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Breaking Old Trends

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So you've got yourself a Long Runner, and one that's remarkably still popular enough to go on for some time to come. You couldn't be happier except... don't things seem to be a bit stale now? Sure, you've made some refinements here and there to the plot, the characters, and even the gameplay. But overall? The last major shake-up in your franchise or work was years ago, and the fans are starting to notice. Criticisms of It's the Same, Now It Sucks! are starting to be thrown towards you, and you aren't exactly fond of that. As a creator, what can you do the solve this problem? Why, change the series formula of course!

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Breaking Old Trends refers to exactly that: when the creators of a work decide to reinvigorate it by rethinking some of the more long-standing elements in it and changing some of them to make it seem fresh again. If the main characters usually spend a book hanging around a City of Adventure, perhaps the reader picks up a new installment that has them suddenly Walking the Earth in search of action. If someone's favourite video game series has been getting more and more linear, they may discover the next entry to be a Wide Open Sandbox. If your favourite show has a penchant for ending each season in the same way, then prepare to be caught off guard by a Meta Twist. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, but at the end of the day, the creators are trying something new (be it major or minor) while also trying to maintain what made their work well-liked to begin with.

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While the presence of this trope can just as often be a one-time thing to surprise the audience, it can also lead to the new idea becoming a mainstay element of the series in its own right, resulting in the old trend it was breaking becoming an example of Early Installment Weirdness that could end up being revisited further down the line.

Due to its nature of breaking established, unspoken rules within a work, this trope should only apply to works within their third installments or further. After all, the creators are still trying to figure what the formula actually is when making the second entry.

Compare Retool and Genre Shift. Contrast Strictly Formula.


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Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Monster Musume: Out of all the girls, Lala does the least fanservice, doesn't have a nickname for Kimihito, and doesn't try to pursue him because she's fine with the fact that she'll have him forever once he dies.
  • Pokémon: The Series, for all its tendencies to patterns, is not above breaking them from time to time.
    • The first four Pokemon movies each had an opening theme sequence which used a remix of the then current opening theme from the show. The 5th movie broke this trend by having the opening be another remix of "Mezasei Pokemon Master" instead of the 5th opening "Ready Go". The following 6th movie broke the trend further by having no opening theme song at all, and since then the opening themes have been more sporadic with the movies.
    • Due to Hoenn bringing an end to the "original" series, this region is where you start to notice the first notable breaks to certain trends.
      • After wearing the same outfit for the Kanto, Orange Islands, and Johto arcs, Ash has a new outfit. It would be the default trend to switch up Ash's clothes for every new series.
      • In both Kanto and Johto, Ash caught the three regional starters. Starting with Hoenn, the starters were divided between him and his companions, and Ash wouldn't end up obtaining all three again until Unova.
      • May is the first companion to be given her own separate Myth Arc with consistent focus, with her Contest arc alternating alongside Ash's badge quest and Battle Frontier trek.
      • Hoenn is the first series where the core cast is made up of more than three people by adding a Tagalong Kid.
      • This is the first region where Ash only starts off with just Pikachu instead of bringing over his current team from previous arcs, as in the Orange Island and Johto arcs. Starting with the Unova arc, it would be the standard procedure from then on once a new generation of Pokémon is launched.note 
      • When it comes to Ash's regional birds, a lot of people felt that Pidgeotto and Noctowl weren't given much to do. Swellow on the other hand went on to being one of the biggest contributors to his Pokémon team.
      • In Japan, the series would actually begin to change titles for each generation starting with Hoenn, after being just known as Pocket Monsters for the Kanto, Orange Islands, and Johto arcs.
    • Streaks that were broken in Sinnoh.
      • Ash finally catches a pseudo legendary Pokémon, or at least a member of its line.
      • Sinnoh was also the first series where another Pokémon shared the spotlight with Ash's Pikachu as the series mascot. This being Dawn's Piplup, who spent almost all of his time outside of his Pokéball.
      • Similarly, Piplup's promotion to mascot status reflects his trainer's status as Ash's co-lead, as Dawn was the first companion to receive near equal focus to Ash (to the point where in the Japanese openings, her name is mentioned alongside Ash's in the opening summary). The only other companion to be treated with so much importance is Goh, who was introduced over a decade later.
      • This saga is noticeably more story-driven than the previous ones, with more Call-Backs and ongoing plot threads that build up throughout the series.
      • Sinnoh is the first region where Ash participates in a Full Battle outside of the Pokemon League, which he has against Paul at Lake Acuity.
      • Previously, the Pokémon League Conference were held in locations that existed in the game. For the Kanto and Hoenn Leagues, they were in the locations where the player fought the Elite Four and the Champion. For Johto, it was held on Mt. Silver, where the Bonus Boss battle against Red was. For Sinnoh however, it was an anime original location and no where near where the Elite Four and Champion were fought in the games. In fact, future league tournaments never took place where the final battles of the game's main storyline took place.
