Season 1 of 3-2-1 Contact was hosted by three college-age students in a campus workshop, in contrast to the junior high kids in a basement playroom cast of subsequent seasons. To some, it was First Installment Wins.
The first few episodes of 24 differed greatly from the rest of the season, and had many off-kilter moments that don't fit with what followed:
The first season had a title card that read, "Events occur in real time." This was jettisoned after the first three episodes (although it did make an appearance in the second- and third-season premieres, which were aired commercial-free, as well as the seventh). In addition, the first season is the only season to use the word "midnight" instead of "12:00 AM".
The first season's full narration is "The following takes place between 'x and x' on the day of the Presidential Primary." All future seasons do not have any narration following the hours listed.
The pilot episode had several sequences that emphasize ticking clocks (and the "real-time" aspect of the show). In addition, the "ticking" noise played during the pilot is different from every other episode.
In the second episode of the series, Jack drives down an L.A. street distraught after Richard Walsh's death. During this sequence, Jack's perspective shows a time-lapse cityscape perspective - this is the only time such a scene appeared in the series.
The pilot is the only episode to feature a shot of something happening in outer space (a satellite passing over Kuala Lumpur).
The first few episodes don't have Jack narrating ("I'm Federal Agent Jack Bauer, and this is the longest day of my life."). The opening narration also changes several times throughout the first season.
CTU's design greatly changed between the pilot and the second episode (due to switching from an actual location to a soundstage).
The fifth, sixth and seventh first-season episodes are the only time in the series when the sun rises in a realistic fashion (it takes just under two hours to go from night sky to full daylight). Later seasons had it transition from night to day almost immediately.
A number of bizarre elements in the pilot and second episode (Tony's exaggerated accent, Mandy's meditation scene in the desert) were never referenced again.
The first-season finale has the only flashback in the series, when Jack cradles Teri's body while remembering her.
In season two, the ticking clock was integrated with the commercial breaks, and reminded viewers that time was still progressing in the show. This format never appeared in any other season afterwards.
In season 1, the show's pacing was comparatively slow for the first few episodes before building momentum. Then halfway through, after the first arc had been resolved (the season was plotted this way to give viewers partial closure if the show wasn't renewed), there was a transitional episode with not a lot of action. Later seasons would see the show continually try to top itself in terms of action and cliffhangers. The first episode of season 8 is similar to that of season 1 in its pacing, but then that season followed the pattern of the others.
In a sense, the first season is this for the entire series. The first season involves a fairly low-key threat (an assassination attempt on a Presidential candidate), as compared to the nuclear terrorism and biological warfare of later seasons. Consequently, it's the only season of the series which doesn't feature the sitting President of the United States. Also, the season has more of a Conspiracy Thriller vibe than later seasons. Jack Bauer is also portrayed somewhat different. His Rogue Agent and Maverick tendencies aren't quite as developed as they later will be, he's the Head of CTU rather than being just a field agent, and he hasn't quite got the knack for torture that he will later have. Word of God says that losing his wife, Teri, in the first season finale leads Jack to become the character we see in subsequent seasons.
Characterization Marches On: In the first few episodes, Jack is a Pointy-Haired Boss (he's became an Eccentric Mentor) and Jenna is Liz's neurotic best friend (she became insane, egotisticalAttention Whore). Liz is also much more serious, with only some traces of goofiness, and she and Jack started off having a fairly antagonistic relationship. In addition, Tracey initially has some facial hair and his entourage had several members, though most of them soon disappeared except for Grizz and Dotcom.
At least with Jenna, it's somewhat justified since she explicitly stated that she'd start acting crazier to essentially keep herself in the limelight (she was the original star of the show within the show, until Tracy came on with his completely off the wall and nonsensical acts).
The running gag that Kenneth was much older than he appeared was not established until the second season. In the first, he actually speaks with his mother over the phone and she sounds like she's sixty at the most. Also, Kenneth was supposed to be a little creepy at first; the only card player that Jack couldn't "read", causing him to proclaim "In ten years, we'll all be working for him...or be dead by his hand." In later seasons Kenneth's friendliness and willingness to do anything for his friends was portrayed as entirely genuine. The gags about his age went from "he's older than he appears" to "he might very well be immortal". It was also established that he had no ambitions beyond being an NBC page.
The first season episode "The Fighting Irish" has Jack falling for a con conceived by his brother (Nathan Lane) and father, who actually appears in the episode. Later episodes established that Jack's father ran out on him and his mom when he was young, and he never saw him again.
A Running Gag in the first season was that Rachel Dratch would appear as a bit character in every episode, from a Moral Guardian to a homeless bum. This was quickly dropped and she did not appear on the show again for three seasons.
The first Afterschool Specials on ABC were far less focused on the youth, often dealing with things like extinction or other more "generic" issues. The first one, The Last Of The Curlews, was actually an animated special instead.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: General consensus seems to have it that the show didn't Grow the Beard at all until somewhere around episodes four and five at the earliest, meaning that the first three episodes are all over Early Installment Weirdness, including odd moments of awkward characterisation and expositional dialogue that seem out of place once you've seen the whole thing. That's to say nothing of the fact that the show had a mid-season Re Tool planned from the start, rendering the first few episodes nothing like the latter half of the series in tone and content, going from a fairly lighthearted Mystery of the Week format to a much darker ongoing Mystery Arc with almost no Filler episodes.
There's also a couple of more minor ones that crop up by the end of Season 1: for example, the first few episodes have Simmons (played by Elizabeth Henstridge, a Yorkshire-born actress) speaking in Received Pronunciation, which was slowly fazed out over the course of the first half dozen or so episodes in favour of the actress's natural accent. There's also the fact that Simmons seems to have a mild crush on Fitz for the first few episodes, yet most of the season then shows him pursuing her romantically while she becomes actively Oblivious to Love and shows a preference for a couple of other guys.
All in the Family changed quite a bit from the time it was shopped to studios in 1968 (under the title "Justice For All") to the time it debuted on CBS in 1971. When the show was officially picked up to series, several things changed between the official pilot and the rest of the episodes. While O'Connor and Rob Reiner had their roles nailed down, Jean Stapleton used a very low, non-shrill voice for Edith, in addition to being much more sarcastic with Archie, Sally Struthers' Gloria was much more sexually provocative (wearing hot pants and miniskirts as a sign that she was a sexually liberated woman — at least for her time) and the entirety of the early episodes focused on a single argument between Archie and Mike (with no B-plots). The series also debuted with a "Presented For Mature Audiences" disclaimer (which was jettisoned after a few episodes because there was no audience complaints).
Only the first season featured background music, and in the second episode "Writing the President", there's even a daydreaming sequence - the only time the series ever went inside a character's head.
Also audience laughter could be heard through the theme song, especially after Stapleton screeches out "And you knew where you were the-e-en."
Season 1 of The Amazing Race had a couple of features that were changed in later seasons, the most notable being that Phil only showed up at the mat to greet the last team instead of being there to greet every team like he would in every season thereafter. Also, the first episode was edited challenge to challenge, meaning each task was shown to completion before moving onto the next one, making it impossible to tell what order the teams were in; the route flags were yellow and white instead of the yellow and red of later seasons (the yellow and white flags would be brought back for Family Edition, and in countries such as Vietnam, that have a yellow and red flag); and poor course planning resulted in two of the final four teams falling hopelessly behind with no chance of catching up to the two lead teams, something that the producers have taken steps to avoid since then.
The first four seasons as a whole had a lot more exposition than later ones, with teams (and Phil) talking about things like rules (both written and unwritten), money usage, travel, and how each little move affected their placement in the Race. Such exposition was cut out in later seasons as that information was expected to be common knowledge among fans by then. Many episodes in those seasons would also start with shots of the teams interacting at the Pit Stop, and Confession Cams were done solo instead of in pairs.
Originally, penalties were issued at the beginning of the leg following when they were earned (unless the penalty eliminated the team, then Phil would call the penalized team and the last team to check in into a meeting to tell them the new results). However, after Season 4, the rules were changed so that teams could not check in until all earned penalties had been served.
And when Tom Bergeron took over as host, he initially hosted it in a style more akin to Saget's cheesy, goofy mannerisms before becoming more of a Deadpan Snarker.
The first episode of America's Top 10 had Casey Kasem behind a desk, making it look more like a newscast. They got rid of the desk in later episodes.
Ancient Aliens is actually a follow-up to a one-off documentary that aired a year prior on the History Channel. The documentary avoided the massive amount of Dan Browning, Insane Troll Logic, and All Myths Are True assumptions that the series has, by properly presenting both sides of the argument of the existence of Ancient Astronauts, acknowledging artistic license in ancient carvings, and citing properly researched papers. The documentary remained focused, while the series goes on wild tangents ("comic book superheroes are aliens!") for the sake of padding. Fan favorite Giorgio A. Tsoukalos's hair didn't become a major part of the show til season 2.
Very early on in Are You Being Served?, Mrs. Slocombe was attracted to Mr. Lucas. For the rest of the series (until he was Put on a Bus, anyway) Mrs. Slocombe couldn't stand Mr. Lucas. Mrs. Slocombe was also treated as an attractive older woman in the first season, with Captain Peacock in particular often chasing after her. In later seasons everyone seemed to regard her as too hideous to live.
During the first few episodes when Oliver is undertaking his vigilante mission completely solo, he has a Private Eye Monologue to voice out his thoughts while training in the Arrow Cave, since he doesn't have Diggle or Felicity to bounce dialogue off of.
Felicity Smoak doesn't join Team Arrow until episode 14 ("The Odyssey"), and is mostly absent from the series to that point (she was originally supposed to be a one-off character and Emily Bett Rickards is listed as a guest star all season), which can be jarring to those who came in later and know her as the eventual female lead and being Promoted to Love Interest.
On the flip side of that, Katie Cassidy earns her second-billed status in season one, as she carries a lot of plot arcs on her shoulders between being an informant for "The Hood", her love triangle with Oliver and Tommy, and being the target of several villains. She's also treated as an undisputed true love for Oliver (as in the comics, as Black Canary), with Helena Bertinelli even breaking up with Oliver over the idea he only has eyes for Laurel. However, the positive fan reaction towards Felicity (and her crush on Oliver) and the icy reception towards the chemistry of Oliver and Laurel had their relationship shelved in the season 2 premiere, with Laurel eventually moving towards supporting cast member as opposed to the female lead that was envisioned.
In a first season without The Flash (2014) and metahumans, the first season is grounded closer to reality; villains tend to be drug pushers or a Corrupt Corporate Executive and fight off Oliver with simple firearms. "The List" tends to dominate the first half of the season, giving the show a Monster of the Week feel before "The Undertaking" arc sets in.
In season 1, there are episodes that are flashback-free and some that revolve around a flashback ("The Odyssey", for example, in which Oliver is unconscious in the present throughout). From season 2 forward, virtually every episode criss-crosses present-day and flashback a la LOST, with some flashbacks in later seasons broken up into 60-second spurts.
In the pilot of Supergirl, everyone avoids referring to Superman as "Superman" but instead say "the guy in blue", "Your cousin", "him", etc. The gimmick was dropped by the second episode when the writers realized how narmy it was.
The first two episodes of The Flash (2014) feature frequent flashbacks to shortly after Barry's mother's death, and the third one a flashback to the night the particle accelerator exploded. Then they realized they weren't Arrow and stopped.
The Avengers began as a gritty crime drama, in which Steed's partner was a man (Dr. David Keel, played by Ian Hendry). Few people know this because most of those episodes are lost.
One of the central plot points was that they were specifically avenging the death of Keel's wife, hence the title. When the show found its feet and Keel vanished, its title became irrelevant.
The first season is very different from the rest of the show. There's a different commander in the first season, far more focus on the criminal underworld in Brown Sector, and Delenn still looks completely Minbari. One episode ("Grail") uses an unexplained "cycle" as a unit of time, and that never showed up again (but by the time they decided it wasn't a good idea, the episode was done). The sets are a little different, and the lighting and exposure was changed from the beginning of season 2, giving the show a very different visual feeling. A viewer who started watching the show from season 2 onward might also be put off by G'Kar being a Smug Snake and something close to a villain in most of the first season. This is perhaps due to the first season having a lot of stand-alone episodes written by people other than J Michael Straczynski. Those by JMS himself are still pretty consistent in tone with what comes later.
The pilot movie is officially set in the same universe as the rest of the series, but in order to digest this, viewers need to apply Broad Strokes. Specifically, Delenn and G'Kar's alien makeups are very different from their later appearances, with flashbacks contradicting the pilot and supporting the rest of the series (in fact, Delenn was originally meant to be a male character played by a female actor with her voice digitally altered; this was changed last-minute, and Delenn's character was made female). The technology used by Earth Force is slightly different, with huge surfboard-like plasma rifles, and the Earth Force uniforms lack the distinctive broad leather strip down the front. And we NEVER see a Minbari with clan tattoos again outside of the pilot. We're also meant to believe that an energy being like a Vorlon can become infected by a poison, and that their biology includes cellular structures (to be fair, it wasn't established until much later that Vorlons were Energy Beings). G'Kar makes a reference to his "mate", who was never referred to again (although later villains do threaten his family in general). The 'special edition' re-edit of the pilot done in 1998 removed the reference entirely.
Kind of a minor point, but the Earth Force uniforms used in the pilot differ from the uniforms used for the rest of the series, including flashbacks that supposedly take place before the pilot. It's not something you typically notice on your first viewing, but the rank structure looks different, and the leather panels on the front of the uniform tunics are not there.
Also in the pilot: when G'Kar is trying to convince Delenn to enter in an alliance with him, he notes "the Centauri are beyond the dream of conquest". This has some rather strange implications; one of which is that the Narn may have originally wanted to partner with the Centauri, but their world-weariness prevented it. This is very different from the way that relations between the two worlds are depicted in the series.
The pilot makes it appear that Lita's P5 grade was something she achieved and that it was extremely difficult to do. Later episodes establish that telepath grade levels are set in stone from birth and P5 is a fairly middling level with P12 as the highest naturally occurring level. Only some pretty serious experimentation or alterations by Sufficiently Advanced Aliens have been shown to increase someone's natural telepathic ability.
Battlestar Galactica (2003) originally showed Cylons' spines glowing when they got really... excited. Apparently the directors decided that this was too much of a dead giveaway (or just too silly) and dropped it. The miniseries also included "Lords of Kobol!", and even an improvised "Jesus!" from Michael Hogan, as religious exclamations before the writers settled on Greek polytheism as the Colonial religion.
Baywatch was originally a serious drama about lifeguards and the threats they face while doing their jobs instead of the excuse to show sexy people in bathing suits running in slow motion it turned into. There were even (gasp!) old people as regular characters (seriously, Oscar nominee Richard Jaekal had a regular role)! And not everyone had a sculpted swimmer's body!
Beverly Hills, 90210 started as an episodic high school drama mainly focusing on the Walsh twins. Each episode had its own story and moral. From season two onwards, the plotlines started to arch over several episodes and the friends of the Walsh kids were given some limelight as well. And starting season five it went totally soap opera (similarly to its spin-off Melrose Place).
Also, during the first season, the opening was very different. It was a series of scattered scenes with the main characters hanging out in Beverly Hills rather than an Opening Credits Cast Party, and it used an 80's styled pop/dance rendition of the show's theme song rather than the hard rock rendition used from season two onward note which was modified slightly in season four.
The Sequel Series90210 at first focused partly on members of the original cast; while it the show was always slanted towards the new teens Kelly Taylor was in most episodes of the first two seasons and Brenda and Donna also showed up. After the end of season two this angle was dropped entirely.
Early episodes have Sheldon, among other things, laughing fairly normally (at a joke he shouldn't even think is funny), willingly cursing, and knocking on Penny's door once and waiting for her to open it. In general, he acts only about half as much of an asocial nerd as he does in the later shows; i.e. he has a fairly solid understanding of relationships(!), and he makes witty, sarcastic remarks on a fairly regular basis(!!!). He also seems a little bit attracted to Penny, trying to draw her attention to his whiteboard over Leonard's. Leonard even jokes that Sheldon is a "semi-pro" at producing sperm samples, something the current Sheldon would never waste his time on. He also seems to speak in a much deeper tone than his usual higher pitch.
Even beyond the differences in Sheldon, the first few episodes were very different from what followed. All of the "smart" characters spoke in a "fake geek" dialect, using overly-technical explanations and terms for common things (it was the other guys who referred to sex as "coitus", not Sheldon). And Penny was dumb — not just less-educated than the boys, but truly stupid. While her outfits would remain fairly revealing, in the first few episodes they were practically Kelly Bundy-worthy. She was also much nicer and less snarky in her early appearances.
Also worth noting is Howard's expertise on languages, something that appears several times in the first season but is completely forgotten in later episodes.
In Stuart's first appearance he is a socially adept guy with artistic talent and a cool job (Owning the Comicbook store). He impresses Penny and dates her for a short time. Leonard finds him very threatening as a cool, socially adept geek. In later appearances he becomes more and more pathetic, eventually becoming someone the other characters look down on as overly pathetic.
Amy started off as a female version of Sheldon, even so far as to having no sexual desire beyond having a mechanically-produced orgasm for scientific research. Later seasons show her as incredibly outgoing and wanting nothing so much as her physical relationship with Sheldon to advance.
The first series of Blackadder is different from the latter three (and the specials) in a number of ways.
The main character is almost always referred to as Edmund, Duke of Edinburghnote and one episode even states his original full name: Edmund Plantagenet. He adopts the handle of "The Black Adder" but no one else uses it.
Although he is sometimes shown as fairly rational and progressive regarding such topics as witchcraft and superstition, to the extent of being the Only Sane Man in the Witchsmeller episode, Edmund is generally portrayed as a bumbling, uncharismatic fool, a far cry from the Magnificent Bastard of later seasons.
The show also differs in its general feel: It had a bigger budget than its successors, allowing larger sets, location shooting and a far greater number of actors and extras. When budget cuts were made for Blackadder II, the writers (now including Ben Elton) compensated by putting more emphasis on dialog and characterisation, which most fans agree was beneficial for the show as a whole. As Elton put it, "Rowan Atkinson falling off a horse in the middle distance is no funnier than anyone else falling off a horse in the middle distance. Get in close and he'll make you laugh."
Blackadder's Christmas Carol has Flashbacks to Lord Blackadder and Mr Blackadder, but not to Prince Edmund, suggesting the first series might be considered Canon Discontinuity. Also, the original series is the only one from which no characters returned for Blackadder Goes Forth. Melchett from II, George from Third, but no Richard, Harry, or even Percy* though the actor, Tim McInnerny, did return in a different role.
The set used for Commissioner Frank Reagan's office looks somewhat different compared to later seasons.
Danny has two different investigative partners before Jennifer Esposito's Jackie Curatola was firmly established as his partner.
Season 1 is noticeably absent of Frank's Deputy Commissioner of Public Information Garrett Moore, who wasn't introduced until the antepenultimate episode of the season. Thus, you have other characters like Frank's Deputy Commissioner doing the duties that Garrett does in season 2 onwards.
Bonanza depicts the Cartwrights as stand-offish and put off by outsiders in its earliest episodes. Also, Ben Cartwright tended to be less patient and in fact, harsher, with his sons in general. However, series star Lorne Greene objected after a few early episodes were filmed and recommended that — because the Cartwrights owned the largest timber and livestock operation in Nevada Territory, they ought to be warming and friendly. The producers ultimately agreed ... and the Cartwright family became the welcoming, heartwarming family a generation of viewers came to know.
The first season featured the "Angelator", a volumetric imaging system that can show 3D recreations of victims and how the murder occurred. It functioned as an alternative to showing flashbacks, as a way to visually show the audience the team's deductions about a murder. It was originally used in every episode, but was seen less and less in seasons two and three, without explanation as to why it wasn't being used anymore or what Angela's job is now since that was her only function.
In one episode, the "Angelator" was called into question by the government when they suspected it wasn't a reliable tool. Although Angela proved it was, it's easy to assume the government whisked it away out of pure spite. That said, Angela still has a job, ID'ing murder victims. She just uses computer screens now.
Cam was absent, and in her place was Dr. Goodman, the director of the entire Jeffersonian Institute, who somehow had lots of time to be involved in murder investigations.
Sid, the Magical Negro who owned and operated a Chinese restaurant.
In the first season, a major part of Brennan's characterization is that her parents disappeared when she was a teenager and she still doesn't know what happened to them. This mystery is solved in the first season's finale, noticeably changing her characterization going forward.
The first season of Boy Meets World included several secondary and tertiary characters that disappeared within a few episodes, or at least by the end of the season. Also, Shawn had a sister, Stacey, who was never mentioned again.
