering that it's a collaborative hoax by several writers.
  • Older Than Dirt: The Mesopotamian Epic of Atra-Hasis (18th century BCE) tells details of the Great Flood which contradict the somewhat older The Epic of Gilgamesh.


Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • In Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Buffy's level of angst, Xander's level of competence, Spike's level of Evil, Cordelia's level of maturity, and how exactly magic works in the Buffy-verse oscillate back and forth depending on who's writing them this episode. This was especially true in the sixth season.
    • See also the vampires. Are they demons who just look like you and share some of your memories, or are they you with the morality taken out and a desire to eat people? Add into that Spike in S5 doing the Right Thing several times...
  • Darcy Edwards from Degrassi the Next Generation is the only religious character on the show, and it's painfully obvious that the writers weren't sure how to write a religious character. Even in episodes with the same writer, she's totally different every time. She's been a snob, a saintly Trickster Mentor, shy and insecure, a girl who feels the obligation to be perfect but wishes she could rebel, etc.
    • In Degrassi the Next Generation in general, the show's fondness for the Face Heel Turn and Heel Face Turn can sometimes causes this. The characters adjust to the new personality so quickly (often forgetting the old one ever existed) that even when the character had a sensible reason to turn, it can feel like they changed completely out of the blue.
  • Practically every example of Continuity Drift in Star Trek has this trope to blame.
    • Captain Archer on Star Trek: Enterprise. On alternating episodes he'd go back and forth between no-morals-hardass and morals-are-the-most-important-thing paragon. One episode he threatened to shoot someone out of an airlock and in the next episode he refused to do something that was far more justifiable.
    • Same goes for Captain Janeway on Star Trek: Voyager. Rebel? By the book? Violently gung-ho? Depressive and self-recriminating? No matter what she decides (usually without conferencing with her officers beforehand, something which Picard did regularly), the script will be on her side.
    • This kind of thing goes all the way back to Spock in Star Trek: The Original Series ; sometimes he was portrayed as an earnest pacifist unwilling to use a phaser and uncomfortable with the idea of hurting others under any circumstances, and sometimes he was portrayed as a cold tactician who was willing to Shoot the Dog at a moment's notice, if such an act was for the greater good. (Also, his Vulcan disdainfulness of anything human or illogical was sometimes played up to the point where he could, at times, enter Jerkass territory.)
    • In Star Trek: The Next Generation, Picard will do everything imaginable to avoid violent conflict, even with entities or aliens that seem to be nothing but Card-Carrying Villain, he will make certain that violence is the only way before resorting to it. Amongst other things he refused to commit genocide against the Borg, and this was after he was made into Locutus. 'Movie' Picard, however, considers diplomacy that obligatory 'stop or I'll shoot' line, before proceeding to go about killing.
    • Q, as SF Debris points out, was strongly subjected to this. He could either be detached and sinister ("Encounter at Farpoint", "Q Who", "True Q", "All Good Things...") or wild and silly ("Hide and Q", "Q-Pid", and his subsequent appearances on Deep Space Nine and Voyager).
      • "All Good Things..." doesn't really fit into either because while he is playing Judge and Jury to all humanity, he is also actually trying to help Picard, without the other Q actually knowing about it
      • Q is essentially a Trickster God so the entire point of his character is that you never know what he's really thinking, only what he chooses to show you this week.
  • This is one of the biggest complaints about Alexis on Ugly Betty. Alexis was a shadowy Big Bad figure for the first half of season one. Then she had a Heel Face Turn while retaining her aggressive, competitive personality. From then, it was on. The writers just couldn't decide if she was a good guy or a bad guy. This got so bad that Rebecca Romijn - the actor who plays Alexis - decided to quit the show. Romijn has said that

"They made a tremendous amount of changes, especially with the writing staff [during the writers' strike]. And while I know I'll be coming back next season, with all the changes, I'm not sure they can take care of my character they way they have been. So I'll be leaving, back in a recurring capacity, but time for me to leave and find something else."

