Seasonal Rot

aka: Season Decay

"As Autumn approaches, soon it will be time for another series of Downton Abbey, and, frankly, if you think of the downward trajectory that show is on, I dread to think what it will be like. It'll probably just be an animated turd standing on a Tesco logo, and screaming the word 'why!'"

An installment in any long running series that is widely held to be of notably poorer quality than the other installments. Often tied to the dislike of a specific arc, but can also befall episodic shows. In some cases, a new director takes over and pulls the series in a different direction; this can give the impression of Seasonal Rot to those who liked the old way, but may also bring in new viewers who prefer it like this (in other words, a change in tastes or audience).

Sooner or later, if a show runs long enough, Seasonal Rot always sets in. Sometimes it's a temporary dip from which the series recovers (perhaps by bringing in new writers, changing the premise, or in severe cases simply ignoring the events of the rotted season). Other times, it proves to be irreversible and grows worse with each new season, at which point the series has Jumped The Shark.

If the Seasonal Rot occurs because of a poorly-conceived major change to the status quo in an attempt to go in a new direction, it's a season-long Dork Age.

One reason that Short Runners are so fondly remembered is that they never lived long enough for Seasonal Rot to set in. Compare Sequelitis, Sophomore Slump and Later Installment Weirdness. Contrast with Growing the Beard (it is possible for a show that has entered Seasonal Rot to re-Grow the Beard).



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  • Any ad campaign that's been running for far too long for its own good. Automobile insurance commercials are perhaps the most egregious offenders, with the Geico Gecko and Progressive's Flo leaping immediately to mind.

