Early Installment Weirdness

Is this Batman? Executing someone? WITH A GUN?note 

"Oh please, Mandy. That didn't even look like us."
Grim, The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy, after a flashback to the pilot short.

Long running series often have to experiment a little before they find their niche: sometimes there are concepts abandoned early on that were fascinating, either because they were potentially good ideas back then, or they just clash so much with the later tone of the series. In short, the first installment is a "prototype", like a pilot of a first episode.

If the series improves after abandoning these elements, it often leads to a Growing the Beard moment. For something similar applied to individual characters, see Characterization Marches On. A specific sub-trope of this dealing with early installments resembling the real world is Earth Drift. When early characters disappear entirely with no explanations, that's Chuck Cunningham Syndrome (or even Dropped After the Pilot, if it happens in the very first episode). Might be the result of Plot Tumors, Art Evolution and Continuity Drift.

There will always be some fans who view the current incarnation of a series as They Changed It, Now It Sucks.

When this happens to themes that become popular after the fact because of a work, and are only actually codified elsewhere, it is a subtrope of Unbuilt Trope.

Compare New First Comics, Lost in Imitation, and Adaptation Displacement. Contrast First Installment Wins and Later Installment Weirdness. When a character displays this, it's Characterization Marches On (or Flanderization, when it essentially happens in reverse). May be the Oddball in the Series. See also Meet Your Early Installment Weirdness.

A special note on the trope in video games: there, it is often the counterpart to Spiritual Successor. A series may evolve in a drastically different direction from its first installment in a technical sense, abandoning core gameplay mechanics or changing them in drastic ways, while retaining the setting (general background lore, characters etc.), although elements can be added or retconned. This can happen if the developer for an intellectual property held by a publisher changes or merely if a developer wishes to keep a recognizable, established IP, but adapt to a new player demographic or emulate gameplay seen in another revolutionary title. Such changes result in an early installment weirdness when the sequels are compared with the first installment .In contrast, a game which tries to imitate a forerunner title mostly in gameplay terms (copying/refining particular "revolutionary" aspects, the entire gameplay or just the general "feeling" of the game), but is not part of said forerunners' IP, e.g. if the rights to said IP are held by a different publisher, and so uses a different setting, it's usually a Spiritual Successor.


Examples:

Other examples

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    Advertising 
  • The first Chia Pet commercial lacks the famous "Ch-ch-ch-chia" jingle.
  • Billy Mays had a comparatively more normal voice in his early commercials, as opposed to his trademark exuberant delivery.
  • The first HeadOn commercial didn't say the slogan "HeadOn, apply directly to the forehead" three times. It was actually people discussing the product, ending with "Should I know about HeadOn?"
  • Men's Warehouse founder George Zimmer didn't even appear in the earliest commercials. Also, his delivery was much more enthusiastic compared to the deep, gravelly voice he's better known by. I guarantee it.
  • The original GEICO Gecko commercials were all about the Gecko, voiced by Kelsey Grammer with an upper-crust accent, complaining about mistaken identity, with hundreds of people calling him when they were looking for an insurance company. Now, the Gecko is a Geico mascot and speaks with a more working-class accent.
  • You know Capital One's long-running ad campaign with the pillaging Vikings? When that campaign first started, they were the bad guys. Instead of Capital One, they represented the "other" guys with their unreasonable rates.
  • Vat19's earlier ads were more formal and less comedic in tone.
  • In what is likely the first "McGruff the Crime Dog" PSA,note  he sounds more like Jack Keil'snote  normal voice, though at some points he sounds more like would in later PSAs. Additionally, he didn't introduce himself at first, which is justified since he originally didn't have a name until about two years later (according to The Other Wiki).

    Fan Fic 
  • Dr. Brainstorm's first few appearances in Calvin and Hobbes: The Series had him with unfocused gold eyes. He later gets Green Eyes (making him a Significant Greeneyed Redhead).
  • A major example in Yognapped: the original installment switched through plot conceits with no concern for the holes it caused, featured laughably one-dimensional villains, and had chapters less than half a page long. The major focus of the series — the conflict between the three gods and Lewis's slow descent into moral questionability — didn't come up until halfway through the second installment. Cue retroactive rewriting.
  • Friendship Is Magic: The Adventures of Spike: The Previously On segments at the beginning of each chapter, and the stylized scene breaks, were both dropped at reader command after the first few chapters.
  • Saki After Story has this in its first chapter, even though there are only two as of this writing. In the first chapter, mahjong is seemingly treated as a two-player game (Saki and Teru face each othernote , with Saki winning 112,000 points to Teru's 110,000), and Saki and Nodoka are on a Last Name Basis, as opposed to the First Name Basis they adopted in the training camp between the prefecturals and the nationals, at the end of the first anime series.
  • Fanfics in general fall into this - as is the case with professional authors. Many fanfic writers' earlier fanfics might not resemble their later fanfics in terms of plot or format. This is understandable as fanfic writers often get tips from reviewers on how to improve, and will often use them.
  • Fairly noticeable in The Vinyl And Octavia Series. The first story in the series is more or less a straight adventure story. Although there is comedy, the story itself is not one, unlike the rest of the series. There's no sexual tension between Vinyl and Octavia, and aside from a few mentionings of shipping, there is no hint that the two have feelings for one another. Finally, this story is around forty-thousand words long and spread out over multiple chapters, unlike the rest of the series, which are all one-shots (with the exception of Vinyl and Octavia Have Multiple Dates, but that's still only two chapters and is in fact shorter than some of the other stories).
  • The Infinite Loops were codified by Saphroneth but made by Innortal. Thus, Innortal's loops will occasionally do things deemed impossible in later loops, which is usually Hand Waved by the fact that they were the first loops and the restrictions didn't exist yet.