  • In Doctor Who the Doctor's moral standard varies for better or worse depending on the current writing staff. Partly justified when the change happens between regenerations; at the end of the first Tenth Doctor episode, he gives a speech about how each time he changes he becomes a different type of doctor in personality terms as well.
    • More generally, the Time Lords as a collective culture have wildly varied in their depiction according to writers' tastes and political attitudes, from benevolent, god-like protectors of the universe to pompous but weak old codgers who can't actually do much to an almost completely self-serving and ruthless Deadly Decadent Court to a full-blown Omnicidal Maniac culture. The Doctor did point out that the last one was a result of the Time war however.
      • The first two are somewhat reconcilable, the Time Lords are immensely powerful but have so dedicated themselves to non-interference that if something manages to get inside their defenses, they are almost helpless since they have no idea how to deal with it(and in every case in the classic series, that something is a Time Lord, not some random invading race(even Invasion of Time, it is the Doctor that allows the aliens to invade, because he knows that if he doesn't, some other, more sinister Time Lord, eventually will)).
    • The Master is a notable example of this. While, like the Doctor, regeneration is an explanation for a lot of differences in his personality, his exact goals, his intelligence, and how insane he actually is, varies WAY more than the Doctor's personality does between regenerations. Anthony Ainley's Master, in particular, suffers from this, he wanted to play the character as cold and calculating but, with the exception of his final appearance in Survival, in which he was allowed to do that, the production staff insisted that he lay it on thick with the old mustache twirling and psychotic laughing.
    • Sarah Jane Smith. This character is a feminist, and she was featured at a pretty chaotic time for feminism, so the character completely changes depending on the current author's attitude to women and/or feminism. She varies from a Straw Feminist to a Plucky Girl to The Load to Adorkable (like the author is saying feminists are sooo cute with their silly little ideas!) to You Go, Girl!.
      • That she continually came across as intelligent, able to take care of herself, and able to stand up to the Doctor, points a lot to Lis Sladen's skill.
    • Leela was a particularly bad example. When first introduced she was relatively uncivilised but in fact highly intelligent (she is shown as abandoning all superstition when the Doctor explains science to her and in The Talons of Weng-Chiang, caught on the nature of the villain almost as quickly as the doctor). Come The Invisible Enemy and she's described as 'all instinct and emotion'.
    • Matthew Waterhouse complained about Adric being written like this, particularly Four to Doomsday. From that story's notes (quoting Doctor Who Magazine):

My performance varied from script to script, particularly after I drew the conclusion that there wasn't going to be any continuity with Adric. Then what I did was that every time I read a script, I re-developed it--as far as I'm concerned in each four episodes he was a new individual. Every time I developed a gut feeling about him, about what he should do and think, it was contradicted in the next script.