     Anime & Manga 
  • Pokémon: All of the arcs after the Orange Islands have taken flak for running on longer than necessary, though Johto and Sinnoh take more flak than Hoenn due to Arc Fatigue; Hoenn was shorter in order to make room for Battle Frontier (which, due to good pacing, was actually well-received).
    • The Johto series suffered particularly because an entire storyline involving Celebi had been planned then scrapped, leaving the writers with a vast hole to plug with filler episodes. The result was a very long and tiresome series with loads of Characters Of The Day and generally uneventful/boring episodes that contributed nothing to the larger plot.
    • The Unova arc ended up rotting as well. It started with decent pacing and subdivisions for story arcs, which actually continued on to the Tournament Arc. Unfortunately, things began slipping once the 2011 Tohoku-Fukushima disaster hit, and a two-parter was pulled to avoid encountering criticism, though it was still well received for the remainder of the next year. Then Black 2 & White 2 created an executive-mandated revamp of the arc, and it officially all fell apart. There were good spots, like when What Could Have Been Johto's Celebi Arc (but with Meloetta instead) was made, but the big League Tournament itself was almost universally reviled for making the the poor decision of having The Scrappy, an excruciatingly dopey boy named Cameron, knock out not just fan-favorite Bianca but Ash himself as well, making this his fifth tournament loss and thus ruining all momentum built up yet again. The Plasma arc afterward distilled a lot of the moral debates and ideals of the games and has massive amounts of They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot, and the arc after that, featuring Ash and co. island-hopping in the Decalore Archipelago, is nothing but filler, with a ton of plots unashamedly recycled from the series' extensive history and filled with shameless advertising for the upcoming games.
    • Many fans now find it ridiculous that Ash Ketchum hasn't yet become bored of hiking around regions catching Pokémon (including many regional equivalents) and generally easily defeating Team Rocket again and again. His adventure has become so monotonous and overly-focused on him to the exclusion of other more interesting characters over the years that any new season that primarily features him is now branded by several fans as a Seasonal Rot season by default.
  • Rockman.EXE Stream, the fourth season of the Mega Man NT Warrior anime. Looked down on for turning the Mons on the internet premise into a Sentai show revolving around an ever-growing team of main characters with the ability to turn their Navis into super suits. The transition started with the previous season, but at least that mixed those segments in with segments that actually focused on Rockman.
    • The main villains' (Duo and Slur) status as Villain Sue and Karma Houdini was quite annoying.
    • Supposedly the whole Cross Fusion business came about as a result of Executive Meddling, as the show's Axess timeslot onward was right before an actual Sentai show, and having resources and budget being shifted around to The Movie, not to mention incorporating said movie into the plot of the TV series itself, was probably responsible for the mostly abysmal art and a story that didn't know what to do with itself. That still doesn't excuse them for throwing out the entire purpose of the series, however.
    • The Mega Man Star Force anime had this to a lesser degree in that there was virtually no plot in episodes 31 on until the end of the first season. So it was more like half-seasonal rot. A condition which continued into the second season, with the addition of discarding almost every aspect of the game it was purportedly based on, up to and including The Rival becoming the polar opposite of his game self.
    • NT Warrior also ran into this during its second season. First it threw in a ridiculous amount of filler before remembering it had a plot, then it wrapped up the plot before the season was even over, and then it filled out the rest of the season with more filler because they had literally run out of plot.
      • The last episode was particularly notable for this, being a blatant Shout-Out to Ghostbusters and famously consisting of, to quote a fansite, "twenty minutes of filler, a minute of eyecatches, and the entire plot crammed into the ending theme." To say nothing of the episode a few earlier that was a rather gimmicky race...
      • The last episode had the most insulting thing of all the anime - the last boss of the first game randomly pops up and it's defeated in less than a minute with barely any introduction.
      • Beast is widely considered by fans to be a huge improvement over Stream, but the sequel Beast+, the last series of the anime, is unfortunately this, as well as Post-Script Season. While the first series, Axess, Stream, and Beast adapt the main series games, Beast+ attempts to adapt all of the spinoff material, such as Network Transmission and the cell phone games, but it is sloppily done, thanks to poor writing and pacing. The length of each episode was also reduced to ten minutes and the time slot was changed to give it a shared spot with another anime. Worst off, while each of the previous series had endings to their arcs, Beast+ just ends. As the Shooting Star Rockman anime was announced that it was going to be released before the game version, obviously they needed to wrap up EXE, but it really couldn't have been done worse.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!:
    • Yu-Gi-Oh! GX, after a Mind Screw of a third season (which still proved to be entertaining regardless), had the abysmal fourth season, which tried (and failed) to top the Mandatory Twist Endings of the previous season, and supposedly explain away the loose ends from the first season without actually doing so. The fact that they made the main villain a secondary character's Superpowered Evil Side with a ridiculous agenda didn't help matters any.
    • Season 4's main failing seems to have been the case of it being rushed for the sake of a new series installment, not the fact that it wasn't properly planned-out to begin with. It managed to wrap up things quite nicely in regards to what would happen to the main characters (by making them search for their own paths and identities, without having to rely on Judai at every turn) and the Big Bad's ploy was not all that different to the conclusion reached by a well-known show who got nowhere near the amount of flak that GX did for the very same plot-point. Its characterization of Judai as a considerably more mature and responsible person after his third-season Character Development (complete with a more attractive redesign) was also widely acclaimed, to the point of people watching the season just to see where all that art of Judai looking badass comes from.
    • Season 2 also receives a lot of flak. Transitioning from a (mostly) light-hearted first season into the very dark next two, this season is a weird in-between, poorly balancing a serious overarching plot of an evil destructive cult and silly filler duels between kabuki fans and curry lovers.
    • The first two arcs of the second season of Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's get this kind of flak, with the Road to Destiny arc being composed of almost nothing but Filler and the WRGP arc containing numerous examples of Plot-Induced Stupidity, as well as Product Placement almost at Pyramid of Light's level. The concluding arc, Arc Cradle, was with the exception of one specific plot twist much better-received. This may in part be because the first season's Fortune Cup and Dark Signers arcs, widely regarded as high points not just of this series but also of the entire franchise, being tough acts to follow, though.
    • Depending who you talk to, some or all of the Filler of the original series. Promptly lampshaded in Abridged:
    Bakura: [...] How about the bikers from season 4?
    Marik: You mean the season nobody liked?
  • For some, the third season of the Slayers anime, Slayers TRY. What would've been an intriguing story was bogged down by poor characterization (the four heroes are Out of Focus and have no Character Development, a stark contrast to the previous season), a convoluted plot, stale humor, and too much focus on the Holier Than Thou Guest Star Party Member, the Big Bad, and his mooks.
    • Even Hajime Kanzaka, who created the series, admits to disliking the TRY arc.
    • Revolution and Evolution-R serve as little more than nostalgia fuel, adding nothing different or interesting to the franchise. Revolution deserves special mention, for stretching Lina's vices to borderline unlikeable levels.
  • Akazukin Chacha. The second season (of three) is best not watched. Or, at least have the remote handy to fast-forward through the several minute long transformation sequence sequence (yes, multiple in a row...).
  • The second arc of Death Note. After a Time Skip Light got two new opponents called Mello and Near, setting up a three-way cat-and-mouse duel. Unfortunately the story falls prey to Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy. Light comes across as a one-note villain and it's hard to cheer for Near, due to his spoilt ungrateful nature and blatantly copying of L. Mello is interesting but is Out of Focus half the time, making the Light vs. Near conflict awfully similar to Light vs. L. The Shinigami appear less and less and there are insane levels of Walls of Text. The biggest contributing factor was the fact that the author wanted the series to be exactly 108 chapters long, but didn't quite have enough material to fill that amount, so the story ended up severely dragged out and padded. The anime adaptation, for comparison, was only 37 episodes, with Near and Mello's arc only lasting the last 5 or so before Mikami Arc.
  • With Digimon, general consensus holds that this applies to three specific series:
    • Digimon Adventure 02: Apart from the fans' disappointment with the Distant Finale, the series seemed to change plots as often as someone changes clothes. This is especially poignant in the small (yet important) Holy Stones arc. These world-shattering sacred rocks were never mentioned until Mummymon casually talked about it in a 10-second conversation. There was little foreshadowing, and once they were all eliminated they never came up again. Additionally, most revelations about The Man Behind the Man seemed to come out of nowhere, and Chiaki Konaka's Cthulhutastic guest-writing episode - originally intended to set up another subplot - went completely unexplained, was almost never referred to again, and comes off as a Big Lipped Alligator Moment. It generally reeks of a series where they had plenty of ideas, but perhaps had too many and were very careless and haphazard about how they applied them.
    • Digimon Frontier's main problem was the Royal Knights mini-arc (episodes 38 - 47, more or less). Almost ten episodes of the same formula (knights decide to absorb a certain area, kids try to stop them, kids are defeated, all of the kids are shown to be digital except Koichi, next episode). Minimal plot advancement, minimal character development, just... endless curb-stomp padding. Secondary problems include the near-complete disregarding of the basic concept of the franchise, and the strangely high amount of filler, even before the Royal Knights arc, which is particularly unusual in that Digimon is historically (and has since continued being, save the below example) pretty good at avoiding filler or at least giving it tangential relevance.
    • Digimon Xros Wars: The Young Hunters Leaping Through Time quickly developed a severe reputation for this, despite being somewhat promising in premise. Not only was Tagiru the most obnoxious hero the franchise has ever seen, but the show derailed fan favorites from Digimon Xros Wars like Nene, who had become an Idol Singer by the time of her cameo. Worst of all, it consisted of almost nothing but Filler with nary a plot in sight, compounded by being the shortest series at only twenty-five episodes and thus giving itself no time to pace things out or get things started. Furthermore, much disappointment was voiced over it promising a Crisis Crossover setup starring prior heroes, then giving only the briefest tease twelve episodes in before seeming to completely forget about it; then having it in the last four episodes, with nearly all the prior heroes being Demoted to Extra the episode after so that Tagiru can end up saving the day with everyone else acting as a power-up for him.
  • Sailor Moon's fourth season, Sailor Moon SuperS, is usually regarded as one of the weakest of the series even though it has some of the best animation. In addition to leaving out the highly popular Outer Senshi introduced in the previous series, it consisted of mostly comedic filler episodes and deviated from the manga's corresponding and dramatic "Dream" arc. It also didn't help that a series titled Sailor Moon spent much more time on ChibiUsa than on its main heroine.
    • The final season, Stars, wasn't much better and by this point the series ratings had plunged, though they naturally recovered for the entire series' Grand Finale. Fans are generally at least a little warmer to the season than Super S, though it mostly depends on how much they like the gender-bending Sailor Starlights (which is a mix of hating new characters, hating the Shipping that arose because of them, and hating transgender individuals.) It also left out vast chunks of the manga compared to previous series, and many, many manga characters did not appear at all in the Stars anime. The fact that the Outer Senshi were returned only to be Demoted to Extra and turned into The Load rather than an asset didn't help.
  • Bleach
    • The filler arcs created by the animation studio are regarded as sub-quality storylines with villains that are usually a rehash of canon villains.
      • The Bount arc borrows from canon Quincy and Mod-Soul back story to create the Bount. It was excessively long, introduced too many characters that were either poorly characterised (the Bount villains) or regarded as extremely irritating (the Bount Mod-Souls). The plot was a run-of-the-mill "turn against the creators" storyline and had a predictable ending.
      • The Gotei 13 Invasion Arc completely rewrites even important canon to justify a predictable and lack-lustre "take revenge against superiors for an ancient personal slight" plot. A filler character who turns normally comedic Kon into her Love Interest and the hero of the show reduces the main characters to shilling roles. She takes a single day to develop from powerless Damsel in Distress to more powerful than even Yamamoto, Aizen and Ichigo. The poor filler characterisation, marginalisation of main characters, and extremely unbalanced power levels all contribute to make it the most poorly received anime storyline within the fandom.
    • The Lost Agent Arc is considered a very problematic part of the canon storyline. Initially well-received as a chance to allow the human characters to shine, the new characters were unconvincing, the new powers introduced were considered confusing, and the arc ended with the Shinigami saving the humans in an extremely rushed wrap-up of the arc. This was predicted by the fandom but still caused huge disappointment. The arc is regarded as nothing more than a poorly designed plot device to give Ichigo back his powers; even the fans that like the arc regard it as a good example of how Kubo starts an arc really well, but cannot sustain the quality to the end.
  • If things can be divided by story arcs for this, Otogi Zoshi noticeably suffers in its second arc. The pacing is poor compared to the first, the artwork (generally quite nice to look at for the first half) has a considerable quality drop, plot points don't link as clearly to the conclusion, and much of it slips into predictable mystery of the week stuff. If the page for Otogi Zoshi itself is to be believed, Executive Meddling in the form of a tight schedule, tight budget, and the presence of 14 directors is very likely to blame.
  • The second season of Haruhi Suzumiya. Want to know a good way to introduce Seasonal Rot? Make eight versions of essentially the same episode with the only differences being the characters outfits and the numbers mentioned in the exposition in a fourteen episode season. It's not like this was done for budget reasons, as each episode has unique animation. Especially when the original novel didn't do this, they simply told the story once, period. Like anyone sane and non-trolling would do.
  • The filler arcs of Naruto very often make fans think it's ruined.
    • In particular, the massive block of over 80 filler episodes that made up the space between Naruto and Naruto: Shippuden is not well regarded. Besides the immense length of time, the episodes themselves simply tended to be lower quality or have Idiot Plots.
      • Said filler has earned a special hatred among Toonami fans, as the endless filler killed ratings, and eventually got Toonami canceled.
      • There were some good arcs among all the drivel, but the fact remains that it was a massive block of wasted space which didn't contribute to anything (especially after the epic "Sasuke Retrieval Arc"). The lack of character consistency (especially with Sakura) didn't help. Likely as a way to avoid this, Shippuden spreads Filler out more across the storyline, rather than shoving it together the way the original series did; however, they went back to the original pre-Shippuden formula after the Pain arc. Not only that, they emphasized filler to the point that a certain 6-episode arc had a quality of animation usually reserved for the movies, while the canon arc directly following it used the standard show animation. Meanwhile, the manga is 80 chapters and several major events ahead.
    • Naruto Shippuden itself started to suffer Seasonal Rot during the War Arc, especially the later stages. For example, the second half of the Big Bad Ensemble, Kabuto Yakushi, is reduced to being unable to defeat Sasuke and Itachi on his own, the preachiness and Character Shilling about Itachi gets worse, Tobi, the Big Bad is revealed to be OBITO of all people, and ultimately Naruto sympathizes with the enemy that nearly killed him as an infant and nearly destroyed his village instead of giving him a "Reason You Suck" Speech while beating him down like we got in Part I. Then of course we have Madara and his near infinite supply of Diabolus ex Machina with most being mind-boggling and/or straight up impossible.
    • The reason of the Seasonal Rot can be somewhat explained in a recent interview here. Kishimoto's first editor, Yahagi had left after the Sasuke vs Itachi arc. And since some mangakas plan one arc ahead, it is not surprising that the series post-Pain arc had gone downhill. Many have considered Yahagi's absence to be a major factor in the series' deteriorating quality.
  • YuYu Hakusho suffers from this. Most fans agree that the high point of the series was the Dark Tournament arc. Some think it was the Chapter Black arc. Despite this, most people agree that the Three Kings Saga was bland by comparison. It didn't help that The Lancer of the main four was Demoted to Extra after spending a third of the previous arc being a Badass in Distress and the first third of the arc being Brought Down to Normal and thus useless. Said character stays in school instead of joining his friends on their last adventure and isn't shown outside of flashbacks between the time his friends leave and the last episode. Fans also hated that the show went from saving the world to participating in Demon World Politics. No one was necessarily evil in the final arc, which made fans feel mixed about who to root for. In the end, none of the protagonists even make it to the final round in the tournament. The antagonist beats Yusuke, but was too beat up from that fight to defeat the next opponent. The sudden drop of Kuwabara combined with the anti climactic final battle and the fact that the heroes weren't doing anything as heroic as they normally would makes most fans complain about the final arc.
  • Medabots Spirits, the second season of Medabots. After the confusing yet satisfying ending of the first season, fans dislike Spirits for putting over half the original cast in a bus. It doesn't help that the aforementioned series does have Canon Discontinuity of its own that it's not even mentioned in dialogue — what happened previously not only with the final, but the exclusion of part of the cast.
    • The first Medabots had as one of its strong points, its pacing — it managed to insert a lot of plot and character subplots in few episodes, and yet never felt (too) rushed. Spirits, on the other hand, stuck with a single plotline (Kam's) through its entire run, and suffered dearly for it, as episodes had to constantly reinforce the status quo to stop the plotline from ending, thus advancing the plot ever so slowly for its 39 episodes. The exclusion of most of the original cast helped to make that more apparent — with less characters, episodes had to focus exclusively on Ikki, Erika and, sometimes, new character Zuru, making stories less varied. Spirits did away with the first series' strengths, and played up its weaknesses.
  • Many Sword Art Online fans consider the Fairy Dance arc as a down part of the series, especially since it nullified the previous arc's emotional conclusion. Asuna was reduced to a Damsel in Distress, and the romantic aspects were focused on Suguha and her feelings for Kazuto/Kirito. The fact that the anime version removed any evidence that Liz, Silica, Agil and Klein were also in the game, didn’t help matters either. When Episode 21 hit, the arrival of Tentacle Rope had the fanbase screaming and Episode 24's Attempted Rape of Asuna in front of Kirito sent most who had stuck with the show until that point nuclear. As a result, quite a few people that have previously praised SAO have switched to bashing the series by the arc's end.
  • Dragon Ball:
  • By the end of the Shura arc in Fist of the North Star, it became clear that the franchise was starting to run out of steam - the storyline became aimless, Kenshiro takes on a more passive role since nothing could really pose a threat to him (resulting in him spending most of his screentime doling out moral lessons to other characters), and the villains of the final few arcs are effectively Elite Mooks. The series regains some sense of direction for the final arc, where it resolves the Love Triangle between Kenshiro, Rin, and Bat, but the post-Shura segments are still considered to be much worse than what came before.
  • Ai Mai Mii: Mousou Catastrophe, the second season of the relatively obscure anime Ai Mai Mii (we don't even have a TV Tropes page for it!). The season lacked the fast pacing and rapid-fire gags that made the first season entertaining. Many fans found the episodes slow and boring, and the attempts at serious drama fell deep into Narm.
  • In Shaman King (manga version), many readers felt like it went through this after the end of a long hiatus. Instead of becoming more interesting, many find that characters (both heroes and villains) grew much more unsympathetic and preachy. The fact that the manga ends on a condescending, defeatist note about the nature of normal humans and the future of humanity has caused some to accuse the author of misanthropic ranting, given how little the manga actually does to refute Hao's anti-human views.

