Franchise Original Sin

"To me, all the fatal flaws fanboys bitched about in regards to the [Star Wars] prequels — stiff dialogue, wooden performances, a convoluted plot, and mindless spectacle divorced from human emotion — were there from the very beginning."

A Franchise Original Sin is a flaw which in earlier, good installments was kept under control to the point of not really being a flaw, but which goes completely out of control in later, bad installments and brings the franchise down.

Franchise Original Sins may be exacerbated by Protection from Editors resulting in Filibuster Freefall, or a result of a Creator Breakdown or other form of Troubled Production. It is possible for a story to recover from its sins if the writer experiences a Creator Recovery — or you might be looking at the point where the fans invoke Fanon Discontinuity. Or it might be regression to the mean; the work in question was popular because the early installments were above the quality the creators could normally produce, and when they returned to baseline, it was over for them.

It's possible to Jump the Shark without having an Original Sin. Take, for example, Moonlighting, which couldn't keep up the Will They or Won't They? any longer, and the point at which they did was the moment all dramatic tension deflated from the series. There was no Original Sin there, besides the Will They or Won't They?, which was part of what made the series work, so it doesn't qualify here.

Expect to hear a lot of statements like "It was alright when it only happened occasionally, but..." if this trope is brought up in conversation. Sometimes, these elements might have actually been embraced initially, only for fan opinion to turn against them once they became problematic to the work at large.

Rule of thumb: if you can imagine a reboot without the element in question, then it qualifies. If you can't, then it isn't a Franchise Original Sin. Secondary rule of thumb: If it wasn't visible in previous good episodes, it's an Ass Pull or a Retool gone bad, not a Franchise Original Sin. Compare with First Installment Wins. Also compare with Overused Running Gag and Discredited Meme, a more specific variety of this trope where a joke gets used so often that everyone gets sick of it.

Please be careful you aren't Complaining About Shows You Don't Like.


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     Anime and Manga 
  • In Naruto, even in early episodes you could already see that Sasuke was going to be really important and tips about how the Uchiha clan's Myth Arc is key were dropped. Then Sasuke became really important, and the Uchiha clan's Myth Arc swallowed the plot. It's a sore spot between fans whether this is a good thing, a bad thing, or something in between.
  • Bleach:
    • Many of the criticisms during the Arrancar saga first showed in the Soul Society arc. The decreased focus on Ichigo and his friends (much of the arc revolves around the intrigue among the Shinigami as opposed to Ichigo's mission to rescue Rukia, Chad is taken out easily by Captain Kyoraku, and Ishida and Orihime disappear for a large part of the story), the feeling of Arc Fatigue, and Aizen's improbable level of planning and his ability to easily take out anyone in his way are all things that would become much worse in later arcs.
    • Numerous plot twists are a trend that also dates back to the end of the Soul Society arc. It's revealed that the real reason Rukia's execution was arranged was so Aizen could get a powerful object called the Hogyoku that was implanted in her body. The Hogyoku itself didn't really get much build up beyond a vague mention in a letter, but because the story was still in its early stages and because it was important to the main villain's plans, most viewers didn't have a problem with it. Aizen himself was introduced as a kind hearted captain that was brutally murdered, before revealing that he had faked his death and was behind everything in the story to that point, a development that was widely praised at the time. Since then, the number of 'shocking' plot twists in the story has become perhaps the most common criticism about Bleach after Arc Fatigue, and every new twist tends to cause massive arguments in the fanbase about whether they make sense or not. This is most prominent during the Deicide arc, where Aizen becomes embroiled in a Gambit Roulette so ludicrous people stopped taking him seriously.
  • Sailor Moon's much reviled fourth season, SuperS, was founded on many of the elements people hated most about this arc: fairy tale inspired mythology, campy villains, a destined love between Official Couple Usagi and Mamoru, and spotlights on characters other than Usagi herself (namely Chibiusa). While all these elements worked wonderfully in previous seasons, by the time the fourth arc rolled around they just felt stale. The fifth season attempted to fight the Seasonal Rot by immediately sending Chibiusa back to the future, returning the series to magical sci-fi, introducing new characters for a fresh Love Triangle story, and making the Big Bad far more lethal than any previous season.
  • In the El-Hazard: The Magnificent World OVA, Makoto's a Chick Magnet from day one, with three girls initially attracted to him, but it isn't really a Harem Series at that point. Makoto chooses his girlfriend fairly early on, and Nanami and Shayla-Shayla's attraction is a side plot occasionally tapped for humor and fanservice. But when they reach the third series, El Hazard: The Alternative World, the writers seem to have run out of ideas, and Makoto's girlfriend is on a bus anyway, so they have the girls fighting over Makoto every episode and insert a Third-Option Love Interest to spice things up. As a result, The Alternative World was widely seen as inferior to the first and second OVA series, and was Cut Short, with only 13 out of 26 episodes completed.
  • One Piece:
    • The elements that made the 4Kids Entertainment English dub so hated were mostly present in earlier, far more successful shows like PokémonCut-and-Paste Translation, baffling Bowdlerization, Viewers Are Morons, and so on. However, this was sort of okay then because Pokémon skewed towards a much younger audience, and 4Kids had demonstrated that they knew not to use this strategy all the time, as seen in Shaman King or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003). It was only when complaints about those two shows led them to try to apply it to One Piece that the whole thing fell apart... and it didn't help that the Cut-and-Paste Translation technique was falling out of favor at around the same time.
    • In the original version, problems that affected later parts of the series started showing up early on. Pacing problems were present since Skypeia, and the plot having way too many characters started in Enies Lobby.
  • Dragon Ball:
    • Fans of the original series forget that the flaws they often attack in Z (using the titular dragon balls as a reset button to undo the villains' murderous rampage, lots of Filler and Padding to the fights and stories to keep from catching up to the manga, storylines taking way too long to resolve themselves, etc.) were all present, to one degree or another from the start. They just hadn't yet been done to death.
    • The Saiyan Saga of Dragon Ball Z, despite setting the tone for the remainder of the series also introduced many staples the franchise would be criticized for. Power Levels, Beam-O-Wars, death becoming a plot device, and Goku getting a ridiculous power-boost ahead of his comrades.
  • Fairy Tail, back in the Tower of Heaven arc, had Erza Scarlet requip to nothing but a sarashi and hakama pants, while dual wielding katanas, an outfit that is explicitly stated to not provide her any defense, or really any magic. What was supposed to represent her getting over her fear of pain associated with the Tower of Heaven and her own experiences with it became a predictable formula for all of her major fights from there on out: Be on the receiving end of a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown, have most of her other armors either destroyed or disregarded, only to have her make a token 'Nakama Speech' and then requip to this, resulting in a swift victory for her.
  • Lyrical Nanoha's particular claim to fame has always been its superimposition of sci-fi mecha tropes over a Moe Magical Girl series, and for the most part this has been a good thing, allowing it to stand out from the crowd and earning it much of its fanbase. The problem, however, is that over time the franchise has shifted more and more into being a Magitek sci-fi epic, and the magical girl tropes were increasingly downplayed. This led to Magical Record Lyrical Nanoha Force, where the "Magical Girl" was dropped from the series title entirely, along with nearly all the magical girl tropes, in hopes of telling a sci-fi war story. In doing this, however, it lost sight of the particular formula that had made the franchise such a hit to begin with, and combined with some poorly-received characters, the series has been roundly criticized by old-school fans.
  • Most of the criticisms of the second half of Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's, widely acknowledged as a major step down from the first half (promising plot arcs being resolved inadequately, Konami butting in where they don't belong, out-of-place goofiness, focusing on Team Satisfaction characters and Yusei in particular to the exclusion of everyone else) could be found in the earlier Dark Signer arc and even the Fortune Cup arc, widely acknowledged as two of the pinnacles of the franchise. The debate is ongoing as to how the drop happened, but the easiest answer would probably be that the earlier arcs had strong serialized plots that kept the audience interested through their flaws, while the second half... didn't.
  • The original Mobile Suit Gundam featured the death of Lalah Sune as she takes a blow from Amuro's beam sabre to save Char which pits the two men against each other for almost the rest of their lives. Since then it's just about compulsory for every Gundam series to feature a (usually Newtype) girlfriend, love interest or female mentor of the hero's get Stuffed into the Fridge, making Gundam as a whole notorious for over-reliance on the Disposable Woman trope. This reaches a head in Mobile Suit Victory Gundam when the entire Shrike Team gets killed off.

