aka: Mid Series Upgrade
The reverse of Doomed Upgrade
, in anime mecha series it's common for the main mecha (and sometimes secondary ones as well) to be upgraded or replaced about halfway through the storyline. Either the original is damaged, destroyed or simply outclassed by the My Kung-Fu Is Stronger Than Yours
nature of the opponents.
In many such cases, the series starts with the protagonist mecha so powerful that no enemy unit can stop them, then to get some balance the enemy catches on eventually and creates weapons powerful enough that defeating them gets virtually impossible. Finally, the heroes get their upgrades to devastate their enemies and restores their superiority.
In cases where the original mech survives or is later retrieved, it often becomes a hand-me-down given to one of the other members of the cast - as in several Gundam series - but is now rather outclassed.
Note that the opening sequence of the show will probably change to show the upgrade, although the title may not.
Don't be surprised if happens in time for new toys to get out for Christmas shopping season
Not to be confused with the acquisition of a new Super Mode
. See also Next Tier Power-Up
. If it's not in the middle but in the beginning of a new season, it's So Last Season
. Compare and contrast Mecha Expansion Pack
, where they just tack new stuff onto the old mech.
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Anime and Manga
- In fact the term mid-season upgrade is used in Mobile Suit Gundam fanspeak, and happens in every Gundam series except for the original (which only had an upgrade for the first suit, not a replacement) . It occured twice in Gundam X.
- The X-Divider was more of a downgrade in a sense that Garrod was unable to use the Sat Cannon. But it did turn him to a formidable pilot.
- The original Sat Cannon was borderline useless anyway since it could be used at night when the moon was out, Tiffa had to mentally activate it the first time for Garrod to be able to use it, it had a awkward firing position that rendered the Gundam helpless while firing, and it was pure barely controllable destructive force. The Double X corrected all but the night problem (it had Jamil's brainwave data taken from the first Gundam X so Garrod could arm the weapon on his own, it swung over the shoulders allowing the Gundam to do other things while charging, and it was easier to control the firing angle. Until then the Divider weapon was more effective at it could be fired anytime by anyone with the beams much easier to control. Also the Divider and Double X corrected the original GX's other weapon issues by having both a shield and a rifle (the first was a combination rifle shield thing which was a glaring weakness because both are generally needed to block and exchange fire in a Gundam dogfight).
- Mobile Suit Gundam 0080: War in the Pocket was actually a Lampshade Hanging of this trope, showing why one midseason upgrade never happened (the original plan was that the Alex was to be sent to Amuro for the final battle of the One Year War.)
- However, in the novelization of the original Gundam, Amuro does get the strengthened G-3 Gundam (No, it can't use the God Finger) to replace the original RX-78-2.
- They even manage to fit one of these into a movie!
- And of course, there's Gundam Wing, in which each of the six primary pilots gets a Mid-Season Upgrade. Played with a bit in that Heero and Zechs receive each others' eventual upgrades and then swap the next time they meet. Additionally, Trowa and Quatre's upgrades are little more than space mobility conversions for their original Gundams. Then comes Mobile Suit Gundam Wing Endless Waltz, but since the Gundams are a Retcon rather than entirely new machines, the only actual upgrade is the Tallgeese III.
- While counted as an upgrade, the Wing Zero is actually the predecessor to the original Gundams.
- Interetsing only Duo and Wufei actually get their upgrades mid season. Heero doesn't get to keep Wing Zero for good and Trowa and Quatre don't get their upgrades until the very final arc.
- Gundam 00 might have all other Gundam series beat on this. The first season has new support systems for the Gundams towards the end of it, plus a Super Mode for each. Then, the second season features two rounds of upgrades for the new Gundams (which technically invokes So Last Season, except brand-new mechs are the usual Mid-Season Upgrade for a Gundam series, so this kind of happens three or four times in 50 episodes).
- Taken to it's absolute zenith with Graham Aker. He gets at least three upgrades for his Ace Custom unit in the first season alone, shifts to a different Ace Custom at the beginning of the second season and then gets what seems to be a Super Prototype... which is upgraded twice during the course of the following episodes. Recent events indicate that the last few may have actually been upgrades to his original unit. Lucky guy.
- The series also inverts this in the final episode: protagonist Setsuna and Big Bad Ribbons Almark destroy each others' Gundams and each takes with one of the 00 Gundam's GN Drives. Ribbons finds his old 0 Gundam and installs the Drive he stole, while Setsuna's allies send him the Gundam Exia, though in this case both machines received a few minor upgrades in the meantime.
