Breaking Old Trends

The series has went quite far... maybe too far. Fans are bored, and it attracted criticisms of It's the Same, So It Sucks. What can the creators do?

Why, change the series formula, by doing a change that is large, but the show is still the same thing. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.

Compare Early Installment Weirdness, Retool and Genre Shift. Contrast Strictly Formula.

Please only post examples of third installments or seasons or further. In part two the formula isn't usually established or breakable.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Daily Life with Monster Girl: out of all the girls, Lala does the least fanservice, doesn't have a nickname for Kimihito, and doesn't try to pursue him because she's fine with the fact that she'll have him forever once he dies.
  • The Pokémon anime, for all its tendencies to patterns, if not above breaking them from time to time.
    • In Kalos, Ash did not capture a Grass-type Starter, while his Water-type evolved for the first time since the Indigo League
    • Similarly Talonflame did not learn Flamethrower like all the rest of his Fire-types.
    • In Alola, Ash did not capture the Com Mon Regional Bird. Similarly Lillie is the first main character in a anime series who isn't either original, or is a main series playable character or based on a gym leader/trial captain.
  • Most Time Bokan series share the same kind of situations, but the fifth series, Yattodetaman, changed around multiple things:
    • First, for the first time the main character actually transforms into the titular hero becoming stronger and braver than usual, rather than just donning different clothes and a mask like the other Time Bokan main characters did.
    • Also, it's the first time there is a single hero: while there's a female main character, she doesn't transform when fighting the bad guys.
    • Speaking about the bad guys, the two male members of the Terrible Trio look completely different than the usual: Julie haves a smaller nose, lacks a moustache and stands more upright compared to Boyakki and all its expies, while Alain, instead of being a short hunch with broad shoulders with a five o' clock shade like Tonzula and his derivates, it's a tall, fat guy with a prominent beard.
    • As a last difference, instead of a bunch of different Funny Animal mechas, Yattodetaman haves a single Humongous Mecha. This change was kept around in the subsequent Ippatsuman, only to come back with the old style in Itadakiman.
  • Yes! Pretty Cure 5 switched from the original two-girl team of the previous Pretty Cure seasons to a a Sentai-styled Five Girl Band, along with each member being capable of an Finishing Move, rather than requiring both Cures to be together to finish off the Monster of the Week.

  • In Captain America: Civil War, Zemo becomes the first main villain of a Marvel Cinematic Universe movie since Loki from the Thor movies to not be killed off at the end of the film.
  • Cars 3: Unlike the first two, this exchange is absent.
    Old character: If there's anything you need, just let me know.
    Main character: I sure appreciate that. Thank you. (Beat) Actually, there is one thing... (Gilligan Cuts to the request, usually a Brick Joke from earlier, being fulfilled)
    • Same with this:
    Lightning: You know who you're talking to, this is Lightning McQueen. I can handle anything. (Gilligan Cut to the random request he's asked to do)

    Let's Play 
  • Chorocojo used the male trainer during his Pokemon Black 2 LP, as opposed to the female trainer he was using in his previous LP's. However, by this point he was tired of doing female characters, viciously lampshading it the last two times beforehand, but during Pokestar Studios filming he used the female trainer.
  • The Hobo Bros' "Hobo Theater" videos originally had Kevin read a list of words relating to the video's theme, with Luke having to work each word into the story. However, this eventually led to Kevin saying phrases, or even full sentences, instead of single words, and they seem to have abandoned the idea of using single words despite doing it for many videos.

    Live Action TV 
  • Britain's Got Talent: 2016 was the first year that David used his golden buzzer on a performance where none of the judges buzzed the act.
  • American Horror Story: Hotel:
    • This is the very first season without both Jessica Lange and Frances Conroy, the latter of which could not return due to a prior commitment.
    • This is the first season where Sarah Paulson's character is killed. She previously survived all four seasons. Though, this is also downplayed. Paulson plays two characters this season. One was killed before the series started, and one survives. So, she's still never been killed during the series.
    • Despite the casting of Lady Gaga, there's no musical number in this season.
  • Burn Notice spent six seasons with a familiar pattern; Michael and company face an overriding arc for the season which they make incremental progress on during each episode while most of the episode is spent dealing with a Villain of the Week criminal or whatever. The final season dumped this pattern, became much Darker and Edgier, and focused almost entirely on a single long arc of Michael working for the CIA. There were some occasional side issues to deal with, but they were generally quite brief and quickly resolved.
  • For over 54 years, the Doctor of Doctor Who was traditionally cast as a man. However, the casting of Jodie Whittaker as the Thirteenth Doctor heralded the first female incarnation of the character.

