Oddball in the Series

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Not quite Metroidvania.

Gabe: So if Final Fantasy X has the water sword... VIII had the gun sword... and VII had the big sword... There was no IX! They skipped a Final Fantasy! There is no Final Fantasy IX!
Tycho: Was too. The guy had a tail.
Gabe: Was it a sword tail?
Tycho: No, I think it was just a regular tail.

Some media, such as Final Fantasy or Gundam, are known for being long-running series with multiple incarnations. Within these series, there is always at least one installment that is drastically different to the rest. Most of the time, this installment will be considered the Black Sheep of the group.

The reasons for this particular installment being different vary, the most common generally being Genre Shift and Art Shift. Games which acquire this status are different enough that it's hard to coherently compare them to other counterparts in the series. Many a Flame War is likely to ensue over the relative quality of the title compared to its counterparts with the same license branding.

Will often happen specifically with the second incarnation of the series, often because the creators, not having realized the exact blend of their successful formula, will change it in such a way that many of the fans' favorite parts are removed. As a result, later sequels will take more influence from the first title than the second. Early Installment Weirdness can ensue if the first one is the oddball, and Later Installment Weirdness if the game in question comes long after the series or franchise has fully established itself. Spin offs of a series can also fall into the trope unless the spin offs themselves start to create a series of their own.

See also Creator's Oddball, for Creators instead of franchises.

Examples:

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    Anime 
  • Gundam:
    • Mobile Fighter G Gundam drastically departs from the Real Robot Genre and war themes to delightfully and shamelessly embrace Shonen and Super Robot tropes. Still manages to be popular and loved despite, or perhaps because of, this.
    • Mobile Suit Gundam 00 reaches this by the movie, what with the aliens in a series that generally has zero signs of any extraterrestrial life no matter how far humanity spreads out into space.
    • Turn A Gundam, due to the considerable differences in themes and settings. Slow paced, atmospheric, and largely set in a pseudo-World War I landscape.
    • Gundam Wing is something of an edge case— On paper it's pretty similar to the others, with more or less the same themes and plot elements. In execution, though, the tone is radically different, featuring loads of over-the-top action and a less-focused story due to the Ensemble Cast.
  • Digimon:
    • Digimon Tamers is the only sci-fi continuity in what's normally a Science Fantasy multiverse, and the only installment to avoid broad, archetypal character types in favor of more subtle personalities (or boring personalities, depending on what side of the Broken Base you fall on). It also makes adult characters more prominent than usual, and, most famously, it's much much darker in tone.
    • Digimon Frontier stands out as the only Digimon series with no partner Digimon, instead having the human characters fuse with spirits to become Digimon themselves.
  • Within the "Baron" series, Chiisana Sūpāman Ganbaron qualifies. Unlike the previous installments, which were Super Robot Genre shows, Ganbaron is more of a typical Henshin Hero show done in the vein of Superman (albeit with the ability to call a Combining Mecha for help). Between the glut of Ultraman imitators that came out at the time and the show's sponsor Bullmark going out of business, it went relatively unnoticed.
  • Pretty Cure has two potential examples:
    • Smile Pretty Cure!: There's no Myth Arc, the character designs are more cutesy and Moe, and there's a greater focus on slice-of-life and comedy (to the point that it almost feels like a parody). While it does have its fans, it's generally considered to be one of the weakest seasons.
    • DokiDoki! Precure: The main reasons are its Kudzu Plot, lack of filler, and subverting of most tropes associated with the franchise.