- Gundam SEED Destiny gets pretty absurd with this. Literally every single named pilot that isn't dead by Midseason gets one. Protagonist/Antagonist Shinn goes from Impulse to Destiny and Protagonist/Antagonist Kira goes from Freedom (itself a Mid-Season Upgrade from Gundam SEED) to the Strike Freedom. Athrun goes from Saviour to Infinite Justice, Cagalli goes from Strike Rouge to Akatsuki and then gives it to Neo which in itself a upgrade to the grunt Windam he had previous. Andy goes from a Murasame to Gaia even though he only fights a grand total of one battle with each of them. Luna and Rey go from grunts to Gundam, and even Yzak and Dearka upgrade from grunts to better grunts. It's almost as if the skill of the named pilots is only because they keep getting bigger and better machines.
- Possibly subverted with the Infinite Justice, however. It more or less is just the original Justice with an increase in performances. Seriously, compare their attack vids in Super Robot Wars. Nearly identical.
- In some case, when the protagonist has a mid season upgrade while his current Gundam was already powerful, his old Gundam will be the upgrade for a supporting character. That's how Luna gets hers. The Typical Gundam SEED Destiny pointed out that's she's even more useless after this.
- Gundam ZZ is notable for having Judau upgrade to the machine very early on, not even a quarter of the way through the series. This is balanced out by getting improvements on the machine at two separate points, turning it into an Ace Custom version.
- ''The V2 Gundam is a straight example of this, even though the protagonist would occasionally pilot the previous model or even an enemy unit.
- Being based on Gundam, BB Senshi Sangokuden would hand out Mid Season Upgrades at several different points in time, turning characters into mechas related to their archetypes. Ryuubi Gundam turned from the classic RX-78-2 into the Perfect Gundam, Shiba-I Sazabi evolved into the Nightingale, the list goes on.
- Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory with the GP01 getting an upgrade so it doesn't trashed in space (an integrated Mecha Expansion Pack which primarily adds additional thrusters for zero-gravity mobility,) and then getting GP03 which comes with The Mother of All Mecha Expansion Packs (this time detachable.)
- The ∀ Gundam having its "limiter" removed, which gives it even more ways to destroy things and activate its deadliest weapon: The Moonlight Butterfly.
- G Gundam is an interesting case. Out of the main five, Domon is the only one who plays this trope straight. The others get Super Modes.
- In-universe, Master Gundam is classified by the Gundam Fight Committee as a Mid-Season Upgrade to the Kowloon (Haow) Gundam , even though the Kowloon Gundam was really Master Gundam in disguise.
- The more recent manga adaptation ends up giving the rest of the main five upgrades. And they're still just as stereotypical as you can get.
- Model Suit Gunpla Builders Beginning G has Beginning Gundam upgraded to Beginning 30 Gundam. The Lancer also has Sazabi replace Hyakushiki.
- Gundam Build Fighters continues the tradition with the main characters Sei and Reiji under going two upgrades with the same machine in the Build Strike (a customized variant of the Strike Gundam) and later on adding a backpack with additional thrusters with beam cannons and can even function as a controllable fighter jet. After its destruction, it gets upgraded into the Star Build Strike with a special backpack sprouting beam wings that can be configured into three different modes after either charging up or absorbing beam energy through its specialized shield. In between these upgrades though, Sei built a separate emergency machine called Build Mk.II, essentially a customized Gundam Mk.II.
- Their rival, Tatsuki, also goes through an upgrade from the Zaku Amazing to Kaempfer Amazing, then to Amazing Exia and its corrupted Dark Matter form.
- Gundam Unicorn doesn't have the titular Gundam upgrade until the last two episodes, and it's nothing more than a ridiculous amount of heavy ordinance attached to it with two massive boosters strapped on its rear. Despite being considered a "Full Armor" upgrade in universe, no actual armor is added to the machine. It does however get to use its upgraded Super Mode in the last episode, using its shields (with twin gatlings attached) as funnels and an even more ridiculous final form with the psycoframe crystallized, giving it ridiculous super speed and the ability to shut down an entire squad of non-psyco equipped mobile suits with just a hand wave.
- Happens to both Marida and later Riddhe when they go from their ace mobile suits to the Banshee. However, Riddhe gets to piloted the updated form called Banshee Norn which adds a revolving launcher to its beam magnum, a specialized shield that doubles as an auxiliary thruster and a powerful beam weapon. More psycoframes are also added on its back which, when in Destroy Mode, forms a lion's mane. And just like the Unicorn, it also gets an awakened super mode at the end, though not the crystallized version.
- Pokémon: New captures, attacks, and evolutions are typically gained throughout a season rather than being localized near the beginning or the end. This is mostly because the ungodly amounts of Filler act as huge buffers between plot points and wind up distributing them fairly evenly.
- It also happens to the supporting cast only in RahXephon with the Vermillion units. Played straight as the first Vermillion gets severely damaged in the final battle to the point where Elvy ditched it in favor of her original fighter plane.
- It's late in the original Bubblegum Crisis (probably because the series was originally meant to be 13 episodes but only 8 were made), and also present in the remake.
- Then there are the Alter upgrades in s-CRY-ed.
- The Mark Sein in Fafner.
- Happens at various points in Code Geass, though rarely with actual upgrades.