     Comic Books 
  • Crisis on Infinite Earths. While cleaning up the Continuity Snarl that was the multiverse was a good idea, bringing Retcon to whole new levels and unleashing the horror that was The Dark Age of Comic Books did not help things.
    • And you can't accuse Crisis on Infinite Earths without also pointing the finger at the fateful "Flash of Two Worlds" story from 1961, establishing the idea of Golden and Silver Age versions of the same heroes coexisting in separate universes and traveling between them. If the Crisis was Original Sin, "Flash of Two Worlds" was its corresponding Fall of Lucifer.
    • COIE firmly established that Anyone Can Die by having Killed Off for Real two dozen pre-established characters, the most famous being The Flash and Supergirl who each had a whole issue devoted to their deaths culminating in a Heroic Sacrifice. None of the other deaths were handled that well. For the rest, they Dropped a Bridge on Him. This reached its apex in the final issue (# 12), where 7 characters were quickly dispatched in a 2 page spread, including two popular pre-Crisis Multiverse characters, the Earth-2 Robin and Huntress... and these 7 characters weren't the only pre-established characters to be so easily butchered that issue. As the years went by, and more promoted fanboys began Running the Asylum, there were more and more deaths like this, invariably newer characters the writers and editors hadn't grown up reading, creating the C-List Fodder trope and causing the Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy readers now have for newer characters.
  • Some of the worst excesses of the Dark Age can also, quite famously, trace their roots back to two of what are still recognized as among the greatest graphic novels in the medium's history: Watchmen and Batman: The Dark Knight Returns. Both comics won enormous praise and commercial success for their elevation of the medium to new levels of artistic credibility; the former was recognized by Time in 2005 as among the 100 greatest novels ever reviewed by the magazine (the only graphic novel on the list). They also contained levels of violence and sex that were, at the time, unheard of in comics. Writers with less talent than Alan Moore and Frank Miller mistakenly assumed that that was the reason why Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns were so successful, leading to a slew of comics that desperately aimed to be 'mature' yet reveled in the most immature sort of shock value.
  • While we're on the subject of Frank Miller, many new readers who take a look at the "heyday" of his work (Frank Miller's Wolverine, Daredevil: Born Again, Batman: Year One and, of course, The Dark Knight Returns) have stated that most of the problems associated with his newer works (misogyny, racism, militaristic fascism, sociopathic heroes, and derailing characters whom he doesn't like, such as Superman) were present in the very beginning. Before Middle East stereotypes, he used Japanese ones (which reflected cultural fears of the time). Even back in those days, his female characters invoked the Madonna–Whore Complex from the start (Catwoman became a prostitute in Year One, Karen Page became a porn actress) and most of his stories involved heroes abandoning their lighter interpretations for ultraviolent grim dark.
  • Frank Miller's infamously So Bad, It's Good All-Star Batman & Robin, the Boy Wonder actually has many of the same problems that plagued his classic The Dark Knight Returns (to which it's a Stealth Prequel), just taken to comical extremes. In particular, Returns ran on a hefty dose of Alternative Character Interpretation that's still rather divisive among comic book fans: Batman's loner tendencies are taken to the point of emotional sterility, and his physical strength and discipline comes with a frightening stomach for violence, while Superman's famous idealism and patriotism make him an easy pawn for politicians, Jason Todd is said to have died in the line of dutynote , and the new Robin is called a "good soldier" at one point. Even if you didn't agree with the reinterpretations, the characters were ambiguous enough that you could still find them sympathetic in spite of their flaws. But in All-Star, they're all but impossible to take seriously: Batman is a foul-mouthed psychopath who starves and abuses Dick Grayson and drafts him into crime-fighting against his will, Superman is a moronic simpleton, Wonder Woman is an angry misandrist, and the Green Lantern is a naďve hick—yet Batman is still supposedly the most sympathetic character of them all.
  • A lot of the problems with X-Men started with Chris Claremont doing too many things on the fly and not often planning ahead. But at least he didn't force those Running the Asylum now to take his older plots as canon gospel. That is their own fault.
  • Generation X was Dawson's Creek with a cast of mutants. As such, its main failing from the beginning was a general lack of plot direction. The characters did whatever, and in the first two-thirds this was fine because their characters played off each other and the comic climate accommodated its leisurely pace. It helped that, being like a Teen Drama, it dealt with common teen problems. As the series wore on and the '90s gave way to the early '00s, however, the general quality dissolved little by little. The character interactions became strained, and the teenage fans had begun moving on to more meaty stories. This (coupled with lots of changes in creative teams) eroded all the draws that kept readers on the book, and the old aimlessness came out.
  • Uderzo's run as writer of the Astérix comics started out very similarly to Goscinny's run, but with a few immediate shifts in character — first, that Uderzo had a more satirical and parodic sense of humour than Goscinny, who was more into absurdity and anarchy; second, that Uderzo liked writing more complicated, cinematic adventure plotlines, where Goscinny tended to prefer plots that were in the background to the characters's antics; and third, that he pushed fantasy elements further into the foreground, where the setting up until that point had been a Purely Aesthetic Era version of Ancient Rome with one really important fantasy element. This is not considered to detract from the quality of most of the early Uderzo-only books, like The Great Divide, Asterix and Son, and The Black Gold (with a very un-Goscinny James Bond parody subplot), although they are definitely different in tone, but books like The Magic Carpet (where the Dreadful Musician suddenly develops a magic power necessary for the plot to work) and Obelix All At Sea (Obelix gets turned to stone, reverts to childhood, and they all go to Atlantis) are often criticised for being straight fantasy adventures with not much in the way of humour.

    Then there was Asterix and the Secret Weapon, a book about a Straw Feminist taking over the village and defeating a female villain by offering her clothes and shoes. Put Genre Shift, Strawman Political, and Cerebus Syndrome all together and you get the series' shark-jumping moment, Asterix and The Falling Sky, a weird, puerile, xenophobic, and poorly-drawn science fiction story involving the village being invaded by aliens representing the Americans and the Japanese, which was intended as an Author Tract about the influence of manga and American comics on Franco-Belgian Comics but too poorly-written to even work on that level. Fans widely derided it as the worst thing in the world, and Uderzo retired before writing another book celebrating Asterix's 50th anniversary. Both this book and the one made by another duo Uderzo allowed to take over the series found a better reception.
  • Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog can point theirs all the way back to issue 50 and the creation of Knuckles' comic. Issue 50 was meant to be the Grand Finale for the comic and have Robotnik finally Killed Off for Real. However, the comic was Un-Cancelled and entered its Post-Script Season, leaving everyone to scramble as to what to do. Robotnik was first replaced with Ixis Naugus, only to be put away and replaced with Dr. Eggman in time for Sonic Adventure. However, Eggman was portrayed as an ineffectual villain and the comic seemed to just forget Eggman and focus more on Love Triangles, aliens, and everything that wasn't "speedy blue hedgehog fights fat scientist".

    The Knuckles comic was another problem, with writer Ken Penders deciding not to expand on clues left behind with the video games at that time to create a super-secret society of Echidnas and try to turn Knuckles into The Chosen One who would end up defeating Eggman and bringing peace to Mobius. Between the main title's lack of focus and the Knuckles comic's Mary Suetopia and Character Shilling problems, it nearly destroyed the comic until Ian Flynn's arrival.
  • When Superboy-Prime was reintroduced in Infinite Crisis by Geoff Johns, he was something of a affectionate jab/deconstruction at the fandom and a Take That towards obnoxious, overreacting Fan Dumb. This was somewhat clever and liked by fans, especially since it picked on jerkass fans who deserved to be mocked. Unfortunately, less talented writers got their hands on him and Flanderized him into a giant assholish insult towards all readers. Thus he was quickly turned into The Scrappy and readers started hating him and the comics he was in since they were doing nothing but insulting the very people who pay for comics.
  • The entirety of Infinite Crisis itself is a bit of a discourse on the "Return to the Silver Age" movement that had arisen since the publication of Kingdom Come. The latter was written as a late-90s treatise on The Dark Age of Comic Books, showing the absurdity of Dark Age heroes with their Kill 'em All stance, juxtaposing them against the Silver Age heroes with their Thou Shalt Not Kill stance. However, it was not afraid to point out that the Silver Age ideals were quite prone to believing in Black and White Morality, The Complainer Is Always Wrong, and thus they could very easily fall to using — albeit nonviolent — totalitarian tactics in order to make sure their ideals, and ONLY their ideals, were followed by other heroes. The final moral is that the two sides (Silver Age and Dark Age) must come to terms — an analogy that a return to the Bronze Age is best: Heroes should treat matters seriously as the gray areas they often are, but should never lose the convictions to do what's right, rather than just do what's easiest/most permanent. However many fans of, and authors at, DC misunderstood and figured this was the windfall that would allow them to return comics to their Silver Age Campiness, if not completely return to Pre-Crisis status as a whole, and the years to come saw a multitude of attempts by various authors to do this. Infinite Crisis, then, pointed out that while the Dark Age was admittedly an Old Shame, fans and authors also needed to take off the Nostalgia Filter and realize that while the Silver Age has a lot to offer in terms of plot devices and elements, it was also filled with tons of embarrassingly-badly-written nonsense that should just be forgotten.
  • From the Spider-Man franchise:
    • The famous Gwen Stacy death plotline. Behind the scenes, it happened as a way for writer Gerry Conway to resolve the Gwen Stacy romance since she had become too close to Peter and realistically they would eventually marry and settle down which aged up the character considerably. Thing is, Gerry Conway was a decent writer and the storyline worked out pretty well, becoming a stunning Wham Episode that changed the course of the series. When a later editor developed the same fear of aging Peter too much, we got universally reviled storylines and retcons like Sins Past and One More Day.

      Gwen's death itself became so famous and influential it spawned many more stories of superheroes' wives or girlfriends getting Killed Off for Real that led to the Stuffed into the Fridge trope that's so polarizing now to many readers, especially female readers. With the shock value now gone forever, and with all the imitations since then, it can be hard for newer readers to understand what was so great about this story in the first place. It can even seem like one of the worst examples of Fridging. Gwen's barely in the issue that kills her off, spending most of her time there drugged and unconscious until she dies. Reading this story as a standalone, as it's so often reprinted, divorced from the context of previous Spider-Man issues, it can even be hard to see why Gwen was such a popular character beyond the vague idea that she was a Nice Girl.
  • In many ways, the increasingly criticized True Art Is Angsty approach of the New 52 is just the culmination of DC's somewhat well-received attempts at Darker and Edgier, beginning with Identity Crisis. Back than it was the stories becoming somewhat more mature. Now (despite some real gems like Forever Evil) several of its stories tried way too hard to be edgy and slipping back into the excesses and failures of the Dark Age (such as the initial Teen Titans series, which had massively reviled plot points such as Kid Flash being an unrepentent criminal from the future and villain Harvest's entire... everything). Only time will tell if DC's upcoming event, Convergence, will be able to put a ceiling on this.
  • League of Extraordinary Gentlemen:
    • Alan Moore always tried to sell the series on the strength of its central Massively Multiplayer Crossover, with an intricate universe that showed dozens of classic works of literature weaved together into a cohesive whole. In that regard, one element that got some buzz was his use of Broad Strokes to develop once-bland cyphers into interesting characters in their own right. In the first volume, these two elements perfectly complimented and spiced up a genuinely interesting adventure story. However, by the time of Black Dossier and especially Century, they had become a major weakness. For the former, many scenes ended up being devoted to showing off Moore's education instead of advancing the plot, leaving a whole lot of interesting names scattered through a slow and boring narrative. As the series advanced into modern times, Moore also ran out of Public Domain Characters, forcing him to do a whole lot of obvious Writing Around Trademarks. For the latter, Moore attempted to apply his broad-strokes reinvention technique to characters who were far more well-known and fleshed-out to readers than the likes of Allan Quatermain (most infamously James Bond and Harry Potter), leaving the impression that Moore either hadn't done any research or was trying to fulfill some kind of vendetta. Other times, he botched the reinvention; one of his most ambitious creations, Orlando, earned a reputation as a Creator's Pet, and the general opinion of the Golliwog is that he was best left forgotten.
    • Moore has used the series as a means of performing mean-spirited hatchet jobs on characters he doesn't like since the beginning. The very first volume featured Griffin raping both Becky Randall and Pollyanna Whittier. But, unlike his treatment of Harry Potter and James Bond, the characters in question were old-tyme enough that they didn't have strong fanbases to be offended at their treatment. And, also unlike them, the hatchet-job was a side-note within the plot rather than a central part of the narrative.
  • The single most-criticized aspect of the Tom Taylor run of Earth2 was the introduction en masse of Superman and Batman characters in a setting that was founded on being mostly free of them. Despite this, most of them had actually been introduced in the earlier and much better-regarded Robinson run - it was only in Taylor's run that they started to actively push out the other characters.
  • As argued in this Kotaku article, the Wolverine Publicity given to Snoopy starting in the '60s foreshadowed how Peanuts transformed from a grounded and fairly dark Slice of Life comic strip into the shallow and saccharine pap that marked its Seasonal Rot from the late '70s onward. Originally, Snoopy was written as a normal dog, but as he started to gain an actual personality (for lack of a better term), he and his fantastic adventures became a nice contrast to the rest of the strip. In time, however, the increasing humanization of Snoopy grew out of control, the strip focusing more on putting Snoopy in goofy costumes and crazy situations as opposed to the social commentary on growing up that was the strip's hallmark in its early days. Other characters were pushed Out of Focus, while depth fell by the wayside in favor of gags and cuteness. Eventually, it culminated in the addition of other animal characters, such as Woodstock (who existed pretty much just to be cute) and Snoopy's family, meaning that Snoopy didn't have to interact much with the human characters at all anymore.

