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Franchise Original Sin

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"To me, all the fatal flaws fanboys bitched about in regards to the [Star Wars] prequels — stiff dialogue, wooden performances, a convoluted plot, and mindless spectacle divorced from human emotion — were there from the very beginning."

A Franchise Original Sin is a flaw that in earlier, good installments was kept under control to the point of not really being a flaw, but goes out of hand and becomes apparent in later installments.

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Franchise Original Sins may be exacerbated by Protection from Editors resulting in Filibuster Freefall, or a result of a Creator Breakdown or other form of Troubled Production. It is possible for a story to recover from its sins if the writer experiences a Creator Recovery — or you might be looking at the point where the fans invoke Fanon Discontinuity. Or it might be regression to the mean; the work in question was popular because the early installments were above the quality the creators could normally produce, and when they returned to baseline, it was over for them.

It's possible to engage in Jumping the Shark without having an Original Sin. Take, for example, Moonlighting, which couldn't keep up the Will They or Won't They? any longer, and the point at which they did was the moment all dramatic tension deflated from the series. There was no Original Sin there, besides the Will They or Won't They?, which was part of what made the series work, so it doesn't qualify here.

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Expect to hear a lot of statements like "It was all right when it only happened occasionally, but..." if this trope is brought up in conversation. Sometimes, these elements might have actually been embraced initially, only for fan opinion to turn against them once they became problematic to the work at large.

The trope takes its name from original sin, an idea posited in the Confessions that all of humanity's desire to do evil came from Adam's decision to disobey God in the Book of Genesis. Just replace Adam with "the first installment" and humanity with "all the sequels" and voila, you have this trope.

Rule of thumb: if you can imagine a reboot or spiritual successor without the element in question, then it qualifies. If you can't, then it doesn't. Secondary rule of thumb: If it wasn't visible in previous good episodes, it's an Ass Pull or a Retool gone bad, not a Franchise Original Sin. Compare with First Installment Wins. Often goes along with Sequelitis. Also compare with Overused Running Gag and Discredited Meme, a more specific variety of this trope where a joke gets used so often that everyone gets sick of it. Compare The Artifact, which remains in place despite no longer serving its original purpose. Contrast "Seinfeld" Is Unfunny, when overexposure makes the original seem less good in hindsight.

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Please be careful you aren't Complaining About Shows You Don't Like. Please also be careful your examples doesn't sound like justifying a criticism of a show by saying it's always been an element from the beginning.


Examples

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    Architecture 
  • While much of the architecture of the mid third of the 20th century that is today decried as bland and horrible abominations (especially if it replaced earlier buildings of more interesting styles) many of its elements (reliance on concrete, a tendency towards the monumental, "tower in a park") were already present in the social housing built in the 1920s.
  • The works of Hermann Tilke, Formula One's chief circuit designer for every purpose-built circuit since 1999, are highly controversial among motorsport fans for feeling artificial and formulaic. Supporting this, fans will point to his repetition of massive straightaways leading into heavy braking zones, the use of high-speed winding corners, and opulent architecture and facilities that feel like they've been given more attention than the tracks themselves. Chain Bear notices that all of these hated elements were already codified with the construction of his first original track, Sepang International Circuit, and was generally seen as a breath of fresh air at a time when most previous Formula One circuits were narrow and functionalist. The issues only began to surface when his future circuits began to repeat the design conventions of Sepang without any new innovations, leading to his name being primarily associated with dull tracks such as Yas Marina Circuit and Sochi Autodrom, even as he is still capable of building well-liked tracks such as Circuit of the Americas.
    • Predating Tilke there have always been dull or unsuitable venues alongside the classics in motorsports. In the 1960s there was a Grand Prix on the Zeltweg Airfield (opposite the future site of the Osterriechring) which was just a short flat L-shape course, the Le Mans Bugatti circuit hosted a French Grand Prix, giving rise to the phrase 'Mickey Mouse' to describe tight, fiddly tracks. The Spanish GP first ran on the slow Jarama track in 1968, and the Belgian GP spent several years in the 1970s on the featureless Nivelles circuit rather than Spa-Francorchamps. The 1980s were notorious for the race laid out in the Caesar's Palace car park in Las Vegas. In the 1990s F1 paid two visits to the blatantly unsuitable TI-Aida track in the middle of nowhere in Japan, and revisited the Buenos Aires Autodrome but on a very tight layout that cut off all the fast corners used in decades past. Even the Neu-Nurburgring - now fairly well liked - was roundly criticised for being boring and soulless when it opened in 1984.