- Lelouch hijacks the Super Prototype IFX-V301 Gawain to replace his (crappy) ace custom mecha about 2/3 of the way through the first season. Said Super Prototype gets destroyed in the season finale so the salvaged parts are used to rebuild it into the Type-0/0A Shinkirō which has Deflector Shields and a Beam Spam Wave Motion Gun.
- Suzaku gets a flight pack for his Z01 Lancelot in episode 20 (Z01/A Lancelot Air Cavalry). In the second season, Suzaku has the entirely new Z01/D Lancelot Conquista, essentially a visually similar redesign with an integrated flight system and a Wave Motion Gun. The Lancelot Conquista is thrashed in it's first battle with the Guren SEITEN so it's replaced with the winged Z01/Z Lancelot Albion a few episodes later; the Albion is more of an Ace Custom than a Super Prototype as it is built specifically for Suzaku. The Albion is destroyed in the final episode. As for the original Lancelot, it is rebuilt using spare parts into the Lancelot Frontier which is destroyed very quickly.
- Kallen gets two: first her Guren Mk-II is upgraded in the sixth episode of the second season (Type-02/F1A Guren Kashōshiki) to take on the Lancelot Conquista, featuring an integrated flight system and a new right arm radiant wave surger that's almost Wave Motion Gun/Kamehame Hadoken levels of badass. It's eventually captured by the Britannians and heavily upgraded in episode 18 into the extremely high-spec Type-02/F1Z Guren S.E.I.T.E.N. which not only features a red version of the Lancelot Albion's wings, it's right arm becomes capable of Detachment Combat.
- Every Pretty Cure series features a Mid-Season Upgrade, invariably the ability to summon some item that allows the use of a more powerful attack and is conveniently available in toy form.
- Digimon's seasons usually have their first Mega debut around the 35th to the 40th episode, and it's usually The Hero and The Lancer that gets to have this (with the exceptions of Digimon Savers, which had all of the main fighters get a Mega and Burst Mode; and Digimon Tamers with the Power Trio and Sixth Ranger).
- Halfway through Vision of Escaflowne, the titular mecha has taken a rather thorough shellacking, and Van has been synchronized to it. The heroes call in the Yspano clan, who originally built Escaflowne, to repair it and save Van.
- The first two seasons of Ojamajo Doremi had this. The first season just upgraded their porons, but Sharp's was a magic upgrade (complete with a brand new outfit) that could be only be used on Oyajide when he kidnapped Hana-chan.
- In Zoids Chaotic Century, Van's Shield Liger was magically transformed into a Blade Liger after getting trashed in a battle.
- In the sequel series, Guardian Force, Van gets a couple minor improvements to the Liger's guns and boosters. Irvine, on the other hand, gets a brand new prototype Zoid (the Lightning Saix) to replace his wrecked Command Wolf (that's been there since his first appearance in the first season).
- This happens in every Zoids series, really, given the Merchandise-Driven nature of the show. A notable subversion is Bit Cloud's Liger Zero in New Century/Zero, which could be transformed into various specialised units thanks to its Changing Armour System, but defeated the final, ultimate antagonist (the Berserk Fury) in its original basic armour.
- The scene where they show an X-ray of Liger Zero's Organoid system imply that it may in fact be Van's original Liger permanently fused with Zeke, which, if true, would make it a Between Season Upgrade.
- In the same series Brad upgraded in a similar way to Irvine, from a Command Wolf into a prototype Zoid called the Shadow Fox.
- Zoids Genesis to most of the protagonist units - except the main one, which already had its own powers.
- In Macross Frontier, Alto and Luca downgrade from their VF-25s to a VF-171 variant called the VF-171EX. On the plus side, this variant is specifically tuned to be an anti-Vajira upgrade. Alto then gets a movie only Upgrade: The YF-29 Durandal Valkyrie.
- Macross 7 subverts this. The Hero Basara uses the same Valkyrie for the whole show, and the Lancer Gamlin's upgrade is practically the same unit as his first one with only a different head and different markings to show that he is a squadron commander. The only character to actually switch to brand new completely different mecha is Mauve Shirt Docker upgrading from a Nightmare to an Excalibur, and he's totally ineffective with it. Basara gets an Upgrade in Dynamite 7 though.
- In fact most Macross series subvert this since each season has several mecha that are more or less the same mecha with different heads. While characters do get "newer" mecha its not really an upgrade in terms of weapons or ability.
- Not always. In the original series, Valkyries get two upgrades— the sort of crappy missile armor that locks them in Battroid mode, and then, when they decided Valkyries didn't carry enough missiles already, they got the Super packs.
