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Named after the biological phenomenon known as Divergent Evolution, where two closely related species develop wildly different traits over time. Here it means an act of Character Development wherein a character who was extremely similar to another character is given his or her own identity.

This is extremely common in video games, where characters who were originally identical to the lead (usually to allow for two-player play, or just because the lead is popular) are often given their own special abilities and personality quirks in later games.

See also Belated Backstory, Cast Speciation. Compare Characterization Marches On.

Examples of Divergent Character Evolution include:


Anime and Manga

  • Repeatedly happened to Minako/Sailor Venus from Sailor Moon, who Usagi was originally an expy of. In the original comic, the main difference is Venus's superhero persona is much more capable and composed. Other adaptations played with these extremes. Her live-action self was made almost completely serious and sober, while her animated counterpart is an outright Fruit Loop.
  • The Twins get this in Ouran High School Host Club once they realized that Haruhi could differentiate them. Kaoru becomes the more mature of the two, but is overly self sacrificing. By the time the mini arc is over, they're beginning to force themselves to grow apart by dying their hair and nearly drop the twincest act, but decide that is too much.
  • Blackmore and Ringo from Steel Ball Run first appeared as two identical background characters that served as the president's bodyguards. When they appear again, they were given all new character designs and their stands were made quite different from each other.
  • The twins, Homare and Misao in Okane ga Nai. There is no way to distinguish them from one another by appearance, but over the course of the series Homare is shown to be much more emotional, and eventually he realizes he is wildly in love with Ayase.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam 00 featured a replacement twin who at first appears a lot like his murdered twin older brother. This lasts about three episodes when he starts to get pissed by it and shows some people he is very different. In the end, they are not 'that' different... they have similar core personalities, but simply handle life differently starting from there. Remarked when the surviving twin kills the Blood Knight who murdered his entire family, and who his brother died trying to get revenge against - yet doesn't do it out of revenge, but because the other rejected the Last Second Chance he gave him. Well, that and the guy was about to shoot him.
    • However, outside of pilotting the same Gundam set, they had slightly different inclinations. Neal was pretty much "The Sniper" of the team and would only resort to full frontal combat in dire situations. On the other hand, Lyle was more well rounded and while he was a skilled sniper as well, he usually would eschew the rifle in the favor of his handguns. You can see this better when the third gundam, which is tailored closer to his own abilities puts more emphasis on multi-targetting over outright sniping.
  • And then there's Gundam SEED Astray, where the titular Astray Frames start out as palette swaps of each other until they end up in the hands of three different pilots : hot-blooded mechanic Lowe gives his Red Frame a silly loadout of melee weapons such as katanas and a makeshift Shining Finger, cool mercenary Gai outfits the Blue Frame with a large arsenal of guns and artillery, and Big Bad Rondo customizes the Gold Frame using parts scavenged from the recently destroyed Blitz Gundam, granting it stealth and pilebunkers.
  • The Big Five in Yu-Gi-Oh!. Initially they're an Omniscient Council of Vagueness, with the collective goal of taking over KaibaCorp for unspecified, but undoubtedly sinister intentions. In the "Virtual Nightmare" arc, they're all given separate personalities, and objectives, and while they all share the goal of defeating Kaiba and escaping into the real world, their reasons for hating him are fleshed out, with them being gaining separate backstories and motivations. Big Bad Ganzley and Amoral Attorney Johnson are just greedy, the rather pitiable Crump resents Kaiba mocking his penguin obsession, Nesbitt's angry about his work being disposed of and his lab destroyed, and Lector's The Resenter par excellence.
  • Played straight and also zig-zagged in Battle Angel Alita Last Order. Sechs, Elf, and Zwolf start as clones of Alita/Gally in the Tuned arc of the first series, but by the time they are reunited at the start of Last Order, Elf and Zwolf have switched to more waifish bodies and Sechs has gone feral. Sechs's divergence continues when she switches to a male body, while Elf and Zwolf's similarity to Alita actually increases over time.