    Automobiles and Motorcycles 
  • While Packard's Dork Age didn't start until 1954 when they bought out Studebaker and started building cars on that company's far less luxurious platforms (the infamous "Packardbakers" that ultimately destroyed the company), the seeds for it were planted in 1935 when they introduced the One-Twenty. A less expensive, mid-range car meant to reach downmarket during The Great Depression (it was the first Packard to cost less than $1,000), it sold extremely well among people who wanted the Packard name (which outshined even Cadillac at its height) but couldn't afford their top-of-the-line models, causing Packard sales to triple that year and double again the year after. The lesson Packard learned from the One-Twenty was to continue reaching downmarket, which slowly ate away at their exclusive brand image until, by The '50s, they were trying to enter the taxi and fleet car markets despite lacking the resources of GM, Ford, or Chrysler.
  • For Harley-Davidson, it was the launch of the FXST Softail in 1984, a case study in how over-reliance on nostalgia as a selling point will eventually hit diminishing returns. A quintessential Cool Bike (it even provides the page image!), the Softail helped Harley Win Back the Crowd as it emerged from its '70s Dork Age, combining the retro style of a classic hard-tail motorcycle with a modern soft suspension that made it far more comfortable to ride. The problem was that, before long, it seemed that the Softail and large cruisers like it were the only bikes that Harley knew how to make. In the late '80s and '90s, the company transformed itself into a lifestyle brand built around the comfy, good-looking, thundering, and not particularly sporty Softail, which meshed perfectly with the kind of lifestyle they were selling: that of an old-school, all-American Badass Biker, the kind that their Baby Boomer target demographic grew up with in movies like Easy Rider and the writings of Hunter S. Thompson. Attempts to branch out beyond cruisers, such as when they bought the Buell sport brand and developed the VRSC "V-Rod" performance bike, often met backlash from their core demographic, who had been attracted to Harley as much by the culture surrounding it (which Harley had carefully cultivated) as they were by the quality of the bikes themselves. By the 2010s, the Softail, the bike that had once saved Harley-Davidson, had become its curse, as the Baby Boomers to whom they had marketed the Softail and the associated brand and lifestyle for decades started hitting retirement age and getting too old to comfortably ride motorcycles — and with little else in Harley's lineup that would attract younger buyers, sales predictably crashed.
  • In hindsight, the debacle of the Chevrolet Corvair in The '60s foreshadowed all of the problems that would plague the Detroit automakers in The '70s. It was a sporty compact car whose unusual handling style, combined with some corner-cutting in the Chevrolet engineering departmentnote , meant that American drivers accustomed to front-engine, rear-wheel-drive cars struggled to keep it from spinning out at high speed, leading to nasty crashes and a reputation for being a death trap. Bad engineering decisions would be the bane of Detroit in the '70s, dooming the Chevrolet Vega, the Ford Pinto, and the AMC Pacer to be remembered as crap-boxes. GM's attempts to muzzle critics like Ralph Nader also foreshadowed similar controversies surrounding how Ford tried to keep the Pinto's infamous fuel-tank problems under wraps. And finally, the disgrace of the Corvair, which Chevrolet intended as a small car that was fast and fun to drive, may have fueled the worst excesses of the muscle car wars as Detroit instead poured its resources into big engines with tons of horsepower and terrible fuel economy — which left them completely flat-footed when gas prices spiked during the 1973-74 energy crisis.