  • A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons succumb to the sprawling, complex nature of the Song of Ice and Fire storyline that had previously been a selling point. The series has always been about gradual plot development and long term pay-offs, with a lot of detail put into exploring the backdrop of the action and the world in general — but this was all complemented by significant happenings. Though some POV characters had less to do than others, each book had dramatic arc to it. Feast and Dance, meanwhile, are criticized for (among other things) essentially very little happening because the focus is drawn so wide, with so much time spent describing characters and places that don't really matter. Notably, when the HBO adaptation Game of Thrones reached this point in the series during season 5, many of these same criticisms — namely, that the show was moving too slowly and was having trouble corralling all of its many plotlines — were repeated almost verbatim by TV critics, even with the show's attempts at Adaptation Distillation.
  • Similarly, while The Wheel of Time always suffered from too many subplots, dozens of viewpoint characters and massive word count padding, in the earlier books it was easier to overlook this because Robert Jordan was able to write an interesting story into each thread of the epic. Then came Crossroads of Twilight, when the first section of the book was dedicated to showing what various characters had been doing during the Battle of Shadar Logoth, which was essentially 'nothing at all.' Crossroads of Twilight was seen as the weakest book in the series for this reason.
  • In the Bitterbynde trilogy's first book, The Ill-Made Mute, the characters frequently sit down and begin to tell a Tale-within-a-Tale, usually some retelling of a known myth about magical creatures. This fit in with the book's easygoing pace, the characters in question, and it helps to build the world of Erith as a world where such occurrences are commonplace. The prose is also lavish and very detailed, but again, it's used well and it creates a beautiful and distinct world in the reader's head. By the time the second book rolls around, the easygoing pace is maddeningly slow, the prose has gotten to a point where the reader needs a dictionary handy at all times, and a knowledge of how to diagram a sentence, and the constant interruption with myths and folktales becomes a huge distraction and hindrance. The third book is nearly unreadable, for these and other reasons.

  • From Cracked: "4 Classic Rap Albums That Ruined Rap Music."
    • The Notorious BIG's Ready to Die for "marrying rap and high fashion". His slick, suave persona stood out in a crowded genre that, until then, was dominated by a gritty, inner-city gang banger image, allowing him to sell Gangsta Rap to a mainstream that was still a bit uneasy with such content. In the long run, though, he wound up being the Trope Maker for Glam Rap, which completely took over hip-hop in the coming decade. Cracked later doubled down on this assessment, going so far as to claim that, had Biggie never been murdered, the path of his career and music in the ensuing years would've mirrored that of Puff Daddy (who was his mentor and boss at Bad Boy Records) or Jay-Z.
    • Raekwon the Chef and Ghostface Killah's Only Built 4 Cuban Linx starting the trend of rappers taking on several different personas and alter-egos.
    • LL Cool J's Bigger and Deffer, particularly the song "I Need Love", inflicting the rap ballad on the world. While "I Need Love" was a great song, few rappers have been able to do the rap ballad half as well as LL Cool J.
    • De La Soul's 3 Feet High and Rising and De La Soul Is Dead popularizing 'skits', which break up the flow of an album and are rarely all that interesting.
  • Every album Ministry put out in the 2000s seemed like an extended political Author Tract, but they first dabbled in political themes on 1986's Twitch, meaning political lyrics have been a part of Ministry's music longer than guitars.
  • "Believe" from Cher and the abuse of Auto-Tune. Before then, Auto-Tune was primarily used for its intended goal of (minor) pitch correction. However, Cher liked the sound it gave to her voice and decided to keep it. It worked for "Believe" since, as a techno-pop song, it was supposed to sound weird and otherworldly, and that song was a massive hit. However, ever since, Auto-Tune has slowly started to take over pop music, with almost every song having a weird robotic element to the vocals, even songs that aren't supposed to sound weird and otherworldly.
  • Lupe Fiasco was lauded for his political and social commentary in a genre that, by the '00s, was largely more pop-oriented, cleverly exploring topics like urban poverty and greed on his albums Food & Liquor and The Cool. Both of these albums are very highly regarded in 2000s hip-hop. However, his subsequent albums Lasers and Food & Liquor II were accused of trying to do the same, but with less subtlety. While Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped, general fan consensus is not as positive on his subsequent albums.
  • Eminem received a lot of praise and controversy for his use of boundary-pushing gross-out humor on his first three albums, The Slim Shady LP, The Marshall Mathers LP, and The Eminem Show. Encore and Relapse, however, were accused of turning the humor and accents Up to Eleven, without as many of the substantial songs that balanced it out on the first three albums, and are generally viewed as the weakest in his discography. Eminem himself has expressed some Creator Backlash towards these albums, and has claimed his drug addiction as a reason as to why Encore and Relapse feel so all over the place.
  • Post-Grunge is The Scrappy of music genres for Generation X listeners, who by and large view it as a betrayal of everything that grunge stood for, taking a genre that was born as a backlash against corporate rock and turning it into a symbol of such. Yet the warning signs were there as early as Nirvana's Nevermind, the landmark album that catapulted grunge into the spotlight, which came to be known as much for its epic riffs and (by grunge standards) fairly polished and commercial sound as it was for its Darker and Edgier lyrics and subject matter. Kurt Cobain himself came to develop very conflicted feelings towards Nevermind, particularly the single "Smells Like Teen Spirit", largely for this reason, and Nirvana's follow-up album In Utero (which, notably, a large contingent of fans sees as Nirvana's true Magnum Opus) quite deliberately had a more abrasive, less mainstream sound in an attempt to turn off what Cobain saw as the band's Misaimed Fandom.
  • When Queen released the album The Game in 1980, with its disco and Synth Pop influences, it managed to be a smash hit in the US (where it made about half its sales), even though disco was undergoing heavy backlash there at the time. It's still considered one of their better albums, yet on their 1982 follow-up Hot Space, they embraced disco whole-hog. Hot Space was lambasted for its deviations from the band's traditional rock style, and while Queen's international popularity would quickly bounce back, Americans wouldn't take them seriously again until after the death of Freddie Mercury in 1991.
  • Whereas the first two Doors albums, The Doors and Strange Days, are good enough that even the filler material is compelling, from Waiting For the Sun onwards the band increasingly came to be consumed by its esoteric mystique - the very same quality that had helped to fuel its success in the first place. The band's impenetrable Word Salad lyrics weren't too distracting when the music itself was so enjoyable, but the combination of inscrutable lyrics and mediocre tunes was just too much of a hurdle for the later albums to surmount...until L.A. Woman, that is.

    New Media 
  • As this article by a self-described former internet troll explains, the culture of trolling has always had a streak of fairly disreputable viewpoints that, in polite company, would likely get one shunned from the room (at the very least). The idea that there was a time before trolling was associated with extreme politics is entirely nostalgia for the "good old days" of the internet. After all, extremism is a great way to press someone's Berserk Button and get the sort of reaction that trolls crave. What did change, on the other hand, was trolls taking themselves and those viewpoints seriously, ironically becoming just as self-righteous, defensive, and thin-skinned as the people they used to mock. In the past, the end results of trolling were ultimately harmless, with the worst example possibly being a fake news article that would end with a huge "gotcha" towards the reader. But as trolling got "serious", attacks became far harsher than ever before. Doxing and SWATting have become common practices as a result of trolling, along with death threats which have had their targets fear they would be followed up upon (and a few cases of it being dangerously close to home). Trolling had gone beyond harmless pranks and ribbing and had become a serious form of attacking another person, akin to cyberbullying or cybercrime under a different name to avoid connotation.

     Professional Wrestling 
  • WWE has the breakup of The Rockers. The immense success Shawn Michaels found after the breakup was good for the business no question, even taking the diva persona Shawn acquired as a result of it into account, but Marty Jannetty's fade into obscurity was unfortunate. The plan was for both members of the team to become big single's stars but it came to be that, in trying to duplicate the success of Shawn Michaels, the WWE broke up a lot of popular tag teams and instead of getting one good single's star out of it usually ended up with two wrestlers fading into obscurity and eventually this behavior all but destroyed the tag team division. Right before WWE's tag team division could be considered dead there was an unexpected revival in the 90s...only for the sin of the Rockers to be committed once again in what would become a recurrence.
  • "Stone Cold" Steve Austin's refusal to tap out to Bret Hart in their iconic Submission Match created a trend for future wrestlers. It was the career defining match that set the tone for Austin's character for years. His refusal to tap out would actually become a reoccuring topic when he turned Heel. Although there were wrestlers (namely Hulk Hogan) who also never tapped out, Austin was the first person they ever brought attention to. In more recent years, wrestlers like John Cena have been criticized for never tapping out and tapping out in general being treated like a coward's action.
  • WWE giving the women's title to Sable, a model who had not gone through developmental nor wrestled on the indies. Sable went beyond needing to be carried; she flat out refused to take bumps. Still, her popularity revived interest in the division and led to talented wrestlers putting on good matches - not to mention that Sable was quite muscular for a model, so, Kayfabe aside, the idea of her powerbombing someone was at least plausible. The sin was actually having Sable win the title from Jacqueline, which set up Trish Stratus, another inexperienced model, getting the title when it was vacated. While Trish, to her credit, became a respectable talent despite her beginnings, WWE continued to push models with little to no wrestling experience, to the point it had to take the title off television altogether when the roster overflowed with inadequately trained people who were not learning as quickly as Trish and could not appeal to audiences as Sable could to offset the low level of performance.
  • The First WWE Diva Search added nothing to the program in the long run but did not do any damage either, as everyone soon forgot about it. What everyone remembers is the 2004 quarter-million-dollar Diva Search, which lead to a football player from the Lingerie Bowl with no wrestling experience coming straight to television with with a bigger paycheck than half the roster. That in itself would not have been so bad if not for the aforementioned sin of Sable, which lead to three mainstays being released in favor of runner ups from the 2004 Diva Search, who stayed on longer than the fan-voted winner. This decision was the direct cause of the title being removed from television, and there were three more Diva Searches before the fans made it clear enough was enough. At least the last two actually kept the winners over the runners-up.
  • The Rock's return to the WWE between Wrestlemania 28 and Wrestlemania 29 might appear to be shaping up into one. When it happened, almost everybody was happy: the fans were happy to see The Rock return, WWE got some mainstream press (which they're always desperate for,) and in general, despite the flaws in the execution, all was good. However, when WWE saw the surge they got from a returning legend, they've tried desperately to make that same lightning strike twice, bringing multiple former Superstars back, including Chris Jericho, RVD, Brock Lesnar, the New Age Outlaws, and Batista. Some have worked, some haven't, but as a whole, the sheer number of them are seen as damaging. It creates difficulty in creating storylines and building momentum due to their spotty appearances, which can damage the push of younger Superstars who are working with them. The sheer number of them who are clogging up the roster, and the short-term rise in popularity, could potentially hurt WWE long-term by not giving their rising stars the time to become the main-event performers they need to be when the current generation starts to step down. While most of the returning Superstars themselves are very popular, the term "part-timers" has become a dirty word among WWE fans.
  • The success of ECW lead to an influx of garbage wrestlers who could not work well but could swing stuff around or were willing to jump off high places to the USA scene, and also popularized valets mainly there to do "cat fights". These did not originate in ECW, but this is where they caught on. Abdullah The Butcher, The Sheik, Dick Bruiser, those guys could still work traditional matches well... Sandman not so much. Also, the ECW women typically had more to their roles during their early to mid years but as ECW wound down...rolling around and broncho busters were about all women did. Prior garbage feds like FMW tended to produce some of the most fearsome women divisions on the planet. Following in ECW's wake, XPW, IWA Mid-South and CZW would magnify these flaws to new heights (though in fairness, the latter two would learn from their mistakes and outlast ECW).

