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Totally the same guy.

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

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

Compare Not as You Know Them where the appearance is the same but the personality isn't, Adaptational Attractiveness, and Progressively Prettier for when their looks improve, The Nth Doctor when the appearance changes suddenly and completely, and The Other Darrin for an unexplained change of actor. Compare/contrast Same Character but Different and Characterisation Marches On when personality rather than appearance is altered (although clothing and other appearance features may change somewhat). See also They Changed It, Now It Sucks.


Anime & Manga

  • The Gundams from Mobile Suit Gundam Wing got a redesign for Mobile Suit Gundam Wing Endless Waltz, making them overall sleeker and removing a few weapons in order to streamline things (except Heavyarms, which got More Dakka). To this day, there are STILL groups of fans who insist that the movie versions are vastly inferior to their TV counterparts for those very reasons, despite Word of God saying that they're the exact same machines with the exact same performances, and were infact Retconned into replacing the TV versions. This is made more explicit in the 2010 manga Glory of the Losers, which retells the events of the television series but uses the movie-styled versions of the Gundams.
  • In the original Fist of the North Star manga, Zengyo, the assistant of Ryuken's old rival Koryu, originally resembled an ordinary middle-aged man with no real qualities that made him stand out. When the character was adapted to the anime series, he became an elderly ninja master for some reason.
  • Virtually every character in the Tokyo Majin anime does not resemble their original character designs. Some characters such as Marie and Kozunu have it worse than others in that they not only do not look like their original designs but their personalities were also drastically altered.
  • At the start of the Pocket Monsters manga, very few Pokémon resembled their official designs. Rumor has it the designs were based off what the mangaka thought the sprites looked like, which looked incredibly off. As the series went on the Pokémon started looking more like their game counterparts, even resembling the official art better then other adaptations in some examples.
  • Big Mom from One Piece looked like this when the Four Emperors were first mentioned. However, when she made her first physical appearance in the story, she looked like this. In other words, she went from looking like a typical Gonk in her appearance as a silouette to horrific when she actually appeared. However, it's possible that Oda wanted to tweak her character design to make her more intimidating for when we first see her.

Comic Books

  • Marvel Comics characters sometimes gain new costumes which may or may not be kept depending on fan reaction.


  • The Transformers film changed most of the characters' looks so that they could be more realistic--not that most of them had previously had consistent looks anyway, but Starscream had always usually been fairly recognizable before. This was met with criticism of being unable to recognize and/or distinguish them.
    • But this is really nothing new in the series; characters named "Optimus Prime" generally look more or less the same (with the movie design mostly within the typical parameters), but every Megatron is completely different when it comes to physical appearance (the exception being in Transformers Animated, where he is a combination of his Generation 1 and movie designs).
    • Played straight with the Fallen however. In the G1 continuity, he's squarish and is on fire, but in the Movie continuity, he's scrawny and red-hot! And yes, Word of God confirmed that those two are actually the same character.
      • As with the original toy and cartoon versions of some G1 characters (particularly the shape of their heads), which was eventually corrected by later toys so that they look more like their cartoon incarnations. The worst offenders of these are Ratchet and Ironhide, whose toys neither had heads nor feet!
    • The 'Bots and 'Cons from the Transformers: Aligned continuity actually couldn't decide whether they should look more like the Transformers from Transformers Generation 1, The live-action Transformers films, or Transformers Animated, or perhaps all three.
  • Galactus from Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer was a huge cloud. He still ate planets, though.
  • A common fanboy criticism of Spider-Man was that the Green Goblin looked nothing like his comic design. He wore green armor and had a mask more like a helmet and didn't wear his trademark hat. Some photos have the long part of his head tinted purple to evoke the hat, but in the film itself, it's pretty green, making it look like Gobby just has a huge head.
  • Most characters in the 1982 short "Spinal Tap: The Final Tour" were played by the same actors later to appear in This Is Spinal Tap (even Paul Benedict as the 'twisted old fruit,' this time without his bizarre glasses), except for keyboardist Viv Savage. Rather than the curly-haired, slightly large version played by David Kaff in the final film, the original Viv is a much more energetic, thin, blond actor who remained uncredited.
    • The prototype Spinal Tap seen on Rob Reiner's 1978 ABC special look dramatically different from their 1984 counterparts, particularly Nigel, who has much longer hair and glam-ish makeup. However, it can be argued that this was simply a different era of their career than what was seen in TIST, and their looks matched their preferred style at the time.
  • In nearly all media featuring the Rutles, rhythm guitarist Stig O'Hara is portrayed by South African musican Rikki Fataar. However, when the characters made their debut (on Saturday Night Live in America, and Rutland Weekend Television in England), Stig was David Battley, better known as Charlie Bucket's science teacher in "Willy Wonka."