    Comic Books 
  • Crisis on Infinite Earths. While cleaning up the Continuity Snarl that was the multiverse was a good idea, bringing Retcon to whole new levels and bringing about The Dark Age of Comic Books did not help things.
    • And you can't accuse Crisis on Infinite Earths without also pointing the finger at the fateful "Flash of Two Worlds" story from The Flash #123 (September, 1961), establishing the idea of Golden and Silver Age versions of the same heroes coexisting in separate universes and traveling between them. If the Crisis was Original Sin, "Flash of Two Worlds" was its corresponding Fall of Lucifer.
    • COIE firmly established that Anyone Can Die by having Killed Off for Real two dozen pre-established characters, the most famous being The Flash and Supergirl who each had a whole issue devoted to their deaths culminating in a Heroic Sacrifice. None of the other deaths were handled that well. For the rest, they simply dropped on bridge on them. This reached its apex in the final issue (#12), where 7 characters were quickly dispatched in a 2 page spread, including two popular pre-Crisis Multiverse characters, the Earth-2 Robin and Huntress... and these 7 characters weren't the only pre-established characters to be so easily killed that issue. As the years went by, and more promoted fanboys began Running the Asylum, there were more and more deaths like this, invariably newer characters the writers and editors hadn't grown up reading, creating the C-List Fodder trope and causing the Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy readers now have for newer characters.
    • Speaking of, COIE was also the first event comic to really use Tonight, Someone Dies as a selling point with the above two characters of Flash and Supergirl. Their deaths are still held up as classic moments in comic history, and a major reason behind this is that their deaths stuck (only being undone two decades later), and the writers knew that they would probably stick. Both franchises had been in a major slump, and in Supergirl's case, editorial edict was not favorable to her existing, and so their deaths were more or less the writers letting them go out on a high note. But as Comic Book Death became codified, it became almost obligatory for event comics to off at least one A-lister (and for said A-lister to return inside of a few years), causing the deaths to lose all impact. Readers stopped caring about the deaths of major characters when it often wouldn't even lead to their book being cancelled.
  • Some of the worst excesses of the Dark Age can trace its roots to the legacies of the best works of Alan Moore and Frank Miller, both whom were praised in their day for their realism, their creativity, and for bringing comics Out of the Ghetto:
    • Watchmen and Batman: The Dark Knight Returns are still recognized as among the greatest graphic novels in the medium's history. Both comics won enormous praise and commercial success for their elevation of the medium to new levels of artistic credibility with Watchmen even being recognized by Time in 2005 as among the 100 greatest novels ever reviewed by the magazine (the only graphic novel on the list). They also contained levels of violence and sex that were, at the time, unheard of in comics. However, both works were intended for mature audiences and clearly divorced from the regular comics continuity and the point and subtext of both comics is that superheroes or crimefighting and the adult world (i.e. real-life politics, history, economics, sex) don't actually mix, and at the end of both stories, Bruce Wayne is forced underground, while in Watchmen, the only character with the classic Black-and-White Morality of superhero comics, Rorschach, ends up dead. Writers and editors who didn't get the fine print or read too deeply assumed that those were the reasons why the comics were successful or great works leading to a slew of comics that desperately aimed to be 'mature' yet reveled in the most immature sort of shock value.
    • Other comics by the same writers, such as The Killing Joke also had a lot of dark and edgy material that was widely misinterpreted. Moore's Killing Joke had Barbara Gordon assaulted and crippled by the Joker in a ploy to humiliate her father, while trying to prove to him and Batman that everyone's "one bad day" from being him, when the actual story is about Joker's Multiple-Choice Past and a possible reinterpretation of his origin that opens up the brief, but doomed, possibility that Joker could be cured should he be able to choose to. Instead the story codified the Joker as an ultra-violent malingerer and an embodiment of Insane Equals Violent, while making many of Batman's supporting-cast open season for him to hunt down to hurt Batman and up his cool cred, leading to gratuitous stunts such as the deaths of Jason Todd and Sarah Essen Gordon, while also having Joker, once seen as a one-dimensional silly gimmick villain, into now being an equally one-dimensional murder-happy villain, leading in time to stories like Death of the Family and Joker that verge on Torture Porn.
  • Frank Miller:
  • X-Men:
    • A lot of the series' problems started with Chris Claremont doing too many things on the fly and not often planning ahead. But at least he didn't force those Running the Asylum now to take his older plots as canon gospel. That is their own fault. Claremont himself became notorious for his writing quirks: Talking Is a Free Action, dialogue switching back and forth between stiff exposition and attempted naturalism, fetishizing "empowered women", getting way too invested in elements only he cared about, and diving into soap opera to the point of plots and themes taking a backseat. In his early years, he got away with this partly because his style was new and innovative, and he had artists willing to tell him to tone it down. When he came back years later with the same old problems and Protection from Editors, people were much less forgiving.
    • "The Dark Phoenix Saga" is still regularly cited as one of the greatest comic book stories of all time, but it was also effectively "ground zero" for nearly everything that fans complain about in X-Men's later years. Most of its big moments still hold up today, but many of them started to lose their luster when later writers tried to replicate the magic of a classic story by copying its most superficial beats. The death of Jean Grey? An emotional gut-punch at the time, but not so impressive when later writers got into the habit of killing and resurrecting major characters so often that it became cliche. Turning the moral center of the X-Men into a genocidal supervillain? Shocking and unexpected then—but you can only turn a superhero into a supervillain (or vice versa) so many times before it becomes predictable and trite. Wolverine taking on the entire Hellfire Club singlehandedly? An awesome action sequence at the time, but not so awesome when later writers turned the character into an unkillable death-machine who regularly hogged the spotlight from other beloved characters. Putting the X-Men in the center of an epic Space Opera? A great climax at the time, but not so great when later stories tried to top it with increasingly bombastic set-pieces that prioritized cosmic spectacle over story and characterization.
    • The 2019 death of Wolfsbane in an anti-mutant hate crime attracted controversy and criticism for the way it rather Anviliciously and unsubtly drew on the spate of high profile attacks on trans women that were in the news at the time. The X-Men have always been an imperfect metaphor for real world minority groups, and the coopting of sensitive issues facing those groups in question could be seen all the way back in the beloved Claremont run. At the time, the reactions to questionable things like Kitty Pryde using the N-word in God Loves, Man Kills or the blatant AIDS allegory in the Legacy Virus storyline in the 90s were far less negative, as it was still seen as daring for a superhero comic to broach those subjects at all. However, as time has gone on and explicit politics (as opposed to the allegorical kind) in cape comics have become far more normalized, the X-Men's habit of equating Fantastic Racism to real world oppression has increasingly been criticized as seeming trite and inappropriate.
  • Generation X was Dawson's Creek with a cast of mutants. As such, its main failing from the beginning was a general lack of plot direction. The characters did whatever, and in the first two-thirds this was fine because their characters played off each other and the comic climate accommodated its leisurely pace. It helped that, being like a Teen Drama, it dealt with common teen problems. As the series wore on and the '90s gave way to the early '00s, however, the general quality dissolved little by little. The character interactions became strained, and the teenage fans had begun moving on to more meaty stories. This (coupled with lots of changes in creative teams) eroded all the draws that kept readers on the book, and the old aimlessness came out.
  • Uderzo's run as writer of the Asterix comics started out very similarly to Goscinny's run, but with a few immediate shifts in character — first, that Uderzo had a more satirical and parodic sense of humour than Goscinny, who was more into absurdity and anarchy; second, that Uderzo liked writing more complicated, cinematic adventure plotlines, where Goscinny tended to prefer plots that were in the background to the characters's antics; and third, that he pushed fantasy elements further into the foreground, where the setting up until that point had been a Purely Aesthetic Era version of Ancient Rome with one really important fantasy element. This is not considered to detract from the quality of most of the early Uderzo-only books, like The Great Divide, Asterix and Son, and The Black Gold (with a very un-Goscinny James Bond parody subplot), although they are definitely different in tone, but books like The Magic Carpet (where the Dreadful Musician suddenly develops a magic power necessary for the plot to work) and Obelix All At Sea (Obelix gets turned to stone, reverts to childhood, and they all go to Atlantis) are often criticised for being straight fantasy adventures with not much in the way of humour. Then there was Asterix and the Secret Weapon, a book about a Straw Feminist taking over the village and defeating a Roman legion of female soldiers by distracting them with clothes and shoes. Put Genre Shift, Strawman Political, and Cerebus Syndrome all together and you get the series' shark-jumping moment, Asterix and The Falling Sky, a weird, puerile, xenophobic, and poorly-drawn science fiction story involving the village being invaded by aliens representing the Americans and the Japanese, which was intended as an Author Tract about the influence of manga and American comics on Franco-Belgian Comics but too poorly-written to even work on that level (mainly because Uderzo briefly skimmed through one manga before writing it). Fans widely derided it as the worst thing in the world, and Uderzo retired before writing another book celebrating Asterix's 50th anniversary. Both this book and the one made by another duo Uderzo allowed to take over the series found a better reception.