    Tabletop Games 
  • The common complaint about Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition and its permutations was being too focused on spellcasting to the point of casters being broken. Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards, in truth, had always been around in D&D. There's a reason nearly every high-level character in most settings was a caster; the original 1st Edition Player's Handbook has dozens of spells that hit Story-Breaker Power level. 3e simply removed many of the things that had made casters something of a gamble to play, while also making warrior-type classes much less impressive. In particular, the lament of warriors being tactically boring was even worse in 1st Edition, where warriors had almost no options outside of simple attacks. It was acceptable then, because the warrior still had an important job and role, but when the casters could take care of themselves, the warrior-type characters resigned themselves to a long career of saying "I move and attack" over and over.
    • Conversely, the common complaint about 4th Edition - namely, most classes feeling like they played the same - was present in 3rd as well with the Tome of Battle classes. Tome of Battle was a well-received sourcebook in many circles for giving melee characters more options and a more interesting playstyle, but it did so in a manner quite similar to spellcasting, to the point of being affectionately named "The Book of Weeaboo Fightan Magic." However, martial adepts still felt very different to spellcasters - not only were maneuvers a distinct system, but individual maneuvers didn't really look or function like the vast majority of spells. 4th decided to make a system largely based on Tome of Battle's the system that every class used - and consequently, many classes wound up feeling unnaturally similar in terms of what their abilities did, with the majority of nearly every class's abilities coming down to "you do xdx damage plus your ability modifier and something else happens."
    • A common gripe about 4th Edition was it being too encouraging to a "magic items grow on trees" mindset, accusing it of being a Monty Haul edition. But the roots of this dated back to 3rd, which had a wealth-by-level chart in the Dungeon Master's Guide that encouraged D Ms to give their players a specific amount of gold to buy magic items with. Adventurers wearing impressive magical gear even at low levels and the "magic mart" mindset were worked into the game - it was simply an effort to make sure that the DM didn't wind up overequipping or underequipping the party. Where 4th Edition differed was actively building the wealth-by-level chart into the game's design, virtually requiring players to have specific level-appropriate magical gear just to keep up with their enemies - a DM who didn't use wealth-by-level in 3e was merely making the game harder for his players, a DM who didn't use wealth-by-level in 4e was pretty much signing the party's death warrant. As if to underline this, the magic item section was moved from the Dungeon Master's Guide to the Player's Handbook. The result was that magic items no longer carried the special nature of their earlier counterparts, becoming something expected rather than desired, and low-magic games or settings became an exercise in suicide. It's almost certainly not a coincidence that the next edition, 5th, scaled back this mindset hard, removing the prices on almost all magic items bar basic healing items and pretty much explicitly claiming that "magic marts" don't exist.
  • Shadowrun, being a Cyber Punk game, always had a focus on gritty Anti Heroic player characters getting by in a gritty world. But, as editions went by, the designers dug deeper and deeper pits for the setting, until, by the end of 4th Edition, Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy was settling in. There Are No Good Executives, and every Shadowrunner is an amoral jerk who'll do any old horrible thing for a quick buck at best, with the game designers actively pooh-poohing the idea of Shadowrunning teams having any kinds of morals or standards on the forums. Fifth edition has its flaws, being littered with poorly-adapted design artifacts from earlier versions of the game, but many players are just happy it's finally trying to reverse that particular trend.

    Video Games 
  • One of the biggest criticisms aimed toward Batman: Arkham Origins and Batman: Arkham Knight is present in Batman: Arkham City where, despite Hugo Strange being marketed and presented as the main vilain in the beginning of the game, you'll spent almost the rest of it curing the Joker from his disease to the point that the game needs to remind you who the real villain is from times to times.
  • Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel! has been criticized by some reviews and fans of having tedious backtracking and tiresome quest design. While some of these problems have existed since the first entry in the franchise, Borderlands 2 did mitigate some of the excessive backtracking and offered vastly improved gameplay and writing that helped distract from some of the sluggish pacing problems. However, as noted in this IGN review, the Pre-Sequel did not correct the pacing problems despite being the 3rd main installment in the series, thus making it more difficult to ignore these issues.
  • Mega Man 5 was the first game to not make any substantial change to the series formula (Mega Man 2 had items and eight bosses, Mega Man 3 had Rush and sliding, and Mega Man 4 had the charged buster shot and the Disc One Final Dungeon). The series became notorious for repetition not long after. It was also the first game to repeat the 'twist reveal' that the Big Bad was Dr. Wily all along and make it completely unsurprising; 4 had the element of Wily supposedly dying in the previous game while introducing a completely new antagonist in Dr. Cossack, making the twist somewhat surprising. For 5 to suggest that Proto Man had suddenly undergone a complete Face-Heel Turn for no real reason, most gamers could easily guess how it was going to turn out.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • It's said that Sonic Adventure and Sonic Adventure 2, while worthy installments in their own right, started a number of annoying trends exacerbated in the later 3-D Sonic games, like Unexpected Gameplay Changes, Sonic (or sometimes his friends) using the Chaos Emeralds as an Eleventh Hour power up, and Eggman being upstaged by a Monster of the Week that goes out of his control. Later games started rectifying this by demoting the Emeralds back to bonus power-ups and re-estasblishing Eggman as the main villain like in the original games.
    • Some consider the introduction of Tails in Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Knuckles in Sonic 3, and ESPECIALLY Amy Rose and Metal Sonic in Sonic CD, while well-liked additions to the series overall, to be the beginning of the franchise's (at times overexaggerated) troubles with Loads and Loads of Characters and juggling different styles of gameplay.
      • Plans for sidekick characters went as far back as the initial development of the franchise. The fact that none of them made it into the first game, and ended up being introduced slowly in the next few games, gave a very different impression of the series to early fans. This makes it an odd sin that was planned to be there from the beginning, but by accident was kept in check early on (though it probably wouldn't be seen as a sin if it was a necessary barrier to like the franchise from the beginning).
    • The bad ending of Game Gear version of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 implies that Tails is murdered by Eggman. Which, combined with Sonic Spinball and Sonic Sat AM, may have been a slow beginning to the Darker and Edgier route, the tone ending up becoming a big criticism by the time the 3D games reached Shadow the Hedgehog and Sonic 2006.
    • Some others thought Sonic 3D Blast foreshadowed the problems with the 3D games. Gameplay is slowed-down and running controls are loose and slippery, while the 'get to the end as quickly as possible' goal was replaced with 'find all of the birds and guide them to the exit'. This possibly led to experimental gameplay mechanics like Big the Cat's stages in the Adventure games that deviated too much from the Sonic formula.
    • Some also believe that SEGA's very loose policy on canonicity of side materials (most notably the TV shows and the comics) created a Broken Base as early as 1992—one year after Sonic was introduced—as Sonic fans started siding with one particular interpretation while viciously attacking the other ones, not unlike today's Broken Base with Sonic (only with gameplay more than story). During the 90s, however, Sonic fans had a common enemy in Nintendo and Mario, so the cracks didn't become visible to most until 2001 with Sonic Adventure. At this time, SEGA exerted greater enforcement over canonicity rendering all other storylines non-canon, followed shortly by SEGA's financial collapse and subsequent alliance with Nintendo. With the barriers torn down and no uniting force, the bickering became the Sonic fandom's most infamous trait.
    • The 3D games have scripted moments where Sonic goes through a spectacle of loops and corkscrews while the player holds "up" (or sometimes nothing at all), which can get complaints for not engaging the player from a gameplay standpoint during such moments. The 2D games had moments like this too, substituting "up" with "right" or "down".
    • One of the most maligned elements of '06 was the character of Princess Elise, who many people remarked as looking incredibly out-of-place next to Sonic and pals, but realistic human characters had been around since Adventure 2 without too much complaining. Elise was just the first one to be a major character who regularly interacted with the cartoon animals, which threw the contrast in far sharper relief (and the romance just made it even more questionable).
  • Guitar Hero Encore: Rocks the 80s was a poorly received Mission-Pack Sequel to the excellent Guitar Hero II, made by Harmonix under contract after Activision bought the series. Neversoft (under Activision) made Guitar Hero III and onward, with Guitar Hero: Aerosmith, Guitar Hero: Metallica, Guitar Hero: Smash Hits, Guitar Hero: Van Halen, Guitar Hero: On Tour — Decades, Guitar Hero: On Tour — Modern Hits and Band Hero, drowning the series in a flood of Mission Pack Sequels.
  • For Rock Band, themselves Harmonix continued this trend on their own with Rock Band Track Packs (bare-bones game discs with songs taken from the game's vast DLC library, for players stuck on consoles with no DLC or who want to get the songs for slightly cheaper) and band-specific sequels with artists like The Beatles and Green Day.
  • Mortal Kombat only completely entered its Dork Age when it smashed into the Polygon Ceiling, but the third game shows at least some of the weaknesses of later installments: overreliance on dial-a-kombo,note  unmemorable and often easy-to-hate new characters, the complete shattering of the Eastern-ish theme (which resulted in people realizing how ridiculous some of the characters looked), and the bosses suddenly getting cheaper. Yet there's still a lot of fans and defenders of this one.
  • World of Warcraft:
    • Creeping layers upon layers of retcons, the Horde/Alliance Conflict Ball, and the increasingly immersion-breaking self-aware humor. You could say that the worst excesses of Wrath of the Lich King existed in embryonic form in The Burning Crusade, and likewise, the worst excesses of Cataclysm can be found in a weaker form in Wrath of the Lich King. The Sudden Sequel Heel Syndrome of Orcs is also thought to have originated in Cataclysm, and Mists of Pandaria. Most of this was present when WoW launched. The real Original Sin came in WarCraft III, where Blizzard first began to rely on massive retcons in lieu of moving the story forward in a logical fashion. At the time, the world was small enough that the retcons were a necessary evil in order to build up a setting that felt like a whole world (and could later support an MMO).
    • Accusations of Horde bias on the developers part can (and by some forumers, have) be retraced way back to Warcraft 2, where the Horde was so powerful that the only reason the Alliance won was because the Horde suffered a civil war.
  • Pokémon:
    • Weather effects have been around since Gen II, but at the time of their introduction, Weather-based teams were not very popular because altering weather would only last five turns, and the effects were rarely worth the time spent setting up. Gen III introduced abilities, among which were several weather-related ones: Drought/Drizzle/Sand Stream, which caused weather effects that would last indefinitely until another move or ability was used to cancel them out; along with other abilities like Swift Swim that doubled certain stats in certain weather conditions. However, Drought/Drizzle were exclusive to two Legendary Pokémon that could not be used in most forms of competitive play, and Sand Stream was (at the time) weaker and harder to use than the other two, so this wasn't a huge issue. Gens IV and V, however, have since added even more weather-based abilities, moves and items, including giving Drought/Drizzle to non-banned Pokémon and introducing strong Sandstorm users such as Garchomp, Excadrill and Landorus. The result is the Gen V metagame is so dominated by weather teams a few of the larger Pokémon communities have had to place bans on certain Pokémon and combinations, and have even discussed banning weather (or at least weather-inducing abilities) outright. Game Freak nerfed weather abilities themselves in Generation VI, by limiting ability-caused weather to five turns, as a weather-altering move would do.
    • "Mythical Pokémon", aka Event Legendaries (Pokémon only attainable through real life limited-time-only events) have been around since Gen I's Mew. Mew was added in at the last minute and wasn't meant to be obtainable, hence why not having it had no bearing on Pokédex completion. As of Gen VI, the number of Event Legandaries has increased to thirteen, and while they still don't affect Pokédex completion, it is still irritating to completionists due to how gratuitous their status is (these Pokémon have no valid reason to be restricted to nigh-unobtainable status nowadays as they're not last minute additions like Mew was) and how contradictory it is to the original slogan of the series (you can't "catch 'em all" if a fair number of them are all but locked off to you, can you?)note  Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire seem to be taking steps to rectify this however as one of the Mythical Pokemon, Deoxys, is now available in the games, time will tell if this will last into future games.
  • American Wasteland may have marked the exact moment when the Tony Hawk series' franchise zombification became irreversible, but the things that sent it and later games off the rails can be seen as far back as Underground (and even Pro Skater 4), when the series was still on top of the world. By adding the ability to walk around on foot and drive around in vehicles, Underground started the series' trend towards over-reliance on gimmicks like the "Nail the Trick" feature and Ride's use of an expensive skateboard peripheral, and became less about the actual skateboarding — something that was made readily apparent when Skate came out without any of these gimmicks and proved that they were unnecessary.
    • One could go back all the way to the first game, citing the way combos are scored (powerful multipliers awarded for each little trick, losing everything for bailing) as an Original Sin that elevated rail-slides (which created tons of opportunities to perform little stunts) above everything else. From there, Pro Skater 3 introduced the revert. Now you can do air on a quarter-pipe and link it into a manual, making the expected combos longer (and riskier, since bailing cancels out the whole thing) even for relatively casual players who didn't make as much use of the long grind and manual chains in the earlier games. Increasingly, gameplay grew more dependent on over-the-top stunt chains than anything resembling actual skateboarding.
  • Resident Evil:
    • Resident Evil 4 set the series on a far more action-packed course as opposed to the Survival Horror genre that it had pioneered. It had downed enemies dropping ammo and other loot for the first time, allowed players to use that loot to upgrade and purchase weapons, replaced the zombies with the comparatively human-like Ganados, introduced quick-time events, and featured scenes of Leon suplexing enemies and leaping through a laser grid in a manner that would make Keanu Reeves proud. While these changes were divisive even then, RE4 was still scary enough, and retained enough of past games' horror/exploration DNA, that longtime fans could ignore them and appreciate the much-needed improvements to gameplay that it made. It's not too controversial within the fandom to list RE4 as one's favorite RE game.

