Created By: thewriter on January 3, 2012 Last Edited By: thewriter on November 13, 2012
Troped

Revisiting The Roots

A long-running work shows how much it has changed by going back to a previous formula

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Up for Grabs. Do We Have This One??
A series has diverged from its original premise or formula, perhaps because it grew a beard and outgrew a few old gags. Or perhaps it jumped a shark or two to the detriment of itself. In any case, the series (in style, or tone, or premise, the characters are not necessarily literally going back) returns to an earlier format maybe for a nostalgic/humorous looked at itself to poke fun at the behavior and actions of the characters early on in the series or maybe perhaps to fix some problems they've gained along the way.
Examples:

Anime and Manga
  • The Buu saga of Dragon Ball Z tries to go back to the humor from the beginning of the series, after a long time being a fighting series.

Live-Action Television
  • At the end of the fifth season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Buffy starts off an episode by killing a vampire in an alleyway. This is after having blown up a giant demon snake in season three, fought off a man-made demon-cyborg in season four, and she was presently in the battle with a demonic god trying to destroy the universe. She even lampshades this by pointing out she hadn't done something so simple in a while.
  • Charmed's Sorting Algorithm of Evil became somewhat more akin to a bell-curve. The first three seasons dealt with them battling warlocks and demons, the fourth had them battling the very Source Of All Evil, the fifth ended with them battling the classic Greek Titans, the sixth had them go against a Well-Intentioned Extremist Angel, and the seventh had them end destroying a past contender of the Source. By the eighth and final season, Word of God says that Billie and Christy, sibling female witches like the protagonists, was a great way to ground the show.
  • Law & Order: Special Victims Unit was forced by Christopher Meloni's departure to go back to a more rounded set of characters instead of being the Stabler & Benson Show.
  • For better or for worse, Star Trek: Voyager was this for the Star Trek franchise: A lone Federation Star Ship exploring the dangerous unknowns and meeting new life and new civilizations.

Music
  • Starflyer 59's album I Am the Portuguese Blues was a deliberate throwback to their first three albums: lots of guitar distortion and no keyboards, in contrast with the Synth Pop-influenced sound they had evolved into since then. (In fact, most of the tracks were unreleased demos from that era, re-recorded for this album.) Its cover art (a solid color, with no text at all) was also a reference to those first three albums.
  • Loreena McKennitt started off singing traditional Celtic songs and slowly expanded to include other cultures, becoming more of a World musician. In 2010, she released an album composed of traditional Celtic songs.
  • The Beatles and Let It Be. It bears pointing out that the Let It Be project was originally called Get Back because this was precisely the idea (and that of course is also the reason the song was called "Get Back"). This was an attempt to return to the sort of spontaneous, energetic rock and roll they'd played at the beginning of their career - as opposed to the sophisticated and intricately produced music they'd moved on to. The recording sessions were a disaster, and they largely abandoned the "back to basics" approach for their last recorded album, Abbey Road.

Tabletop Games
  • Magic: The Gathering's 2009 core set, Magic 2010, marked a return to the flavor-driven design sensibility of the original Alpha and Beta releases.

Web Comics

Web Original
  • For the Homestar Runner short "Hremail 7" (which retcons the origins of the Strong Bad Emails), the characters reverted back to older models (and for some of them, older voices), and the dialogue features a bunch of catch phrases or running gags that hadn't been used in years.

Video Games
  • The Sonic the Hedgehog series, after going 3-D and having elaborate storylines and darker characters, begot Sonic Advance, which played in 2-D and was very reminiscent of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 in stage design, game mechanics, and the simple plot of "Dr. Eggman kidnaps animals; Sonic rescues them."
    • Less successful was Sonic the Hedgehog 4 Episode I, which was another try at going back to basics. However, its physics made it impossible to play like the old games, making this a failed attempt.
    • This would be remedied, ironically, in a game designed to evolve the series further: Part of the premise of Sonic Generations is that Sonic from the classic games is brought forward in time to the present. Classic Sonic plays very close to the original games, much closer than in Sonic 4, and is near indistinguishable in the 3DS version. Classic Sonic was so well-received, considering the fandom's Broken Base, that Sonic 4: Episode II will be based on Classic Sonic's physics in Sonic Generations.
  • After 10 years of collecting Stars and Shine Sprites, New Super Mario Bros. and New Super Mario Bros. Wii went back to the original Super Mario premise of having to reach the end of the stage, flagpole at the end and everything. This idea was so successful that Super Mario 3D Land wound up having the exact game design style transferred to 3-D.
  • Mega Man 9 and Mega Man 10: By that time, Mega Man games had complex storylines and complicated gameplay. These two games kept their plots simple and plays almost exactly like an extension of Mega Man 2, even keeping the NES appearance. In fact, these two games were designed by the same people who made the original Mega Man games.* Halo 2 and Halo 3 added all sorts of fronds and foofaraw that, evidently, no one liked, because the Gaiden Game (Halo 3: ODST) and prequel (Halo: Reach) deliberately scaled them back, hewing closer to the original gameplay model presented by Halo: Combat Evolved.
  • The Final Fantasy series, after VI was a steampunk world that coined the term Magitek, VII and VIII shifted to a modern-esque setting with electricity spaceships and cities. IX then brought things back to a medieval setting of castles, airships and villages. As well, while VII and VIII had a three-character party system where they were as unique in battle (or not) as the character customized them, IX went back to the style of four party members with pre-set skills as earlier games had done.
Community Feedback Replies: 25
  • January 3, 2012
    Lumpenprole
    Law And Order Special Victims Unit was forced by Christopher Meloni's depature to go back to a more rounded set of characters instead of being the Stabler & Benson Show.
  • January 4, 2012
    NESBoy
    This should make a good page quote:

    "So we decided to make a Mario that made a fresh start by returning to its core principles. That's why we put "New" in the title."
  • January 4, 2012
    Abodos
    Whenever I hear "back to the basics," it's not being used to demonstrate how much things have changed, it's being used to indicate that the makers of the work are going back to what the work was originally like because they feel that things had changed too much.
  • January 4, 2012
    TrustBen
    ^Maybe the substance of this trope would be clarified by calling it "Temporary Back to Basics" or "Back to Basics Episode."
  • January 4, 2012
    Stratadrake
    "Back to basics" is far broad for this meaning.