  • Supernatural: Dean can either be a complete bimbo, a Genius Ditz or very clever depending on who writes him.
  • Done to a frustrating degree in the last two seasons of Dawson's Creek. Take your pick from the supporting cast: Charlie, CJ, Eddie, or Natasha will happily go back and forth between being kind, sweet and understanding and complete jerks.
  • On the latest BBC series of Robin Hood, Guy of Gisbourne can range from a sadistic, remorseless killer to a tortured Byronic anti-hero. Sometimes he's both in the same episode.
  • The Shield has this by the barrel: Shane Vendrell, Complete Monster or morally conflicted anti-hero who possesses the self-awareness that is completely absent in Vic Mackey? Claudette Wyms, the only character with a conscience on a show filled with moral ambiguity or a hypocritical bitch who is willing to let corrupt cop Vic Mackey do as he pleases (let alone cover up her own partner's complicity in corrupt antics) so long as Vic doesn't do anything to threaten her own Alpha Female status. Not to mention Vic Mackey, who can go from anti-hero to heroic sociopath to complete monster, within a matter of a couple of episodes.
    • Arguably, the show never tried to differentiate between any of the possibilities on purpose. That all were possible at the same time (this being a very crapsack kind of show) is entirely likely, given the persona each character would have to have for the given situation and the circumstances around them.
  • The very nature of the universe in Andromeda varied depending on the writer. Inconsistencies existed from the start, but they were really severe by season three, when most of the show's original creative staff was gone. The remaining original writers continued writing it as a hard science fiction series, while the new staffers wrote it as a way-out space fantasy whose physics and technology (and often plots) were a hodgepodge of TV sci-fi cliches. Things like faster-than-light communication and forcefields would exist in one episode and be nonexistent the next.
  • Prior to Season 6, House could either be a simply eccentric Jerkass spouting sarcastic one-liners ("Yes, feel free to exclude any symptom if it makes your job easier!") to a Wangst-filled Nietzsche Wannabe with no regard for anything but solving the puzzle ("If your life's no more important than anyone else's, sign your donor card and kill yourself."). Fortunately, these fluctuations could be easily Handwaved away as the side effects of his Vicodin addiction.
    • Sadly, these fluctuations seemed to have come back in Season 7, this time Handwaved away by House's alcohol use.
  • All soap opera characters and relationships. A character can be written a certain way for years, and then, out of nowhere, their personality will completely alter. The same is true of back-stories.
  • The transition from season 1 to season 2, with different writers and more Executive Meddling, left a few characters in Carnivale out in the cold:
    • Stumpy was a rather complex character in season 1, but during season two he suddenly developed a gambling addiction when the (new) writers felt they needed something to pad out an episode or two, and became a straw racist when the writers suddenly realised that they'd never bothered to write a black character with any degree of complexity and needed to cover their arses.
    • Similarly, Ruthie, a well-written, subversively sexual character (considering she's past a certain age), became a cliched recipient of Lodz's ghost, leading to lots of hammy acting and the elimination of any vestige of the effectual presence she used to have in the story beyond being something of a MacGuffin.
  • Dr. Temperance Brennan of Bones can be anywhere between a Deadpan Snarker who makes fiery political commentaries and a Emotionless Girl with No Social Skills who can't get a simple joke. Within one season.
  • Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory. Since he is "the crazy" character, he can jump from one type of "crazy" to the other. He can swing wildly from being an extreme contrarian who disagrees with every tradition and social convention ("Why should we give present on birthdays? It makes no sense."); or be a crazy-obsessed, ultra-defensive authoritarian capable of rationalizing everything. ("Going to the movies and don't buy popcorn? Are you out of your mind?").
    • Also, The Other Wiki mentioned that Howard can be either extremely elated over no longer being Sheldon's friend (the Friendship Algorithm),or hurt and offended when he's deemed simply an "acquaintance" (the Bozeman Reaction).
  • Glee, so much. The show's writers don't seem to communicate at all, and it honestly feels like you're watching three separate shows. Characterization, continuity, everything changes on a dime. From the main trope page: "Brad Falchuk is writing a bittersweet dramedy about people who want to be special, Ian Brennan is writing a black comedy, and Ryan Murphy is writing a quirky Ryan Murphy show."
    • This can even fluctuate in episodes written by the same person—in "A Very Glee Christmas," the school's hatred of the New Directions is rather clear when they go around caroling ("YOU'RE MAKING ME HATE CHRISTMAS!"), but by "Prom Queen" they're the ones performing all the music, and the crowd is going wild. Both episodes written by Ian Brennan. Sure, why not.
    • Characters who get this the worst are definitely Quinn, Will, Puck and Sam.
    • Rachel Berry is pretty consistent from episode to episode: irritating, ambitious, conceited, but well meaning and she knows when she's crossing the Moral Event Horizon. The way the other characters react to her is a different story.
  • iCarly and how it flits between The Power of Friendship and Comedic Sociopathy.
  • Main character Karl in the Norwegian sitcom Mot i brøstet is a great example. Is he an everyman or a snotty upperclass jerk? Is he a semi-successful businessman or a delusional idiot no one takes seriously? Does he like or hate soccer and other low-culture nonsense? It all depends on the episode. Henry has also changed from brilliant manipulator to senile idiot, but I guess we can blame that on him turning old.
  • Sometimes happens in Shake It Up. Cece and Rocky often switch between Tomboy and Girly Girl. Also, Cece may be just Book Dumb or she may be literally unable to add.
  • Nearly the entire cast of Merlin. King Uther will either respond to the threat of magic with scepticism and bluster or with paranoia and deadly force. Gaius will either be urging Merlin to keep his head down and not interfere with anything, or telling him to step up and embrace his destiny. Arthur can be intelligent and sensitive, or an idiotic bully. The male writing staff write Morgana as a gleefully evil Femme Fatale, whilst the show's sole female writer Lucy Watkins tries to give her some shades of grey. Due to their Hidden Depths, Merlin and Gwen are the only two characters who have managed to sustain some degree of consistency, as most of the time they come across as shy and humble, but can take charge when the occasion calls for it.
  • In Heroes, the characterisation of Sylar changed from episode to episode.
    • Firing all the writers in Series 4 and bringing on an entirely new team, certainly didn't help matters.

