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Big Budget Beef-Up

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To fit a typical episode formula, the heroes may have to spend a certain amount of time fighting a single opponent. However, dramatic episodes may have the heroes fighting hordes of similar minions or critters. Characters with special abilities will suddenly seem much much stronger than before, and how this came to be is almost never explained. They'll be cutting through them like harvesters through hay, making you wonder why it wasn't so easy before.

This often comes up in OVAs and Non Serial Movies, which have less time and more budget to impress the viewer, but occasionally it'll pop up in the show proper near the season finale. An Epic Tracking Shot is often a signal of this.

Related to the Law of Conservation of Ninjutsu. Contrast So Last Season. See also Special Effects Evolution.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Sailor Moon often did this near the end of its seasons with nondescript monsters. The usual sentai formula of fights also didn't apply to the movies, which often have individual characters mowing down hordes of monsters.
    • Especially jarring in the movie, where a single plant demon (having fed on lifeforce) proves a challenge to the entire team. Then they destroy hundreds of them in a massive battle.
    • The Live Action version, Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon, did as well, which is expected as it's a Toku series. A slight handwave might exist, as particular youma that were created without direct conscious effort or en masse tended to all to be complete pushovers mostly used as distractions.
  • Fighting Game Anime like Street Fighter and Fatal Fury are notorious for featuring Ki Manipulation much more powerful than the games would suggest. (And in reverse, when Ranma ˝ was turned into a Fighting Game, Ranma's extraordinarily powerful Ki Manipulation was substantially weakened.)
  • The Movie of the first season of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha noticeably upped the power of the characters, to the point that Nanoha's Starlight Breaker levels a city.
  • Bleach anime. In early seasons a single normal Hollow was a major threat. During the Hueco Mundo arc the Soul Reapers on the team (Ichigo, Rukia and Renji) were slicing through Menos Grande Gillians as though they were nothing, and other characters with lesser power destroyed hordes of regular Hollows without blinking.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Barney & Friends had a pretty modest budget, as with many other PBS Kids shows. The show's Big Damn Movie Barney's Great Adventure had a larger budget, which allowed for a new Barney costume with remote-controlled eyes to make him more expressive. The film also traded the show's synthesizer score for a nice orchestral score provided by the Northwest Sinfonia.
  • Gamera:
  • Godzilla
    • Godzilla: Final Wars had this in spades. In the ultimate fanboy "Godzilla versus Everyone" film, Big G plows through almost all his classic opponents, easily dispatching monsters that formerly fought him for an entire movie. In fact, at one point he takes down three at once in a fight that lasts about a minute (ironically, those three monsters are the only ones Godzilla doesn't kill).
    • The 2014 reboot features Godzilla in his biggest incarnation yet, bigger than every other incarnation of the character in terms of both height and length.
  • High School Musical 3: Senior Year: After the first two made-for-TV movies were such enormous successes, Disney decided to make the third movie a fully theatrical release, with an expanded budget to match, with superior cinematography and much more elaborate production numbers that wouldn’t be out of place in a Broadway megamusical.
  • While Mystery Science Theater 3000 had always had a pretty small budget, The Movie had a larger budget, thanks to being backed by Universal Studios. However, the only thing really different is that everything seemed bigger (including an incredibly expanded set showing other areas of the SOL).
  • Serenity is basically a much more expensive, better-looking episode of the series it's spun off from. And it is awesome!
  • When Star Trek: The Next Generation made the jump from syndicated series to big budget movie Star Trek: Generations, The Bridge was upgraded with additional space specifically to fit in more Explosive Instrumentation to dramatically send more Red Shirts flying during the action sequences.
    • Not only that, but the Enterprise-D was destroyed in the movie specifically so they could create a new ship and new sets that looked better on the big screen.
    • The franchise makes occasional references to genetic augments, who were so powerful that they caused the Federation to outlaw the process. In the television shows, they've never come across as more than a fit human. Come Star Trek Into Darkness, and one of them finally lives up to the hype.
  • Terminator 2: Judgment Day: Not only did the then-record $100 million budget allowed for a Special Effects Evolution, but the story's scope is bigger, the CGI-animated liquid metal Terminator is far harder to kill, and the heroes fight more than just a Terminator, with one major scene revolving around a clash with an army of police when they invade Cyberdyne.
  • Happened between Transformers (2007) and its sequel Transformers: Revenge of The Fallen, which allowed for bigger action scenes and more complexity on the robots. Inverted a bit with the third film Transformers: Dark of the Moon, as while it was more expensive than the first film ($195 million to the $150 million of the first), it still manged to be less expensivenote  than Revenge of the Fallen, yet look like a film twice its size.
  • When making the first film in The Twilight Saga, the effects were low budget, they went with then-largely unknown actors, heck, the film was produced by then-independent studio Summit Entertainment. Nobody involved realized how huge the books' fanbase was until late in production, which led to a weird event where a small indie film was treated like a blockbuster. Once it turned out to be a huge hit, the sequels were given larger budgets, with better special effects, and bigger name actors for roles that weren't already cast in the first film.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 7 introduced the Turok-han or "Uber Vamps" that are sort of the vampire equivalent of a missing link. They're super hard to kill with chests as hard as concrete so staking is a problem. Buffy spends the first episode they're introduced fighting and killing one of them. The whole episode. Then in the finale the good guys face off against literally thousands of them in a free-for-all fight under the hellmouth and even the more inexperienced members of the team are dusting them left and right. Joss Whedon mentioned in interview that he was aware of how little sense this made but stood by the episode.
  • Doctor Who:
    • The Daleks are galaxy spanning empires that can field thousands of units — and yet the most we ever saw were the same four or so Daleks costumes paraded around in a circle to make them seem more numerous... until the 2005 revival, where the climax of the first series featured a Big Budget long shot with millions of Daleks all lusting for the destruction of the Doctor and the extermination of the human race. It made every fan weep tears of joy.
    • Happened before that. The Peter Cushing Dalek movies really make a Dalek invasion look like one should, the first movie even being a remake of the Daleks' show debut, making the very same story seem much more epic. The movies are often reviled by fans for their deviation from canon (Cushing's First Doctor is apparently a human named Dr. Who, primarily) but at the time, it was amazing. They looked at least as good as the 1980s episodes, with a more 'summer blockbuster' feel, at a time when the TV show hadn't worked its way up to color, or having the matte paintings that were supposed to make the hallways look longer actually go all the way to the floor.
    • The show's Dalek episodes benefited from this film as well - the rainbow-colored Daleks don't look so garish in black and white, so suddenly the show had more props to work with.
  • Kamen Rider series tend to have one of the Monsters of the Week become a Mook near the end of the season, with multiple costumes made for bigger fight scenes. Their movies also tend to have better wirework, more complex action scenes, and more explosions.
  • Both the movie and the Netflix revival of Mystery Science Theater 3000 benefited from this trope, but the Netflix revival showcased this the most, with the Crow, Tom Servo and Gypsy puppets getting major overhauls.
  • Power Rangers occasionally had the bad guys animate a whole bunch of previously formidable monsters at once, only for them to fall like dominos to the Power Rangers:
    • The Movie has three main monsters and countless creatures springing from Ivan Ooze. It should be noted also that the rest of the budget was used for the Rangers' suits (they all get breastplates, while some of them gain special abilities) and the special effects, which step up from People in Rubber Suits to 2D Visuals, 3D Effects.
    • Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie had a bunch of new stuff, most of which carried over into the Turbo series, including a new "comet" teleportation effect, a CGI-laden morphing sequence, a new set for the Power Chamber, the Turbo Megazords' formation, and Maligore's elaborate costume, later recycled as Dark Specter due to how expensive it was to be used only once.
  • Both Sesame Street theatrical films— Follow That Bird and The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland— forewent taping on the limited soundstage sets in New York the series used. Instead, new sets were built in different locations (Toronto for Follow that Bird and Wilmington NC for Grouchland) that featured an expanded scope, with new stores and businesses, and the other side and end of the street being visible.
  • Canadian television shows often have limited budgets, and The Red Green Show was no exception for its first six seasons. It received a Network to the Rescue from the CBC which included a much bigger budget. As Steve Smith put it, they "could really afford to go nuts", particularly with the various Handyman Corner segments.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Several TRPG have this trope supported by the mechanics. In Dungeons & Dragons (4th Edition), there are monsters classified as 'mooks', which go down when you deal as much as 1 point of damage to them. While these monsters have AC that match their level, players have powers (mostly once-per-day) that never miss.
  • In Exalted, mooks like these are classified as Extras. A ton of powers have effects that basically says 'extras are fucked, only people with Essence-control may avoid'.