The pilot episode of Breaking Bad has female nudity, something not seen in any other episode. The profanity throughout the first season is also much harsher, with several F-words per episode; later seasons are limited to two or three strong swear words per season. The first episode also has Jesse using a gay slur as an insult — again, unique to the pilot.
The early episodes of Brooklyn Nine-Nine heavily Ship Tease a potential romance between Detectives Charles Boyle and Rosa Diaz, but for the most part the audience was not on board (one of the primary reasons being that Boyle's Dogged Nice Guy infatuation tended to come off as a bit stalkery). By the middle of the first season this was being downplayed, and by the end of it Boyle had moved on. The rest of the series makes it clear that they're Better as Friends.
Similarly, early episodes emphasise Sgt. Jeffords's fear of being in the field to the point of making him the Lovable Coward. This was done away with halfway through the season because the writers realised that this limited the stories that could be told using Jeffords.
In the pilot, Peralta is a lot more openly attracted to Santiago and it's hinted that he's using The Bet between them, wherein Santiago will go on a date with him if she loses, as an opportunity to seduce her. While the Ship Tease remained, a few episodes later it is demonstrated that Peralta is merely using the bet as an opportunity to prank her, and the suggestion that he might have genuine feelings for her comes as a genuine surprise to him.
In the early episodes, Stephanie Beatriz used her natural voice to play Rosa Diaz. Over the course of the first season, Diaz's voice gradually got lower and stayed that way.
There were some things early on that looked out of place later on, such as Xander riding a skateboard. Joss Whedon sometimes recognized these elements and gradually phased them out - for example, Xander was seen carrying a skateboard a couple of times before skateboards ceased to be a part of his life altogether, giving the viewer the impression that it was just a phase he was going through (which is Truth in Television for anyone who went through that phase in their teenage years where they're trying to find their identity, often leading them to do, say, or act in ways that will be considered embarrassing in five to ten years, or if the person gets a girlfriend or boyfriend).
While there are references made to Willow dressing in nerdy, uncool, or childish ways at various points throughout the series, the first episode is the only one in which she actually does to any significant degree (with the single exception of a throwback scene in the finale to season 4), excepting the times she wears overalls and pigtails usually worn by kids a third her age. The childish clothing is present even in the later seasons, though it happens less often the further you go into the series, mirroring the usage of Xander's skateboard.
Vampires didn't begin dissolving into skeletons after being staked until the third season, likely because the show didn't have the budget for such an effect originally. Also when in Killer Mode, vampires' faces had a ghoulishly whitish texture to them. This was dropped somewhere in Season 2.
The pilot and "The Harvest " are two of the few episodes that feature the upper level of the Bronze. Joss Whedon wrote the script to feature the two levels, but didn't realize how difficult it would be to shoot these scenes. Not only was it impractical in terms of filming and lighting, but it stretched their already nonexistent budget. It shows up a few times in season 6.
When a pack of vamps chase Buffy and Angel into the Summers house ("Angel"), one of the pursuers gets his hand through the door before Buffy slams the door on his wrist. It is later established that, barring an invitation, an invisible force field fills the doorway – like a membrane – keeping vampires out. The henchvamp shouldn't have been able to get his arm through like that.
In "The Witch" (season 1, episode 3), Giles seems unfamiliar with magiks, saying "Pretty good for my first [spell-]casting, eh?" and such—which is totally at odds with his rebellious Hellblazer youth period. It may be due to the fact that Giles had been trying to keep his past a secret.
Angel's first few appearances has the character affect a rather snarky and smug persona. It isn't until "Angel" that he became the dark, brooding vampire with a soul. Every appearance thereafter would exhibit the stoic, broody persona that people came to associate with the character.
An interesting variant of this is with the characters' sexual orientations. Willow's coming out was written quite well and it doesn't come across as contradicting her earlier character necessarily, though No Bisexuals seems to be in effect and previously she had been shown having a crush on Xander, going out with Oz and even making out with Xander when she was going out with Oz (of course it is Truth in Television that some gay people have heterosexual relationships before coming out). However, the writers did admit that they decided they wanted to make a character gay and it wasn't set in stone, with Xander apparently under consideration. Given his early characterisation constantly hitting on/staring at girls (especially Buffy) and his (hidden) Masochism Tango relationship with Cordelia, this could have been very jarring.
In the pilot episode, Michael's mother Madeline is a hypochondriac, and Michael mentions sending money to her regularly to help pay for all the examinations and treatments for medical problems which are not there. This character trait was never mentioned again besides a single reference in season 2. We occasionally see a table in her house littered with pill bottles, but the trait itself doesn't really play a further part in the series.
The haircut and the sassier attitude she has from the second episode onwards suggests that they decided to retool the character and dropped the hypochondria because it didn't fit, rather than just forgot about it or couldn't be bothered following up on it.
This one could be justified if her hypochondria was rooted in a need for attention. Her son drops off the face of the Earth and she gets "sick". He comes back to Miami and starts seeing her every episode, and suddenly she's better.
In the pilot, Michael kills two drug goons. He seems to jump through hoops to not kill in subsequent episodes. Justified in that after the first episode kills, he realizes that he's stuck in Miami indefinitely, and has to keep a low profile.
Fi switches from an Irish accent to an American one in the second episode of season 1. In universe, she explains it's to blend in. Out of universe, the reason is probably more or less the same; the writers realized she'd have to adopt an American accent for most of her undercover work anyway. That, and English actress Gabrielle Anwar's American accent is better than her Irish.
The first episode mentions the Three Essentials of Magic: timing, feeling, and the phases of the moon. It's never brought up again, nor is there any indication in the rest of the show that the moon's phases have any effect on their magic. With the exception of an episode where, under a strange occurrence involving a blue moon, the witches are turned into ferocious beasts who maul Whitelighters. It's also commonly pointed out that their powers are linked to their emotions.
In the second episode one of the shape-shifting demons held on the book and tried to get it out of the house by carrying it. Never once did it shock him like the evil sensing and shocking book that would come later. It's heavily implied that the shapeshifter's powers confused the book at first: while it allowed him to carry it, the book did refuse to leave the house, flying out of his hands when he tried to force it through the door, and sliding away when he tried to reach for it again. Likewise, the book is shown to be connected to the sisters' powers, and it becomes steadily savvier, and more aggressive to evil as the series goes on. It's therefore implied that it's just the book's defensive capabilities strengthening as the sisters' powers do, as opposed to a complete non sequitur.
In the later episodes just about every magical being, good or evil, has at least one of the dozens of teleportation powers. In earlier episodes they aren't as common. It's quite jarring to go back and see chase sequences with the demon of the week running after them, as opposed to just teleporting away.
The first season featured spells and potions that were inspired by real-life Wicca and neopagan practices (creator Constance M Burge was inspired by The Craft which used similar ideas). This was phased out around season 2 and more emphasis was placed on vanquishing potions and the sisters' active powers.
Although the Girl Power theme was prevalent across the whole show, the first couple of seasons veered more towards the Female Angel, Male Demon side of things. When Leo and Cole became series regulars, the show became more gender neutral. Likewise no empowered male witches that weren't children appeared on the show until the fifth season.
Warlocks were initially the main threat on the show and demons looked demonic. As the show went on, warlocks became Mooks while demons were the primary antagonists. Demons also appeared more like humans in black leather. This was explained in show that the more powerful upper-level demons were able to assume a human form - so as the sisters' powers grew, the more powerful and human-appearing demons came after them.note The real reason of course is that the show's budget was slashed. Additionally when 'blinking' first appears in Season 1, Melinda Warren says the warlock Mathew Tate copied it from a witch. By season 3, blinking is a default power most warlocks have. And witches are never seen doing it.
In the season 1 episode "Wicca Envy" when the sisters have given up their powers, Leo is able to restore them by using his healing powers on the Book of Shadows. That was the episode that revealed him as a whitelighter. Whitelighter lore was explored more towards the end of the first season and Leo's powers seemed restricted to healing only injuries. He does restore the broken P3 sign with his powers in a season 4 episode but doesn't display this elsewhere in the series. This one is especially egregious because a season 4 episode has Phoebe and Paige struggling to stop Piper from being tricked into giving up their powers again. Leo never once mentions he could heal the book.
Chuck approaches this more subtly, but first season episodes tend to be lighter in tone and less interconnected than seasons two and later, with the Myth Arc only minimally referenced until the final four or five episodes of the season. Once Fulcrum is introduced the series begins to become more focused on the Intersect mythology. However even after the emergence of Fulcrum as a Big Bad, the first two seasons have far more unrelated "villains of the week" than seasons three and later, which each focused almost explicitly on one particular villain or organization (the Ring in season three, Alexei Volkoff in season four, and Daniel Shaw and ultimately Nicholas Quinn in season five). The character of Morgan also changes significantly beginning with season two, with subtle changes that had him Rescued from the Scrappy Heap. It could be a case of his character Growing the Beard if he didn't already have one.
In the first two episodes, Sarah and Caset hated and distrusted each other, to the point of suspecting each other of being traitors.
The first episode of Columbo was actually a one-off 1968 TV Movie called Prescription: Murder, which was based off a stage play (which was Inspired by... an earlier TV show—it's a long story). Prescription: Murder has some of the Columbo formula already in place: it's a Reverse Whodunnit, the murderer is an arrogant rich jerk, and of course there's dogged, hyper-observant Lt. Columbo there to follow the suspect around and annoy them while poking holes in their story. But in other ways it was quite different. There was a trippy 1960s-style Animated Credits Opening with Rorschach ink blots, never seen again. The pacing is different, with Lt. Columbo not appearing until 33 minutes into the episode. Whereas the Columbo of the series was permanently disheveled and was once likened to "an unmade bed", Peter Falk in this episode is much neater in appearance, with a close-cropped haircut instead of his later tousled hair, wearing a neat gray suit, and most often carrying the iconic raincoat instead of wearing it. Most notably, Columbo lacks the deferential manner of later episodes and doesn't tell the endless homey stories about his wife and in-laws. He's much more direct and accusatory and actually shouts at one suspect he's trying to browbeat into confessing her role in the murder. Three years would pass before the second Columbo movie, Pilot MovieRansom for a Dead Man, aired in 1971; by then most of the Early Installment Weirdness was gone and the more familiar Columbo character was in place.
The show gets more cartoonish and absurd after the first few episodes, though it starts off with a healthy amount of meta-humor.
There is a much heavier emphasis on Jeff's transition from hot-shot lawyer to lowly community college student. After the first season, he's just another member of the group with his own reason for being in school.
Britta starts out as the Only Sane Man before her Granola Girl characterization becomes Flanderized, making her much goofier. Halfway through season 3, as Britta attempts to impersonate a dead student as part of her "grief counseling" training, a dismayed Jeff remarks, "You seemed smarter than me when I met you."
Troy starts out as a Jerk Jock, but by the end of the first season he's transitioned into a Manchild uber-geek and best friend of Abed.
Annie is dressed much frumpier in her first few episodes before being teased as a possible love interest.
The earlier episodes seem to be trying to establish a kind of Odd Couple friendship between Pierce and Troy, rather than the familiar "Troy and Abed!" bromance that would be central to later episodes.
The classic example from the first handful of episodes of The Cosby Show is the existence of only four Huxtable children. These lines get a big laugh in the pilot episode:
Clair: Why do we have four children?
Cliff: Because we didn't want five.
Sondra Huxtable was added to the cast about midway through the first season, because Bill Cosby thought the show needed an example of successful parenting, i.e. a child who'd made it through high school and into a good college, with prospects for a future career.
Also, the Season 1 opening segment was the only one not to feature the actors dancing.
In the pilot episode, Theo is referred to as "Teddy."
A name plate on the door to Cliff's house and office reads "Clifford Huxtable".
The inside house set is different in the pilot episode.
Cougar Town: Ironically, the first half-season or so, when the title actually made sense, the episodes don't match the tone and direction of the rest of the series. What started out as a kind of one-note joke quickly evolved into an ensemble comedy as a survival mechanism and the first six or so episodes really stick out.
Criminal Minds: It's very clear that the writers were still getting a hang of the series' tone and pace when the pilot was scripted. The most jarring difference for regular viewers is the appearance of voice-over quotes outside of their usual Book Ends, as well as a Cliffhanger ending that featured a new criminal after the main plot had been resolved. Characterization is also still finding its footing: Hotch actually smiles while on the job, Morgan's dressed to the nines rather than the casual look he'd take on in later episodes, and Reid's "autistic tendencies" are much more obvious. All this gets smoothed over by about four episodes in.
One that lasts until early season 2 is that when delivering the profile, the show would cut to footage of a generic criminal doing whatever the profile the team was giving said. Start season 2, this was phased out entirely in favor of a "camera pans as each member of the team gives a part of the profile" occasionally with suitable footage of the actual unsub, if the episode's not keeping his identity a secret.
In the pilot of CSI, cases are posted on The Big BoardHomicide-style, Brass is a shouting hard-ass with scant respect for the CSIs' work, the ME is a woman named Jenna instead of Doc Robbins, and Grissom flirts personably with co-workers and plays practical jokes. The rest of the season has its own departures: the soundtrack is vastly different, the lighting is not tinged with the familiar blue hue, Sara faces some initial resentment within the group, Catherine had a sister who didn't exist after the first episodes, and the team's methods were more practical and relied less on technological tricks. There's also a heavier emphasis on story arcs at the outset; the first handful of CSI episodes started with a Previously On, something that now feels jarring for what the audience expects from an episodic Forensic Drama these days.
The Daily Show was almost a completely different show when Craig Kilborn was host. It was more of a parody of local news programs, with a focus on entertainment. The field pieces generally set their sights on obscure weirdos rather than public figures or activists, so the mockery came across as much more mean-spirited. The show as a whole had a meaner, condescending tone, most noticeably in Kilborn's personality and interviewing style. Each episode was also much more standardized, with Kilborn running through the same named segments in each episode and ending each interview with "Five Questions." There was also no audience for the first season. Once Jon Stewart took over, he shifted the focus to hard political satire, did away with most of the pre-existing segments, and significantly changed the tone.
The first season of Dallas (in 1978) had quite a different feel to the seasons that came after it (largely because the creators weren't sure whether it would be picked up to series or not).
The main characters are largely limited to the Barnes and Ewing families, and the majority of the first season focuses on the marriage (and challenges) between Bobby and Pam. J.R. and Sue Ellen are merely supporting characters in the early episodes, although this changes later on when the plots start shifting to focus more on them.
Southfork Ranch clearly uses a different building than the one seen in later seasons, and it's notably winter outside (a scene in the pilot has J.R. and Jock smoking outside in the winter air).
In the first few episodes, Ray Krebbs is seen having an affair with Lucy Ewing (who was a teenager at the time). This was swept under the rug not long after the first season. It was odd then, and made even less sense when it was revealed three seasons later that Ray was an illegitimate Ewing heir (making it that he slept with his niece).
Cliff Barnes starts out as an attorney for the first two seasons of the series, investigating Ewing Oil and working as the Head of the Office of Land Management. This is a far cry from his regular role of CEO of Barnes/Wentworth Oil (and later, CEO of Ewing Oil) for the majority of the series. Not only that, but Cliff is much more restrained in the early episodes (and practically docile compared to his actions in later seasons).
The season-ending cliffhanger of the original first season (Pam discovers she's lost the child she was carrying while at the Ewing barbecue) looks quaint compared to the over-the-top cliffhangers that would begin with J.R.'s shooting in Season 3.
The Degrassi franchise had several examples of this.
The Kids of Degrassi Street (and its immediate telefilm predecessor, Ida Makes a Movie) were about kids in elementary school, not the middle-graders and high-schoolers who would define the later series of the franchise. In addition, Ida Makes a Movie was adapted from a children's book about anthropomorphized cats, and follows a kid who creates a documentary about garbage that gets misinterpreted by a judge at the National Film Board of Canada as being a war film(?). Kids of Degrassi also had actors who would go on to play lead roles in Degrassi Junior High playing different characters in this first series.
Kids of Degrassi also had none of the complex morality that would define the later iterations of the franchise, and could come off as boring or simplistic compared to Junior High episodes.
Degrassi Junior High relied on some unbelievable conceits to further the plot, a notion which did not follow through to any of the later series. The big finale of Junior High involved an explosion (albeit foreshadowed) in the school's boiler room that forced the students to evacuate and change campuses. In addition, the majority of the plots were quaint compared to Degrassi High's Darker and Edgier source material - in Junior High, most episodes usually had one or more couples going on chaste dates at local Toronto landmarks, or having violent actions mostly occur off-screen.
Spike's unplanned pregnancy was the huge turning point of Junior High (and the franchise), but it's hard to see what the big deal is compared to Degrassi High and Degrassi: The Next Generation, where several members of the female cast (including Spike, again) end up dealing with the same issue (and it is even portrayed as, at best, a subplot instead of the main focus).
School's Out, the made-for-TV movie that followed Degrassi High (and the immediate precursor to Degrassi: The Next Generation), featured a level of Darker and Edgier that, to this day, still hasn't been matched by the latter in terms of single-episode shock value. Joey proposes to Caitlin and they have sex for the first time, just as Joey cheats on her with a classmate. Said classmate discovers that she's pregnant and decides to have an abortion. Wheels and Lucy get into a car crash that results in the death of a young boy, and he goes to jail (and Lucy is blinded) as a result. It was also the first (and only) installment of the series to include both nudity and the word "fuck" (used twice). Interestingly, Next Generation disregarded a number of the plot points in this installment.
In the first episode or two, Lt. LaGuerta is portrayed as she is in the source novel, namely as an incompetent detective and glory hound who makes inappropriate advances on Dexter. Captain Matthews, meanwhile, is shown to be a Reasonable Authority Figure who is forced to sort things out whenever she screws up. It didn't take the producers too long to figure out that viewers might have an issue with an incompetent Latina officer having to be constantly babysat by a white man, and so the character dynamic was switched around early in the first season, with LaGuerta instead becoming a highly competent and dedicated officer (albeit still prone to the occasional bit of publicity-seeking), and Matthews being turned into an Obstructive Bureaucrat and all-around Jerkass. In the show's latter seasons their characterisations drifted to somewhere in the middle of the two extremes, with LaGuerta still being shown as generally competent, but increasingly power-hungry and prone to making bad judgement calls under pressure, and Matthews mellowing out somewhat.
Dexter's M.O. is also different in the first episode. Rather than inject his victim with a sedative, he garrotes the man and forces him to drive them both to the kill site. He also digs up the bodies of his target's victims, something that the obsessively clean Dexter we know now would never donote This is Dexter's actual M.O. in the books.
To the many fans who like A Different World's later seasons, the first season, before Debbie Allen's Re Tool, seems like, well, a different show: Lisa Bonet (reprising her role as Denise Huxtuble) in the lead role, a racially integrated background cast, and more standard college humor as opposed to addressing social issues. Among the early season aspects:
The show’s original theme song was performed by Phoebe Snownote rearranged by Aretha Franklin in seasons 2-5; Boyz II Men in season 6.
The inclusion of a Token White character, Maggie Lauten (played by Marisa Tomei).
In the first season, Jalessa's roommate(s) were Denise and Maggie, not Freddie.
Although Whitley didn't have a roommate, until Kim arrived in season two, she was instead often accompanied by her own Girl Friday named Millie. (Both Millie and Maggie vanished following the season.)
In the first few episodes, the dorm mother at Gilbert Hall was Stevie, played by Loretta Devine (replaced midseason by Lettie (Mary Alice), who continued into the second season).
Aside from Jaleesa, the only other characters from the more familiar ADW cast, in this season, were Ron (who had no mustache), Walter, and eventual de-facto leads, Dwayne and Whitley. Kim, Freddie, Colonel Taylor, and Mr. Gaines were not yet present until the second season’s revamp.
It would have had a run of just fifty-two episodes with a fixed cast and then end. The concept of "companion" did not exist and while the Doctor had top billing, he did not dominate the show to the extent that he did only a few years later. Most of the "adventures" happened because the cast had gotten separated from the TARDIS and, for one reason or another, couldn't simply leave and escape from whatever perilous setting the ship had stranded in this time.
It was conceived of as a series designed in part to educate audiences as to history. Many early stories, which fans call "Historicals", feature the characters meeting and interacting with famous historical figures and events, with no science fiction elements beyond the presence of the time travellers, and the Doctor either being extremely reluctant to make any attempt to change history or writing this off as impossible. This formula gradually became less common until, after "The Highlanders" (early in the fourth season, and the second Doctor's second story), it was dropped entirely, never to be seen again. Subsequent episodes set in the past featuring historical figures or events have also included some kind of alien menace or futuristic intervention. In "Defining the First Doctor" Steven Moffat justifies the Doctor saying history can't be rewritten in "The Aztecs" by claiming that as he is just starting out he hasn't quite got the rules of time travel, but we can assume Aztec civilization being destroyed is a fixed point in time.