Music[edit | hide]

  • In Vocaloid, the character interpretations may differ from song to song (all of them are made by the fans).


Mythology[edit | hide]

  • Myths and legends are highly subject to this, as they originated from Oral Tradition and thus have no known "original" version. For one specific example, consider the Greek myth of Arachne. The basic details are always the same: Arachne is said to be a better weaver than even Athena (the goddess of weaving) herself, Athena challenges her to a contest to see who's better, and by the end Arachne is a spider. The specifics, however, change from telling to telling.
    • In some versions, Arachne is a Jerkass who doesn't know when to stop (like dancing and singing "I'm better than you, nany-nany boo-boo" in Athena's face); in others she's just a talented weaver who crosses a goddess by virtue of being that good.
    • Regarding Athena, sometimes she's a Jerkass God who transforms Arachne out of petty jealousy (and even beats the crap out of her first). Other times (such as the Cryptonomicon) say Athena willingly admits that Arachne is better, only for Arachne's overwhelming hubris to get on her last nerve.
    • The character of Arachne's mother: in some versions she's the one who does the the Blasphemous Boast bragging; in others she's the Only Sane Man who tries to rein in her daughter's ego and begs Athena for mercy.
    • The transformation itself is subject to this as well. Sometimes it's punishment for her actions, while in others it's comparatively a mercy, Athena choosing to spare Arachne's life and turn her into a form where the whole world can see her beautiful weaving.


Tabletop Games[edit | hide]

  • Within Warhammer 40,000 discussions of Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny will generally have at least one fan stating the abilities of each army while being portrayed in an adaptation will always depends on the adaptation. Especially the Imperial Guard, who in a Space Marine based book will just run away and die, and in a guard based book will be courageous humans in impossible war situations.
    • This actually happens to every faction: They kick ass in their own codex, but only appear in the other codexes to make that side look good. The 2nd Edition Tyranid Codex actually had a company of Space Marines get wiped out seventeen minutes after their Big Damn Heroes moment.
    • Of course, given how vast the W40K 'verse is, both extremes (and everything in between) could coexist.
  • White Wolf hires freelance writers to write their Exalted books, often assigning different people to write different chapters. Normally, it's not that noticeable, but the Infernals book bears mentioning. In some chapters, there are obvious hints that hey, Infernal Exalts don't HAVE to be evil, but in other chapters you're beaten over the head with the fact that all Infernals are horrible evil monsters and can never be good, ever. Word of God has since cleared up what the creators intended to get across, but it's still a hotly-debated subject.
  • White Wolf tends to have a few problems with this, and one stand-out example is in Changeling: The Dreaming, where the writers kept going back and forth on what "Banality" was, aside from "the death of hope." Banality was trying to define and tie down the world too much... except the nockers kept insisting that the moon landing resulted in the biggest rush of glamour anyone had seen in several life times. So Banality was boring, ultra-focused practicalities... except there were sample NPCs who got Glamour from those activities because of mindset. When it got to the point that LARP was associated with the Autumn People, you knew there was a basic communication breakdown. Sadly, the line was cancelled before The Book of Glamour (which would have to lay out some basics on Glamour and Banality) could be released.


Theater[edit | hide]

  • In any theater production, it is common that the way the characters are presented will be different depending on the actor and director. For example, in Oklahoma!!, Jud Fry can be played as a buffoon lacking intelligence, a possessive and evil man, a slightly insane man or a sympathetic and misunderstood man who struggles with depression. Curly could also be played as an overconfident and cocky braggart who is slightly cowardly or a person who is confident and charming. This mostly depends on the depth of the director.
    • It can also happen with the choice of actor, too - some characters tend to make a character sound different. Or in the case of a certain character. Brunhilde. They normally had fat or extremely masculine looking women play her, but with a choice of actress, she becomes Hot Amazon.
  • There are lots of examples from Shakespeare. Is Hamlet mad, or just faking it? Does Gertrude drink the poisoned wine deliberately (suggesting a greater understanding of the situation than indicated in the text)? Is Banquo's ghost really there during the feast, or is Macbeth hallucinating? Is Shylock a truly nasty piece of work, or is he an Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain? Is Antonio in love with Sebastian? Just how straight is Kate's end-of-play lecture on wifely submission played? And so on ad infinitum. It all depends on the director and the actor.
  • This was the downfall (or, rather, show stopper) of Adolf Hitler in The Producers.