      • Previous arc conclusions had Ash learn of another region and deciding to go there following his return to Pallet Town. The Sinnoh arc was the first arc to not mention anything of the next generation of games, with Ash just returning to Pallet Town.
    • The Unova arc broke some notable trends. In particular:
      • Ever since their introduction in the 2nd episode of Kanto, it was a given to have the Team Rocket trio make an appearance in every episode, even if it's just a small 30-second cameo. This trend is finally broken in the 16th Unova episode where they don't make any appearances whatsoever.
      • In addition, Unova plays Team Rocket as jarringly more competent arc villains who often put up a much better fight against Ash and co and frequently evade their "blasting off" Running Gag, as well as letting Giovanni and the rest of the organisation have involvement. While their breakaway from comic relief naturally doesn't last, the trio dabble with being Not So Harmless Villains more often following this.
      • Since Kanto Ash either had Misty or Brock traveling alongside him, with Johto being the only other region he had both. Unova was the first region where neither of them were among his companions.
      • With every League tournament Ash either improved or stayed on par in terms of performance. However, in the Unova League, he ended up Best of 8, vs Best of 4 in Sinnoh.
      • Unova is the only region where Ash never has a proper 6-on-6 Full Battle. His Unova League battle against Cameron was intended to be one, but thanks to Cameron's absentmindedness, he accidentally handicaps himself by only bringing 5 Pokemon instead.
      • Unova was the first region where Ash doesn't encounter the regional villain team until after completing the league, where they got a short arc dedicated to them.
      • Usually there's a few breather episodes between major arcs/series. However, after finishing the Unova League and taking care of Team Plasma, there is twenty episodes long filler arc about Ash getting home from Unova and setting up his journey to Kalos.
    • Kalos broke several streaks.
      • First region where Ash doesn't catch the Grass-type starter. He doesn't even catch a Grass-type at all in Kalos.
      • The previous example actually breaks another trend where Ash had some sort of variation of the Fire/Water/Grass trio throughout the previous 5 generations. The lack of catching a Grass-type in Kalos finally broke this tradition.
      • First evolution of a Water-type starter, as well as a Water-type Pokémon finally evolving ever since way back in Kanto when Krabby evolved.
      • First generation where Ash doesn't cross-dress.
      • Talonflame did not learn Flamethrower like all the rest of his Fire-types.
      • First region where all of Ash's Pokémon (save for Pikachu, of course) fully evolve.
      • First region where Ash does not reunite with an old companion from the previous region's journey. Cilan did appear, but it was in a post-epilogue episode meaning he only met Clemont and Bonnie.
      • Kalos also broke a trend involving the villains, namely that they didn't target either one of the initial cover legendaries, but rather the third Legendary Pokémon connected to them.
      • The trainer who beat Ash at the League, Alain, also broke some trends. He became the first rival Ash never beat in a battle and first rival who was not introduced during the League to beat Ash.
    • Alola also broke several streaks.
      • Alola changed up the overall series formula where instead of being an ongoing adventure around the region, it's now more of a Slice of Life series where Ash goes to school. He still has adventures all over the region, but he only goes there as part of a school field trip. Ash still does take on a variant of the game's Island Challenge, but only faces off against the Island Kahunas.
      • The core cast that adventures around the region was usually made up of 3 or 4 human characters. Alola is the first series that goes beyond that by having up to 6 characters that the show focuses on, these being Ash, Lillie, Kiawe, Mallow, Lana, and Sophocles.
      • Because of the stationary school setting in Melemele Island, Alola is the first region where Ash's friends aren't "traveling companions" in the traditional sense. As a result, it's the first series where his friends don't appear in every episode after their debut.
      • After six regions, Alola is the first where Ash doesn't catch the regional bird Pokémon, or a Water-type Pokémon.
      • Ash's outfit is different from all previous versions: shorter pants, no jacket/sweatshirt, and no Fingerless Gloves.
      • This is the first region where the main cast are given Mythical Pokémon. Ash caught a Meltan, and at one point had a temporary Poipole in his party. In addition, Mallow is seen caring for a Shaymin.
      • With a few notable exceptions, such as the main cast using some of the special Kurt balls in the original series, the creators of the Alola series finally take advantage of the fact that there are a variety of Poké Balls that the cast can use apart from the basic red-and-white ones. Some examples include Jessie catching Mimikyu with a Luxury Ball, Gladion using an Ultra Ball, Premier Ball, Heal Ball and Dusk Ball for his Lycanroc, Silvally, Umbreon, and Zoroark respectively, and Lana catching Eevee (Sandy) with a Dive Ball.
      • The Alola League breaks multiple trends that have been prevalent across all previous regional tournaments. Previously, the only important characters of note that enter are Ash and his rivals, with the standard 3-on-3 battles gradually building to full 6-on-6 as the tournament progresses. Here, all of Ash's companions, Team Rocket, Team Skull, and a Pokémon Professor (Samson Oak) also participate, with a gradual shift from 1-on-1 at the start and 3-on-3 at the end.