  • Spider-Man comics were consistently popular and well-received for over 30 years until The Clone Saga of 1994-1996. The storyline initially featured decent sales figures, but by the end, not so much. The negativity was largely because the Clone Saga just wouldn't end. After it was all over, the newer storylines were seen as an improvement, but the harm was done with sales still in deep trouble. Executive Meddling led to those storylines being cancelled, two of the four titles being outright cancelled, the remaining two being rebooted and a deeply unpopular era overseen by Howard Mackie and John Bryne.
  • One More Day/Brand New Day has the wider rot problem of the sales of the franchise going straight into the toilet, even with Marvel cancelling all satellite Spider-Man books and upping Amazing Spider-Man to three times a month publication. Marvel hyped Amazing Spider-Man #647 as "the end of Brand New Day," but in truth simply changed the release schedule to twice a month in a desperate effort to save the comic, as the unpopular new direction was causing it to hemorrhage readers at that point. Declining sales and conflicting opinions of the fans about the quality of the writing may have played a part in the decision to axe Amazing Spider-Man and relaunch the book as Superior Spider-Man... complete with the divisive gimmickery of Doc Ock possessing Peter Parker's body to give the book a meaty hook. Needless to say, fans were steamed, sending death threats Dan Slott's way before the book even hit stands. Sales stabilized for a time, but some research indicates cracks are beginning to show again.
  • Slott's run itself, once praised as a return to form with the well-received Big Time, No One Dies, and especially Spider-Island storylines, is widely considered to have gone through this as well. Some say that the aforementioned Superior was the starting point, especially since in order for the story to work Slott flat-out ignored that Spider-Man's supporting cast have traditionally been among the best normal humans at playing Spot the Impostor, but that book built up a cult following of its own. By contrast, almost nobody likes the relaunched Amazing title with Peter back in the mantle. It got off on a bad foot to begin with by having all of Peter's previous love interests dump him so he could be paired with Silk, and Original Character of Slott's widely derided as a Mary Sue, then continued with the Spider-Verse Bat Family Crossover, which consisted largely of various Alternate Universe Spider-People being brutally killed, some of whom died in ways that got fans speculating that Slott was trying to piss them off. Slott did his own case no favors be revealing himself to be a Jerkass prima donna writer on social media, to the point that even those fans who like his writing won't defend him as a person.
  • While the X-books have had their share of up and down periods, it could be said that the former flagship title Uncanny X-Men experienced a decline in quality starting with 1998's "Hunt for Xavier" arc, from which it did not recover fully until the end of Chris Claremont's third run on the title in 2007, when Ed Brubaker took over the book.
    • Another common view is that the franchise became a directionless mire of unresolved storylines, inconsistent characterization, tangled family trees, alternate universes and angst shortly after the end of Claremont's first run. 1998 did indeed mark the beginning of a severe creative decline that exacerbated these issues and alienated both dedicated and new readers. Either Joss Whedon or Grant Morrison is said to have heralded a brief return to the quality and relevance of the mutants' heyday.
    • There was also another period of rot that just ended in 2011, though fans are divided on when it started. Some place the beginning as far back as 2005 and House of M, the aftermath of which left mutants a Dying Race and the "struggle for survival" aspect of the comic being played up repeatedly and Anviliciously. Others are more generous and say the rot didn't kick in until 2009, with Matt Fraction's run (often considered the second-worst in the book's history) and the "Utopia" storyline. Thankfully, things seem to be getting back on track; the return of the Xavier Institute, gone since 2008, has been particularly praised.
  • Depending on who you ask, the seasonal rot for Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog started either after issue #50 (the appropriately-titled "Endgame" arc, which was intended as the Grand Finale but was changed at the last minute, which caused problems for the writers), 125 (the end of a then highly contentious arc, which led to a few issues in space followed by a one year Time Skip) or after issue #200.
  • This seems to be happening with the "second season" of Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane, since the writer and the artist both left and they subsequently hired new people. The writing and art style shift is... jarring, to say the least.
  • The "Reads" arc of Cerebus, largely due to consisting mostly of an extended Author Filibuster.
  • The first half of 2009 issues of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8 comic is vastly considered to be the weakest point of the entire series so far. The second half of 2009 is also considered sub-par by many, though not to the same extent.
  • When Claremont took over writing duties for Exiles, it was with the editorial edict passed down upon him to get rid of the mainstay characters and replace them with variations of his pet characters (such as a spoiled brat version of Rogue, a gender-flip version of Mystique, a generic teenage version of Shadowcat, etc.) Needless to say it didn't take well with fans.
  • Robert Kirkman's run on Ultimate X-Men is generally thought of as a bit of a low point for the series.
    • Many readers consider the series to have been at its absolute worst during Aron Coleite's run.
  • Happened to W.I.T.C.H.: The common fan consensus is that it started going downhill after Orube got Put on a Bus following Cedric's Redemption Equals Death. The plots got weaker, the Big Bads felt more and more like the same evil queen over and over again, and the girls got a Girliness Upgrade. "New Power" and everything after that is often treated as Fanon Discontinuity, especially when they decided that having a plot be about a Mr. Fanservice White Hair, Black Heart and his romance with a Mad Scientist's Beautiful Daughter (who uses Gratuitous Japanese) would be a good idea.
  • See if you can find a fan of Marvel 1602 who admits that the sequels were of the same quality. We'll wait. Granted, the original series had Neil Gaiman, and that's a hard act to follow.
  • Most fans of Runaways will tell you that the series started to decline in quality immediately after Brian K. Vaughan left, but the rot really started to set in when the series was rebooted under Terry Moore and Humberto Ramos. Moore had a limited grasp of the characters' personalities and couldn't find the proper balance between comedy and drama, and Ramos' cartoonish style was not very flattering to the non-white members of the cast and did not mesh very well with a story arc that saw Karolina and Xavin being accused of genocide (and Xavin ultimately handing themselves over to the antagonists to answer for their supposed crimes.) Things improved when Moore and Ramos left, but the series ended up being put on a permanent hiatus.
  • Astérix: After the death of script writer René Goscinny artist Albert Uderzo took the difficult decision of continuing the series alone. Though the art work of these comics were still top notch and the stories OK on their own terms, Uderzo lacked the wit of his genius script writer. Many Asterix stories after 1977 are far less clever and funny and more fantastical and melodramatic. It essentially became more geared at children than before, with the atrocious Asterix and the Secret Weapon note  as the final sign that Uderzo just didn't care anymore. He quit drawing the strip after that and new artists have continued the series.
  • Suske en Wiske: Seasonal Rot has been noticeable ever since the series started using standard Dutch and moralistic endings in the 1960s. The decline of the series sank even lower after their creator Willy Vandersteen got less and less involved. After his death in 1990 the comic strip predictably went for the worse, with storylines that have less and less to do with the original set-up. It only shows that Vandersteen's genius for comedy and storytelling was really unique, as his successors were unable to follow in his footsteps.
  • The Dandy of the latter half of the 1960s and 1970s, while considered a golden age for the comic by some, is often seen as a weak point in the comic's history by many due to how badly the comic fell behind the times, with outdated strips like Black Bob and Winker Watson running in an era where other comics had more relateable, down to earth strips like Dennis the Menace. To add to this, most people drawing the strips were veteran artists who had started with comics in the 1940s or before. If an artist died, then more often than not their strips were reprinted, rather than replaced or given a new artist. Little effort was made to remedy this until Albert Barnes, who had been the Dandy editor since its inception in the 1930s, was finally replaced... in 1982.
  • Matt Fraction's run on The Mighty Thor was heavily criticized for mischaraterization, drawn out stories with no payoffs and abrupt endings, and ignoring any history that was not absolutely vital to the title. The shoddy quality is very noticeable since it followed JMS' critically acclaimed run.
  • Agent Venom ran into this after Rick Remender left the comic and Cullen Bunn took over as full-time writer. While there were some good points (as well as the introduction of Mania, a huge Ensemble Darkhorse), in the end the comic just wasn't the same with a far less interesting main villain, less panel time for Flash's supporting cast and established foes, and a general decrease in the characterization that had been the comic's strong point. The book limped on for a bit before being cancelled midway through the resolution of its Myth Arc.
  • Almost the entire Ultimate Universe went through this, as all the writers except Brian Michael Bendis either treated it like a part of the company where continuity doesn't matter (creating tons of plot holes and character derailments) or seemed to think its purpose was to be as overly dark and angsty as possible. The only books that haven't been struck with this are Ultimate Spider-Man and the books directly linked to it. The Ultimate Universe rotted to the point where it was officialy destroyed in Secret Wars (2015).