Video Games

  • Zero's transition from Mega Man X to Mega Man Zero could be considered a drastic change.
    • Justified in Zero 3, when it's revealed that Zero is actually Zero in a copy body. Played straight during the final minute of the game, when The Dragon Omega crosses the Bishounen Line by...transferring himself to Zero's original body, which now looks exactly the same as his new one with a slightly darker color scheme.
  • The Bloody Roar characters after Primal Fury.
  • Ralf and Clark from Ikari Warriors were radically redesigned when they were reintroduced in The King of Fighters series, which worked for the better since the original designs were just generic Rambo-clones anyway. Maxima from KOF '99 was also a Transplant from an earlier Neo Geo beat-em-up titled Robo Army, but the KOF version looks nothing like the original character.
    • A majority of the alternate costumes in the Maximum Impact spinoff series radically alters the appearance of their characters as well.
    • It was then done again within KOF itself due to a massive Art Shift in the twelfth and thirteenth installment, with alterations ranging from slight details to changes in whole body structure. The most obvious cases are (again) Ralf and Clark, who both gained several pounds of muscle, more deeply tanned skin and are now headswaps of each other again (thereby undoing 15 years of evolution). Other design changes include Athena and Yuri, respectively 18 and 20, whose appearances were both changed to the point of looking actually younger than Little Miss Badass Kula. Kula is fourteen.
  • The Castlevania series is slightly guilty of this, though mostly due to the Art Shift between games and the fact that the original games were for the 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System and the only way to know how a character was supposed to look like was through the games' covers and manual art. Still, compare the anime-esque character designs of Richter and Maria from Rondo of Blood to Ayami Kojima's more gothic designs in Symphony of the Night and Dracula X Chronicles.
    • Most notably, Dracula, who is featured in every game in the series, has almost as many different appearances within the game series, as he does in every other unrelated movie and comic, etc.
    • Castlevania Judgment has even more changes.
  • Samus Aran (of Metroid fame) has gone through some changes herself. Only starting with Metroid Fusion has she started to develop a consistent appearance.
  • Most of the character's in the Soul Calibur series go through various changes, sometimes to the point that their default costumes are completely different than in the previous game.
  • The main character of Dig Dug has this in the game Namco X Capcom.
  • Cless, Mint, and Klarth from the original Tales of Phantasia for the Super Famicom looked drastically different from their original character designs, if their face portraits were any indication, making this a possible case of this happening within a single work. All the remakes and other games featuring or cameoing the characters have used sprites that fit the original design.
    • This was because the character designs were originally done by Yoshiaki Inagaki, which were used for the game sprites. However, due to Executive Meddling by Namco, the character designs were replaced by the ones done by Kosuke Fujishima, but it was too late to change the sprites at that point. The sprites were changed in the remakes to reflect Fujishima's designs.
    • Also from the Tales (series), Summon Spirits Efreet, Gnome, Undine, and Sylph have almost never looked the same from game to game, though they hold on to certain themes (Efreet is a demonic burning beast, Sylph is a fairy, etc.). Gnome notably changed from a legion of lumps of dirt (Phantasia) into a big-nosed hamster creature (Eternia) between his first two appearances in the series. A more direct example of this trope would be Efreet himself turning from a vague fire monster in the original Tales of Phantasia into a clear red humanoid with a fiery head and arms in the remake for the PSX.
  • Gigan in Godzilla Final Wars Took a Level In Badass.
  • In the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise, Robotnik has gone through many of these--Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic Sat AM, Sonic Underground, Sonic Adventure, and Sonic the Hedgehog 2006 each apparently felt that none of his existing designs was quite good enough.
    • The Sonic Adventure version has stuck, becoming the basis for his subsequent appearances. An even more thorough redesign of Amy Rose was introduced at the same time, and has similarly completely displaced the earlier "short, crossdressing Sonic" depiction.
      • Note that this was because of an edict from Sega ordering all media of Sonic to be consistent with the game's designs, with various in-story reasons being offered for the changes.
  • Ladd Spencer (or Rad, depending on the game) from the NES version of Bionic Commando has been redesigned at least thrice already: the first time for the Game Boy version, followed by the Rearmed remake, and then the sequel for the PS3 and Xbox 360. Only the Rearmed version looks anything like the original NES character.
    • While Ladd from the NES game looks nothing like the main character in the arcade version, he doesn't count as a redesign, since the player in the arcade game was just a nameless soldier (except in the American localization, which claimed he was Super Joe).
  • The characters from the Neo Geo Double Dragon game based on the movie are twice-decayed: Billy and Jimmy only bear a vague resemblance to the original actors from the film (aside from their transformation ability), neither which had anything in common with the original characters to begin with other than the fact that one of them wore blue and other red. Same thing happened with Marian and Abobo. Burnov and Duke, who were characters from previous games not in the movie, only bear passing resemblances to their original designs.