      • The biggest shake-up of all: Ash finally wins the league and becomes regional champion, not to mention the first of that region, breaking his 22-year losing streak contested only by the anime-original Orange League sandwiched between the Kanto and Johto Leagues.
      • There are no guest appearance of any of Ash's companions from the immediate predecessor series, unlike before, though the long retired Brock and Misty from the original series do make a couple return appearances to continue shaking things up. Also not appearing are Early-Bird Cameo of Pokémon from the next generation of games in either the TV series or any of the movies released during the time.
    • The anime series that debuted alongside Pokémon Sword and Shield has already broken a few trends.
      • In Japan, it'll be referred as just Pocket Monsters instead of having a series subtitle.
      • Similarly, the English title is Pokémon Journeys: The Series instead of sharing the names of the recent games, which it had done since the 4th generation games Diamond and Pearl.
      • The plot has Ash traveling on all of the known Pokémon world, not just the Galar region, as a research assistant instead of getting involved with the Galar Pokémon League. Although he does later get involved in something called the World Coronation Series in order to challenge Leon from Sword and Shield.
      • The primary supporting cast is made of Canon Foreigners instead of adaptations of existing game characters.
      • Ash's traveling companions have a least consisted of one guy and one girl. Here only Goh accompanies him on his travels. While Chloe fits the role as the token girl of the supporting cast, said role is less prominent compared to previous series.
      • Ash first captures for the series aren't any of the Generation VIII additions to the Pokédex, but rather Pokémon from previous generations.
      • Related to Ash's first capture, the Dragonite he catches breaks several traditions. 1) Breaks the tradition of the first catch in the new series being the regional bird, a Bug-type, or a starter Pokémon. 2) First capture of a Pokémon in their final stage since Noctowl all the way back in Johto. 3) First time Ash catches a Pokémon that one of his companions (Iris) also owns. 4) First catch of a past generation Pokémon since Gligar all the way back in Sinnoh.
      • Related to Ash's second capture, the Gengar he catches turned out to have been abandoned by its previous trainer, which breaks the tradition of Ash's abandoned Pokémon catches all being Fire-type starters (Charmander, Chimchar, and Tepig).
      • Similar to Ash, Team Rocket doesn't get any Pokémon from Galar to train personally. Instead, they use a gacha machine loaded with Team Rocket-loyal Pokémon, so the Pokémon they use in their plans are randomized for each episode they appear in.
      • Voice acting wise, the English dub often used actors based mainly in New York. Here, some Los Angeles based voice actors are thrown into the mix, such as Zeno Robinson and Cherami Leigh, due to the production of the dub being moved from NY to LA.
      • The Journey Starts Today is the first English dub opening that doesn't use "Pokémon" as a word in the song lyrics.
      • Outside of specials and Pokémon Chronicles, the 32nd episode of Pokémon Journeys is the first ever episode of the main anime series to not feature Ash and his Pikachu in any capacity.
      • Ash catches his very first fossil Pokemon, a Dracovish.
      • Ash doesn't obtain any of the Galar starters. Goh does instead.
    • Then there's the numerous movies for the Pokémon anime. The first nineteen are essentially big screen adventures of Ash and his friends, depending on the season the movie debuted in. The twentieth movie isn't a movie for the Sun and Moon seasons, but instead an Alternate Continuity version of the series' first ever episode, namely it due to being a Milestone Celebration. The following movie would stay in that continuity and the movie after that was a 3D CG remake of Pokémon: The First Movie.
  • Most Time Bokan series share the same kind of situations, but the fifth series, Yattodetaman, changed around multiple things:
    • First, for the first time the main character actually transforms into the titular hero while becoming stronger and braver than usual, rather than just donning different clothes and a mask like the other Time Bokan main characters did.
    • Second, it's the first time there is a single hero: while there's a female main character, she doesn't transform when fighting the bad guys.
    • Speaking about the bad guys, the two male members of the Terrible Trio look completely different than the usual: Julie has a smaller nose, lacks a moustache and stands more upright compared to Boyacky and all his expies, while Alain, instead of being a short hunch with broad shoulders with a five o' clock shade like Tonzura and his derivatives, is a tall, fat guy with a prominent beard.
    • As a last difference, instead of a bunch of different Funny Animal mechas, Yattodetaman has a single Humongous Mecha. This change was kept around in the subsequent series Ippatsuman, only to come back with the old style in Itadakiman.
  • Related to the above, Yatterman Night is the first direct sequel to a previous Time Bokan series, as well as the first to have a Terrible Trio be a heroic Power Trio. This is also the first series to not have a trio serve as recurring villains, instead opting for a singular entity and his robot army.
