The “lightest” version of characters moving from one universe to the other(s) is the case of a recurring name that follows you around. While it might sound like a detail, I have given this more thought over the years and found it interesting to see how it could influence not only my writing but other aspects of my life.
Several characters’ names have impacted my life in online communities, because of how I relied on these names for my own person as aliases. The first would be Aruna, which was the name of my first novel’s protagonist. I chose this and made it Aruna7 for the ten years I spent creating fan videos and several of my friends I met during that time would still call me Aruna even now. And I would respond.
In the past eight years, I have been writing on Star Wars roleplaying boards. While the character has known multiple versions, my main, a Jedi Master from Nar Shaddaa, Satkia, has been the name people recognized me with. So I still answer to Satkia too. Ironically, even her last name (Beltrak) is an echo from my first novella, as it also was part of the protagonist’s last name in the story.
Beside these two examples, I have seen a lot of names moving back and forth between three creative circles in the past years: my original fiction, my roleplaying characters and my SWTOR characters.
I try to avoid using the same name in multiple original fiction books, though I’m fairly sure that a couple of examples will eventually be found, but I like using the same names across multiple platforms. Sometimes the looks and personality of the character who first wore the name find resonance in other versions. My first novella’s protagonist, Ranooki, who was a young woman attending military academy eventually became a New Republic Navy mechanics on a Star Wars board, and was a commando DPS on the Republic side of SWTOR for years. My video game Ranooki is the character I have played longest (roughly since December 2011 or January 2012, shortly after the game’s release).
My Anjalis have probably been the most alike in all their iterations. The original Anjali was a Nightsister in a Star Wars setting. She briefly wandered to another board in pretty much the same version, save for her looks. She inspired me to write a short story starring her in a brand new Fantasy universe I had created where she was some kind of witch in tune with nature and animals. The short story eventually gave life to a novella with multiple characters. And my SWTOR Anjali is a Sith Sorcerer, one of my healers on the imperial side.
Of course, names can show up on several occasions without their different bearers having many similarities. In Clairvoyance Chronicles, Mairi is a former Renegade Fae, while her SWTOR counterpart is a Chiss imperial sniper. It is common that I choose from my roleplaying and original fiction characters when I name my video game characters, so there isn’t always room for similarities.