  • When Superboy-Prime was reintroduced in Infinite Crisis by Geoff Johns, he was something of an affectionate jab/deconstruction at the fandom and a Take That, Audience! towards obnoxious, overreacting Fan Dumb. This was somewhat clever and liked by fans, especially since it picked on jerkass fans who deserved to be mocked. Unfortunately, less talented writers got their hands on him and Flanderized him into a giant insult towards all readers. Thus he was quickly turned into The Scrappy and readers started hating him and the comics he was in since they were doing nothing but insulting the very people who pay for comics.
  • From the Spider-Man franchise:
    • The Night Gwen Stacy Died, the famous Gwen Stacy death plotline. Behind the scenes, it happened as a way for writer Gerry Conway to resolve the Gwen Stacy romance since she had become too close to Peter and realistically they would eventually marry and settle down which aged up the character considerably. Thing is, Gerry Conway was a decent writer and the storyline worked out pretty well, becoming a stunning Wham Episode that changed the course of the series. When a later editor developed the same fear of aging Peter too much, we got universally reviled storylines and retcons like Sins Past and One More Day.
    • The Death of Jean DeWolffe as well. While Gwen Stacy's death is the Trope Maker of the Stuffed into the Fridge trope, this was the Trope Codifier. The writer, Peter David, specifically said that this death was included to be shocking, as well as to subvert the Dying Moment of Awesome trope that had become standardized for Character Death. David wanted Jean's death to be undignified, unheroic, and completely out of nowhere. This paved the way for both Marvel and DC to start handing out shock deaths like candy, a trend that continues to this day.
    • Several aspects of the comic that have been mocked through the decades, actually started in the early Lee/Ditko run that made the character so popular: Issue #11 had one of Peter's friend turn out to be evil (or, in that case, blackmailed) and suffer Redemption Equals Death - Betty's brother, Bennet. Issue #18 had Spidey's first crisis of faith that lead him to think about abandoning the cowl, and the very well-received "If This Be My Destiny" storyline (issue #31) first made use of the Right Makes Might trope that's so common now. The difference then was the novelty of those storylines: It was surprising that a Love Interest had a secret deal with a villain, and that Spidey could get out of a trap through sheer willpower because he had to save Aunt May's life. Nowadays, readers half-expect that whenever someone joins Spider-Man's supporting character circle, they either have some dark secret, or are headed to the fridge, as the above characters. It is also accepted that Spider-Man can beat an entire army, if he's got righteousness on his side, when early comics made it clear he would exhaust his forces if enough henchmen were thrown at him (something the Sinister Six did exploit).
  • In many ways, the increasingly criticized True Art Is Angsty approach of the New 52 is just the culmination of DC's somewhat well-received attempts at Darker and Edgier, beginning with Identity Crisis. Back then it was the stories becoming somewhat more mature. Now (despite some real gems like Forever Evil) several of its stories tried way too hard to be edgy and slipping back into the excesses and failures of the Dark Age (such as the initial Teen Titans series, which had massively reviled plot points such as Kid Flash being an unrepentant criminal from the future and villain Harvest's entire... everything).
  • League of Extraordinary Gentlemen:
    • Alan Moore always tried to sell the series on the strength of its central Massively Multiplayer Crossover, with an intricate universe that showed dozens of classic works of literature weaved together into a cohesive whole. In that regard, one element that got some buzz was his use of Broad Strokes to develop once-bland cyphers into interesting characters in their own right. In the first volume, these two elements perfectly complimented and spiced up a genuinely interesting adventure story. However, by the time of Black Dossier and especially Century, they had become a major weakness. For the former, many scenes ended up being devoted to showing off Moore's education instead of advancing the plot, leaving a whole lot of interesting names scattered through a slow and boring narrative. As the series advanced into modern times, Moore also ran out of Public Domain Characters, forcing him to do a whole lot of obvious Writing Around Trademarks. For the latter, Moore attempted to apply his broad-strokes reinvention technique to characters who were far more well-known and fleshed-out to readers than the likes of Allan Quatermain (most infamously James Bond and Harry Potter), leaving the impression that Moore either hadn't done any research or was trying to fulfill some kind of vendetta. Other times, he botched the reinvention; one of his most ambitious creations, Orlando, earned a reputation as a Creator's Pet, and the general opinion of the Golliwog is that he was best left forgotten.
    • Moore has used the series as a means of performing mean-spirited hatchet jobs on characters he doesn't like since the beginning. The very first volume featured Griffin raping both Becky Randall and Pollyanna Whittier. But, unlike his treatment of Harry Potter and James Bond, the characters in question were old-tyme enough that they didn't have strong fanbases to be offended at their treatment. And, also unlike them, the hatchet-job was a side-note within the plot rather than a central part of the narrative.
  • The single most-criticized aspect of the Tom Taylor run of Earth2 was the introduction en masse of Superman and Batman characters in a setting that was founded on being mostly free of them. Despite this, most of them had actually been introduced in the earlier and much better-regarded Robinson run - it was only in Taylor's run that they started to actively push out the other characters.
  • Ultimate Marvel:
    • Ultimate Captain America was initially lauded as a more realistic version of the character, thanks to his Deliberate Values Dissonance. This coupled with his frequent feats of badassery and strong (to the point of extreme) Patriotic Fervor, were well received by post-9/11 America. However, even from the beginning there were some who were turned off by his regressive point of view. Initially though, while a lot less idealistic and friendly than Mainstream Cap, the writers ensured his views were subdued enough that they felt like a product of his upbringing and he could still be seen as a hero (as well as the sign here and there that he was growing out of his outdated views). Unfortunately, later writers fell too much in love with the idea of him being a Politically Incorrect Hero, to the point that some stories would outright stop simply to remind us of that. He even started displaying several prejudices that were not realistic for the time (for instance, his well-known dislike for Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys, a concept unheard of in World War II and which didn’t even make sense as this version still shared a history of working with the French resistance), to the point of becoming more a caricature of what people with that mindset tended to idealize World War II soldiers as. This, coupled with the resurgence of the popularity towards 616 Cap during the Brubaker run and his brief death and it becoming more well-known among readers that 616 Cap's fairly enlightened beliefs weren't that far from many real-life individuals of his era, caused his popularity to plummet. He went from being seen as a brilliant modernized take on Cap to at best an unironic version of USAgent, and at worst the most famous example of how to write Captain America badly (to the point that he's even tainted appraisals of the mainstream Cap in some circles).
    • Long before the Ultimate line definitively Jumped the Shark with the thinly plotted and excessively dark Ultimatum event, many fans felt that the seeds of Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy were already evident in Mark Millar's The Ultimates—a Darker and Edgier modern retelling of The Avengers that portrayed many of the characters as borderline-sociopathic Designated Heroes who seemed to openly hate each other at times. In that series, Incredible Hulk became a mass-murdering cannibal, Hank Pym became a domestic abuser, Black Widow became a turncoat who betrayed her teammates and committed high treason, and Captain America is mentioned above, while the first two installments featured the team turning on Thor and the Hulk and beating them to a pulp with surprisingly little hesitation. However, all of this was overshadowed by the well written, fresh and at times shockingly realistic examination of the Superhero mythos the storylines provided. Thus initially, these changes were seen as part of the parcel ensuring that the Ultimate versions were more than just shallow clones, capable of being taken in new and interesting directions that their mainstream counterparts never could, establishing the Ultimate universe as standing out on its own merits and being willing to go to darker places than the original. But as the series went on repeatedly portraying beloved heroes as less and less sympathetic, audiences interest began to waver, and the Ultimate Universe acquired a reputation as a place where everyone except Spider-Man was a jerk. By the time the mass deaths began, there simply wasn't anything left to keep their interest.