  • Pretty Cure:
    • Yes! Pretty Cure 5 switched from the original two-girl team of the previous Pretty Cure seasons to a a Sentai-styled Five Girl Band, along with each member being capable of a Finishing Move, rather than requiring both Cures to be together to finish off the Monster of the Week. After later installments adopted this as standard procedure, Maho Girls PreCure would break the new trend by returning to the two-Cure format. In addition, it is also the first series to have a female Big Bad in Despariah, except this is later subverted when her male secretary Kawarino turns out to be the real villain.
    • If male characters are seen with anything resembling Cure powers, the boys themselves are responsible for their creation and it only lasts one episode.note  In Hugtto! Pretty Cure, the main heroines themselves imbue Henri with the power of a Cure, and while he powers down and stays out of the fight for most episodes afterwards, the results stick: when everyone is gifted Cure powers in the finale, Henri turns back into Cure Infini.
    • Maho Girls PreCure is the first season since Futari wa Pretty Cure Splash★Star where "Pretty Cure" isn't part of the transformation phrase (which had been introduced in Yes! Pretty Cure 5 and used in every other season until then). This continued for a number of seasons until Healin' Good♡Pretty Cure brought it back.
  • Danganronpa:
    • Killer Killer note  is the first installment to have its protagonist murder the focus culprits. It's also the first to feature adult characters almost exclusively, up to and including the main characters.
    • Danganronpa 3: The End of Hope's Peak High School breaks quite a few trends:
      • The plot of Side: Future focuses on the first killing game intended to take place over a few hours rather than several weeks. There is also no trial or execution system, and the game is much more similar to Werewolf or Town of Salem.
      • Monokuma's never physically present for the game, only communicating through video footage.
      • The Mastermind dies fairly early into the game, with the game essentially being crafted to run without him. The Final Boss winds up being his protoge. For that matter, not only is he the first male Mastermind, he's also the only one to not have Despair as his primary motive.
      • Only two new characters survive the Final Killing game, both being their arc's respective "Naegis" (Ryouta for Side: Despair, Munakata for Side: Future).
      • Chiaki's death is the only execution that wasn't the result of a trial.
      • None of the new Power Trios stay together by the start of Side: Future. It is also the first installment to have an entire trio die during a killing game.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS breaks a lot of trends followed by the previous Yu-Gi-Oh series. For one, the series runs on pure science and doesn't have any mysticism the series is known for. Yusaku started out as a revenge-driven loner instead of a protagonist that believes in The Power of Friendship, doesn't use a single ace monster to win, his aces Firewall Dragon and Decode Talker break the pattern of Dragon or Warrior type aces.
    • There are two Duel types used in the show: Master Duels, which operate by the normal Duel rules, and Speed Duels, which are a modified version of the Speed Duel rules from Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links, except deck sizes stay the same. They also retain the Skill system from that game. Speed Duels are done on D-Boards similar to Riding Duels on D-Wheels.
    • In the dub, this was the first series to NOT have any vocals in the opening song whatsoever. In the original Duel Monsters, it was mostly instrumental with some lyrics of "Your Move" or Yugi saying "It's Time to D-d-d-d-d-d-d-d-d-duel". GX through Arc-V had dub original opening songs that differed from the original Japanese version. VRAINS' dub OP is a full instrumental song.

    Films — Animation 
  • Pixar has several examples:
    • 2011 Cars 2 was the first non-Toy Story sequel the studio produced. On a related note, the previous year's release of Toy Story 3 broke a decade-long trend of the studio producing solely original films.
    • Normally one of the curiosities that this animation studio uses to distinguish their films from Disney Animated Canon is them not making musicals, but then they made Coco, the first to be such, though as a Music Story rather than a full-on, randomly-bursting-into-song musical.
    • Cars 3:
      • Unlike the first two, this exchange is absent.
      Old character: If there's anything you need, just let me know.
      Main character: I sure appreciate that. Thank you. [beat] Actually, there is one thing... [Gilligan Cut to the request, usually a Brick Joke from earlier, being fulfilled]
      • Same with this:
      Lightning: You know who you're talking to, this is Lightning McQueen. I can handle anything. [Gilligan Cut to the random request he's asked to do]
    • Soul is the first Pixar movie to not have John Ratzenberger listed in the credits (Word of God confirmed that he was in the film, but where exactly is unknown).
  • My Little Pony: Equestria Girls:
  • How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World is the first installment in the series to not have the Book-Ends of starting with "This is Berk" as the first words spoken in the beginning and have it again near the end in a monologue about Berk, and also the first movie to not end with the words "our dragons".
  • The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part marks LEGO's fourth theatrical movie, and the first one to lack a father/son conflict, or a redemption arc for the main villain.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • DC Extended Universe:
    • Man of Steel takes quite few divergences from the typical Superman story such as having Superman's debut occur at the same time as an alien invasion and Lois knowing Superman's true identity from the start.
