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  • Season 1 of 3-2-1 Contact was hosted by three college-age students in a campus workshop, in contrast to the junior high kids in a basement playroom cast of subsequent seasons. To some, it was First Installment Wins.
  • In the pilot of 3rd Rock from the Sun, Tommy and Dick use some kind of telepathy on each other so that Tommy can demonstrate the disgusting thoughts which puberty is causing him to have. For the remainder of the show's run, this ability is never mentioned again and the aliens appeared to lack any kind of "powers". Also from the pilot, Dick, wanting to get rid of Ms. Dubcek, pushes her out a door that would later lead to his bedroom. He and Mary also sat opposite of where they usually did in their office.
  • The first few episodes of 24 differed greatly from the rest of the season, and had many off-kilter moments that don't fit with what followed:
    • The first season had a title card that read, "Events occur in real time." This was jettisoned after the first three episodes (although it did make an appearance in the second- and third-season premieres, which were aired commercial-free, as well as the seventh). In addition, the first season is the only season to use the word "midnight" instead of "12:00 AM".
    • The first season's full narration is "The following takes place between 'x and x' on the day of the Presidential Primary." All future seasons do not have any narration following the hours listed.
    • The pilot episode had several sequences that emphasize ticking clocks (and the "real-time" aspect of the show). In addition, the "ticking" noise played during the pilot is different from every other episode.
    • In the second episode of the series, Jack drives down an L.A. street distraught after Richard Walsh's death. During this sequence, Jack's perspective shows a time-lapse cityscape perspective - this is the only time such a scene appeared in the series.
    • The pilot is the only episode to feature a shot of something happening in outer space (a satellite passing over Kuala Lumpur).
    • The first few episodes don't have Jack narrating ("I'm Federal Agent Jack Bauer, and this is the longest day of my life."). The opening narration also changes several times throughout the first season.
    • CTU's design greatly changed between the pilot and the second episode (due to switching from an actual location to a soundstage).
    • The fifth, sixth and seventh first-season episodes are the only time in the series when the sun rises in a realistic fashion (it takes just under two hours to go from night sky to full daylight). Later seasons had it transition from night to day almost immediately.
    • A number of bizarre elements in the pilot and second episode (Tony's exaggerated accent, Mandy's meditation scene in the desert) were never referenced again.
    • The first-season finale has the only flashback in the series, when Jack cradles Teri's body while remembering her.
    • In season two, the ticking clock was integrated with the commercial breaks, and reminded viewers that time was still progressing in the show. This format never appeared in any other season afterwards.
    • In season 1, the show's pacing was comparatively slow for the first few episodes before building momentum. Then halfway through, after the first arc had been resolved (the season was plotted this way to give viewers partial closure if the show wasn't renewed), there was a transitional episode with not a lot of action. Later seasons would see the show continually try to top itself in terms of action and cliffhangers. The first episode of season 8 is similar to that of season 1 in its pacing, but then that season followed the pattern of the others.
    • In a sense, the first season is this for the entire series. The first season involves a fairly low-key threat (an assassination attempt on a Presidential candidate), as compared to the nuclear terrorism and biological warfare of later seasons. Consequently, it's the only season of the series which doesn't feature the sitting President of the United States. Also, the season has more of a Conspiracy Thriller vibe than later seasons. Jack Bauer is also portrayed somewhat different. His Rogue Agent and Maverick tendencies aren't quite as developed as they later will be, he's the Head of CTU rather than being just a field agent, and he hasn't quite got the knack for torture that he will later have. Word of God says that losing his wife, Teri, in the first season finale leads Jack to become the character we see in subsequent seasons.
  • 30 Rock:
    • Characterization Marches On: In the first few episodes, Jack is a Pointy-Haired Boss (he's became an Eccentric Mentor) and Jenna is Liz's neurotic best friend (she became insane, egotistical Attention Whore). Liz is also much more serious, with only some traces of goofiness, and she and Jack started off having a fairly antagonistic relationship. In addition, Tracey initially has some facial hair and his entourage had several members, though most of them soon disappeared except for Grizz and Dotcom.
    • At least with Jenna, it's somewhat justified since she explicitly stated that she'd start acting crazier to essentially keep herself in the limelight (she was the original star of the show within the show, until Tracy came on with his completely off the wall and nonsensical acts).
    • The running gag that Kenneth was much older than he appeared was not established until the second season. In the first, he actually speaks with his mother over the phone and she sounds like she's sixty at the most. Also, Kenneth was supposed to be a little creepy at first; the only card player that Jack couldn't "read", causing him to proclaim "In ten years, we'll all be working for him...or be dead by his hand." In later seasons Kenneth's friendliness and willingness to do anything for his friends was portrayed as entirely genuine. The gags about his age went from "he's older than he appears" to "he might very well be immortal". It was also established that he had no ambitions beyond being an NBC page.
    • The first season episode "The Fighting Irish" has Jack falling for a con conceived by his brother (Nathan Lane) and father, who actually appears in the episode. Later episodes established that Jack's father ran out on him and his mom when he was young, and he never saw him again.
    • A Running Gag in the first season was that Rachel Dratch would appear as a bit character in every episode, from a Moral Guardian to a homeless bum. This was quickly dropped and she did not appear on the show again for three seasons.

    A 
  • The first Afterschool Specials on ABC were far less focused on the youth, often dealing with things like extinction or other more "generic" issues. The first one, The Last Of The Curlews, was actually an animated special instead.
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: General consensus seems to have it that the show didn't Grow the Beard at all until somewhere around episodes four and five at the earliest, meaning that the first three episodes are all over Early Installment Weirdness, including odd moments of awkward characterisation and expositional dialogue that seem out of place once you've seen the whole thing. That's to say nothing of the fact that the show had a mid-season Retool planned from the start, rendering the first few episodes nothing like the latter half of the series in tone and content, going from a fairly lighthearted Mystery of the Week format to a much darker ongoing Mystery Arc with almost no Filler episodes.
    • There's also a couple of more minor ones that crop up by the end of Season 1: for example, the first few episodes have Simmons (played by Elizabeth Henstridge, a Yorkshire-born actress) speaking in Received Pronunciation, which was slowly fazed out over the course of the first half dozen or so episodes in favour of the actress's natural accent. There's also the fact that Simmons seems to have a mild crush on Fitz for the first few episodes, yet most of the season then shows him pursuing her romantically while she becomes actively Oblivious to Love and shows a preference for a couple of other guys.
  • All in the Family changed quite a bit from the time it was shopped to studios in 1968 (under the title "Justice For All") to the time it debuted on CBS in 1971. When the show was officially picked up to series, several things changed between the official pilot and the rest of the episodes. While O'Connor and Rob Reiner had their roles nailed down, Jean Stapleton used a very low, non-shrill voice for Edith, in addition to being much more sarcastic with Archie, Sally Struthers' Gloria was much more sexually provocative (wearing hot pants and miniskirts as a sign that she was a sexually liberated woman — at least for her time) and the entirety of the early episodes focused on a single argument between Archie and Mike (with no B-plots). The series also debuted with a "Presented For Mature Audiences" disclaimer (which was jettisoned after a few episodes because there was no audience complaints).
    • Only the first season featured background music, and in the second episode "Writing the President", there's even a daydreaming sequence - the only time the series ever went inside a character's head.
    • Also audience laughter could be heard through the theme song, especially after Stapleton screeches out "And you knew where you were the-e-en."
  • Season 1 of The Amazing Race had a couple of features that were changed in later seasons, the most notable being that Phil only showed up at the mat to greet the last team instead of being there to greet every team like he would in every season thereafter. Also, the first episode was edited challenge to challenge, meaning each task was shown to completion before moving onto the next one, making it impossible to tell what order the teams were in; the route flags were yellow and white instead of the yellow and red of later seasons (the yellow and white flags would be brought back for Family Edition, and in countries such as Vietnam, that have a yellow and red flag); and poor course planning resulted in two of the final four teams falling hopelessly behind with no chance of catching up to the two lead teams, something that the producers have taken steps to avoid since then.
    • The first four seasons as a whole had a lot more exposition than later ones, with teams (and Phil) talking about things like rules (both written and unwritten), money usage, travel, and how each little move affected their placement in the Race. Such exposition was cut out in later seasons as that information was expected to be common knowledge among fans by then. Many episodes in those seasons would also start with shots of the teams interacting at the Pit Stop, and Confession Cams were done solo instead of in pairs.
    • Originally, penalties were issued at the beginning of the leg following when they were earned (unless the penalty eliminated the team, then Phil would call the penalized team and the last team to check in into a meeting to tell them the new results). However, after Season 4, the rules were changed so that teams could not check in until all earned penalties had been served.