Comic Books

  • Justice League of America: Originally, all of the characters came from self contained comic books and in their individual books they all played The Hero archetype to their own supporting casts. When these characters were pulled together into the Justice League, the result was that the entire cast was composed of the exact same character type and had the same personality. Over time, their character traits became more diversified and even today, the character differences are exaggerated in the team up book and downplayed in each character's solo comics. Superman became more of a boy scout, Batman became more of a Jerkass, Green Lantern became more of a jock, and the Flash became more impulsive.
  • Justice Society of America: Even though the Justice Society came first and the Justice League of America was just a Silver Age update of the Justice Society, because the Justice League was more popular, it was decided that the Justice Society needed to find a new core concept to differentiate it from the Justice League. Several different ideas were tried such as being an Alternate Universe equivalent to the Justice League, being a group of middle-aged superheroes, being a group of senior citizen superheroes, until finally, they found a concept that worked sales-wise, a multigeneration family of superheroes training the next generation.
  • The current DC Multiverse is a good example of this. In the pre-Crisis multiverse, Earth-4 had the Charlton heroes (Blue Beetle, The Question etc.) and Earth-X had the Quality heroes (Uncle Sam, Phantom Lady etc.) In a World where the Nazis won WWII. After the Crisis, all those characters were folded into the main DCU. So what to do with these earths when Infinite Crisis brings the Multiverse back? Well, in the new multiverse, Earth-4 is part Charlton / part Watchmen and Earth-10 is a world where the Justice League's counterparts are Nazis, opposed by the Freedom Fighters (who may or may not still be around).
    • Also, Ultraman (from Earth-3 and Ubermensch (from the aformentioned Earth-10). Both are Shadow Archetypes of Superman, but completely different--Ultraman is petty and cruel and everything Superman isn't, while Ubermensch is a melancholy Noble Demon who feels guilty because Germany used his Kryptonian rocket to win the war and must live with that. This also diverges Ubermensch from the Communist Red Son Superman, who never showed much doubt as to his totalitarian methods. Got all that?
  • This occured to the original comic book Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, who, after starting out as flat characters, eventually began developing individual traits. The original cartoon took this up to eleven, and the rest is history.
  • Guy Gardner started out somewhat more generic when he was first introduced as the other guy the ring could have gone to but was developed into a Jerkass when he became a regular (and more recently, a Jerk with a Heart of Gold). Johns went to even further lengths to distinguish the various Lanterns, when he brought back Hal Jordan and the Corps, by showing how the personalities of the Lanterns affected how they used (or didn't use) their rings and what sort of constructs they built.
    • Case in point, Rebirth goes into detail about the way Rayner, Gardner, Stewert, Jordan, and Kilowog use their rings. Stewert, being an architect, has constructs that look like a blue print, with every individual detail within them planned out. Rayner, being an artist, often uses a construct pencil to "draw" other constructs, and the eraser construct to change details about them. Gardner's ring is literally leaking green light at all times, because "his willpower can't wait to escape". Jordan likes to go for a combination of brute force and precision, hence boxing gloves, missiles, etc. Kilowog's is the only ring among the regularly appearing characters that makes a sound, and it sounds like a cannon.


Film


Literature


Live Action TV

  • Starting late in the first season of Maverick, episodes started to alternate between focusing on series mainstay Bret Maverick (played by James Garner) and his brother, Bart (played by Jack Kelly). Although Bret and Bart were written identically (writers were told to always write for Garner, and the producers would later just select which character would lead due to scheduling), the actors' portrayals quickly established Bret as the fun-loving, wisecracking brother, and Bart as the more serious-minded of the two. The same process happened to a later Maverick as well, as Roger Moore played Beau Maverick as a refined gentleman, at odds with the other two brothers' portrayals, despite the character, again, being written exactly the same. As for the final Maverick brother (Robert Colbert as Brent Maverick), he only appeared in two episodes, and thus never really found a personality of his own.
  • The Cylons of Battlestar Galactica Reimagined started out mass-produced, with each model line sharing an identical personality. By the end of the series, the models most sympathetic to humans (especially the Sixes and Eights) have diverged to having unique identities and even names for the Sixes. While the antagonistic models such as the Cavils, Dorals, and Simons remained monolithic and identical.
  • On Stargate Atlantis, the Wraith started off being interchangeable, down to all the male ones being played by James Lafazanos and all the female ones being played by Andee Frizzell. The only exceptions were when more than one Wraith was on-screen at a time. Eventually, Friendly Enemy "Todd" (Christopher Heyerdahl) and Jerkass Woobie "Michael" (Connor Trinneer) came out of the literally nameless mass.
  • In early episodes of 30 Rock, Grizz and Dot Com were pretty much just a pair of dim-witted bulkheads who follow Tracy around. Now Grizz is an emotional soul and Dot Com is a well-spoken Smart Guy.
  • Brittany and Santana on Glee start out as Quinn's interchangeable minions (Brittany, in particular, had next to no lines and was basically a prop), but eventually became The Ditz and the Alpha Bitch Up to Eleven.
  • In The Big Bang Theory, Amy was introduced as a Distaff Counterpart to Sheldon, more or less exactly like him in every way. As the show progressed Amy began to spend time with Penny, became her "Bestie", and began to open up socially, revealing a lonely and troubled childhood responsible for how she is, and developing normal desires for attention and romance from Sheldon that eventually lead to him declaring them an Official Couple.
  • Herc and Carver from The Wire start as the Bash Brothers of the Baltimore police. Carver becomes a Reasonable Authority Figure over the series while Herc's recklessness gets him fired.
  • How I Met Your Mother has Marshall's Boisterous Bruiser brothers Marvin, jr and Marcus. They both have families when they are introduced but over the series, Marcus separated from his and has become a deadbeat.


