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Character Rerailment is what happens when a derailed character returns to their previous characterization. Generally this signals the end of a Dork Age. This may also follow a changing of the guard at the asylum. May also happen repeatedly if a character bounces between writers. Sometimes the time spent derailed turns out to be All Just a Dream.

See also, We Want Our Jerk Back, Flowers for Algernon Syndrome.

Examples of Character Rerailment include:

Anime & Manga

  • While in the past two or three volumes, she was murderously insane in pretty much every single chapter, in volume 8 of Sayonara, Zetsubou-sensei, Chiri returns to her original characterization as very uptight, but still somewhat the Straight Man.
  • Orihime from Bleach is an odd case of rerailment due to Character Development instead of undoing Character Derailment. She has recently gone back to being her humorous, perky self like how she was to begin with rather than the broken, emotional character she's been portrayed as throughout the Hueco Mundo arc as a result of being kidnapped and watching her Love Interest being beaten to near death. This is because all her issues from said arc were wrapped up and she was free to be a content person once more.
  • Mamoru Chiba from Sailor Moon was subjected to quite the Character Derailment in the R season, going from a polite young man who still didn't unnecessarily sugarcoat his words and did tell his (much-younger) girlfriend and her friends what he had in his mind, to a Angsty and broken mess who acted borderline abusive to her, badmouthing her to keep her away and safe, and caused her lots of turmoil (which once almost killed her since he would not tell her what he did have his reasons... when in fact said reasons did involve her and she had all the right to know). Fortunately, once he finally told her the truth and the arc reached its end, Mamoru's Out of Character half-season was put in a shelf and he returned to be the Senshi's Big Brother Mentor and a kind yet sincere boyfriend to Usagi. Too bad fandom won't let him live it down, though....him being put heavily Out of Focus in the next few seasons didn't help matters either.
  • Jessie, James, and Meowth, the Team Rocket trio from the Pokémon anime were first introduced as true members of the evil Team Rocket organization, constantly obeying their leader Giovanni all the time, but after their obsession with capturing Ash Ketchum's Pikachu began in the show's second episode, they started to ignore Giovanni and went after Pikachu and occasionally, some other random Pokemon instead, which inevitably resulted in them constantly getting kicked around and "being blasted off again" every single time, even when Ash continued his journeys from Kanto into Johto, Hoenn, and Sinnoh. However, by Best Wishes, poor Jessie, James, and Meowth were eventually "rescued" by a stronger member of Team Rocket and as a result the three all Took a Level In Badass after being trained back into true Team Rocket members again. This means that they must now obey Giovanni again, they cannot steal other Pokemon again, and especially, they can't blast off again anymore (they are all given jetpacks so they can escape from an extremely dangerous situation, especially if "the twerps" are involved, which is completely against Giovanni's rules).
    • That said, a lot of their fandom was gained as a result of their Badass Decay into a trio of stooges. As always in the Broken Base of Pokemon, there are people who like them taking a level in badass and people who prefer them to be lovably pathetic.
  • Starscream in Transformers Cybertron. After undergoing Adaptational Heroism in Armada and Energon, he's back to being The Starscream. He even succeeds in his schemes.