    Film 
  • Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom is quite different from the other films in the Indiana Jones series. Whereas the rest of the films have Indy trotting the globe trying racing to find an artifact before aggressive government agents from an enemy of America, this story has Indy stuck in India fighting thuggee cultists. The tone is also very different, with a wacky child sidekick and several scenes dedicated solely to gross-out reactions.
  • The Halloween franchise has Halloween III: Season of the Witch. Where every other movie is a slasher flick about Michael Myers, the third installment is about a crazy Halloween mask maker who wants to use magically bombing masks and Stonehenge to kill children. The original intent was to turn Halloween into an anthology series, but fans rebelled and the series reverted back to focusing on Michael Myers.
  • After Friday the 13th went over to New Line Cinema, two instances of oddballs were made in a row:
    • Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday, the ninth film, where instead of a hockey masked killer and/or a Crystal Lake Locale, Jason becomes a body stealing demon thing for most of the film.
    • Jason X had Jason being his familiar self again, but otherwise the film was a deliberately campy effort which send him into space.
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street has A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy's Revenge, where Freddy is not quite the horrific figure of the original, nor the quipster he would become in 3, and instead attacks people in reality, rather than in dreams, and manipulates the protagonist to do his bidding.
  • The Godzilla series has a few oddballs here and there.
    • All Monsters Attack, also known as Godzilla's Revenge, is a surreal Clip Show where a kid suffering from bully problems at school daydreams about Godzilla (or rather, daydreams about footage of Godzilla taken from the previous movies). It's unclear whether it's meant to take place in the same universe as the other movies or in the real world, but either way, it's nothing like anything else in the franchise.
    • Godzilla vs. Hedorah is a disturbing art-house film which alternates between live-action and animated segments, has a scene where a character randomly hallucinates that all of the people in a club have transformed into fish, a scene where Godzilla flies using his atomic breath (which never happens again), several psychedelic montages using weird split-screen effects, and the only appearance of the word "fuck" in the series (only in the dub, obviously). In general, it' a very strange and nearly incomprehensible movie that sticks out from the others so much that its director was permanently banned from ever working for Toho Studios again.
    • Godzilla (1998) is an American reboot which presents a different version of Godzilla who looks and acts nothing like the Japanese one (even lacking the character's trademark atomic breath) attacking New York. Fans have labeled this creature as GINO ("Godzilla In Name Only") while Toho has named it Zilla, as it does not deserve to be called a god.
    • Godzilla Final Wars was meant to be a celebration of the franchise's 50th anniversary though the film itself barely feels like it belongs in the series. It's more of a general sci-fi thriller focusing on martial arts and motorcycle chases, putting the monsters in the background. It has more in common with The Matrix, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, and Independence Day than with the previous Godzilla films.
  • Disney:
  • Terminator Salvation is the only film in the series that does not have Time Travel as a central plot device. Salvation instead focuses on the war between Skynet and the resistance, with most of the time travel shenanigans being relegated to John's backstory.
  • The Incredible Hulk, the second film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, is a pretty big oddball in that series. First of all, it was distributed by Universal rather than Paramount, meaning Disney doesn't have the rights to package it with its fellows. It has a much darker tone than the series is known for, and the S.H.I.E.L.D. presence that linked all the other Phase One films together was reduced to an Easter Egg in this film. Add on the fact that Edward Norton was replaced by Mark Ruffalo, and that Ruffalo's Hulk looks and behaves much differently from Norton's, and you might not even think TIH is an MCU film at all, the only real sign being the cameo from Tony Stark, which was the first confirmation that yes, the MCU was a thing that was happening. To this day, Call Backs to the events of TIH are far rarer than callbacks to any other film in the series, to the point that Thunderbolt Ross was featured in Captain America: Civil War for the explicit purpose of of assuring audiences that The Incredible Hulk is still canon.