    Fashion 
  • Fabrics and clothing designs before sea trading and the discovery of the Americas during the The Renaissance were lighter, simpler and more modest consisting of only earthy one-toned colours.
  • Before the concept of mass-production in the Industrial Revolution, clothing materials were sewn by hand at their own home.
  • Coco Chanel's franchise originally sold hats for women before experimenting on clothes, perfumes and other accessories while her rival, Elsa Schiaparelli, didn't have that surrealist chic in her early designs.
  • Fashion statements during the dawn of a decade can still have carryovers from the last decade before progressing to its own new style after a year or two or so.
    • Fashions during the early 1920s for women had tunic-like tops, longer skirts and wider hats, and for men, an hourglass-shaped jacket with slimmer pants,
    • Fashions for women during the first years of The Thirties still had a stovepipe silhouette, albeit with a higher waistline and a more feminine and more flary appearance due to the effects of the bias-cut.
    • Fashions in 1940 had a few traces of 1930s silhouettes in it, whether the bias-cut effect or Art Deco accessories. It wasn't until the invasion of France and the implementation of rationing made the clothes more subdued and more "hard chic" robust in form.
    • Teen fashions in the early 1950s barely differed from the styles of the adults. That said, early 50s fashions still had some shoulder pads in it and had a richer palette from dark red to navy blue to off-white.
    • Fashions during the early 1960s had slim dresses with tight knee-length skirts for women and neutral toned suits for men.
    • Fashions in 1970 had bright psychedelic space-age prints, miniskirts reaching the crotch, and had sharp silhouettes. Plus, the fashion statements were a bit uniform and collectivist (skirt lengths should be like this, suit colors should be like that, polyester pants are a no-no). It wasn't until the next year that styles went more down-to-earth, and more individualistic.
    • Fashions in 1980 were still clinging to late 1970s styles while it was experimenting on power dressing and sharp, business-minded looks. And it wasn't even neon-colored.
    • Fashion norms of The 20th Century in general definitely changed in just a span of a hundred years. A hundred years ago, the men once walked the streets with a felt hat, a three-piece suit, gloves, shiny patent leather shoes and a cane for tops, and the women walked with poise donning a giant hat, longer updone hair, long gloves, no makeup, and tight corsets worn inside very long dresses that covered from chin to toe.

    Pinball 
  • Corvette was George Gomez's first pinball machine he designed and also the only one to have an upper flipper. Subsequently, he made sure all of his designs had only the two flippers on the bottom and no more.
  • The earliest machines from Stern had more pronounced Pinball Scoring, with experienced players scoring into the hundreds of millions of points or even billions, a holdover from Sega's way of doing things (as Stern began with Sega Pinball's staff). Over time, scoring on Stern's tables scaled down; with most games in the tens of millions of points for Stern's most recent games. In addition, Stern's earliest machines had loose rules, with modes running all at once and no obvious objective other than to keep playing. It wasn't until The Simpsons Pinball Party that Stern's games had clearly defined modes and goals.
  • A meta-example: Early pinball machines didn't have spring launchers, bumpers and flippers. Spring launchers came in 1869, bumpers in 1933, and flippers in 1947.

    Religion 
  • There has actually been a time when most of today's major religions were nothing but small cults centered in one region. And there has also been a time when religion as such didn't exist, though mostly because there were no humans to begin with.
  • For more than thousands of years, Greek and Roman mythology were the dominant religions in Europe.
  • From the 1st until the third century AC, Christianity was surpressed in the Roman Empire. Christians were seen as insane, cult-like, possibly even cannibalistic (they did say they "ate flesh and drank blood", after all). After Constantine the Great adapted it as his state religion it suddenly became the other way around. Now everyone who wasn't Christian was forced to give up their beliefs.
  • Christmas was celebrated by pagans centuries before the Christian Church adapted the 24th-25th of December as their official date for the anniversary of Jesus Christ.

    Stand-up Comedy 
  • Comedian Jeff Foxworthy had several albums' worth of material from the 1980s, none of which were released until after his breakthrough in 1994 with You Might Be a Redneck If… The 1980s albums show him to be far more vulgar, and somewhat less reliant on his now-trademark Southern humor. Very early on, he didn't even have his famous "If you X, you might be a redneck" one-liners; instead, his original trademark joke was a story that worked in every letter of the alphabet ("A there, dudes! I'm gonna tell you a story you might not B-lieve. 'Cause you C, it's about this friend of mine, he's from D-troit…").
  • Larry The Cable Guy's affected Southern drawl (he's actually from Nebraska) sounded radically different on his first major-label album, Lord, I Apologize: it was higher and less raspy than it is now. It was also his only major-label album to feature a "Toddler Mail" segment (a carryover from his independent days), and the only one besides his Christmas album to feature a musical track (the title track, which features Larry singing while Mark Tremonti backs him on guitar).
  • Billy Connolly's now-famous swearing rarely extends past the word "jobby" in his early albums. One usage of the F-Word even gets bleeped out!
  • George Carlin started out as one-half of a comedy duo (Jack Burns & George Carlin or Burns & Carlin) then Carlin went solo as a more clean-cut, family-friendly "straight" comedian. He wore a suit and was clean-shaven with short hair & even played a goofy carhop in the Doris Day flick With Six You Get Egg Roll. One night, in 1968, he had an epiphany during a performance in Vegas & realized that he no longer fit with the conservative/mainstream/"straight"/"square" crowd, took a hiatus and emerged as the hairy, bearded, anti-establishment, Sir Swears-a-Lot comedian we all know & love. Richard Pryor also went through a similar career trajectory, starting out as basically "Bill Cosby 2.0" before having his own big Las Vegas nightclub epiphany.