    • While most adaptations of Wonder Woman have her leaving Themyscira in modern times or during the Second World War, Diana's debut in man's world occurs during the First World War.
    • Justice League has the Justice League form after Superman's death during his battle with Doomsday.
  • James Bond:
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe examples:
    • The first two Phases lasted for 6 films. Phase 3 on the other hand went on for 11 films.
    • Phase 4 then broke the trend of major installments of the setting being just movies as it started to include shows from Disney+.
    • In Iron Man, Tony Stark basically goes "screw it" at the end, and reveals to the world on live television that he is Iron Man. This was viewed as such a game-changer at the time since what was considered the norm was superheroes never revealing their real identity.
    • In Captain America: Civil War, Zemo becomes the first main villain since Loki from the Thor movies to not be killed off at the end of the film. Civil War is also the first film where the villain's overall plan doesn't outright fail in the end. Zemo set out to break up the Avengers, and was able to accomplish that.
    • In Black Panther (2018), Killmonger becomes the first villain where the hero, Black Panther, accepts that a portion of the villain's plan is the truth, which is that it's not in the nation of Wakanda's best interests to continue hiding from the rest of the world, and keeping all the best technology to themselves. By the end of the film, Black Panther officially reveals the truth about Wakanda to the world.
  • Descendants 3 is the only film in the franchise that doesn't end with someone saying, "You didn't think this was the end of the story, did you?", because this it is the last installment in the franchise and indeed, the end of the story.
  • The 6th film in the Mission: Impossible Film Series franchise, Mission: Impossible – Fallout, is the first that has the main villain of the previous film (Solomon Lane) make a return for a second film. Fallout was also the first film that doesn't swap in a new one time director. Christopher McQuarrie directed the 5th and 6th films, and is hired to eventually direct the upcoming 7th and 8th films.
  • The The Fast and the Furious franchise starts off as a film series that show off car racing for its first 3 movies. By the 4th film onward, the franchise transforms itself into heist films that involve the use of cars.
  • The Franchise/Monsterverse breaks quite a few trends set up by the Godzilla and King Kong franchises.
    • The series marks the first time where Godzilla has been unambiguously portrayed as a hero for the entire franchise.
    • Kong: Skull Island has Kong fight a group of aircraft (attack helicopters as opposed to biplanes due to the Setting Update) and outright win.
    • Godzilla: King of the Monsters is the first time since his debut where King Ghidorah is the Big Bad of the story.
    • Similarly, Godzilla vs. Kong sees Mechagodzilla returning to being a villain in this story.
    • Godzilla vs. Kong breaks up an internal trend by having Godzilla return to being villainous although for understandable reasons.
    • A major one in Godzilla vs. Kong: for the first time in roughly eighty years, Kong gets a happy ending, as while Godzilla effectively exiles Kong from the Earth's surface, Kong returns to his ancestral home of Hollow Earth, where he becomes its new king.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Britain's Got Talent: 2016 was the first year that David used his golden buzzer on a performance where none of the judges buzzed the act. This was also true of the acts who received his Golden Buzzer in subsequent seasons.
  • American Horror Story: Hotel:
    • This is the very first season without both Jessica Lange and Frances Conroy, the latter of which could not return due to a prior commitment.
    • This is the first season where Sarah Paulson's character is killed. She previously survived all four seasons. Though, this is also downplayed. Paulson plays two characters this season. One was killed before the series started, and one survives. So, she's still never been killed during the series.
    • Despite the casting of Lady Gaga, there's no musical number in this season.
  • American Horror Story: Cult doesn't include series mainstay Lily Rabe for the first time.
  • American Horror Story: 1984 is the first season without series mainstays Evan Peters and Sarah Paulson.
  • Burn Notice spent six seasons with a familiar pattern; Michael and company face an overriding arc for the season which they make incremental progress on during each episode while most of the episode is spent dealing with a Villain of the Week criminal or whatever. The final season dumped this pattern, became much Darker and Edgier, and focused almost entirely on a single long arc of Michael working for the CIA. There were some occasional side issues to deal with, but they were generally quite brief and quickly resolved.
  • For over 54 years, the Doctor of Doctor Who was traditionally cast as a man. However, the casting of Jodie Whittaker as the Thirteenth Doctor heralded the first female incarnation of the character.
  • Power Rangers:

    Video Games 
  • Pokémon:
    • Generation III (Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire)
      • There are 2 psuedo-legendaries in the game.
      • Team Rocket is not the villianous organization in the game. Instead Team Magma and Team Aqua are the region's villains. From this point on, a new region meant a specific villain team operation within it. Also they would have heavier plot significence within the game, targeting the one of the cover legendaries for their goals.
    • Generation IV (Pokémon Diamond and Pearl)
      • Moves are now separated into physical and special instead of being dependent on type.