The Doctor was not conceived as the main protagonist but one of several and was originally intended to be a character who kept getting his companions into trouble. Indeed, in the third episode ever aired he almost brains a caveman to death with a rock, only to be stopped by Ian at the last second. It was Ian who was intended to be the show's main protagonist, and his and Barbara's professions (teachers, the former science and the latter history) are clear indicators that it was supposed to be an Edutainment show. As well, all four of the main characters were to represent the viewing audience: older viewers (the Doctor), younger adults (Barbara and Ian) and teenagers (Susan).
In particular, have a look at the pilot episode, which was later remade in its entirety. Had it been retained, the programme would have been rather different. Details here.
The second serial "The Daleks" has the moral "War and genocide is bad. And so is pacifism!" Additionally, the Doctor and the others act more pragmatically and more out of more blatant self-interest. This was before the Doctor became a Badass Pacifist.
In several early serials, the TARDIS is referred to as "the ship" or "the spaceship" even by the Doctor himself. Today's Doctor would never use such an impersonal term for their beloved TARDIS.
Another early story, "The Aztecs", has a romantic subplot between the Doctor and a guest character, something that for most of the 1963-1989 show would be unthinkable. (The show has come full circle on this, with romantic or at least flirtatious subplots involving the Doctor being commonplace since the show's 2005 revival.)
The companion variety also followed a very rigid formula in the first two seasons; with one or two female companions and at least one male companion to act as the Doctor's muscle. As Jon Pertwee's run began and the show became much more action-oriented (the Third Doctor being 6′3″ and a martial arts master), this was ultimately dropped, and more variety was given to the cast of companions as the Doctor continued to be played by physically imposing actors.
When the Doctor first regenerated in "The Tenth Planet", his clothing appeared to automatically change as well. This was quickly dropped, and now a major tradition of regeneration is the Doctor picking his/her new wardrobe.
The early Daleks were extremely unpleasant creatures but acted mostly out of paranoia, very old and ancient feuds and naked self interest, also being a lot more talkative and eloquent (a memorable scene where they dictate a letter for Susan to write to the Thals comes to mind: "WE CAN AL-SO SU-PPLY QUAN-TI-TIES OF FRESH VE-GE-TA-BLES..."). While they hated their enemies the Thal race, their main reason for wanting to shower their planet with nuclear material was because they were dependent on radiation to survive and needed to do this to terraform their world, with the side benefit of killing the Thals. They were also portrayed as being very vulnerable – heavily armed, but dependent on powered floors for movement and very weak and pathetic in nature. Later Daleks were much less reasonable and much more angry, with the primary motivation for their evil being genocidal racism against everything that isn't Dalek in origin. They also became a lot less talkative, probably because their screechy voices were just horrible to listen to, and a lot less pitiful. Daleks that showed up later still were even more dangerous, having almost destroyed the nigh-omnipotent Time Lords, and they were now willing to play pitiful and vulnerable if it was the only way to get what they wanted (such as the one in "Dalek", which borderline seduces Rose into feeding it energy).
Regeneration is one of the most iconic tropes of the series and yet it took the writers a long time to figure out what it was and how it worked. The Second Doctor ambiguously remarks that he's "been renewed" and implies it was a function of the TARDIS rather than of his body. The Third Doctor was forced to change his form by the Time Lords offscreen, in a manner achieved ambiguously. The regeneration of the Third to the Fourth Doctor marked the first time that regeneration had been explicitly analogized to death of the old self (due to a producer who decided to combine it with his Buddhist beliefs), although some writers seemed to think that the Fourth Doctor was actually playing a younger version of the Third Doctor, The Other Darrin style (such as the Target novelization, where the Brigadier watches the Doctor change and observes that although he gets younger his features stay mostly the same except his hair suddenly turning into twisty curls).
The First Doctor's heartbeat was once checked by a companion, who only noticed one heart. Adding onto this, it's not hard to watch the first two Doctors' runs and get the impression that the Doctor is not an alien being, but is in fact, a human from the future. Since the first episode, it is established that he and Susan are from another world in another time, but as we know from several episodes throughout the series, humans in the show's universe eventually spread out and become a universal power, so the Doctor and Susan could have simply come from a colony world. In addition to the First Doctor's aforementioned one heart, he also refers to himself and his companions as "we humans" in "The Sensorites", and even his ability to regenerate is at first said to be a function of the TARDIS. (Writers of original novels have since tried to rationalize this continuity issue by suggesting that Time Lords don't grow their second heart until their first regeneration.)
The Second Doctor story, "The Evil of the Daleks", has the Daleks wanting to test Jamie because he is special among humans as a result of having travelled in time, but when the Doctor asks why the Daleks don't just test him, they inform him that he has travelled in time too much and is consequently "more than human," which seems to imply that the Doctor was somehow changed or mutated by his excessive exposure to time (an idea that would resurface much later on).
And while we do meet another renegade Time Lord (who, notably, is fixated on altering Earth's history, and is not distinguished as being an alien) during the First Doctor's run, it isn't until the Second Doctor's very last story that the Doctor is established as being a member of an alien race known as the Time Lords. Combine all of this with the fandom-despised assertion that the Doctor is half-human from the 1996 TV movie, and one could actually make a compelling case to say that there is more humanity to the Doctor than most suspect.
Except for two standalone episodes (one of which was feature length), the classic series consisted entirely of multi-part stories. While these were generally called "Story Name, Episode/Part X", the first 2 seasons and most of the 3rd had individual episode titles.
The first episode featuring each incarnation of the Doctor frequently has justified early installment weirdness regarding the new Doctor wearing the "wrong" clothing, as, having just regenerated, he/she is still wearing the previous Doctor's last clothes (the exceptions are Second, who had his clothes change with him, and Ninth, who was introduced already in his outfit).
Early on Dollhouse was mostly episodic, giving way to longer story and character arcs. This isn't quite Cerebus Syndrome — the early episodes were still serious, but they focused more on the Dollhouse's clients and were meant to explore what kind of "desires" (sexual or otherwise) people would be willing to pay for. Though most fans think the later episodes are better, Joss Whedon has commented he thinks the change made the show lose some of its original point. Some fans underestimate how important these early episodes were to establishing the series premise and introducing us to the various personalities that Echo would later switch into.
The first five episodes of The Dukes of Hazzard look very different from the rest, because they were actually filmed in Georgia. In addition, there were more "rowdy" scenes at the Boar's Nest, mild profanity was used more freely, Daisy was often more scantily clad than in episodes from Season 2 onward, and Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane was a fairly serious character and not the dimwitted man-child.
The first few Friday opening credit sequences of Season 1 (all aired in October through early December 1971) had a different end theme, which was a longer version of the corporate credits theme used in the first two seasons. By Christmas 1971, the bright marching theme was used for the credit roll.
A few scattered episodes during the first month used uncredited children to help the adult actors with various sound cluster lessons. Most were matching or multiple-choice questions.
Endurance: Season 1 had just ten pieces, whereas Seasons 2 and 3 had 12, Seasons 4 and 5 had 13, and Season 6 had 14. Season 1 also had multiple prize trips that the teams could win. Finally, the way the pieces (and prize trips) were given off was a lot more complicated than in every season afterwards: on E1, they would be up for grabs in the next Endurance Mission.
Entourage: In the first episode, Ari boasts about sleeping with a starlet, while in later episodes, it is clear that adultery is the one line Ari won't cross. Also in this episode, a room in Vince's house has four electric guitars on stands. In a later episode, it is shown that Vince can barely sing, and he is never shown playing any musical instruments.
The Everybody Loves Raymond pilot is very weird compared to the rest of the series: First of all, Ray's house looks somewhat different to the one seen in every episode afterwards, while Frank and Marie's looks very different. Secondly, the baby twins, Geoffrey and Michael, are instead named Gregory and Matthew in the pilot only and are played by different babies. Ray also has a good friend called Leo in the pilot who is never seen or mentioned for the rest of the series. Robert's voice is noticeably different here (Brad Garrett uses his natural speaking voice for the pilot, and deepened it gradually until it turned into the dopey, deadpan low voice everyone knows well). The characters also seem to act differently in this episode. Marie for example complains about Raymond in this episode twice: first, to make Robert feel better, claiming that his sportswriter job is a waste of time, and one day later actually scolds him for setting up a monthly delivery of useless fruit to her house. She very rarely has anything bad to say about Raymond after this episode. Frank, on the other hand, demonstrates a grandfatherly love of Ray's children in this episode that is almost never seen in later ones, where he instead dislikes Ray's children and rarely shows them affection.
The early seasons also seemed to have a different feel from the later seasons. Some people like the tone of the early seasons better, when the comedy seemed a bit more subtle, and Debra wasn't mean (yet). In the earlier episodes, Ray and Debra were in it together against Ray's marauding parents and brother. In the later episodes, the show was more or less a collective of neuroses played up against each other — Ray was more of a mama's boy and idiot, and Debra became meaner and nastier.
The first season of The Eric Andre Show was filmed on suitably 80's TV equipment, giving it a true SD look worthy of an Abso-Lutely production. All of the sketches were written by Eric himself, as opposed to a more conventional team of writers, leading to the show having a slightly tighter feel. Also, the show had more celebrity impersonators as opposed to real ones (everyone in Season 2 played themselves, while Season 3 only used impersonators for Reese Witherspoon, Beyoncé and Jay-Z, with the latter two having already been in a previous episode).
The first season of The Facts of Life concentrated on seven girls and none of them were Jo (although one of them was Molly Ringwald). The show also took place in the dormitory for Eastland with Mrs. Garrett as the housemother. Also, the dean of Eastland was a regular. On top of that, the theme song had different lyrics.
In the first few episodes of Family Matters, the front door of the family house opened out into a corridor, suggesting that they lived in an apartment block. Later on, it opened onto a front porch, suggesting a house.
Urkel didn't appear on the show until about halfway through season 1, and was not originally intended to make too many appearances, but this changed due to his immediate and immense popularity. He even became a main character the very next season and soon became the show's breakout character. Nowadays it's hard for anyone to imagine that there was ever a period on the show before Urkel.
Even though Alex P Keaton is a major focus in the pilot episode of Family Ties, the whole incident is shown from the POV of the parents, Steven and Elyse. We only get to see the controversial club when Alex is being picked up there by his parents. Also, in the very first episode where Skippy Handelman appears, Alex treats him with just as much contempt as Mallory does — and it's only later established that they were friends from childhood.
The first half or so of season one has a much different feel to it than later episodes (corresponding about with the airing of "A Human Reaction"). Even with the introduction of the Myth Arc, the rest of the first season differs notably from the rest of the series.
Noted by the cast, especially Ben Browder (playing John Crichton), with the shorthand of "white T" and "black T" episodes. The episodes where Crichton wore black T-shirts were darker than others, and the series had more "black T" episodes as the series went on, until Crichton is only wearing black T-shirts.
The production quality improves significantly as well after the first season. Perhaps the most noticeable example is D'Argo's appearance, which changes drastically at the beginning of the second season.
The facial expressions of the Rigel puppet are much rougher in the earliest episodes. It seems they were still in the process of refining the animatronics at the time.
The pilot of Father Ted is the episode in which Jack "dies" (the 6th episode broadcast) and there are notable differences — the parochial house is different, Ted quotes James Joyce, and at the end they plot Father Jack's death. The first episode of the series also featured an animated scene, something that would never appear again during the entire rest of the show. The first few episodes also featured an aborted attempt at a running joke based upon Dougal staring out of the window to see some implausible stock footage apparently happening outside the house (a massive storm or some implausibly giant ants who are apparently invading Craggy Island (again)).
In the First Wave pilot, the alien impersonating Cade's wife sprouts some tentacles that nearly choke Cade to death. This is the last we see of any tentacles for the rest of the series.
The pilot is the only episode to include Iris West, Barry's love interest from the comics. The writers wanted to do Girl of the Week stories and also develop Barry's tension with Tina McGee; they decided keeping Iris as well would be overkill.
It's also the only episode to feature Barry fainting after going fast for too long, although many episodes feature him to be a Big Eater (often using superspeed to eat a lot) to compensate for the accelerated metabolism.
The general air of season 1 of Frasier was far more like Cheers (in that it was a spin-off of Cheers) and other '80s sitcoms — mainly, in its treatment of emotional issues in a comedy. The second and third seasons would perfect the show's trademark use of taking complex or emotional issues and events and making them funny through complications, character reactions, or exaggeration, rather than alternating between emotional character moments and shallow humor moments, which can come off as kitschy.
There was also Daphne's "psychic abilities", which are made much of earlier on, but come up much less frequently in the later seasons (though still occasionally focused on).
In Fresh Off the Boat, the real-life Eddie Huang narrated the first season. When he left the series the following season, this element was dropped entirely.
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air is a good example. In the first season, the show clearly hadn't found its feet yet, and many of the early episodes seem rather awkward and forgettable. In addition, the earlier episodes also dealt more with the show's gimmicky Fish out of Water premise, with "straight-out-the-hood" Will causing some sort of ruckus within the prim and proper society the Banks family was a part of.
The layout of the house was completely different from how it would be in seasons two through six.
The iconic Theme Tune Rap also included an extra verse in the first season's first few episodes.
The first season feels quite a bit different from the other nine seasons. The plots are more slow-paced and episodic, scenes start and end abruptly, and the characters are less quippy and there's quite a bit of a Sentimental Music Cue. There are a lot more group scenes with all 6 friends together and less focus on singular pairings with separate subplots. The fashions look a bit more plastic/artificial than they would in the next nine seasons, and it's probably the only season where Matthew Perry has long (or, at least, long-ish) hair.
Not to mention that Ross' ex-wife Carol is played in her first appearance by an actress who looks nothing at all like the one who took over the role for the rest of the series.
The pilot episode also has hints of Joey/Monica which was almost immediately dropped in favour of Ross/Rachel and later Chandler/Monica.
As a result of the planned Joey/Monica relationship, both their characterizations were subtly different: Joey was more jerkish and a Handsome Lech, while Monica was a lot more sexual. They settled into their normal characters pretty fast though. This change was partly due to Matt Leblanc and Courteney Cox's take on the characters. The writers admitted Matt gave Joey heart and Courteney softened Monica a lot and made her more of the Team Mom. (These changes meant she was better matched with the adorably awkward Chandler than with the confident Joey).
In the first season, there was no street outside the Central Perk set, only a painted backdrop in the window.
The first couple episodes actually portray Monica as the show's lead. Granted, Friends was always meant to be an ensemble series (Schwimmer himself reportedly refused to do the show unless it was such), but the writers have openly stated that they originally weren't sure of how to properly make such a series. And so, in the first few episodes, Monica is portrayed as the everywoman lead while the other five characters are portrayed as her "wacky group of friends." She was even listed as the show's lead character when The Pilot was screened for critics. The show's ensemble format didn't really take off until "The One With George Stephanopoulos."
The show was a lot more blatant about its NYC setting in the first season. Most of the side characters talked in thick, stereotypical New York accents and were often portrayed as snide jerkasses. The stereotypical NYC sensibility was much more muted from season two onward.
Rachel wears an MC5 shirt in an early episode. This seemed incongruous even at the time, but while it's not inconceivable that someone who grew up as a privileged New Yorker would be into Detroit proto-punk, the notion was never explored later on.
The show starts off as a primarily Monster of the Week show with hints at a government conspiracy and an FBI agent who possessed her dead partner/lover's memories (with the actor playing the dead partner in the opening credits of a dozen or so episodes). It gradually evolved into a heavily serialized show, where the only government conspiracy came from the United States government of one universe conspiring against its counterpart in another universe, and the storyline involving Olivia's dead partner/lover quickly became an Aborted Arc.
Early on, it was heavily implied that some shadowy organization caused the Pattern, and that John Scott was somehow connected to it. By the end of Season 2, it was decided that the Pattern happened because Walter's attempt to travel between the two universes caused reality to break down.
The third episode depicted Danny as a bit of a slob who was reluctant to clean up his house, preferring to hire a maid to do so. This is the same Danny Tanner who, a few seasons later, is known for cleaning his cleaning supplies. The same episode also had appearances from the mothers of all three of the men—Danny and Jesse's moms would get Darrin'd later on (looking nothing like the original actresses), while Joey's mother never appeared again at all.
The sheer fact that Michelle was a baby used mainly for cheap laughs in the first few seasons can count as this to some, due to the character's well-known status as a Spotlight-Stealing Squad once the Olsen twins became old enough to actually act.
Jesse's last name in the first season was Cochran, but this was later changed to Katsopolis due to John Stamos wanting the character to reflect his Greek roots. Jesse was also more stereotypically macho in the earlier seasons and enjoyed watching and playing sports, while in later seasons he's more whiny and both hates and is terrible at sports. Though perhaps the biggest change to the character is that he was clearly established as having graduated from high school (one episode even had him attending his 10 year reunion, with a flashback of his graduation), but much later on he is retconned to having dropped out.
The pilot includes location captions the first time a new location appears. This was dropped for the rest of the series.
The music when King Robert arrives at Winterfell sounds noticeably more whimsical than any other piece of music from the series.
Various King's Landing locations, such as the city gate, the Hand's quarters, and Littlefinger's brothel, look very different in season one compared to later seasons, due to set changes, the most prominent being that King's Landing scenes were shot in Malta in the first season, but from season two onwards they were shot in Dubrovnik.
The first episode includes scenes from the unbroadcast pilot shot over a year before the main season one production. Several of the younger actors, most notably Sophie Turner (Sansa Stark), aged noticeably during that time. Tyrion's hair is much lighter and straighter, in later episodes his hair is darker and more tousled. Several scenes are rather unnaturally cut together to disguise actor changes, and seemingly pointless scenes, such as Robb, Jon and Theon being shaved, were added to explain continuity problems. Hodor also has a beard which was dropped in later episodes because it made him look like a "Classics professor."
In the first two seasons, the Small Council meets in a large, spacious hall known as the Small Council Chambers. From season three onwards, it shifts to the Tower of the Hand. This is acknowledged in-show the first time it happens, and is implied to be Hand of the King Tywin Lannister's personal preference - nevertheless, it remains there after Tywin's death. Given no such move takes place in the books, this appears to be merely the show's justification of a set change.
Several minor characters from the books, such as Jeyne Poole, were given minor cameo parts, many of whom the show subsequently dropped, giving their plotlines to other characters.
The "sexposition", a character rambling about backstory or motivation while a scantily or nude clad female (or occasionally male) is seen, usually in a brothel, were much more common in season one than the later seasons. This has two reasons: First, characters seem to have less time to go to brothels (what with many of them being too down on their luck to do so) and second, much of the backstory is already covered and many motivations are either clear or more interesting if left unclear. Also, the writers have taken a hint from some fans complaining that you can't follow the details of the plot with all the Fanservice.
The White Walkers also underwent a slight redesign for season two.
The first few episodes have a much different visual look than the rest of the series, the compositions looked staged for multiple cameras, the lighting looked like characters were followed around by spotlights, and the various locations generally had the same look. Alan Taylor, an accomplished film director who helmed the last two episodes of the season, is generally credited with refining the show's visual style. By the second season the shots became more cinematic, the cinematography moved to more natural Rembrandt lighting, and different locations had dramatically different color palettes, e.g. scenes in the North have a strong blue filter.
It's particularly jarring re-watching the first season after finishing the final season: the dialog in the beginning was a lot slower paced than in later seasons. The DVD even has a special where the actors comment on how the speed of dialog delivery, which is a famous aspect of Gilmore Girls, has evolved to the point where it's faster than the actors themselves can think.
In the pilot Sookie is a walking disaster area, knocking down pans and starting fires with almost every move. She gets better.
Luke's Diner is in a completely different location in Stars Hollow and looks mostly different inside, as well. Many of the exterior shots in the first season were filmed in Ontario; the rest of the series was filmed in Burbank.
Emily's hair, makeup, and wardrobe was noticeably drab in the first few episodes. You can still tell from a scene that remains in the show's opening. In the later seasons, Emily is more of a Hot Grandma.
Dean was more of a loner, particularly in the first season, having only recently moved to Stars Hollow with his family. His tastes were also more in line with Jess's. As the show went on, he became more of a jock while those attributes became part of Jess's character.
Paris, Madeline, and Louise were a lot more harsh and petty. Paris in particular was only going to be on the show for a few episodes as a way to introduce Rory and the audience to the highly competitive environment at Chilton, but her role was greatly expanded.