    Real Life — Businesses 
  • Nintendo was founded in 1889, with its initial trade being selling hanafuda cards.note  Over the course of several decades, they attempted to branch into businesses that include a taxi service and, infamously, a series of failed love hotels before they finally made it big as a video game juggernaut/console developer in the 1980s.
  • Before the Sega Genesis/Sega Mega Drive found its success with Sonic the Hedgehog, it initially gained steam by selling a slew of sports games.
  • Early J. C. Penney stores were far smaller than they are now. They sold only clothes, and were about the size that a dollar store would be today. No salons, bedding, or jewelry, not even the now-defunct auto parts and service, appliances, or sporting goods. Going the other way, Sears and many other department store chains used to have all of the aforementioned lines, along with many other now-defunct features such as candy counters and even full restaurants. Nowadays, most department stores focus only on "softlines" such as clothing, bedding, jewelry, and footwear. Outside the "discount" department stores (e.g., Walmart), Sears is the only department store left that still sells "hardlines" like electronics, appliances, and tools (though depending on region and store, some can still sell "small-hardline" goods like countertop kitchen appliances).
  • Sears itself wasn't originally a department store; from its founding in 1886 until 1925, it was exclusively a mail-order catalog.note  Among the things you could order back then were various houses, or at least kits to build them.
  • Originally, f.y.e. stores were much larger, like Tower Records or Media Play (both now defunct). Some of them even sold books. Also, they had a bright yellow logo. In 2001, the parent company began phasing out the superstores in favor of rebranding all of its smaller, often mall-based stores (including Record Town, Camelot Music, Strawberries, The Wall, Disc Jockey, and Coconuts) under the f.y.e. banner, at which point the logo was changed to a blue "blob" with "f.y.e." in white letters.
  • The first McDonald's stores didn't have seating or drive-thru windows. The most familiar design with mansard roofs didn't come along until the early 1970s, with drive-thru windows coming not long afterward.note  The mansard, outside some coloration changes, mostly stayed the same until it was replaced in the late 2000s by the Giant Eyebrow of Doom. Very early on, they served hot dogs instead of hamburgers (and, even after the burgers came along, roast-beef sandwiches and fried chicken for a while, too).
  • Abercrombie & Fitch was originally a mail-order sporting goods and sportswear store dating back to the late 19th century. After languishing in the 1970s and 1980s under the ownership of sporting goods retailer Oshman's, it was reinvented in the 1990s as a teen clothing store by The Limited, who later spun it off.
  • The Gap family of brands went through this entirely. Gap originally sold jeans, brand-name clothing, and albums before becoming a more upscale private-label brand in 1986. Banana Republic originally sold safari clothing before Gap bought it and Re Tooled it into a luxury clothing retailer. Sister chain Old Navy was originally far larger and called Gap Warehouse.
  • Walmart:
    • Early stores were about one-fourth the size they are now, with no auto repair, pharmacy, jewelry, restaurant, or groceries in sight. For many years, their logo used an old West-style font. There was no Sam's Club, either. And going a step further, early supercenters were called "hypermarts" that were practically entire shopping malls compressed into one store — they even had food courts! Only a few hypermarkets were built before the Flawed Prototype was tweaked into the "supercenter" format of today.
    • For many years, those that had restaurants almost exclusively had a reduced-scale McDonald's that was only open for lunch and dinner hours, or a generic cafeteria called Radio Grill; they didn't start partnering with Subway until 2004. You might still find the odd one with a McDonald's still in it, or a one-off with some other fast food chain instead.
    • In the '90s, Walmart traded on American Patriotism by proudly proclaiming that everything they sold was Made in the USA. When the fact that this was patently untrue became plain and led to lawsuits, they dropped that angle and focused even more on cheaply made overseas products, deciding to focus on how much cheaper their products cost than other stores.
  • Originally, most Kmart stores were paired with Kmart Foods supermarkets. This was phased out in the 1970s, and in many cases, Kmart just used the grocery space to expand the rest of the store, or sold the grocery space to someone else.note  Incidentally, Kmart also tried the Supercenter thing not long after Walmart did, but a lack of commitment to the idea and Kmart's overall management woes in the '90s and 2000s put the brakes on that idea for the most part.
  • Early Cracker Barrel stores had Shell gas station/convenience stores, thus making them more akin to Stuckey's. They ditched the gas pumps during the 1970s oil crisis and focused on the restaurant/gift shop hybrid.
  • Originally, Kentucky Fried Chicken was not sold at its own restaurants; instead, other restaurants could pay for the franchise rights to sell chicken made with Colonel Sanders's recipe. The first de-facto KFC opened in Utah in the '60s, although a few independent franchises lasted until the early '80s or so.
  • Denny's was originally a doughnut shop called Danny's.