    Fan Fic 
  • In-Universe: the titular Show Within a Show in The Calvin, Hobbes, and Paine Show is described by its star as too popular to be cancelled, no matter how mediocre it got (with a comparison to The Simpsons).
  • Nobody Dies is widely regarded to have fallen into this during its fourth season. While it was always a combo of silly and awesome, it was this point where the plot began to slow down with the humor and wackiness overriding the serious moments and the flaws of the story becoming more apparent. The fifth season attempted an Author's Saving Throw, but the backlash was still enough to put it on hiatus.

  • Prior to the prequel trilogy, most fans viewed Return of the Jedi as the weakest Star Wars film. Although Jedi is still considered the worst of the original trilogy, it is well-liked, and is easily accepted with the other two as a great film. However, after the prequels were released, The Phantom Menace is often cited as the worst Star Wars movie, even with the prequel trilogy's mixed reception. That said, many consider Attack of the Clones to be the worst, mainly because of the half-baked Anakin/Padmé love story, Anakin's general emo-ness in that film in particular, and the perceived stiffness of Hayden Christensen's performance. Ironically, Revenge of the Sith is widely considered the best of the prequel trilogy (the reverse of the opinion of the third film in the original trilogy being the weakest) because, love it or hate it, it's impossible to forget.
  • While Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is the weakest Indiana Jones film critically (although the strongest commercially) there is a heavy debate among fans as to whether it is better or worse than the series' previous worst film Temple of Doom (which was the weakest commercially, for whatever that's worth). Fans of Doom claim that the fourth film was too campy and over-the-top, even by Indiana Jones standards, and that too much of the series was altered in this film (having aliens instead of mysticism powering the object, Jones marrying Marion at the end, him having a son etc.). However, the equally vocal Skull fans claim that Doom was too dark and gritty compared to the other movies' lighter tone, had copious amounts of unjustified Squick, and replaced the beloved characters Marion and Sallah with the more despised Willie and Short-Round.
  • While both Matrix Sequels are hated by the fandom, The Matrix Revolutions is considered the weakest for its ambiguous ending and forced themes and metaphors taking control of the story.
  • While every sequel to the original Planet of the Apes suffered from both continuing when the previous installment was meant to be the last and a smaller budget than the previous one, the last one, Battle of the Planet of the Apes, is widely considered the absolute nadir. The reboot Rise of the Planet of the Apes, however, has been very well received, and its sequel is held as possibly the only one to rival the original.
  • Highlander series
    • While every Highlander sequel is viewed as a poor follow-up to the original (at best), many consider Highlander II: The Quickening to hold the title of worst in the franchise and a shining example of how not to do a sequel.
    • While that may be true, Highlander: The Source is far worse as it entirely contradicts every concept behind the mythology of the Immortals, and even ruins Queen by having a crappy cover of their famous "Princes of the Universe".
  • Of the two MGM distributed Dark Shadows films in the early 1970s, the second, Night of Dark Shadows is generally considered the weaker for several reasons, including the fact that it was not directly based on any plot arc from the anchor series and the fact that executive meddling led to a re-editing that left the continuity of the plot somewhat choppy and confusing. Add to that the absence of Jonathan Frid as fan favorite character Barnabas Collins (though Frid had been in the first film, and the second featured the as popular David Selby as an alternate version of his regular Quentin Collins character) and the fans stayed away in droves. This killed all hopes for a third film in the series.
  • Usually noted in the James Bond film series, especially when an actor has been Bond for a number of films (Diamonds Are Forever with Sean Connery, A View to a Kill with Roger Moore, and Die Another Day with Pierce Brosnan were generally seen as tired and outlandish).
  • The Pink Panther films released after Peter Sellers' death in 1980 did not attract very large audiences and fared poorly compared to the other films.
  • Die Hard
    • Live Free or Die Hard got it bad upon release in 2007, not from critics (who praised the movie, and claimed it to be closer to the original), but the "Die Hard" fanbase, for flanderizing John McClane's character from an everyday, humanised cop to a complete "superhero", and toning the franchise's content, from originally a hard R, to a PG-13 in the lines of the Michael Bay Transformers movies.
    • It got this again, in 2013 with A Good Day to Die Hard, but EVEN worse! Upon the movie's release, people were bashing "how terrible the movie looked", and still got this when it was announced that it was rated R. Got even worse, when the critics started reviewing the movie, and once it was released?! Let's just say that you can only get the rare/occasional person praising it! The movie is hated, for only including John McClane as a sidekick, and exceeding his "superhero" Flanderization aspects from the fourth one (but fans of the fourth one have only just started noticing it now). The script is also criticised, and just about every scene, to the point of this installment being one of the most hated movies ever.
  • Scary Movie: Started to get this in 2003, due to the absence of the Wayans Bros., and the fact that the traditional/significant R-rating was omitted. The fifth installment in 2013 actually gets it worse than 3 and 4. Mostly due to the absence of Anna Faris, and Ashley Tisdale taking her place for this one (mostly by people who have only seen Ashley in High School Musical or The Suite Life of Zack and Cody). The comedy was also attacked, and the fact that it was also a PG-13 rating did not help this installment either. All of this before it was released. After all that it got an 11 on Metacritic.
  • The Little Rascals was hit by this in 1938, when the series moved to MGM. Fans of the shorts have criticized the MGM years for growing progressively unfunnier, removing the charm that the Hal Roach shorts had, and becoming moralistic, preachy and patriotic.
  • Laurel and Hardy:
    • When the main characters permanently moved from making short comedies to feature films, producer Hal Roach insisted on stronger stories for the team, often featuring a romantic subplot involving characters that were barely related to Stan and Ollie. To this day, fans feel that the side stories nearly slowed the films down to a complete halt.
    • Things grew worse when Laurel and Hardy left Roach in 1940, and signed contracts with both Twentieth Century Fox and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. While some fans feel the quality of the Fox movies gradually improved, for the most part fans agree that the team's later entries don't hold a candle to their films produced by Roach. This is largely due to the fact that the duo were given scripts that didn't suit their characters.
  • The Three Stooges':
    • The films began to rot around 1945, when signs for Curly Howard's failing health were all too noticeable. Curly clearly lacked the energy he had in his prime, and was unable to do the improvisation that help make his character funny. Things picked up considerably when Shemp Howard replaced Curly in 1946. Unfortunately, the quality of the Stooges' films began to slip again around 1952 when producer Jules White took full control of Columbia Pictures' shorts department. As a way to cut costs, White had the Stooges remake several of their older films, using tons of stock footage from the new films' predecessors. There were times in so much stock footage was used that it only took White and the Stooges a day to film the new material. This method continued after Shemp's death in 1955. In this case, the new footage would consist of either Moe Howard and Larry Fine acting as a two man team (they briefly considered renaming the act The Two Stooges), or Moe and Larry with Fake Shemp Joe Palma. The series didn't improve much when comedian Joe Besser joined the act as Shemp's replacement the following year. Besser's obvious lack of chemistry with the veteran Stooges made him seem like a third wheel, rather than a team member.
    • Besser was replaced by Curly Joe DeRita in 1958. The Curly Joe films were marketed as children's films, featuring family friendly story lines, slower pacing (likely due to the Stooges' advanced ages), and noticeably little slapstick violence. Furthermore, DeRita lacked a familiar screen persona that could make him stand out individually. The reason the Stooges weren't as violent in their later films was due to complaints from parent groups who feared the trio's brand of humor was a poor influence on children. Initially, only certain gags were removed from the act, such as the Stooges' trademark two-finger eye poke. This is even lampshaded in The Three Stooges Go Around the World in a Daze, when the Stooges turn a trio of Chinese officers into Stooge clones. Moe's clone gives a Chinese general the famous eye poke, but Moe tells him, "Uh-uh. That's Number 21. We don't do that anymore."
  • Sam Raimi's Spider-Man 3 and Marc Webb's The Amazing Spider-Man 2 have both been panned by critics and fans of the franchise. Both films have been accused of having too many sub-plots, horrific tonal shifts, poor characterizations of series villains, and plot holes that you could fly a jetliner through. However, both films do have their defenders, who will spend a lot of time arguing which film did it worse.
  • A portion of the Marvel Cinematic Universe fanbase and critics considered Phase 2 a step down from Phase 1, with Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Guardians of the Galaxy being the only real notable highlights. Common criticisms in Phase 2 as a whole have included most of the films falling into the same trap as Iron Man 2 by trying to repeatedly foreshadow events in upcoming films as well as continue to tease Vagueness Is Coming regarding the plot with Thanos at the cost of the main story of each film, have wound up underusing several potential characters, and have been noted as being increasingly formulaic.
  • The quality of the Universal Horror films took a general dive during mid-1940s. Most fans would agree that the franchise's golden age lasted from Dracula1931 to The Wolf Man (1941), a decade that contained a few duds but was mostly undisputed classics. 1942's The Ghostof Frankenstein marked the franchise's transition from A-movies to B-movies, and the films that followed generally had uninspired plots, unpopular replacements of actors who had defined iconic roles in the previous decade, and a failure to take any real advantage of the novel idea of monsters showing up in each other's movies (for example, Frankenstein's monster and the Wolf man both appear in 1945's House of Dracula but neither of them actually share any scenes with Dracula, or each other for that matter). 1948's Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein was more well received that what came before it, and 1954's Creature from the Black Lagoon was a massive success, temporarily stopping the rot before its own sequels turned out to be disappointments.
  • The Godzilla series has had some rough periods during its very, very long history.
    • The films made from 1954 to 1965 are seen as the classic series' golden age. The rot began with 1966's Ebirah, Horror of the Deep, which moved the action from urban Japan to a more budget-friendly deserted island, featured very silly monster fights, and in general was a much less compelling film than its predecessors. With the exception of the fan favorite Destroy All Monsters, the rest of the films made until the classic series ended in 1975 tended to follow suit, increasingly relying on tricks such as re-using footage and casting the same few actors over and over again to stretch the ever-shrinking budgets. Some fans enjoy how far-out and wacky the films got during this period, but most see it as a dark age. All Monsters Attack is considered the absolute low point of the series, due to basically being a Clip Show of pre-existing monster battles edited together with footage of some kid dealing with school bullies.
    • The series was rebooted in 1984, and this new string of films is fairly well-liked, but 1994's Godzilla vs. Space Godzilla is universally seen as its weakest link due to its extremely incoherent, underdeveloped story.
    • The series was rebooted again in 1999, lasting until 2004, and fans tend to think that most of the films from this period are at best, forgettable, and at worst, horrible. The only well-liked film made in those years is the unfortunately titled Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack!. Common criticisms of the others are that they lacked originality and relied on emulating the older movies too much (only one entirely new monster was introduced), refused to build up any sort of coherent continuity, with each film pretty much taking place in its own self-contained version of the Godzilla universe, and made Godzilla far too powerful, to the point of there being no doubt at all that he would win every battle.