Newspaper Comics

  • In the Over the Hedge comic, Verne used to be a lot more like RJ; you could usually swap their dialog with neither one seeming out of character. Then the cartoonists decided they needed more conflict. Today, Verne has so little in common with RJ that we wonder why Verne doesn't leave. (He does sometimes, but never for long.)


Professional Wrestling

  • If two people debut as a tag team they'll start very similar to each other, but once they break apart they start developing their own personalities and move sets, see Shawn Michaels and the Marty Jannetty, Matt Hardy and Jeff Hardy and Edge and Christian. Usually doesn't happen in the case of identical twins, though.


Video Games

  • Luigi from the Super Mario Bros. series was originally a Palette Swap of his brother Mario, and was identical to him in every way. He has since been given his own high-jumping, low-traction style of gameplay, as well as a taller and more slender character design. His personality has drifted off as well; both brothers were originally warm-hearted, heroic, and courageous. Mario remains so, but Luigi has developed a second-banana complex, has become somewhat cowardly (especially regarding ghosts), and harbors deep, dark secrets and Hidden Depths. Some fans prefer Luigi to the squeaky-clean Mario for this reason.
    • Also from Super Mario Bros., Daisy was so similar to Princess Peach in her original appearance that many fans assumed she was the same character. Daisy has since been split off into a more tomboyish portrayal, although she hasn't appeared in as many games as other characters in the series. She's also become a potential love interest for Luigi.
      • Daisy was nearly a palette swap of Peach, with the only exception being that her skin was slightly dark while Peach was fair skinned. By Mario Party 4 and later, Daisy's skin became fair like Peach's, but Daisy's hair was shortened to neck length, gotten a different hairstyle, and her eyes were made larger in comparison to Peach's eyes.
    • Another example from the Mario series is the Koopalings Lemmy and Iggy. While the two looked rather similar in earlier games, Iggy's appearance in New Super Mario Bros Wii has him looking... well, like this. It's also notable that Iggy seems to have apparently gone insane... Well, more insane...
  • In Super Smash Bros Brawl, the characters that were clones in Melee got more of this to the point that there are no true clones in Brawl; there are only semi-clones.
    • This trope's original name, "Luigification," came from Smash Bros. fandom, referring to Luigi becoming less of a Mario clone between the original Super Smash Bros and Melee. Naming it after Luigi was very fitting even ignoring Smash Bros., as noted above.
  • Ryu and Ken originally played the exact same way in the first Street Fighter II, with only their throws being different. They have since been differentiated in both moveset and characterization. Although they are both use the same fighting style, Ryu is now a Hadoken specialist and usually fights defensively, while Ken is more aggressive and prefers the Shoryuken.
    • Street Fighter III introduced twin brothers Yun and Yang. Originally, they played identically (to the point that they shared the same slot in the player select screen), but in 2nd Impact, Yun and Yang were officially made into separate characters with different Special Moves and Super Arts.
  • Most of the clones in Soul Calibur III also received this. Siegfried and Nightmare had their movesets almost entirely differentiated after being nearly identical in the first game and different costumes for the same character in the second.
    • Soul Calibur IV does this to Amy, who in SCIII had the generic create-a-character Rapier moveset.
      • The differentiation was actually made in a later arcade version of SCIII in which they decided to shift Amy, Li-Long and Hwang Seong-gyeong into more intricate arcade-worthy characters. It's also actually more of an inversion, because the create-a-character classes were different enough from the originals for them to be missed in Soul Calibur IV 's create-a-modes. Many fans of Three were pissed that their characters had to fight the exact same way as the main cast.
  • Orcs and Humans were pretty identical in the first two Warcraft games, but in Warcraft III, humans are the Jack of All Stats while orcs have powerful but expensive units and weak magic.
    • In Warcraft II, the two races were identical in every aspect, except their respective MagicKnights (Paladin and Ogre-mage) and true mages (Mage and Death Knight) had different spells. The Orcs had most of the advantage with Bloodlust over Healing, but Mages had some tricks up their sleeve in the late-game with Invisibility and Polymorph.