  • Many early shopping malls were open-air concourses. They often featured a high number of service tenants (shoe repair, barber shop, etc.), a dime store, a supermarket (sometimes two), a drugstore, and maybe one department store. Overall, it probably would've had no more than 50 stores. One of the first malls to resemble what they look like now was Southdale in Minnesota, although even it had the aforementioned lineup. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, the "dumbbell" mall (a huge concourse with a major department store at either end) became the default layout, and particularly in colder northern climates, more malls became enclosed. As malls grew larger, supermarkets and drugstores became less practical tenants (why would you buy groceries at a place with 100 other stores?), while dime stores lost footing to discount stores such as Kmart (which rarely anchored malls except in smaller towns).
  • Toyota Motor Corporation began as the automotive branch of the Toyota Automatic Loom Works. The latter is still a leading manufacturer of sewing machines and textile manufacturing equipment, as well as automotive parts for the automobile manufacturer.
  • Samsung, as well as other South Korean Chaebol corporations, went through several phases where it focused on different industries. It began in 1938 as a small food company that sold, among others, noodle. During 1950s, its main business was textiles and apparel, starting with surplus uniforms from US military bases that were dyed and sold to South Korean civilians in the aftermath of the Korean War. It moved into electronics only in late 1960s. What is not well known outside South Korea is that Samsung has stayed as a major firm in both food and textile industries. The electronics and food businesses were separated only in late 1990s when the company's founder died and his sons split up the assets. It remains a major textile manufacturing concern in South Korea.
  • Starbucks originally sold whole coffee beans when it started in Seattle in 1971. It was modeled on Peet's Coffee in Berkeley, which started a few years earlier in 1966. Starbucks didn't serve espresso until the 1980s.
  • Early on, Arby's sold real roast beef that was made on-site, not the processed lunchmeat-style meats that they use today. Also, they sold potato chips instead of fries, and RC Cola instead of Pepsi. Interestingly, they seem to be gradually reverting to a modernized form of this, as the chain reintroduced potato chips and began selling bottled gourmet pop from Boylan's in 2014.
  • While Little Caesars has always had carryout-only locations, a lot of their early stores were much larger, with game rooms/arcades and a larger menu offering pasta, salad, and beer, thus making them more akin to the now mostly defunct Shakey's. For a time in the '80s and '90s, they even had a Chuck E. Cheese knockoff called Caesarland. Nowadays, nearly all Little Caesars are carryout-only locations that emphasize high volume and low prices: the menu is mostly a very small number of pizzas, breadsticks, and wings, which are made in advance and kept in a warmer. In addition, until the early 2000s, Little Caesars' gimmick was that pizza was sold at a discount if you bought them in pairs, hence the slogan of "Pizza! Pizza!" and the two pizzas impaled on the mascot's spear.
  • Early on, Best Buy was called Sound of Music and only sold stereos. In 1983, they started to become the wider-scope electronics store that they are now, beginning with a store in Burnsville, Minnesota, but it took a few years before they moved to their larger-format model that has all of the merchandise already on the sales floor instead of in a stockroom.
  • 3M may be best known for adhesives and useful small items in seemingly random fields, but it actually started out as a mining company—the company's full name is the Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company. The intent was to mine corundum to make sandpaper and sanding wheels, but they soon realized there was no corundum where they mined (or any other mineral with any then-known practical purpose, for that matter). Even when importing garnet to make sandpaper, the garnet kept falling off the paper. Faced with a lot of material with no immediately obvious use, the founders, and their early employees, had to start thinking resourcefully to try to take what they had and make something that would win consumers' trust. This direction worked out wonderfully, and they left the mining business behind to focus on inventing anything they felt could sell, a trait that has defined 3M as a company since.
  • From the late 1970s until around 2010, Apple used to have a reputation as a "geek" computer company with a loyal cult following of computing enthusiasts, design professionals, musicians and authors. It wasn't enough to save Apple from flirting with bankruptcy numerous times during the 1990s until Steve Jobs returned. While Jobs threw a few bones to the long-time diehards, he repositioned Apple as a consumer electronic manufacturer instead of a computer manufacturer, trading away esoteric products made for a loyal fanbase into products of mass appeal that have a litany of casual fans who upgrade their iOS devices every two years, guaranteeing Apple's continued existence. In fact, iOS has reached a level of success in the mobile world that the Macintosh never achieved in the computing world and the iPhone is the signature Apple product to the point where it can be said that Apple is a mobile phone company that just happens to make computers.