    Literature 

    Live Action Television 
  • Our Miss Brooks: The last season of the television series, the product of Executive Meddling. Madison High School turns out to have been in Los Angeles. Not the City of Madison - as had been the case before. What's more, it's immediately being torn down for a new freeway. Miss Brooks and Mr. Conklin start working at Mrs. Nestor's private school. These changes were completely ignored by the radio series. Our Miss Brooks ended with a theatrical series finale that followed the radio continuity and ignored the final TV season entirely.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is very different from the other Star Trek series, due to being the only one set on a station instead of a starship ("Fort Apache In Space" as opposed to "Wagon Train to the Stars"), and relying heavily on the use of the Story Arc. It also acts as a deconstruction of the utopian Federation Gene Roddenberry envisioned.
  • Kamen Rider
    • Kamen Rider Kuuga places as much emphasis on the actions of the police force as on the titular hero, has a mysterious ancient enemy whose motives are only fully understood in hindsight or on a second viewing, never has the hero declare his finishing moves, never uses the name "Kamen Rider" outside of the opening song, treats the growing destructive power of the main character as concerning or even detrimental, deconstructs the idea of the main character's powers coming from the same source as the enemy, and doesn't even have a traditional Final Battle where the hero and Big Bad show off the full extent of their abilities and powers, instead going for a bloody fist fight in the snow. Also, the final episode is set after everything's over and involves going back and revisiting all the main characters to see how they've moved on afterwards, instead of being the final battle.
    • Kamen Rider Ryuki was pretty much Kamen Rider In-Name-Only back in 2002. However, it fell victim to Seinfeld Is Unfunny, and most of the elements that made it unique when it was new (such as a Super Sentai-esque Transformation Trinket, grey moral tones, varied suit designs, etc) are quite passé now. The Highlander-esque plot, however, still makes it quite unique amongst the franchise, or at least until Gaim touched that again.
    • Kamen Rider Hibiki was vastly different from the other Kamen Rider Series, to the point where it was originally supposed to be it's own show before Toei decided to put it as the next Rider. Everything is a departure from the previous shows. The Rider barely looks like a rider, his main weapons are drumsticks, he lacks the bike in which he has his name, and the signature move for the Riders is nixed in favor for beating the monster to death like a taiko drum (he actually puts a taiko drum on the monster to boot). Because of this, it created a Broken Base with the fandom of Riders, and the Executive Meddling that was done to try and make Hibiki more like Kamen Rider seemed to make it worse in eyes of the half that liked Hibiki.
    • And now we can add Kamen Rider Ex-Aid to the list, as it's a Medical Drama in the form of a Tokusatsu show, with the Riders having a Video-Game motif.
  • The Ultra Series has had its share of unorthodox series:
    • In a franchise about giant superheroes, Ultra Q is a Twilight Zone-styled mystery show featuring all sorts of strange creatures (not necessarily Kaiju) and paranormal phenomenon menacing ordinary people, rather than superhero-type action. Stranger still, it was the first entry in the franchise before the Genre Shift!
    • 1967's Ultra Seven is rather strange compared to other Showa entries. Asides from not being called Ultraman Seven, the show rarely featured Kaiju, preferring alien invaders (not always capable of turning giant-sized au contraire to series norm) as the weekly villains. It was also quite serious in comparison to its family-friendly contemporaries, covering themes ranging from dictatorships to genocide to war, as well as being more a la Star Trek than Superman. Still, Ultraseven has proven to be even more popular than the original Ultraman with more appearances as well as some sequels and spinoffs of his own.
    • 1974's Ultraman Leo seems like a fairly typical Showa entry at first glance, but, as the show makes it obvious from the start, it isn't. It's a lot less silly and light-hearted than its contemporaries with character death, minor horror, and disturbing examples of violence being standard. The title hero hailed L76 rather than the typical M78 and preferred martial arts style attacks over dazzling beams of energy. It also deconstructed many of the ideas of the series from before it. Unfortunately, these elements proved to be bad for its run as it proved to have the poorest ratings in the franchise's history!
    • 2004's Ultraman Nexus aimed for a much older audience than the average Ultra series. This is made most obvious by the extremely dark elements from horrifying monster killing innocents to lots of angst to the massive amount of Deconstruction on the ideas typical to Ultraman shows. Monsters were not weekly enemies this time, but took a miniature story arc to kill too. This is even stranger when one considers that this show was the result of Tsuburaya trying to completely remake their iconic character! Like Leo, it also got screwed hard though, forcing Tsuburaya on a more lighthearted path it hasn't strayed off too much since.
    • Tsuburaya shifted gears in 2007 from superheroes to Mons with Ultra Galaxy Mega Monster Battle. Although technically more of a spinoff to the main franchise, it had the same giant monster battles, only without the Ultramen involved, instead using the many monsters from the history of the franchise to battle each other a la Pokemon. This time, the hero was a man named Rei who had the mysterious ability to command monsters by capturing them in a Battlenizer; his partner of choice was the ever-popular Gomora. Also, it took place on alien worlds populated by rampaging hordes of Kaiju or aliens with Rei's powers, instead of Earth. This new aspect of the franchise uni-multi-verse would carry on into the Ultraman shows.
    • 2013's Ultraman Ginga was the first proper Ultraman series since Ultraman Mebius in 2006. It took some strange turns with the formula though. First off, there's no defense team, but instead a group of childhood friends hanging out at their former, soon-to-be-demolished elementary school. Second, it used Spark Dolls, toys of monsters and Ultras that could be used by people to transform into the monster or Ultra trapped in the toy form, meaning it was not uncommon to see the monsters used by the good guys fighting the villainous monster of the episode. Third, and least significant but still noteworthy, the franchise had begun relying heavily on their most popular monsters (Zetton, Red King, Eleking, etc.) to regularly antagonize the heroes, but this time, the iconics either never appeared or were Demoted to Extra in favour of more obscure monsters. It wasn't terribly well-received with fans, so perhaps that's why Tsuburaya returned to the normal formula with the Sequel Series Ultraman Ginga S (albeit still using the Spark Dolls).

    Sports 
  • Super Bowl 50 is the first one to use the Arabic numeral instead of the Roman numeral, because the logo designers could not come up with an aesthetically pleasing logo that incorporated the Roman numeral L.

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