    • Also, in World of Warcraft, the Shaman and the Paladin class both inverted and played this straight. The Shaman was originally Horde-only, just as the Paladin was Alliance exclusive. The problem was that they functioned in entirely different manners and it turned out to be a pain to balance out. They tried several things, including making the two classes more and more similar. This was not really liked (particularly as the classes have very different functions outside of buffing), and the first expansion gave both factions access to them, the Alliance gaining Draenei shamans and the Horde getting Blood Elf paladins. They were then free to start their divergent evolution without worrying about wrecking the faction power balance.
  • In the Star Fox series, all of Fox's wingmen were pretty much the same at the beginning, other than in personality. This was changed in the unreleased Star Fox 2, which allowed you to choose your character, with each flying a different ship with different properties. It reverted back in Star Fox 64, where the only difference between ships was the amount of health. Things stayed that way until Star Fox Command which finally incorporated the different ships choices from Star Fox 2.
  • In Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Sonic and Tails played the same way. Starting with Sonic The Hedgehog 3, Tails was given his own play style. (He is unable to use the shield powerups as double jumps, but gains a limited flying ability.)
    • Tails' play style has gotten to the point of being unrecognizable in some of the more recent games, most memorably walking in a mecha in Sonic Adventure 2.
    • Also, Shadow in Sonic the Hedgehog 2006. His techniques went from being very similar to Sonic in Sonic Adventure 2 and Sonic Heroes to a different style. However, the fact that he became slower could raise different questions.
  • Inverted in the F-Zero series. The series originally featured four characters with markedly different play styles, but as the cast expanded to include Loads and Loads of Characters, those original four have drifted to the middle, becoming little more than mildly differentiated Jacks of All Stats.
  • In King of Fighters, Kyo and Iori, like Ryu and Ken, were essentially clones of each other in their original appearance, but their gameplay styles began to diverge as times went by: Kyo lost his fireball and gained more powerful normal moves while Iori became quicker and more mobile.
    • And then, by King of Fighters XIII, Iori had lost his fire powers completely, while Kyo pretty much lost his Fiery "Rekka-style" moves and had regained his fireball...
    • Even moreso, Clark and Ralf from the same series (working for an actual honest-to-gosh Colonel Badass, Heidern) start as identical wrestler/brawler characters, but over the years have differentiated so that Ralf has more punching-based "brawling" special moves and fewer and less-effective command throws (although still more than the average character) and Clark has become almost a pure wrestler, with more throws and almost no other special moves. At the same time, their personalities were distinguished, with Clark being the quiet, sensitive, friendly guy and Ralf being quite the Boisterous Bruiser. They are both still complete badasses, of course, and compared to the rest of the cast, effectively Badass Normals.
      • Even more so when you realize this; In a game where most characters have element-based superpowers and genetically altered genes, Ralf is the only character that has a special move that can remove almost two thirds of your health bar.
        • Actually, in some circumstances it can take off all of your health bar from 100%!! What does this move look like? Just a big punch.
      • Also, both were the protagonists of Ikari Warriors, where they not only played but even looked identical.
  • In Super Robot Wars Alpha, the player built up their own character by selecting genders, choosing a face (from four males and four females), giving them names, and adding a personality (Cool, Shy, Weird, or Hot-Blooded) and accompanying voice. The Super Robot Wars Original Generation sub-series combined these factors and fleshed them out into the characters Kusuha Mizuha, Brooklyn "Bullet" Luckfield, Rio Mei Long, Ryoto Hikawa, Leona Garstein, Tasuku Shinguji, Yuuki Jaggar, and Ricarla "Carla" Borgnine (which were the default names associated with each character archetype/gender combination).
    • Alpha 2 and 3 then adopted the Kusuha and Bullet characters as the canon heroes of Alpha (with the "player" and main character assumed to have been Kusuha) and developed them even further, taking their story and character development to appropriate extremes.
    • It's worth noting that Super Robot Wars 4 did this, as well. However, only two of the eight "standard" characters (those being Irmgult "Irm" Kazahara and Ring Mao) have been included in Original Generation at this time. As a Mythology Gag, in OG (and their cameos in Alpha) they're significantly older than they were in the games they first appeared in, and instead of being a standard couple as per 4 and its re-releases, they bicker Like an Old Married Couple.
  • Elves in Dragon Age: Origins were short humans with pointed ears. In Dragon Age 2, the elves have acquired a much more distinct facial structure (compare Marethari in Origins to Marethari in DA2).