  • Tom Clancy himself admitted that he had run out of good candidates for villain nations by the mid-1990s, which resulted in a pair of suicidally outmatched opponents for the United States in Debt of Honor (Japan fights Round Two...) and Executive Orders.
  • The tenth book in Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time series falls under this due to excessive use of Padding and Purple Prose. The average rating on is 1.8 stars. Most fans see some manner of seasonal rot setting in anywhere between books 4 and 9 already, but it's disputed where it really went downhill. Either way, book 11 was a significant improvement, resolving several plots and paving the way for the final book with, by WoT standards, barely any padding at all. (Though it does focus inordinate attention on bondage situations with the Aes Sedai and a lot of dumb moves by characters, even for them).
  • Stephen King's The Dark Tower runs at a strong pace until crashing into a brick wall in Wizard and Glass. Shortly after introducing us to the world of The Stand (a storyline with promise), all we get is a flashback sequence that doesn't flesh out the narrating character any more than the previous books had. Six hundred pages later, we return to the story, which culminates in an Anti-Climax as the Big Bad was reduced to a gibbering lunatic with a handful of grenades, his Magnificent Bastard Dragon was offed by his actual bastard Scrappy and the ultimate fate of the protagonist was left uncertain, but hopeful.
    • What makes Wizard and Glass so painful is the focus of the story. Two stories are happening during the flashback: The War and The Town. One is about the huge shadow-war that is being fought between the armies of the Crimson King and the Gunslingers. This is the one about mythical battles and powerful artifacts being brought to bear against nightmarish demons and mechanical abominations as the world is quickly being brought to the cataclysm that framed the past three books. The other is about Roland's first girlfriend. Guess which gets the book and which gets the chapter.
  • Naked Empire, the eighth book of the Sword of Truth series, is commonly thought to be the weakest part of the series by even people who like it as a whole. Yes, this is the book with evil pacifists. Afterward, the series gains back some of its momentum in the three last books.
  • Jean M. Auel's Earths Children series
    • Book 5 The Shelters of Stone. Boring repeats of the same kind of issues the characters have faced in the past, Ayla and Jondalar become Mary Sue characters 100%, no real drama or storyline to carry through the book, retconning... Basically a boring read about two Mary Sue characters who have the same discussions with people as they've had for two books already. The fact that it was published more than a decade after book four might have had something to do with Auel losing her style.
    • The Land of the Painted Caves, last installment of the series, manages to be even worse than Shelters. Specifically, it had the same conversations repeated almost word for word about six times throughout the novel — every time Ayla met someone new, the same conversation went on about how she acquired Wolf. Plains of Passage, with the whole story being one long journey and a six page sex scene every five pages, got pretty boring, too.
  • Maximum Ride:
  • In Death series: A number of readers would argue that this has occurred for this series, but where did it happen is debatable. Still, the book New York To Dallas has a number of reviewers feeling that the series is going to come to an end soon.
  • Sisterhood Series by Fern Michaels: This trope most certainly occurred after the book Free Fall. The author herself said that she was only planning on writing 7 books for the series... at first. Then she decided to write more books. This resulted in 13 more books, and the storyline eventually just dragged on. That, and a number of flaws that had been present in the first 7 books became glaringly obvious, and the final book Home Free did have an ending that likely left readers feeling that the series ended not with a bang, but a whimper!
  • The Star Wars Expanded Universe novels get varying levels of this. The Thrawn Trilogy (which began the modern EU) is usually very well-received, while the quality is considered to have gradually slacked off across Bantam's run as publisher (with The Crystal Star and the Callista Trilogy) often singled out as particular low points. When Del Rey took over the contract, their initial output was the epic New Jedi Order saga which was incredibly polarizing. However, the next big series, Legacy of the Force, is profoundly disliked among the fandom, and the subsequent Fate of the Jedi is only considered marginally better.
  • John Carter of Mars: John Carter and the Giant of Mars (the first of the two short stories that make up the eleventh book) is considered by a lot of fans to be weaker than the other Barsoom stories, and is generally considered something of an afterthought. The fact that it wasn't actually written by Edgar Rice Burroughs himself but rather by his son John "Jack" Coleman Burroughs doesn't help either. Further, it was written as a "Big Little Book", a format that required a captioned illustration opposite each page of text, and which were intended for children, unlike the original John Carter novels.
  • In the Warrior Cats series, the fourth arc, Omen of the Stars, is generally considered to be the least popular. Some of the most common complaints are the main characters having superpowers and plot points being reused several times (such as forbidden romance).
  • None of the Flashman books are hated per se, but Flashman and the Tiger is the least well-regarded. For one, Fraser uses three short, unconnected novellas instead of a single narrative; for another, he inserts Sherlock Holmes and Watson into one of his stories. This and ongoing Badass Decay have led to heated arguments among ''Flashman'' fans over Tiger.
  • Book 4 and Book 5 of A Song of Ice and Fire have been accused of this. Not only did the books sprawl massively (going from 10 POV characters in A Storm Of Swords to 22 POVS, forcing what was supposed to be one book into two volumes, split by POV), but there was a lot more padding than in previous books, with far more travelogues and focus on world-building at the expense of plot movement. It didn't help that many new plotlines and characters were introduced, while previous fan-favourite characters were left spinning wheels. Finally, the planned climax of A Dance with Dragons was pushed forward to the as-of-yet unreleased sixth book, leading to the feeling that nothing was achieved. The fact that A Feast for Crows took five years to come out, and A Dance with Dragons took six, did not help matters.
  • Sergey Sukhinov's Emerald City decalogy (continuation of Wizard of Oz book) is hit very hard by this. The series started superb, with carefully crafted plot, well-thought characters (heroes and villains alike) and very compelling story. Things started to turn sour after book 5, where the plot started to get strange, the books produced one Ass Pull after another and ran some previously very promising arcs into the ground (Corina's redemption, for example). It went From Bad To Worse since the middle of book 8, which featured massive Character Derailment of many previously very consistently portrayed characters, resulting in Idiot Plot in turn. The books than started to get weirder, suddenly veering into huge flashbacks in the middle of action, and introducing science fiction elements in what was before a fairy tale or fantasy story. This all culminates in the last book, which reveals that the Big Bad and his cronies are "Star Legionnaires of Darkness" (sic!), alternates between extreme silliness and taking itself way too seriously, and finishes with the all-decisive fight between the heroes and Big Bad ending with the Big Bad suddenly fleeing in the middle of fight, while most plot lines concerning minor villains and heroes are simply Left Hanging, and the epilogue, set five years later, never mentioning them. All in all, an extremely disappointing ending to a series that began so very promising.
  • Quite a few people think that with the His Dark Materials trilogy, the last book "The Amber Spyglass", is weaker then the others as a lot of it is an Author Tract on how bad all religion is. Add to that the implied sexual relationship between children and the fact the big battle takes place off-screen.
  • Many consider the later Redwall books to have fallen into this. It varies depending on who you ask but most agree it started with Triss. Yet "The Sable Quean" revived the awesomeness that the series is known for, bringing quite a lot of the fan-base back. Tragically Brian Jacques died after writing one last book after that.