    Real Life — Sport 
  • In their earliest form, the modern Olympic Games were a fairly low-key affair. They weren't heavily promoted (since most people couldn't follow them, with even radio barely existing in 1896) and competitions were open to any amateur athletes who wanted to try their luck at the games. Professional athletes were actually discouraged from competing, since they would have had an unfair advantage over the common citizenry (or, more cynically, to restrict the games to "amateurs" rich enough to pay for their own training without endorsements).
    • The 1900 and 1904 Olympics, in Paris and St. Louis, respectively, were held as appendages to World's Fairs being held in those cities at the same time. They both took place over a series of months and were very low-key affairs. The St. Louis Games attracted very few international athletes, allowing Americans to win most of the medals.
    • The Ancient Olympics. They had no female competitors, staff, or audience, they were explicitly pagan in nature, only a few Greek city-states participated in them, and they were performed in the nude. Instead of medals, people got wreaths. Also, unlike today, where even if you are a professional, you're not paid for your Olympic appearance, competitors who won or otherwise performed honorably for their city would be showered with riches and pensions for a good performance at the Olympics.
  • The first FIFA World Cup in 1930 was entered by just 13 teams. The first winners, Uruguay, subsequently skipped the next two Tournaments and didn't play again until 1950 (when they won again!)
    • Up until the 1950 tournament, it was common for teams to drop out more or less at the last minute with no possibility of FIFA being able to find a replacement.
    • At least until the 1960s, Withdrawals were even more common in the qualificatory proccess, to the point in South America, qualification matches were only played for the first time in the 1954 qualification, since in all previous World Cups, the South American teams all had qualified automatically due to withdrawals.
    • Until 1958, no tie-breaking criteria other than points were used in the group phase, and as such, if the second and third-placed teams finished tied in points, there was a play-off to decide which team would progress to the next stage.
    • In 1954, the 16 teams were split into four groups of four, as would be the case for the first round at the finals until 1982. But instead of playing all the teams in their group once, there were two seeded teams who played against two unseeded teams. Other aspect of the rules that wasn't used again was the use of extra time for tied matches in the group phase.
    • In the qualifying for the 1950 and 1954 tournaments, the British Home Championship doubled as a qualificatory group for the World Cup, and the 'Home Nations' of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland (all of Ireland until 1950) were given two finals places between them, whereas Africa and Asia, two entire continents got just one between them.
  • The European Championship was first held in 1960. Until 1980 when it began to expand, the tournament finals were a relatively brief affair, featuring just four teams and four matches and lasting no more than 5 or 6 days. The small scale nature of this also meant that rather than choosing the hosts years in advance and granting them automatic qualification to the finals, the qualification process was held first, and the host country was picked from the four that had qualified.
    • The competition was not called the European Championship until 1968. In 1960 and 1964 it was called the European Nations Cup
    • The competition nickname of "Euro (Year)" was not used until 1996.
  • Until 1946, the England footballnote  team had no manager. The team was instead picked by a 'Selection Committee' chosen by the FA, who would also often send a prestigious English club manager (usually different every time) with the team to offer tactical advice. In 1946, this was made into a permanent position and Walter Winterbottom was appointed the first England manager. However, he still couldn't pick the team; that was left to the committee. In 1962 Winterbottom resigned and the FA offered Ipswich Town manager Alf Ramsey the job. He accepted on the condition that he could pick the team. The FA agreed, originally seeing this as an experiment that could be deemed a failure if Ramsey didn't get results. Ramsey went on to win the World Cup with England in 1966, and the practice stuck.
    • Ironically, to this day Ramsey is the only England manager with a better win:game ratio than the Selection Commitee.
  • The first NBA playoff defeat for Michael Jordan wasn't to Larry Bird's Celtics or the "Bad Boys" Pistons, but to... the Milwaukee Bucks led by Sidney "Sid the Squid" Moncrief, whom subsequently Jordan praised heavily.
  • Even after the Ultimate Fighting Championship began, becoming the codifier for Mixed Martial Arts, the sport developed a great deal during the early years. The very first UFC event was a one-man, single elimination tournament, without any gloves or rounds, and almost no rules. As the years went by, many new rules were adopted until the Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts were adopted, which became the industry standard.
  • The National Football League (NFL):
    • From 1919 to 1934, it was racially integrated. black quarterbacks, rare even today, and black coaches were not unheard of. Of course, integration didn't have much social impact here because the NFL was still a largely informal, working-class organization with only semi-professional players. The games were held in muddy fields in the middle of nowhere, and hardly anyone attended them. Informal segregation took hold in the mid 1930s as the league went mainstream, although no rules barring non-white players were ever officially instituted. De facto segregation then continued until 1946, when the Cleveland Rams began their first season in Los Angeles, itself a less racially segregated city than it would become in the 1950s and '60s, with two African American players from UCLA, Woody Strode and Kenny Washington (who earlier had been teammates on the UCLA Bruins with none other than Jackie Robinson).
    • For the first 15 years of the NFL, there was no set schedule. Teams were free to schedule as many (or as few) games as they wished. Scheduling was usually done on the fly, which occasionally resulted in some late-season scheduling skullduggery; the league championship was decided solely on winning percentage, which did not factor in ties. Many teams also came and went from the league in that time, and it was only in the mid 1930s when the NFL began stabilizing its membership. In 1935, the league implemented its first fixed schedule, intending to ensure that each team played the same number of regular season games (though heavy snow cancelled one game in late 1935 that was not made up; 1936 was the first season where all NFL teams played the same number of games).
    • The NFL did not adopt a playoff format to decide its championship until 1933, after the 1932 season concluded with the Chicago Bears (6-1-6) and Portsmouth Spartans (6-1-4) tied with an .857 winning percentage (ties still didn't count). At the time, the only tiebreaker the league had was in head-to-head games, but the Bears and Spartans had played to ties in both their games. The league had to break its own rules to schedule a deciding game between the two, and due to weather conditions, this playoff game was held indoors, at Chicago Stadium, resulting in several rule changes to adapt to the hastily-arranged and much smaller indoor field, making the game itself a case of early installment weirdness. The game also counted in the final regular-season standings, so Chicago's 9-0 win put Portsmouth (now 6-2-4, .750) in third place behind the Green Bay Packers (10-3-1, .769). From 1933 on, the Championship Game (and subsequent expanded postseason games) would not count in the final regular-season standings, and the NFL would eventually implement a more sophisticated tiebreaker system. Tie games would still not count toward winning percentage until 1972, when they would be calculated as equivalent to half a win and half a loss for each team.
    • Several teams took years before adopting their now-standard color schemes and logos. This was especially notable in the early days of the American Football League, where several of the league owners were minority owners of NFL teams. Thus, they ported their old color scheme over to their own franchises. For example, the Buffalo Bills sported the Detroit Lions' colors until their second season. The Oakland Raiders also didn't switch to their iconic silver-and-black uniforms until their third year.note  And the less said about the Denver Broncos' original yellow-and-brown eyesores, the better. The league encouraged the uniform changes as a way to look less like the NFL Jr.note 
    • Look at footage of NFL and AFL games from up to mid-1960s. Fans were often standing right on the back endzone lines and could be seen rushing the field and mobbing the victorious teams after wins. Facilitating this was the fact that many stadiums simply lacked end zone seating, so fans were crammed into "standing room only" sections on both ends of the field. Such fan proximity would never be allowed today, for fan and player safety and to prevent fan interference. Indeed, modern stadiums are built so that fans can't easily reach the field from the cheaper seats and risk being banned from the stadium if they try.
  • Given Formula One cars are usually spearfront technology, there is an Art Evolution of sorts where old cars seem weird (started with cigar-like cars, and focusing on aerodynamics lead to today's slick, wing-and-curve-heavy design). There's also seeing how dangerous it was - once Ayrton Senna died on the track in 1994, car security became so important that an equally strong crash by Michael Schumacher in 1999 only broke his leg.

