'Parks and Rec' started out as a newer version of 'The Office', so it's not a surprise that when we first met Leslie Knope she was somewhat similar to Steve Carell's Michael Scott. A bit of an airhead, screwing up everything she touches, and sometimes completely blind to what's going on in front of her. But Knope quickly formed into a whole other character - and a much better one, that held office on NBC's thursday night for 7 years. She molded into a smart, hopefully optimistic fighter of justice who became one of the most original and well remembered characters on TV.
A lot of TV characters go through a process of dumbing-down during a show's run, but none other than Joey Tribbiani, who started a little dumb but became so stupid it was unclear how he can manage to stand up straight. Joey was always the one who needed a longer explanation of a joke, or didn't think his actions all the way through, but in early season he was still somewhat perceptive. He was the first to deduce Chandler and Monica's relationship, he had great insight of his friends nature, and when given a chance - he was a quick learner, memorizing the entire one volume of Encyclopedia he could afford. But at some point Joey became dumber and dumber, until he actually thought he was speaking French or didn't know what air quotes were.
The lovable neighbor of Homer and Marge started out as a sweet and caring christian, who was just a bit obsessed with religion and let it define him. But he was never too crazy about it, and actually showed ounces of humanity at times. Remember he even had his own bar in his basement? Fast forward a few years and Flanders became a fanatic who forces his faith on anyone he meets and has no other traits. And that bar downstairs? Forget about that, since Flanders now has a strict no alcohol rule, believing it came from the devil.
Modern Family's breakout kid was definitely Gloria's son, Manny. He was a smart, extremely romantic and mature young boy whose plots usually revolved around him acting out romantic comedies in real life, grand gestures and all. He would wear suits, and talk way too sophisticated for his age, especially comparing to his cousins. But as Manny grew up, he turned from a romantic charming boy to kind of...a creep. These past seasons we saw him trying to trick girls into making out with him, and simultaneously have like three different girlfriends.
'The Mindy Project' went through a lot of cast changes until it found its creative strides. With every season the show felt a little more formed and definitely got better. But one character stands out in these changes - Dr. Jeremy Reed. Starting out as the office hunk, Reed was a ladies-man who charmed every woman he met (including Mindy herself, who slept with him in the pilot). These days though, Jeremy is more of the office wimp, who can't find a good relationship to save his life. However, he's much much more interesting now, so this change is by all means welcomed.
Not part of the main core of the cast, Kevin was still an important presence in the office. He was a dim witted accountant who often made mistakes, but still had his own life and talents. He had a band, and a forming relationship with a rarely seen character - Tracey. In fact, he even had a very touching scene of bravery when Stacey left him and he decided to use his breaking moment to help the office out of a jam. But as the seasons progressed, Kevin was down-sized to a mere punching bag. Most of his appearances became just scenes of fat jokes, or smelly-feet jokes. At Jim and Pam's wedding, his plot line was literally just him losing getting his shoes thrown out by the maid because they were too stinky to clean. Also, his intelligence was lowered so much that one episode literally involved around him being mistaken for mentally handicapped.
Another character that changed and formed for the better is little Eric Cartman. Starting out as a brat who rips on his friends and uses people for his own gain, Cartman slowly became the most deranged child on TV. He started developing well thought out plans to abuse people, and as early as season 5 he made a kid eat his own parents. And that was 15 years ago. Cartman continued to be less of a child and more of a racist, dangerous young man who just might be the next president of the United States.
Like any good romantic comedy, Ted began as a hopeless romantic just looking for the right girl to settle down with. He was kind of the "normal" one in his group, the straight man who was a bit too enthusiastic about things others found dull. But as he grew up, he became less romantic and more self-centered and petty. He jumped from woman to woman, sometimes calling it off due to silly Seinfeld-like reasons, making himself a womanizing jerk. To many viewers the story shifted from wanting him to find the mother and live happily ever after to wanting to warn the mother to run for her life. Not to mention the series finale that revealed that he was telling this endless tale to his kids only to "get permission" to go after aunt Robin...