  • The Beach Boys after Pet Sounds, though their early '70s albums have been Vindicated by History.
  • Manic Street Preachers have made a career out of playing with this trope.
  • Very few REM fans would argue that there isn't a point at which this happened for the band. The band smoothed out its sound as early as its fourth album, 1986's Life's Rich Pageant, but most of the early fans stuck with them for that one. However, just about every album after that lost them some fans, even though some of them gained them far more. Document followed with a "bigger" sound and two top ten hits and Green marked the jump to a major label and the songwriting and production no longer resembled that of their IRS albums. Out Of Time's first single "Losing My Religion" marked the point at which everybody in the first world had heard of R.E.M and Automatic For The People marked the band's commercial peak with 8 million sales in its first year. Then Monster was almost universally panned and sold only one million copies in a year, New Adventures in Hi-Fi passed by mostly unnoticed and Up drew criticism because it was hard not to notice the change in sound that the loss of drummer Bill Berry brought about. The divisiveness of the next four albums is mostly over which ones, if any, are relative returns to form and which ones are just bad.
  • You're generally not going to get much argument from fans of The Band if you say that their first three albums (Music From Big Pink, The Band aka The Brown Album, Stage Fright) are much better than anything they released after.
  • The Monkees: their final original-run album (Changes) and the two latter-day reunion albums (Pool It!, Justus) are usually considered to be their weakest music.
  • Rascal Flatts has been highly derided ever since Me and My Gang, the first album produced by Dann Huff instead of Mark Bright. While lead-off single "What Hurts the Most" was a well-received smash, the rest of the Huff era was lambasted for over-the-top Power Ballads with ridiculously bombastic production and grating vocals. After their label (Disney-owned Lyric Street Records) closed, they moved to Big Machine Records, albeit with Huff still serving as producer — and he apparently listened to the complaints about his production, as their first two Big Machine albums were less over-the-top and somewhat more well-received than the latter-day Lyric Street albums. With their third Big Machine album having only one track produced by Huff (and the rest by either the band itself or pop producer Howard Benson), the group appears to have reversed the Seasonal Rot.
  • Blake Shelton, ever since he switched to producer Scott Hendricks on 2009's Hillbilly Bone, has been heavily derided for relying on overdone "country boy" songs about hot girls, rednecks, and drinking that are already a dime-a-zillion in Nashville. While the purportedly "blander" material has spawned a monstrous streak of #1 hits, many fans feel that Shelton has all but sold his soul to become an A-lister.
  • Mayhem is considered to have entered one with Grand Declaration of War. While nothing could have possibly lived up to De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas, the combination of War's highly experimental nature, the lack of Euronymous, and the replacement of the singer doomed the album to derision from unhappy fans. Whether the band has left the Rot behind is the subject of much debate.
  • Many Country Music fans feel that Big & Rich got worse with every successive album. General consensus is that Horse of a Different Color is great, Comin' to Your City is mixed, Between Raising Hell and Amazing Grace is awful, and Hillbilly Jedi (their first release after a four-year hiatus) is still a step up from Grace, but still below par for them. This decline may or may not be combined with Rich's many production and songwriting gigs that he held during the creation of the second and third albums, plus a perceived increase in his ego. It seems that the trend finally reversed, as Gravity, their first release after leaving Warner Bros. Records, has been fairly well-received.
  • Emerson, Lake & Palmer after Brain Salad Surgery. Even a good chunk of their fanbase seems to agree that the quality of their work after their peak period took a nosedive.
  • Progressive Death Metal band Between the Buried and Me's The Great Misdirect gets this from a large portion of their fanbase, mainly because Colors was praised for its large amount of experimentation, and people were disappointed when the next album's direction was more just straightforward prog death.
  • Metallica entered one in between Load and St. Anger, with some fans extending the Rot to include Metallica and even ...And Justice for All. They are generally have considered to have recovered with Death Magnetic, only to return three years later with Lulu.
  • Most musical critics seem to be in consensus that Garth Brooks's song quality declined from Fresh Horses onward. His sales did likewise.
  • Bob Dylan has a couple contenders though two of them were only for an album (Self Portrait and Christmas In The Heart) during periods that otherwise yielded great albums. From after Desire (1975) up until his comeback with Time Out Of Mind (1997) though there's a definite slip in quality from what came before though which albums are bad, which are underrated and which are just plain weird (Empire Burlesque is on the verge of being disco) is up for debate other than the consensus that Oh Mercy is the only real masterpiece of this period and that Knocked Out Loaded and Down in the Groove being the absolute worst.
  • David Bowie went through this after Let's Dance (1983), which was nevertheless a huge bestseller. Throughout the rest of the decade and the 1990s he seemed to have lost it. With The Heathen (2002) he made a comeback.
  • Jazz guitarist Wes Montgomery's rot started with his later Verve albums, which were becoming more pop-friendly. The trend accelerated when he move to A&M, where his albums sold well, but became more pop-instrumental and less jazz. Sadly, Montgomery died suddenly in 1968, before he could rebound artistically.
  • Martina McBride hit this in many country fans' eyes around the time she put out Emotion in 1999, due to a serious case of Issue Drift and an increasing reliance on Melismatic Vocals.

     Newspaper Comics 
  • Little Orphan Annie could be seen as this, especially once it almost completely left its fish-out-of-water/poor little rich girl setup behind and started introducing magic, demons and God regularly interacting with the characters. The initial acknowledgement that Punjab actually had magical abilities probably counts as Franchise Original Sin.
  • Dick Tracy has had quite a few moments of this. The 30s through 50s era was considered pure genius with its great cavalcade of strange looking villains in an immense Rogues Gallery on the same level as Batman. However, the era between 1960 and 1979 was considered an abnormally large case of Seasonal Rot, with the addition of aliens and futuristic technologies, to the comic taking a blacksploitation theme to it, to Dick Tracy growing some jive facial hair. Then Chester Gould dropped out of the production and was replaced by Max Allan Collins, who helped the series regrow by killing off most of everything that the jive era created in the comic until 1992, where more artists took over and the series degraded to this point.
  • B.C. is believed by many to have undergone this in 1984 after its cartoonist, Johnny Hart, became a born-again Christian. What was once a gag-per-day strip that played fast and loose with anachronisms, wordplay, and slapstick increasingly became a soapbox for Hart's religious views, to the point that many papers refused to run some of his strips. After Hart died in 2007, his grandsons and daughter took over and reverted the strip largely to what it had been before.
  • FoxTrot at the start of 2007, when it shifted from a daily strip to Sunday Strip-only. The writing became simpler due to the limits of the format, leaving little to no room for characterization, and the cast pared down to little more than the Fox family and occasionally Marcus. Even before then, Jason was starting to become somewhat of a Creator's Pet.
  • Peanuts, depending on whom you ask, became Lighter and Softer anywhere from the late 1970s to the 1990s. The 1990s also saw a shift to more strips focusing on Rerun asking if Snoopy could play or Snoopy interacting with the music staffs as Schroder played piano. Peppermint Patty, Marcie, and Linus were pushed to the background as well.
  • Shoe: Many longtime fans think that the quality declined once original creator Jeff MacNelly died and handed the strip over to Gary Brookins (who also took over MacNelly's other strip, Pluggers, a few years prior) and a rotating team of writers. Brookins' art style is similar to MacNelly's, but the writing is a great deal Lighter and Softer, simplistic, and inconsistent.
  • The daily Spiderman strip, in recent years has been commonly criticized for Spiderman becoming rather pathetic as his Spidey-Sense doesn't seem to work anymore (Spider-man has been whacked on the back of the head by generic thugs countless times), introduction of lame villains (a failed stage actor becomes a villain named "Clown 9" and for most of the arc easily defeats Spiderman despite having no actual superpowers) and Spider-man more often than not ends up getting rescued by other Marvel heroes or even villains. These faults eventually became so noticeable that they were spoofed in the Spider-Verse event, in which the daily strip's Peter is spared from consumption by Morlun thanks in part to his universe's repetitious timeline and the Master Weaver taking pity on the universe and opting to preserve it from Inheritor attacks.