Video Games[edit | hide]


Web Original[edit | hide]

  • Slender Man. The traits that every Slendy incarnation has had are a black business suit with black tie and white shirt, no features on his head, and "arms" that are actually tentacles. Everything else so far has basically been up to the imaginations of the writers and usually relies on Rule of Scary. Some new traits that have been codified and popularized by the more well-known Slender Man works (which include Marble Hornets, Just Another Fool, and Seeking Truth) are: his ability to cause electronic interference (typically with cameras); the ability to teleport himself and others; the famous circle with an X through it known as the "Operator symbol" being associated with him; only going after people who had been scared by him as children; making people sick with some mysterious disease; giving people mild amnesia; driving people crazy and presumably making them his acolytes (i.e. totheark, Albert Conaghan); and only appearing before people who have been thinking about him constantly on account of having looked at the various works. The number of these attributes present in the various blogs typically depends on their tone and how familiar the authors are with the mythos.
  • In Survival of the Fittest, characters whose handlers leave the site are given new writers, whose opinion and take on the character may vary from the original writer. Some characters go through about 3 writers before they're given the personality that we've all grown to know and love, such as Elizabeth Priestly, Albert Lions, Blood Boy, and most infamously Liam Black. The most notable example, though, would be Danya himself. Due to his role in the story, he gets written by multiple staff members. As a result, due to the vast amount of interpretations his character gets one person's Danya can be somewhat different from another. A good example was at the start of v4, where, when doing profile conclusions, his main complaint about the students alternated between "too many pacifists" and "too many loners".
  • The on-screen characters of most Internet reviewers usually remain constant - and then there's Film Brain. If it's a review show that he has a part in, he can be every bit as snarky and malevolent as his fellow Channel Awesome reviewers. In the anniversary specials - which are usually written by Doug Walker - he becomes the ultimate hyperactive Keet whose catchphrase seems to be "I'm excited!" (Not that Mathew minds this; he actually admits the latter is closer to his Real Life personality.)
  • Shiny Objects Videos: Though there is technically only one writer, the finished video (including the characters) can vary widely depending on the director.
  • At least one person in the Metamor Keep verse tries to keep their stories between their own characters or only have the NPCs cameo or be referenced at most specifically to avoid this from happening.


Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • Carmen Sandiego varies between Friendly Enemy, Card-Carrying Villain and everywhere in between. Especially notable is her portrayal in the Where on Earth Is Carmen Sandiego?? cartoon, which took her to such Anti Villainous levels that by the show's end she was teaming up with the heroes to take down "real" bad guys with regularity.
  • In The Simpsons, Bart can be the most popular kid in school by a huge margin, have Milhouse as his only friend or anywhere in between depending on what best suits the story, though one episode did show that popularity can change rapidly as he went from the former to the latter after crying when hit with some mud. Similarly, while they eventually settled on her being Buddhist, there was a time when Lisa could switch between a hard-nosed skeptic, Flanders v2.0, or a New Ager at the whim of the writing staff.
    • This kind of writing was lampshaded by Homer once:

"Because that's the kind of guy I am this week!"