Lorelai's parents were significantly more antagonistic, or at least harsher. Richard, particularly, is written as somewhat unapproachable and disapproving.
It's also odd to see Sean Gunn playing two characters who were, although very similar to Kirk, separate characters. Fanon likes to think they're all Kirk, anyways. In an early episode, it also sounds like Kirk is new to Stars Hollow as he doesn't seem to know Miss Patty. Later episodes would establish that he's lived in Stars Hollow all his life and everyone in town knows him. Kirk even references installing DSL in one episode, the job Sean Gunn was performing as "Mick."
Lorelai's grandmother ("Lorelai The First") is dead in the second episode. She gets better.
In the pilot episode of Gossip Girl, the very first scene has the eponymous blogger make a post about Serena's return to New York by quoting the user who sent her the photo of Serena spotted at the train station and thanking her… later episodes show that Gossip Girl is actually very private about who sends her information and would never quote her sources (otherwise, nobody would send her anything, in fear of being exposed as the ones who sent the blast).
The first couple series are much more subdued and conventionally focussed on the competition aspect. In place of the hosts' comedy bits and enthusiastically dubious 'help', we get the judges giving contestants long, earnest lectures on technique. Sue has also claimed in interviews that she and Mel nearly quit early on over demands that they stir up weepy melodrama as per more traditional reality competitions. At any rate, the now-signature lightheartedness erupts in series 3 so fully formed that it's clear a deliberate decision was taken somewhere to loosen things up.
Mel and Sue didn't do the voiceovers in the first series; a male narrator, Stephen Noonan, did them instead. The duo also initially shared some of their current hosting chores with Paul, who's seen in several series 1 episodes calling time ("Ten minutes left!") and otherwise encouraging the contestants to get a move on.
The first series took the contestants all over the country — to places as far apart as Mousehole in Cornwall and Scone in Perth & Kinross. This aspect was dropped from subsequent series as it was pretty much pointless (not to say expensive).
Although the Showstopper has always been the final round, it didn't gain the name until series 2. In the first series it was just called "the final challenge". Likewise the "Star Baker" award didn't get introduced until series 2.
Mary Berry wearing spectacles in the first few series.
Mary and Paul are far more likely to disagree with each other over a bake in the first few series, though never to the point where it impedes the judging. Mary also more frequently takes light-hearted jabs at Paul's mannerisms and harsh critiquing methods. Later series have them working more in unison, with disagreements being extremely rare.
On Grimm, one of the first episodes had a bear-like Wesen turning completely into an actual bear. This was never referenced again, nor have any other Wesen shown that ability.
It's also stated that Nick is becoming a Grimm because his aunt Marie is dying, but it's later established that it's just something that happens at a certain age (sooner for women than for men).
Happy Days differs substantially in its first two seasons from the show's prime (starting with the third season in 1975 through the end of the run nine years later):
The first two seasons used "Rock Around the Clock" by Bill Haley and the Comets as its theme (in lieu of Pratt and McClain's "Happy Days," which incidentally became a hit in its own right).
Fonzie appeared far less often and was less essential to the plots. The show was more focused on the Cunninghams, Richie in particular. Fonzie also didn't have his leather jacket, instead wearing a light beige windbreaker, due to Executive Meddling at ABC (they felt that a leather jacket made Fonzie come off as a hoodlum). Early on, Fonzie was also much more of a jerk than most people know him to be, and only became the all around good guy after becoming a major character. Possibly explained/retconned in a later episode detailing how Richie met him.
Potsie was the more worldly confidant. By the fall of 1975, Potsie was dumbed down considerably and became Ralph's joking sidekick.
Ralph himself wasn't initially a cowardly jokester; in fact, he seemed to be one of the more popular kids at the high school, and occasionally indulged in pranking, without his trademark "I still got it!" line.
Howard Cunningham was far more sedate, while Marion was more motherly. Mr. C was hyped up considerably by the fall of 1975, while Mrs. C's motherly-ness was turned Up to Eleven.
The layout of the house, to accomodate a three-camera setup that was filmed in a studio, was far different, with the kitchen on the left and the living room at stage right. The reverse was seen in later years.
Arnold's was named "Arthur's" in the first episode. Even after the name change, the restaurant had a different look for the first two seasons.
The first two seasons used a laugh track. Late in the second season (spring 1975), the episode "Fonzie Gets Married" was taped in front of a studio audience, and the change became permanent starting with season three... and the "big applause" era had started.
Chronologically, it was later firmly established that the show took place nineteen years before the year in which it aired (i.e. the 1976-77 season was set in 1957-58), but the first season avoids any indication of exactly what year it is. It can't be 19 years before: that would be 1955, and even the very first episode features songs that were recorded a couple of years later than that.
One episode that aired in January 1975 (74-75 season) dealt with the 1956 presidential election and its outcome, so it would have to have been early November 1956.
Mohinder's accent is quite different in early Heroes episodes: he sounds specifically Indian rather than just British.
Horrible Histories didn't introduce the memorable pastiche songs until series two. Furthermore, there's much more toilet humour than in later series (yes, even more people caked in excrements) and the presumably lower budget is also quite visible. A somewhat odd type of sketch featured the imaginations of the Rattus the rat, which was phased out after series two.
Try watching the first few episodes of House, particularly the pilot, after having watched more recent episodes. You'll find that the pacing is a bit different, and the CGI "Journeys Into The Patient's Body" bits are far more common.
The lighting for the show has also changed drastically, possibly due to the show being filmed in HD. Earlier episodes are tinted towards very warm colors— the pilot is almost orange— but later episodes are very stark and slightly green. The pilot was filmed in black and white.
Early episodes of the first season of How I Met Your Mother display this for many. One readily apparent example is that the main cast sit at a table in their favorite bar - rather than what became their regular booth in future episodes.
Early episodes also had Seinfeld-esque musical scene transitions. Although later episodes would sometimes still use these, they tended to be much more understated.
Despite the series' love of continuity, some plot points seem weird when they're expanded upon in later seasons. Robin Sparkles went from a flash-in-the-pan pop star who was so unknown Barney had to ring someone in Malaysia just for the music video of "Let's Go to the Mall", to the pop star whose Genre Shift at the 1996 Grey Cup "invented" grunge in the minds of many Canadians.
While more likely due to the fact that the child actors were aging too much rather than the choice of the show's creators, the first series would occasionally cut away to Ted's kids making a particular comment about the story. Later series simply used a few short pieces of multi-purpose stock footage.
In the pilot, Ted's kids wore different clothes and the sets with the Sofa was also different from later episodes.
The third episode shows Marshall relieved to avoid a bar fight, stating that he's never been in one. In the fourth season, he claims (and is later revealed) to have repeatedly engaged in brutal fights with his brothers, and is able to knock out an imposing bartender (who single-handedly beat up three guys earlier in the episode).
It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia: In the first season, all four cast members have significantly different personalities. Sweet Dee is the female voice of reason for the gang rather than equally crazy, Charlie is more of a standard loser than the Manchild idiot savant he becomes, Mac is just an immature wanna-be tough guy rather than the Armored Closet Gay he becomes, and Dennis is a rather normal vain preppy rather than the sexual deviant he becomes. Frank is entirely absent from the cast in the first season. Instead, Dennis and Dee's mother has a recurring role, but she dies in season 3.
Jack Horkheimer: Star Gazer was more serious in its early days. After being told that his show needed to appeal to a wider audience, he took on a wackier, more excitable style.
Amazingly, there was a time when Jerry Springer was as tame as shows like Oprah and The View. Before adopting its format of showcasing bizarre people and their torrid antics (often related to sexual matters, like infidelity, unusual fetishes and sleazy sex jobs), and codifying the Point-and-Laugh Show, it tackled political and social issues in a straightfaced manner, generally from a "concerned-liberal" point of view (you may not realize this, but the reason that one of the main reasons Springer got a show in the first place was that he was a Cincinnati City Councilor and later Mayor of Cincinatti and could well have had quite a respectable—if somewhat marred by an early incident where he was caught paying for a prostitute—career in Ohio Democratic politics). He even considered a run for the Senate in Ohio, but by that point it was impossible to talk about him without bringing up his show, so he didn't campaign. Compare this to its later episodes.
In the earliest seasons of The Joy of Painting, Bob Ross spoke in a more instructive manner, compared to his very soft dulcet voice, and he wore thick glasses that made him look much older. There were also cuts and background music, as opposed to the episode being done entirely in real-time without music.
Right off the bat, the name Kamen Rider was originally solely referring to Takeshi Hongo's heroic namesake. Even when Hayato Ichimonji came in to temporarily replace him, he is still labeled as Kamen Rider. It didn't become a "title" for succeeding Kamen Riders until V3's debut where they would affix 1 and 2 at them to distinguish the two.
Early episodes are more sci-fi horror (oratleast, they were meant to be) than the conventional toku we know today. The famous Rider Kick hadn't even been established yet, and thus Hongo would defeat his enemies with really anything, including a "Rider Throw". (That is, tossing your opponent off of a roof to go 'splat.')
We don't even hear "Henshin" or see the kind of elaborate poses the old Riders were known for until the episodes are in the teens and Hayato Ichimonji, Rider 2, comes along. The driver (oh, don't expect to hear changing devices called "drivers" for about 30 more years. The Faiz Driver was the first, and the last 'til the Decadriver.) was powered by wind, so simply exposing the belt while moving at a sufficient speed (if you're on your bike, just lift your shirt and reveal the belt. When on the ground, Hongo revealed the belt and then jumped through the air.) was all it took to initiate the transformation. Nothing was said; no poses done. Then Ichimonji came along. His driver was like Hongo's, but with a cover. The pose and "henshin" command opened the belt, whereupon he'd also flip through the air to change.note You know how other old riders do their poses, then jump to initiate the Stock Footage? The jump is The Artifact of Ichimonji's time as sole rider, when the "Henshin!" call opened the belt and the jump was required for wind power. The "Original" Rider Henshin pose, oh-so-often homaged and parodied? It's actually the second. When Hongo returns, he's suddenly posier and Greyskull-ier. Look for it shortly after the episode count tops fifty.
Another thing you'll be surprised to not see when you start the original series: the old-school Shocker Soldiers don't get their familiar design for a very long time. We start with guys in funny beret-like hats. Then they get facepaint. Then a Monster of the Week from Mexico comes with his Masked Luchador-based grunts in the same two-parter that introduces Hayato Ichimonji. They look almost like the ones we know, but lack the ribcage-like design on their chests. That design you probably think of as the "original" KR Mooks, a favorite at most every recent teamup? Yup, it's the fourth version.
Also the Double Riders. Heterosexual Life-Partners in nigh-identical suits? It's a while before we see the two together, and a longer while before they're a packaged deal. First it was just Hongo. Then it was just Ichimonji. He wasn't the first secondary rider, he was the second primary Rider, brought in when Hongo's actor was injured. When he healed, Hongo came back, and Ichimonji soon left. Ichimonji wouldn't be gone forever, but... they basically took turns being the sole rider, with the other away overseas ("overseas battle/training," often where returning Riders were coming from for and returning to after teamups in the old days, was the excuse for why Superman Stays Out of Gotham from day one.) and their tenures overlapped as an occasional treat. It even took the original Riders' costumes a while to arrive at the designs we know today, with details like the arm/leg stripe and the color of the boots and gloves changing.
To expand the concept above - Rider 2 isn't a secondary rider, but a lead rider. Similary, Riderman isn't seen as a secondary rider of Series/Kamen Rider V3. The first true secondary rider came at Kamen Rider Agito via Kamen Rider G3, and even then he didn't transform with a driver unlike the next series' Kamen Rider Knight.
Similarly, the original suits for Kamen Rider are different from what they frequently used since then. Originally they had a shade closer to black and a wider chestpiece, and the suit is visibly a two piece clothing. Both later get an upgraded look with darker gloves and red eyes. Finally they would get a more tracksuit-looking outfit with green helmet and silver (red for Ichimonji) gloves and boots which is also used for future appearances.
And on that note, said changes are essentially permanent upgrades. Riders back then had permanent upgrades save for a few instances (Kamen Rider Amazon can bring up the other bracelet and Kamen Rider Stronger can go for a Charge Up form, but even that form has its limits). This is usually seen with a changed suit which is usually what future crossovers use.
On top of that, the franchise as it is today is quite different from the early decades, even once things like "henshin" were established. If you're used to Kamen Rider as the Darker and Edgier, character-driven, arc-based big brother of the rest of Toku-dom, you'll be surprised to see campy villains sending out the Monster of the Week and the footsoldiers with their little high-pitched "yee!" cries to carry out the plan of the day - which was cartoonish half the time, and "destroy Tokyo for no adequately explored reason" the other half. They did Super Sentai-style poses before and after changing (the changing Stock Footage was less elaborate, possibly due to budget, so the posing was upped to become the "ceremony" behind changing.) and had a "roll call"-like phrase ("Child of the sun, Kamen Rider BLACK RX!!")
Also, every pre-hiatus Rider was a Hollywood Cyborg. Either they were kidnapped and altered like Hongo, or upgraded to save them from near-fatal injury and fight the bad guys who did it. The sole exception was Kamen Rider Amazon, magically infused with his powers rather than operated on (though they did make sure to call it a "magical operation" on multiple occasions because a Rider who didn't get his powers via an operation was that unheard of; if you're gonna do the unthinkable and have a Rider whose career didn't begin on the operating table of an organization that's an Expy of Shocker, you gotta Hand Wave like hell.) Even Kuuga and Agito had their powers as part of them somehow; you don't get the traditonal "Transformation Trinket I can stick in my back pocket, or be screwed 'cause it got knocked away or stolen" until Ryuki.
For the more recent series, it's common for the new Rider to make a cameo appearance at some point near the end of the previous series — either in a movie, or in the last couple episodes. But since the new show is still being worked on at the time, the cameo will sometimes have the Rider act differently than they do in their show: Wizard has a much less serious personality, and Ghost has an unusual fighting style that involves him moving in a loose, almost inhuman manner with lots of Matrix-style dodging and levitating very loosely and floating (whose effects obviously cost a fair bit of money). The cameo of Kamen Rider Fourze is particularly notable for hinting at a scrapped plot concept for Fourze that would involve various past Riders.
Kamen Rider Build's early cameos are a particularly extreme example. He talks in a far more analytical manner, shows up to take some of Ex-Aid's power for his research, and doesn't take "no" for an answer — which includes beating up Para-DX (while dismissing him as irrelevant) when he tries to intervene. This is of course a far cry from the Bunny-Ears LawyerScience Hero he is in his home series, but this was wholly intentional: Build eventually reveals that the protagonist was an amoral Mad Scientist who only became a good guy after his memories were erased, and the crossover film Heisei Generations Final confirms that he was still in his original personality when he harassed Ex-Aid; when Para-DX shows up itching for revenge, the now-amnesiac and heroic Build has no idea why he's so pissed off.
Keeping Up Appearances went through some tweaks after the first series. Rose was initially played by Shirley Stelfox, who was replaced with Mary Millar for Series 2. In addition, the earlier episodes had more focus on Onslow and Daisy instead of Hyacinth. In a few episodes of the first series, the show's theme played during driving scenes (which was quickly dropped).
The first season of Danish sitcom Langt fra Las Vegas seemed unsure on whether to focus on the absurdities that Casper Christensen's former series, Mandrilaftalen, was known for, or to be a regular sitcom. As a result, the first season has a rather huge amount of completely outlandish characters, surreal humor and even supernatural phenomena (like the magical football shirt and the "lucky seven star") compared to the last four seasons which were much more realistic (though still exaggerated and over-the-top). A common theory in Fanon about the reason Wulff left the main cast after season 1 is that his quiet Cloud Cuckoo Lander demeanor simply didn't match the hamminess of the other characters. Jump Start was also generally a bigger part of the episode plots in season 1, while in later seasons, most episodes focus on Casper's private life, and Jump Start is often only brought in as comedic relief.
Law & Order displays a lot more willingness to play with the "someone discovers a crime -> police investigate it -> district attorney prosecutes it' formula in its first season than it does in subsequent ones, which with rare exceptions play the formula a lot more strictly. There are episodes involving the police having to go back to re-investigate a crime that the prosecutors have already started investigating, an episode which opens on a failed prosecution which in turn leads to a corruption case, a two-part episode involving the police and prosecutors working together to bring down a powerful mobster, and so on. And, of course, Lennie Briscoe — who would become synonymous with the show in the eyes of many viewers — doesn't show up until the third season.
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit is almost unrecognizable in the first few seasons compared to what it's like now. The first season was actually heavy on comedy, with little courtroom scenes. If there was a courtroom scene, it was almost always one of the detectives being called in to testify to a completely unrelated to that episode's case. They also didn't have a permanent ADA; Abbie Carmichael was the one who showed up the most with 6 appearances. Most telling of all though were Olivia and Elliot's personalities being flipped. Olivia was the Hot-Blooded, Knight Templar who had to be frequently warned that she was on thin ice, while Elliot was the calming influence and a good father and husband.
On Little House on the Prairie, a Harriet Olsen whose husband Niles had left her in an early ep pleaded to Caroline Ingalls for her help in getting him back, admitting openly that she could be very difficult. Flash forward a few seasons, and a Mrs. Olsen who would never ask for help, and certainly not of Caroline Ingalls, never even sees isolating and destroying a girl impregnated by rape as 'difficult'.
In the pilot episode of Longstreet, Mike is equipped with a Cane that has a proximity sensor, so he doesn't bump into things or fall off edges by mistake. In the main series however he has no such cane and is using a regular white Blind man's Cane.
Lost's first season is a collection of character stories with the supernatural elements hidden in the background, few cliffhangers or continuing arcs. Also, while the first 6-7 episodes still used the signature "Whoosh" sound for flashbacks now and then, it was by no means universal for all transitions.
The Love Boat's opening credits for the first season featured the porthole graphic circling around the guest stars' names. From the second season on, the porthole graphic was put in place as photos of the guest stars' faces were shown alongside the credits.
The early episodes have Hal and Lois being very comfortable with nudity (with Hal being shaved during breakfast with only a newspaper covering him and Lois answering the front door topless and Lois's nonchalant attitude about her breasts). Later on, however, they forbid nudity the way most parents would. Though Dewey once said that Lois walks around the house naked all the time.
Additionally, the premise shifts from Malcolm-centric to the entire family, with later episodes following the Two Lines, No Waiting formula to accommodate. Several episodes don't even have Malcolm as the focal point of either plot. Malcolm was originally the Only Sane Man but became more insufferable thanks to puberty and other changes.
The family goes from decidedly middle class to very poor, laughing at the idea of savings and coming close to losing their house more than once. Justified as Lois and Hal have made some bad financial decisions.
The 1979-80 spy series A Man Called Sloane saw Thomas Sloane (played by Robert Conrad) share adventures a la I Spy with a fellow agent with a bionic hand called Torque. The pilot episode for the series, which aired as a TV movie a year after the series was cancelled, starred a different actor as Sloane, but it also featured Torque (played by the same actor as in the TV series), but he was a villain in the pilot.
The first season of Married... with Children hadn't found its bearings yet. Al spoke in a Chicago accent and often initiated sex with Peggy, whereas he later went to Herculean efforts to avoid it. Peg regularly smoked cigarettes. Kelly was at least of average intelligence. Marcy was a Stepford Smiler yuppie Republican rather than an ultra-liberal man hating Straw Feminist.
On The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Ted Baxter starts out as being vain mainly because he is aware he is an on-camera newsman and asks Murray for tweaks of his writing for emphasis. He even admits, when his competitive brother shows up, that his parents encouraged their showiness and it's made them a little nuts. Mary also admits to being 'bowled over' by his looks at first. Flash forward, and we see a man who pronounces Arkansas R-Kansas, is regularly an idiot on camera, and who lies to everyone that he is seeing Mary romantically and then some. She forces him to call every last person he has told and retract this.
The show originally started as a lighthearted "wacky" comedy set in a war hospital, in the vein of the movie it was based on. After a few years, the laughs became balanced with hard-hitting looks at the horrors of war, then thrown off-balance when Alan Alda began directing episodes.
One early episode has Hawkeye mentioned a mother and sister and living in Vermont; he would later be firmly established as the only child of a widowed father, from Crabapple Cove, Maine.