  • American Horror Story: Murder House can seem a bit odd in comparison to later seasons of American Horror Story for a few reasons. For one thing, it's the only season so far that has neither a musical number nor a big-name pop musician in a major role—both elements that would go on to become staples of the series, with every subsequent season including either one, the other, or both. note  For another, its two lead actors are Connie Britton and Dylan McDermott, while Jessica Lange only has a supporting role, and Sarah Paulson only has a minor role in the second half; Britton would completely vanish from the series after Murder House, while McDermott would vanish after returning for an uncredited supporting role in Asylum, with Lange and Paulson largely becoming the faces of the series until Lange declined to return for Hotel.
  • On the first episode of America's Funniest Home Videos (an hour-long special aired on ABC in 1989), host Bob Saget had a Lovely Assistant in Kellie Martin. She disappeared when the show went to series.
    • And when Tom Bergeron took over as host, he initially hosted it in a style more akin to Saget's cheesy, goofy mannerisms before becoming more of a Deadpan Snarker.
  • The first episode of America's Top 10 had Casey Kasem behind a desk, making it look more like a newscast. They got rid of the desk in later episodes.
  • Ancient Aliens is actually a follow-up to a one-off documentary that aired a year prior on the History Channel. The documentary avoided the massive amount of Dan Browning, Insane Troll Logic, and All Myths Are True assumptions that the series has, by properly presenting both sides of the argument of the existence of Ancient Astronauts, acknowledging artistic license in ancient carvings, and citing properly researched papers. The documentary remained focused, while the series goes on wild tangents ("comic book superheroes are aliens!") for the sake of padding. Fan favorite Giorgio A. Tsoukalos's hair didn't become a major part of the show til season 2.
  • Very early on in Are You Being Served?, Mrs. Slocombe was attracted to Mr. Lucas. For the rest of the series (until he was Put on a Bus, anyway) Mrs. Slocombe couldn't stand Mr. Lucas. Mrs. Slocombe was also treated as an attractive older woman in the first season, with Captain Peacock in particular often chasing after her. In later seasons everyone seemed to regard her as too hideous to live.
  • Arrowverse:
    • Arrow
      • During the first few episodes when Oliver is undertaking his vigilante mission completely solo, he has a Private Eye Monologue to voice out his thoughts while training in the Arrow Cave, since he doesn't have Diggle or Felicity to bounce dialogue off of.
      • Felicity Smoak doesn't join Team Arrow until episode 14 ("The Odyssey"), and is mostly absent from the series to that point (she was originally supposed to be a one-off character and Emily Bett Rickards is listed as a guest star all season), which can be jarring to those who came in later and know her as the eventual female lead and being Promoted to Love Interest.
      • On the flip side of that, Katie Cassidy earns her second-billed status in season one, as she carries a lot of plot arcs on her shoulders between being an informant for "The Hood", her love triangle with Oliver and Tommy, and being the target of several villains. She's also treated as an undisputed true love for Oliver (as in the comics, as Black Canary), with Helena Bertinelli even breaking up with Oliver over the idea he only has eyes for Laurel. However, the positive fan reaction towards Felicity (and her crush on Oliver) and the icy reception towards the chemistry of Oliver and Laurel had their relationship shelved in the season 2 premiere, with Laurel eventually moving towards supporting cast member as opposed to the female lead that was envisioned.
      • In a first season without The Flash (2014) and metahumans, the first season is grounded closer to reality; villains tend to be drug pushers or a Corrupt Corporate Executive and fight off Oliver with simple firearms. "The List" tends to dominate the first half of the season, giving the show a Monster of the Week feel before "The Undertaking" arc sets in.
      • In season 1, there are episodes that are flashback-free and some that revolve around a flashback ("The Odyssey", for example, in which Oliver is unconscious in the present throughout). From season 2 forward, virtually every episode criss-crosses present-day and flashback a la LOST, with some flashbacks in later seasons broken up into 60-second spurts.
    • In the pilot of Supergirl (2015), everyone avoids referring to Superman as "Superman" but instead say "the guy in blue", "Your cousin", "him", etc. The gimmick was dropped by the second episode when the writers realized how narmy it was.
    • The first two episodes of The Flash (2014) feature frequent flashbacks to shortly after Barry's mother's death, and the third one a flashback to the night the particle accelerator exploded. Then they realized they weren't Arrow and stopped.
    • Barry's Science Hero nature was more at the forefront and we saw him doing Sherlock Scans in his work as a CSI. His running effects were actually different: before production went crazy with the lightning effects and decided we didn't even need to see a person in them, he actually looked like a guy moving fast, generating some lightning effects and leaving behind a more traditional streak effect similar to Smallville's effects for Clark wooshing by. When not suited, there was sometimes no lightning or streak.
  • The Avengers (1960s):
    • The first season, with John Steed paired with Keel, was a straightforward crime drama. Even the early Cathy Gale episodes were pretty much just straight crime stories as well (along with those featuring short-term partners Venus Smith and Martin King). It wasn't till Cathy became Steed's only partner that the bizarre and occasionally SF-tinged stories began.
    • During the first season, Ian Hendry's Dr. Keel was the lead character, so much so that there are a few episodes in which Steed does not even appear.
    • The characterization of Steed in the first two seasons was markedly different, with the character being more brusque and rough-and-tumble and less-friendly. His attitude towards Cathy in her early episodes is also more sexually aggressive than it became later.
    • Several of Cathy Gale's early episodes were actually written for the David Keel character, with the dialogue left more or less unchanged; this led to some characterization refinement as scripts written specifically for Cathy began to emerge.
    • The first two seasons had Steed answering to an on-screen superior; this was abandoned for the better-known Cathy and Emma eras, but it was revived with the introduction of Mother in the Tara era.
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    B 
  • Babylon 5:
    • The first season is very different from the rest of the show. There's a different commander in the first season, far more focus on the criminal underworld in Brown Sector, and Delenn still looks completely Minbari. One episode ("Grail") uses an unexplained "cycle" as a unit of time, and that never showed up again (but by the time they decided it wasn't a good idea, the episode was done). The sets are a little different, and the lighting and exposure was changed from the beginning of season 2, giving the show a very different visual feeling. A viewer who started watching the show from season 2 onward might also be put off by G'Kar being a Smug Snake and something close to a villain in most of the first season. This is perhaps due to the first season having a lot of stand-alone episodes written by people other than J Michael Straczynski. Those by JMS himself are still pretty consistent in tone with what comes later.
    • The pilot movie is officially set in the same universe as the rest of the series, but in order to digest this, viewers need to apply Broad Strokes. Specifically, Delenn and G'Kar's alien makeups are very different from their later appearances, with flashbacks contradicting the pilot and supporting the rest of the series (in fact, Delenn was originally meant to be a male character played by a female actor with her voice digitally altered; this was changed last-minute, and Delenn's character was made female). The technology used by Earth Force is slightly different, with huge surfboard-like plasma rifles, and the Earth Force uniforms lack the distinctive broad leather strip down the front. And we NEVER see a Minbari with clan tattoos again outside of the pilot. We're also meant to believe that an energy being like a Vorlon can become infected by a poison, and that their biology includes cellular structures (to be fair, it wasn't established until much later that Vorlons were Energy Beings). G'Kar makes a reference to his "mate", who was never referred to again (although later villains do threaten his family in general). The 'special edition' re-edit of the pilot done in 1998 removed the reference entirely.
    • Kosh could have taken corporeal form and allowed himself to be poisoned for his own reasons. Hey, Vorlons are uber-mysterious and rarely if ever reveal their full plans.
    • Kind of a minor point, but the Earth Force uniforms used in the pilot differ from the uniforms used for the rest of the series, including flashbacks that supposedly take place before the pilot. It's not something you typically notice on your first viewing, but the rank structure looks different, and the leather panels on the front of the uniform tunics are not there.
    • Also in the pilot: when G'Kar is trying to convince Delenn to enter in an alliance with him, he notes "the Centauri are beyond the dream of conquest". This has some rather strange implications; one of which is that the Narn may have originally wanted to partner with the Centauri, but their world-weariness prevented it. This is very different from the way that relations between the two worlds are depicted in the series.
    • The pilot makes it appear that Lyta's P5 grade was something she achieved and that it was extremely difficult to do. Later episodes establish that telepath grade levels are set in stone from birth and P5 is a fairly middling level with P12 as the highest naturally occurring level. Only some pretty serious experimentation or alterations by Sufficiently Advanced Aliens have been shown to increase someone's natural telepathic ability.