    • Nelson Muntz varies in character over a very broad spectrum. In some episodes, he's an insidious bully to Bart and the other kids at the school and he has no real friends. In other episodes, he is Bart's second best friend. In most episodes, he's just the brat who goes, "Haw haw!"
    • Professor Frink can either be a legitimate, well-respected scientist or an lunatic crackpot nobody listens to.
  • In Code Lyoko, Sissi went from being an Alpha Bitch in the first season (albeit with a handful of Pet the Dog moments that got undone by the Reset Button) to being a sympathetic and even nice character in Season 2, getting Character Development to the point where many speculated she'd become the sixth Lyoko warrior. Enter Season 3 and she's just as much of a bitch as she was in Season 1. In Season 4, she barely shows up and fluctuates between the Alpha Bitch and Jerk with a Heart of Gold whenever she does show up. She only becomes fully nice at the very end when the characters offer their hands in friendship (at which point she's a bitch to Nicolas and Hervé).
    • The Season 4 fluctuation is justified in that XANA has become such a big threat that the heroes' actions in fighting it have made them seem more suspicious than ever before to Sissi, and given the nature of her character, she can't just let that go even if she's striving to be a nicer person. No explaination for the Season 3 writing though, other than Seasonal Rot.
  • Looney Tunes characters were shared between various writers and directors: Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck under Bob Clampett and Tex Avery were manic antagonists. As portrayed by Chuck Jones's writer Michael Maltese, they were almost platonic opposites, Bugs being the cool winner to Daffy's jealous loser. Warren Foster, writer for directors Bob McKimson and Friz Freleng, portrayed Bugs as a more proactive version of the Jones-Maltese model and Daffy as a toned down screwball.
    • The Daffy Duck example caused some problems during the making of Who Framed Roger Rabbit?. Robert Zemeckis wanted to do the Bob Clampett version of Daffy, but he was working with Chuck Jones. Jones wanted to do his version of Daffy and had very personally disliked Clampett. Of course, Zemeckis had has way and this was one of the main factors in Jones's Creator Backlash against the film.
  • Depending on who's writing, the titular character of SpongeBob SquarePants goes from being sweet and stupid to being aggressive and possibly violently insane. He also can go from being very stupid and somewhat childish but with some common sense to being worse than a hyperactive five-year-old on a sugar rush. Just as often, his friend Sandy goes from being a genius obviously in her right mind, but somewhat crazy, to being such an idiot she must have invented all her fabulous machines by accident. She can also either be a scientist or a jock.
    • This is even lampshaded in one episode, regarding Patrick's stupidity.

Squidward: Patrick, just how dumb are you?
Patrick: It varies.