      However, the next "main" installment, Resident Evil 5, took these changes even further and started bringing the series into Third-Person Shooter territory. It featured nearly non-stop action at the expense of scares, abundant ammunition supplies that made ammo conservation a much more minor concern (and thus reducing tension by making enemy encounters far easier to plow through), a removal of the exploration of past games in favor of a more linear progression, and over-the-top Action Hero protagonists — a shift that was met with a mixed reception from fans and critics. The following game, Resident Evil 6, as well as the spinoff Operation Raccoon City, were full-blown action shooters and low points for the series. Furthermore (as argued here), RE's transition from horror to action wound up impacting the entire Survival Horror genre, especially at the big-budget levels, as games like Silent Hill: Homecoming and the Dead Space sequels imitated it. Some have even called RE4, in the long run, a Genre Original Sin for survival horror, if not an outright Genre-Killer. Fortunately, Capcom eventually realized that the series was going the wrong way, creating the Revelations spin-offs that brought gameplay back to a focus on exploration, ammo conservation, and scares (while still retaining the gameplay innovations and weapons upgrades of the main series games).
    • Another, and earlier, likely Original Sin may have been the film adaptation, which was, at the time, one of the most action-packed zombie movies ever made, and certainly more action-heavy than the games that preceded it. Its sequels only further amped up these elements, to the point where the RE movies came to be described strictly as action films with zombies in them. The success of the film series likely colored people's expectations of the games, leading to later installments of the latter, starting with RE4, incorporating more of the former's stylistic elements.
  • The problem with the Tales Series and DLC all started with the PS3 release of Tales of Vesperia, which had costumes that could only be obtained by preorders, and then more that can only be obtained by paying with real money. While this upset some fans, the game overall was still very meaty and had easily the most in game costume in the series before... or since. The very next game had no more than two in game costumes per character (to compare, everyone on the Playstation 3 version of Vesperia had at least five, with Yuri and Karol having well over that), with the rest only available through DLC. The game after that had... four, not even one for each character, and two of them were for the female lead.
  • Metroid:
    • After eight years in rest since Super Metroid, the series was revived with two well-received games, one of them being Metroid: Fusion. Despite the positive reception, a point of criticism from fans was its stronger focus on a story, it was even the first time Samus interacted with another character. This was seen as a turning point for the entire series to shift towards more plot-driven games, like Metroid Prime 3: Corruption. Other M brought the debate on whether or not this is a good idea to a flame-war-stricken head, particularly due to how it characterizes Samus Aran.
    • Samus has also become more and more gratuitously sexualized as the series has gone on. The series has always rewarded good gameplay with an image of Samus out of her armor and in skimpy clothing, but in the earlier games it was much more about the Tomato Surprise than Fanservice and most players wouldn't even see it because it required a very good performance. Metroid: Zero Mission introduced a skintight undersuit for her, which just barely skated by with the fanbase (because the entire point was that her armor was forcibly stolen, and she was more vulnerable as a result). Ever since then, suitless Samus has become just a thing that happens for fanservice, at times in contexts some fans consider inappropriate and/or degrading. The prominence of Zero Suit Samus in Super Smash Bros. did not help things either.
  • Medal of Honor, as discussed in this article, contained early versions of many of the things that later military shooters would be criticized for — most notably, its desaturated color palette and how that style became associated with 'realism' even in settings where it didn't make sense.
  • Mario Kart:
    • The Spiny Blue Shell that debuted in Mario Kart 64 and Mario Kart: Super Circuit was a quite honest and balanced weapon in those two games, since it worked like a blue shell that hit every other racer in front of the one who threw it; however, in Mario Kart: Double Dash!!, the item was given an overhaul, where it was given wings, thus only hitting whoever is leading the race, and the possibility to explode, which means a damage that takes longer to recover. While normal damage (i.e. being hit by a normal shell) only takes two seconds or so to recover, an explosion flat-out stops the kart, and it takes roughly five to ten seconds to gain speed once again. Exploding on contact, alongside it only hitting the leader (although the explosion can hit nearby racers), means the only kart getting any benefits whatsoever is the one in second place, which often happens — unsurprisingly — to surpass the one at the head of the race. This 'feature', already problematic when playing MK:DD!! in single player, was even more frustrating in Mario Kart DS, and outright plagued single player races in Mario Kart Wii, where getting hit by a Spiny Blue Shell inches before the race ended was so common, that unlocking characters and/or karts requiring Golden Cups at 150cc difficulty was nearly impossible. Thankfully Mario Kart 7, while still having the Blue Shell explode upon hitting the first-place driver, also stripped it of its wings, thus reverting it to its pre-Double Dash! form: now the shell hits everyone else in the processnote .
    • Mario Kart: Double Dash!!, aside from changing how the Spiny Shell worked, introduced a new gimmick that forced players to use 2 characters at once (one for driving and one for using items). This wasn't bad in single player since you did everything at once, but if you had to play with a friend, you really needed to communicate and have good timing in order to race properly. The introduction of 2 players per kart also meant the amount of items in play was doubled, leading to item spam in the whole race and increasing the chances of getting an item that screws everyone else over. Mario Kart Wii amplified the problem with items by introducing more items that can either screw everyone over or screw one person over if he/she can't shake the item off. On top of this, the game had 12 players in a race instead of the standard 8, which meant more items popping up and causing chaos. The game also introduced bikes, which became everyone's favorite thing to use because abusing the wheelie mechanic made bikes go faster than karts, regardless of stats. It wasn't until Mario Kart 7 that Nintendo balanced things again and got rid of mechanics that did not work.
    • The coins mechanic was heavily disliked by players for nearly every game it appeared in. Super Mario Kart used coins as a way to boost speed and you'd lose coins for being hit or going off course and being bumped would also make you lose coins. Mario Kart Super Circuit brought the coins back and they doubled as a requirement to be met if you wanted to get the best rank. Mario Kart 7 had the coins return once more, though they would only give you a slight speed boost and you wouldn't spin out from a bump if you had no coins. However, coins were needed to unlock parts for your karts and it got really ridiculous with some parts requiring thousands or even beyond ten thousand coins to unlock. Mario Kart 8 not only retained the coin system and unlocks that the previous game used, but now coins can be an item you can pick up, which means your measly 2 coin bonus will not protect you from the red shell the person behind you will use.
    • Decomposite Characters taking character slots. The Double Dash!! roster included baby versions of Mario and Luigi. Although fans were not fond of them, they mostly didn't mind as Yoshi's Island was enough of a cult game to make their inclusion justified. Wii introduced Baby Peach, Baby Daisy and Dry Bowser (Bowser Stripped to the Bone in New Super Mario Bros.). Mario Kart 7 created Metal Mario out of a power up from Super Mario 64. Mario Kart 8 has the four previous babies, Baby Rosalina, Metal Mario and Pink Gold Peach in the basic version and Tanooki Mario, Cat Peach (power up from Super Mario 3D World) and Dry Bowser as Downloadable Content for a total of 10 alternate versions of other characters, more than a quarter of the roster. All of them are Base Breakers at best or Scrappies at worst. The removal of original characters like King Boo or Birdo doesn’t help.
    • Elements not from Mario games. DS had R.O.B as an unlockable character. Wii and 7 allowed you to play with your Miis. Later installments introduced as DLCs Link, Villager and Isabelle as playable characters along with tracks based on Zelda, Animal Crossing, F-Zero and Excitebike. Mario Kart 8 is one of the better received installments but there’s criticism about the game feeling more like Nintendo Kart than Mario Kart.
  • BioWare:
    • Romance plots originally were rather subdued, some romantic requirements having different requirements to set off a relationship (especially in Baldur's Gate where playing nice is a good way to have your advances rejected by your prospective love interests). By Dragon Age II certain party members had little or no role in the story beyond their romance, which caused the game to suffer.
    • The focus on epic storylines, intricate plotting, and massive worldbuilding started hitting a brick wall as early as Jade Empire, where there were far too many characters and background for such a short game. Spread out over three games in Mass Effect, the plotlines became increasingly complex, but the realties (read: limitations) of CRPG technology led to having to railroad a Gainax Ending to the series. It's also biting them hard with Star Wars: The Old Republic, where their ambitious writing (8 character classes, each with their own story arc) and production values (top-tier voice talent) has led to a very satisfying process of leveling from 1-50, but budget cutbacks from Electronic Arts means they've abandoned the individual class stories, leaving a generic, repetitive grind (the story arc only differs by faction) for anything past the initial story arc.
    • As pointed out on 1d4chan, the first two Mass Effect games, while still extremely good, had quite a few omens of the problems that arose in Mass Effect 3; powers being made redundant, story vital characters and events being left to DLC, a drop in character development, EA butting in where they don't belong, and a decrease in making vital choices. All of these things were present over the first two games but were either barely noticeable or well controlled. The third game was merely the point where these issues really started impacting the quality of the game.
    • They also point out that this applies to Dragon Age, as well, only to a much sharper degree; every base breaking aspect of the second game was present in Origins. There was pointless DLC, divisive or unlikeable characters, and the first expansion pack Awakening was visibly rushed and had loads of gamebreaking bugs. Thing is, there it was all kept in check and plenty of work was put into Origins to ensure it came out good. Dragon Age II was every problem with Origins made blatant due to EA forcing Bioware to bum rush the game out. As good as Bioware is, a game of the same quality level of Dragon Age: Origins being completed in less than a year just wasn't going to happen.
  • Quick-Time Events, one of the biggest Scrappy Mechanics in modern video games, can be traced all the way back to the beloved Dragons Lair, whose gameplay was nothing but quick-time events, and can be seen in its more modern form in other well-liked games like Die Hard Arcade and Shenmue before Resident Evil 4 popularized the concept.