  • Battlestar Galactica (2003)
    • Originally showed Cylons' spines glowing when they got really... excited. Apparently the directors decided that this was too much of a dead giveaway (or just too silly) and dropped it. The miniseries also included "Lords of Kobol!", and even an improvised "Jesus!" from Michael Hogan, as religious exclamations before the writers settled on Greek polytheism as the Colonial religion.
    • An episode in season 1 has a Raptor landing in a Basestar, to plant a nuke there. The interior of the Basestar is shown to be partially organic with walls and floors made of moist red flesh mixed with mechanical bits. And all the humanoid Cylons seen inside (All Number 8s) are naked. This does not match any future depiction of Basestars, who are shown to be almost wholly mechanical save for the Hybrids, and humanoid Cylons living inside them dress normally.
  • Baywatch was originally a serious drama about lifeguards and the threats they face while doing their jobs instead of the excuse to show sexy people in bathing suits running in slow motion it turned into. There were even (gasp!) old people as regular characters (seriously, Oscar nominee Richard Jaeckel had a regular role)! And not everyone had a sculpted swimmer's body!
  • Beverly Hills, 90210 started as an episodic high school drama mainly focusing on the Walsh twins. Each episode had its own story and moral. From season two onwards, the plotlines started to arch over several episodes and the friends of the Walsh kids were given some limelight as well. And starting season five it went totally soap opera (similarly to its spin-off Melrose Place).
    • Also, during the first season, the opening was very different. It was a series of scattered scenes with the main characters hanging out in Beverly Hills rather than an Opening Credits Cast Party, and it used an 80's styled pop/dance rendition of the show's theme song rather than the hard rock rendition used from season two onward note .
    • The Sequel Series 90210 at first focused partly on members of the original cast; while it the show was always slanted towards the new teens Kelly Taylor was in most episodes of the first two seasons and Brenda and Donna also showed up. After the end of season two this angle was dropped entirely.
  • The Big Bang Theory
    • Early episodes have Sheldon, among other things, laughing fairly normally (at a joke he shouldn't even think is funny), willingly cursing, and knocking on Penny's door once and waiting for her to open it. In general, he acts only about half as much of an asocial nerd as he does in the later shows; i.e. he has a fairly solid understanding of relationships(!), and he makes witty, sarcastic remarks on a fairly regular basis(!!!). He also seems a little bit attracted to Penny, trying to draw her attention to his whiteboard over Leonard's. Leonard even jokes that Sheldon is a "semi-pro" at producing sperm samples, something the current Sheldon would never waste his time on. He also seems to speak in a much deeper tone than his usual higher pitch.
    • Even beyond the differences in Sheldon, the first few episodes were very different from what followed. All of the "smart" characters spoke in a "fake geek" dialect, using overly-technical explanations and terms for common things (it was the other guys who referred to sex as "coitus", not Sheldon). And Penny was dumb — not just less-educated than the boys, but truly stupid. While her outfits would remain fairly revealing, in the first few episodes they were practically Kelly Bundy-worthy. She was also much nicer and less snarky in her early appearances.
    • Also worth noting is Howard's expertise on languages, something that appears several times in the first season but is completely forgotten in later episodes.
    • In Stuart's first appearance he is a socially adept guy with artistic talent and a cool job (Owning the Comicbook store). He impresses Penny and dates her for a short time. Leonard finds him very threatening as a cool, socially adept geek. In later appearances he becomes more and more pathetic, eventually becoming someone the other characters look down on as overly pathetic.
    • Amy started off as a female version of Sheldon, even so far as to having no sexual desire beyond having a mechanically-produced orgasm for scientific research. Later seasons show her as incredibly outgoing and wanting nothing so much as her physical relationship with Sheldon to advance.
  • The first series of Blackadder is different from the latter three (and the specials) in a number of ways.
    • The main character is almost always referred to as Edmund, Duke of Edinburghnote . He adopts the handle of "The Black Adder" but no one else uses it.
    • Although he is sometimes shown as fairly rational and progressive regarding such topics as witchcraft and superstition, to the extent of being the Only Sane Man in the Witchsmeller episode, Edmund is generally portrayed as a bumbling, uncharismatic fool, a far cry from the Magnificent Bastard of later seasons.
    • Edmund's servant Baldrick is a Hypercompetent Sidekick, unlike his descendants.
    • The show also differs in its general feel: It had a bigger budget than its successors, allowing larger sets, location shooting and a far greater number of actors and extras. When budget cuts were made for Blackadder II, the writers (now including Ben Elton) compensated by putting more emphasis on dialog and characterisation, which most fans agree was beneficial for the show as a whole. As Elton put it, "Rowan Atkinson falling off a horse in the middle distance is no funnier than anyone else falling off a horse in the middle distance. Get in close and he'll make you laugh."
    • Blackadder's Christmas Carol has Flashbacks to Lord Blackadder and Mr Blackadder, but not to Prince Edmund. Also, the original series is the only one from which no characters returned for Blackadder Goes Forth. Melchett from II, George from Third, but no Richard, Harry, or even Percy.
  • Black Mirror: Before technology became the central theme of the series, rather than "just" an important motif. The first two episodes, by contrast, featured dystopian scenarios where technology was an important element, but certainly not the central focus. The first season finale, "The Entire History of You", was the first story where technology actually had a central role, and the second season cemented and codified the "horror stories about technology" theme that has continued ever since.
  • Blue Bloods:
    • The set used for Commissioner Frank Reagan's office looks somewhat different compared to later seasons.
    • The set for Frank and Henry's house is also completely different.
    • Danny has two different investigative partners before Jennifer Esposito's Jackie Curatola was firmly established as his partner.
    • Season 1 is noticeably absent of Frank's Deputy Commissioner of Public Information Garrett Moore, who wasn't introduced until the antepenultimate episode of the season. Thus, you have other characters like Frank's Deputy Commissioner doing the duties that Garrett does in season 2 onwards.
  • Bonanza depicts the Cartwrights as stand-offish and put off by outsiders in its earliest episodes. Also, Ben Cartwright tended to be less patient and in fact, harsher, with his sons in general. However, series star Lorne Greene objected after a few early episodes were filmed and recommended that — because the Cartwrights owned the largest timber and livestock operation in Nevada Territory, they ought to be warming and friendly. The producers ultimately agreed ... and the Cartwright family became the welcoming, heartwarming family a generation of viewers came to know.
  • Bones:
    • The first season featured the "Angelator", a volumetric imaging system that can show 3D recreations of victims and how the murder occurred. It functioned as an alternative to showing flashbacks, as a way to visually show the audience the team's deductions about a murder. It was originally used in every episode, but was seen less and less in seasons two and three, without explanation as to why it wasn't being used anymore or what Angela's job is now since that was her only function. She eventually became the computer and technology expert on the team.
    • In one episode, the "Angelator" was called into question by the government when they suspected it wasn't a reliable tool. Although Angela proved it was, it's easy to assume the government whisked it away out of pure spite. That said, Angela still has a job, ID'ing murder victims. She just uses computer screens now.
    • Cam was absent, and in her place was Dr. Goodman, the director of the entire Jeffersonian Institute, who somehow had lots of time to be involved in murder investigations.
    • Sid, the Magical Negro who owned and operated a Chinese restaurant.
    • In the first season, a major part of Brennan's characterization is that her parents disappeared when she was a teenager and she still doesn't know what happened to them. This mystery is solved in the first season's finale, noticeably changing her characterization going forward.
  • The first season of Boy Meets World included several secondary and tertiary characters that disappeared within a few episodes, or at least by the end of the season. Also, Shawn had a sister, Stacey, who was never mentioned again.
  • Breaking Bad has female nudity, something not seen in any other episode. The profanity throughout the first season is also much harsher, with several F-words per episode; later seasons are limited to two or three strong swear words per season. The first episode also has Jesse using a gay slur as an insult — again, unique to the pilot. The pilot and first season also tended to be steeped more in Black Comedy, while later seasons are fairly serious. It's especially obvious in Hank, who is played as something of a Miles Gloriosus early on, but turns out to be a very competent agent as the series progresses.
    • When Saul first appears in the second season, he is an older man, heavyset with a comb over. However when the third season begins, Saul is now much younger looking, thinner and it seems he has a full head of hair. Only two weeks have passed in the story, so it's hard to justify this.
    • When Mike first appears, he is polite, somewhat friendly and in a deleted scene, seems to like Walt. In all subsequent appearances and in the prequel series, Mike is taciturn, gruff and detests Walt.