      And even that can be traced back to Millar's much less divisive run on Ultimate X-Men, which also portrayed many of the X-Men as decidedly less sympathetic than their original incarnations; Colossus went from a mild-mannered farmboy to an arms dealer for the Russian Mob, Storm went from a respected tribal priestess to a delinquent street thief, Wolverine went from a gruff Jerk with a Heart of Gold Shell-Shocked Veteran to a professional assassin who joined the team to kill Professor Xavier, and Magneto notably lost his sympathetic backstory as a Holocaust survivor. The difference was that Ultimate X-Men at least remembered to give the characters a decent number of Pet the Dog moments to make them easier to root for, and they had enough triumphs that the story never felt excessively grim.

      One could even trace this Darker and Edgier, more combative mindset back to the Silver Age of Marvel itself, which sold itself on more "realistic" characters that could argue, fight, and have problems. The difference was that it was doing this by the standards of other Silver Age books, and "edgier than the Silver Age" still evened out to something your parents couldn't complain about you reading. Doing it in the modern day was another story.
    • One of the largest overall changes the Ultimate Universe made was tying many previously completely separate characters and groups (e.g. Spider-Man, Ultimates, Hulk, Black Panther and the X-Men and entire mutant race, as well as numerous villains etc.) to a single Meta Origin, namely attempts to recreate Captain American’s Super Serum. At the start, this fit well with the more grounded and higher realism approach to the world and super heroes (such as providing Doing In the Wizard explanations to traditionally mystical or fantastic heroes) that Ultimate aimed for and served as an interesting thorough deconstruction of No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup. However, as the years went on and the Ultimate Universe grew, it began to accept and embrace the more fantastic and science fiction ideas which it initially shunned (Thor really turning out to be a Norse god rather than a mad man with an experimental weapon, the existence of aliens and magic etc.) This caused the origin to lose its unifying status and instead appear more basic and repetitive, with some fans arguing it was confining towards the storylines and characters. Over time, the sentiment grew that simplifying and sharing the origins of so many characters made the Ultimate Universe feel smaller.
  • As argued in this article by Kevin Wong of Kotaku, the Wolverine Publicity given to Snoopy starting in the '60s foreshadowed how Peanuts transformed from a grounded and fairly dark Slice of Life comic strip into the shallow and saccharine pap that marked its Seasonal Rot from the late '70s onward. Originally, Snoopy was written as a normal dog, but as he started to gain an actual personality (for lack of a better term), he and his fantastic adventures became a nice contrast to the rest of the strip. In time, however, the increasing humanization of Snoopy grew out of control, the strip focusing more on putting Snoopy in goofy costumes and crazy situations as opposed to the social commentary on growing up that was the strip's hallmark in its early days. Other characters were pushed Out of Focus, while depth fell by the wayside in favor of gags and cuteness. Eventually, it culminated in the addition of other animal characters, such as Woodstock (who existed pretty much just to be cute) and Snoopy's family, meaning that Snoopy didn't have to interact much with the human characters at all anymore.
  • The Death of Superman is the Trope Codifier for the modern overuse of Death Is Cheap in comic books: a story in which the major superhero of the DC universe dies and is brought back over the course of a major storyline. However, back then, killing Superman was actually shocking to the audience because it hadn't been done to death yetnote , created immense Emotional Torque, and the Reign of the Supermen was a brilliant takedown of the '90s Anti-Hero. It's still a classic of comic book storytelling and a point of light in The Dark Age of Comic Books, but it also set such a trend for future Character Death that the comic book afterlife had to have a revolving door installed.
  • Superman: The comics in general have an original sin in that Superman's powers were not only extraordinary but also never really defined. "Faster than a speeding bullet! More powerful than a locomotive! Able to leap tall buildings at a single bound!" still leaves a lot of leeway regarding Superman's speed and strength. Not only that, but before The Golden Age of Comic Books was over, extra powers such as super-hearing, flying and x-ray sight were added to Supes' power roster. This led straight into the Silver Age and its penchant for piling up Superman's over-the-top powers such as super-ventriloquism, which in turn ended in power downgrades for Superman whenever reboots occurred. As a result, Superman's level of strength is notorious for fluctuating depending on whether the writers want him to be an upper-mid-tier hero or a nascent deity.
  • Batman:
    • Batman has always been called "the world's greatest detective", but to prevent his crossovers with superhuman heroes becoming Story Breaker Team Ups, the writers inflated his intelligence and preparation abilities to help keep up. While it was odd for essentially a street vigilante to take on Persons Of Mass Destruction, the idea that a Badass Normal could take on much more powerful opponents was very appealing to read plus helped justify Batman's place in the Justice League of America despite his low level of power. However, these match ups became common enough to reach memetic levels, making it seem like he can defeat anyone because "I'm the goddamned Batman". Now what is odd is why he ever has trouble on his home turf, which has supervillains low on the power scale at worst, let alone why his preparation abilities have not taken Gotham City out of being a Wretched Hive with repeat offenders.
    • The Joker becoming more bloodthirsty in The '70s was a refreshing change of pace and justified how one who was once written as a goofy prankster could be Batman's Arch-Enemy. It did leave a question of Batman's (and Gotham's law enforcement in general) inability to permanently deal with the threatening clown, but this could be raised to the rest of Batman's Rogues Gallery, and moments where he did something genuinely monstrous were mostly outnumbered by times where he was a capering loon, which made the genuinely horrible stuff all the more surprising. However, the Joker's bloodthirsty side started to stand out a bit too much, with the actions of brutally murdering Jason Todd and crippling Barbara Gordon. Worse, stories involving him murdering people for no reason, working in the shadows of the above two, increasingly became the norm for him, causing him to lose the Wild Card excuse and a lot of his charm. Compare "The Laughing Fish", often seen as a pivotal 70s Joker story, which shows him start out with a completely absurd plan (attempting to copyright poisoned fish) and only killing people when he's angry that they don't take him seriously, with many modern stories where his entire modus operandi seems random murder from square one. As a result, a character whose gimmick was meant to be unpredictability has become notorious for his predictable stories, and a lot of fans believe that making him an exception to Batman's strict refusal to kill would be the more heroic stance for the Dark Knight to take (and even then, DC Rebirth retconned in a Voodoo Shark explanation, in the form of a poison that corrupts whomever kills Joker, which had already been done to create a notable Joker-like alternate Batman, for why Batman shouldn't kill him to justify his decisions).
    • Batman's Woobie tendencies were there almost from the get-go. He eyewitnessed his parents' murder which scarred him for life. Then the Joker was given a Jerkass Woobie background in The Killing Joke (although, given his Multiple-Choice Past, it's questionable how much sympathy, if any, he deserves). Then The Penguin got one, and then Mr Freeze, and then... until nowadays even third string characters such as the Kite Man (!!!) must have a sob-story to justify their descent into evil.