Comic Books

  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 8 rerails several members of the cast after their derailment in Seasons 6 and 7, while at the same time continuing their character development. Some, however, still haven't really recovered (Giles, Amy, Buffy herself to a wildy varying degree, etc.)
  • A number of comic book characters have gone through this. Notably Batman, who swings between Jerkass behavior and being called out on it, typically going on a trip to rediscover himself.
    • Nightwing underwent a similar process after Devin Grayson's disastrous run on the series, which had him join Deathstroke as Renegade. The Reset Button on that one was pounded so hard it cracked.
    • For Nightwing, it was a case of rerailment or death. Dan Didio has stated that it was originally planned to have Nightwing die at the end of Infinite Crisis (if you've read it, you can probably figure out where), and he kind of implies that Devin Grayson's handling of the character is one of the reasons.
    • This seems to be a pattern with Batman characters, including the case of Cassandra Cain, the second Batgirl... for a while, at least. After she was revealed to have thrown out her heroic side and become evil, later writers ret conned this by saying that she was under the control of Deathstroke through a drug, only to have her swing back to killing people again. Poor girl can't catch a break.
  • Hal Jordan of the Green Lanterns went through this after he went insane and killed most of the other Lanterns. It was eventually revealed that he'd been possessed by Parallax, the embodiment of fear, and though at the time this seemed like an Ass Pull both Parallax and the Yellow Lanterns have gone on to become an integral part of the Green Lantern mythos. Oh, and all the dead Lanterns turn out to be alive.
  • Writer Peter David, who wrote The Incredible Hulk for 12 years, disliked the changes made by a subsequent writer so much that when he came back to write the title, he had the entire previous storyline revealed to have been All Just a Dream.
  • At this point, there are at least three different characterizations of Magneto, with authors repeatedly rerailing one by derailing the others. Chris Claremont's tormented Well-Intentioned Extremist is the most complex, but Grant Morrison's Complete Monster is arguably closer to the character's roots. Any attempt to argue which characterization is the "true" one is inadvisable.
  • Like Peter David, Alan Davis dismissed a later writer's run on ClanDestine as a dream. It was hilarious because it was just a single-line throwaway.
  • Gambit started off as a Rule of Cool-based, Mr. Fanservice Manipulative Bastard Handsome Lech Death Dealing Badass Longcoat who relished the challenge of getting his hands on the Forbidden Fruit Rogue, though stymied by his self-centered Jerkass qualities and the large number of people he pissed off in his thief career. Then, Rogue left him to die in Antarctica. After this, the result was a lot of Angst on Gambit's part, whose characterization was changed from the previously-described version to a Self-loathing Atoner desperate to punish himself for his (morally blameless) role in the Morlock Massacre. More recent adaptations, however, have reached back to the character's roots: X Men Origins Wolverine showed Gambit as competent, charming, handsome and relatively low-angst card-sharp who won a Cool Plane in a poker game, and Wolverine and the X-Men had Gambit as a mercenary, ruthless, charming, manipulative thief for hire (albeit in only two episodes). Whether or not this trend will continue is currently unknown.
  • The entire purpose of One More Day was to get Spider-Man single again and make him "young and fresh" again. In order to do this, he was made to make a deal with Mephisto to save an OLD WOMAN from dying, at the cost of his wife and unborn child, then was reset to being single, "young and fresh", and... living with his elderly aunt again. Safe to say, this didn't work out so well, but later writers have done their best to salvage it.
  • Shatterstar's an odd case in that the "rerailment" wasn't to his original characterization. X-Force had him slowly lose his rage, but handled it believably, and didn't give him Badass Decay. Rob Liefeld's work on the series snapped him back to his old self, but didn't do much with the possibilities involved. X-Factor toned him down again, and has had more of a positive reception.
  • Speedball's infamous transition from wacky comic relief to self-hating atoner in Civil War has been undone, redone, and partially undone again as different writers debate over the character. As of Heroic Age, he's still haunted by his memories, but he's slowly recovering.
  • One of the biggest praises offered to IDW's rebooted Transformers comic. Arcee is back to being a Cool Big Sis, though she still has some traits of her previous IDW self, Prowl is once again a Jerk with a Heart of Gold, and Elita-1 is a Team Mom once more.

Fan Fiction

  • Fanfic sporkings sometimes have the characters derailed in the fic comment on what the character would have actually done in whatever situation the fic describes.
  • The main aim of most Fix Fics.
  • In Naruto Veangance Revelaitons, this happens to an extent with Sasuke. Initially, his only noteworthy characteristic is not liking it when Ronan sucks his own dick, and then he gets killed off in the temple bombing. Then, it's revealed that he survived and, due to some reasons related to time travel, is now evil and motivated by Revenge for his family like in canon. Unfortunately, he also became a fundamentalist Christian in the process.
  • One of the darker arcs (Dark!Jareth arc) of the Mega Crossover fancomic Roommates invokes this mixed with a liberal dose of You Can't Fight Your Canon. After trying to be the hero (and failing) for 150 or so pages Jareth snaps and reverts back to his original characterization and this Super-Powered Evil Side of his tries to force the others back too. It's heart breaking and asks the highly meta question: "Is it even possible for a fictional character to change or redeem himself? Or does the story define everything he can ever be?"
  • Attack of the 100 Foot Meg Griffin returns most of the Family Guy cast to their pre-Season 4 characterizations. The only exceptions are Connie (who is even worse) and Stewie (who has some of Evil Genius traits from the early seasons but also his Hidden Depths from the later ones).


