Created By: KJMackley on August 26, 2011 Last Edited By: Arivne on August 17, 2016

Learning For The Sequel

Using personal and professional criticism to improve your future work

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The truth is that even when proud of their work an individual tends to be their own worst critic. They know the best where the flaws are and in the worst scenarios this leads to Creator Backlash. But with every critical thrashing and every missed opportunity comes a chance to learn from your mistakes and make improve upon later stories.

This is where the mistakes and problems of a past installment or project is used as a learning curve to make the future projects better.

It often leads to Growing the Beard or a Surprisingly Improved Sequel. While the actual quality of the works before and after this trope is a matter of opinion, the elements involved is something actively used by the production and thus makes this trivia.

Compare Pandering to the Base, which is about introducing things that would specifically please the fans like elevating a popular minor character into the main cast or including loads of Fanservice.


  • After the critical massacre of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen Michael Bay admitted that he was disappointed in the end result as well. When making Transformers: Dark of the Moon he made a list of items that he knew he needed to change. Among them include eliminating the dorky humor and sexual innuendo, getting rid of the annoying characters or giving them drastically reduced screentime, making every character have a purpose in the overall story, not having a battle in the desert (no sand) and not retreading the same story beats of the first film (the climax is more Storming the Castle than the Hold the Line of the first two).

Video Games
  • Epic Games has kept a close eye of the fans of their Gears of War series and has used that information to improve each installment, making each succeeding game read like a wishlist of improvements: better weapon variety/balance, more vibrant color palette, better developed story and characters. Gears 3 has made Horde Mode 2.0 basically everything fans wanted, including the fact that all changes were based on how the game mode was played normally and the desire for boss battles.

Western Animation
  • Justice League season two was developed to counter the issues that hurt season one. Bruce Timm said "Good enough wasn't good enough anymore" and decided that whenever they felt comfortable with an episode they would then take it one step beyond. This includes not having Superman lose a fight to show how strong the new villain is ("Superweeny"), speeding up the pace of the fight scenes and tightening down the visual design to include more detail and sharper contrasts.

Community Feedback Replies: 21
  • August 26, 2011
    Compare Be Careful What You Wish For when fans complain about one thing and the developers go too far in the opposite direction.
  • September 16, 2011
    Star Trek Enterprise season four approached just about every problem the series had from the beginning and progressively stripped away all of that. The going nowhere Myth Arc was discarded, the fanservice was almost non-existent, actual prequel elements were showing up (developing The Federation, building conflict with the Romulans and others) and it introduced some stories that helped develop its own identity. Fans almost universally consider season four to be the best season.
  • September 17, 2011
    Modern Warfare 3's multiplayer is, based on what info is out so far, fixing many complains fans and critics had about the previous 2 Modern Warfare games.
  • September 17, 2011
    I've heard that Christopher Nolan said that he intended for Inception to be his Magnum Opus, and everything else before (including The Dark Knight Saga) was for practice (and building up his rep so he could get the resources he needed).
  • September 17, 2011
    ^ I`m not that surprised
  • September 17, 2011
    Hmm. This sound like Trivia.
  • October 25, 2011
    Explicitedly stated with regards to the development of Transformers Fall Of Cybertron. War For Cybertron was well received by the fandom but only had moderately good sales and general critical reviews. When given a chance for the sequel, High Moon Studios has said they are rebuilding the gameplay from the ground up to address all of the problems. One: The classes of characters are going to have more distinct gameplay differences and not just weapon options (Jazz, for example, is capable of rope swinging a la Spider Man). Two- The game will have a single story and switch characters rather than the seperate Autobot/Decepticon story of the previous game. Three- The gameplay will vary significantly from level to level, instead of just having it be "run and gun." Four- The game is going to be more character driven instead of being plot driven.
  • October 28, 2011
    ^^ That or YMMV.
  • October 28, 2011
    I agree, this is somewhere between trivia and YMMV. That said... Sonic Colors. So, so much. Sonic Team has clearly learned from their past mistakes and listened to feedback. The cutscenes aren't full of narmy motions, the writing for said cutscenes is often drop-dead hilarious, you can use a normal controller, transitions from 2d to 3d are fairly smooth, and the powers granted by Wisps actually feel right in a Sonic game. YMMV, but this game felt more like a Sonic game than any home console game since Sonic Adventure 2 (Sonic Heroes was close, but the weird three-at-a-time system detracted from it).
  • October 28, 2011
    It can fall into YMMV if the examples aren't careful, but so far all examples are about addressing critical complaints and not about the ultimate quality of the final product (the above Sonic Colors is iffy, but I think the point that they went 2D at all is evidence enough). As far as the examples I've put down (including the below one), they were all stated by Word Of God in interviews and magazine articles.

    As an example of how this doesn't always make a good product, the video game of Spider Man 3 tried to address the few problems of the otherwise well-received Spider Man 2 game. Specifically they made the random challenges more integrated into an actual story (you could chose which gangs to fight to stop random gang wars) and there was a little more variety to the gameplay with shifting from a Wide Open Sandbox to more dungeon crawlers from time to time. The problems came from revamping the combat and webslinging, which made it feel more clunky than the first game, and some of the boss battles were rather boring Action Command encounters.
  • October 28, 2011
    Lucas cut back the importance of Jar-Jar Binks in Episodes 2 and 3 of Star Wars, when it became clear that JJ was The Scrappy.
  • November 22, 2011
    A few more examples, both regarding superhero movies...
    • Christopher Nolan said that a lot of Batman Begins was about standing apart from the previous movies. He felt the cape in particular needed to represent the dramatic billowing as seen in the comics, which lead to the development of Batman's glider cape.
    • The first X Men movie was fairly well received, but the crew admitted they wanted to improve upon the more lacking elements. So X-Men 2 had a longer running time, a more in depth plot that touched upon the comics stories better, more characters and faster-paced fight scenes.
  • November 22, 2011
    The first Assassins Creed game was well recieved, but ultimately it was criticized for its repetitive gameplay. Cue the sequel with diffenrent missions, more variations and a wider support for different playing-styles.
  • November 23, 2011
    ^ Also smoother parkour action. And eliminating the Super Drowning Skills.
  • June 16, 2012
  • June 17, 2012
    Walt Disney & co learned so much while making Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs he wished he had time to toss everything they'd done and start over.
  • August 16, 2016
  • August 16, 2016
    Should be a YMMV item.
  • August 16, 2016
    Would shows with multiple series count?
  • August 17, 2016
    • Examples section
      • Added a line separating the Description and Examples section.
      • Added media section titles.
      • Alphabetized media sections.
      • Namespaced work and Creator names.
      • Italicized work names as per How To Write An Example - Emphasis For Work Names.
      • Blue Linked work names.
      • Corrected spelling (pallete).
  • August 17, 2016
    Wait, I just found Authors Saving Throw.