  • Most likely as a result of Did Not Do the Research, the Game Cube version of Fight Night Round 2 features a version of Little Mac who looks nothing like the character from the NES version of Punch-Out!!. That's because the "Little Mac" in Fight Night is actually the main character from the SNES sequel Super Punch-Out!!, who was just a generic boxer named by the player. Super Smash Bros. Brawl for the Wii, being a proper Nintendo-produced game, used the actual Little Mac from the NES game.
  • The black-haired Ray Poward from the Appaloosa-made Contra games (Contra: Legacy of War and C: The Contra Adventure) looks nothing like the original blond-haired character from Contra: Hard Corps.
  • Wipeout HD: Fury is an expansion pack to Wipeout HD that replaces all of the vehicles with freaky, vaguely shattered-looking redesigns. They're almost completely unrecognizable.
    • Ditto with Wipeout XL, which replaced the pseudo-realistic homologized ships of the first Wipeout with extremely differentiated counterparts.
  • Robo-Manus from Battletoads changed in terms of appearance in every single game. In fact, he started off the size of the 'Toads, but in the last game in the series, he was suddenly 70 ft. tall! Granted, this is Battletoads we're talking about; it could very well be because the staff of each new game couldn't make it far enough in the last to see what Robo-Manus looked like
  • The Arwing from Star Fox has a different design in every game it's featured in. Only in Command was it given a genuine canonical upgrade in the form of the Arwing 2.
    • To a lesser degree, Fox McCloud's design. The shape of his head in Command gives him a significantly more stylized and cartoonish look than his Game Cube appearances.
      • And all the characters look (and act) a bit differently to how they did in the original Star Fox. And the manual, where they were represented by actual puppet-like things.
  • Calypso in the Twisted Metal series has barely ever bothered keeping his design consistent.
  • Bowser in Super Mario Bros Super Show.
  • The FMV opening in remakes of Final Fantasy II depicts, in rough order of appearance, the Big Bad Emperor Palamecia The Hero Firion, The Big Guy erm...Guy, Black Magician Girl Maria (image mildly NSFW), and Black Knight Leon. And some mooks, but no one cares about them. See the opening here, and marvel at the differences. Leon doesn't get it too bad, Guy is badly altered but still basically "Guy," Firion and Maria resemble the actual character only vaguely, and if you hadn't been told beforehand that that was the Emperor, you would not recognize him.
  • The entire original Alone in The Dark trilogy is the only time Edward Carnby ever kept his appearance consistent. Carnby himself has his appearance changed about three times, and that's not counting the Uwe Boll movie but rather counting his ingame appearance after the boxart of the 2008 reboot!
  • Quake II's Strogg race have received a total makeover in Quake IV.
    • In the same vein, the Demons of Doom 3 only somewhat resemble their counterparts from the earlier games in the series (though 3 was a reboot, so...)
  • Dante's redesign in the upcoming Devil May Cry hasn't gotten much positive reception for this reason.
  • Guybrush Threepwood from the Monkey Island series was originally supposed to be red haired as can be seen on the original cover art for The Secret of Monkey Island. However, the game portrays him with blondish hair due to the limited color palette. The second game, LeChuck's Revenge has him with a brown ponytail and a beard. The third game, The Curse Of Monkey Island gives him a bright blond messy ponytail and this is how he's stayed for Escape and the Tales series. The Special Edition remake of Monkey Island 2 has him with blond hair, which led to fan backlash.
  • Kid Kool's design in the box art for Kid Kool And The Quest For The Seven Wonder Herbs for the NES has him look like a tough character, with black hair, muscles, sunglasses, a white shirt, a sleeveless leather jacket, sneakers and ripped jeans. The Kid Kool character in the actual game itself looks completely different; he is chubby, has brown hair and wears a brown shirt and white overalls. Are we talking about the same character here?
  • In a bizarre inversion, the Fallout franchise mentions the Desert Rangers multiple times across the continuity. One is first encountered in the first game, where he is described as wearing a trench coat and gas mask, but uses the standard model for a character wearing combat armor. An actual suit of Desert Ranger Armor can be acquired over the course of Fallout: New Vegas, which looks exactly like Tycho's getup is described--but nothing like how Tycho actually looked in the first game.
  • All three Spyro the Dragon continuities completely redesign the purple dragon. In the Classic series he is a tiny, cute purple dragon with really small wings, in The Legend of Spyro Trilogy he is more armor plated with a different personality and another redesign to make him larger after a Plot-Relevant Age-Up, and in the Skylanders series he is smaller again with his original personality, but now looks much less cute and has larger purple wings and a much bigger tail spike. The fandom is divided about these changes, to say the least...
  • The Super Smash Bros. Brawl version of Pit from Kid Icarus. Also serves as an Early-Bird Cameo of the character's incarnation in the upcoming game Kid Icarus: Uprising.
    • A similar case could be made for the Super Smash Bros interpretation of Marth - while he retains the basic design tenets, he looks fairly different from his appearances in earlier games and subsequent games. In the case of subsequent games, this was accidental - the Shadow Dragon redesign of Marth was finalised just as they'd finalised his appearance in Brawl, with neither development team having any idea of the other redesign effort until the SSB group came to show the Fire Emblem group their finalised Marth.
  • Starcraft II gives Jim Raynor almost a complete redesign. This is him in the original Starcraft, while this is him in the sequel.

