Flanderization, also known as Out Of Character (OOC) and Character Butchery (real element) is a trope that refers to the act of taking a single trait from a character and exaggerating and amplifying it more and more over time until it completely consumes the character. Most always, the trait/action becomes completely outlandish and it becomes their defining characteristic. Sitcoms and other comedy shows are usually the ones to suffer from this, due to the writers doing anything they can to get a cheap laugh from the audience, even if it means sacrificing a character's personality. Games and movies are at risk as well. Either there are out-of-character personalities that are counted as against the characters we know and love, or there are personalities that will make you have no choice but to lose all of the respect you had for the characters.
Although, flanderization doesn't always make the characters turn out awful. Sometimes flanderization can make them funnier and likable. It depends on how the character is flanderized. This good side of flanderization is most noticeable in Thor from the MCU, who became a less serious and more badass hero.
Flanderization is especially common amongst works where the creator is not involved, with their replacement not understanding the nuances of the characters and what made them so good in the first place, even if the lore was explained to them or had seen the series when the creator was involved. New writers as well may screw up the characters. One major example was SpongeBob SquarePants because starting around season 6, the new writers basically goofed up everything that made SpongeBob- well, SpongeBob. And soon enough, the characters fell down the drain with the series going downhill. Another example includes Family Guy, as around the time it was cancelled and came back, it only got and made characters more cruder. It is also extremely common in fanfiction for similar reasons no matter how devoted a fan is.
The Simpsons, being the series that spawned this trope's very name, has this almost across the board. Over time, the series has, in many ways, become a symbol of this trope in its purest form.
In the topic of flanderization, the American animated sitcom King of the Hill is a notable example of a series that used flanderization. This series is known for giving flatter characters new aspects, then focusing on them, thus creating the sense of flanderization at the same time as they get character development.
Flanderization is to not be confused with character derailment, in which it involves a character's trait(s) being vastly different compared to what was previously shown.
Why This Trope Should Be De-Flanderized
- Basically, this trope serves as reverse character development, where a character becomes more unlikable rather than vice versa.
- Characters who suffer from flanderization often rarely revert back to their original personalities. And even if they do, sometimes there is still a hint of flanderization stuck in them.
- Flanderized characters also often end up being derailed in some way or form.
- The personalities and overall charm of the character are thrown out the window, turning the characters one dimensional.
- Some flanderized characters may end up turning into a completely different trope. For example, Norman Price became the mischievous prankster of his town to a dangerous and bratty Karma Houdini and Denzel Crocker went from a decently written antagonist to just plain filler when the show isn't shoving Chloe or Sparky in your face. Other characters can be flanderized into butt-monkeys that were often abused but sometimes sympathetic, male characters like SpongeBob, Gelatin and Thomas got flanderized into childish idiots, and one of the worst examples being characters like Memetchi, Angelina, Lois, Amy Rose (Sonic X), Emily, and all the female characters who are sweet, nice, and friendly had changed into unnecessarily aggressive, too tough, naggy, mean-spirited, sexist, and ungrateful jerks as tsunderes, which is not in the good way for the character that can lead into a the awful mean popular girl trope.
- Flanderization of one character will cause a chain of the other characters getting flanderized do them dealing with the flanderization.
- Overdone flanderization in one show may basically be irreversable. For example, even if The Simpsons went downhill, it started recovering soon enough in season 31. Meanwhile, Family Guy has gone down the drain, and it's doubtful it will ever return to its charm.
- It's an insult to original viewers of the show, as they didn't want this to even happen to their characters.
- Even if flanderization ends up adding goodness to a character, there is always some bad in the "good" flanderization.
- Flanderization may also effect other traits of the character besides personality. For example, Cosmo's voice got even worse as he got flanderized.
- Due to flanderization, the writing of what the characters do and say ends up going down, ruining them even more.
- Even tiny traits that weren't really part of the main character are amplified to the point where it becomes their main trait.
- Flanderization may even turn a character into a character worse than the antagonist or it will become the real antagonist than other antagonist characters.
- Taking a villian and flanderizing them is even worse, as villians, despite being evil, can still be likable and sympathetic. Speaking of which, some flanderized jerks can became just cruel and mean-spirited who will do anything to get what they want, even if it means hurting people.
- Relatable characters who get flanderized like Timmy Turner end up no longer likable due to a random new ego and derailment.
- Some characters getting the worst flanderization may coincide with a series or franchise going downhill, some major examples include the following:
- The Simpsons
- The Loud House
- Teen Titans Go!
- Turbo F.A.S.T
- The Amazing World of Gumball
- The Fairly OddParents
- Family Guy
- SpongeBob SquarePants
- Battle for Dream Island
- South Park
- Sonic the Hedgehog (franchise)
- Bob the Builder
- Fireman Sam
- Total Drama
- The Magic School Bus Rides Again
- Thomas and Friends
- Johnny Test
- George of the Jungle
- Ed Edd n Eddy
- American Dad!
- Angelina Ballerina
- Sesame Street
- Titans (2018)
- Flanderization may end up killing any character development the character was receiving as well.
- In some cases, flanderization can be a good thing as it can make characters more likable, relatable and/or entertaining. One major example was King of the Hill, as shown above.
- Some characters can still be likable even if they're flanderized slightly and still retain their original personality.
- Some flanderized characters can return to their original personalities somewhat, and sometimes, although rare, many characters have actually recovered from flanderization overtime, like The Simpsons characters, Batman (DCEU), Superman (DCEU), Ben Tennyson (2016), SpongeBob SquarePants (Seasons 6B & 7), Patrick Star (Seasons 6-8), Four (BFB 1-16), Gelatin (BFB 1-16), Gwen Tennyson (2016), and etc.
How To Prevent Flanderization
- Make sure to keep a character's likability and charm.
- Keep the show/movie/franchise intact as well and make a good reboot if you are rebooting a show/franchise and be aware as the shows, movies and franchises going downhill and botched reboots often co-sides with character flanderized.
- Remember that the viewers don't want a goofy messed up and mean-spirited jerk as they were fine with the previous character.
- Balance out their traits to keep the personality the same.
- Some flanderization can be used in wary to make a bland character more likable. Just be careful, as good flanderization can turn bad quick.
- Keep good and original writers on the show to help keep personalities.
- And most of all- give the character development instead. It's usually learning from experiences and starting to become more likable even if they were jerks beforehand that helps a characters go up. Note that even developed characters can end up flanderized as well, so stay wary.