At the start of the series, the protagonists were Jerks with Hearts of Gold, similar to (but somewhat toned down from) the movie. As the show went on, the heroes became more and more moral as the series itself became more and more serious. A case in point is the show's portrayal of adultery. In the first season, it was implicit that all the men on the show were married and cheating on their wives back home. The only thing which made Frank different was that he was a hypocrite about it. The exception was Hawkeye, who was only "engaged" (because the network censors wouldn't let him say that he was "married" while hitting on Lt. Dish in the pilot). After the pilot, Hawkeye never mentions being engaged again and thereafter appears to be single. As early as the second season, an episode was dedicated to Henry Blake getting feelings for another woman and ultimately choosing to stay faithful to his wife — despite the fact that in the first season, he gave no apparent thought to cavorting with various nurses. Following the departure of Trapper at the end of the third season, Frank was the only cheater left on the show. At this point, adultery started being portrayed as something which only a horrible villain like Frank would do.
The show's pervasive use of a (network-mandated) Laugh Track qualifies. Although the series continued to use a laugh track throughout its run, it was used far less frequently in later seasons.
The first season of MasterChef Australia had a few differences from the other series, most notably the appearance of "host" Sarah Wilson. Since Gary, George and Matt had become major personalities in their own right, they could handle all of the hosting aspects themselves and Sarah's role ended up being superfluous, so she was dropped.
In the first season, if a contestant won the Celebrity Chef Challenge, they got a guaranteed place in the finals and, in the mean time, got a chance to work in a professional kitchen. It became obvious that the contestants who took a break from the pressure of the Masterchef Kitchen would fail against those who were used to it, since both contestants who won the Challenge got immediately eliminated in the finals week. From the second season, it was replaced with the Immunity Pin.
The first few eliminations were voting based, where the members losing team from the previous day would vote one of their team out of the competition. This concept clashes a bit with the "competitors as a big happy family" vibe that came out of subsequent seasons.
Similarly, the winners of each team challenge were given some sort of reward while the remaining team(s) suffered an elimination challenge, meaning that members of the winning team didn't have the chace to say goodbye to the eliminated contestant before they left.
Melrose Place is a classic example. The early episodes reflect the show's original intention to be a realistic drama about the lives of young twentysomethings who lived in the same apartment complex. There are no hints of the Primetime Soap it grew into.
In the first season of Merlin, especially towards the beginning, the writers set up Prince Arthur and the Lady Morgana as having a potential romantic relationship. Later, this was abandoned to avoid the creepy incest vibe on a family show — since Morgana is basically Arthur's adopted sister. This caused a good bit of fan outrage in some circles, however, since Incest Is Relative, and they felt Arthur had much less chemistry with Gwen.
The very first episode, in particular, is a bit different. Arthur's behaviour is considerably more immature (possibly justified by a combination of Merlin being a good influence in later episodes, or even just getting to know him better), some of the humour is kind of strange (as pointed out on the audio commentary - what was the point of the thing with the sandwich and the porridge?) and Merlin's ability to slow down time has hardly been seen since. As well as this, the brief glimpse of Merlin's home would suggest that it's not quite so poverty-stricken as is shown in later episodes. And, to follow on from the example above, the romantic relationship between Gwen and Merlin was abandoned very early on. Also of note is that his innate magical ability doesn't require any incantations. This is quickly abandoned after he learns some spells and has to whisper them in order to avoid being executed as a magic-user. His original ability just has him look at something.
The first few episodes of Miami Vice form a conventional Five-Episode Pilot, which focuses on Crockett and Tubbs (who have just been paired up) working to find Columbian druglord Jose Calderone. The biggest difference in these five episodes is the character of Lt. Rodriguez, Sonny's (original) commanding officer who got directly involved in the action on a weekly basis. Other elements were significantly toned down after the first few episodes, including the length of the montages, Tubbs' heavier accent (seen in the first few episodes), Zito and Switek's comedy routines (which used to take up entire segments of the show) and the length of the before-credits teasers.
Season 1 of The Mindy Project falls into this, especially in regards to the Revolving Door Casting. Many of Mindy's female friends suffered Chuck Cunningham Syndrome and were never mentioned again. The inverse is also true, with many characters that play integral parts to the later seasons not even being on the show in the early seasons. The show was also heavier on the Romantic Comedy aspects rather than the Work Com aspects that became more prominent later on. Jeremy is also much more of a ladies man in the seasons pre-Channel Hop to Hulu — although this one is a case of Executive Meddling since Fox demanded that his character be more "manly".
Five seasons in, this is already somewhat apparent when you watch Modern Family's first season over again: a different set of twin girls playing a much more deadpan infant Lily, and much more open antagonism between various pairs of characters (especially Jay towards Phil. He flew a model plane right at him in season 1, something he'd never think of doing later on).
In the pilot episode, Mitchell's relationship with his father and sister is distant enough that he manages to conceal from them the fact that he and his partner have adopted a baby. In all subsequent episodes, it's made clear that the three are very close, to the point where the whole extended clan have a big get-together at Jay's house once a week, and most characters seem to interact with members of the other two households on a daily basis.
Oh, and after they get the baby and several plane passengers seem uncomfortable with their homosexuality, Mitchell tries to make a dramatic speech and Cam has to shut him up.
Also in the pilot episode, Claire calls her and Phil's kids as "my" kids, with Phil correcting her to "our" kids, to which Claire hesitantly agreed.
Season 1 of Monk can feel a bit out of place compared to the other seasons. Namely:
There was a different title card which depicted Monk going through his Morning Routine while a jazz instrumental by the show's music composer Jeff Beal played in the background. From season 2 onwards, a montage of episode clips was used as well as a new Randy Newman song "It's a Jungle Out There". Beal's season 1 theme music wasn't discarded completely, though, as several episodes use it to lead in to the end credits.
Lieutenant Randy Disher went nameless in the pilot, and Jason Gray-Stanford was credited as "Lt. Deacon" in the credits. Randy Disher became his established name by the third episode.
Notably, season 1 was shot in Canada (Vancouver for the pilot, Toronto for the rest of the season) while seasons 2-8 were shot in Southern California. As a result, sets like Captain Stottlemeyer's office, Monk's apartment, Sharona's house, and whatnot, look completely different.
Captain Stottlemeyer's relationship with Monk in season 1 is written a lot differently from what later seasons show. Namely, from the way Stottlemeyer acts towards Monk in the pilot, you wouldn't think they were close friends but bitter rivals with some sort of past conflict, as shown when Stottlemeyer has Monk removed from the case after Monk's fear of heights allows Ian Sykes to escape; Monk makes a remark suggesting that Stottlemeyer is mad at Monk for something that happened in the past. In later episodes, the background has been retconned so that it seems like Stottlemeyer has always known Monk to be a genius.
In the pilot, the opening credits sequence didn't just feature the credits for the main cast, but also many of the one-time supporting characters. Interestingly, Stanley Kamel is credited third on the cast listing (as if they were expecting Dr. Kroger to become more of a regular character; it's also noticeable Billing Displacement as Dr. Kroger only gets a short two-minute scene at the beginning and another short one near the end), and Jason-Gray Stanford (Randy) comes after such names as Michael Hogan (Warren St. Claire) and Ben Bass (Gavin Lloyd).
Monk's personality doesn't seem quite as despairing as it does in later episodes. In fact, it's possible that the writers were thinking that Monk would get reinstated earlier in the show's run (as opposed to in the antepenultimate episode of season 8) and then the show's plotline would be "an OCD detective on the SFPD who solves crimes" rather than being about "a private detective with OCD who the SFPD consult to investigate crimes".
In the pilot, there appear to be a lot of additional subplots going on around the main murder mystery - Monk trying to solve Trudy's murder, being lost when Sharona quits, etc. Meaning that if you didn't already know who the main characters were (because of seeing later episodes first), you would probably be confused as to who even are the main characters. The pilot seems to have been written when the writers had not yet decided exactly who were going to be the recurring characters or even the weekly characters, other than of course Monk and Sharona.
Monk's quest to solve Trudy's murder was more prominent in earlier seasons. By season 3, around the time Melora Hardin was cast to play Trudy in flashbacks, Monk's investigation into Trudy's death was seemingly dropped completely although episodes where things from Monk's past with Trudy still came into play.
During the season 3 mid-hiatus, Bitty Schram left the show over a pay dispute, causing Sharona to be written out. In her place came Natalie Teeger, played by Traylor Howard. It's pretty noticeable that many of Natalie's first episodes seem to have used scripts that were written with Sharona instead, and they simply switched Sharona out for Natalie without changing the characterization accordingly. This results in a Natalie who acts more abrasive, akin to Sharona's methods of handling Monk, as opposed to the kinder though still tough when necessary character we get later on, such as being fussy over money in "Mr. Monk vs. the Cobra". It isn't until some point early in season 4 that the writers were able to firmly get a grasp of what Natalie's character was supposed to be.
The phrase "And Now For Something Completely Different" is already said in the first episode, but by Eric Idle instead of John Cleese who traditionally said it in the later episodes.
The infamous crushing foot in Gilliam's opening titles doesn't make the Blowing a Raspberry sound it made from the second season on.
The nude organist originally appeared in the second season ("Live From The Grill-O-Mat"), but portrayed by Terry Gilliam rather than Terry Jones! The character only became a regular on the show starting with the first episode of the third season: "Whicker's World".
Terry Gilliam himself is mostly reduced to appearing as a seldom speaking extra in most of the first seasons.
Mr. Gumby was first portrayed by Graham Chapman, rather than Michael Palin. Though every Python member has portrayed him at least once it's Palin who is most associated with the role.
The first season of The Muppet Show looks different compared to the rest of the series. On top of having a different version of the opening theme, many of the characters weren't completely fleshed out yet. Miss Piggy and Fozzie look drastically different. Miss Piggy was even voiced by Richard Hunt rather than Frank Oz in a few sketches. And a few characters were dropped after the season was over. Fozzie was almost dropped as well until Frank Oz took some time to develop the character more.
Not to mention Gonzo. He was quite scraggy in the first few series (it makes sense, considering he was a recycled puppet from The Great Santa Claus Switch) and he had a permanently sad expression. As he became a major character, they made him look more up-beat until he became the thrill-seeking daredevil he is now.
In early seasons, the Camden police dept. are actually a competent, normal, small time police force. Later on in the series it becomes one fat guy on a bike, and his sister. Also Crab-man is just a generic, if slightly brighter, trailer park-type resident, later on he will become a quirky-genius ex-spy who is in witness protection.
In the early episodes, Joy is out-and-out hostile towards Earl, and even schemes to kill him for his lottery money. However, Joy and Earl's relationship quickly normalizes; at one point in the series, Earl even voluntarily goes to jail for an offense Joy commits just to spare Joy a "third strike" conviction. By the end of the series, they are Amicable Exes.
Earl's brother Randy is nearly unrecognizable in the pilot. Compared to the "borderline artistic" Manchild that got stuck while trying to steal tapes from a video rental booth in the fourth season, he seems to be of average intelligence, but used to follow Earl out of laziness and lack of personal ambition. At one point he scolds Earl for their current lack of means of living and calls his list "some stupid-ass crusade" not worth their money (it's hard to picture the later Randy being able to pronounce "crusade" correctly, let alone knowing what it means). He also sleeps with Patty once a year (but has no trouble picking up girls in bars), and is the first to realize that Kenny James is gay.
Early episodes of MST3K were pretty noticeably different from the 'golden' later seasons. The riffing came at a much slower (and poorer) pace, and it wasn't until about mid-Season 2 that the quality really picked up. (This is because the early episodes were riffed improv-style, with little preparation and rehearsal beforehand) Also, in the first few Comedy Central episodes, the focus of the series seemed to be more on the Mads than the Satellite of Love crew.
The characters were also very flat. Dr Forrester in particular was stuffy, officious, and serious, later on developing his mincing energetic and more violent persona, possibly influenced by the replacement of his colleague, Dr Earhart, with the buffoonish sidekick Frank. Tom Servo's personality changed considerably too, around this time, but this was due to his change of voice actor (from Josh Weinstein, who also played Earhardt, to Kevin Murphy.)
The late Comedy Central era has an odd case of this with Pearl Forrester, Dr Forrester's mother introduced as a one-off character in the season six episode "Bloodlust" and brought back to replace Frank for the six-episode seventh season. She played a frumpy older character during that period before switching to a younger character closer to her real age for the remaining seasons when she took over the lead Mad spot from her son. As well, early on Joel Hodgson played Joel Robinson as "sleepy,' which many viewers interpreted as "stoned." This was soon abandoned. Word of God is that Hodgson actually was only half-awake in the first episode, and he decided to incorporate that into the general characterization for a time.
Many of the early KTMA episodes didn't feature The Mads at all, and host segments featured viewer phone messages left on the answering machine. At the end of every movie in Season 1, the robots (even Gypsy, who wasn't even in the theater) would have to say one good thing and one bad thing about the movie in order to get a RAM chip as a snack.
[after Kinga complains that the public doesn't watch TV for sane people] TV's Son of TV's Frank/Max: Well, lots of shows don't get good until the fifth episode, so you spend your life watching, waiting to see why your friends love it so much, and sometimes it never happens!
The first season or so of MythBusters featured only Jamie and Adam working on the myths, with other crew members present as helping hands but not given any focus themselves; the "build team" started to get more attention in the second season and began getting their own myths to bust in about season 3, creating the standard format until season 15. The early episodes also include spots by folklore and urban legend specialists explaining the backgrounds of the myths (phased out as unnecessary as the show went on), and formal interviews with experts in fields related to the myth instead of simply filming the hosts' conversations with them as is now the show's current custom.
The show's much lower budget is also evident in early episodes, which show Adam and Jamie having to go to sometimes considerable trouble to obtain a single car or enough weather balloons and helium to lift a lawn chair.
And in a comparatively lesser example, the first season had only "True" and "Busted" for whether or not a myth was viable. All subsequent seasons have had "Confirmed", "Plausible", or "Busted".
Until the Build Team was instituted, a lot of time was also devoted to getting the weird props and supplies for the myth. Eventually the support staff and budget (and the addition of the Build Team to have more parallel experiments) grew large enough to make these interludes unnecessary.
In early seasons the Mythbusters would do their own blueprint sketches. This was phased out when a crew member, a cartoonist, was invited to do one. Since then all blueprints have been done by him, though he has never appeared on screen.
In a first season episode, Fran celebrates her 30th birthday. Shortly afterwards her refusal to admit to being older than 29 became one of the show's biggest running gags (Maxwell says at one point even the FBI couldn't figure out her real age). When the birthday was mentioned a few seasons later, Fran claims she lied about her age on her application.
In the pilot, the stairs and front door are in a different location. There's also at least one early episode where there was a pantry between the kitchen and the dining room which eventually disappeared.
The National: The anchor position on the early decades of the program wasn't considered a journalist, but an announcer. Therefore, early anchors only read scripts prepared by the working reporters. Lloyd Robertson left for CTV when he realized he could never get editorial control of the newscast. It wasn't until the Knowton Nash era when the CBC won a concession from the journalists' union allowing him to become Chief Correspondent for CBC News, a position to which Peter Mansbridge inherited.
The differences aren't quite as noticeable as other examples, but watching a current episode back to back with one of the first few episodes can be a little jarring - the director isn't a major part of the activities, making just a couple of appearances over the course of season one, Gibbs is a little more... sociable, there's the mysterious redhead he occasionally hitches a ride with, Tony's regularly the sole butt of jokes (no McGee for him to pick on), Abby's voice is a little huskier, Ducky's assistant is a man named Gerald, and, most jarring of all, Tony does not constantly make movie references, even being confused by one made by a guest character. By the end of the first season, though, things have just about settled in to something close to what we get now.
In addition to Abby's voice being different, she started out with a relatively normal level of energy. By season 3, it went to above normal, and now it's just ridiculous. Her hair/makeup/wardrobe was also noticeably toned down over the seasons. Though she still frequently wears her hair in high ponytails or braids, we haven't seen anything like her hairdo in the pilot (there were five or six ponytails) since season one. Her makeup is much more natural now, where in the first season she wore exclusively black or dark red lipstick, and after the first couple of seasons, she started wearing colors other than black, and occasionally, outfits with no black in them at all. Other than being a goth, Abby was also much less quirky in the first season.
In the first ten or so episodes of the first season, there was something resembling sexual tension between Gibbs and Abby. By the second half of the first season, it had been completely dropped, and by the beginning of the third season, the writers had really started to capitalize on their father-daughter relationship.
Gibbs' relationships with the rest of the team in general were a lot different early on. He flirted some with Kate too, early in the series, and wasn't so much a father figure to Tony or McGee. By season three, Gibbs' relationships with his field agents (and Abby) was pretty staunchly parent-child. This increased protectiveness and involvement with the rest of the team can be explained in-universe by what happened at the end of season two.
This is really the nature of the beast when replacing a major character, but seasons one and two with Kate had a noticeably different tone than seasons three onward with Ziva.
The pilot has Gibbs making a modern movie reference (going on and on how Air Force One looks exactly as it did in the movie Air Force One), and FBI Agent Fornell has no idea who Ducky is, and barely an awareness of Gibbs (surprising, when they were married to the same woman).
At least with Gerald being replaced, that one was actually explained by plot- a terrorist shot him in the shoulder with a rather nasty type of bullet that caused severe joint damage.
The first few seasons focused much more on the cases, where most later episodes, starting with Tony's involvement with Jeanne in season four, have a B-plot that focuses on the outside life of one of of the agents. Ziva was really the first character to have any kind of extensive backstory, which is striking considering she didn't even come on the show until season three. Given the emphasis on the backstories, families, and love lives of the agents in later seasons, it seems almost laughable that Kate was on the show for two years and didn't have a backstory past being in the secret service and winning a wet T-shirt contest in college. Also, those "black-and-white" clips that bookend the episode segments didn't start until a third of the way through the second season. If you started watching the show later in its run, it can be quite jarring to watch the oldest repeats that don't have them.
Even before the pilot, in the parent series JAG NCIS was rarely portrayed as competent or favorable to the heroes. Key pieces of evidence were overlooked by the NCIS Agents during investigation and would need the military lawyers to find them or motivate them to look for the truth.
The early seasons of Newhart are much more realistic, and feature the character of Kirk and his depressing pining over the brilliant, beautiful, and warm-hearted (though not funny) Leslie. Eventually both Kirk and Leslie were written out and the more memorable Michael and Stephanie were written in as characters. The first season was also shot on video and looks noticeably different.
Of course, given the famous series finale ending, this may be justified.
Nickelodeon was significantly different in its early years. It didn't have commercials and its programming was more educational (with a low budget Sesame Street clone called Pinwheel being their flagship series). Its ratings were dead last among cable channels, so it rebranded itself in 1984. It started airing commercials, changed its logo to the now-iconic "orange splat" logo, and changed its programming to give it a more "kids only" feel, changes that helped make it a household name.
The first installment of Night Gallery had stories that all involved paintings that were in the gallery; after that, not so much.
The first season of The Odd Couple featured the poker players and the Pigeon sisters from the original play and movie (with the sisters themselves being played by the same actresses who were in said play and movie). As the show went on, the poker players began appearing less and less frequently (Murray the cop was the only poker player to be featured almost as much as the main characters), and the Pigeon sisters were dropped after the first season.
The first season was also filmed using a single camera on the same apartment set as the 1968 film, and utilized a Laugh Track. The show switched to filming in front of a Studio Audience beginning in season two, and the layout of the apartment was changed to accommodate the three-camera setup. It's worth noting that this show was produced by Garry Marshall, whose later Happy Days series would also follow the same path.
The Office (US) with its chubby, balding Michael Scott, random background deskworkers, and very straitlaced, plainly-dressed Kelly Kapoor (instead of the pop culture-obsessed Woman Child she's better known as) in its short first season. The first season is also more cynical, keeping in tone with the UK version, right down to Michael Scott being more of a self-absorbed, intolerable boss a la David Brent instead of the well-intentioned bumbling boss he came to be. The series began to shape its own identity in Season 2.
Jenna Fischer (Pam) mentions on the commentary for "The Dundies" (the Season 2 opener) that her mom visited the set for the first time during the filming of that episode, and after previously hearing Fischer's description of the unattractive, intolerable Michael Scott, was caught off-guard to meet the much more handsome and charming Steve Carell, who had lost weight, stopped thinning his hair and was filming the episode dressed in a tuxedo!
Andy was not introduced until season 3, and he quickly became a major secondary character, so it can sometimes feel odd to rewatch the first two seasons and not see him.
The pilot episode of Once Upon a Time had stated that characters should never let Rumpelstiltskin know their names. This is immediately ignored in all future episodes.
Snow White also claims in the pilot that Regina gave her a poisoned apple because she was prettier than her like in the original tale. This is quiet jarring when the very next episode reveals that Regina wants to avenge the death of her lover, in which Snow was somehow involved. No reasons are given for why Snow made this claim.