Western Animation

  • When Cleveland Jr. first appeared in Family Guy, he was a thin hyperactive boy with a short attention span. When he was transplanted into The Cleveland Show, he was turned into a slow-talking dimwitted fat kid. In other words, he became the black version of Chris Griffin.
  • Tanya Mousekewitz looks and acts different in every single An American Tail movie. Most prefer her design in Fievel Goes West.
  • In the cartoon version of Alvin and The Chipmunks, the chipmunks are Funny Animal played straight. The films, on the other hand, make them look more like real-world chipmunks.
  • Professor Utonium in the pilot episode of The Powerpuff Girls for some reason actually looked more like Dexter than what we see him in the later episodes.
  • Nemo (Francine's pet cat) from Arthur is depicted as being skinny and having small eyes with rounded pupils during his debut episode, but later appearances of him instead depict him as being fat and having large eyes with slit-shaped pupils.
  • The narrow gauge engines in Season 5 of Thomas the Tank Engine don't look like how they did in the season prior. Many details were changed, and some engines had completely remodeled faces. It is said they made new larger models to capture more detail. The worst offender being Rusty, with a large drawn out face going all over his front, as opposed to the earlier model, which had a smaller face.
  • The Broadway musical version of The Lion King for some reason actually portrayed Ed the hyena's costume with Pluto's face!
  • Every few years, Toonami would undergo a retool, usually resulting in TOM and The GPSS Absolution getting new designs. Each redesign gave the impression of the ship and crew getting stronger. Then along came the fourth redesign, and well, see for yourself.
  • Parodied in Limozeen: But they're IN SPACE! where Mary Palorocini is actually drawn with red hair and a pot belly "because he's the comic relief!"
  • Pete Jr. for some reason looked nothing like how he is drawn now in his debut short, Bellboy Donald, where he is actually drawn like Mickey Mouse, but with cat ears. His currently accepted design looks like a younger and fatter version of his father, Pete.
  • Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer in his cameo appearance in Santa Claus is Comin' to Town, his appearance in Frosty and Rudolph's Christmas in July and his appearance in Rudolph's Shiny New Year. Rather than reuse his models from Red-Nosed Reindeer, they simply created new ones for those films, none of which resemble each other or the original Rudolph.
  • In the original pilot for Recess, almost none of the main five characters (since Gus wasn't included) looked the same as they did in the series proper. Mikey was the only member of the main cast who looked the same For example:
    • T.J. was tall and skinny in the pilot, as oppossed to being short and chubby in the series proper. He also wore a much different outfit, had darker, messier hair, and had green eyes. He didn't even wear his trademark hat!
    • Vince looked more like his voice actor (even moreso than he does in the series proper), Ricky D'Shon Colins, and also wore a different outift
    • Spinelli was much younger looking, with her hair in roughly five pigtails, and wore a different outfit
    • Gretchen originally had black hair, wore a dress somewhat similar to her usual outfit, but white with green dots instead of blue, and was also a bit more girly, as she also wore bracelets and lipstick.
  • In SpongeBob SquarePants, Old Man Jenkins is used to refer to almost any old male fish that appears on the show.