  • Metal Slug is a very well known case of progressive Lugification. In the first game, Tarma is basically just a Palette Swap of Marco, who even had the same death scream as him. In 2, although Fio is not an exact Palette Swap of Eri, she also has the same death scream as her. In X and 3, every character had a different death scream at last, and was given some backstory. And finally, in 6, they were completely differentiated by being given different in-game abilities.
  • Sarah and Jacky from Virtua Fighter have very similar fighting styles at first. Throughout the sequels however, they have developed far different fighting styles and backstories over the course of five games. Sarah's official fighting style has been changed from Jeet Kune Do to just Martial Arts (or more specifically, what the Japanese definition of the English term "Martial Arts").
  • In a very odd bit of differentiation mixup, the Dead or Alive series features the extended ninja sub-plot playing itself out in the characters' fighting styles as well. Kasumi and Ayane, the game's Ryu and Ken pair, are similar in fighting style, though with differences: Kasumi's moves set up follow-up combos far more easily, while Ayane is greased lightning with lots of very fast but proportionately weaker strikes. Hayabusa, Kasumi's bodyguard and friend, shares some of her moves, but is slightly more powerful than either for sheer hit potential and has more grappling techniques. Hayate, Kasumi's brother, first appeared in Dead or Alive 2 as Ein, an amnesiac, featuring a similar fighting style to Kasumi, but with much more emphasis on punishing single hits and short combos, though he kept some of the acrobatics. Then Dead or Alive 3 introduced Hitomi, his training partner during his amnesiac phase who is a pure karate practitioner as opposed to Hayate's karate/ninjutsu hybrid, and is slightly harder hitting and faster than him, but much more linear, lacking Hayate's jumping abilities.
    • Definitively Leon and Bayman. Bayman was in the first Dead or Alive, but was replaced by Leon in Dead or Alive 2. They retained their similarities in Dead or Alive 3, where they both appeared, but in Dead or Alive 4, Bayman has gained a bit more speed to his moves, while Leon retains a more powerful strike potential, and Spartan Nicole-458 uses their shared Russian Sabo style as a skeleton upon which the rest of her unique style was built up from.
    • This is fairly common in Dead Or Alive, as much research was put into replicating the fighting styles of the individual characters from real life martial arts. As such, fighting arts with common roots often show it quite well.
  • Super Double Dragon differentiated Billy's and Jimmy's fighting styles by giving them different basic moves, giving Billy the faster attacks and Jimmy the stronger ones. No other Double Dragon game attempted to give the Lee brothers different moves besides the iPhone version and the two fighting games.
  • The all-girl fighting series Variable Geo has done this exactly twice. Initially, Yuka and Chiho played very similarly to one another, with the only real difference between them being their differently animated special moves. However, as the series went on, Chiho developed into more of a Glass Cannon by playing up her ninja-ness and giving her new abilities while Yuka remained largely the same balanced character. When Yuka was sidelined for a later game's story mode, she was replaced with Tamao, an Ascended Hero Worshipper who copied all of Yuka's moves. The following game had them diverge by once again keeping Yuka more or less the same, while turning Tamao into a borderline Joke Character who botched her attacks and had to improvise on the fly to stay in the game.
  • The original Konami Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles arcades tried to balance the characters: Raphael is the fastest (but with the shortest range), Michelangelo is the strongest (but slowest), Donatello has the most range (but is the weakest) and Leonardo is the second in all attributes. The most recent games had Raph becoming the strongest and Mike the fastest, as it fits their personalities more.
  • In Raiden and its sequels, the red Raiden (1P) and blue Raiden (2P) play identically except in Raiden DX, in which the two ships differ in which axis they move faster along (Red is faster vertically, Blue is faster horizontally). In Raiden Fighters, the two ships are significantly different; the red Raiden (Raiden mk-II) uses the toothpaste laser and a delayed-detonation bomb for its weapons, while the blue one (Raiden mk-II Beta) uses missiles, spread shots with no rapid-fire capability, and a weak cluster bomb.
  • In early versions of Akatsuki Blitzkampf, Adler was a palette swap of Elektrosoldat, but when he was turned into his own character his moves got radically different inputs and properties. Similarly, in the arcade version Perfecti is no longer a palette swap of Mycale - she is instead an entirely different character with no shared moves.