    Web Animation 
  • RWBY has a tendency to make characters much more powerful than they're supposed to be during key moments. The four short films which lead into the first season were lavishly-produced and released months apart, and they featured massive action scenes with the main characters effortlessly mowing down dozens of enemies and pulling off incredibly complex fighting moves. When the series proper started and the animators needed to have an episode out each week, the fights instantly became much smaller, with those same characters now struggling to overcome a handful of those same enemies and relying on simpler techniques. However, sometimes during season premieres, season finales, and mid-season finales, everyone temporarily takes a level in badass courtesy of the more generous budget and scheduling allotted to those special episodes.

    Web Videos 
  • Prior to Demo Reel, Doug Walker purchased an actual studio space for it and other Chicago-based Channel Awesome productions. When he had to bring the Critic back, the bigger budget went toward a green screen, more sketches with an expanded cast, and props/costumes. Quite an upgrade from being filmed in Doug's parents' basement. This makes the episodes that return to the primary original format of "Critic just sits and reviews a movie" jarringly different from the sketch-based reviews.
  • JonTron has also received a significant budget boost. Unlike the Critic, there isn't much of a difference in terms of content. He just has more money to indulge in all the batshit insanity that goes down.
  • The first "season" of Lasagna Cat was a relatively straight-forward affair, never going beyond using simple and basic greenscreen effects and actors in simple costumes. After a Sequel Gap of nine years, the second "season" arrives and goes all out, using more complicated greenscreen effects, more elaborate costumes, and even sets, props, and several on-location shoots, and does stuff like recreating a whole segment of the pilot episode of Miami Vice practically shot for shot and creating a whole miniature town in breakfast products only to blow it up.

    Western Animation