    Real Life — Other 
  • Your life is this. You can now dress, feed, and care for yourself, but back then you depended on your parents for everything. You also think way differently now than you did when you were a child, or even a few years ago. Depending on the person, and the events in their life, the changes may be more gradual and subtle... and some may not change much at all.
  • It's common to put up faces and guard bits of yourself when meeting new people, causing any early memories of spending time with your friends or acquaintances before you understand them to be this.
    • If you start dating or fall in love with someone you've known for a while either platonically or through casual contact, you would most likely look back at experiences or pictures containing the both of you and wonder why you didn't feel this way about them then.
  • Due to the strange path evolution often ends up taking, the evolutionary history of a number of groups can appear like this.
    • The earliest vertebrates were very small creatures with no jaws.note  Vertebrates since around 400 million years ago have also included most of the largest creatures on the planet.
    • Early cephalopods had shells, although the transition to almost all shellless forms took a long time rather than being merely "early".
    • If geologic periods count, the periods after some mass extinctions (permian triassic in particular) often have very different forms of life than what will later become common.
  • As far as humanity is concerned, the initial peoples did not build their own houses, instead residing in natural caves. They often painted in them. These paintings feature animals no longer around today. Law did not exist either, at least not as we know it; the closest thing was probably some set of social customs or traditions with informal and spotty enforcement.
  • For more than thousand years Ancient Latin and Greek were spoken everywhere in the Greek and Roman Empire. A few centuries later they have become dead languages—although only after a fashion: Ancient Greek became Modern Greek (which while so different as to be mutually unintelligible with the ancient form is still recognizably similar) and Latin became the entire family of Romance languages (which, although more different from Latin than Modern Greek is from Ancient Greek, are an extremely successful batch of languages, with over 800 million native speakersnote  and hundreds of millions more second-language speakersnote ).
  • A lot of the civilizations during the Antiquity had a culture, language, religion, alphabet that died out at one point, despite being in use for over more than a thousand years.
  • Many of today's most widespread languages were dramatically different during the early medieval period or sometimes even later.
    • Old English was very similar to German, not only in its spelling and pronunciation but also in its agglutination (linking smaller words to form larger words, as is still the general rule in German). Originally the Anglo-Saxons did not have words of their own for words like "body" and "ocean", instead using Germanic phrases meaning, respectively, "bone-house" or "whale-road."
    • Old French was morphologically similar to Spanish, the neighboring language to which Modern French is most closely related. This could be seen most prominently in its more-defined gender endings (-a instead of a silent -e for feminine endings, for example) and more varied vowels and diphthongs (Modern French still uses -ue as in Spanish bueno and -ai as in Spanish/Basque jai alai, but far less often than it used to). Many of the Iberian phonemes are preserved in Occitan, a dialect of French spoken in southern France that was used to write many love poems during the High Middle Ages.
    • Old and Middle Spanish used x instead of j to transcribe the [h] sound, which is why "Mexico" and "Texas" (settled by Spaniards before the aforementioned shift took place) are spelled the way they are, instead of "Mejico" and "Tejas", which is how they'd be spelled today.
    • Old Chinese was more diverse in its phonemes, meaning that romanized transcriptions of the older pronunciations look more distinct to Westerners, instead of the "they-all-look-alike" invariability of modern Wade-Giles or pinyin, where seemingly every fourth or fifth word ends in -n or -ng. (This principle applies mostly to Mandarin, of course, since Cantonese and some of the other southern dialects seem to have preserved the older endings.) Originally, Chinese looked a lot like modern-day Tibetan or Burman, the two languages from which it is ultimately derived.
  • During the Greek and Roman Empire Greece, Italy, the Middle East, China and Egypt were far more advanced civilizations than Western and Eastern Europe, who still lived in prehistoric tribal communities.
  • In the centuries of Ancient Greece and Rome sex and nudity weren't frowned on. Prostitution was legal, homosexuality considered normal and even regular houses would have erotic paintings as decoration. Cue to Christianity taking over in the early Middle Ages and suddenly Western culture became far more prudent as time marched on.
  • For much of the Middle Ages the Middle East was far more advanced in medicine, math and astronomy compared to Europe. Middle Easterners largely considered themselves part of the West, too: for a while the Mideast was as much culturally Greek as it was culturally Arab (thanks to the "Hellenistic" legacy of Alexander the Great).
  • Before the end of the 18th century all economy and industry was agrarian without any use of machinery.
  • Up until deep in the 19th century slavery and child labor was considered a normal system among many people. Nowadays you would not find anyone defending it anymore.
  • The same goes with science. A lot of the knowledge we have today was only discovered or invented a few decades or centuries ago.
    • Anesthesia during operations, sterilization of needles, a clean and hygienic atmosphere for patients who need to be nursed, vaccination, ... only came in vogue during the second half of the 19th century before being slowly adapted by the rest of the world.
  • Zoology was a very inexact science during the Enlightenment of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Although it's impressive how much was known even then (kangaroos and other marsupials were already known), zoologists of the time got many things blatantly wrong. Whales were considered giant fish, opossums were thought to be a species of monkey, armadillos were classified as reptomammals because of their "scaly" shells, and beavers were not rodents!
  • When Mexico declared independence from Spain in 1821, it was intended to be a monarchy with an Emperor. This arrangement lasted less than a year.
  • The United States government under the Articles of Confederation, the first national government structure following independence from Great Britain. The US originally had no president or Supreme Court, and national decisions were made by a single-housed Congress. The former colonies, now States, often behaved more like autonomous states, and no national currency existed. The national capital moved around a lot (sometimes multiple times in the course of a year), but was usually in New Jersey, Philadelphia, or New York City, because Washington D.C. was not yet built. It wasn't until the ratification of the Constitution that the US government would be remotely recognizable to a modern American.
  • The 1787 American cents, the first official coins of the United States of America, are a numismatic example of this trope. They lack any of the familiar American icons or mottoes and could easily be mistaken for foreign coins (at least if the faintly-embossed "United States" on the reverse was too worn to make out). They feature a sun and sundial on the obverse and a chain of thirteen rings on the reverse. Laurels and Lady Liberty weren't seen on nationally-circulated coins until 1793. Eagles, stars, and "E pluribus unum" first appeared two years after that.
  • Originally, the Statue of Liberty was brown-gold, likely with green splotches. Now it's all green, due to the copper accumulating a thick layer (or patina) of verdigris. Note, however, that this wasn't entirely unexpected; copper often develops a patina, which protects the edifice and (quite frankly) does look rather nice and dignified. Indeed, people only really started noticing the patina on the Statute of Liberty around 1900, but when it finished covering the monument's exterior (around 1906), Congress wanted to paint it, but the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said that it served to protect the skin of the statue and "softened the outlines of the Statue and made it beautiful." The interior was painted (to prevent nastier forms of corrosion), but the considered decision of everyone was that the Statute should look like this—and the people making the decision had seen and in many cases grown up with it being all shiny copper, so although the weirdness of the shiny statue is definitely a thing for us, the people of the time probably made their decision well.