  • Brooklyn Nine-Nine
    • The early episodes heavily Ship Tease a potential romance between Detectives Charles Boyle and Rosa Diaz, but for the most part the audience was not on board (one of the primary reasons being that Boyle's Dogged Nice Guy infatuation tended to come off as a bit stalkery). By the middle of the first season this was being downplayed, and by the end of it Boyle had moved on. The rest of the series makes it clear that they're Better as Friends.
    • Similarly, early episodes emphasise Sgt. Jeffords's fear of being in the field to the point of making him the Lovable Coward. This was done away with halfway through the season because the writers realised that this limited the stories that could be told using Jeffords.
    • In the pilot, Peralta is a lot more openly attracted to Santiago and it's hinted that he's using The Bet between them, wherein Santiago will go on a date with him if she loses, as an opportunity to seduce her. While the Ship Tease remained, a few episodes later it is demonstrated that Peralta is merely using the bet as an opportunity to prank her, and the suggestion that he might have genuine feelings for her comes as a genuine surprise to him.
    • In the early episodes, Stephanie Beatriz used her natural voice to play Rosa Diaz. Over the course of the first season, Diaz's voice gradually got lower and stayed that way.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • There were some things early on that looked out of place later on, such as Xander riding a skateboard. Joss Whedon sometimes recognized these elements and gradually phased them out - for example, Xander was seen carrying a skateboard a couple of times before skateboards ceased to be a part of his life altogether, giving the viewer the impression that it was just a phase he was going through (which is Truth in Television for anyone who went through that phase in their teenage years where they're trying to find their identity, often leading them to do, say, or act in ways that will be considered embarrassing in five to ten years, or if the person gets a girlfriend or boyfriend).
    • While there are references made to Willow dressing in nerdy, uncool, or childish ways at various points throughout the series, the first episode is the only one in which she actually does to any significant degree (with the single exception of a throwback scene in the finale to season 4), excepting the times she wears overalls and pigtails usually worn by kids a third her age. The childish clothing is present even in the later seasons, though it happens less often the further you go into the series, mirroring the usage of Xander's skateboard.
    • Vampires didn't begin dissolving into skeletons after being staked until the third season, likely because the show didn't have the budget for such an effect originally. Also when in Killer Mode, vampires' faces had a ghoulishly whitish texture to them. This was dropped somewhere in Season 2.
    • The pilot and "The Harvest " are two of the few episodes that feature the upper level of the Bronze. Joss Whedon wrote the script to feature the two levels, but didn't realize how difficult it would be to shoot these scenes. Not only was it impractical in terms of filming and lighting, but it stretched their already nonexistent budget. It shows up a few times in season 6.
    • When a pack of vamps chase Buffy and Angel into the Summers house ("Angel"), one of the pursuers gets his hand through the door before Buffy slams the door on his wrist. It is later established that, barring an invitation, an invisible force field fills the doorway – like a membrane – keeping vampires out. The henchvamp shouldn't have been able to get his arm through like that.
    • In "The Witch" (season 1, episode 3), Giles seems unfamiliar with magiks, saying "Pretty good for my first [spell-]casting, eh?" and such—which is totally at odds with his rebellious Hellblazer youth period. It may be due to the fact that Giles had been trying to keep his past a secret.
    • Angel's first few appearances has the character affect a rather snarky and smug persona. It isn't until "Angel" that he became the dark, brooding vampire with a soul. Every appearance thereafter would exhibit the stoic, broody persona that people came to associate with the character.
    • An interesting variant of this is with the characters' sexual orientations. Willow's coming out was written quite well and it doesn't come across as contradicting her earlier character necessarily, though No Bisexuals seems to be in effect and previously she had been shown having a crush on Xander, going out with Oz and even making out with Xander when she was going out with Oz (of course it is Truth in Television that some gay people have heterosexual relationships before coming out). However, the writers did admit that they decided they wanted to make a character gay and it wasn't set in stone, with Xander apparently under consideration. Given his early characterisation constantly hitting on/staring at girls (especially Buffy) and his (hidden) Masochism Tango relationship with Cordelia, this could have been very jarring.
  • Burn Notice
    • In the pilot episode, Michael's mother Madeline is a hypochondriac, and Michael mentions sending money to her regularly to help pay for all the examinations and treatments for medical problems which are not there. This character trait was never mentioned again besides a single reference in season 2. We occasionally see a table in her house littered with pill bottles, but the trait itself doesn't really play a further part in the series.
    • The haircut and the sassier attitude she has from the second episode onwards suggests that they decided to retool the character and dropped the hypochondria because it didn't fit, rather than just forgot about it or couldn't be bothered following up on it.
    • This one could be justified if her hypochondria was rooted in a need for attention. Her son drops off the face of the Earth and she gets "sick". He comes back to Miami and starts seeing her every episode, and suddenly she's better.
    • In the pilot, Michael kills two drug goons. He seems to jump through hoops to not kill in subsequent episodes. Justified in that after the first episode kills, he realizes that he's stuck in Miami indefinitely, and has to keep a low profile.
    • Fi switches from an Irish accent to an American one in the second episode of season 1. In universe, she explains it's to blend in. Out of universe, the reason is probably more or less the same; the writers realized she'd have to adopt an American accent for most of her undercover work anyway. That, and English actress Gabrielle Anwar's American accent is better than her Irish.

    C 
  • Charmed:
    • The first episode mentions the Three Essentials of Magic: timing, feeling, and the phases of the moon. It's never brought up again, nor is there any indication in the rest of the show that the moon's phases have any effect on their magic. With the exception of an episode where, under a strange occurrence involving a blue moon, the witches are turned into ferocious beasts who maul Whitelighters. It's also commonly pointed out that their powers are linked to their emotions.
    • In the second episode one of the shape-shifting demons held on the book and tried to get it out of the house by carrying it. Never once did it shock him like the evil sensing and shocking book that would come later. It's heavily implied that the shapeshifter's powers confused the book at first: while it allowed him to carry it, the book did refuse to leave the house, flying out of his hands when he tried to force it through the door, and sliding away when he tried to reach for it again. Likewise, the book is shown to be connected to the sisters' powers, and it becomes steadily savvier, and more aggressive to evil as the series goes on. It's therefore implied that it's just the book's defensive capabilities strengthening as the sisters' powers do, as opposed to a complete non sequitur.
    • In the later episodes just about every magical being, good or evil, has at least one of the dozens of teleportation powers. In earlier episodes they aren't as common. It's quite jarring to go back and see chase sequences with the demon of the week running after them, as opposed to just teleporting away.
    • The first season featured spells and potions that were inspired by real-life Wicca and neopagan practices (creator Constance M Burge was inspired by The Craft which used similar ideas). This was phased out around season 2 and more emphasis was placed on vanquishing potions and the sisters' active powers.
    • Although the Girl Power theme was prevalent across the whole show, the first couple of seasons veered more towards the Female Angel, Male Demon side of things. When Leo and Cole became series regulars, the show became more gender neutral. Likewise no empowered male witches that weren't children appeared on the show until the fifth season.
    • Warlocks were initially the main threat on the show and demons looked demonic. As the show went on, warlocks became Mooks while demons were the primary antagonists. Demons also appeared more like humans in black leather. This was explained in show that the more powerful upper-level demons were able to assume a human form - so as the sisters' powers grew, the more powerful and human-appearing demons came after them.note  Additionally when 'blinking' first appears in Season 1, Melinda Warren says the warlock Mathew Tate copied it from a witch. By season 3, blinking is a default power most warlocks have. And witches are never seen doing it.
    • In the season 1 episode "Wicca Envy" when the sisters have given up their powers, Leo is able to restore them by using his healing powers on the Book of Shadows. That was the episode that revealed him as a whitelighter. Whitelighter lore was explored more towards the end of the first season and Leo's powers seemed restricted to healing only injuries. He does restore the broken P3 sign with his powers in a season 4 episode but doesn't display this elsewhere in the series. This one is especially egregious because a season 4 episode has Phoebe and Paige struggling to stop Piper from being tricked into giving up their powers again. Leo never once mentions he could heal the book.
  • Chuck approaches this more subtly, but first season episodes tend to be lighter in tone and less interconnected than seasons two and later, with the Myth Arc only minimally referenced until the final four or five episodes of the season. Once Fulcrum is introduced the series begins to become more focused on the Intersect mythology. However even after the emergence of Fulcrum as a Big Bad, the first two seasons have far more unrelated "villains of the week" than seasons three and later, which each focused almost explicitly on one particular villain or organization (the Ring in season three, Alexei Volkoff in season four, and Daniel Shaw and ultimately Nicholas Quinn in season five). The character of Morgan also changes significantly beginning with season two, with subtle changes that had him Rescued from the Scrappy Heap. It could be a case of his character Growing the Beard if he didn't already have one.