    How about Revisit The Formula?
  • January 21, 2012
    TBeholder
    I'd swear we have it...

  • January 21, 2012
    SilentReverence
  • January 21, 2012
    morenohijazo
    The Buu saga of Dragon Ball Z tries to go back to the humor from the beginning of the series, after a long time being a fighting series.
  • January 31, 2012
    captainpat
  • January 31, 2012
    arromdee
    DBGT tried to go back to the humor from the beginning of the series as well. I know a lot of fans consider it discontinuity, but it is an example.
  • February 1, 2012
    dyson88
    DBGT also brought back looking for Dragon Balls as a plot point.
  • February 1, 2012
    MorganWick
    Wait, virtually all of the examples contradict Trust Ben's definition...
  • February 2, 2012
    Rognik
    If we're looking for a new name, it should probably reflect the fact that it's calling back to earlier episodes, where this had been the norm but had evolved way past the point due to Cerebus Syndrome. Perhaps "Pre-Cerebus Call Back"?
  • February 2, 2012
    ZombieAladdin
    You have the DBZ example on there twice.

    Would a Video Game example count if it deliberately went back to the style of an earlier part of the series? These are a few examples:
    • The Sonic The Hedgehog series, after going 3-D and having elaborate storylines and darker characters, begot Sonic Advance, which played in 2-D and was very reminiscent of Sonic The Hedgehog 2 in stage design, game mechanics, and the simple plot of "Dr. Eggman kidnaps animals; Sonic rescues them."
      • Less successful was Sonic The Hedgehog 4 Episode I, which was another try at going back to basics. However, its physics made it impossible to play like the old games, making this a failed attempt.
      • This would be remedied, ironically, in a game designed to evolve the series further: Part of the premise of Sonic Generations is that Sonic from the classic games is brought forward in time to the present. Classic Sonic plays very close to the original games, much closer than in Sonic 4, and is near indistinguishable in the 3DS version. Classic Sonic was so well-received, considering the fandom's Broken Base, that Sonic 4: Episode II will be based on Classic Sonic's physics in Sonic Generations.
    • After 10 years of collecting Stars and Shine Sprites, New Super Mario Bros and New Super Mario Bros Wii went back to the original Super Mario premise of having to reach the end of the stage, flagpole at the end and everything. This idea was so successful that Super Mario 3 D Land wound up having the exact game design style transferred to 3-D.
    • Mega Man 9 and Mega Man 10: By that time, Mega Man games had complex storylines and complicated gameplay. These two games kept their plots simple and plays almost exactly like an extension of Mega Man 2, even keeping the NES appearance. In fact, these two games were designed by the same people who made the original Mega Man games.
  • February 18, 2012
    TBeholder
    a form of Continuity Nod? Though it's not about continuity...
  • February 18, 2012
    troacctid
    • Magic The Gathering's 2009 core set, Magic 2010, marked a return to the flavor-driven design sensibility of the original Alpha and Beta releases.
  • February 20, 2012
    mdulwich
    Would this apply to a band going back to the kind of music they made early in their career? A major example would be The Beatles with the Let It Be album. This was and attempt to return to the sort of spontaneous, energetic rock and roll they'd played at the beginning of their career - as opposed to the sophisticated and intricately produced music they'd moved on to. The recording sessions were a disaster, and they largely abandoned the "back to basics" approach for their last recorded album, Abbey Road.
  • February 20, 2012
    bulmabriefs144
    Back to Formula is kinda wrong. Formula is actually what you wanna try to avoid, as formulaic is usually a criticism. So it would be like saying the show is getting stale.

    Try Full Circle Story, in that things have gone full circle to take back to a theme that was there at the start. Or Return To Its Roots.
  • February 20, 2012
    slvstrChung
  • February 20, 2012
    DrakeClawfang
    The Final Fantasy series, after VI was a steampunk world that coined the term Magitek, VII and VIII shifted to a modern-esque setting with electricity spaceships and cities. IX then brought things back to a medieval setting of castles, airships and villages. As well, while VII and VIII had a three-character party system where they were as unique in battle (or not) as the character customized them, IX went back to the style of four party members with pre-set skills as earlier games had done.
  • March 2, 2012
    TBeholder
    ^^^ A full circle would be Book Ends. This seems to be the supertrope to Book Ends. "Return To Its Roots" would imply staying there at least for a while, not just a passing nod.
  • March 3, 2012
    Vidor
    The Beatles and Let It Be have already been mentioned, but it bears pointing out that the Let It Be project was originally called Get Back because this was precisely the idea (and that of course is also the reason the song was called "Get Back").
  • March 26, 2012
    TBeholder
    Revisit The Roots?
  • March 26, 2012
    Waterlily
    Loreena Mc Kennitt started off singing traditional Celtic songs and slowly expanded to include other cultures, becoming more of a World musician. In 2010, she released an album composed of traditional Celtic songs.
  • March 26, 2012
    AFP
    • For better or for worse, Star Trek Voyager was this for the Star Trek franchise: A lone Federation Star Ship exploring the dangerous unknowns and meeting new life and new civilizations.
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