  • This trope also applies to the original World Trade Center (otherwise known as the Twin Towers) which once stood in Lower Manhattan of New York City. Upon being completed in 1973, the North Tower was equipped with an off-center temporary antenna for around 5 years before the more familiar looking 360 ft. antenna was erected in 1978.
  • Every December (specifically the Monday following the second Wednesday in December) after a U.S. Presidential election, the members of the Electoral College assemble in their respective state capitals to decide who won the election. Or, rather, they met to decide it once or twice. When the Constitution was written, voters were not given a choice to vote for a President; they voted for an Elector. That is, if they voted for in the presidential election at all; in most states at the time, the electors were chosen by a vote of the state legislature. Each Elector was expected to exercise his own judgement in actually choosing who to place his vote for. Ever since, however, Electors have all been sworn to support a single candidate each, making the Electoral College a simple layer of abstraction in voting for the President mostly-directly. (Only in a few US states do the ballots even show the name of the elector along with the name of the candidate they're pledged for.) The EC vote is such a formality that many US voters don't even realize it exists, and it's generally forgotten entirely except when a) a candidate gets more popular votes but loses because he didn't get enough electoral votes (most recently in 2000), or b) "faithless electors" vote for someone other than who his/her state's voters picked (most recently in 1976).
  • Similarly, U.S. political party conventions were initially serious affairs where elected delegates chose a candidate according to their own judgement. 1968 Democratic nominee Hubert Humphrey did not enter any primaries. Now the candidate is determined before the convention with a series of statewide primaries, and the convention is simply a pompous "coronation" ceremony for the winner.
  • Picasso's early paintings, while quite weird in their own right, look little like the cubist work he is remembered for.
  • The first three Cirque du Soleil shows, including their breakthrough hit Le Cirque Réinventé, had traditional one-ring circus staging, going through one self-contained segment at a time with little thought to thematic bridges beyond a loose "whimsical-circus-star-for-a-day" conceit expressed mostly in the opening and closing sequences. Starting with their fourth show Nouvelle Experience, the ring and curtain at the back were eliminated from the staging and the thematic throughlines of each show became much more detailed. Performers were encouraged to create distinctive characters for themselves, and the resultant interactions between the characters helped informed how one act flowed into another, resulting in a far more theatrical approach to the circus format that came to define the company. Aestethically, the early shows also have simpler, less surreal costuming and music than later shows do (musically the Cirque shows evolve significantly with #5, Saltimbanco).
  • The Soviet Union's New Economic Policy, in which small-scale private enterprise was allowed for 7 years in the 1920s.
    • Russia had a non-communist, democratic government for eight months in 1917, between the February Revolution (which overthrew the Czar) and the October Revolution (when Lenin and the communists took over). The two revolutions are usually conflated together in the popular imagination.
  • The universe directly after the big bang was a super-hot, super-dense miasma of particles, compared to the almost entirely empty cold vacuum it is now. Even the four fundamental forces were all just one "superforce".
  • During the first two Space Shuttle missions the external fuel tank was painted white, to match the color scheme of the orbiter and booster rockets. From the third mission on, NASA realized that nobody cared that the fuel tank was a different color, and wanting to save money on fuel (paint is surprisingly heavy, and in spaceflight every kilogram counts) and paint, left the reddish-brown color everyone recognizes.
  • The earliest versions of Microsoft Windows were simply built as a GUI alternative to MS-DOS, with little intention on being as popular as it would turn out. Versions before 95 lacked the iconic taskbar and start menu that would define it many years later. Instead it included the MS-DOS executive (later retooled into the Program Manager), which was a window that included the main programs, and when it was closed the computer would shut down. Finally, the minimize-maximize-close buttons in the top right are entirely missing, replaced with a minus button on the top left that triggers a drop down menu with these types of controls (this button has managed to survive into modern versions, but the menu is now triggered when you click the top right of the menu with no button, probably to prevent Damn You, Muscle Memory).
  • When Linus Torvalds first started writing Linux, it was meant to be a small hobby OS which was a clone of the Unix-like MINIX operating system, was very much tied to 386/486 procesors and would "probably never... support anything other than AT-harddisks". Nor was the kernel released under the GNU GPL as today. Now, it's a highly successful operating system which has been ported to more platforms than any other, including those which use non Intel x86-compatible processors.
  • The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade has adopted a great many televised formats since the era of television began. During the 1980s all the way up to 2002 (or the early 1990s in some regions), for example, CBS broadcast it as "The All-American Thanksgiving Day Parade", which focused on multiple parades shown more or less simultaneously, including the traditional New York City parade; the Disneyland parade in Anaheim; the Opryland USA parade; a parade in Miami Beach, and prerecorded footage of the Aloha Floral Parade in Honolulu (which happened the previous September) and the Toronto Santa Claus Parade. Since 2002, however, the wraparound footage was dropped and today CBS focuses exclusively on the New York parade (though it doesn't use the Macy's name), compensating for their lack of extra content by padding, whether it be showing pre-recorded musical performances (from both Broadway and the larger music world), featuring viewer-submitted photos at the top of most commercial breaks, interviewing celebrities, and giving tutorials on holiday recipes.
    • Subverted with NBC's broadcast of the parade however, where the parade is, and always has been, a New York-only affair, and since The '80s it's slowly becoming more of a media extravaganza than a parade, with Broadway musical numbers performed in the street in front of the Macy's department store and many guest appearances by celebrities (some of which are completely gratuitous). This is also played straight with the circa 1979-1993 parades, which were produced by Dick Schneider, while the parades from 1994-onwards were produced by Brad Lachman. Both producers had vastly different visions for the broadcast, and for proof, compare this opening from a Schneider-era parade to this one from a Lachman-era parade 10 years later.
      • The Schneider-era parades were also more of a licensed property funfest, a claim which can best apply to the 1984 parade, which notably featured a float sponsored by Hanna-Barbera featuring much of their characters holding a birthday party for Scooby-Doo (!), and the 1989 parade which had the Joker, a Marvel Comics float featuring Melba Moore, a tribute to the anniversary of Looney Tunes, and Alf as a cohost (!!) alongside Today then-anchors Willard Scott and Deborah Norville.
      • Then came 2013, where (with Lachman still producing the parade) the parade's format was changed dramatically, with a new graphics package, revamped logo, and everything being taken Up to Eleven (the fact that Cirque du Soleil got a float that year should probably tip you in). Oh, and they also tweaked their opening a tiny bit. There's a reason why it was the highest-rated parade in years...
