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A form of Character Derailment in which a character in a long running series gets Put on a Bus. Years later, the writers bring the character back, except... he isn't the same person anymore. He behaves differently, has different skills or interests - he's become a completely different person.

Writers could justify it by saying that character development took place offscreen, but it seems a little as if the writers have basically written a new character and slapped his traits onto someone who already existed in canon to make the introduction easier.

The inversion of Suspiciously Similar Substitute. See also Not as You Know Them and Characterization Marches On.

Examples of Same Character but Different include:


Comic Books

  • Superboy-Prime in DC Comics was introduced during Crisis on Infinite Earths as an Ascended Fanboy from the real world (or what was closest to it) who became Superboy during the Crisis. He finally went to a better place with the original Superman and Lois. He was brought back much more recently... as an insane villain who's a Take That at the fans (complaining about continuity, saying the old days were better, and so forth, all it really did was prove how poorly the character was written).

Live Action TV

  • Amy Madison, in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. In the episode "Witch", she's a quiet young thing whose evil mother has taken over Amy's body. In episodes before she was Put In a Cage she was a witch who was no (or negligably) more evil than Willow (at the time), but when Amy is reintroduced a couple of seasons later, she's turned pretty much as bad as Mom.
    • Cue the surprisingly consistent Wild Mass Guessing about Mom repossessing Amy after the events of Graduation Day.
    • To be fair, she did kind of get stuck as a rat, for about three years. And then she comes back into the world much later, disoriented and unaware of all the time that passed during her (unintentionally self-inflicted) Baleful Polymorph state... plus the hinting that she'd started to at least partially abuse magic. It doesn't fully justify things, but in that light it makes her new characterisation at least a little easier to swallow.
  • Clare Bates, in Eastenders. She was a regular character in the show as a young teenager back in the 1990s. She was sweet, a doting daughter, and all-round girl scout. Actress Gemma Bissix found fame in a brief stint on Holly Oaks playing a scheming bitch, so the EastEnders writers decided to bring her back as a similar character. Now, 15 years might have passed in between for Clare to turn evil, but it was still a bit disappointing that the writers had to basically turn her previous exit storyline, a happy ending, into a sad one.
  • This is why long-term fans of General Hospital cringe whenever they hear a beloved character from the 1980's is coming back.
  • Paul Robinson was one of the main characters in the golden age of Australian soap opera Neighbours back in the 80s. Then, he was greedy and ambitious, though he usually managed to do the right thing in the end. Cut to 20 years later, and a new batch of writers think that the show needs a villain. Well, who better than the soap's original bad boy Paul? Unfortunately, the new writers misremembered how bad Paul had been - his first act upon returning was to burn down the Lasitters hotel complex, murdering a minor character who got in his way. His evil behaviour continued for a while until the writers relented and wrote in a storyline where he had a brain tumour which had affected his personality. It didn't stick however and he was soon back to blackmailing, stealing, sabotaging building sites and generally wrecking lives, although he wasn't quite as bad as when he first came back.
  • Power Rangers Dino Thunder brought back the original Sixth Ranger, Tommy Oliver, as the mentor to the new team. While his personality wasn't too far off from his original portrayal, we're supposed to accept that in the six or seven years since we last saw him he got a doctorate in paleontology and worked on some secret dinosaur-related research, and that he's now a high school teacher. Now we would probably accept it without question if it was Tommy's teammate Billy that did that, but when Tommy's excuse in the original series for arriving late to fights was being forgetful...
  • Merlin Morgana goes from idealist Well-Intentioned Extremist driven to villainy to make things fair and because she takes everything emotionally to less emotional person, who rarely thinks to improve the things in Camelot once she has taken it over, out of stress.
  • One of the main plot points of Doctor Who. The titular character is played by a different actor every few seasons. While generally the same personality, each incarnation has slightly different quirks that make him unique.
  • In Scrubs Danni Sullivan was introduced as a love interest for J.D. and during her initial appearances she was a fun, likable, sensitive girl whose only real flaw was that she wanted a serious relationship while J.D. was still interested in Elliot. After breaking up with J.D. she left the show only to return sometime later as a chain smoking, self absorbed, airhead party girl. The show Handwaved her totally different personality as being a result of her trying to be what she thought J.D. wanted in a girl.

Video Games

  • Touhou has sort of a weird example. There was a unofficial Continuity Reboot between the fifth and the sixth games (there's some evidence the early games are still in continuity, but even more that they're not, and Word of God isn't helping). So, four characters from before the reboot have shown up in later games. They vary from sharing only the name and a few bits of character design[2] to just having a noticeably different personality[3].
  • The 3rd Birthday's Aya Brea is much more unstable, submissive, and frightened than Aya was in Parasite Eve, to the point of seeming helpless no matter how badass you are in the gameplay. This is because she's actually Eve, Aya herself is actually a total badass in a later cutscene.
  • Phoenix Wright from the Ace Attorney was a promising lawyer and a really caring person on the first trilogy. And then came Apollo Justice, 7 years later, where Phoenix was now a hobo who played poker at the basement of a bar, having adopted a daughter months after the end of the last game. He is highly sarcastic and incredibly different from the cartoonish-happy-go-lucky guy from before. Although when you get to play as him, you learn that he still the same guy on the inside.


Western Animation

Notes

  1. Wait, what do you mean "that's the same guy"?
  2. Alice Margatroid
  3. Kazami Yuuka, who is merely somewhat creepy instead of considering genocide an enjoyable pastime
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