  • The Predator in the first two films was a Blood Knight prone to attacking anyone he deemed a threat (ie. any instance of anything that can remotely considered a weapon drives him to attack). The Expanded Universe and the Alien vs. Predator movies Flanderized him into a Proud Warrior Race Guy with very restrictive rules about who to hunt. Predators and The Predator rerail the character back into his original characterization.
  • Star Wars:
  • Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War was very true to the character's Early Installment Weirdness under Jim Starlin's pen. Avengers: Endgame wrote the Mad Titan in a persona much more faithful to how he's portrayed in most other media, most notably shedding his Adaptational Heroism and establishing that, no matter what he says, Thanos is not a Noble Demon.
  • The 2018 animated movie The Grinch rerails the Whos into their All-Loving Hero depiction from the original book, after their Adaptational Jerkass portrayal in the live action movie. This rerailment, in turns, rerails the character of the Grinch himself, who has no personal grudge towards the Whos and only hates the holiday of Christmas itself, thus he himself is also closer to how he was in the book.

Live Action TV

  • Doctor Who
    • The Cybermen were originally an emotionless and monotone species of cyborgs. From "Earthshock" onwards they turned into generic gun carrying evildoers. This was finally fixed in the New Series and Big Finish Doctor Who audio stories.
    • The Daleks to a lesser degree. They suffered from a good deal of Villain Decay when Davros debuted, as in Demoted to Dragon levels, but the New Series reaffirmed that they can be threats with or without their creator.
    • The Twelfth Doctor. As Vastra herself says, long before the Doctor was a flirting Pretty Boy, he was an aloof Deadpan Snarker who alternated between Grumpy Old Man and Cool Old Guy.
    • Sarah Jane Smith started out as an Intrepid Reporter who took little shit from anyone. When the elderly Third Doctor regenerated into the more youthful Fourth, Harry Sullivan became The Lancer and Sarah was left to be a Distressed Damsel who got brainwashed a lot. She got some of her badass cred back after Harry left but it wasn't until "School Reunion" in 2006 that she properly returned to her initial characterization, something that was gloriously continued in The Sarah Jane Adventures
  • The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (and its successors) went to great pains to avoid the image of Watson as a fat, blundering old moron who couldn't see that the sun had risen until Holmes point it out to him, and turned him back into the young, fit, and incredibly accomplished surgeon with military background who, while still nowhere near as bright as Holmes, was still very intelligent in his own right.
  • The return of original showrunner Dan Harmon brought the characters of Community much closer to their initial characterizations in Season 5, following the Denser and Wackier Season 4.
  • A common praise given to Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, particularly the Disney+ television shows is that they write the characters more in line with how they're depicted in the mainstream Marvel Comics. Loki brings back a focus on the title character's more elaborate magical powers and WandaVision had Wanda don her comic costume and use Chaos Magic.

Video Games

Web Original

  • Atop the Fourth Wall: The Movie rerailed Mechakara after the derailment he suffered in To Boldly Flee.