     Tabletop Games 
  • Every edition of Dungeons & Dragons has had this accusation levied at it, except the very first version and that's only because Seasonal Rot requires a previous version for which it can be considered to have gone downhill from. Every edition has brought its ups and downs, and every edition has had its vocal critics. Third Edition, Fourth Edition and Fifth Edition merely came about in the internet era, where complaints can be more easily made.
  • Paranoia started off as a darkly humorous award-winning game with a few awkward mechanics, which was refined into mindless fun in the highly-acclaimed Second Edition. Rot started when publisher West End Games started releasing game modules in interconnected Story Arcs, especially the Great Crash and subsequent Reboot of Friend Computer. Things got worse with the release of the "5th" Edition; Executive Meddling replaced the dark humor with cheap satires of pop culture, while poor artwork, poor production values, and the near-total departure of the original writers doomed the series. After West End Games went bankrupt, the series was resurrected as Paranoia XP, whereupon the (original) writers promptly declared everything from the story arcs onward as Canon Discontinuity.
  • Warhammer had this in its 7th edition rules set. Initially everything was fine with the Orcs and Goblins and Empire releases and while people started to cry foul during the High Elves release, the crunch was essentially accepted. Problems started to creep in with the 7th edition Vampire Counts book, which had several absurdly broken abilities and rules, and became an easy go-to army for people who wanted to win tournaments. Then Daemons of Chaos came out and everything went straight to fucking hell. Daemons were, put simply, unstoppable. Even the widely accepted 2nd place army (Dark Elves, released soon after) and 3rd place Vampire Counts couldn't begin to compete with them. Every new army book that was released ramped up their abilities to 11 to try and compete, but nothing was working and this began to leave older armies increasingly in the dust. Eventually Games Workshop decided 'Fuck it' and after an incredibly underpowered Beastmen release, grabbed the rules set and shook it so hard that 8th edition came out. 8th edition completely revamped a lot of rules, such as how breaking, charging and magic worked, and while far from perfect, at least managed to restore a lot of the balance. Of course a lot of players still hate 8th Edition.
  • Depending on who you ask, Magic: The Gathering entered this during any number of points across its 20+ years: Chronicles, which was the first set to reprint cards from older sets, therefore diminishing their value to older players and collectors; Sixth Edition, which changed the original rules drastically; Eighth Edition, which changed the card frames and "dumbed down" certain cards so the game could be more accessible to a greater fanbase of new players; Time Spiral, which drastically changed how planeswalkers worked and retooled a number of existing story elements; Tenth Edition and Magic 2010, which both altered the existing rules further and streamlined the game significantly; or Zendikar, which is where many players felt the Power Creep of MTG really began skyrocketing. Despite all the discontent, however, the franchise is still going very strong and shows no signs of slowing down, in part thanks to an R&D team that is made of many former players and listens to its fanbase.
    • Due to Magic's reliance on the Standard format (consisting of a small number of recent sets that are still in print) to manage Power Creep, Power Seep and the game having dozens of tournaments a year with Serious Business prizes (typically around the $30,000 mark), whenever a new set is released with a lower power level than the previous, accusations of this tend to crop up. Thus far, it's happened multiple times:
      • Urza's Saga block was so overpowered it resulted in a time called "Combo Winter," home of multiple turn 1 combo decks. The running joke was that the coin flip was the early game, players taking mulligans was the midgame, and turn 1 was the endgame. The block was followed with Mercadian Masques block, the only major block to not include any keywords and of noticeably lower-than-average power level—made all the more obvious by the way-above-average power level of its predecessor. Both blocks have come to be widely loathed.
      • Five years later, Mirrodin block saw the largest number of cards banned in Standard since Urza's Saga block. It's follow-up block, Champions of Kamigawa was underpowered like Mercadian Masques. It's worth noting that a version of Mirrodin's headliner Standard deck is now considered top-tier in the "Modern," format, where every card from 2003 onward is legal, and the Modern version is actually less powerful than the Standard version because 6 cards from the original are banned in Modern.
      • The power of a handful of cards in Zendikar block led to 2010 being the first time since the Mirrodin bannings in 2004 that a card was banned in Standard. The deck in question, Caw-Blade, was considered traumatic enough that its key cards were pre-banned when the Modern format was created a year later. Unlike the Mirrodin deck that was allowed to enter Modern in a more conservative form, Caw-Blade was and remains completely illegal in the format.
      • In the Standard format of 2012-2013, manafixing became very strong, with 3 colors being the default setup, and all 3 color pairs being equally well supported. The following season saw a deliberate de-emphasis on manafixing, to the point that the most powerful decks in the 2013-2014 season were a single color.
    • Most three set blocks have a black sheep set of dramatically lower power level than the other two. To help counteract this trope, Wizards of the Coast announced that the set printing procedure, block structure, and the nature of the Standard format would be altered starting with 2014's Khans of Tarkir block. The much-maligned third sets and beginner-level Core Sets would be phased out, switching the yearly release schedule for a three-set block and a Core Set (two sets of which were usually examples of Seasonal Rot) with two two-set blocks a year. In turn, Standard would switch from 2 years' worth of sets to 18 months' worth, with rotation happening every 6 months instead of every year.

  • The 2005 "Toa Hordika" story arc of BIONICLE tends to come up as the worst year in discussions; at least it's more universally disliked than some other unpopular years, such as 2009 and 2010. Even the writer himself feels it felt tacked on — which it basically was. So much effort was put into designing the 2004 setting (Metru Nui) that the guys at LEGO wanted to do more with it, even though the story was already fully wrapped up in the previous year. Thus along came the second Metru Nui arc, during which the protagonists turned into hideous beasts (whose toys were also quite unspectacular and bland), the story got needlessly dark and confusing, and due to Executive Meddling, the main hero had such a sudden Out of Character-moment that the writer detests his part of the story to this day. The only good things to have come out of the story were the character Roodaka (who quickly became a fan-favorite) and the book Time Trap, but only because its plot was completely unrelated to the bigger arc.
    • That, and it was the last year to get a DVD special before the fourth one in 2009.
  • Hero Factory post-2012. The '12 Breakout line is often seen as something of a high point, and the Animated Adaptation hinted at the story Growing the Beard with the return of the first Big Bad and his new diabolical plan. The following lines disregarded these developments entirely, and focused on creating more ridiculous-looking sets and pressing the Reset Button on the plot after each year. The final line, Invasion from Below, was perhaps better regarded for trying to spice up the toy designs by having the Heroes be Minifig-scaled, but the companion episode was even more badly received. Some suspect that this may have had to do with LEGO diverting their efforts to the BIONICLE reboot, which was coincidentally planned since 2012.

     Video Games 
  • It's generally thought that this has happened to Final Fantasy, but there's debate as to when it started. Most of the finger-pointing is aimed at XIInote , XIIInote , or XIVnote . Also released during this time was Final Fantasy: All the Bravest, which was viewed as a blatant cash grab based on nostalgia. Others simply believe the series has never been the same since X, since that was the final game Hironobu Sakaguchi, the series' creator, worked on before being forced to step down after he cost the company over a hundred million dollars with his disastrous attempt at jumping from game to film direction.
  • When the Mega Man (Classic) series hit this varies. Depending on who you talked to, the "seasonal" rot began either with the fourth or fifth game, but definitely while the series was still on the NES. Only with Mega Man 9 is the series considered to have climbed out (incidentally, it returned to a "retro" 8-bit presentation). The Mega Man X series is almost universally regarded as entering seasonal rot after Mega Man X5, especially because Keiji Inafune had moved on to the Mega Man Zero series, though some felt that the series got some mojo back in Mega Man X8 and Mega Man X: Command Mission.
  • The Tony Hawk's Pro Skater series is often regarded as this. When exactly it began to happen is unknown. Some fans think it's when you got the ability to revert, making landing too easy. Others say it's when you got the ability to get off your board to end combos easily, and also the ability to ride other vehicles. Others say that it is after Tony Hawk's American Wasteland, which was a notable step down in effort from the previous games. EA's Skate series became popular and Project 8 and Proving Ground struggled to follow it up. One thing most fans agree on is that the inability for many people to play Shred and Ride (due to it requiring a special peripheral that required you to be an exact distance from the console) killed the series.
  • The Mortal Kombat franchise is said to have began rotting with Mortal Kombat 4, and only climbed out with Mortal Kombat 9.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog started getting stale after the Sonic and Knuckles mark, with reviewers noting that the whole "Chaos Emeralds get stolen again" plot to be very samey. Then there's the 3D titles that suffer Polygon Ceiling.
  • Dance Dance Revolution's North American and European releases suffered this around the time of DanceDanceRevolution X, due to the horrible quality of the new cabs caused by distributor Betson attempting to cut corners, the lack of an upgrade option for classic cabs rather than just ordering new cabs, and the lack of eAMUSEMENT integration that is required to unlock a substantial amount of content, three problems that the Asian versions did not suffer. DanceDanceRevolution X2 was one final attempt to salvage arcade DDR in the West, with somewhat better pad quality. However, the Western DDR scene never quite recovered, and all versions of DDR afterwards became Asia-only, just like before DanceDanceRevolution SuperNOVA.