  • Hurdy used to be a Palette Swap version of the Mooglings in Final Fantasy XII. In Final Fantasy Tactics a 2, he takes off his hat and had his own unique clothing, along with his other Moogling brothers Sorbet and Horne.
  • The first Twisted Metal 's character roster contained a dune buggy called Pit Viper which spat out acid blobs as a special attack. However, when the time came for the sequel, instead of repeating the same move (projectiles were extremely common as it stood), they gave it a new one (a jump-based slamming attack) to differentiate it more from other vehicles, and they also redid its color scheme, calling the vehicle Grasshopper from then on.
  • In what may be a shocking discovery for recent Fire Emblem fans, in the first game the Fragile Speedster Pegasus Knights promoted into the Mighty Glacier Dragon/Wyvern Rider class, making the latter simply an upgrade of the former (And just as dodgy). Eventually Genealogy of Holy War put an end to this madness by making them different classes, albeit the previous game started this process by giving Pegasi a decent Resistence (Magic Defense) stat that they lost when promoting (this also applies to the remake of the first game).
  • Although they had different movesets from the start, the Mortal Kombat series was infamous for having several characters who were just Palette Swaps of the same basic ninja sprite. Once the games became 3D, they were each given unique models.
  • Done with several boss characters in Tekken, eg Kunimitsu was initially a gender-neutral Palette Swap of Yoshimitsu, but in the second game was clearly modeled as female and given a mostly-new moveset.
    • Jin Kazama was just a Suspiciously Similar Substitute for Kazuya when he was introduced in part 3. When Kazuya came back in part 4, Kazama "unlearned" his Mishima-Ryu Ken Karate and gained his self-learned style.
  • In a rare single game example, Raiden starts out playing identically to Snake. It isn't until the very end of the game that he gets the sword that allows him to showcase his Implausible Fencing Powers, which Snake doesn't possess. His switch from being a gameplay clone of Snake to having his own play style is actually part of the plot.
  • Mega Man X 3 gave Zero his first playable appearance, where he played like X but with a Beam Saber upgrade (which X can later in the game). In the next game, Zero trades his Z Buster style with a purely close range style to completely distance him self to his partner.
    • X7, with Axl's debut appearance. Aside from his Copy, dodge, hovering and a couple of different guns, Axl was very similar to X in style and how he used enemy weapons. X8 changed Axl into the Fragile Speedster of the trio, and he got a new gun for each boss weapon (often based on a secondary attack the bosses use, with different looks and properties, and without needing weapon energy to boot), and he retained his Copy, dodge and hover.
  • Sonic Generations has a variation involving stages. Seaside Hill was originally a complete throwback to Green Hill Zone, having palm trees and checkered soil, but since Green Hill Zone has reappeared playing up those elements, Seaside Hill in Generations plays up the ruins and water aspect more an even adding underwater elements.
  • Happens in the Sengoku Basara series with Matsu and Kasuga. Both formerly used Kenshin and Sasuke's movesets before gaining their own in the second game. Similarly, a few NPCs who used polearms merely had copies of either Toshie or Shingen's movesets before actually getting their own.
  • In Rhythm Heaven for the GBA, the Space Dancers and Cosmo Dancers were interchangeable, the Cosmo Dancers only representing a higher difficulty level. In the DS version, both sets of dancers received minor redesigns and hobbies, with the Space Dancers being the focus of the Rhythm Rally games and the Cosmo Dancers being the focus of the Space Soccer games.
  • The original Parodius for the MSX gave its characters different personalities, but they all used the Gradius moveset. Parodius Da! did give Vic Viper, Octopus, Twinbee and Pentarou each a different moveset.
  • When Marvel vs. Capcom 2 came out, this trope came into play with Iron Man and War Machine (who debuted in the first game as a palette swap of the former.) Originally, War Machine would fire lasers for some of his moves (Shoulder Cannon, Proton Cannon) in a similar manner as Iron Man (never mind that WM's laser came from his shoulder as opposed to IM's chest) and had one more Hyper Combo (War Destroyer) than him. By the time the second game came out, War Machine fired missiles instead while Iron Man retained the lasers.
  • Samurai Shodown games had players choose a "shura" (good) or "rasetsu" (evil) versions of their chosen fighters which results in getting different moves. Part 5 dropped this system but introduced new fighters which are obviously based on rasetsu versions of certain characters; Rasetsumaru (Haohmaru), Rera (Nakoruru), Enja (Kazuki) and Souija (Sogetsu).