    • Generation V (Pokémon Black and White)
      • Most games have the final battle with the villainous team occur at some point around the 7th or 8th Gym, and Pokémon League Champion as the Final Boss. Generation V's Pokémon Black and White, however, has Team Plasma interrupt the Pokémon League challenge before you get to fight the Champion, resulting in their leader being the Final Boss and the League Champion being a post-game Bonus Boss.
      • Technical Machines are now being infinite use rather than single-use items. This would remain the case for all future games, including remakes.
      • The Unova Elite Four can now be battled in any order, rather than the player being forced to combat them in a specific arrangement. Future regions would follow suit.
      • The Unova region is the first region not to be a counterpart of a region of Japan, being based on New York City instead. It's also the only region to have a Dub Name Change, being known as Isshu in the Japanese version.
      • Traditionally, after the first two games of a generation were released, an Updated Re-release in the form of singular separate game is made to act as the "definitive" version. However, this generation got direct sequels instead, and since then, following generations lacked a traditional third version: Generation VI chose to remake Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire rather than follow up its main pair of games, Generation VII's third version came in the form of another pair of games instead, and Generation VIII will go the route of a downloadable Expansion Pack for its mainline titles.
    • Generation VI (Pokémon X and Y)
      • The Gen VI games not getting any third game or sequel, as previously mentioned, makes it the only generation where a third Legendary Pokémon related to the main duo (often seen as a postgame Bonus Boss in the initial games) doesn't headline said title with a major role (and often a new form or two).note  Emerald had Rayquaza, Platinum had Giratina, Black 2/White 2 had Kyurem, and Ultra Sun/Ultra Moon had Necrozma. Zygarde did receive a major role in the XYZ season of the anime and a minor appearance in Sun/Moon, however.
    • Generation VII (Pokémon Sun and Moon)
      • Gym Battles were replaced with the Island Challenge Trials and Grand Trials. In addition, Hidden Machines have been replaced with the Ride Pager, with future installments also replacing HMs with similar mechanics.
      • Sun and Moon introduced Legendary Pokémon capable of evolution, while Pokémon Let's Go, Pikachu! and Let's Go, Eevee! introduced Mythical Pokémon that can do so as well.
      • Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon were the first games to add completely new Pokémon mid-generation.
      • The role of the of the villain team shifted in this generation in contrast to Gens III to VI, with Team Skull playing second fiddle and being just muscle to Lusamine and the Aether Foundation. Then you have Team Yell in Generation VIII merely being just loony fans to one of The Rival characters, while having no association to the Big Bad Chairman Rose. The role of the cover legendaries also shifted to being sought out/awakened by the player character to thwart the plans of the villains.
    • Generation VIII (Pokémon Sword and Shield)
      • The Fossil Pokémon of the Galar Region are the first fossils to not be part Rock-type.
      • Rookidee is the very first early-game bird to be pure Flying-type, unlike the previous early-game birds which started out Normal/Flying.
      • Piers is the very first Gym Leader to be a Dark type specialist.
      • Raihan is the first Leader since Liza and Tate to have a Double Battle format for his challenge, and his Gym has a second specialization on top of Dragon — weather manipulation.
      • The Galar League is the first league to lack the Elite Four group of Trainers to face before taking on the Champion, instead having an anime-style League Conference known as the Champion's Cup.
      • In the postgame, Bede becomes the first male Fairy-type Gym Leader.
      • The Isle of Armor expansion brings us the move Poltergeist, which is the very first Ghost-type move to not have 100% base accuracy or be an Always Accurate Attack.
      • The Crown Tundra gives us Calyrex, the first Pokémon capable of having two Abilities simultaneously when mounted upon one of two horse Pokémon.
      • Eternatus is the first Pokémon to have a form and moves that absolutely cannot be used by the player in any legitimate capacity, making it feel more like an actual boss battle than previous plot-relevant Legendary Pokémon did. It's also the first Legendary Pokémon to be a Poison-type.
  • In Five Nights at Freddy's: Sister Location, rather than hiding in one room and fending off hostile animatronics until 6 A.M. for all five nights, the player has to do night-specific tasks to progress, rather than waiting out a clock. At least, not until Night 5's fake ending... In addition, Bonnie is only Funtime Freddy's handpuppet, Chica is nowhere to be found, and the animatronics are almost entirely brand new.
  • Dragon Age: Inquisition has been a departure from many traditions established by the previous two and a half installments of the Dragon Age series, such as a Wide Open Sandbox replacing previous tightly-scripted levels, a complete removal of healing magic, and the artsy blood red-saturated covers being ditched for a green-dominated palette.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
  • Assassin's Creed: Unity has the first player character in the main console series not to be an ancestor of Desmond Miles. He is also the first since Altair to have only one Hidden Blade, and isn't a Walking Armory.
  • Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance features Ike, the first protagonist in the series who is not some form of royalty.
  • Mario & Luigi:
  • All of the Big Bads of the Paper Mario series went after the Mario Bros., Bowser and his minions or Princess Peach. Olly of Paper Mario: The Origami King, however, is out to get the Toads. Every. Toad.