In the second episode, Regina's father Henry is seen passing out instantly when she rips his heart out. In other episodes, people remain conscious when the heart is removed and are only visibly hurt when the heart itself is squeezed. Henry is implied to have died instantly when his was ripped out; something that is a little at odds with the rules established later on.
The entire first season of Once Upon A Time can be seen as this. In the first season, outside of flashbacks, the action mainly focuses on Storybrooke, with little to no magic and conflicts that are social at most. The later seasons have characters regaining their ability to cast spells, certain arcs taking place in realms other than ours, and conflicts being more and more violent.
The Italians gang are called The Wiseguys and The Homeboys gang are called The Gangstas. Many of the members of the Wiseguys are also old-school Sicilian gangsters rather than more modern Italian-American guido gangsters, while Ryan O'Reilly is shown to be a mere street thug rather than the prominent figure of The Irish Mob he's later revealed to be. Also, there's really only four gangs in the first season: The Wiseguys (Mafia gangsters, later renamed The Italians in Season 2), The Gangstas (African-American street thugs, later renamed the Homeboys), The Muslims, and The Aryans. Season 2 onward would have nine gangs, ten if you count The Others as a gang. However, some characters from other gangs get their debut in Season 1.
Em City as a whole seems more claustrophobic and dirty as well.
The excessive violence and Prison Rape that the show is infamous for is actually very downplayed in the first season as well. There is rape and murder, but nearly all of it is implied and very little is shown. Season 2 onward becomes Bloodier and Gorier as well as Darker and Edgier.
The Muslims and Kareem Said in particular are shown to be militant black supremacists and angry rabble-rousers. In Season 2, they drop all black supremacist and Malcolm Xerox tendencies entirely and become the closest thing to good guys in a show full of Black and Grey Morality and Evil Versus Evil. Although this may have been because Kareem became more pacifist after the prison riot at the end of the first season made him see what his violent rhetoric had caused.
The first episode took place over a day and had a clock that occasionally popped up.
Bob Rebadow was just a little crazy in the first season, suggesting that God spoke audibly to him and acting a little creepy. Later he was just a kindly old man who was a bit religious, and if he mentioned talking to God, it just meant he'd been praying.
Earlier seasons were pretty brutally realistic. Even Augustus's narration scenes were lower key. Later they turned into impressionistic short films, other characters took their turn narrating, and the final season seemed to imply that everyone narrating, Augustus included, were doing so from beyond the grave. One episode had several musical numbers including a friendly duet between Schillinger and Beecher. Even the series itself starts playing with reality, introducing a drug that can age a person overnight, having a CO go insane and try to take over the prison, having one character mysteriously disappear and having another claim to be possessed by the Devil, even to the point of speaking in a demonic voice.
This is quite common on panel shows where the format gets mixed around quite a lot in the early days and not every component remains. The first episode of Have I Got News for You featured eight different rounds, only four of which survived to the show's better-known format.
Anyone who has only started watching Have I Got News For You since 2003 may be surprised to learn that the show once had a regular host at all, never mind it being Angus Deayton.
The first two series of Would I Lie to You? featured more rounds and questions, a completely different set and the deadpan Angus Deayton as host. The show didn't really achieve success until it cut out the less amusing rounds, got a set with a brighter colour scheme and the more lively Rob Brydon as host.
Played in the first two series of Mock the Week, in which Rory Bremner's impressions are a key part of the comedy before being dropped once he left the show.
For the first two series of QI, the 'obvious but wrong' answers were written on cards, which Stephen Fry would reveal when the answer was given as well as the sirens and flashing screens. In the very first proper episode, only the cards were used.
The first Big Fat Quiz of the Year (in 2004) had twelve rounds, one for each month, but subsequent years had six rounds by merging the months, while adding a few bonus rounds, before the rounds became topic-based in 2010. The first year also lacks a question where Jon Snow describes a song as if it were a news story.
Compare the first (six-episode) season of Parks and Recreation to the second and onward, and they almost seem like two different shows:
The characterizations start off very different. Leslie Knope is awkward, overbearing, and somewhat incompetent, Andy is a lazy Jerk Ass rather than the affable Manchild of the later seasons, Tom was Leslie's straitlaced Number Two rather than the "swag" obsessed Jerk with a Heart of Gold he later becomes, among others. It's obvious that the characters are based on characters from The Office (US), where Leslie is Michael Scott, Ann is Pam, Ron is Dwight, Mark is Jim Halpert, Andy is Roy Anderson, Tom is a mixture of Ryan Howard and Kelly Kapoor, April is Angela Martin, and Jerry is Kevin and Toby rolled into one. There was also a heavier focus on the government aspect of the show. Both were the result of the fact that Parks started off as a clone of The Office before it found its own voice and style.
The show's tone also started off as fairly bleak and cynical, with the premise essentially being "there's only one person in the government who actually cares, but she's an overly idealistic doofus who will never accomplish anything." When Leslie was made more competent in the second season, it made her idealism seem more justified and propelled the show to the opposite end of the Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism from where it had started.
The show was originally going to have recurring Pawnee residents appear during town hall meetings. These characters appear in early episodes but quickly vanished as the idea got dropped.
The series was originally more overtly a Mockumentary as a reflection of it being a direct spin-off from The Office. However, while the characters still reacted to and spoke to the camera, this element was gradually downplayed (again as a result of the show finding its own distinct identity separate from the earlier show).
Anyone going back to watch series 1 of the Brit ComPeep Show will notice the, frankly, ridiculous music the show opens with.
The People's Court: The first couple of seasons of the original 1981 series – especially the very earliest episodes – were markedly different than the show as seen today. Many cases were simple arbitrations, with rather bland, dull cases being heard. The litigants simply answered the judge's questions and rarely if ever tried to interrupt the other litigant, call him names or interrupt the judge while he was talking. Judge Joseph Wapner – himself far more patient than current Judge Marilyn Milian – rarely if ever accused litigants of outright lying, although he would call them on testimony he thought didn't seem to fit the evidence or if a litigant lacked crucial evidence (such as a dated receipt) that ultimately cost them the case. When the judge delivered his decision, the litigants – except to answer a direct question he might ask them – simply listened respectfully, and while some of the litigants were understandably disappointed with the outcome – although there were always a few exceptions – they generally accepted Wapner's decision in good stride or chalked it up as a lesson learned. Once the show became a hit and logged time on the air, a few scattered episodes with litigants similar to the current series made it to air, but overall the Wapner-era shows were far more sedate and Wapner rarely needed to raise his voice or put wayward litigants in their place.
Police, Camera, Action! had a slightly different feel for the first three episodes; Alastair Stewart's British episode was emphasized a lot but then reverse Flanderization set in; Hampshire Police and Surrey Police footage went Out of Focus after 1995, and he started to wear less charcoal or grey-coloured suits, instead, in later seasons, began to take on a more casual look (except in situations where it was not necessary). Also, his tone changed from formal British accent to a more informal tone. The early episodes Police Stop! (later retitled to the show we know today), Police Camera Action! and Safety Last have a very different feel to later ones; the narration style seems different too. By 1997, the show was semi-Retooled, to mix foreign footage with British footage, leading to the show we have today.
In the 2007 reboot (well, as fans consider it, due to Adrian Simpson being the co-presenter), early episodes Speed Dating up to Stop Thief! have a different feel from later episodes, not to mention a 'go-to-middle-of-the-action' sequence, which was absndoned after Technocops.
Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers had a lot of weirdness early on. The unmorphed fights scenes were slower and had a few goofy moves, Alpha 5 had a teddy bear, Zordon had an RP British accent, etc. Once the show got its Sixth Ranger, and grew out its beard, the show had found its identity, and most of the weirdness was ironed out. "It's morphing time" (with a G) was first said by Zordon, and wasn't something the Rangers always shouted - it was just a Title Drop and a mention that morphing was what it was time to do. It took a few episodes for "It's morphin' time!" to become an obligatory pre-morph call stated by the Red Ranger (though sometimes taken over by the spotlight Ranger). The first episode had the unmorphed Rangers wearing their Power Morphers as belt buckles (like their Zyuranger counterparts) unlike the rest of the show, where they were usually just hidden in the teens' pockets. The posing-routine-with-name-shouting wouldn't be established for many years and then was still rarely used until Wild Force, though there were a few instances of sentai posing footage finding its way into MMPR episodes, with new dialogue and often going unnoticed due to the fact that all ranger movement is exaggerated while suited. Most notably, the zord summoning throughout season two was a standard roll call in Zyuranger (namely, the role call from when Burai/Dragon Ranger joined the team... which was used when Tommy joined the team).
In the greater Power Rangers universe it's interesting to see MMPR characters returning for a Reunion Show taking place later and with newer conventions that the series adopted, such as the elaborate movements made with the morpher. In Power Rangers in Space "Always a Chance" had Adam making dramatic arm movements with the old "belt buckle" morpher (though it is appropriately dramatic for the scene, where morphing could kill him), where all they did in the show was put a hand behind their back as they say "It's Morphing Time!" (as though to retrieve their morpher from their back pocket or something). Jason in Power Rangers Wild Force "Forever Red" had a similar morphing pose that he never did before, and fight scenes done with the MMPR Red Ranger costume had never been done with wire work before.
The first episode of Psych features a completely different female detective partnered with Detective Lassiter, who he is having a secret affair with. She's gone by the second episode, Lassiter is separated from his wife, and he has no UST to speak of with his new partner, Juliet, who subsequently appears in the rest of the series.
Rainbow: George is missing from season 1 of this long running British children's programme.
The first two series of Red Dwarf featured much more complex plots and Myth Arcs, mainly concerning strange alternate universes and Lister's relationship with Kochanski. This was mostly dropped for series three in favour of a Monster of the Week format. Kryten only appears as a guest, and the Cat doesn't spend that much time around the other characters, preferring to wander around alone. In addition, the first two series (especially series 1) take place almost entirely on the Red Dwarf itself, rarely taking the action away from the areas shown in the first few episodes. Later series see the addition of a lot of new sets, as well as plotlines that see the characters going to new areas of the ship as well as getting off the ship more often.
The first appearance of Kryten in series 2 has him as a very English robot butler in a suit who is obsessed with cleaning. He's not very intelligent and his only personality quirk is that he's oblivious to the fact his crew have died. His personality, voice and appearance are entirely different to the Kryten who would appear from series 3 onwards (he's played by a different actor). This is Hand Waved with some Unreadably Fast Text at the start of Series 3 that states that he crashed his "space bike" into an asteroid, they found his remains and rebuilt him, but they couldn't restore his original personality. It's also explained that Lister is helping him break his programming. This is lampshaded in series 8 where Kryten is (briefly) restored to his factory settings and behaves just like he did in his first appearance.
For the first few seasons of The Red Green Show, many things were different: Red was a lot more subdued, Harold's introductions of him were much longer (and usually accompanied by a pan across the set), and typical "rural" sounds such as gunshots, saws, and birds could frequently be heard in the background. The first season's episodes also did not end with the Possum Lodge meetings. There was also the second season, which had a "sitcom" feel to it — it introduced a large cast of characters (none of whom made it out of that season) interacting in story arcs with Red and Harold, as opposed to Red and/or Harold simply relating the story of the day back to the audience. (This change in tone was forced on by Executive Meddling.) The format reverted in the third season.
The Pilot Movie had a few notable differences from the series. The setting was Riverdale, unlike the show's Westbridge. Hilda was the smart aunt and Zelda The Ditz (as in the comics) while it's the other way around in the show. Sabrina's rival was a blonde called Katie instead of the iconic Libby. Michelle Beaudoin's character was called Marnie in the movie and Jenny in the series. Salem also has a British accent. Harvey pined for Sabrina rather than the other way around, and Sabrina had a Romantic False Lead called Seth.
In both the movie and first episode, Sabrina is embarrassed by the Alpha Bitch and she turns back time to undo it. In the movie the aunts are able to do it themselves, but in the show they have to appeal to the Witches Council.
Within the show's first season, several character dynamics are different. Sabrina is a Shrinking Violet who worries about fitting in, with Jenny playing the confident best friend. Later on it's Sabrina as the confident one, with Jenny's replacement Valerie as the needy one. Harvey began as a dumb jock who mistakenly thought Libby was nice, before gaining some more intelligence in Season 2 and knowing exactly what a nasty piece of work she was.
The conflict in Season 1 was between Cool Teacher Mr Pool and the aloof Principal La Rue. From Season 2 Mrs Quick took on the Cool Teacher role, Principal La Rue was demoted to The Ghost and Vice Principal Kraft took on the antagonist role. Libby likewise was just mean to her lower classmates in Season 1, before getting bumped up to conspiring with Mr Kraft to antagonise Sabrina.
A major subplot in Season 1 is Hilda's on again-off again romantic history with Drell, head of the Witches Council. Season 2 demotes Drell to The Ghost and Hilda becomes a full fledged Serial Romeo.
Zelda acts as the Only Sane Man in Season 1 and is a strict disciplinarian. Producers quickly realised the comedic potential for Zelda to get involved in slapstick too. As such, while she remains the responsible one, she gets numerous Not So Above It All moments and becomes a Bungling Inventor. She likewise gets sucked into the wackiness far more often than she had in Season 1.
Saturday Night Live first started out as NBC's Saturday Nightnote due to a very similar program called Saturday Night Live with Howard Cosell airing around the same time on ABC — coincidentally, this SNL also featured future NBC SNL star Bill Murray, and came off as more of a variety show (despite the original idea of making SNL different from the variety shows that were prevalent at the time). In the premiere episode, host George Carlin had several stand-up comedy pieces interspersed with the sketches but didn't appear in any of them, and there were two musical guests with two songs each, two stand-up comedian guests (including Andy Kaufman), and a performance by a bizarre early batch of Muppets in a strange prehistoric land (these Muppets weren't the ones like Kermit and Miss Piggy; these were ones specifically made for SNL that no one – not even the writers – liked). The second episode, hosted by Paul Simon, was nothing but musical acts (except for Weekend Update). However, before the first season was over the sketch comedy element of the show came to dominate.
Some of SNL's recurring sketches and characters have this:
The first sketch for "Appalachian Emergency Room" (a sketch from seasons 29 to 31 about rednecks explaining to the receptionist their Amusing Injuries) took place in a clean, white, free clinic-type waiting room instead of a cabin version of the aforementioned waiting room.
Stefon (Bill Hader's Camp Gay city correspondent with a knowledge of New York City's weirdest clubs) originally appeared in a one-shot sketch on the season 34 episode hosted by Ben Affleck as the estranged brother of a Disney screenwriter named David Zolesky (implying that Stefon's last name is also Zolesky, but a later Weekend Update segment implied that Stefon's father is David Bowienote whether this means that Stefon was adopted or is David's half-brother is left to fan speculation). It wouldn't be until the Gabourey Sidibe episode in season 35 that Stefon would be a Weekend Update character. Also, in his first sketch, Bill Hader's Stefon looked more like a burned-out Club Kid than his later appearances and, most noticeable of all, Hader actually got through the sketch without cracking up (like an inversion of Rachel Dratch's Debbie Downer sketches, where she cracked up during the first sketch, but not in any others [though there were times where she came close]). Compare this sketch to this one.
Gilda Radner's character Roseanne Roseannadanna was another character who started out in a one-off sketch (a fake PSA, "Hire the Incompetent") and became a Weekend Update fixture later on.
The original "Coffee Talk" sketches featured Mike Myers as the middle-aged male radio host Paul Baldwin who talked with callers calmly about "dogs, daughters, lofts and coffee ... you know, no big whoop." Since the sketch's basic joke (on the way the initial vowels are pronounced with a New York City accent) wore thin pretty quickly, Paul Baldwin soon became an older guy, and then Myers began putting on a dress and playing his then-mother-in-law, Linda Richman, as an excitable middle-aged Jewish woman with various cohosts of what was now just a standard TV talk show.
Despite being considered one of the worst seasons in the show's 30+ years on the air, season 6 (1980–81) had a very interesting real life Early Installment Weirdness in the form of cast member Gilbert Gottfried. Imagine, if you will, a Gilbert Gottfried who doesn't squint, has a full head of curly, Jewish hair, and didn't always talk in the grating, screechy, obnoxious voice that would later be associated with him.
The early "Jared's Room" sketches had Chris Parnell as the college roommate that Jared (Jimmy Fallon) and Gobi (Horatio Sanz) would always prank. When Chris Parnell left the show in season 27 (and was brought back months later), he was replaced by Jeff Richards, and a Dumbass DJ character named DJ Johnathan Feinstein (played by Seth Meyers back when he actually was in sketches) was introduced.
The first season of Saved by the Bell is totally different from the rest of the series. Instead of being a high school in California, it's a middle school in Indiana. The students are a supporting cast and their teacher, Miss Bliss, is the main protagonist. This is the case because originally, the show was called Good Morning, Miss Bliss, and that was the premise. They changed this after realizing the kids had more potential for comedy plots. (The Miss Bliss episodes were later reedited and repackaged as an "early years" story arc within the main series.)
In the pilot episode, Jerry calls Kramer by the name of "Kessler", which was the character's original name. There's a waitress character who was supposed to be the show's female cast member, but she was dropped and replaced with Elaine in the second episode. The diner isn't called Monk's, and the show is called The Seinfeld Chronicles instead of just Seinfeld. The iconic slap-bass theme song has also yet to appear. Instead it's a generic electronic keyboard theme.
Kramer is introduced by having him knock on Jerry's door instead of his classic Dynamic Entry.
Jason Alexander portrayed George Costanza as a Woody Allen wannabe until he realized that the character closely resembled his creator Larry David, and subsequently made the character angrier and meaner.
In the first two seasons, Kramer's schtick was that he was agoraphobic and many of Jerry's jokes revolved around his resistance to leaving the apartment. In the Season 3 finale, this aspect of the character was completely done away with.
In earlier seasons, episodes would always start and end with Jerry's stand-up routines, and they would even take place at various points in the middle of the episodes as well (the original premise of the show was that Jerry's interactions with his friends and routines of his life gave inspiration to his stand-up). These stand-up scenes were gradually phased out in later seasons, eventually disappearing altogether until the series finale.
In general the first few seasons are slower paced. There is generally a single A story, many of the scenes were word-for-word from Seinfeld's stand-up, there were much fewer scene changes with cheaper sets, and the characters were slightly more sympathetic. Also, there was less transitional music, and the one that was there tended to be more keyboard driven. On the DVD commentary of the second episode of the series, Seinfeld and co-creator Larry David remark that the episode is reminiscent of a high-school play in terms of pacing and set design, and marvel at the fact that they managed to convince NBC to keep the series going at that point.
George is entirely absent from one early episode, but Jason Alexander was so offended by being left out that he threatened to quit if it ever happened again. From that point on, every episode featured all four cast members.
Early seasons were much slower-paced, and frequently relied on lectures (such as this really long, calming one about how milk is made), making it more in line with competitors such as Mister Rogers' Neighborhood and Captain Kangaroo. Also, some segments tended to repeat at least twice, since they acted like TV commercials. They abandoned this around the mid 1970s.
In the earliest seasons the inner-city setting was far more pronounced, since the sounds of busy city streets were always heard in the background.
Characters looked very different, too. Oscar, for example, was orange, and only his head was visible. Big Bird was missing most of the feathers on his head, and had the mindset of a dim-witted adult bird rather than a child. During Elmo's first appearance in 1978, he was known as "Baby Monster" and had a deep, gravely voice instead of his recognizable childish one. Plus, Grover was green.
Animated segments outnumbered Muppet segments, too. Also, the characters broke the fourth wall more frequently, addressing their audience as well as introducing and commenting on segments, as if they tied into each other more.
The first two seasons of Sex and the City seem a little less "chick show" than the later ones, with stories about male, non-love interest friends of theirs, a somewhat more cynical attitude and a lot less emphasis on fashion. The episodes would generally include at least one scene of people on the street giving their opinion on the main topic of the episode. In the very first episode, Carrie herself breaks the fourth wall a couple of times by directly speaking to the audience.
The Spanish sitcom Siete Vidas was originally about David, a guy who had just woken up from a coma after several years, and his experiences as he rediscovered his sister, his neighbours and his old love interest. By the second season, the focus had largely moved to the sister and the neighbors, so David and his girlfriend were Put On A Plane and never heard of again except for Christmas specials.
The title itself was a reference to David coming back to life ("seven lives" is the Spanish idiom equivalent to "nine lives" - and that's why the logo has a black cat next to the title). Afterwards, the show took "seven lives" to mean that they followed the lives of seven characters - promoting or introducing new (but suspiciously similar) characters as the previous ones left - and became a Friendsrip-off.