  • The Dark Knight Returns was the first comic to ever show Superman and Batman really come to blows, and it fits a lot of the critiques that would mark later Superman/Batman brawls. Both characters undergo some Flanderization to make the fight happen in the first place, Batman has everything weighted in his favor, Superman comes off as a lot dumber than he should, and the actual fight features a lecture on Batman's part about how much better than Superman he is. All these things were forgivable because of what a massive upset it was, how well it underpinned the themes of the comic, and how bizarre it was to see a man who could tug a planet be held to a standstill by a Badass Normal (and the fact that it was an alternate timeline helped the character issues go down). Nowadays, Superman/Batman fights have happened so much that they've become a borderline loathed cliche, with the shock wearing off to Fridge Logic, the idea of Batman winning becoming downright expected, the character issues much less forgivable in a mainline comic, and the morality and themes devolving into "Batman is soooooo much better than Superman, you guys."
  • Kingdom Come
    • It was the first comic to pair Superman and Wonder Woman together, a trend that would crop up a lot in Elseworld comics and eventually becoming briefly canon during the New 52. It worked there because there was lots of time spent explaining their relationship and crafting realistic circumstances for the two to be together. It's heavily implied, even then, to start off as a tragic, even loveless relationship - two grieving people latching onto each other for a source of stability, regardless of whether they actually have anything going on. Later adaptations that would see them together tend to ride off the popularity of the pairing without giving it the needed justification beyond "strongest guy and girl hook up". It also started the trend of such stories killing off or derailing Lois Lane, but it didn't start the trend of Superman getting over it almost immediately.
    • Wonder Woman using lethal force. Her being shown a sword-wielding warrior willing to kill was rather clearly written as a component of the Bad Future: the Wonder Woman of Kingdom Come had been banished from her homeland, seen most of her friends die, and lost hope in her own morals, and her largely ditching the lasso for a sword was a symptom of that. It would be up there with doing a story where Batman routinely carries a gun. Unfortunately, between Kingdom Come's iconic status and Wonder Woman's comparative Mainstream Obscurity, it ended up becoming many readers' first impression of Wonder Woman, and many readers found the "warrior" imagery of a sword-wielding Wonder Woman credible - despite the entire purpose to Wonder Woman's character being that she's a warrior from a world where stabbing people with a sword is not the solution (there's a reason her actual signature weapon is a lasso). Consequently, many later writers had Wonder Woman go from being one of the most loving and forgiving heroes on the Justice League to one of the most willing to use lethal force, and eventually Flanderized into stabbing people whenever possible.
  • Marvel 1602:
    • The three sequels/spinoffs — 1602: New World, 1602: Fantastick Four, and 1602: Spider-Man — are generally not fondly remembered by most Marvel Comics fans, largely because they focus so heavily on distinctly Silver Age characters who really don't fit the Elizabethan setting (like Spider-Man, the Hulk, Iron Man, and Sub-Mariner), and because many of their Alternate Universe versions of characters come across as lazy and unimaginative (like turning most of Spider-Man's Rogues Gallery into pirates). The first part, at least, was also somewhat true in Neil Gaiman's original: that book also featured Peter Parquah as a main character and David Banner as a supporting character, but it didn't give either of them superpowers until the very last pages; for the rest of the book, Peter was just a pageboy for a royal knight, and Banner was just a close advisor to King James. When the followups actually tried to build stories around Peter and Banner as a masked adventurer and a mutated monster, they stuck out even more. And when they also tried to make the King of Atlantis and a nobleman in robotic armor fit in the 17th century, it just made the problem even worse.
    • Another major problem was the writers' inability to commit to the time period, leading to the books largely becoming Alternate History stories that only barely resembled the real Elizabethan era. The original was widely acclaimed for fitting in authentic details from a very specific timeframe in the early 17th century—witch hunts, the Spanish Inquisition, the settlement of Roanoke, the death of Elizabeth I, and the careers of Doctor John Dee and Sir Francis Walsingham—that actually made it all seem somewhat plausible. Then the sequels also threw in the colonies becoming independent and Lord Iron discovering electricity... in 1602. To an extent, this also started with the original: the story also featured Queen Elizabeth being assassinated by Count Otto Von Doom instead of dying from natural causes, and a line at the end hints that the Roanoke colonists might declare their independence at some point in the future—suggesting that the early introduction of superheroes already changed the course of history. But these were both trivial compared to the wealth of authentic details about the real Elizabethan period, so neither seemed too distracting.
  • One of the biggest complaints about modern day Marvel Comics was the replacement of older beloved heroes with younger counterparts that lacked the edges their predecessors had, most notably Amadeus Cho taking up the Hulk mantle and Iron Heart. This wasn't something new, with the recently beloved Miles Morales taking up Peter Parker's role after his death with more powers than the original, and even earlier in Spider-Girl, who both took up Peter's role and in a much more idealistic story to boot. Within these series however, the characters were still built on the themes of their predecessors (Miles didn't want to have anything to do with his powers and blamed himself for not possibly being there when Peter died, May decided to act against a crime and realized the importance of taking responsibility), with their predecessors going out in ways that honored them (Peter saved everyone from Green Goblin before dying for Miles, while May succeeded him after he had lived a long life of superheroics), thus the progression to them felt organic. For many cases in modern Marvel, the originals tended to go out in ways that were contrived or insulting (Hulk was killed by an accidental shot by Hawkeyenote , while Tony was put into a coma during the second superhero Civil War) while lacking the flaws that made up the characters' core themes (Cho was in full control of the Hulk form, with no anger required to enter it), making it feel like they had been abandoned just to move onto someone else that just wouldn't have worked in their shoes.
  • Emperor Joker and Joker's Last Laugh were the first stories where Joker has "gone all out" and caused Crisis Crossover levels of mayhem, single-handedly putting everybody in the superhero community against the wall. They, however, at least have the benefits that the Joker scammed Mr. Mxyzptlk, and thus had a lot of power in the former, and the fact that Joker (and everybody else, probably the audience included) believes he is doing The Last Dance in the latter. By the time the New 52 Batman arcs Death of the Family and Batman: Endgame came along, however, audiences were starting to grind their teeth because "Joker decides to up his game, makes everybody in the DC Universe tremble, even the Physical God-types" was not only pile-driven into the ground, but the newest arcs had him as a full-blown Invincible Villain that even (sort-of) won in the end (and one of the biggest complaints about Endgame was that it was a near-perfect rehash of Death of the Family's story beats). Heck, technically this was even the inspiration to create the backstory of Injustice: Gods Among Us, a story where his attack on everything Superman cared about caused the hero (and many later ones) to pull a Face–Heel Turn and become the totalitarian dictator of Earth (as well as being a homage to Joker's role in the backstory of Kingdom Come, another story involving the death of Lois Lane and the destruction of the Daily Planet, the difference being, in addition to Superman not going over the edge in Kingdom Come, that the scale and aftereffects were far larger, Metropolis was destroyed in Injustice). With his post-Rebirth appearances being only major crossover arcs like "The War of Jokes and Riddles", "Joker War", "The Three Jokers" and even being around in spirit (if not in body) as The Batman Who Laughs, it's now obvious that the writers can only think of using the Joker for arcs that are marketed as "The Joker comes to wreck everything and nothing will ever be the same, pinky swear with a cherry on top!"