    • The festivities also once included an ice show performed at the Wollman Rink in Central Park, but that seems to have ended long ago.
    • The parade itself had live animals (which were only phased out because they were scaring kids) in place of the balloons when it began in The Roaring Twenties. During the first few years they had the balloons, they used to be released into the air at the end of the parade - they actually had a return address on them so if someone happened to find them and bring them to Macy's they would get a cash reward. This proved too difficult and the practice of balloon releasing went out the window. The Tom Turkey float wasn't introduced until 1971, the smaller novelty balloons didn't happen until 1985note , the Mike Miller/Spirit of America dance teams only first showed up in The '80s, and the parade continued to use giant balloons of old chestnuts like Betty Boop, Woody Woodpecker and The Pink Panther until well into The '90s.
  • The National Bible Bee, a Scripture memory and knowledge competition, has a big case of this. The way it is now, its defining traits include the Sword Study (an extremely in-depth study on a single, very short book of the Bible), the "Bible Bee box" of materials (including cards with all the passages on them), and a Nationals competition with lots of family-friendly fun. The very first year, 2009, you had to study no less than six books of the Bible, all of them quite long, on a very non-in-depth level. There was no "Bible Bee box" - it was up to you to print out the cards yourself. And the Nationals competition took place in a hotel better suited for guys on business trips than vacationing families, featuring such wonders as weighted tables with snacks in jars on them that charges you the cost of the product if you pick up anything (and the prices aren't exactly competitive - i.e. eight dollars for gummy bears). There's a lot more than that, though, such as all sorts of format changes and the number of verses (it's been changed around over the years, but the first year the highest age division had to memorize 1,500 verses).
  • In its first year, the IgNobel Prizes gave out three of its awards to fictitious people they made up Just for Pun. Since then, that concept has been dropped; all awards are given out for real events.
  • The entirety of the cable channel Nickelodeon (its first year, the "mime" era, and the "silver ball" era) was this prior to the beginning of the "orange" era in 1985.note  Furthermore, the channel was originally commercial-free until at least the beginning of the aforementioned "orange" era.
  • When the Disney Channel began airing in 1983, it was also commercial-free except between programming blocks (no commercial interruptions). The programming was also geared more toward families with children than it was toward teens and tweens. And while the channel had a synthesized musical jingle just like today, the synthesizer was more "prog-rock" than "pop-rock" or "techno."
  • Podcasts that become Long Runners often have much fuzzier sound quality in their earlier episodes, and one or two regular hosts that no longer show up, which can be weird for those who started more recently:
    • Kritzkast, the fan-podcast for Team Fortress 2, used to have a "Postman Pat" mail segment, which would be responded to by Mann Co. CEO Saxton Hale. The podcast spun this off into its own YouTube segment briefly, then ceased it altogether. There also used to be a host on the show named B00bies, who quit due to real life commitments.
    • The F Plus didn't always sign off with Lemon's "Round about an hour, and that's it for The F Plus, terrible things read with enthusiasm—" Catch Phrase (or a plug for Ballpit, their official forum, which didn't exist at the time), the sound quality was fuzzier (and had audible Skype blips), and a few of the 2009-2012 hosts no longer show up on later episodes.
  • While written music is much older, the core concepts that most people know it by today — five-line staffs, bass and treble clef, time signatures, minor and major keys — did not begin appearing until the 16th century. Rhythm was instead determined by rhythmic mode, and songs were in one of different musical modes instead of specifically minor or major. (That said, modes have not gone away entirely, as many modern pop songs are in modes such as Dorian or Mixolydian, and many churches still use rhythmic modes for chants.)
  • The Chevrolet Corvette is best known for its roaring V8 engine, aggressive transmission and sporty (to varying degrees of accuracy) handling. The first few years of the first generation Corvette (1953-1962), however, had an inline six engine, a smooth but slow two speed automatic transmission, and a soft suspension, making it drive more like a personal luxury car than a sports car. The early cars were also handbuilt and very spartan; there was only one choice of color (red and white), no proper side windows, and interior door handles were an optional extra. The car didn't get its trademark V8 until 1955.
  • Celebrities often start out drastically different in appearance, even to the point where they "don't look like themselves." This can be due to many factors: puberty, aging, plastic surgery, not yet having settled on a signature look, not yet wearing cosmetics or other makeup, or simply the aesthetic standards of earlier eras.
    • Perhaps the most famous example of all is Marilyn Monroe. Pictures of her former self, then 18-year-old Norma Jean Dougherty, taken in 1944 by photographer David Conover, show a dramatically different appearance than the one with which we are familiar. Dougherty has a longer nose, a paler complexion, and long chestnut-brown hair instead of short blond hair; only the twinkling eyes and the dimpled smile hint at her future iconography.
    • The same principle can be applied to Marilyn's Spiritual Successor, Anna Nicole Smith. Before her rise to fame in 1992, "Vickie Smith" (as her original Playboy profile read), while definitely, visibly a woman, cut a much more tomboyish figure, with a bigger-boned frame and a broader jawline than we are used to. Hollywood obviously subjected her to a great deal of Chickification.
    • An especially dramatic transformation for a female celebrity was that of Canadian singer Shania Twain. First look at a photo of her during the height of her career in the 1990s, when she wore conspicuous makeup and sexy outfits. Now look at photos of her as a teenager. Whoa. Hard to tell that's not a boy, huh?
    • Early in his career, Burt Reynolds didn't have his famous mustache.
    • When Steven Spielberg began his filmmaking career in the mid-1970s, he had longer hair and was clean-shaven. Production photos of him on the set of Jaws show a man who looks a lot more like Tim Burton than, well, Spielberg.
    • Similarly, when he was working on Star Wars in 1976, George Lucas had a dark brown beard instead of his now-familiar gray one.
    • Teen actor Anthony Michael Hall bulked up a lot during the late 1980s, going from playing a scrawny Nerd in the Brat Packer films to a full-blown jock in Johnny B. Goode. Many of his friends went so far as to accuse him of taking steroids.
    • A pre-20th-century example is poet Walt Whitman. Before he adopted his more famous proletarian look of a white shirt, plain slacks, slouch hat and a beard, he dressed like a typical Victorian-era dandy.
    • Assuming "fictional" celebrities count, there's Ronald McDonald. When originally portrayed by reporter Willard Scott in 1963, the fast-food clown was a lot more grotesque in appearance, with red greasepaint dominating over white. The current character design was introduced in the late 1960s, and even then Ronald's mouth was redder and blobbier than it is now.
    • As seen on early episodes of Saturday Night Live, Gilbert Gottfried originally had a jewfro, and didn't squint or talk in his grating, high-pitched "parrot" voice.
  • During the American Revolutionary War, African Americans fought alongside European-Americans in integrated units (not all the time, but a lot more frequently than a modern observer would expect). This was because there was yet no institutionalized national government to impose separation of the races. Segregationist practices then followed quickly after the war was won and the Constitution adopted, and an integrated military was not seen again until about 1950. Painter Emmanuel Leutze memorialized the phenomenon in his painting Washington Crossing the Delaware: if you look closely, you'll note that one of the rowers to the left is a black man.


Alternative Title(s):

First Installment Weirdness