In the first few episodes of Soap Benson was very adamant that being the butler was his job. When the Tates were hosting a party and Bert was expecting his long lost son to arrive, he went to answer the door, Benson tripped him up. He very quickly changed to disliking doing particular tasks, which most fans remember him for, and his catch phrase was "You want me to get that?" whenever the doorbell rang.
The first season of The Sopranos is a mild example, playing somewhat more like a lampoon of the gangster genre. It emphasizes the zaniness of Tony's two lives as a family man and a "Family" man. His wife gets this treatment as well. In one scene she expertly cocks and loads an AK-47 when she thinks there's an intruder. In following seasons she's just a typical housewife. The supporting gangsters are also constantly quoting famous mob movies, showing that modern mob culture is partially based on imitating fiction. This is de-emphasized in the rest of the show, though never completely goes away.
Soul Train's first couple of seasons used a far different intro animation, featuring a childishly cartoony multi-colored train, rather than the classic big gray one, and the set invoked an old "juke joint" rather than the discotheque/dance club-type sets of the majority of the run. The 1971 pilot in particular seems odd: In addition to the above, there was a completely different announcer (with a higher voice and a more excitable style), the editing seems to borrow more from Laugh In than its counterpart, American Bandstand and instead of showing short clips of the musical guests in the intro, there the guests (Gladys Knight & The Pips, Eddie Kendricks, The Honey Cones and Bobby Hutton) were shown dancing among the rest of the "Soul Train Gang"
Spitting Image pales in its first season compared to later seasons. The pilot episode had a laugh track (which was abandoned quickly from the next episode on). Certain puppets look and sound different because the voice actors didn't always comically exaggerate the voices of the lampooned celebrities in the first season. Many episodes in the first season follow plot lines that are continued like a chronological series, while later seasons were always stand alone episodes.
The Spanish equivalent, Las Noticias del Guiñol, started as a section in a talk show with a live audience and had the puppets appearing through a small window in a wall (i.e., like in a literal puppet show). It later became its own show and got longer sketches, actual sets, special effects, etc.
The original Stargate to the Stargate SG-1 series. Abydos is in the "Kalium galaxy", on "the other side of the known universe", instead of the closest system with a gate, Ra looks more like a Grey-type alien at the end instead of the snakelike creatures the series has, the Goa'uld language also sounds extremely different, Daniel's girlfriend/wife's name is Shau'ri instead of Sha're (that has more to do with Michael Shanks's difficulty in pronouncing the "au" diphthong) and the gate symbols on Abydos being completely different from the gate on Earth.
In the first few episodes of Stargate SG-1, the Daniel Jackson character was shown to sneeze a lot, a trait he carried over from the movie. It was so prevalent that he used up an entire box of tissues in one day, yet after the first episode the character sneezes, perhaps, two or three more times in the entire ten-season run. This was lampshaded in a very early episode by stating that Daniel is on heavy antihistamines (which served to project him from the danger-of-the-week).
In the first few episodes of season one Samantha Carter is shown as Feminist to the degree of Straw. The pilot has a particularly cringe-worthy moment wherein Carter defends her combat ability against Jack O'Neill's. After the scene, Amanda Tapping said she went to the writers to tell them "Women don't talk like that" (the "reproductive organs" speech makes a cameo appearance eight seasons later in "Moebius" only to be mocked by Carter as sounding ridiculous):
Major Samantha Carter: ...and just because my reproductive organs are on the inside rather than the outside, doesn't mean I can't handle anything you can handle.
It was used again by "Puppet Carter" in the episode "200", as part of a gag about her tendency to engage in Techno Babble.
The bit about Ra being a Grey is particularly troubling considering that the show did introduce Greys later on, in the form of the Asgard, allies of the Tau'ri.Word of God explained that Ra had possessed an Asgard prior to possessing a human. Why this was reflected physically isn't as easily explained, other than the idea that Ra used some form of nonstandard Go'auld possession on his human host. It's also unexplained why this didn't give Ra access to Asgard knowledge, or how he was able to take over an Asgard considering they apparently had such powerful minds that one of them (Thor) was able to partially take over Anubis' ship via the device being used to pick his brain, while keeping it from stealing any Asgard secrets.
In early episodes the zat'nik'tel alien weapon disintegrates anything that gets hit with three shots from it. By the fourth season, nothing is shot three times with a zat-gun ever again (with the exception of the Kull Warriors whose armor is completely impenetrable to zat shots). The idea of disintegration is even indirectly mocked on a later episode.
Early SG-1 episodes also tended to ape early TNG a bit much, with heavy-handed aesops and the like ("The Nox", for example, had a heavy pacifism message that was both inapplicable to the SGC's situation and pushed Can't Argue with Elves too hard). This settled down roughly about the time Bra'tac first showed up in "Bloodlines" and was largely avoided in favor of straight storytelling afterwards.
The Movie and the pilot had gate travelers being freezing cold upon exit, even explained by Carter. This was quickly done away with and supplementary materials retcon it as being caused by the SGC's McGyvered dialing system before bugs were ironed out.
Similarly, the gate first caused violent shaking, enough to be detectable as an Earthquake. This was quickly done away with by claiming they installed dampeners to prevent it, but how gates on other planets where the gate is just stuck on a rock or in a museum or some other such basic or unused location are supposed to have these dampers is anyone's guess.
The pilot and first few episodes of season 1 has SG-2 and SG-3 play an important role as secondary characters with both acting a The Cavalry and SG-3 even explicitly being a team dedicated to that purpose. After the first season both teams are rarely ever seen and characters such as SG-3's leader are never mentioned again.
The role of SG teams changed dramatically between season 1 and season 2. In season 1 teams had specific roles, with SG-1 and 2 being recon, 3 being backup marines, and 7 being some form of research amongst others. In season 2 onward all teams are team roles are generalized with each having their roles be purely based on the needs and availability of each team, with only SG-3 keeping its role as the all-soldier team sent as backup.
SG-1 had an entire Early Installment Weirdness episode with "Hathor." Among the many: Goa'uld queens reproducing in their host bodies (as opposed to being born from the symbiote form), needing a human to mate with for reproducing, Jaffa being created from humans with a device rather than a separate race, Goa'uld having mind-control powers, amd Jaffa being "healed" back to human form in a sarcophagas. The episode is heavily criticied by fans, staff, actors, and all but retconned out of of existence. And like anything else on Stargate, this gets Lampshaded when Hathor returns in another episode. She tries to entice Daniel by reminding him about their first encounter. Daniel replies that he's tried to forget about that.
Characterization and character traits would change dramatically after the first season. Picard wasn't just aloof and prim, but an outright asshole boss-from-Hell. Riker was a randy Kirk clone, Worf is considerably more feral. Data frequently smiles and openly shows amazement, befuddlement, etc., and his makeup is more mime-like, creating a sort of Uncanny Valley effect. Troi's ability to sense emotions in others initially meant she herself felt the emotions, which could have the side-effect of incapacitating her (this was dropped after the pilot). Wesley's first-season persona, a whiny, annoying child, stuck in viewers' heads, and even after the character matured he still couldn't shake being the show's scrappy.
Worf initially bristled at getting a Klingon Promotion when Tasha Yar got the worst end of the slime monster in "Skin of Evil". With what viewers later learned about Klingon culture, this is downright jarring to watch in hindsight.
Some crew also wore skirts, including a few on men in the background crew. Troi's early skirt look and hairdo made her look like a cheerleader. And it's easy to forget that Worf and LaForge were not always department heads.
There are also a number of other, smaller changes. In the pilot, Data's and the flight ops positions on the bridge are reversed from where they would familiarly be later on. Also a number of the sets are different in the first season: there are some different chairs on the bridge including the captain's own, some of the carpeting and wall colors are different to what they'd be later on, the briefing room doesn't feature information display screens at either end of the room, and in several of the earliest episodes there are additional corridors seen running through the middle of the engineering set. Small details, but exactly the sorts of things that a fan would definitely notice in hindsight. Some (but not all) of these details were even faithfully replicated when the events of the first season were revisited in the series finale, meaning the Early Installment Weirdness are actually part of the show's official canon.
The first Ferengi episode had them wildly hopping around the set like mad monkeys, and the pilot episode implied they ate people. Ferengi also had superhuman strength, and were unafraid of getting into physical altercations with the Enterprise crew. Later seasons, and the later series as a whole, seems to ignore this, portraying them instead to be meek and weak cowards who prefer subterfuge and hired muscle in order to do their dirty work.
The first time we saw Cardassians, they were wearing strange headgear which never showed up again, and Gul Macet is the only Cardassian to have facial hairnote the expanded universe took note of Macet looking a lot like Dukat with facial hair (same actor), and had Macet be a cousin of Dukat who made the very rare choice to grow his beard specifically so he didn't look just like his cousin, who he wasn't very fond of. There was also an episode in which Wesley said the Klingons had joined the Federation.
Dr. Crusher wore what looked like a red bathing cap with a clear plastic eyepatch while operating in one very early episode.
The policies of the Prime Directive had yet to be firmly established early in the series, so Picard and Co. often beamed down to planets with pre-warp civilizations that in later seasons would almost certainly have been protected by the Non-Interference clause of the Prime Directive.
The first episode showcased that Holodecks used in part replicators, so when Wesley fell in the water and was dragged out of the Holodeck, he was still dripping wet. Later episodes would firmly establish that Holomatter instantly dissolved when leaving the Holodeck. Granted, we see people eating on the Holodeck, but nothing prevents people from bringing in food from the outside.
In the first season episode "The Big Goodbye", when a holodeck malfunction is fixed and the characters from Picard's Dixon Hill program find out they're holodeck characters, two of the bad guys leave the holodeck intending to loot the ship. They're able to exist outside the holodeck for about 10 seconds before slowly dematerializing. Later episodes established that holographic characters dematerialize instantly upon leaving the holodeck.
It's a small thing, but it feels weird watching first season episodes and hearing Dr. Crusher address Picard as "Sir". From the third season on, she always called him "Jean-Luc", even while on duty.
When the Borg first appear in "Q Who", the presentation is much different from what we see later. A few points: Borg produce no life signs (in "I Borg," life signs are identified from the crash site even before they know it's the Borg). The Borg pointedly have no interest in organic life at all, only in technology (assimilation is introduced later as a unique case with Picard, before being broadened/retconned into their single and solitary purpose). The Borg ship is described as a completely undifferentiated construction (compare to Voyager's endless talk of central nexi and central plexi). Q describes a Borg as "not a he, not a she," implying that Borg are gendered neuter (perhaps cause for a rude awakening for Picard when he was assimilated). There's even "the Borg nursery," implying that, even if they aren't conceived in the typical way, Borg are produced and grown by other Borg. Once the assimilation concept took hold there was no need for Borg to be born.
The "nursery" concept was later retconned into "maturation chambers", where assimilated children and infants are artificially accelerated to adulthood over the course of a couple of weeks. Voyager had an episode where five Borg children were brought on board the ship - one of them was a baby, and in all cases, the assimilation was incomplete (early in the episode, Seven of Nine finds a man who died in the process of being assimilated because the children's nanoprobes weren't fully developed). The Seven of Nine character is actually a deconstruction of the Unfortunate Implications, as she was assimilated as a child; other Borg reclaimed from assimilation (including Picard from TNG and the entirety of Unimatrix Zero from Voyager), while they certainly would have a serious case of PTSD, generally do not exhibit such difficulty returning to normal life.
In the early episodes, the Enterprise ran on lithium crystals (rather than fictional dilithium crystals) and the characters served under the United Earth Space Probe Agency rather than Starfleet. Before the United Federation of Planets was first mentioned, Federation bases were called "Earth bases". It also takes some time to nail down the series's 23rd century setting: "The Squire of Gothos" suggested it was taking place in the 28th century.
It takes a couple of episodes at least to establish that Spock was half-human. In the second pilot, he referred to having human ancestry, but didn't state outright that one of his parents was fully human. By the time of "The Corbomite Maneuver", it was established that his father married a human. He also displayed emotion on occasion in the early episodes, something the later Spock would almost never do openly... even as he once said "'Irritated?' Ah, I see, one of your Earth emotions." (He smiled as he said it, too.) Naturally, this is well before the Vulcans' more complex relationship with emotion was known.
1st season episodes "The Corbomite Maneuver" and "This Side of Paradise". Spock refers to his father in the past tense in both episodes and Kirk does too in the second one, as if he were dead. In the 2nd season episode "Journey to Babel", we learn that Spock's father, Sarek of Vulcan, is very much alive.
For parts of the first season, Spock is referred to as a "Vulcanian" rather than a "Vulcan".
The earlier episodes of the original series (notably "The Cage" and "Where No Man Has Gone Before") have a very eerie, creepy mood. Much of the background music seems to be subdued and electronic (unlike the kitchy sixties era music that would become iconic in the rest of the series: the fight scene music from "The Gamesters of Triskelion" for example). There is little to no banter between the characters. This, of course was before McCoy was introduced and the core cast developed (Dr. Piper is the medical officer here played by Paul Fix). Scotty is a background character with few lines and no trademark character traits yet, Sulu is not yet in his familiar helmsman role, and Uhura has not yet been introduced. Gary Mitchell and Lee Kelso are established as Kirk's close friends and Spock's mannerisms are not yet fully set in stone. Also, at this time, female Starfleet uniforms consisted of trousers instead of miniskirts. These early episodes occurred before the more hip era of the sixties started.
"Where No Man Has Gone Before" is also weird for, besides the slow pace, the INCREDIBLY violent tone of the episode, even by TOS standards. Kirk and Spock spend much of the episode beating the hell out of the antagonist (a former buddy of Kirk's!), take turns toting a ginormous phaser rifle, then at the climax, Kirk stops just short of braining the antagonist with a rock, and ends the episode nursing a broken hand. WTF indeed!
The Klingons of the original series bear no resemblance whatsoever to those of every other incarnation, including prequel Enterprise. This is the case not only in characterization— they were a Red Scare allegory instead of Proud Warrior Race Guys— but even physical appearance, in which they lacked the trademark forehead. Their armor has also fluctuated from the original series forward. And there were no Trekkies fluent in Klingon when the original series ran, as the Klingon language didn't exist yet (Klingons exclusively spoke English).
This was later explained as being due to the effects of a genetically engineered retrovirus, the same reason the first Trill shown is so much different from the later specimens.
Star Trek: The Original Series started off as pure Wagon Train to the Stars with episodes focused on exploration and scientific theories especially in the early episodes, which often had themes similar to the film Forbidden Planet. The Enterprise was supposedly one of very few advanced "Starship-class" vehicles, with a nearly superhuman elite crew. About halfway through the first season, the episodes started featuring more Human Aliens and Rubber-Forehead Aliens engaged in galactic conflicts and diplomacy, parallel civilizations and other more themes and elements more closely associated with Space Opera, incorporating elements from the unaired pilot "The Cage" which introduced, among other classics, the Green-Skinned Space Babe. Sort of a Subgenre Shift. And also a very odd example of this trope in that the early installment weirdness made the early aired show not only dissimilar to later aired episodes, but also very dissimilar to the unaired pilot, which featured mostly different characters, and somewhat more militaristic Starfleet. This would reappear later in mid-late Star Trek: The Next Generation and its spin-offs, as well as the film series featuring both crews, where it's clear that the Enterprise, though the flagship of the Fleet, is one of hundreds, possibly even thousands of vessels operating in the Alpha Quadrant.
The idea that the Enterprise is the flagship is really only something that started with The Next Generation onwards. In the original series it was suggested that she is simply treated as one of 12 ships of her class in the fleet that are exploring where no man has gone before, and in the original series movies she was more often than not treated like an out-of-date ship that has been superceeded by newer ones (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, for example, sees her being used as a mere training vessel attached to Starfleet Academy).
The Klingon language was not developed. Klingon written characters were random and could not be translated.
Both the Stardate and Warp Factor could exceed what was acceptable in the Star Trek: The Next Generation era. It was usually explained that the TOS time period used a different scale.
The distinctive triangular badge was originally a ship-specific patch to the Enterprise, with officers from other ships wearing differently-shaped ones. Star Trek: Enterprise actually continued this, making it seem like part of the transition from "old" Earth military styling by placing the ship's patch on the arm as is done in modern militaries. (Meanwhile, the progenitor of the Starfleet triangle can occasionally be seen in the background.)
McCoy makes an offhand reference to Vulcan being conquered in "The Conscience of the King", an idea which was quickly retconned.
The Suite Life on Deck had a different feel in Season 1. More fantastic elements were snuck into later seasons (including fantasy dream sequences, more cartoonish scenarios and characters and in one episode even time travelnote granted, those elements were present from the first season includingtime travel) and, naturally, characters started to get Flanderized. Also with Wizards, the literal look and feel of the show changed from Seasons 1 to 2 when On Deck also switched to Hi-Def and had a different post-production process, resulting in the same "washed out" look for the early footage in syndication.
Watch the later season one episodes and onwards and remind yourself that at the time of the pilot, Dean and Sam haven't seen each other in four years and are not on good terms. Both brothers went through a lot of character development in Season 1, and a big part of that was that, as adults and no longer under their father's overwhelming presence (a presence that had mostly previously pigeon-holed them as "the obedient one" and "the rebel"), they understood and appreciated one another far more than they once did. For example, Sam only fully understood in Season 1 everything Dean had done for him when they were kids, and everything Dean had had to shoulder that Sam hadn't been aware of. Dean, for what seemed to be the first time, really understood what a misfit Sam had felt like in their family, how little he'd understood of their "mission," and that his independent streak was actually a good thing. Their new understanding of one another, combined with fighting side-by-side and saving each other's lives on the regular, combined with their isolation from general society, combined with some old dynamics between them (prank wars, Dean's protective streak), made them far closer and more reliant on each other than they potentially had been as kids, when they both may have revolved far more around their father than around each other (they were left alone as kids and had to rely on each other then, but due to their age difference and differing outlooks on life, potentially didn't view each other as emotional confidantes, though YMMV there). It was no accident that their relationship seemed to deepen quite a bit after the argument in "Asylum" and "Scarecrow," because they actually resolved some of what caused their estrangement. But yeah, their relatively casual reconciliation after a years-long estrangement is quite the contrast to later seasons, when the brothers split up for 1-2 weeks MAXIMUM after arguments, angst like separated lovers the entire time, then have emotionally fraught reunions.
Demons in their first few appearances had some vaguely defined abilities that don't quite match up with their appearances in later seasons. First, that they would flinch upon hearing the name "Christo," which would seem to be a fairly easy way to check if a person's possessed or not, but this is never used again after "Phantom Traveler". When Meg is revealed to be a demon, the heroes are initially unsure if she's possessed by a demon or actually is a demon, which implies at least some of them can take physical forms. Later seasons establish demons only exist as incorporeal smoke and must possess a human to be able to do anything. The devil's trap/exorcism ritual are introduced as being extremely obscure, but quickly become the go-to methods of dealing with demons, not just for the Winchesters but seemingly all hunters. And finally, the special effects used for the demon's incorporeal form in "Phantom Traveler" is noticeably different than the one used in later episodes. Also, it is established halfway through Season 3 that all demons are former humans whose souls are so twisted by their time in Hell that they're no longer human. In the Season 1 finale, it was implied that they were a self-reproducing race of their own, because the Yellow-Eyed Demon (Azazel) told Dean that Meg and a demon Dean had killed were his daughter and son (and Meg had referred to him as "Father" in a previous episode). Also, a monstrous girl-like apparition called an Achiri was referred to as a demon in the Season 2 finale, and was controllable by Ava because of it, but all demons since then have been black smoke possessing human bodies. Likewise in the season 1 episode "Shadow", Meg summons a Daeva, an incorporeal demon that can kill people without taking a human vessel, something that even high ranked demons introduced later can't do.
In the season 1 episode "Faith" the Reaper has a very creepy appearance, with wrinkly gray skin, sharp teeth, and a lot of eye shadow. All other reapers in subsequent episodes have appeared as normal humans. This may have been Hand Waved by Tessa saying many Reapers take A Form You Are Comfortable With, however even when we see her true form it doesn't look anything like the original reaper (being a skeletal ghost instead of a flesh and blood monster).
Vampires were also said to be extremely rare in their first appearance, to the point that John Winchester, a hunter of 20 years, believed them to be extinct before the events of "Dead Man's Blood". Nowadays, they're probably the most common type of monster on the show.
Episode titles in season 1 are brief and announce the Monster of the Week or a theme (Wendigo, Bloody Mary, Faith, etc) while in later season they are often pop culture references.
Werewolves were stated in one early episode to be fictitious creatures based off exaggerated accounts of real shapeshifters. Later seasons clearly establish that werewolves and shapeshifters are two separate, unrelated entities.