    • In the first two episodes, Sarah and Caset hated and distrusted each other, to the point of suspecting each other of being traitors.
  • During the first season of The Colbert Report, Stephen Colbert had a Sitcom Arch-Nemesis in the form of fellow comedian David Cross, who played fictional liberal talking head "Russ Lieber", before the character was written out of the series.
  • The first episode of Columbo was actually a one-off 1968 TV Movie called Prescription: Murder, which was based off a stage play (which was Inspired by... an earlier TV show—it's a long story). Prescription: Murder has some of the Columbo formula already in place: it's a Reverse Whodunnit, the murderer is an arrogant rich jerk, and of course there's dogged, hyper-observant Lt. Columbo there to follow the suspect around and annoy them while poking holes in their story. But in other ways it was quite different. There was a trippy 1960s-style Animated Credits Opening with Rorschach ink blots, never seen again. The pacing is different, with Lt. Columbo not appearing until 33 minutes into the episode. Whereas the Columbo of the series was permanently disheveled and was once likened to "an unmade bed", Peter Falk in this episode is much neater in appearance, with a close-cropped haircut instead of his later tousled hair, wearing a neat gray suit, and most often carrying the iconic raincoat instead of wearing it. Most notably, Columbo lacks the deferential manner of later episodes and doesn't tell the endless homey stories about his wife and in-laws. He's much more direct and accusatory and actually shouts at one suspect he's trying to browbeat into confessing her role in the murder. Three years would pass before the second Columbo movie, Pilot Movie Ransom for a Dead Man, aired in 1971; by then most of the Early Installment Weirdness was gone and the more familiar Columbo character was in place.
  • Community
    • The show gets more cartoonish and absurd after the first few episodes, though it starts off with a healthy amount of meta-humor.
    • There is a much heavier emphasis on Jeff's transition from hot-shot lawyer to lowly community college student. After the first season, he's just another member of the group with his own reason for being in school.
    • Britta starts out as the Only Sane Man before her Granola Girl characterization becomes Flanderized, making her much goofier. Halfway through season 3, as Britta attempts to impersonate a dead student as part of her "grief counseling" training, a dismayed Jeff remarks, "You seemed smarter than me when I met you."
    • Troy starts out as a Jerk Jock, but by the end of the first season he's transitioned into a Manchild uber-geek and best friend of Abed.
    • Annie is dressed much frumpier in her first few episodes before being teased as a possible love interest.
    • The earlier episodes seem to be trying to establish a kind of Odd Couple friendship between Pierce and Troy, rather than the familiar "Troy and Abed!" bromance that would be central to later episodes.
  • The classic example from the first handful of episodes of The Cosby Show is the existence of only four Huxtable children. These lines get a big laugh in the pilot episode:
    Clair: Why do we have four children?
    Cliff: Because we didn't want five.
    • Sondra Huxtable was added to the cast about midway through the first season, because Bill Cosby thought the show needed an example of successful parenting, i.e. a child who'd made it through high school and into a good college, with prospects for a future career.
    • Also, the Season 1 opening segment was the only one not to feature the actors dancing.
    • In the pilot episode, Theo is referred to as "Teddy."
    • A name plate on the door to Cliff's house and office reads "Clifford Huxtable".
    • The inside house set is different in the pilot episode.
  • Cougar Town: Ironically, the first half-season or so, when the title actually made sense, the episodes don't match the tone and direction of the rest of the series. What started out as a kind of one-note joke quickly evolved into an ensemble comedy as a survival mechanism and the first six or so episodes really stick out.
  • Criminal Minds: It's very clear that the writers were still getting a hang of the series' tone and pace when the pilot was scripted. The most jarring difference for regular viewers is the appearance of voice-over quotes outside of their usual Book-Ends, as well as a Cliffhanger ending that featured a new criminal after the main plot had been resolved. Characterization is also still finding its footing: Hotch actually smiles while on the job, Morgan's dressed to the nines rather than the casual look he'd take on in later episodes, and Reid's "autistic tendencies" are much more obvious. All this gets smoothed over by about four episodes in.
    • One that lasts until early season 2 is that when delivering the profile, the show would cut to footage of a generic criminal doing whatever the profile the team was giving said. Start season 2, this was phased out entirely in favor of a "camera pans as each member of the team gives a part of the profile" occasionally with suitable footage of the actual unsub, if the episode's not keeping his identity a secret.
  • In the pilot of CSI, cases are posted on The Big Board Homicide-style, Brass is a shouting hard-ass with scant respect for the CSIs' work, the ME is a woman named Jenna instead of Doc Robbins, and Grissom flirts personably with co-workers and plays practical jokes. The rest of the season has its own departures: the soundtrack is vastly different, the lighting is not tinged with the familiar blue hue, Sara faces some initial resentment within the group, Catherine had a sister who didn't exist after the first episodes, and the team's methods were more practical and relied less on technological tricks. There's also a heavier emphasis on story arcs at the outset; the first handful of CSI episodes started with a Previously On, something that now feels jarring for what the audience expects from an episodic Forensic Drama these days.
  • In the pilot episode of CSI: Miami doesn't feature Horatio's famous Quip to Black. He says, "We got the whole story." Then he looks back at the Miami skyline, and the scene fades out. Then, abruptly... "YEEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH!!!"

    D 
  • The first series of Dad's Army started each episode with faked newsreel footage, intersplicing real WWII footabge with footage of the main characters.
  • The Daily Show was almost a completely different show when Craig Kilborn was host. It was more of a parody of local news programs, with a focus on entertainment. The field pieces generally set their sights on obscure weirdos rather than public figures or activists, so the mockery came across as much more mean-spirited. The show as a whole had a meaner, condescending tone, most noticeably in Kilborn's personality and interviewing style. Each episode was also much more standardized, with Kilborn running through the same named segments in each episode and ending each interview with "Five Questions." There was also no audience for the first season. Once Jon Stewart took over, he shifted the focus to hard political satire, did away with most of the pre-existing segments, and significantly changed the tone.
  • The first season of Dallas (in 1978) had quite a different feel to the seasons that came after it (largely because the creators weren't sure whether it would be picked up to series or not).
    • The main characters are largely limited to the Barnes and Ewing families, and the majority of the first season focuses on the marriage (and challenges) between Bobby and Pam. J.R. and Sue Ellen are merely supporting characters in the early episodes, although this changes later on when the plots start shifting to focus more on them.
    • Southfork Ranch clearly uses a different building than the one seen in later seasons, and it's notably winter outside (a scene in the pilot has J.R. and Jock smoking outside in the winter air).
    • In the first few episodes, Ray Krebbs is seen having an affair with Lucy Ewing (who was a teenager at the time). This was swept under the rug not long after the first season. It was odd then, and made even less sense when it was revealed three seasons later that Ray was an illegitimate Ewing heir (making it that he slept with his niece).
    • Cliff Barnes starts out as an attorney for the first two seasons of the series, investigating Ewing Oil and working as the Head of the Office of Land Management. This is a far cry from his regular role of CEO of Barnes/Wentworth Oil (and later, CEO of Ewing Oil) for the majority of the series. Not only that, but Cliff is much more restrained in the early episodes (and practically docile compared to his actions in later seasons).
    • The season-ending cliffhanger of the original first season (Pam discovers she's lost the child she was carrying while at the Ewing barbecue) looks quaint compared to the over-the-top cliffhangers that would begin with J.R.'s shooting in Season 3.
  • The Degrassi franchise had several examples of this.
    • The Kids of Degrassi Street (and its immediate telefilm predecessor, Ida Makes a Movie) were about kids in elementary school, not the middle-graders and high-schoolers who would define the later series of the franchise. In addition, Ida Makes a Movie was adapted from a children's book about anthropomorphized cats, and follows a kid who creates a documentary about garbage that gets misinterpreted by a judge at the National Film Board of Canada as being a war film(?). Kids of Degrassi also had actors who would go on to play lead roles in Degrassi Junior High playing different characters in this first series.
    • Kids of Degrassi also had none of the complex morality that would define the later iterations of the franchise, and could come off as boring or simplistic compared to Junior High episodes.
    • Degrassi Junior High relied on some unbelievable conceits to further the plot, a notion which did not follow through to any of the later series. The big finale of Junior High involved an explosion (albeit foreshadowed) in the school's boiler room that forced the students to evacuate and change campuses. In addition, the majority of the plots were quaint compared to Degrassi High's Darker and Edgier source material - in Junior High, most episodes usually had one or more couples going on chaste dates at local Toronto landmarks, or having violent actions mostly occur off-screen.