Western Animation

  • Batman Beyond: After two seasons of Character Derailment, first into an unpleasable harpy, and then into a doormat, Dana Tan is finally restored to her original sweet and supportive characterization... in the Fully-Absorbed Finale Distant Finale.
  • One of the main points to the first season of Ben 10: Ultimate Alien is to finally mend Kevin's abrupt, unexplained shift in characterization and powers that occurred in Alien Force, ultimately culminating in using his old, sanity-warping powers as a means to save the world, and becoming evil again as a side-effect.
  • The Simpsons:
    • Zig-zagged with Homer Simpson. It's not unheard of for him to revert to his pre-Season 11 Bumbling Dad characterization but he'll just as readily be Jerkass Homer. It all depends on what the plot needs.
    • Ned Flanders (the Trope Namer for Flanderization) can sometimes revert to his less flanderized self Depending on the Writer.
    • Much like Homer, the writers zig-zag this with Lisa. Episodes produced after The Simpsons Movie have made attempts to write her as the isolated intellectual that she initially was but the Soapbox Sadie/Granola Girl of the Dork Age is still very likely to rear her head.
    • The writers have a long-standing problem in trying to do this with Bart. When the series first started, the mischievous Bratty Half-Pint was a Breakout Character who took the world by storm. But as time passed, Bart was viewed as rather tame compared to his later peers. As a result, attempts to recapture Bart's original persona are either met with boredom compared to the antics of characters like Stewie Griffin or complaints that the writers, in an attempt to recapture Bart's notoriety, have taken him over lines that even Stewie Griffin wouldn't cross.
  • Family Guy horribly subverted this trope with Stewie: in the season 9 premiere, he killed a character for first time in years and revealed that he still wanted to kill Lois. Fans cheered upon seeing this, thinking that the old Stewie was back. Three episodes later, it was shown that Stewie wasn't going back to his old self, much to the fans' disappointment.
    • "Mr. and Mrs. Stewie" toyed with the idea of Stewie going by to his evil roots but it also showed that Stewie had undergone so much Character Development that he honestly wasn't that character anymore. Time changes people after all.
  • Most of the Character Derailment in Total Drama Action was reverted in Total Drama World Tour. Trent (although only a minor character) was back to being normal, Courtney stopped being evil and started being the holier-than-thou Ted Baxter she was in season one. Most of the characters who were flanderized like Owen and Bridgette returned to having multiple dimensions.
  • The DCAU team has admitted that Superman got derailed into a punching bag during the early days of Justice League and took steps in further episodes to remind viewers why he's, well, Superman.
  • Many reboots of Looney Tunes have attempted, with varying levels of success, to bring Daffy Duck back to his daffier roots. It's generally a matter of personal opinion of whether or not, most prominently in The Looney Tunes Show, they were successful.
  • Transformers:
    • Although unintentional, the real reason why Waspinator was portrayed as the Butt Monkey of the Transformers franchise is because Hasbro actually found his cartoon voice extremely stupid. As a result he ended up getting kicked around and being blown up every single time, while muttering to himself "Waspinator has plansssss..." as he tries to put himself back together again. At the end of Beast Wars' final episode, poor Waspinator is rescued by tribe of natives and crowned their leader, causing him to finally become "happy at last", but in Beast Machines, he for some reason returned to Cybertron where he is immediately rehired by Megatron, who then wipes his memory clean and transfers his spark into that of the Vehicon Thrust's (who is smarter, stronger, and more dangerous than Waspinator). When Waspinator-as-Thrust finally gets his memories back, he eventually starts to get kicked around and being blown up again, and when the Maximals turn Cybertron into a techno-organic world, they also transfer Waspinator's spark back into his original (but smaller) wasp mode again. In Transformers Animated, Waspinator returns, but is now known as Wasp instead, and he is changed into an extremely terrifying and powerful villain.
    • In a shameless display of Wolverine Publicity, Bumblebee was thrown around the Transformers Aligned Universe in various roles, with his personality always Depending on the Writer. In Transformers: Cyberverse, he was written much more in the vein of his G1 self, being a snarky Badass Adorable once again.
  • Zigzagged with Mickey Mouse: He was originally depicted as a brave action hero, but later shorts changed him into a laid-back slacker while Donald Duck took the spotlight. Now, he's either back to being an action hero in several video games, is the owner of a nightclub for other Disney characters, or a lame Dora the Explorer-esque kids' show host.
  • From Seasons 17-22, many characters on Thomas the Tank Engine are written as they appeared in The Railway Series.
  1. Though rather than Steven Blum, he's voiced by John DiMaggio.