  • Grand Theft Auto III was hardly the first violent, M-rated video game to raise eyebrows; Doom, Mortal Kombat, and Duke Nukem have it beat on that front by several years. However, it was the first such game to become a mainstream pop culture sensation on the level of Pokémon or Super Mario Bros. It was both acclaimed by critics and railed against by Moral Guardians for the then-unprecedented freedom it offered to gamers, which included all manner of violence and debauchery. Ignoring the many direct ripoffs that came out in the early-mid '00s, the success of GTA III has been pointed to as a Medium Original Sin, responsible for the proliferation of Rated M for Money attitudes among both developers and gamers who demanded more 'mature' (i.e. "rated M for Mature") content in games.
  • David Cage has always had great moments in his games, but even back in Fahrenheit, there was a note that the overriding plotline was just weird, and didn't fit with the previous scenes. At the time, this could be forgiven due to Executive Meddling forcing the developers to rush the game out the door before they came up with a proper ending, leading to the Gainax Ending that it ultimately had. However, Heavy Rain had the strange foreshadowing with no payoff, and in Beyond: Two Souls, the plot is in a chopped-up order and doesn't fit together at all. While Beyond still has quite a few fans, if the trend continues, the Original Sin will be revealed. Cage plots by imagining cool, individual scenes, but doesn't seem to know how to put them together in a sensible fashion.
  • The first game in the New Super Mario Bros. series re-using most of the Video Game Settings from Super Mario Bros. 3note  was generally not seen as a big flaw. However, all of the settings from NSMB were later re-used in three more games (maybe even four) with little variance, and as a result the lack of originality is one of the biggest criticisms for the entire sub-series.
  • Square Enix's updated rereleases and ports of some of their older games once got a great deal of excitement from many RPG fans, especially those in the US and Europe. It gave many people the chance to play some of Square's classic catalog but with far less of the No Export for You, "Blind Idiot" Translation, and financial difficulties of hunting down certain SNES cartridges that RPG fans dealt with before the very end of The '90s. In some cases, Square even remade entire games for the purposes of rereleasing them. However, during the later half of the 2000s, many of these same consumers started complaining about this practice. It became viewed as oversaturation, partially due to the huge numbers of systems that these games were playable on. Between 2005 and 2011, Square Enix rereleased Final Fantasy IV alone 4 times, for example. The Troubled Production of both Final Fantasy XII and Final Fantasy XIII and the lack of a game to really fill that gap did not help either.
  • Final Fantasy didn't suddenly shift towards Bishōnen, Kudzu Plots, and Hallways—they were there from the very beginning.
    • The characters were hard to make out due to the limitations of 8 and 16-bit graphics, but judging by concept art, many characters were intended to be ridiculously pimped-out and beautiful anyway. In fact, the simplicity of his (early) art style is exactly what led to Square giving Tetsuya Nomura character design duties for Final Fantasy VII (also, let's point out that that game's hero, Cloud Strife, was at least beautiful enough to pass for a woman. However, once technology was able to allow artists the freedom to go nuts and show off the graphical power of the game engines, they leapt at the chance. While American games were moving more towards brownish realism and military authenticity, Japanese designers decided to go whole hog with the artistry.
    • The first Final Fantasy had a time-travel plot that makes no sense. By the fourth game, we were ripping off Star Wars, flying to the moon on a whale, fighting inside giant mechs, and defeating the Big Bad with the Power of Friendship. While it's true that the games became extremely long-winded and cheesy with the introduction of voice-acting and motion capture, characters were silly and expressive for a long time before that. What changed, however, is that real dialogue meant that we couldn't just mash A to speed past the bazillionth conversation and the motion-acting made it more and more obvious that the characters were conceived for Japanese audiences.
    • And finally, exploration was largely an illusion even in the franchise's "heyday". Even if the game gave players two or three different directions to go, most of those directions are blocked off or don't provide them with much to do until more of the game is unlocked. Starting with Final Fantasy X, however, this illusion was completely shattered because by this point, the player wasn't even allowed to wander around pointless empty space anymore to provide the illusion of freedom. Further, around this time, open-world sandbox games had really become the norm, which meant that linear paths were much less tolerable. By Final Fantasy XIII, Square had decided to double down on their stance of "story over exploration" by flat out stating that they didn't want freedom to distract players from their awesome story. By XIII-2, Lighning Returns and FFXV, however, they abandoned that approach due to negative player feedback and featured some type of open environment for each of those games.
  • Nintendo's censorship policies have existed since the beginning of their console career. It was justified during the 1980s due to the fact that many infamous games that helped crash the industry were glorified porn (such as Custer's Revenge and Beat Em and Eat Em). Nintendo's family-friendly approach (to the point of calling their first console a Family Computer (Famicom)) arguably saved gaming. However, their continued adherence to censorship guidelines during the releases subsequent consoles has followed them in two ways. In the first case, it was what led to Nintendo having the negative reputation of being "kiddie games". The censorship of the original Mortal Kombat was especially infamous, since the Sega Genesis version was released with the gore intact (albeit hidden behind a cheat code), and was much better received by fans despite being technically inferior to the Super NES version. On the other end, Nintendo's censorship practices also showed the early signs of their strenuous relationship with third-party developers. By the time the fifth generation of gaming came, Nintendo's censorship combined with their refusal to adopt CD technology caused developers like Square to get fed up with their practices and jump ship to Sony. Nintendo's lack of strong third-party support has been a reoccurring flaw in all of their consoles since.
  • While Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories was fairly well-received and popular enough to get an Updated Re-release, it embodied a number of controversial trends that helped give the series a more Unpleasable Fanbase:
    • The decision to make a direct sequel to the first Kingdom Hearts game on the Game Boy Advance, rather than on the PlayStation 2, helped build a great deal of hype for the game. However, it also created a good deal of Continuity Lockout when Kingdom Hearts II was released and many people got back into the games and were immediately faced with characters and plot points they had never seen before, and led the charge for many plot-relevant games in the series to be spread across all available portable systems. Following the story became a much more challenging and expensive prospect when it required one to have a Playstation 2, a Nintendo DS, a PSP, and a Nintendo 3DS to fully understand what was going on. This was, thankfully, addressed somewhat by the 1.5 and 2.5 Remix compilations for the PS3: all the Kingdom Hearts games up to Birth By Sleep on one console... either as a full game or just as a 'movie' of the game's cutscenes so you can at least get the story.
    • On a plot level, Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories was the debut of a slide into a Darker and Edgier plot tone and the newer antagonists, Organization XIII and the Nobodies. By the time Kingdom Hearts II was released, the Kudzu Plot and influx of original characters became highly controversial among the players and reviewers.
  • One of the biggest criticisms of Duke Nukem Forever was the character of Duke himself, who many reviewers described as a repulsively unlikeable person. Back in the days of Duke Nukem 3D, though, Duke had still been a pretty unlikeable person, but he was lauded for the fact that he had a personality at all, compared to non-characters like the Doom Marine or BJ. In the following fifteen years, however, many shooter games had been released featuring extremely fleshed-out and likeable protagonists, and Duke hadn't evolved at all — if anything, he'd become more unlikeable. Other criticized elements of DNF's humor also hail from 3D: the Take Thats to other franchises, and the pop culture references. The Take Thats worked back then because 3D was a genuinely innovative game that improved on Doom's formula, so a bit of gloating didn't feel undeserved. DNF, however, tried to deliver Take Thats to games that it was outright copying, while bringing very little to the table gameplay-wise. In terms of pop culture, 3D's jokes were either very topical or referencing sources obscure enough that people thought they were original jokes. On the other hand, DNF's infamously long development cycle meant that many of its jokes or references had already become Discredited Memes (most infamously a lengthy Leeroy Jenkins joke, made in 2011).
  • X-Universe series of games had fundamentally flawed gameplay design - in the developer's own opinion - due to the Singularity Engine Time Accelerator, a device which makes the game run faster to make the long travel times bearable. It wasn't too bad with the simplistic gameplay of X: Beyond the Frontier, but as the games went on, it became more and more obvious to Egosoft that they had built up the entire game around the abuse of SETA. If they were to speed up the slow item production rate at factoriesnote , the economy would implode when the player traveled across a sector with SETA. If they were to make ships faster to reduce travel time, the AI would break (well, break harder than normal), battles would turn into jousting matches and the economy would implode from traders instantly grabbing every deal. They attempted to rectify the flaw in X Rebirth by introducing a completely different travel system and were somewhat successful, though the nigh-unplayable state of affairs at release brought up a whole slew of new issues.
  • As detailed in this video, Final Fantasy VII, with its focus on flashy visuals, cutscenes, and production values to rival Hollywood blockbusters, birthed many of the problems that plagued not only later games in the Final Fantasy series (which culminated in the divisive Final Fantasy XIII), but also AAA gaming in general, which became increasingly dominated by gorgeous graphics and cinematic spectacle at the cost of highly linear gameplay that's barely interactive. The difference was that Final Fantasy VII still had a deep combat system and a well-written (if muddled by "Blind Idiot" Translation) story to make up for it.
  • Silent Hill 2, while still remembered as quite possibly the best game in the Silent Hill series, held the origin of two trends that plagued the series in the long term.
    • The first was with its monsters. SH2 was acclaimed for its creative enemy design, the two monsters most heavily identified with the game being the chilling figure known as Pyramid Head, an Implacable Man wearing a pyramid-shaped helmet, and the sexy, faceless nurses in the hospital. They weren't the main villains, but they were both incredibly popular, and became unofficial mascots of the series. However, they served a very specific purpose in that game, acting as metaphorical representations of the protagonist James Sunderland's guilt and sexual anxiety. This didn't stop the nurses from reappearing in later games (and in the film adaptations), growing increasingly sexualized in the process, nor did it stop several attempts to try and copy Pyramid Head, be it with similar "icon" monsters (like the Butcher in Origins and the Bogeyman in Downpour) who felt shoehorned in more often than not, or by simply bringing him back straight-up (as in Homecoming, the films, and some of the comics). However, the symbolism of what they represented no longer applied in these new stories. While SH2 remembered to give its creepy, cool monsters a purpose beyond just the Rule of Scary, later games took only those monsters' most superficial elements in the name of fanservice.