  • Grant Morrison's Animal Man is still widely regarded as a classic, but it also has most of the controversial hallmarks of Morrison's Signature Style that would ultimately make him the polarizing writer that he is today. Even in the 1980s, he had a tendency to insert himself and his personal beliefs into his comics, he sometimes used his stories as a platform for editorializing about the state of the comics business, and his over-the-top reverence for the whimsical Silver Age was quite evident. In some ways, those things were even more overt in Animal Man, which outright ends with Morrison appearing in the story as a character, and even getting the last word of the series. It was just easier to tolerate in a series that was anchored by a relatable and very human story about an affable family man trying to make it as a superhero; even Morrison's cameo was accompanied by a truly heartfelt monologue about the power of stories. It also helped that the comic's more trippy moments were ultimately explained by The Reveal that the protagonist was a fictional character being manipulated by his author, so the story remained perfectly coherent and comprehensible in spite of its experimental nature note . The same can't necessarily be said of Morrison's later works (e.g. The Invisibles, Flex Mentallo, New X-Men, Final Crisis, etc.), which, though still acclaimed, are considerably more divisive.
  • Many highly-criticized elements of Heroes in Crisis are also present in writer Tom King's other, critically-acclaimed works:
    • The book's attempt to use mainstream superheroes as a metaphor for soldiers dealing with PTSD (Tom King being a former CIA himself) is similar to themes explored in King's run on Mister Miracle (2017) and Omega Men. However, while Mister Miracle and Omega Men were self-contained stories set during an actual war, which allowed King to convey his feelings more directly, Heroes in Crisis was a large-scale story involving a large contingent of the DCU, which raises some serious Fridge Logic concerning the allegory's accuracy.
    • Furthermore, King's interest in characters with PTSD or other mental traumas is a common thread throughout many of his works. However, Heroes in Crisis attempts to paint nearly all of DC's superheroes in this light. While some of them (e.g. Batman or Roy Harper) work in this light, many others do not (a particularly egregious example being Booster Gold, one of the main characters of the comic) and King had to retcon trauma into the characters' lives. In addition, while his previous works explored PTSD in the case of soldiers at war, and had the characters' trauma and struggles be a key part of their development, Heroes in Crisis is a murder mystery where most of the characters' trauma is irrelevant.
    • The story's dialogue has also been heavily criticized. King tends to use a somewhat strange and repetitive style of dialogue, sometimes described as lyrical or poetic, to convey simple ideas in an elegant manner. However, Heroes in Crisis has a much larger cast containing more well-known characters than many of King's other works (the main exception being his run on Batman (Rebirth), which has also received criticism for its dialogue). This leads to many characters speaking in an identical manner, making the issues harder to ignore, which is not helped by characters like Harley Quinn having their normal voices overwritten for King's style. In addition, the heavily stylized dialogue is still used to explain complex situations, making it come off as even more stilted.
  • The Flash:
    • The focus on the newest Flash and the emphasis of Barry Allen's importance to the mythos. This has always been a thing, with the current Flash always being the fastest to sell their title of "the fastest man alive" and it always felt like the Flashes were getting faster and thus improving, from Jay to Barry to Wally to even Bart's short-lived tenure, where the current Flash is always said to be faster than the previous. There's also Barry's importance, which came about after his acclaimed death in Crisis on Infinite Earths, and made sense given that his successors were Wally West and Bart Allen, his former sidekick and grandson, respectively, who had this tie into their characters as hurdles they had to overcome — Wally needed to accept that he was faster than Barry and not replacing him and Bart with his heroic family legacy. However, once Barry returned in the mid-2000s, this all went bad. Barry was now not only the current Flash, ruining the forward momentum of the franchise, but everybody else was rebooted out of existence or turned into a completely different character when a Flash-centric storyline rebooted the DCU, leading to exclusive focus on Barry. His importance went from personal significance and a Heroic Sacrifice to literally being the reason any speedsters exist at all, as it was retconned that he creates the Speed Force, and his importance as a person is retconned so that Barry is the one who made his predecessor Jay come out of retirement and was always Wally's hero even before Wally knew he was the Flash, the result coming off more like Character Shilling than ever before.
    • The Speed Force's importance and use as a storytelling engine. Initially, it was used to explain where speedsters got their powers from despite their varying origins, and was an other-dimensional energy that also ran across time, allowing time-travel, and a speedster running too fast has them enter the Speed Force and merge with it, with only a deep and true love being able to pull them out sometimes. It was important, but more of a plot device than anything, and even the name was an afterthought by creator Mark Waid's own admission, and existed mostly to add stakes, scale and to drive emotional moments between characters and their loved ones. However, later writers emphasised the Speed Force more and more and gave it new powers, muddling the clear use to the point where it has been given more and more stories about it and more and more powers, moving from something used to encourage character interaction to outright Deus ex Machina usage, such as Barry's sudden reappearance in Infinite Crisis and then hitting its peak with the introduction of many, many other Forces (Still, Strength, Sage, etc.) that take focus away from the Flashes themselves.note 
  • Tom King's Batman run was divisive, but it had an infamous moment where Ship Sinking is pulled on the iconic Batman/Catwoman romance, due to Batman's rogues gallery (specifically Bane, who was trying to break Batman again, this time mentally) convincing her friend Holly Robinson to tell Catwoman that marrying Batman would be bad because his happiness would dull his heroics. But despite the controversy it started, this wasn't the first time pairings featuring Bat-Family members were stopped before they could tie the knot. The first was when Nightwing and Starfire's wedding was crashed by a corrupted Raven, and even when the situation was resolved, Starfire felt it was too soon to get married and gradually would end the relationship with Nightwing. The second time was Batwoman and Maggie Sawyer also attempting to get married, only for Sawyer to turn her down. What made the case with Batman and Catwoman more notorious was that, in addition to it being related more to the flaws from Tom King's works above (such as it being an integral step in breaking Batman mentally, just as the other books focused on other mental traumas), the earlier two instances reeked highly of Executive Meddling note , whereas Tom King apparently didn't have any executives forcing him to write the results. In addition, those weddings were usually confined to somewhat larger issues at best, while the Bat/Cat wedding was heavily promoted, even getting an entire miniseries devoted to the Batfamily's thoughts on it, to extensive variants and even making mainstream news. Meaning it was a lot worse when the wedding didn't happen, because it now felt like people were cheated out of money as well as time.