Web Comics

  • Happens to Nick and Shep in Schlock Mercenary. Originally, they were both idiots. Shep gradually got smarter, moving up to about average IQ; Nick...didn't.
    • Nick also didn't follow the fate of the other beef-chunk recruits either though, he's still with the company (Shep retired and Hob died).
    • There's 750 millions of Gav's gate-clones. It was kind of fun until everyone used to them, but... Eventually they started "The Diversity Engineering Institute". After all, 750,000,000 borderline mad scientists will obviously do more and better if each have somewhat different perspective.
  • Occurs with Akuma and Kari in the sprite comic Akuma TH. They both started out as literal Shotoclones, both using the same fighting style. They diverged fairly quickly however, with Akuma focusing on energy attacks and Kari focusing on punches and kicks. Kari did the most deviating, most notably with her signature Monsoon Kick, a hurricane kick that rotates vertically and moves horizontally, instead of the other way around.
  • In El Goonish Shive, Tedd and Elliot started out being alike in perversion but over time due to Characterization Marches On Elliot became more and more reserved. Eventually it got to the point where he actually failed at thinking perverted thoughts. Meanwhile, Tedd also underwent Character Development and became more of a Chivalrous Pervert but a pervert nonetheless.
    • Elliot and Ellen started out being almost exactly the same apart from their genders, but that is justified since Ellen is a Opposite Sex Clone of Elliot and was "born" with a perfect copy of his memories and personality. However, her initial Cloning Blues and subsequent attempts to establish her own identity led to this trope.


Web Original

  • In Red vs. Blue, Donut and Caboose were originally just an identical pair of dumb rookies. But now, Donut is Ambiguously Gay with average intelligence, and Caboose is an idiot who thinks electricity is invisible magic.
  • Dorm Life: Britney and Courtney started off as seemingly-interchangeable Alpha Bitches, although there were subtle clues from the beginning that Britney was much smarter than Courtney. Once Britney and Mike started bonding, Britney's Hidden Depths came more into play. Since an entire season of Dorm Life would be produced at one time, this was done intentionally.
  • Ink City has a crack community called Labocabana, the events within being noncanon to the main game. This has resulted in certain characters developing very differently within Labocanon, such as Yakko and Dot. This has had direct effects on the main story, thanks to Labo!Dot crossing the Moral Event Horizon and her mun trying to prevent IC!Dot from making the same choice by showing her what happened through the Fourth Wall.
  • Zig-zagged by The Nostalgia Chick and The Nostalgia Critic. She started out being just a simple girl version of his basic traits - snarky manchild doing linear reviews – but then something changed. She got a three dimensional characterization of her own, as well as a more sketch-based style of episode, but the similarities ran much deeper (to name but a few; both have histories of abuse, bad inferiority superiority complexes, desperation for power and psychopathic child tendencies) as well as their differences turning ying-yang (overly dominant/worringly submissive, emotionally repressed/can't hide anything, hates kids but loves animals/hates animals but loves kids), much to her self-loathing denial and his clingy love.