- Also, Hikaru, Max and Milia gets newer machines a few times. In his first battle, the still civilian Hikaru is on the Valkirye VF-1D trainer variant; when he's finally in the military, he gets the VF-1J ace variant, on which is applied the battroid-only upgrade for a single battle; after Roy's death, he inherits his VF-1S, faster and better armed than the standard ace custom, that for the final battle against Bodolza's gets the super packs with more missiles and the anti-ship reaction missiles. On his own, Max starts with the standard VF-1A, receives a VF-1J after getting promoted, and fights the final battle with his fighter upgraded with the super packs. Finally, Milia starts with a Meltrandi Queadluun-Rau power armor, gets downgraded to the inferior VF-1J over joining UN Spacy (that has no Queadluun-Rau for her), but fights Bodolza with her VF-1J upgraded with super packs and the one thing the Queadluun-Rau never had, anti-ship missiles.
- In Eureka Seven, the Nirvash is upgraded to Spec 2 standard just a little bit after the series' midpoint, allowing it to better contend with theEND, as well as adding an additional vehicle mode.
- Mew Ichigo's Strawbellbell gets an upgrade once we are through the Debut Queue, and again once they get all the Mew Aqua... so it's more of a quarter-season and three-quarter-season upgrade.
- In Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch, once the Power Trio gets the song KIZUNA, they get instant Frilly Upgrade - and so do the Aloof Ally they were saving and the girls trapped in People Jars, despite not doing anything. You tell me how that works.
- In Transformers Super God Masterforce, Ginrai discovered a trailer approximately 1/3 of the way through the series, and learned to combine with it a couple of episodes later at a moment of dramatic need. A around the 2/3 point, he got his hands on the Godbomber, which allowed him to become even more super.
- A frequent occurrance in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha, first with Nanoha and Fate adopting the cartridge system in A's. It's usually accompanied by a new Transformation Sequence for the characters as well. In Striker(s) the devices had limiters and were actually capable of doing things like the dagger mode of Cross Mirage as early as the time the Forwards had received them. The only sort of upgrade that happens to them is Mach Caliber being tweaked to better support Subaru.
- Gravion doesn't get its upgrade until midway through the second season/series.
- Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann's most obvious upgrade is hijacking a flying Gunmen and converting it into a jetpack/mega boomerang. Since the jetpack was attached to Gurren's body, Gurren is also now able to fly on its own, but the series only depicts this once: right as Viral is forced to detach Lagann and throw it at Granzeboma when Gurren is pinned by its Combat Tentacles.
- From the beginning, it starts off as just Simon with the Core Drill. Then, he finds Lagann, finds out the Core Drill activates it, and now has a Mini-Mecha. Next episode, Kamina hijacks the Gunzar, totals an arm and both legs, and tears apart two other mecha piloted by Beastmen mooks. Littner village salvages enough parts from the two wrecked mecha to rebuild Gunzar with better, more humanoid limbs, and Kamina has the mecha stylishly repainted, emblazoned with Team Dai-Gurren logos, and the swords reforged into a giant pair of boomerang glasses. He re-dubs the Gunmen "Gurren," and no faster than its debut episode, does Kamina get the idea to wedge Lagann on top to match up with Viral's two-headed Enki... and Gurren Lagann is born. On top of that, Kamina tears off Enki's helmet head by accident, plunders it, places it atop Lagann, and completes the transformation.
- Viral's Gunmen, Enki goes through a forced downgrade. He loses his helmet to Kamina, which had a focusing lens for an energy beam weapon, losing it in the process. He remodels Enki into Enkidu, basically the same mech with an axe blade crest replacing the head. Then, he realizes the weapon's not good enough, has it removed, and replaces it with a second set of swords and arms, turning Enkidu into Enkidudu. Unfortunately, the mechs never stand up to Gurren Lagann, and after the Time Skip, seven straight years of wear and tear cause Enkidudu to break down for good.
- It's also mentioned that most of the protagonists' Gunmen were upgraded by Makken and Leyte during the Time Skip with new Anti-Spiral-combative weaponry. Later, when they discover the frightening Gunmen-manufacturing capabilies of Cathedral Terra, they devise Space Gunmen, new, super-sized versions of the pilots' original Gunmen with much more firepower on tap.
- The protagonists' base also upgrades throughout the series: first is the captured Dai-Ganzan (repainted red, given a new control watchtower and a team flag, and renamed Dai-Gurren), then the Arc-Gurren (and Arc-Gurren Lagann), then Cathedral Terra (and Super-Galaxy Gurren Lagann), and finally the Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann.
- In a subversion or parody of the usual mid-season upgrades, the new, larger and more powerful Space Gunmen everyone receives, and all the scaled up Gurren Lagann mecha are actually piloted by the original Gunmen, so it's giant robots driving even larger giant robots. Repeat this four times for Gurren Lagann in all its variations. And if you want to know the scale, it goes from person-sized robot, to standard mecha genre building-size robot, to New York City-sized robot, to planetary-sized robot, and finally a robot that dwarfs galaxies.
- Kittan has a unique combination sequence he performs with Kiyal's Kiyalunga: the latter become a shield and double-pointed spear for the former- Kittan calls the combination "King Kittan Deluxe," and he hitches a ride on the Dayyakaiser for good measure.