    • Spike's unplanned pregnancy was the huge turning point of Junior High (and the franchise), but it's hard to see what the big deal is compared to Degrassi High and Degrassi: The Next Generation, where several members of the female cast (including Spike, again) end up dealing with the same issue (and it is even portrayed as, at best, a subplot instead of the main focus).
    • School's Out, the made-for-TV movie that followed Degrassi High (and the immediate precursor to Degrassi: The Next Generation), featured a level of Darker and Edgier that, to this day, still hasn't been matched by the latter in terms of single-episode shock value. Joey proposes to Caitlin and they have sex for the first time, just as Joey cheats on her with a classmate. Said classmate discovers that she's pregnant and decides to have an abortion. Wheels and Lucy get into a car crash that results in the death of a young boy, and he goes to jail (and Lucy is blinded) as a result. It was also the first (and only) installment of the series to include both nudity and the word "fuck" (used twice). Interestingly, Next Generation disregarded a number of the plot points in this installment.
  • Dexter
    • In the first episode or two, Lt. LaGuerta is portrayed as she is in the source novel, namely as an incompetent detective and glory hound who makes inappropriate advances on Dexter. Captain Matthews, meanwhile, is shown to be a Reasonable Authority Figure who is forced to sort things out whenever she screws up. It didn't take the producers too long to figure out that viewers might have an issue with an incompetent Latina officer having to be constantly babysat by a white man, and so the character dynamic was switched around early in the first season, with LaGuerta instead becoming a highly competent and dedicated officer (albeit still prone to the occasional bit of publicity-seeking), and Matthews being turned into an Obstructive Bureaucrat and all-around Jerkass. In the show's latter seasons their characterisations drifted to somewhere in the middle of the two extremes, with LaGuerta still being shown as generally competent, but increasingly power-hungry and prone to making bad judgement calls under pressure, and Matthews mellowing out somewhat.
    • Dexter's M.O. is also different in the first episode. Rather than inject his victim with a sedative, he garrotes the man and forces him to drive them both to the kill site. He also digs up the bodies of his target's victims, something that the obsessively clean Dexter we know now would never donote .
  • To the many fans who like A Different World's later seasons, the first season, before Debbie Allen's Retool, seems like, well, a different show: Lisa Bonet (reprising her role as Denise Huxtuble) in the lead role, a racially integrated background cast, and more standard college humor as opposed to addressing social issues. Among the early season aspects:
    • The show’s original theme song was performed by Phoebe Snownote .
    • The inclusion of a Token White character, Maggie Lauten (played by Marisa Tomei).
    • In the first season, Jalessa's roommate(s) were Denise and Maggie, not Freddie.
    • Although Whitley didn't have a roommate, until Kim arrived in season two, she was instead often accompanied by her own Girl Friday named Millie. (Both Millie and Maggie vanished following the season.)
    • In the first few episodes, the dorm mother at Gilbert Hall was Stevie, played by Loretta Devine (replaced midseason by Lettie (Mary Alice), who continued into the second season).
    • Aside from Jaleesa, the only other characters from the more familiar ADW cast, in this season, were Ron (who had no mustache), Walter, and eventual de-facto leads, Dwayne and Whitley. Kim, Freddie, Colonel Taylor, and Mr. Gaines were not yet present until the second season’s revamp.
  • Doctor Who was originally fairly different.
    • It would have had a run of just fifty-two episodes with a fixed cast and then end. The concept of "companion" did not exist and while the Doctor had top billing, he did not dominate the show to the extent that he did only a few years later. Most of the "adventures" happened because the cast had gotten separated from the TARDIS and, for one reason or another, couldn't simply leave and escape from whatever perilous setting the ship had stranded in this time.
    • It was conceived of as a series designed in part to educate audiences as to history. Many early stories, which fans call "Historicals", feature the characters meeting and interacting with famous historical figures and events, with no science fiction elements beyond the presence of the time travellers, and the Doctor either being extremely reluctant to make any attempt to change history or writing this off as impossible. This formula gradually became less common until, after "The Highlanders" (early in the fourth season, and the second Doctor's second story), it was dropped entirely, never to be seen again. Subsequent episodes set in the past featuring historical figures or events have also included some kind of alien menace or futuristic intervention. In "Defining the First Doctor" Steven Moffat justifies the Doctor saying history can't be rewritten in "The Aztecs" by claiming that as he is just starting out he hasn't quite got the rules of time travel, but we can assume Aztec civilization being destroyed is a fixed point in time.
    • The Doctor was not conceived as the main character but one of several and was originally intended to be a character who kept getting his companions into trouble. Indeed, in the third episode ever aired he almost brains a caveman to death with a rock, only to be stopped by Ian at the last second. It was Ian who was intended to be the show's protagonist, and his and Barbara's professions (teachers, the former science and the latter history) are clear indicators that it was supposed to be an Edutainment show. As well, all four of the main characters were to represent the viewing audience: older viewers (the Doctor), younger adults (Barbara and Ian) and teenagers (Susan).
    • In particular, have a look at the pilot episode, which was later remade in its entirety. Had it been retained, the programme would have been rather different. Details here.
    • The second serial "The Daleks" has the moral "War and genocide is bad. And so is pacifism!" Additionally, the Doctor and the others act more pragmatically and more out of more blatant self-interest. This was before the Doctor became a Badass Pacifist.
    • In the third serial "The Edge of Destruction" the Doctor scoffs at the idea that the TARDIS is sentient.
    • In several early serials, the TARDIS is referred to as "the ship" or "the spaceship" even by the Doctor himself. Today's Doctor would never use such an impersonal term for their beloved TARDIS.
    • Another early story, "The Aztecs", has a romantic subplot between the Doctor and a guest character, something that for most of the 1963-1989 show would be unthinkable. (The show has come full circle on this, with romantic or at least flirtatious subplots involving the Doctor being commonplace since the show's 2005 revival.)
    • The companion variety also followed a very rigid formula in the first two seasons; with one or two female companions and at least one male companion to act as the Doctor's muscle. As Jon Pertwee's run began and the show became much more action-oriented (the Third Doctor being 6′3″ and a martial arts master), this was ultimately dropped, and more variety was given to the cast of companions as the Doctor continued to be played by physically imposing actors.
    • When the Doctor first regenerated in "The Tenth Planet", his clothing appeared to automatically change as well. This was quickly dropped, and now a major tradition of regeneration is the Doctor picking his/her new wardrobe.
    • The early Daleks were extremely unpleasant creatures but acted mostly out of paranoia, very old and ancient feuds and naked self interest, also being a lot more talkative and eloquent (a memorable scene where they dictate a letter for Susan to write to the Thals comes to mind: "WE CAN AL-SO SU-PPLY QUAN-TI-TIES OF FRESH VE-GE-TA-BLES..."). While they hated their enemies the Thal race, their main reason for wanting to shower their planet with nuclear material was because they were dependent on radiation to survive and needed to do this to terraform their world, with the side benefit of killing the Thals. They were also portrayed as being very vulnerable – heavily armed, but dependent on powered floors for movement and very weak and pathetic in nature. Later Daleks were much less reasonable and much more angry, with the primary motivation for their evil being genocidal racism against everything that isn't Dalek in origin. They also became a lot less talkative, probably because their screechy voices were just horrible to listen to, and a lot less pitiful. Daleks that showed up later still were even more dangerous, having almost destroyed the nigh-omnipotent Time Lords, and they were now willing to play pitiful and vulnerable if it was the only way to get what they wanted (such as the one in "Dalek", which borderline seduces Rose into feeding it energy).
    • Regeneration is one of the most iconic tropes of the series and yet it took the writers a long time to figure out what it was and how it worked. The Second Doctor ambiguously remarks that he's "been renewed" and implies it was a function of the TARDIS rather than of his body. The Third Doctor was forced to change his form by the Time Lords offscreen, in a manner achieved ambiguously. The regeneration of the Third to the Fourth Doctor marked the first time that regeneration had been explicitly analogized to death of the old self (due to a producer who decided to combine it with his Buddhist beliefs), although some writers seemed to think that the Fourth Doctor was actually playing a younger version of the Third Doctor, The Other Darrin style (such as the Target novelization, where the Brigadier watches the Doctor change and observes that although he gets younger his features stay mostly the same except his hair suddenly turning into twisty curls).