  • Super Smash Bros.:
  • The first game in the Persona series was a straightforward spinoff of Shin Megami Tensei, albeit with an Urban Fantasy setting instead of post-apocalyptic and Personas instead of demons. Persona 2 shook things up by nixing the series' signature first-person dungeon crawling in favor of a more traditional overhead perspective for dungeons, but it wouldn't be until Persona 3 that the series truly stood apart from its predecessors with the introduction of Life Sim elements and randomized dungeons that would become hallmarks of the Persona series.
  • Mega Man 7 broke away from the prior games in the series in various ways. First, it did away with the villain misdirection that the previous three games had, presenting Dr. Wily as the Big Bad from the very beginning and having only one endgame fortress. Next, it uses elements from the Game Boy subseries, splitting the eight Robot Masters into two groups of four with a small stage in between, as well as incorporating an item shop. Finally, before you play the main Robot Master stages, you have to play through a short introductory stage setting up the storyline, a feature originally introduced in Mega Man X. These changers were retained for Mega Man 8 as well.
  • Half-Life: Alyx is the first Half-Life game where the Player Character is fully voiced, rather than a Heroic Mime.
  • For the Gears of War franchise, the first 4 games follow a completely linear storyline that keeps the player moving along the same path the whole way through. Gears of War 5 changes this up as the first game in the series to play around with open landscapes that can be explored to complete Side Quests.
  • Unreal series:
    • During the early games, the Rocket Launcher had two firemodes that launched either up-to-six rockets (in spread or spiral formation) or grenades. This trend was broken in Unreal II: The Awakening with the Hydra Rocket Launcher, which can launch either one big rocket, or the rocket itself splitting mid-path into up to four subrockets, each dealing less damage. But it wasn't until Unreal Championship and Unreal Tournament 2003 that the Rocket Launcher would find its definitive design, with the main fire shooting a rocket and the alternate fire shooting up to three rockets in spread or spiral formation.
    • The XMP expansion for Unreal II would introduce vehicles, big maps with focused objectives and player classes with their own loadouts to the series. Vehicles would also appear in Unreal Tournament 2004 and Unreal Tournament III, these games also feature a gamemode with big maps and focused objectives (Onslaught and Warfare, respectively), and Unreal Championship 2: The Liandri Conflict's proto-Hero Shooter style of gameplay would feature player classes with their own (both individual and race-based) loadouts.
    • Unreal Tournament 2003 and Unreal Championship extended the player's moveset by adding Wall Jump, dodge-jump, Double Jump, combo-jumps (i.e. Wall-Dodge-Jump) and polishing the Lift Jump (with certain maps having shortcuts or rewards for those who managed to pull them at the right spot). Unreal Championship 2: The Liandri Conflict would extend even more these movesets with chimney jumps and the third-person exclusive Jump Attack.

    Visual Novels 
  • Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony:
    • This is the first main series game to not have an Ultimate Lucky Student in the main cast.
    • This is also the first game where Megumi Ogata doesn't play a newly-introduced character.
    • Unlike Leon Kuwata and Teruteru Hanamura, the culprit of Chapter 1 is prepared to be executed. And unlike Mondo Owada and Peko Pekoyama, the culprit of Chapter 2 tries their hardest to escape execution.
    • Like Aoi and Akane before her, Angie is a sexy dark-skinned girl with a name beginning with A. Unlike Aoi and Akane, Angie doesn't survive the Killing Game.
    • Rantaro, the Ultimate ??? after Kyoko and Hajime, dies. To add insult to injury, he dies first.
    • The Big Guy dies in Chapter 4, but as the culprit, not as the victim.
    • In the main series, this game is the first one to allow you to play as a female protagonist. This is also the first main installment where the player character has a known talent (rather than a gifted title or Ultimate ???), and actually feels secure of it. The character that takes their place, however, is just as insecure of his talents as Makoto and Hajime.
    • This game is also the first game in the franchise's history where not only does the player character die, but they are also the culprit! However it turns out they were actually successfully framed by the mastermind. Which means that this is the first game of the franchise where a character successfully gets away with murder in a class trial.
    • This game is the only game to have more than three playable characters, even if it's temporary.
    • This is the first mainline game where the mastermind is one of the students you know from the start. In the first game, the mastermind was actually hidden and only revealed herself in the last chapter. In the second game, a co-mastermind was the protagonist's alter ego, but only physically appeared in Chapter 0 and during his nightmare sequence in the finale.
    • This is the first game to lack a person labelled as the traitor. Tsumugi is the mastermind while K1-B0, unknowingly, works as a sort of her cameraman and the audience's surrogate, though.
    • This is the only game where no explosion that knocks out the Butt-Monkey happens in the penultimate chapter.