- The first movie adaption, Gurren-hen, gives the Beastmen Generals' fortress Gunmen a combined form, with Viral replacing Thymilph's hijacked Dai-Gunzan with a look-alike of his own. Yoko also gets a more stylized version of Dayyaka's Gunmen to fit her persona better.
- The second movie, Lagann-Hen goes as far as to not only give Yoko another new Space Gunmen take of the Dayyakaiser in the original series, but has a major alteration in plot that spares all six Space Gunmen pilots killed in episode 24 of the original anime, and a huge change to the Final Battle. This time around, Granzeboma tears apart Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, only for all the pieces to form scaled-up Tengen Toppa versions of Lagann, the Space Gunmen, a fusion form of Gimmy and Darry's Grapearls, and a fused form of the Dai-Gurren and Super Galaxy Dai-Gurren. Lordgenome, however, doesn't assume a Tengen Toppa Lazengann (mainly because he's such a badass he can both fight on his own and survive the vacuum of space on his own and generate a Gunmen at will), but according to series concept drafts, one was made; basically his mecha fused with his generals' mecha and Viral's Enki. Kittan also got a Tengen Toppa mecha concept design... but unfortunately, his role in the series did not change...
- Finally, we have the upgrade that happens at the movie climax: The Gunmen reform back into Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann and assume an even bigger form, the Super Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, a swirling, caped humanoid mass of Spiral Energy that is supposed to be Kamina reincarnated and is almost UNIVERSE-SIZED. On top of that, Anti-Spiral matches the transformation with Super Granzeboma, revealing that all this time, there was an even greater extent to the race's power than the anime ever depicted. And did we mention they hold the all-time record for largest mecha ever depicted in anime, or for that matter, ever? Obviously!
- Chachamaru in Mahou Sensei Negima! gains one of these after her Gadgeteer Genius creator Hakase gathered the observed battle-data of the previous arc. Among a few new weapons and a speed upgrade, one major aesthetic improvement has her concealing her mechanical joints with softer, more realistic skin. She still has a set of antenna ears on her head, so its not hard to figure out she's a robot.
- Chor Tempest in Simoun suffers a mid-season downgrade from the Arcus Prima to the Messis when the former ship is sabotaged.
- Mazinger Z and his sequels:
- Mazinger Z was routinely upgraded to allow it fight on different enviroments successfully or to endow it with new weapons to fight increasingly powerful enemies. The most promintent of those upgrades was the Jet Scrander. Sayaka's robot -Aphrodite A- also got upgraded in the third episode with its signature missiles, and in one of the last episodes Sayaka got her upgrade to Diana A.
- Great Mazinger got the Great Booster (a Jet Pack increased its speed and was endowed with a retractable spike could be used to impale enemies with) relatively late in the series.
- UFO Robo Grendizer got upgraded throughout the series with several attachable, flying vehicles allowed it maneouvering more easily in space, in sea or underground: Double Spacer -piloted by Kouji-, Marine Spacer -piloted by Hikaru- and Drill Spacer -piloted by his sister Maria.
- Mazinkaiser subverts and plays straight this trope. Kouji Kabuto gets the upgrade from Mazinger Z to Mazinkaiser in the first episode and doesn't get his Kaiser Scrander upgrade until the final episode. However, Sayaka Yumi gets her upgrade from Aphrodite Ace to Venus Ace in episode 3.
- The titular mecha in Aura Battler Dunbine is replaced midway through the show by the new Aura Battler Billbine (as a gift, no less).
- Full Metal Panic! plays this trope straight. Mithril's M9E Gernsbacks are shown to be capable of opening a can of whoopass on just about every other stuff used at the time and coming out victorious (mainly due to them being third gen; in comparison, mainstream second-gen uses more-or-less real-life technology). Until, smack dab in the middle of the first season, Kurz is nearly killed when the Codarl blows his M9 to hell and back with his own shot. Conveniently, Mithril has their own Super Prototype, the ARX-7 Arbalest (essentially an M9 with Full-Contact Magic capabilities) which they quickly airdrop for Sousuke. Cue Gauron getting his ass kicked. He later returns with an advanced Codarl model so that's a Mid-Season Upgrade for the bad guys.
- And much later, the Arbalest gets torn up by the Belial. No problem, though; it's wreck is used to birth the most badass Arm Slave ever made: the ARX-8 Laevatein which is somewhere between Super Prototype and Ace Custom since it's truly one-of-a-kind but it was specifically built for the pilot.