The did not have giant robots. For a while they were not even considered part of the franchise, although this was mainly due to right disputes between Toei and Goranger/JAKQ creator Shotaro Ishinomori. Also, in Battle Fever J, the third series, the mecha fights were kick-started by the human-sized monster calling his 'little brother' (a giant robotic duplicate) to avenge him as he was dying, (something of the likes wouldn't be seen in the series until more than 30 years later with Tokumei Sentai Go-Busters) and the Battle Fever Robo was not made from separate vehicles, but was a non-transforming robot stored on a non-transforming airbase. Make My Monster Grow and Combining Mecha debuted in the following shows.
While the uniforms of Goranger and JAKQ are very different from later uniforms, they still somewhat resemble the traditional concept of a Super Sentai uniform. Battle Fever J on the other hand, featured face-shaped helmets with two-eyed visors and sculpted noses (a style which was only reused for a One-Shot Character in Hikari Sentai Maskman). Miss America wore a blond wig on her helmet and Battle Cossack is notable for being the only main member on a Sentai to wear orange until 35 years later with the arrival of ToQ #6. The goggle-like visors were not introduced until Denshi Sentai Denziman and the scarfs were eliminated after Dai Sentai Goggle Five.
Chouriki Sentai Ohranger: Olé vs. Kakuranger, the first film in the Super Sentai Vs. Series (not counting the earlier J.A.K.Q. vs. Goranger movie), had a slightly different title format than the subsequent Vs. films and the Kakuranger's giant robots are not even present.
A minor example is that the first three Sixth Rangers had vests. While the next proper Sixth Ranger wouldn't be seen until Megaranger sans vest, the vest wouldn't reappear until Hurricanger and Abaranger only to vanish again. Gokaisilver sort of had one with his Gold Mode power up.
Much has changed on Survivor since its debut in 2000, especially within the first few seasons of the show.
The cast of Borneo made numerous mentions of the fact that they were playing a game, and discussed how their actions would be judged by the "audience" watching at home (noted in Colleen's "We are on a game show!" quote). This was rarely, if ever, brought up again in later seasons.
Contestants in Borneo were voted off for making alliances instead of voting emotionally - you'd be hard-pressed to find an instance in the later seasons where the contestants didn't forge alliances in the first few days of the game. The contestants in the first few seasons also took things very personal - Richard Hatch and Kelly Wigglesworth were painted as villains for, respectively, forming an alliance/using strategy and winning a string of challenges to save herself after being seen as useless by her tribe.
Jeff Probst didn't have the show's terminology down correctly, and would often mix up the names of the various challenges and ceremonies. The contestants were also confused about the name of the different gameplay elements (for instance, B.B. referred to the Immunity Challenge as the "Indemnity Challenge"), and sometimes made no effort to complete the challenge (like Rudy's infamous "I don't know" responses during one memory challenge).
Several of the challenges in the first season were based off popular works like the then-recently released The Blair Witch Project. Later seasons had little, if any, reference to any piece of popular media.
The merge was instead called a "merger" in the first season, and the players knew in advance when it would occur. It happened at the same time in the next few seasons, allowing the show to do a twist in Thailand where the tribes were brought together on one beach and incorrectly assumed they had merged, when in fact they had not. In more recent seasons, the merge time has varied in order to keep the players guessing about when it will happen.
Nearly every challenge features non-stop play-by-play narration by Jeff Probst. In the early seasons, this was edited out, and all we heard from Jeff during challenges was occasional words of encouragement to the players.
The shooting style changed greatly from the first two seasons. The production crew seemed apt in Borneo and Australia to focus on "slice-of-life" scenes instead of predominantly focusing on the strategy or tribe politics. In addition, scenes shot during natural disasters and accidents (see Michael Skupin's burn wounds or the camp flooding in Australia) seem much more unfocused and panicked, with included interviews by the medical staff.
There was no tribal switch, Exile Island or Hidden Immunity Idols in the early games, meaning they were played slower and more methodically, where survivors didn't have the luxury of finding a "free pass" to the next round.
In the first season, Jeff actually announced the winner on the night of the final votes, rather than a live segment. In the second season, instead of announcing the winner, Jeff, to the shock of the players, announced that the winner will be announced at Los Angeles in a live segment after the show's finale is broadcasted on television, then promptly left the island via helicopter (the live segment of the final episode opened with the players at Los Angeles, waiting for Jeff's helicopter to arrive). Each subsequent season's live segment presents Jeff's announcement of the winner to seemingly take place on the island, until a Stuido Audience is suddenly heard cheering at the reveal of thw winner, cuing a Reveal Shot showing that the players are actually at a studio.
In the early episodes, Hyde has a crush on Donna. This only lasts a little while before that subplot was thrown out, although, unlike many of the other examples on this page, it wasn't entirely forgotten.
The lack of Idiosyncratic Wipes (they didn't start using the wipes of the cast dancing in front of the trippy backgrounds until the second season) and a different version of "That 70s Song" (sounded like a version taken from a live concert vs. a studio cut; this was also changed from the second season onwards).
In the pilot of 3rd Rock from the Sun, Tommy and Dick use some kind of telepathy on each other so that Tommy can demonstrate the disgusting thoughts which puberty is causing him to have. For the remainder of the show's run, this ability is never mentioned again and the aliens appeared to lack any kind of "powers". Also from the pilot, Dick, wanting to get rid of Ms. Dubcek, pushes her out a door that would later lead to his bedroom. He and Mary also sat opposite of where they usually did in their office.
A fan from later days might wonder if they've downloaded the wrong show. The Stig is wearing black, James May is nowhere to be seen, Clarkson seems aware that he's hosting a television show instead of just behaving like a child and some fat guy named Jason interrupts once an episode to give you incredibly boring tips on buying your next car. And that's before you throw in more disconcerting stuff like a slightly different version of Jessica and the audience not cheering through transitions.
Go back even earlier, to the pre-relaunch seasons, and you'll find that Top Gear was a magazine style programme hosted by a large ensemble cast of presenters and made up of serious road tests of high performance cars. It had no wacky challenges, no Richard Hammond (and James May only joining in the original programme's final seasons), not even The Stig. The only thing it had in common with the current incarnation of the show was the theme music and the fact that Clarkson was in it (although he was just one of the many presenters, and not one of the main hosts either, and not to mention he was putting on a posh accent in those days). Of course, these episodes are not syndicated these days, so Keep Circulating the Tapes.
Season 1 had a full set of opening credits, complete with soundbites from each cast member. Starting with Season 2, only a title screen was shown and the credits were dropped.
Season 1 had nearly all the performers referred to by their real names, with only Eva Marie going by her stage namenote Although the Bella Twins were still treated as if 'Bella' was their real last name, they were referred to as Brianna and Nicole; Nattie and JoJo are likewise just nicknames of their real names. From Season 2 onwards, any performers are known under their character names - such as Summer Rae, Rosa Mendes, Alicia Fox and Paige. This is referenced whenever someone who was introduced in Season 1 is shown - as there will usually be a title card with both names. For example, 'Ariane/Cameron'.
Season 1 also portrayed Nattie as The Mentor and Cool Big Sis of the group, there to help the other girls out. Possibly to differentiate her from Naomi, Nattie was shown in a far more eccentric light in Season 2 and the show amped up her rivalries with the younger women. Naomi then took on the Only Sane Man role.
Season 2 started showing flashbacks and incorporating far more Manipulative Editing that hadn't been as prominent in Season 1.
A more meta example is that Season 2 was the only time the show tried to sync up the episodes with WWE's regular programming - featuring matches built off what happened on the latest episode. In Season 3 this was gradually phased out.
The first season of Trailer Park Boys utilized its pseudo-documentary format far more thoroughly, with an actual sound and cameraman following Ricky and Julian. Ricky would complain about having to drive them around, other characters would comment on them and occasionally react negatively to being filmed, they even become a plot point in one episode when Julian is forced to drive one of them to the hospital after he is shot while Ricky and Julian were breaking into a shed. Later seasons partly dropped this, with only the camera-style and one-on-one interview segments, along with only a handful of references to an actual camera crew being present, being kept in.
Bubbles in the first season also had a much different attitude towards Ricky, treating him with outright hostility whenever he was around, and only being friendly with him in a handful of situations (such as when Ricky needed him to take part in an amateur porn film). This flies in the face of their relationship in later seasons (and a christmas special which acted as a prequel to the series), where it is established that they (along with Julian) have been friends since childhood.
The first few episodes, or in general the entire first season of True Blood, are quite different from the series onwards. For one, the setting was much more dreary, gloomy and more horror-esque, the characters were more realistic in their emotions and vampires seemed to be more archaic, rule-bound and "cool". The first season resembled the first Sookie Stackhouse novel quite well, and followed the books' mystery structure. The second, third and fourth season have since discarded the first season's gloom and have become even sexier, gorier, bloodier - and yet, also much more like a soap opera, with Loads and Loads of Characters having their own issues - many of them not even supernaturally related. In addition, the structure of the books was ignored in favor of very loosely adapting plot elements. The True Blood fandom remains divided over which version of the show was better; the dark, brooding first season, or the action-packed, character-focused later ones.
Special effects have also drastically changed over the seasons. In the first season, vampire fangs ran out (like they did in the books), suddenly appearing out of the blue and slowly sliding out. Starting in season 2, vampire fangs began coming out more rapidly and aggressively, now also producing a "click"-sound as if someone's loading a weapon.
In the first season and second season, vampire death was portrayed differently as well. A vampire who was staked would slowly dissolve and a vampire who burnt in the sun (like Godric) would catch blue flame and turn into dust. Come season three, vampires started exploding on impact, especially when hit with a wooden bullet, and popping like balloons when staked. Vampires burning in the sun now turned into goo as well. It becomes really weird when you come back to this dialogue in season 2.
Steve Newlin (on staking vampires): I hear it makes them explode.
Jason: Nah, they kind of just.. fall apart.
Sookie's southern accent is much thicker in the first season. Anna Paquin was cranking her "Rogue" voice up a notch.
Early episodes of The Tudors can appear very surprising to viewers only familiar with the later episodes due to the surprising lack of deference shown to Henry VIII by several of his courtiers. Several characters address him simply as "Henry" rather than "Your Majesty" (in later series, only the Duke of Suffolk ever does, and even in his case rarely), and close advisors explicitly telling Henry he is wrong is far more common. Indeed, in the second episode Thomas More actually physically manhandles Henry and not-so-subtly orders him to keep quiet. Justified in that Henry's authority grew with his reign's longevity and his growing experience of ruling.
Everyone knows the Ultra Series is all about giant monsters battling the heroic Ultramen, but less known is that Ultraman wasn't a part of the franchise until the secondseries. Indeed, Ultra Q, the first installment in the Ultra Series features no superhero action, but instead sees a motley group of ordinary folks who come across all sorts of strange encounters with kaiju, aliens, and even weirder phenomenon in the style of The Twilight Zone and Japan's sci-fi films of the period. And then after Ultraman came Ultraseven, which eschewed the rampaging kaiju for alien invaders in stories closer to Star Trek or Doctor Who than to Ultraman and Godzilla. The Ultra Series as known today only began to take shape with Return of Ultraman.
The Vampire Diaries, in the first few episodes, features Damon being able to control fog and a crow. Both disappeared without any explanation of how Damon did that and were never mentioned again.
Victorious: Most characters are fairly different from how they were in the pilot. Trina started as "talented, but not enough to justify her ego" and became "untalented". Jade was significantly deepened, saving her from being an Alpha Bitch. Robbie, while still not suave, became capable of normal conversation with the opposite sex. Rex's design is very different from the pilot, including paler skin, a thinner body and neck, paler complexion, and smaller eyes/mouth. Cat's hair is no longer curly as well. Probably the biggest changes include Beck and Tori no longer seeming to be romantically interested in each other, and Cat's transformation from normal-but-ditsy in the first season (particularly the pilot) to full-on dumb in the later seasons.
In the first few episodes have the walkers are seen running and climbing after survivors while avoiding obstacles, and one is seen trying to use a doorknob in the pilot. Later episodes showed them as much less mobile and more mindless. This is especially so with the show's first scene depicting a little girl walker holding a teddy bear. On later episodes not only are the walkers never seen holding anything, but it's heavily implied they don't retain any traces of the people they once were, and that any suggestion that they do is delusional.
Glenn's introduction is him casually calling Rick a dumbass. Later episodes would establish Glenn as extremely mild-mannered who only uses profanity during danger and/or tragedy.
The early episodes of the 1980s War of the Worlds series lacked much of the strong narrative tales that defined the latter half of its first season. Norton Drake had an exaggerated Jamaican accent, Harrison Blackwood had a girlfriend who was set up as a supporting character, the villains were generic Irish terrorists with modulated voices and the plots went from "stealing alien war machines" to "infiltrating a location-of-the-week".
The first mention of the first lady involved press inquiries over her use of a Ouija Board. This was never mentioned again, and seems quite out-of-character for the first lady we eventually meet (who is a surgeon and a Harvard Medical School professor). Presumably the original character design was less "Hillary Clinton" and more "Nancy Reagan".
President Bartlet, too. Through much of Season One, he was a One-Scene Wonder with an occasional focus episode. According to Aaron Sorkin this was intentional, as the writers didn't want Bartlet to steal the spotlight from his staff. Martin Sheen ended up having such great chemistry with his costars that Sorkin rethought the character and integrated him better into the ensemble.
The first major appearance of the Secret Service was an amusing Bullying a Dragon scene where a couple of frat boys harassed Zoey, the President's daughter, and she ended up using her panic button, having a pile of Secret Service-men swarm the bar and one of them grabbing the main aggressor and growls "Don't move! Swear to God I'll blow your head off!". After this the Secret Service were always portrayed as an agency with the utmost professionalism and for keeping it cool in action. Although in fairness, most of the times we see them after that they're not trying to intimidate someone who, as far as they're aware, is threatening someone they're charged to protect.
The first five episodes have a different version of the now iconic theme song.
In one episode, midway through Season 1, Tim Matheson as VP John Hoynes attempts a Texas accent. It's bad. Thankfully, it was never heard again.
Wheeler Dealers, an automotive restoration show that airs on Discovery networks in the UK and Velocity in the US, has steadily evolved over time. In the first several seasons...
Each car was fixed and sold over two half-hour shows instead of a single hour-long show.
The budget was tiny, starting at just 1,000 pounds. Budgets now start as high as 20,000-25,000 pounds.
Mike and Edd seldom interacted. Instead of taking the car to be worked on directly to the shop, they met at a random site where Mike handed off the car to Edd. Now, Mike takes the car directly to the workshop, where he and Edd discuss options.
There was a segment around the beginning of the second half-hour where Mike found an original or fully-restored version of the car they were working on and test drove it. That's been dropped and replaced with segments in which Mike takes parts to be restored by specialists.
Edd didn't join Mike on the final test drive before the sale for the first several seasons.
There were more occasions where they lost money on the car. One first-season episode saw the dealers purchase a car for 400 pounds, spend 945 on fixing it and sell it for just 700 because the paint over the repaired wings (fenders) didn't come out as it should due to the low budget.
Edd had a more stilted delivery and never did studio voice overs. All his narration was delivered as he worked on the car.
The first few seasons of the British version have a much different feeling from later ones. This is mostly because barrister Clive Anderson is getting used to his role, and later show staples Colin Mochrie and Ryan Stiles do not make consistent appearances while John Sessions appears in almost every first and second season episode. The show hits its stride by season four or five.
The first season of the American version did not have Wayne Brady as one of the permanent cast members alongside Ryan and Colin. It can be jarring watching one of the early episodes and not seeing Wayne at all. The first season also features a darker lighting scheme, which looks a bit odd compared to the later seasons. Also, Drew, like Clive on the UK version, had not yet completely warmed up in his role as the host, and there wasn't as much banter between him and the performers between games.
Viewing early seasons of the UK version and then comparing to any seasons of the US version can be jarring given how many of the challenges in the early UK version are literary in nature. You'd never, for example, see anyone in the Carey version being required to improvise a speech on turtles while imitating the writing style of W. Somerset Maugham.
The first episode of The Wire has two such moments: the "camera" sequence in the elevator (where Jimmy McNulty is seen, from the perspective of a security camera, waiting in an elevator) and the flashback sequence at the end of the pilot (which reiterates why the informant was killed). David Simon is on record as saying HBO mandated the "flashback" sequence because they felt viewers wouldn't understand what was going on, and it's never been used again. Another minor example is the use of a backing track to underscore certain scenes (such as Avon Barksdale's walk into The Pit), which ran counter to the general tone of the show (no music used at all, except when it was played via a car speaker or music player and in the end-of-season montages), and were never used again after the first season.
The show has a very different feel in season one. It is very episodic and feels more like a typical light hearted Kid Com than the darker arc based show it would become. Alex is more nice and more of a typical teenaged girl, and while lazy and not interested in learning, is a pretty far cry from the anarchist she would become. Justin only uses magic when necessary whereas later on he's full out Mad Scientist. Professor Crumb's school isn't around and it seems as if Jerry (and other Wizard parents) are solely responsible for assesing their kids' progress and policing their kid's actions. The Sub Station is more populated and seems as if it is actually somewhat successful (a running gag in later seasons is how it's always empty). Spells are longer and rhyme whereas they would eventually require only one or two words. Also Zeke is stated to be older than Justin whereas they seem to be the same age later on and it's implied Justin is more than only a year older than Alex.
Even when the show was transitioning to the one more familiar with later viewers, things were still off. WizTech went from being a soft-mix parody of Hogwarts and a regular tech school (references were made to competing institutions) to almost being synonymous with the wizard realm itself and Professor Crumb went from school headmaster to being the supreme ruler of the wizard realm.
The show even had a literal different look between Seasons 2 and 3. That's when the transition was made from standard def to hi-def, and at the same time started farming out post-production to a different company. In addition to the different aspect ratio, the "feel" of the footage is vastly different and the old footage now looks somewhat washed-out on Disney Channel's hi-def feed. The aspect ratio/post-production switch also roughly corresponded to the use of better special effects (or at least, the switch made them look more polished) and when the show really started to get into multi-episode plot arcs (the first notable one, "Wizards vs. Vampires", occurring just before the Season 2 finale).
Mulder's basement office is noticeably different in some episodes (including the pilot) than in later seasons. For one, it's much better lit and usual and seems to have a much different floorplan. It also fluctuates between having windows and not having windows. Scully also fluctuates between having her own desk (like in "E.B.E") and making it a plot point that although she and Mulder are partners for years, she doesn't have her own desk (in season 4's "Never Again"). Scully suffers from some terrible fashion sense in the first couple of seasons, where her wardrobe consisted of brightly colored, boxy, badly fitting pantsuits—a change from Scully's signature style of later seasons of well-cut black skirts and collared shirts. Mulder also had a penchant for wacky ties that disappeared sometime in the early seasons. He also had glasses off and on in season 1.
Scully's character in the pilot. At one point, she finds marks on her back similar to ones found on the victims in the case. In a very un-Scully like manner, she runs to Mulder's room, drops her robe, demands to know what they are, and then throws herself into his arms in relief when he says they're just bug bites. Even later in season one, Scully becomes infamous for her rigid control on her emotions, her staunch independence, and her unfailing logic. By "Irresistible" in season two, Mulder is trying to convince her that she doesn't have to be strong all the time and that it's okay to show weakness in front of him.
Some of Scully's fashion choices were just unfortunate fads (some of the outfits are VERY 90s), and other aspects of her wardrobe were Real Life Writes the Plot, in that actress Gillian Anderson became pregnant relatively early into the series, and they tried to conceal it behind loose-fitting clothing until she was finally written out of several episodes prior to giving birth.
Scully also apparently has nieces and nephews that come and go as the plot demands. There are some shown in "Beyond the Sea" and Scully mentions babysitting her nephew in "Home" but they are never explained nor mentioned again. By season 5 (when her brother Bill and sister-in-law Tara have a baby), it's implied that Matthew is the first grandchild; there's a deleted scene from season 4's "Memento Mori" in which Bill mentions he's the "last chance" for the Scully name to be passed on, implying that none of the Scully siblings had children.
On a story level, Chris Carter and Co. hadn't yet settled on the blend of monster of the week and mythology episodes which dominated later seasons. While the mytharc was only loosely established, conspiracy-centered episodes made up a much higher proportion of the first season than later ones, with even nominal standalone shows like "Ghost in the Machine" and "Young at Heart" adding conspiracy elements.
Z Nation: In the first episode Addy seems to be filming the results of her zombie kills, a trait that disappears without explanation. Also, Murphy seems to be less of a Deadpan Snarker than in later episodes, but that might relate to the death of Hammond, who intimidated him into remaining passive.