So, from the main cast, that leaves Madoka and Sayaka. However, Madoka doesn't really change either, except in the details which are determined by her immediate circumstances. From the beginning she is morally flawless, and unshakable in her belief that hope and friendship can prevail. Madoka's happiness and self-worth are tied directly to how useful she thinks she is to others—she basically says as much throughout the series, and Drama CD 1: "Memories of You" makes it even more explicit. That's who she is, and that does not change throughout the final timeline. Sure, she struggles a bit with fear, but we always have the sense that the real issue is just that she doesn't know what to wish for. Ironically, Madoka does change as a character in some of the previous timelines (especially #3) but the audience only glimpses the results. Episode 10 covers so much so quickly that some viewers still don't seem to understand even after repeated viewings.
>>5243>Does anyone remember how they felt about the characters after their first viewing?
Indeed, I did start off in the thread suggesting that I don't know why some of these people said what they have, but I actually had some general ideas because during its broadcast, a few points in the series ended up feelings pretty off-putting to me. In particular, I had actually been misled by the atmosphere of the series in my own mind to think that MAMI was the suspicious one, so my own assumptions backfired on my experience when she turned around with tears in her eyes in front of Madoka. That had me realizing "Oh, wait. Was I wrong?" and I ended up re-watching the first three episodes with a friend, carrying "She's not a suspicious person after all" in mind. Kyouko's sudden change, too, felt awkward until I went back to re-watch up to episode 8 with another friend and considered her past in relation to her actions beforehand and it was actually less obvious, but still made sense.
Throughout the broadcast, I ended up re-watching up to the current broadcast episode a lot, so those thoughts of disparity were left in the distance by the ending of the show, which was, again, pretty off-putting when my narrow-minded expectations were "This show is going to end pretty ugly." Not so much because it didn't end ugly, but because the turning point was literally the break-off from episode 11 to episode 12 (even though they were broadcast together, the two episodes were the complete opposite in atmosphere and 25 minutes of action-less hope to end 25 minutes of spiraling despair felt weird at first). But yet again, it made complete sense and felt much smoother on my second viewing, when I knew what was going to happen and why.
In other words, as everyone here has been saying, Madoka's development in both characters and plot might simply be non-linear. For those who value a linear progression, that is very likely a strike against it, but for those who value being able to get something out of multiple viewings, that can be a huge strength. So "perspective" is huge.