- Neon Genesis Evangelion, being such a vapid Deconstruction of the mecha genre, was biding its time to really take a sucker punch at this idea. At first, it's done traditionally out of necessity with Unit 00, following its battle damage after getting hit and partly melted by Ramiel's laser beam, outfitted with new armor and weapon-carrying capabilities. However, when the series descends into its infamously dark and screwy second half, it employs the trope in a far more cynical, non-idealistic way. Unit 01 gains an S2 (Super Solenoid) Engine, the core that gives the Angels endless energy, allowing it to become both self-sustained (no longer dependent on external power or Berserk Mode to make it move) and self-aware with frightening beast mentality. However, the upgrade is not acquired through some magic sentient force or jury-rigged weaponry, but by the horrendous means of devouring the organ right from an still-breathing Angel's guts like a cannibal. And if that wasn't enough? Said upgrade was once attempted with Unit 04, went wrong, and wiped both the Evangelion and an entire NERV branch from the face of the Earth in a violent explosion (Word of God and video game adaptions says Unit 04 survived, but is trapped in a dimensional rift).
- And in the movie finale, the S2 upgrade is utilized by the Eva Series and Unit 01 itself to initiate Third Impact, which triggers events that can be only described as a twisted take of an apocalypse.
- Rebuild of Evangelion has another terrifying take on a Mid-Season Upgrade: Unit 01 becomes a Physical God and Shinji gains Mind Rape potential. (gulp)
- In the third movie, Mari now pilots Eva Unit 08 after the destruction of Unit 05, and the new Rei has upgraded to Unit 09. Shinji (who piloted Unit 01) and Kaworu (who piloted Unit 06) now pilot Eva Unit 13, which is so powerful that it requires two pilots to operate.
- The Brave Series:
- GaoGaiGar to Star GaoGaiGar. In addition to gaining giant engines (the better to operate in space), GaoGaiGar used the nacelle cowlings on the engines to beef up its Rocket Punch and the Protect Shade.
- Guy starts out FINAL in the replacement mecha GaoFighGar, which gets utterly totaled early in the series. After a few episodes centering around the Sixth Ranger King J-Der, he comes back in the patently overpowered Genesic GaoGaiGar.
- The entire series, which the above-mentioned Gaogaigar belongs to, all make heavy use of this trope. In general, the series feature one main mecha and one or two teams of combining support mecha, though occasionally this is switched up with one team of support mecha and one other stand alone mecha. Each series runs 52 episodes or there abouts. By episode 18, one of those two support mecha teams will have gained an additional (usually fourth) member, allowing all four to combine into a larger mecha. Around episode 25-27, expect the main mecha to get knocked out of action somehow, and a new hero mecha introduced to replace him in fighting evil. By episode 32, you can look forward to the original hero mecha and the new one combining into a new form (usually named "Great" Hero mecha). The other support team doesn't usually get an upgrade. Occasionally, new mecha are introduced who are either stand alone guys, or who turn into weapons for the hero mecha, giving him a second mid-season upgrade.
- In Future GPX Cyber Formula, the cars get mid-season upgrades as the series progresses. For instance, Hayato's Asurada GSX is upgraded to the Super Asurada 01 in the second half of the TV series. In 11, it's been upgraded into the Super Asurada AKF-11, and in SAGA, the car is upgraded once again into the v-Asurada AKF-0-AKF-0/G. Similar cars get the same treatment.
- Partway through the second season of Initial D, Takumi's AE86 Trueno breaks down (along with him) and gets an engine swap. His father lets this to happen so as to force Takumi to accept the swap.
- Subverted with Tiger & Bunny's Good Luck Mode, a modification Doc Saito added to Kotetsu and Barnaby's Powered Armor in episode 5. What does it do, exactly? Absolutely nothing. Except make them look cooler.
- Bakusou Kyoudai! Let's & Go!!, features several upgrades for each of the good guys mainly because their racing cars are occasionally trashed by battle cars. Go and Retsu each get two upgrades of Magnum (Victory Magnum and Cyclone Magnum) and Sonic (Vanguard Sonic and Hurricane Sonic) in the first season.
- Gandalf The Grey dies and returns as the more powerful Gandalf The White.
- Tony Stark has a tendency to do this in the Iron Man movies. In the first movie, he upgrades his chest-mounted arc reactor to increase its power output although this upgrade gets removed for his final fight scene, and in the second he has to engineer a new atomic element to both power up the reactor and stop it from killing him,.
- Also applies in a slightly more traditional sense—the armor he's using in the end of the first movie is Mark III, and by the end of the second he's up to Mark VI.
- Also the film's version of War Machine is Tony's Mark II armor upgraded by the military.
- This is happens again in The Avengers; Tony upgrades to Iron Man Mark VII armor, and SHIELD gives Captain America a new, modern uniform to replace his World War II outfit.
- In the Transformers live-action movies, Bumblebee changes from a beat-up 70's Camaro into a brand-new 2009 Camaro, and the sequel the twins go from being an ice cream truck to Chevy compacts.
Live Action Television
- In Smallville, Clark gets new powers (X-Ray Vision, heat vision, super hearing, etc.) as mid season upgrades usually just in time to use it to save the day. It is not New Powers as the Plot Demands as they are all established powers of Superman.