    • Mr. Krabs can, in any given episode, be a true Benevolent Boss, a money-obsessed Corrupt Corporate Executive, and anything in between the two. For example, in the epsiode Pickles, Mr. Krabs orders Spongebob to take some time off to get his act together after a humiliating encounter with a critical customer. Krabs even goes to help Spongebob rehabilitate himself. Yet, in Hooky, when Squidward informs Krabs that Spongebob takes a break to play with the hooks, Krabs first thinks he misheard Squidward, and then explodes in a fit of rage.
    • Squidward has been a Jerk with a Heart of Gold, a complete Narcissist, a plain old Jerkass, The Woobie, a Jerkass Woobie, and a Butt Monkey, sometimes more than one in a single episode.
  • Every character in 6teen changes depending on the writer. In one episode, they'll make witty pop culture references and act their age, if not older, and then act like eight-years-olds the next episode, complete with five straight minutes of fart jokes.
  • Stan's attitude towards his family in American Dad varies from "A Jerkass because he doesn't understand what he's doing wrong, and tries to fix it when he finds out" to "Manipulative Bastard who's so callous that he'll often putting them through some horrible Xanatos Gambit for some incredibly trivial/stupid reason".
    • His attitude towards his family is dependent on who he's interacting with at the time: Hayley is either daddy's wayward grownup daughter who he tries to keep on the right (his) path, or the displaced trouble child he simply gives up on because they have nothing in common. Steve is both his school-stud son who has hidden geek qualities (in his mind's eye), and simply a shake of the head as too where he went wrong raising that boy. Francine is possibly his air-headed house wife who is slightly clueless as to what goes on in front of her, or his air-headed house wife who's rager past is contained by the suburban shell around her.
    • Roger's Jerkass attitude can shift anywhere between a Jerk with a Heart of Gold that ultimately cares about his adoptive family or an Faux Affably Evil Psychopathic Manchild that crosses Moral Event Horizon repeatedly for laughs.
    • Francine can either be a woman of average intelligence (if she sleeps at least eight hours, according to herself), or a full blown Dumb Blonde. She also shifts between a genuinely loving family woman who can scare Stan himself if she's pushed beyond ethical limits, or a psychotic Bitch in Sheep's Clothing (however, not quite as erratically as Lois Griffin). In the episode "Live and Let It Fry", she wa pretty much insane.
    • Hayley's Soapbox Sadie tendancies can switch between being genuinely passionate and well intentioned, or completely hypocritical and implied to be nothing more than a facade to irritate her father. Similar to Francine, she can switch between the most level headed of the family or as much a self righteous Jerkass as Stan.
  • Peter's Jerkass nature and Meg's Butt Monkey status vary from episode to episode on Family Guy. Sometimes she merely suffers due to other characters' inadvertent bumbling or carelessness. On others she is such a target for misfortune that even Straight Men like Lois and Brian feel the need to directly make her life hell.
  • On The Fairly OddParents, at least recently, the plot seems to dictate whether some characters will use their Flanderized personalities or their original personalities. Depending on the story, Crocker can be a competent fairy hunter (Formula For Disaster) or a delusional fool (Bad Heir Day), Tootie can be a sweet girl with a crush (Birthday Wish) or a Stalker with a Crush (Dread & Breakfast), Trixie Tang can be a pleasant and sweet girl (For Emergencies Only!) or an arrogant Spoiled Brat (Movie Magic) and Timmy's parents can simply be overworked (Momnipresent, Add-A-Dad) or the most neglectful parents in the world (Fly Boy, Birthday Bashed).
  • In most episode of Ed, Edd 'n' Eddy, Kevin acts as a sort of Hero Antagonist towards the Eds, and merely mistrusts/dislikes them by default and will only actually start beating them up when he discovers the doing some sort of scam. However, in a couple episode he seems to just immensely hate Eddy even when completely unprovoked, most infamously "Your Ed Here", where he blackmails Eddy about his Embarrassing Middle Name and makes him put up with endless physical abuse and humiliation, then tells everyone anyway, all apparently just because he could.
    • He sometimes seems to just really really detest Eddy. At one point he just asked Double D the time of day, and that led to a cheerful and apparently-friendly conversation between the two of them. One episode however seems to hint to Kevin gaining Knight Templar traits, with him become outright paranoid and deluded upon their disappearance.
    • The majority of the cul-de-sac's behavior varies this way, either being benevolent characters who only despise the Eds upon provocation or being obnoxious bullies that generally abuse them for the sheer fun of it, provoked or not. Their treatment of each other also varies, particularly with Jimmy.
  • Jem and The Holograms is made of this. The rules of hologram projection change between almost every episode. On a Jem mailing list, head writer Christy Marx bemoans this. She finally became sick of it and became story editor in the third season to avoid inconsistencies.
  • Batman himself from Batman the Animated Series can be anything from a gritty, gothic, never-smiling character to a Spiderman-esque wise-cracker depending on the episode's writer.
    • Robin can either be the Deus Ex Machina for Batman or the Designated Victim who does little else but get taken out of action by the villain in the first act. Batman is also more likely to never-smiling character described above when Robin's around to provide the sarcasm.
  • The characterizations of Tale Spin are somewhat erratic, particularly the extent of Baloo and Rebecca's Not So Different aspects. Baloo can switch anywhere between a slovenly but well intentioned Ace Pilot or a brainless egotistical Jerkass. Rebecca can be a plausible Straight Man with subtle Not So Above It All tendacies or even ditzier than Baloo, she can also switch anywhere between a Benevolent Boss and a Mean Boss.
