I kind of liked them like this ...
What is it that makes one like a character? Sometimes I feel most people just
care about looks and some cool scenes. As long the character is willing to take
his shirt off or make some significant one-liners, the majority will always be
satisfied. You can call me a jaded bitch, but that is not good enough for me.
In this section of my homepage I talk about the various changes that made me dislike a character and of course I also mention what I used to like about them. Also if I have plans for a AU fanfic with the old character or a certain version of it.
Basically, I do not approve of random personality changes, history make-overs and alter-ego cross-dimension replacements. It's more than the looks or a certain style that makes me like a character; it's the core personality and no matter what some lazy fanfic writer's say, there are always certain do's and don'ts.
Overnight change vs character development
Fanfics are full of spontenous changes: Most famously the sudden change of sexual
orientation. Not that it is a bad thing, it just gets annoying when it is not announced. Even worse when some slashers insist that a character is like this in canon, despite clear evidence to the contrary. In fanfic alternate versions of characters and events are okay and the reader is usually warned about them happening.
I just loathe it when this happens in the canon itself. I don't care what the excuses are. If the writer believes that the new background story is better, that the character fits better in the story with a brand new personality, if multiple writer's are too lazy to check back or need a strong character to be week to make their plot work. I can't stand it and it often enough has killed or damped my enthusiam for a fandom.
However, some characters change gradually over a certain amount of time. On occassion those changes turn out to be more than just learning to be part of a group, overcoming shyness or becoming more depressed when back things happen to them. As well written those might be, I still reserve the right to not like how the person turned out.
Changes in Tv Shows
Most prominently done by Joss Whedon, sometimes even acknowlegded by fans who simply do not care. However, occasionally I come across people who feel like me, who drop made up terms in mid-discussions. Then explain the meaning of "spikefication" as follows: Turning a cool character into a total whimp. Something that does not happen exclusively in tv-shows, but is certainly the occasion that bothered me the most. I adored the old Spike sired by Angelus.
Other occasions are for example, would be Stargate, which I watched to see more about the Goal'ud Feudal System and how SG-1 came upon the various lords and intefered in their businesses. Instead nearly all the lords got killed in vastly unimaginitive, boring ways and more and more powerful human civilization showed up, who should not have been there in the first place. (might expand more on it later)
Or the latest pre-quel Star Trek show, that pays no regard to the previously established timeline. It's bad enough, when in The Next Generation events and locations get mixed up, but the new show did in such grand style, I could not be bothered to watch it.
Movie canon vs book/comic canon
When it comes to movies (or sometimes even tv-shows) there is often enough a novel or comic book where the original characters come from. Now the new movie versions are bound to be a bit different, but often enough the change is so big, that little of the original character remains. However little the change might be, it can make a huge difference for some people. There are certainly various characters whom I like in one canon, but hate in the others. For others I care little in one and a lot in the book or comic.
For example, I really like the John Constantine from the Hellblazer comic, who has except for the name and a brief brush with lung cancer nothing in common with the movie character of the same name. Now my hate for the movie version might result mainly on the fact that this cool character was turned into such a wuss, but nonetheless it's hard to believe that anyone can think of them as the same character.
Same goes for X-Men, everytime I complain about the second movie, I hear from some comic readers that I shouldn't because it got that much closer to the comics. Am I supposed to care? I like the charcter from the first movie and have every right to wonder why Rogue is behaving like a total idiot in the second movie. Why would I care about the comics in the first place, characters get killed, reappear, change alignment, do this and a few books later the opposite. I don't like that, I don't like Marvel Comics.
My fanlisting pet peeve
After reading about my problem with the character mutilation of John Constantine, I probably need only to say that both versions, despite having next to no common ground share one fanlisting, with not even a favourite field to distinguish between the two very different persons.
To provide a different view, take my King Einon Fanlisting. In the book Einon is much younger and has beard as an adult, however more significantly he is much more thoughtful, more ruthless and a lot smarter compared to the movie version. I personally like both version because Thewlis gives the character something that is lacking from the books. Yet, I acknowledge that they are different characters by giving fans the option to choose a version.
I guess that the imdb.com lumbs all characters of the same name together does not really help, no matter how usefu the feature might be to discover obscure misuses of the character of Dracula. Of course, if there was a fanlisting for every tiny version of a character, it would not be manageable, but I wish that it was at least required to have a favourite field to establish the differences between characters.