- Super Sentai, and by association Power Rangers, often add to the heroes' arsenal about midseason... usually just in time for the Christmas shopping season. The most common additions come in three flavors:
- The Sixth Ranger.
- A Super Mode, with new weaponry and changes to the suit. This can either apply to the whole team or be exclusive to the Red Ranger - or they'll do one of each version.
- New Humongous Mecha, usually opening up new combination possibilities. These may be tied to the above upgrades; the Sixth Ranger usually brings his own mecha when he shows up, and other sets of mecha may be related to the Super Modes.
- In Beetleborgs Metallix, the Beetleborgs get the ability to combine their new powers with their old ones from Big Bad Beetleborgs, making the Mega Spectra Beetleborgs.
- With its reliance on Swiss Army Heroes in recent years, Kamen Rider often gives its headlining Riders a Lightning Bruiser form in the middle of the season. Sometimes the secondary Riders get new forms as well.
- Way before them, Kamen Rider Stronger and Kamen Rider Skyrider got new abilities in the middle of their seasons. Stronger's Charge Up form is the Kamen Rider franchise's first form change, but it'll explode if he doesn't finish the job and discharge the extra energy under a minute. Skyrider's upgrade is permanent, resulting in the original darker colors lightening to their more familiar version.
- Kamen Rider Kuuga plays this a little differently, as instead of just getting shiny new forms that are stronger than their original ones, he also have those original forms enhanced, I.e. Kuuga's Mighty Form becomes Rising Mighty Form. He then of course got the even more upgraded Lightning Bruiser (Amazing Mighty Kuuga) and Super Mode (Ultimate Kuuga) form later on.
- Kamen Rider Wizard also gets this. His first four forms are all usable from the outset unlike Kuuga, but then he gets "Dragon" versions of each. Their powers can be combined into "All Dragon." Beyond that is the true Super Mode, Infinity Style.
- Midway through the second season of Babylon 5, the station received an upgrade to its defensive systems, due to increasing tensions amongst the major powers. General Franklin remarks that the upgraded station would be capable of taking on a starship in battle.
- The heroes were given the White Star at the beginning of Season 3. Towards the end of Season 3, it was revealed that this was merely the first White Star, and that they now had an entire fleet of them ready for battle.
- Almost happened in Crusade, where after five episodes were shot the sets & uniforms got overhauled to look a lot cooler. Then Executive Meddling led to the upgrade-style episodes being aired first.
- Used in Stern Pinball's Iron Man, which requires the player to advance the Iron Man armor up six increasingly-advanced technological levels, from Mark I through Mark VI.
- In the Japanese video game 70s Robot Anime Geppy-X (a horizontal shoot-em-up that's an Affectionate Parody of the Getter Robo franchise (as well as Mazinger Z and the Macekre that was Starvengers)), halfway through the game your mecha is destroyed, but luckily you receive an upgraded version of it, Geppy-XX, which you keep for the remainder of the game.
- Super Robot Wars, while a game series, follows this trope almost to the letter. Almost every game will feature the main character (and sometimes even characters from existing anime beyond the ones featured in the shows themselves) getting at least one of these. Most notably, in the Original Generation games and the Animated Adaptation, Ryusei goes through 2 and a half of these (the half being finding out the units of his squad actually make up a Combining Mecha.)
- It should also be noted that Mazinkaiser was originally created as a Mid Season Upgrade for Mazinger Z in F Final.
- In a PSP exclusive mission for Super Robot Wars MX, Aqua pilots a Dragoon for the second time and together with the Dragonars, have to take on a large force of Martian Successors. More enemies show up and wreck Aqua's Dragoon. As a result, the Dragonar team and Aqua are outnumbered. Hugo shows up with an upgraded robot and shows how powerful it is. This instance was supposed to show that Hugo and the mecha got improved after the Medius Locus wrecked it 2 missions ago.
- Some of the games in the series parody this by including an upgrade called "Tem Ray's Circuit", which actually decreases the abilities of any mecha it's installed on. It's in reference to the original Gundam series, in which Amuro's father, delusional from oxygen deprivation, gave Amuro a useless piece of junk that he claimed would drastically increase the Gundam's power.
- From Thunder Force IV onwards, it's become a tradition to have the player ship get a permanent upgrade halfway thorugh the game to some pretty awesome music.
- In Thunder Force IV, your ship gets an attachment that allows you to fire the Thunder Sword.
- In Thunder Force V, you swap out the Gauntlet for the Brigandine, and proceed to blast the shit out of a battleship fleet until you go to the next stage or run out of Life Meter (at which point you revert to the Vambrace, essentially an enhanced Gauntlet).
- In Thunder Force VI, if you are using the Phoenix, the end of the second-to-last stage upgrades you to the Syrinx, which comes with an improved Wave weapon.
- Late into 1944: Counter Attack, your Attack Drones get swapped out with more advanced drones that shoot lasers. Laser drones in World War II.