  • Fangames get on it too. For instance, Danganronpa Another:
  • As for its own sequel, Super Danganronpa Another 2:
    • The mastermind's identity is openly revealed at the end of the prologue. The Driving Question throughout the Killing Game is instead "Who are his 4 accomplices?"
    • 3 people die in Chapter 3. Instead of there being 2 victims and 1 killer, it is distributed as 1 victim and 2 killers.
    • Chapter 4's culprit is executed for breaking school regulations. The victim killed himself beforehand.
    • Chapter 5 ends with a successful Frame-Up and mass execution.

    Web Original 
  • Chorocojo used the male trainer during his Pokémon Black 2 LP, as opposed to the female trainer he was using in his previous LP's. However, by this point he was tired of doing female characters, viciously lampshading it the last two times beforehand, but during Pokestar Studios filming he used the female trainer.
  • The Hobo Bros' "Hobo Theater" videos originally had Kevin read a list of words relating to the video's theme, with Luke having to work each word into the story. However, this eventually led to Kevin saying phrases, or even full sentences, instead of single words, and they seem to have abandoned the idea of using single words despite doing it for many videos.

    Western Animation 
  • In Archer, the running gag of shouting "Phrasing" after a line of dialog that could be taken the wrong way was broken in Season Five, when after a long string of lines that would provoke the gag were said without anyone saying "Phrasing," it was lampshaded and the gag is now wondering out loud if their Phrasing gag was still a thing.
  • South Park would famously kill off Kenny Once an Episode for the first five seasons. Then Kenny got Killed Off for Real for one season before reviving him. Since then, Kenny has only been killed occasionally, usually with a huge lampshade hung on it.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • Starting in Season 2, presenting the Aesop was no longer a Once per Episode ordeal. In Season 4, it went from being presented in a "Dear Princess Celestia" format to a diary format, with that being abandoned by Season 5 in favor of the characters simply discussing the episode's moral with each other.
    • The Season 6 finale breaks the tradition of a musical number being featured in the finale two-parter.
    • The Season 7 premiere "Celestial Advice" is the only season premiere to not be a two-part episode.
    • After the trend of a Musical Episode appearing Once a Season began Season 3, these were ceased out by the final three seasons.
  • Total Drama:
    • The second season, Total Drama Action, is the first one to have two main antagonists, one of the first half of the season and the other of the latter. It's also the first season where finalists are from different teams.
    • The third season, Total Drama World Tour, was the first one to introduce new contestants: Sierra, Alejandro, and Blaineley. It also featured songs and had three smaller teams instead of only two. It's also the only season of the main series to feature an adult as one of the contestants upon their debut.
    • The fourth season, Total Drama: Revenge of the Island, is the first one to introduce a whole new cast of contestants. It's also the first and only season where the finalists are of the same gender. This is also the first time when the red-colored team is the superior team of the season.
    • The fifth season, Total Drama All-Stars, is the first one where: two different generations of contestants compete together, no one ends up being bald (counting the reveal of Chris being bald in the second season), no one's shown naked at any point or heard swearing, no one sings at any point, Chris doesn't get a punishment of some sort in the finale, no one returns after being previously eliminated, and not everyone returns for the finale (although those who don't were inside balloons).
    • The second half of the fifth season, Total Drama: Pahkitew Island, is the first season to introduce a whole new cast, but not reference the previous ones at any point. This is also the first time where a highest-ranking member of one team is someone who switched teams earlier.
    • The spin-off, The Ridonculous Race, not only has a format based off of The Amazing Race rather than Survivor, but is also the first time in the franchise where some of the finalists are the ones who returned from previously being eliminated.
  • Sofia the First broke many trends over the course of its 6 year run:
    • The specials:
      • The first 3 specials (Once Upon A Princess, The Floating Palace, The Curse Of Princess Ivy) were all 48-50 minutes long. The remaining 3 specials (Elena And The Secret Of Avalor, The Mystic Isles, Forever Royal) were all 66 minutes.
      • The royal family and court were always together in some way for the first 3 specials. Elena And The Secret Of Avalor sees Baileywick and Cedric absent, while the only main character besides Sofia to appear in The Mystic Isles is Amber .
      • The first 4 specials premiered on the Sunday before Thanksgiving in primetime. The last 2 specials, both in season 4, premiered on Saturday mornings in summer.
    • During Sofia's more intense moments, one of the Disney Princesses would come to help her out. During "The Mystic Isles: Olaf And The Take Of Miss Nettle", it's instead Olaf who helps her out. Also, the whole practice of someone being summoned to help Sofia was abandoned after season 3. Both were broken in the series finale when the princesses help Sofia during the climax, albeit in a silent cameo.
    • "Royal Dragon" is Crackle's first focus that doesn't involve her dynamic with either Clover and/or Vivian.
    • While the first three seasons have largely self contained episodes with some light continuity sprinkled in, the fourth season tells more of an overarching story, and even the more self contained episodes call back to elements from many seasons ago.

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