Western Animation

  • The eponymous Venture Brothers were originally written exactly the same - Pollyanna Hardy Boys parodies that were forever trying to solve mysteries. By the end of Season 3, Hank has become the more masculine and adventurous of the two (as well as a bit of a wannabe Casanova) while Dean is sensitive, intelligent and extremely afraid of sex.
    • Justified as at the end of season 3, all of the brothers' clones are killed in a large battle as a makeshift army of soft zombie-like bodies (It Makes Sense in Context) and now have to live as anyone else does instead of the convenience of death being incredibly cheap for Dr. Venture when you can just roll out more clones and have no personality developments as a result.
  • Bart and Lisa Simpson started out as a pair of interchangeable brats. Both were shameless pranksters and not too bright, their main function being to drive their parents up the wall. This worked well for the original three-minute Ullman shorts, which didn't have much time for characterization. The first few episodes of the regular series feature this portrayal as well, with Lisa causing as much trouble as Bart. The writers decided having two identical characters wasn't very interesting in a half-hour format, so the episode "Moaning Lisa" was produced, which re-creates Lisa as artistic, sensitive, highly intelligent, and basically the total opposite of her brother. This version of the character has remained ever since.
    • Lenny and Carl are also an example, starting as two of Homer's dumb friends, now Lenny is even dumber and Carl is now more level headed.
  • Kyle and Stan from South Park used to have pretty much the same personality in earlier seasons. Now they are still very alike, but their interests and attitudes differ. Kyle is smarter and more reactionary, especially when Cartman is around. Stan is more down to earth, often taking the role of the Only Sane Everyman, as well as being a bit more sensitive at times.
  • In a similar vein to the Simpsons example, Cosmo and Wanda began life as "two halves of an idiot", a pair of cheerful, wacky fairies. By the start of the second season, said traits were absorbed and amplified by Cosmo, while Wanda became more down to earth in order to balance off the couple.
  • Ty Lee from Avatar: The Last Airbender is an in-universe example of this happening (off-screen): She claims she ran away to join the circus in order to differentiate herself from her six identical siblings.
  • On Teen Titans, Speedy was originally a Robin expy, playing his Foil in his first appearance. He soon became more of a egoistical "Bad Boy."
  • In their first few appearances, Chip and Dale were identical in every way. Later, Dale gained a red nose, buck teeth, and a goofier personality. Chip more or less kept his original looks, but became more of a Straight Man to Dale.
  • In the transition from the Madagascar films to the spinoff TV series The Penguins of Madagascar, the chimp characters Mason and Phil have evolved into Mason being a Neat Freak and Phil being slovenly and relaxed.
    • Rico appearence wise evolved too, in the movie he looks like a taller and skinnier Skipper. But in A Christmas Caper and later the series he has a scar on his face and three feathers sticking up like hair to help him stand out.
  • Tallest Red and Tallest Purple from Invader Zim started out as basically the same character, taking turns between having intelligent and ditzy moments in the first episode. As the show went on Red became the more sensible one, able to take control of the Massive during Zim and Dib's takeover, while Purple became more of The Ditz, generally giving impulsive demands.
  • On the Rugrats tenth anniversary documentary the creators noted that this happened to Phil and Lil: Lil became girlier while Phil kept most of the pair's original interest in grossness.
    • Taken further in the Spin-Off All Grown Up, which features one episode where Lil gets annoyed that everyone thinks of them as an identical pair.
  • On Daria, Quinn's friends in the Fashion Club are a slight example--originally they were more or less interchangeable, though Sandi had a bit more personality as the leader. Characterization Marches On kicked in to make Tiffany dumber and vainer than the others, while Stacy became a sweet and intelligent Extreme Doormat (until Character Development in the last season gave her more of a backbone).
  • Happened to The Powerpuff Girls when each girl wanted a different gimmick. Blossom became The Cape with a Cool Car, Bubbles dressed up as a bunny and Buttercup became a supernatural antihero. They were so focused on standing out that it got in the way of their heroics. It was the Monster of the Week who told them they were better off without the gimmicks, gadgets or angst.
  • In Total Drama Island, Heterosexual Life Partners Katie and Sadie originally had pretty much the exact same personality--eternally-happy, sweet, innocent girls who couldn't bear parting from each other. Nowadays, Katie has kept the original personality of the two, but Sadie is now slightly more practical and willing to drop her friend during certain situations. This evolution was made especially obvious with Beth and Lindsay, who became the pair's Expies in Total Drama Action.
  • Frizz and Nug of The Dreamstone started off as two interchangable Cowardly Sidekicks for Sgt Blob. Further on in the first season, Frizz became increasingly cynical and neurotic, while Nug became more dopey and upbeat.
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