- In Xenogears, you start getting upgraded gears for several characters about midway through. Some are just other gears you find (that happen to be almost exactly like the ones they're replacing) but some are actual upgrades by use of "Anima Relics". Fei's Weltall gets upgraded twice: Once to Weltall-2 and then near the end of the game to the titular Xenogears.
- While you can build actual Mid-Season Upgrade units in Gundam Breaker, the true upgrade for the player takes place when you move from using High Grade parts to the much larger and more powerful Master Grade versions.
- Happens to Jehuty in Zone of the Enders: The 2nd Runner when the Zero Shift program finally settles in, transforming it into Jehuty Ver. 2, which turns its fin-like Wisps into full-on attack drones that shoot and slash with Jehuty and an auto-shield that blocks anything short of a Burst Attack
- In Gundam Extreme VS Maxi Boost, Leos goes from his original Extreme Gundam to the Type II VS, which brings all the Extreme's phases together to form something that is essentially a super robot version of Strike Freedom with an Erupting God Finger-esque attack.
- Transformers: The Unicron Trilogy was built on this trope.
- In Transformers Armada Smokescreen is killed messily, but Red Alert makes a new body for him. Later a number of the cast members supposedly get "upgrades", but they're mostly repaints.
- The Quirky Miniboss Squad of Tidal Wave (later Mirage), Cyclonus (later Snowcat) and Demolishor (who is...still Demolishor) get new bodies inTransformers Energon. The repaint issue shows up again.
- Overhaul gets upgraded to the lion Leobreaker in Transformers Cybertron. Red Alert, Hot Shot, and Scattorshot are given new bodies when they become the Cybertron Defense Force.
- In Beast Wars the "Transmetal" upgrades in season 2 were originally going to be done throughout the season, but Hasbro mandated that it all happen at the beginning of the season. Season 3 got to do it's "Transmetal 2" upgrades gradually, with Cheetor and Dinobot 2 getting that status at roughly the halfway point.
- In Winx Club, Season 2 had the Winx earn Charmix, which was a simple power-boost that occurred late in the season. Season 3 had Enchantix, which was gained by the characters separately throughout the season. Season 4 had Believix, which was gained early in the season, and Sophix and Lovix. Season 5 had Harmonix early in the season and Sirenix in the middle.
- In Exo Squad, The Squad's mechs were upgraded with Super Prototype devices mid-second season. Although said devices didn't bring about a combat performance improvement as most examples above, they did save their lives on several occasions later.
- A rare Children's example is Thomas the Tank Engine's colleague Henry The Green Engine. In the famous Flying Kipper episode he crashes and is rebuilt from a cartoonishly designed locomotive into a Black Five; a locomotive design that is historically the best mixed traffic locomotive ever built. This move by the Rev. Awdry was due to his original illustrator not knowing much about steam engine designs.
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars had Anakin, Obi-Wan, Ahsoka, Ventress and Palpatine receiving updated character models in the middle of Season Three.
- In Season Two of W.I.T.C.H., the Guardians gain a power boost, revealing new powers and abilities that they didn't have before.
- In the Dragon Magazine series "Voyage of the Princess Ark", the titular flying ship is accidentally upgraded when it gets possessed by a powerful, sphinx-like extraplanar entity. Not only does the Princess Ark become sentient in the process, but it rebuilds itself into the shape of a gigantic sphinx, with sails mounted laterally for wings and a separated bridge/head that floats above its shoulders, turning side to side to 'look' at things or deliver a lightning-blast roar.
- BIONICLE had this as its method of keeping hero characters in focus — as with every change came new toys. It was either this, or bringing in new heroes and push the old ones back, the creators explained.
- The Toa Mata upgraded into Toa Nuva 2/3 of the way through the first umbrella-arc. This happened, by the way, directly after the enemies had been dealt with and just before the new ones showed up.
- The entire Matoran populace of the island Mata Nui received new, stronger bodies halfway through the 2003 story.
- Six of those original Matoran characters then became Toa Inika around the middle of the 2006 story. Then, the following year (1/3 of the way through the main arc), were transformed into Toa Mahri. Although in this case, it can be doubted if this really was an upgrade — they lost several unique powers, but also gained new ones.
- The Toa Nuva returned after a 4 year-long break (in real life), when they received their Adaptive Armor upgrades at the 2/3 mark of the aforementioned arc. Then, mid-2010, their leader, Tahu had to be downgraded for the Grand Finale, back into his Toa Mata state, but kept the Adaptive Armor.
- A rare, mythological version exists. In Arthurian legend, King Arthur pulled the Clarent (a.k.a. the Sword on the Stone) successfully to become king of England. Said sword got destroyed in battle, but he was able to receive the better and the more famous Excalibur from the Lady of the Lake.
- In Beowulf , the titular character receives the Naegling after the destruction of his Hrunting in his battle against Grendel's mother.