  • Shego's capacity for evil in Kim Possible varies widely between episodes. She's chastised Dr. Drakken for wanting to steal Felix Renton's wheelchair in one episode, and was worried about the fish in a lake he wanted to drain in another. And of course her helping out in Graduation. On the other end of the spectrum, in that very same episode regarding Felix, she was more than happy to try and blow him to bits later on. We also have the episode Car Alarm, in which she and Motor Ed stole a rocket car. Ed wanted to simply cruise around with her, while Shego effectively wanted to destroy the planet with it. And while it had a Reset Button ending, A Sitch In Time shows us what she's really capable of.
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars has some rather wild personality swings amongst the cast, often completely reversing opinions and personality between different episodes. In "Hostage Crisis" (written by Eoghan Mahony), Anakin makes a large speech about how Padme is the single most important thing in his life, whereas she seems preoccupied by the duties and responsibilities of her office and their obligations to the Republic. However, in "Senate Spy" (written by Melinda Hsu), their positions are diametrically reversed, and Padme becomes upset when Anakin lectures her on the nature of responsibility and the duties they have that supersede their personal desires. Neither seems to recall that they were ever on opposite sides of the debate.
  • Many episodes of South Park have this. Wendy, for example, can be the Only Sane Girl or a Clingy Jealous Girl of epic proportions based on the plot. Likewise Cartman's level of evil can range from Jerk with a Heart of Gold (rarely) to Complete Monster (more common), while Kyle may or may not take fighting him to Knight Templar levels. Additionally Stan and Kyle can be genuinely good natured and saner than the rest of South Park or JerkAsses only toned down compared to Cartman and perfectly fine tormenting anyone lower on the chain than themselves (eg. Butters, Pip, Kenny).
    • For more minor examples: recent episodes have the Mayor oscillating from Only Sane Woman to just as stupid as all the other adults. Priest Maxi, meanwhile, can be The Fundamentalist Straw Hypocrite ("Do the Handicapped Go to Hell?"), an extreme progressive fighting against Pedophile Priests ("Red Hot Catholic Love") or just a normal voice for religious opinion, sincere even if he's portrayed as misguided ("Cartman Sucks").
  • Done quite irritatingly in the sixth season of Futurama, which has the nerve to go back and forth not just on personality traits, but from Fry and Leela being an established couple to Fry and Leela having no hint of being a couple at all (even though they had declared their love for each other at the end of the fourth Big Damn Movie). Possibly the most Egregious example — in "The Late Phillip J. Fry", they're blatantly a couple, dating, in love, and adorably committed to their relationship. In the very next episode, "That Darn Katz", Leela says perfectly seriously (with intentional pathetic-ness) "Well, I may not have a man, but at least Nibbler loves me."
    • Leela still can be portrayed as being either the totally opposing poles of the token boring, buttoned-down, extremely unimpulsive character or the single most reckless, hot-tempered, and impulsive character in the show. The swings favored the latter more and more as the show went on, but trying to label it positive Flanderization would be misleading.
      • Speaking of Flanderization, Fry. People often accuse the show of Flanderizing an average joe into a near-Ralph Wiggum, but Fry was acting like a reckless idiot as early as episode two. Basically, if an episode references Fry's backstory (such as the Delta Brain Wave), Fry will be elevated to a more witty, intelligent characterization.
  • Are Rufus and Amberley of The Dreamstone rambunctious Kid Heroes who get in near equally on the story (and it's slapstick) as the Urpneys, or are they heavily whitewashed Hero Antagonists?
  • Mojo Jojo from The Powerpuff Girls is either an ingenious, manipulative criminal mastermind who can come within an inch of defeating the girls, or a complete joke who's too stupid to see the gaping flaws in his plans.
  • Popeye cartoons do this sometimes with the director (who is listed as head animator). For example, Willard Bowsky often makes Bluto more of a Jerkass (ex. "Be Kinf To Aminals" and "The Organ Grinder's Swing"), while others make Bluto more comical.
  • Tom and Jerry. The different ways in which these two were written is amazing. Most of the time, they're antagonistic towards each other, but sometimes they're best buddies, and sometimes, they enjoy their chase. Sometimes Tom is a sadistic jerk, sometimes he's painted as the villain for doing a cat's job, and sometimes he's a hapless victim. Sometimes Jerry is just fighting for his survival, sometimes he helps out others Tom is torturing, and sometimes he just torments Tom for fun.
  • The Looney Tunes Show: Bugs can either a smug Deadpan Snarker (with some shades of The Ace) or the Only Sane Man and The Woobie.
  • My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic: The characters and their various interactions with other characters vary from writer to writer. Pinkie Pie can either be an insane stalker like lunatic or a hidden genius, Spike's crush on Rarity can be almost complete devotion to her, simply non-existent or anything in between. Even Scootaloo's idolisation of Rainbow Dash can range from Fan Girl to not treating her any differently from other adults.
  • Like the above page quote, Shaggy's vegetarianism varies from adaption to adaption. He definitely wasn't one in the early show, but became one after Casey Kasem did. He's one if Kasem is playing him, but if he's not, he usually won't be (specifically in Shaggy & Scooby-Doo Get a Clue!, where one of his favorite foods was "hot dog tacos").


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  1. As well as Psylocke, Havok, Colossus, Dazzler, and Longshot