     Web Comics 
  • xkcd in later years has come to this according to many fans. The "One Two" (aka the "Primitive Cultures develop Sesame Street") and "Anatomy Text" strips are considered the major points of contention, as the first is considered the point where Randall's (somewhat hypocritical) contempt for non "hard science" majors became overbearing, and the Anatomy strip (featuring, without warning, quite explicit, if clinical, diagrams of genitalia) is just considered offensive in general.
  • Sluggy Freelance lost a lot of its readers during the massive plotline known as "Oceans Unmoving," mainly because the plot's only relevance to the series was showing what happened to BunBun after Holiday Wars. It took what should have been a a very short, sweet explanation and turned into into a one year plotline that constantly stopped the action because it had to cram in as much exposition as possible about the cosmology. For many people, the comic never recovered from it. Others like to just pretend it never happened. Still others found it a fairly interesting change of pace that had a lot of wasted potential. Unfortunately, forcing it upon the readers with only a tangential relation to the rest of the canon was not a smart move on Pete's part. And "Oceans Unmoving" would have been a great thing to release all at once, say as a book. It drew more resentment because it came at the expense of the regular cast, and the cool concepts weren't well served by a one-day-at-a-time schedule. People forget that a lot of Sluggy stories felt overlong and tedious at the time, but read well in the archives.
  • Abnormality mentions it, along with Franchise Zombie and Early Installment Weirdness tropes.
  • Survivor: Fan Characters: Season 8 is widely considered by fans to be its worst season due to its suffering from an overabundance of Flat Characters and plain unlikable characters, the shafting of Character Development for bland strategy and repetitive jokes, and a finale that came across as "Isn't this Boring Invincible Villain awesome, and aren't these two guys utter tools who exist just to make her look even more awesome?" to many readers. Most fans agree that the series recovered with Season 9, however.
  • Sabrina Online had the "Sabrina creates a Mary Sue webcomic" arc. It was pretty self-referential and got old pretty fast, but as of June 2012 seems to be over when Sabrina quit the comic after losing interest.
  • Ménage ŕ 3 was felt by many fans to have suffered badly in volume 5 with too much coverage of the car-crash relationship between passive central character Gary and (insufficiently) cute psychotic Yuki. This culminated in several strips of Yuki blundering around in a blindfold being stupid. The ensuing end to that relationship, followed by some fairly radical relationship shake-ups and a crossover, looks to have recovered much of the comic's appeal.
  • Sinfest has this with the Sisterhood arc, where a previously mostly neutral, (fairly) light-hearted strip was changed to what can best be described as feminist propaganda. The new direction of the strip is largely loathed by the strip's fans, partly because of the huge changes in characterization it brought and how ridiculously Anvilicious its message became. The leader of the Sisterhood widely being considered a Mary Sue doesn't help.
  • Red String began to fall into this during its last year, due to the author having become pregnant and taking several other projects on the side. This caused a decrease in the art quality and some rather hasty plot conclusions.
  • Homestuck: While Act 5 was widely considered the place where the webcomic grew the beard, Act 6 featured completely new characters that weren't as overall fanbase-expandingly popular as the trolls were and generally even more divisive, very very long sub-acts (and sub-sub acts!) causing Ending Fatigue, a very long Romantic Plot Tumour causing unnecessary drama between the new kids, and more villains that are so powerful they make you consider whether these kids even have a ghost of a chance, as well as a bunch of jokes that were either too dark to be humourous or just plain considered to be in bad taste. It took years for the original kids to finally meet up with their new counterparts, and even when that happened it took many more months in real time for them to actually get on to fighting these new villains.

     Web Original 
  • Several fans of Foamy the Squirrel, while they enjoy Foamy's journey to find a new roommate, don't like Germaine's cartoons of recent due to the Flanderzation of her sexual tendencies.
  • Fans of I'm a Marvel... and I'm a DC have come to anticipate an engaging, dramatic story arc spanning the fall, winter, and spring of every year. However, fall and winter of 2011, and spring of 2012, only brought videos in which the heroes spout some one-liners. None of them exceed two minutes, either. Fans find this especially frustrating because the arc that began in December 2009, "Zero Hour", didn't have a proper conclusion until 2013. Summer 2012 saw new blockbuster movies for The Avengers, Spider-Man, and Batman, but circumstances beyond ItsJustSomeRandomGuy's control prevented him from making videos about them. As of this writing, only two videosnote  about those films have made it to YouTube.
  • Benthelooney:
    • Season 5 of Ben Rants gets this for flanderization (The flanderization began in Season 4, but got worse in Season 5), inconsistency, focus on jokes than the subject, and many opinion retcons.
    • Season 4 is this to a lesser extent, as while fans don't believe it's as bad as the 2013 season, the flanderization and change in format begun with the first uncancelled season.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series had issues with its second season and the Virtual World/Cancelled Series portion of the third. Both of these relied heavily on referential humor, and overused jokes from the first season. Even LittleKuriboh wasn't fond of the Cancelled Series.
    • LK even admitted that much of his inspiration to continue the series has been sapped thanks to UDE and Konami's constant filing of Copyright Infringement against him on Youtube, which costs him subscribers as well as money in order to get his channel back up after inevitably getting banned.
  • Quite a few are having this reaction to The Nostalgia Critic after he was uncancelled. The biggest points of complaint are the Critic becoming a bigger jerk (he was a self-centered jerk before but after the reboot he borders on being a straight-up villain), the increased amount of undeserved jabs and Shallow Parody, loads more controversial statements (including a review of Sailor Moon that was absolutely drenched in Unfortunate Implications), and the character's story already being resolved. There's also the new addition of Malcolm Ray and Rachel Tietz (later Tamara Chambers) as co-stars who some feel ruin the dynamic and style that the Critic had established.
  • Some say The Angry Video Game Nerd went through this between James contracting major burnout in early 2010 and the filming of Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie in mid-2012. He had noticeably less energy and passion during this time period, and his "anger" (the defining trait of his character) was quite a bit more restrained. He may be making a comeback now that the film has been completed, allowing him to focus more on the show itself.
  • A significant section of Cracked readers believe that the site started going downhill sometime around 2013. There are many reasons offered for this, including:
    • An emphasis on click-bait titles. To make it worse, for several articles the titles will change several times within hours of them being originally published, often in ways that don't really reflect the article content, apparently just to find a title which is going to get the most clicks.
    • The site's Cerebus Syndrome and new-found preachiness. The site has increasingly eschewed a focus on comedy in favour of more articles that are either philosophical and opinion-based treatises, exposés on an often unsettling aspect of human existence (this particularly applies to articles which Robert Evans is involved with) and / or possessing a clear focus on social justice issues. Many existing readers tend to find these articles pretentious, condescending, ill-informed, inaccurate, self-righteous, hypocritical, unbearably dark and depressing to read or some combination thereof.
    • Conversely, many readers tend to find those remaining articles which are intended to be humourous and / or informative, as in the site's previous style, to be rather lazy, inaccurate and unfunny.
    • An influx of unpopular regular contributors. These include, but aren't limited to, Adam Todd Brown, J. F. Sargent, Luke McKinney, Auntie Meme and Nicholas Pell.
  • Depending on who you ask Marble Hornets may have fallen into this during its second half, as the creators created way too many questions and subplots than they could handle. This is far from universal however.
  • Parodied in The Jerry Seinfeld Program, in which Seinfeld went on for 21 seasons (with another five planned.) Elaine and Kramer left (with Jerry and George pretending they never existed) the show truly became about nothing once Jerry ran out of ideas, and has devolved into nothing more than a series of internet shorts lasting about a couple minutes long at most since the show somehow managed to achieve a Nielsen rating of less than .1 and yet is still going, in an extreme case of Adored by the Network. The show eventually devolves into Jerry and George having existential crises on-set, begging to just let the show die already before finally committing suicide.

Alternative Title(s):

Season Decay