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[[quoteright:256:[[Series/StarTrekTheNextGeneration http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/tng_rating3_1.png]]]]

->''"This is getting exciting! We've sat through the previews and it's time for the main attraction!"''
-->-- '''Midori''', ''Anime/MaiHime'' episode 13

The opposite of JumpingTheShark, Growing the Beard is the definitive moment when a series begins to become noticeably better in quality. This often involves a new writer or other creative person coming on board, the happy discovery of a [[EnsembleDarkhorse popular character]], or the exit of a [[ExecutiveMeddling meddling executive]], or simply realizing what works. In general, this is where the franchise starts to find its voice. Getting someone new into a series with an ''abysmal'' beginning can be difficult, as they only have one's word that "[[SlowPacedBeginning it gets a lot better]], [[TakeOurWordForIt really]]." Can occasionally accompany a downplay or removal of [[TheScrappy less popular characters]].

If it is a comedic series, then this is usually when it deviates from an overall lighthearted tone and reaches an impressive emotional depth. If it is a drama (or something in between), this would be when the character dynamic is spelled out clearly and starts to resonate with the storyline. In the case of science fiction another major characteristic of this trope is that the show will begin to develop actual continuity (generally spanning the lifetime of the series once begun), rather than just spending its time on one-off episodes which don't mean anything outside each individual episode itself. While there may not be a true MythArc as such, there will still be some form of memory, and you can expect to see events from episodes referenced by characters later.

The key to this trope is seeing a dramatic "before and after" difference along the life of a series. The element can sometimes be attributed to a single, outstanding episode that defines the show. Other times it is just a general improvement, like the TropeNamer ''Series/StarTrekTheNextGeneration''. Fans of the series noticed a sharp increase in quality and consistent stories and it coincided with Commander Riker, Creator/JonathanFrakes, growing a beard[[note]]There are two stories about this. One is that he grew a beard because a writers guild strike delayed the production of ''TNG'' Season 2 and he intended to shave it off when production began but kept it because the producers thought it made him look distinguished. The other is that he grew the beard for his part in the ''Series/NorthAndSouthUS'' miniseries, which was filmed between seasons 1 and 2 and kept it because he liked it.[[/note]] and helping the show gain its own identity, even though it still took a little more time before it really took off. The term has spread into internet vernacular to the point that [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iSwAinUFoLs&t=49s Frakes has even brought it up]]. History repeated itself a few years later when fans noted a marked improvement in ''Series/StarTrekDeepSpaceNine'' after lead actor Avery Brooks grew a beard (and shaved his head, to boot).

It's almost worthwhile to call this ''Finding the Beard'', because nearly every serial media that persists has some degree of change from its initial variation. ContinuityCreep, WinTheCrowd, StoryArc and MythArc are all strong reasons why this can happen, helping the audience grow more interested in this new show. See also SurprisinglyImprovedSequel.

Take note that this is not a requirement with every series. They may have just [[{{Cancelled}} fallen away unnoticed]]. Maybe it started at a high quality and there is no dramatic difference in quality as mentioned, unless it only [[JumpingTheShark went downhill from there]].

In general, this happens only once during a series run. But there are times where long after Growing the Beard a show starts to hit a low point like a DorkAge or StrictlyFormula. A [[WinBackTheCrowd second Growing the Beard can occur with a refreshing of ideas and hitting a new high]]. We might well call this trope "Greying the Beard".

Also note that just because a series eventually grows a beard doesn't mean it was actually bad to start with. Sometimes it's just a case of smoothing out any elements of EarlyInstallmentWeirdness. Being SoOkayItsAverage is sometimes the worst offense a show can have before it evolves, or it takes a season or two of being just "good" before it develops the myth arc it became famous for. For example, ''ComicStrip/CalvinAndHobbes'' may have needed some time to develop into a truly great piece of work, but it was still an excellent and clever strip from the very beginning.

Does not refer to spontaneous generation from one's own body, or the acquisition of [[TheBeard an opposite sex partner to keep up appearances]]. Or [[BeardOfSorrow feeling melancholic with facial hair]].

Also note that fans can be [[BrokenBase starkly divided]] [[TheyChangedItNowItSucks as to whether a change is]] Growing the Beard or Jumping the Shark. Usually such judgments cannot be made objectively or definitively at the moment it happens.

A beard growing moment is also called a [[http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Riker%27s+Beard&defid=7093246 Riker's Beard]] moment.

See MyRealDaddy, if a specific person causes a work to grow a beard.


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