    • Secondly, SH2 laid the groundwork for the series' Broken Base. Whereas the first game was about a battle with a cult known as the Order that's trying to bring about the birth of their god, the second game's story, about a man who had lost his wife only to receive a mysterious letter from her, was much smaller and more personal in scope. Outside the setting, the style, and a few Continuity Nods, it had little in common with the original game, and fans were divided between the original and the sequel almost from the get-go. The divide grew wider with later games alternating between continuing the story of the Order and telling stories separate from it. Today, there are essentially two Silent Hill fandoms, one which prefers the Myth Arc about the Order and the other preferring the standalone stories.
  • In Wario Land 3, Wario farts as he climbs ladders. This was the first attempt at Toilet Humour involving Wario, and it comes across as subtle and downright witty compared to the games that took the vulgar humor and ran with it, with WarioWare and Master of Disguise featuring a greater proportion of crude humour.
  • Fire Emblem: As the series that overhauled Genealogy's "Love and War" system into the modern Support mechanic, fans often consider the GBA titles the gold standard when it comes to Support writing quality, character development, and proper romantic escalation when appropriate. Well, Nostalgia Ain't Like It Used to Be. While it's true that, overall, having to write so many Supports has led to a bit of a quality-control problem for modern titles, just as many Elibe supports contained exactly the same problems: one-note characters that don't really develop, badly-written romances, or entire conversation trees that amounted to little more than broad comedy fluff. But, since any given character could only have five conversations total per playthrough, because characters in general had much smaller support pools, and, again, because of blatant Nostalgia Filter, these flaws weren't quite as obvious to their detractors as they would later become. And since children weren't part of the equation, due to losing that aspect of the "Love and War" system, every male character didn't need a romantic relationship to be possible with every female character.
  • MechWarrior's signature MechLab - a form of Design It Yourself Equipment for your Humongous Mecha - was never very well balanced to begin with, but as the series went on and more mechanics were added and the games were tweaked, it became more and more broken resulting in massive Gameplay Derailment. Its first incarnation in Mechwarrior 2 was barebones and the game's many coding oddities resulted in it being balanced if only because of the byzantine design. Mech 3 is where it started to go crazy, with heavy Complacent Gaming Syndrome of identical loadouts on identical mechs. Mech 4 attempted to fix it but introduced a slew of unforeseen gameplay consequences. In Online, the game has multiple painfully Obvious Rule Patch mechanics to limit the MechLab's silliness and still fails spectacularly, resulting in players with One-Hit Kill-capable or infinite screen shake autocannon spam mechs. Living Legends avoided implementing the MechLab until the game was feature complete and balanced ("version 1.0"), specifically because the lab fundamentally broke the competitive multiplayer of every previous game, though it was never implemented due to the game being Screwed by the Lawyers in version 0.7.
  • The fourth Super Smash Bros. game brought some problems to a head:
    • One of the biggest complaints was its overuse of clone characters. This is something not unique to that installment — the first game already had a clone in the form of Luigi, and the much-loved Melee had over a quarter of its roster devoted to clones. The problem was that Brawl had done quite a bit to avert this, by cutting out some of the most obvious clones and Decomposite Characters (Roy, Young Link, Pichu, Dr. Mario), diversifying the rest, and making sure that its own "clone" additions (Lucas, Wolf) were pretty unique. 4, meanwhile, went back to the well of Decomposite Characters (including adding Dr. Mario back in), and made its clone additions essentially identical (Lucina is just Marth without tipping, Dark Pit is just Pit with different knockback on two moves and Zelda's Final Smash). Compounding the problem further was that 4 introduced alternate costumes to add more characters to the roster, which just made its clones feel even more arbitrary and unnecessary — why lump the Koopalings into a single character, then declare Lucina or Dark Pit to be too distinct to not get their own slots?
    • Far less extensive but still notable enough to deserve a mention, Counter. It has been a staple of nearly every Fire Emblem character's moveset since Melee as a nod to their series' battle flow, with Peach having a variation in the form of Toad. However, whereas only five fighters total—and no more than four per game—in a cast of 25+ had access to moves of that nature between Melee and Brawl (Marth, Roy, Peach, Ike, Lucario), the amount suddenly doubled in SSB4 (Lucina, Little Mac, Palutena, Greninja, Shulk, and Mii Swordfighter), greatly reducing its novelty, frustrating players who had to endure fights that devolved into Counterfests, and simultaneously bypassing potentially more inventive attacks that could've been used in their place. Some characters have justifiable reasons for having a counter,note  but there's been lengthy debates about who actually deserves to keep the move and sarcastic remarks that everyone might as well have a Counter in the next game.
  • Chris Avellone is well-known for consistently deconstructing whatever genre, medium, or world he's working with, often through the use of mouthpiece characters. In the case of Planescape: Torment, this led to a massively-acclaimed examination of Death Is a Slap on the Wrist, Order Versus Chaos, and other core tropes of D&D. Knights of the Old Republic II was also well-liked, but his Author Avatar Kreia is a major Base Breaker because she provides him an opportunity to rant on everything he hates about Star Wars, and a lot of players considered Kreia to be almost as annoying as the buggy state of the game. However, things finally collapsed in the DLC for Fallout: New Vegas, when his Author Avatar, Ulysses, became a Creator's Pet of unimaginable proportions; not only is he a mouthpiece for Author Filibuster, everyone else who talks about him is constantly shilling him as an epic badass, the DLC about him is portrayed as a fated confrontation, and it's spent fighting through an army of tough monsters while listening to him rant about how he hates the setting and wants to nuke everything again (because Avellone dislikes how Fallout has rebuilt itself from the post-apocalyptic setting of the first game).
  • Metal Gear has always has problems with its female characters, like holding onto The Smurfette Principle with an iron grip, many of them being Ms. Fanservice, Male Gaze out the wazoo, repeatedly sidelining them, and often killing them off to give a male character angst, but the earlier games always gave them interesting characterisation and at least some vital importance to the plot to make them decent characters in their own right. But with Guns of the Patriots all recurring female characters lose all the importance they previously had and the female villains exist as nothing but eye-candy, a boss fight in Peace Walker starts with numerous lingering chest and butt shots of a sixteen-year-old in her underwear, and the same character is killed off in the most gratuitously sexual manner possible in Ground Zeros. This eventually leads to The Phantom Pain, where the only prominent female character never speaks, has no plot importance, spends her entire screentime in a bikini top and ripped tights, and has multiple completely out of nowhere scenes that serve as nothing but excuses for her to make sensual poses in front of the camera.
  • Call of Duty: Ghosts is the game in the franchise that started the trend of nerfing kill/score/pointstreaks for future games even though the developers of those games intended these streaks to be weakened so that there would be less offensive streak-spamming and spawn-killing by offensive streaks. This had the unfortunate side-effect of making high offensive-streaks almost useless to go after. In Ghosts' case, most players just ran either the Support or Specialists Strike Packages instead of the Assault Strike Package due to many items in the Assault Package being too weak to run with (this also contributed to Ghosts' criticism for encouraging camping-style play in multiplayer).
  • Assassin's Creed has recently gotten a lot of complaints about the fact that the core gameplay of social stealth and combat has barely changed since the first game with later games merely adding a bunch of features to pass things off as new.
    • Assassin's Creed III is cited as the point where this became a problem, as many felt that the game's main missions was basically scripted events, even the Assassination missions which should be stealthy and open-ended. It was also seen as being overstuffed with side activities and additional features. However, this was an ongoing trend since the well-liked Assassin's Creed II and its follow-ups Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood and Assassin's Creed: Revelations, had moved away from the stealthy original and was filled with additional features and content. What made them acceptable was that the games were Mission-Pack Sequel and as such the additional features were condoned, and seen as part of the appeal of the touristy cities with exotic architecture. The fact that the New World setting of AC-3 lacked the tall buildings and fancy architecture only brought these problems forward.
    • III was criticized for its Gump Factor with the hero interacting on first name basis with all of America's founding fathers and participating in several key events of the American Revolution which to many beggared disbelief. Yet this was always part of the Franchise's appeal: Altair in AC-1 conversed on even terms with the very Christian King Richard the Lionheart and later fought Genghis Khan, Ezio counted Leonardo da Vinci and Machiavelli among his best friends, and interacted with a "who's who" of the Renaissance, Black Flag also had the hero interact with every famous English pirate of that time. In the case of III the American Founding Fathers and the events of the Revolution were perhaps too prominent, known to every schoolboy, with the setting seen by foreign gamers as Eagleland. The other historical figures and settings, while somewhat well known aren't held in nearly the same reverence nor are their memories part of current political discourse.
    • Assassin's Creed: Unity is an inversion, an example of a Franchise, as a result of the divisive reaction to III, returning to the Franchise's roots — greater focus on stealth, less focus on side activities, more assassination missions, toning down The Gump — and getting thoroughly trashed for essentially repeating its original sins. Assassin's Creed I was criticized in its time for repetitive side activities, lack of additional interaction with the open world and endless collectibles. Unity returned with repititive Side Story quests, endless collectibles that dotted out the map to the extent that people became nostalgic for the much reviled flags of I. Where III was criticized for Connor being too central to the Revolution, Unity was criticized for the hero being too marginal to the events, with the game being highly criticized for its shallow representation of history. The game which followed, Syndicate recieved praise for making more diverse side missions, a fairer look at the historical events and having additional features missing in Unity.