    Video Games 
  • Pokémon:
    • Most games have the final battle with the villainous team occur at some point around the 7th or 8th Gym, and Pokemon League Champion as the Final Boss. In Pokémon Black and White though, Team Plasma interrupts the Pokemon League challenge before you get to fight the Champion, resulting in their leader being the Final Boss and the League Champion being a postgame Bonus Boss.
    • Traditionally, after the first two games of a generation are released, an Updated Re-release is made to act as the "definitive" version. That held true for four generations straight, until Pokémon Black and White — which, in lieu of a Pokémon Gray, got direct sequels instead. Pokémon X and Y didn't get any sort of sequel or third version, and for Pokémon Sun and Moon's third version, that was split into two versions as well!
      • The Gen VI games not getting any third game also broke the trend of a Legendary Pokémon related to the main duo (often seen as a postgame Bonus Boss in the initial games) headlining said third game with a major role (and often a new form or two). Emerald had Rayquaza, Platinum had Giratina, Black 2/White 2 had Kyurem, and Ultra Sun/Ultra Moon had Necrozma... all Zygarde got was a major role in the anime and a minor appearance in Sun/Moon.
    • Pokémon Sun and Moon changed the formula from the first six generations. Gym Battles were replaced with the Island Challenge Trials and Grand Trials. In addition, Hidden Machines have been replaced with the Ride Pager, and the villain team is actually a surprise.
  • In Five Nights at Freddy's: Sister Location, rather than hiding in one room and fending off hostile animatronics until 6 A.M. for all five nights, the player has to do night-specific tasks to progress, rather than waiting out a clock. At least, not until Night 5's fake ending... In addition, Bonnie is only Funtime Freddy's handpuppet, Chica is nowhere to be found, and the animatronics are almost entirely brand new.
  • Dragon Age: Inquisition has been a departure from many traditions established by the previous two and a half installments of the Dragon Age series, such as a Wide Open Sandbox replacing previous tightly-scripted levels, a complete removal of healing magic, and the artsy blood red-saturated covers being ditched for a green-dominated palette.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is a lot more open world than the other Zelda games and features RPG Elements, such as equippable weapons and armor as well as cookable food.
  • Assassin's Creed: Unity has the first player character in the main console series not to be an ancestor of Desmond Miles. He is also the first since Altair to have only one Hidden Blade, and isn't a Walking Armory.

    Visual Novels 
  • New Dangan Ronpa V3:
    • This is the first main series game to not have an Ultimate Lucky Student in the main cast.
    • This is also the first game where Megumi Ogata doesn't play a character. At least, not one introduced in this game, anyway.
    • Unlike Leon Kuwata and Teruteru Hanamura, the culprit of Chapter 1 is prepared to be executed. And unlike Mondo Owada and Peko Pekoyama, the culprit of Chapter 2 tries their hardest to escape execution.
    • In the main series, this game is the first one to allow you to play as a female protagonist.
    • This game is also the first game in the franchise's history where not only does the player character die, but they are also the culprit! However it turns out they were actually successfully framed by the mastermind. Which means that this is the first game of the franchise where a character successfully gets away with murder in a class trial.
    • This game is the only game to have more than three playable characters, even if it's temporary.

    Western Animation 
  • In Archer, the running gag of shouting "Phrasing" after a line of dialog that could be taken the wrong way was broken in Season Five, when after a long string of lines that would provoke the gag were said without anyone saying "Phrasing," it was lampshaded and the gag is now wondering out loud if their Phrasing gag was still a thing.
  • South Park would famously kill off Kenny Once an Episode for the first four seasons or so. Then Kenny got Killed Off for Real for one season before reviving him. Since then, Kenny has only been killed occasionally, usually with a huge lampshade hung on it.
  • My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic: Starting in Season 4, much of the series formula was changed drastically, such as the Mane Six giving up the Elements of Harmony, and of the Aesop changing from the "Dear Princess Celestia" format to a diary format, which was then abandoned by Season 5.
  • Total Drama: The third season, Total Drama World Tour was the first one to introduce new contestants: Sierra and Alejandro. It also featured songs.