    • In "The Edge of Destruction", Ian checks the First Doctor's heartbeat and only notices one heart. Adding onto this, it's not hard to watch the first two Doctors' runs and get the impression that the Doctor is not an alien being, but is in fact, a human from the future. Since the first episode, it is established that he and Susan are from another world in another time, but as we know from several episodes throughout the series, humans in the show's universe eventually spread out and become a universal power, so the Doctor and Susan could have simply come from a colony world. In addition to the First Doctor's aforementioned one heart, he also refers to himself and his companions as "we humans" in "The Sensorites", and even his ability to regenerate is at first said to be a function of the TARDIS. (Writers of original novels have since tried to rationalize this continuity issue by suggesting that Time Lords don't grow their second heart until their first regeneration.)
    • The Second Doctor story, "The Evil of the Daleks", has the Daleks wanting to test Jamie because he is special among humans as a result of having travelled in time, but when the Doctor asks why the Daleks don't just test him, they inform him that he has travelled in time too much and is consequently "more than human", which seems to imply that the Doctor was somehow changed or mutated by his excessive exposure to time (an idea that would resurface much later on).
    • And while we do meet another renegade Time Lord (who, notably, is fixated on altering Earth's history, and is not distinguished as being an alien) during the First Doctor's run, it isn't until the Second Doctor's very last story that the Doctor is established as being a member of an alien race known as the Time Lords. Combine all of this with the fandom-despised assertion that the Doctor is half-human from the 1996 TV movie, and one could actually make a compelling case to say that there is more humanity to the Doctor than most suspect.
    • Except for two standalone episodes (one of which was feature length), the classic series consisted entirely of multi-part stories. While these were generally called "Story Name, Episode/Part X", the first 2 seasons and most of the 3rd had individual episode titles.
    • The Doctor is seen smoking a pipe in the first serial. They kick the habit thereafter. (The Fourth Doctor assembles and lights a hookah as part of a disguise in "The Deadly Assassin", but complains "this is a no-smoking compartment" about a burned-out computer later in the story.)
    • The first episode featuring each incarnation of the Doctor frequently has justified early installment weirdness regarding the new Doctor wearing the "wrong" clothing, as, having just regenerated, he/she is still wearing the previous Doctor's last clothes (the exceptions are Two, who had his clothes change with him, and Nine, who was introduced already in his outfit).
    • In a meta example, the Christmas-set "The Unquiet Dead" is the only Christmas Episode (as it were) of the new series that is a) an ordinary episode of the series as opposed to a special, and b) aired in April.
    • The Slitheen's first appearance, the two-parter "Aliens of London"/"World War Three", has a number of differences to their later appearances on Doctor Who proper and spinoff The Sarah Jane Adventures. Most noticeable is how the Slitheen blow up when doused with their Weaksauce Weakness: In "World War Three", the remains look like overcooked spaghetti in green Jell-O, while in later appearances it looks like actual slime.
    • "Father's Day" introduces a species of Clock Roaches called the Reapers, which feel like they should be an important addition to a show that revolves around Time Travel. However, they have never been seen or mentioned again, even when a paradox would plausibly lead to their appearance. The episode also suggests that merely seeing or interacting with your past self, even if it doesn't cause a Grandfather Paradox, is inherently dangerous. This has never been mentioned again either.
      • Finally alluded to again in "Demons of the Punjab". A companion wants to go back and meet her grandmother when she was a young woman, and the Doctor is very reluctant to grant the request.
    • The Doctor's regeneration in "The Parting of the Ways", the first appearance of the new series' usual regeneration effect, an explosion of golden light, also shows the Doctor's face shifting from Nine to Ten, instead of changing in an instant as with the three regenerations of the Doctor's after it. The Doctor's hair is even shown growing out.
    • "Twice Upon a Time" references this trope constantly, making little comparisons to the Hartnell era and elements of the show added later that we take for granted.
  • Early on Dollhouse was mostly episodic, giving way to longer story and character arcs. This isn't quite Cerebus Syndrome — the early episodes were still serious, but they focused more on the Dollhouse's clients and were meant to explore what kind of "desires" (sexual or otherwise) people would be willing to pay for. Though most fans think the later episodes are better, Joss Whedon has commented he thinks the change made the show lose some of its original point. Some fans underestimate how important these early episodes were to establishing the series premise and introducing us to the various personalities that Echo would later switch into.
  • The first five episodes of The Dukes of Hazzard look very different from the rest, because they were actually filmed in Georgia. In addition, there were more "rowdy" scenes at the Boar's Nest, mild profanity was used more freely, Daisy was often more scantily clad than in episodes from Season 2 onward, and Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane was a fairly serious character and not the dimwitted man-child.

    E 
  • The Electric Company (1971):
    • The first few Friday opening credit sequences of Season 1 (all aired in October through early December 1971) had a different end theme, which was a longer version of the corporate credits theme used in the first two seasons. By Christmas 1971, the bright marching theme was used for the credit roll.
    • A few scattered episodes during the first month used uncredited children to help the adult actors with various sound cluster lessons. Most were matching or multiple-choice questions.
  • Endurance: Season 1 had just ten pieces, whereas Seasons 2 and 3 had 12, Seasons 4 and 5 had 13, and Season 6 had 14. Season 1 also had multiple prize trips that the teams could win. Finally, the way the pieces (and prize trips) were given off was a lot more complicated than in every season afterwards: on E1, they would be up for grabs in the next Endurance Mission.
  • Entourage: In the first episode, Ari boasts about sleeping with a starlet, while in later episodes, it is clear that adultery is the one line Ari won't cross. Also in this episode, a room in Vince's house has four electric guitars on stands. In a later episode, it is shown that Vince can barely sing, and he is never shown playing any musical instruments.
  • The Everybody Loves Raymond pilot is very weird compared to the rest of the series: First of all, Ray's house looks somewhat different to the one seen in every episode afterwards, while Frank and Marie's looks very different. Secondly, the baby twins, Geoffrey and Michael, are instead named Gregory and Matthew in the pilot only and are played by different babies. Ray also has a good friend called Leo in the pilot who is never seen or mentioned for the rest of the series. Robert's voice is noticeably different here (Brad Garrett uses his natural speaking voice for the pilot, and deepened it gradually until it turned into the dopey, deadpan low voice everyone knows well). The characters also seem to act differently in this episode. Marie for example complains about Raymond in this episode twice: first, to make Robert feel better, claiming that his sportswriter job is a waste of time, and one day later actually scolds him for setting up a monthly delivery of useless fruit to her house. She very rarely has anything bad to say about Raymond after this episode. Frank, on the other hand, demonstrates a grandfatherly love of Ray's children in this episode that is almost never seen in later ones, where he instead dislikes Ray's children and rarely shows them affection.
    • The early seasons also seemed to have a different feel from the later seasons. Some people like the tone of the early seasons better, when the comedy seemed a bit more subtle, and Debra wasn't mean (yet). In the earlier episodes, Ray and Debra were in it together against Ray's marauding parents and brother. In the later episodes, the show was more or less a collective of neuroses played up against each other — Ray was more of a mama's boy and idiot, and Debra became meaner and nastier.
  • The first season of The Eric Andre Show was filmed on suitably 80's TV equipment, giving it a true SD look worthy of an Abso-Lutely production. All of the sketches were written by Eric himself, as opposed to a more conventional team of writers, leading to the show having a slightly tighter feel. Also, the show had more celebrity impersonators as opposed to real ones (everyone in Season 2 played themselves, while Season 3 only used impersonators for Reese Witherspoon, Beyoncé and Jay-Z, with the latter two having already been in a previous episode).
  • ER
    • No Kerry Weaver, who didn't appear until the 2nd season.

    F 
  • The first season of The Facts of Life concentrated on seven girls and none of them were Jo (although one of them was Molly Ringwald). The show also took place in the dormitory for Eastland with Mrs. Garrett as the housemother. Also, the dean of Eastland was a regular. On top of that, the theme song had different lyrics.
  • In the first few episodes of Family Matters, the front door of the family house opened out into a corridor, suggesting that they lived in an apartment block. Later on, it opened onto a front porch, suggesting a house.
    • Their youngest daughter disappears from the show without mention. Also, the show's focus was much more on Harriet early on as it was her character being imported from Perfect Strangers. Later even among the original cast she was losing out to Carl due to the humorous dynamic he had with Urkel.
    • Urkel didn't appear on the show until about halfway through season 1, and was not originally intended to make too many appearances, but this changed due to his immediate and immense popularity. He even became a main character the very next season and soon became the show's breakout character. Nowadays it's hard for anyone to imagine that there was ever a period on the show before Urkel.
  • Even though Alex P Keaton is a major focus in the pilot episode of Family Ties, the whole incident is shown from the POV of the parents, Steven and Elyse. We only get to see the controversial club when Alex is being picked up there by his parents. Also, in the very first episode where Skippy Handelman appears, Alex treats him with just as much contempt as Mallory does — and it's only later established that they were friends from childhood.