     Web Original 
  • Discussed in an episode of Midnight Screenings. Brian mentions that he initially liked the first Transformers film because it was different from the sequels, but after re-watching it admits that the movie has "the same shit [as the other films], just less of it".
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series:
    • While this abridged series was always a very funny and clever show, it did sometimes rely a bit too much on running gags and pop culture references, even if there wasn't necessarily a joke attached to the reference. Those who don't like the later seasons will usually say it's because the episodes became nothing but running gags and references.
    • "Yu-Gi-Oh! DMX", a running gag of Yu-Gi-Oh! GX characters being depicted as rap artists, originated from one of the most well-liked episodes of the series. People liked it then because it was just a doofy one-off gag, and pretty funny at that. After that episode, nearly every single episode mentioning GX had a reference to it being a stupid show about rap — which, on top of being Shallow Parody, resulted in fans of GX getting harassed at conventions and a backlash against the Abridged Series. It's one of the few jokes LK has outright apologized for.

     Western Animation 
  • In Tom and Jerry, the title characters would in some of the original shorts be friends and speak, though rarely (and something would always come between their friendship, making them fight again). These elements are what is most reviled about The Tom And Jerry Show from the 1970's, and Tom and Jerry: The Movie.
  • While the show Goof Troop was well-received and considered a good show in its own right, many have blamed it for planting the seeds for the Totally Radical attitude and theme that took over many later shows for the Disney Afternoon television block; the shows that had taken on those themes were considered the killers of the block itself during the latter half of the '90's.
  • The Simpsons:
    • The season 4 episode "Marge vs. the Monorail", considered one of the greatest of all time, is now the most fan-rewritten as a 'modern' Simpsons episode to illustrate how badly the show has fallen into Seasonal Rot: It has a lot of elements that have come to be abused during its seasonally rotten years: celebrity cameos (Leonard Nimoy as himself), Homer being the main focus of the plot and showing him with a new job that only lasts one episode, a Big Lipped Alligator Moment (Homer singing the theme to The Flintstones), and the needless musical number that also has no plot relevance. Suffice it to say, these days, this would be more at home as a Family Guy episode, not a Simpsons one.
    • Back when it started, the series was revolutionary when compared to other cynical shows centered on a dysfunctional family because it was an animated show set in Comic-Book Time and with Negative Continuity. The family could go anywhere, interact with anyone, and do anything without having to care about budget constraints, actors that wanted to leave or children that grew up. However, after 20 years that original strength has turned into its biggest constraint. Bart and Lisa behave like teenagers, but they are still 10 and 8 and go to the same primary school, so the writers can't make them face the actual teenage (or young adult) problems they would be dealing with by now if the show was live-acted; Marge and Homer have gone through countless marriage crises and been thrown into jail countless times, but they have to go back home together at the end; Maggie feels more like a prop than a character in most episodes because the writers can't think of new plotlines starring a baby, etc. As a result, the show has become stalled and boring.
    • Pop culture references, including cutaway gags and episode-length spoofs, have been a staple of The Simpsons since its earliest seasons (eg. "Bart the General" riffing on Patton, "Kamp Krusty" on Apocalypse Now, "Stark Raving Dad" on One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, etc.). Generally, though, earlier episodes tend to spoof classic movies and TV shows, where more recent episodes tend to parody recent films or cultural trends. Which wouldn't necessarily be bad, except most such episodes wind up only spoofing a film/show's most obvious aspects, and their subjects are far more likely to become completely forgotten soon after.
    • One of the show's favorite tactics since the earliest seasons has been to start off the first act with an unrelated plot (for instance, Homer Badman's first act is about Homer and Marge going to a candy convention). It worked then, because they always used the opening plot to lead into the main plot (Homer pulling a piece of candy off the babysitter's butt and getting sued for sexual harassment). As time goes on, though, the transitions between plots have become increasingly abrupt and threadbare, to the point that these first-act plots could probably be cut from the episode entirely, and are used as little more than padding because the main plot can't stand up on its own.
    • "Lisa Goes Gaga" was widely seen as the nadir of the show in terms of celebrity guests, with many people being disgusted by how the series essentially treated their Celebrity Voice Actor as a glorious messianic figure who saves the family. But one could arguably find the seeds of this in Season 1's "Moaning Lisa " and Season 3's "Lisa's Substitute," often considered some of the show's most soulful episodes - they even focused on Lisa, just like "Lisa Goes Gaga." The difference was that in those episodes, neither Ron Taylor nor Dustin Hoffman played themselves - they were likeable, competent, friendly characters who happened to be played by celebrities, which made it feel like the celebrity was lending their talent to bringing the character to life. When celebrities did go As Themselves in early seasons, it was in incidental roles, with no small amount of Adam Westing, and they usually came off as jerks or weirdos (such as Leonard Nimoy above and Adam West himself). These celebrities were either used to further characters or add jokes to an episode, not being added for their own sake, and never in such a manner that made the episode feel like it was fellating them - something that later episodes would roundly ignore.
    • "Rubber-band reality" was a term coined by Matt Groening to allow for more out-there gags. It essentially dictated that the show could have absurd, silly, or unrealistic gags, so long as they were only gags and quickly ignored afterward - essentially, they could "stretch" the reality of the show, but they would always have to let it "snap back." For instance, in "Last Exit To Springfield," Burns breaks out a pair of Killer Robots in the hopes of using them as strikebreakers, but the scene lasts thirty seconds and has no bearing on the plot, which remains fairly down-to-earth. As the series went on, the "rubber band" of reality would be stretched further and further, to the point where they started forgetting to snap it back altogether - as early as Season 6, one episode featured Killer Robots trying to murder the family as the episode's climax. By Season 11, which featured magical jockey elves, octuplets, tomacco, and the family casually hanging out with celebrities, the rubber-band reality had escalated into full-on Reverse Cerebus Syndrome.
  • As the Ben 10 franchise has gone on, one of the most major complaints about it is that many aliens in the sequels use similar abilities, as well as many outright having the same power. Surprisingly, the first show could run into this problem too, with a few aliens with redundant abilities that could sometimes render another alien obsolete (Benvicktor/Frankenstrike, along with super strength, has lightning powers, and generally does everything Fourarms could do, except without the arms). Omniverse is also similarly criticized for its overt focus on old elements, pandering to first-series fans, and sometimes script-recycling. These elements can be traced to its immediate predecessor too, with most major plot elements being recycled from the original show (Kevin's insanity and being a composite form of Ben's aliens, which were heavily referenced) and featuring a guest appearance from the original Ben.
  • A common complaint about modern day episodes of SpongeBob SquarePants is the tendency to overhype regular episodes as huge specials. This trend started back during season 3 of the show, which is often considered to be during the show's golden age. Also, the show's oft-criticized descent into gross-out humor started as early as season 2. Typically though it would be limited to one or two Cutaway Gags per episode, whereas more recent seasons feature whole episodes centered around SpongeBob getting a splinter or contracting a fungal infection.
  • Pre-uncancellation Family Guy already showed many of the traits that would fully manifest once it came back, including Cutaway Gags, Overly Long Gags and the main characters bordering on Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonists. In the earlier seasons these were balanced out and broken up enough that it wasn't as much of a problem, and the formula was new enough that they were still genuinely surprising when they happened and not expected as they are now.
  • The signs of the Avatar series focusing on teenage romance and Ship Tease at the expense of plot and character development could be seen all the way back in the original series, as later seasons gave those subplots more focus in response to the creators realizing how large and vocal the shipping community was, but because the 3 season story arc had already been planned out there was only so much room for those scenes to be inserted and for the most part they didn't feel like they got in the way. Come The Legend of Korra, which had a brand new story arc built from scratch around older teen protagonists, and the creators put in far more romance and a Love Triangle from the very first episode to the point it became a Romantic Plot Tumor that made many fans dislike one of the central characters (Mako) and the rest of the plot, including the main antagonist and the social forces behind his movement, felt rushed and underutilized. Later seasons tried to undo the damage by having Mako and Korra break up, and fan consensus is that it wasn't until season 3 that the story began to truly feel more balanced. Another major factor is that unlike the first series, the first two seasons of Korra were written under the possibility that they could be the end of the story. Seasons 3 and 4 were made back to back and feature far more confidence in shoving the romantic material to the side.
  • Part of the reason Chowder became popular was its heavy usage of Painting the Medium and fourth wall breaking jokes. In the final season, gags about breaking the fourth wall became so overused that the novelty wore off.
  • Many long-time Scooby-Doo fans have argued that the franchise's formula stopped working around the time that they tried to bring real monsters into the show (notably in The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo, the direct-to-video movies, and the live-action films), which killed the elements of mystery that gave the original series its charm. While the original Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! generally stuck to the famous Scooby-Doo Hoax for most of its stories, genuinely supernatural elements have been around as far back as that series, and not all of its Monsters of the Week turned out to be costumed crooks. The villain of "Foul Play in Funland" was a real robot gone haywire, one scene in "A Night of Fright is No Delight" had a bone floating onto Scooby's plate with no explanation given, and the supporting characters in "That's Snow Ghost" were implied to have faced a real Yeti in a flashback.
  • While fans of Rugrats have many different ideas about what caused its Seasonal Rot, the show's increasing reliance on extended over-the-top Imagine Spots is sometimes held up as a symptom of its declining quality, as it increasingly shifted the focus away from the simple day-to-day struggles of the toddlers. In truth, though, the show was always known for its surreal and fantastical overtones—but in its early days, the toddlers didn't need Imagine Spots to make their world seem like a bizarre wonderland, because the quirky writing and animation made the entire setting seem surreal; the Imagine Spots just drew a clear line between the mundane world and the world of the kids' imaginations, where none had existed before. Case in point: compare Season 2's "Toy Palace" with Season 6's "Submarine". The former revolves around the ensuing hilarity when Tommy and Chuckie spend the night in a sprawling toy store that (apparently) includes life-size robotic gorilla toys, automated Old West towns, and a working time machine; the latter just has the kids pretending that a van at a car lot is a submarine.

Alternative Title(s):

Dork Age Foreshadowing, Foreshadowing The Dork Age