Most of the time, when a character changes in a television show, it's the result of character development over the course of many episodes or seasons. But other times, characters completely change in an instant -- heroes become villains, characters who were slightly stupid become the dumbest people imaginable, or a character gets "Flanderized" and has one mildly distinct aspect of their personality blown up to the extreme. And sometimes, of course, the characters literally become a different actor overnight.
These changes aren't necessarily bad - often, they vastly improve the show, or take the show in a fresh new direction - but they're still pretty jarring, especially when you go back and watch old episodes. Here are some TV characters who changed a ton really quickly.
Jan From 'The Office' Changes From Authoritative Taskmaster To Completely Unhinged WeirdoPhoto: NBC
It takes a certain kind of weirdo to fall in love with Michael Scott, and that weirdo was Jan Levinson. At the beginning of her character’s arc on the series, she's a tough boss, often putting everyone in their place - or at least making them sit upright at their desks when she walks in.
But after getting fired from Dunder Mifflin, Jan sheds her Ann Taylor business casual and goes full-on bizarre. She uses Michael financially and sexually, releases the poor man’s private diaries to the entire company, takes up scented candle-making, and even appears in Michael's movie Threat Level Midnight as a jazz singer.31247Big change?
- 2Photo: AMC
When we first meet Daryl Dixon on The Walking Dead, he’s with his racist brother Merle, who he eventually leaves behind. It’s implied that Daryl has the same prejudiced outlook as his brother throughout, even though he’s more of the silent type. But just episodes after Merle’s exit at the end of Season 3, Daryl starts to open up and it turns out... he’s actually a nice guy.
A lot of Daryl's development had to do with actor Norman Reedus pushing back on the writers. Reedus told CNET, “I mean he started out like, 'Don't look at me, don't look at me.' He had a chip on his shoulder, like he wasn't comfortable being him. There were always scripts that had him taking drugs and being racist, like his brother was. I fought to change those because I felt he should be more an Al-Anon member and not a full-blown Alcoholics Anonymous member."
Reedus's vision for the character obviously stuck, and Daryl ended up being a main character on the series all the way through its final season.
- Played By: Norman Reedus
- 3Photo: Fox
Stewie Griffin’s transformation on Family Guy is so drastic that fans who only watched Season 1 and stopped might not even recognize him later on. When the show began, Stewie was a 1-year-old baby hell-bent on taking out his family, most notably his doting mother Lois.
Later on, he turns into quite a softie, who eventually loses his taste for world domination and picks up a knack for old-school musicals when it feels right. In Season 10, Episode 5, Stewie takes a "Road to the Pilot” to regain some proclivity for total world destruction to no avail, though dedicated viewers must have enjoyed the Easter egg of an episode nodding to Stewie’s metamorphosis.
- Played By: Seth MacFarlane
- Photo: NBC
Ed Helms’s The Office character Andy “The Nard Dog” Bernard changed quite a bit from his first appearance on the series. When he first arrives at Dunder Mifflin, Andy is a tense, fleece vest-wearing bro who punches holes in the office walls. In Season 3, he goes to anger management and comes back as an awkward dork whose nipples bleed when he jogs, then remains that way for the bulk of the series.
Andy eventually becomes the regional branch manager and undergoes another change, taking Michael Scott's place as the inept, awkward, softie authority figure in the office. The Andy of the early-season-3 Stamford episodes is almost unrecognizable if you're doing a rewatch.
- Played By: Ed Helms