  • Farscape:
    • The first half or so of season one has a much different feel to it than later episodes (corresponding about with the airing of "A Human Reaction"). Even with the introduction of the Myth Arc, the rest of the first season differs notably from the rest of the series.
    • Noted by the cast, especially Ben Browder (playing John Crichton), with the shorthand of "white T" and "black T" episodes. The episodes where Crichton wore black T-shirts were darker than others, and the series had more "black T" episodes as the series went on, until Crichton is only wearing black T-shirts.
    • The production quality improves significantly as well after the first season. Perhaps the most noticeable example is D'Argo's appearance, which changes drastically at the beginning of the second season. They also totally re-do the CGI model for the Marauder-type of Peacekeeper ship (the small ship, but bigger than their Prowler fighters, that functioned like an armed shuttle or transport for commando squads). Some fans assume there are two different types of Marauders (the boxy one from Season 1, and the more aerodynamic craft from later seasons and the miniseries), due to this discrepancy later being compounded by the show's extensive use of Stock Footage.
    • The facial expressions of the Rigel puppet are much rougher in the earliest episodes. It seems they were still in the process of refining the animatronics at the time.
  • The pilot of Father Ted is the episode in which Jack "dies" (the 6th episode broadcast) and there are notable differences — the parochial house is different, Ted quotes James Joyce, and at the end they plot Father Jack's death. The first episode of the series also featured an animated scene, something that would never appear again during the entire rest of the show. The first few episodes also featured an aborted attempt at a running joke based upon Dougal staring out of the window to see some implausible stock footage apparently happening outside the house (a massive storm or some implausibly giant ants who are apparently invading Craggy Island (again)).
  • In the First Wave pilot, the alien impersonating Cade's wife sprouts some tentacles that nearly choke Cade to death. This is the last we see of any tentacles for the rest of the series.
  • The Flash (1990):
    • The pilot is the only episode to include Iris West, Barry's love interest from the comics. The writers wanted to do Girl of the Week stories and also develop Barry's tension with Tina McGee; they decided keeping Iris as well would be overkill.
    • It's also the only episode to feature Barry fainting after going fast for too long, although many episodes feature him to be a Big Eater (often using superspeed to eat a lot) to compensate for the accelerated metabolism.
  • The general air of season 1 of Frasier was far more like Cheers (in that it was a spin-off of Cheers) and other '80s sitcoms — mainly, in its treatment of emotional issues in a comedy. The second and third seasons would perfect the show's trademark use of taking complex or emotional issues and events and making them funny through complications, character reactions, or exaggeration, rather than alternating between emotional character moments and shallow humor moments, which can come off as kitschy.
    • There was also Daphne's "psychic abilities", which are made much of earlier on, but come up much less frequently in the later seasons (though still occasionally focused on).
    • At one point in the first season, Martin says that Lilith is much weirder than Maris. Eleven seasons later, Lilith is a fairly sympathetic recurring character (she's still the butt of jokes from Niles and Martin, but they now seem like playful exaggeration), while Maris was so strange no human actress could portray her and she was once mistaken for a hatrack.
    • The first season mostly keeps to the same standards as the rest of the show, but certain shots of Frasier's apartment are unique to that season (the show almost never shows the top of Frasier's Antique Shelves or the wall with the fireplace after this period), and Martin's chair has a "vibrate" setting that never reappears. In the first episode, Daphne's room was said to be next to Martin's, but later on, Martin's room is next to Frasier's in the left hallway while Daphne's room is the only room in the right hallway. Also, the studio audience acts more like that of a traditional sitcom than the more "classy" vibe this show had — they would "woo!" and catcall if there was a sexy scene, something that feels very odd having seen later seasons.
    • The first two seasons often suggest that Niles truly loves Maris and that his feelings for Daphne are just a superficial physical attraction. It wasn't until the third season that the writers began to play up the idea that Niles and Maris's marriage might be in serious trouble, or that he and Daphne could actually be a couple.
  • In Fresh Off the Boat, the real-life Eddie Huang narrated the first season. When he left the series the following season, this element was dropped entirely.
  • The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air is a good example. In the first season, the show clearly hadn't found its feet yet, and many of the early episodes seem rather awkward and forgettable. In addition, the earlier episodes also dealt more with the show's gimmicky Fish out of Water premise, with "straight-out-the-hood" Will causing some sort of ruckus within the prim and proper society the Banks family was a part of.
    • The layout of the house was completely different from how it would be in seasons two through six.
    • The iconic Theme Tune Rap also included an extra verse in the first season's first few episodes.
  • Friends
    • The first season feels quite a bit different from the other nine seasons. The plots are more slow-paced and episodic, scenes start and end abruptly, and the characters are less quippy and there's quite a bit of a Sentimental Music Cue. There are a lot more group scenes with all 6 friends together and less focus on singular pairings with separate subplots. The fashions look a bit more plastic/artificial than they would in the next nine seasons, and it's probably the only season where Matthew Perry has long (or, at least, long-ish) hair.
    • Not to mention that Ross' ex-wife Carol is played in her first appearance by an actress who looks nothing at all like the one who took over the role for the rest of the series.
    • The pilot episode also has hints of Joey/Monica which was almost immediately dropped in favour of Ross/Rachel and later Chandler/Monica.
    • As a result of the planned Joey/Monica relationship, both their characterizations were subtly different: Joey was more jerkish and a Handsome Lech, while Monica was a lot more sexual. They settled into their normal characters pretty fast though. This change was partly due to Matt Leblanc and Courteney Cox's take on the characters. The writers admitted Matt gave Joey heart and Courteney softened Monica a lot and made her more of the Team Mom. (These changes meant she was better matched with the adorably awkward Chandler than with the confident Joey).
    • In the first season, there was no street outside the Central Perk set, only a painted backdrop in the window.
    • The first couple episodes actually portray Monica as the show's lead. Granted, Friends was always meant to be an ensemble series (Schwimmer himself reportedly refused to do the show unless it was such), but the writers have openly stated that they originally weren't sure of how to properly make such a series. And so, in the first few episodes, Monica is portrayed as the everywoman lead while the other five characters are portrayed as her "wacky group of friends." She was even listed as the show's lead character when The Pilot was screened for critics. The show's ensemble format didn't really take off until "The One With George Stephanopoulos."
    • The show was a lot more blatant about its NYC setting in the first season. Most of the side characters talked in thick, stereotypical New York accents and were often portrayed as snide jerkasses. The stereotypical NYC sensibility was much more muted from season two onward.
    • Rachel wears an MC5 shirt in an early episode. This seemed incongruous even at the time, but while it's not inconceivable that someone who grew up as a privileged New Yorker would be into Detroit proto-punk, the notion was never explored later on.
    • The decor of Joey and Chandler's apartment looks much more homely early on, almost like they bought their living room set from a Goodwill.
  • Fringe
    • The show starts off as a primarily Monster of the Week show with hints at a government conspiracy and an FBI agent who possessed her dead partner/lover's memories (with the actor playing the dead partner in the opening credits of a dozen or so episodes). It gradually evolved into a heavily serialized show, where the only government conspiracy came from the United States government of one universe conspiring against its counterpart in another universe, and the storyline involving Olivia's dead partner/lover quickly became an Aborted Arc.
    • Early on, it was heavily implied that some shadowy organization caused the Pattern, and that John Scott was somehow connected to it. By the end of Season 2, it was decided that the Pattern happened because Walter's attempt to travel between the two universes caused reality to break down.
  • Full House:
    • The third episode depicted Danny as a bit of a slob who was reluctant to clean up his house, preferring to hire a maid to do so. This is the same Danny Tanner who, a few seasons later, is known for cleaning his cleaning supplies. The same episode also had appearances from the mothers of all three of the men—Danny and Jesse's moms would get Darrin'd later on (looking nothing like the original actresses), while Joey's mother never appeared again at all.
    • The sheer fact that Michelle was a baby used mainly for cheap laughs in the first few seasons can count as this to some, due to the character's well-known status as a Spotlight-Stealing Squad once the Olsen twins became old enough to actually act.
    • Jesse's last name in the first season was Cochran, but this was later changed to Katsopolis due to John Stamos wanting the character to reflect his Greek roots. Jesse was also more stereotypically macho in the earlier seasons and enjoyed watching and playing sports, while in later seasons he's more whiny and both hates and is terrible at sports. Though perhaps the biggest change to the character is that he was clearly established as having graduated from high school (one episode even had him attending his 10 year reunion, with a flashback of his graduation), but much later on he is retconned to having dropped out.
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