    Fan Works 
  • A much maligned trend in Battlestar Galactica (2003) and Stargate-verse crossovers is the portrayal of the Colonials as religious fanatics and generally evil, despite little canon evidence. This can be traced all the way to Reunions Are a Bitch, but whereas that fic blaced the blame on the leaders, with the average Joe Cololnial being sympathetic, later fics simply made them Always Chaotic Evil.
  • Nobody Dies: The main complaint about the fic is that it got too silly to be taken seriously, but silliness was always a part of the story. Just look at this version of Rei and what she pulls off. The difference is the silliness was mostly limited to her and balanced out by serious and touching events that made those moments of levity more appreciated. Arguably, the cracks began to show as early as season two, what with more ridiculous events, the goofy antics spreading even into more serious chapters and the introduction of the Ree, a gaggle of girls whose primary purpose was just to be silly.
  • React Watch Believe Yikes: Back during the season one viewing, the author borrowed a joke that one of his reviewers made and used it in the story, giving the fellow proper credit. This gave other people the idea to suggest their own lines for use and it was good because it helped provide exposure and eased the writing process. The first signs of a problem were early into the season two viewing, when one of those jokes resulted in Blake taking injuries as a result, causing a suggestion to have significant, lasting consequences. As a result, when readers realized they could have some degree over the direction of the plot, the reviews became less substantial critique and more about thinking up funny ways to pull the plot where they wanted it to go. And because the author kept taking those suggestions, this caused some of the more inane twists and the increased importance of Noire that the story would be later criticized for.
  • Robb Returns: Some reviewers of the later chapters of the story complain about the lack of stakes, the heroes easily winning all the time and suffering no losses, and villains who were formidable in canon being dealt with extremely easily. Those problems have been there from the very beginning. The difference is that, since both the books and especially the show were rather dark settings in which most heroic characters ended up dying or undergoing severe traumatic experiences, and in contrast, many villanous characters thrived and succeeded in their evil schemes led to a case of Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy, so reading a more optimistic story in which the heroes finally score the wins they deserve and villains get their karmic retribution felt very cathartic.

    But as the story progressed, the sense of catharsis began to wear off, and readers started to notice that the story is too good to the heroes and that there are almost no villanous characters either alive or active to stir up some conflict. This results in many chapters featuring nothing but heroic characters that get along well with each other talking about the impending threat of the Others, which, unfortunately, feels too distant to induce any kind of tension or drama.
  • The Stalking Zuko Series gets some criticism for the third installment, Not Stalking Firelord Zuko, particularly how long it takes for Zuko and Katara to get together but they had been present from the beginning. The first installment takes place from just after "The Western Air Temple," to the end of "The Southern Raiders," so Katara doesn't officially forgive Zuko until the end, and ends up staying behind while Zuko goes on plot-related excursions with Aang and Sokka. The second installment, Not Stalking Zuko, takes almost half the fic to get up to "The Ember Island Players," and there's a fair amount of original story until the "Sozin's Comet" arc. The reason why the problems didn't get as much criticism back then was because readers had accepted that it wouldn't be reasonable for Katara and Zuko to hook up so quickly, since the author made a point of being canon compliant. When Zuko forgot Katara's Anguished Declaration of Love after nearly dying during his Agni Kai against Azula, and temporarily got back together with Mai for the sake of his honor, readers started getting frustrated.
  • Embers always had a habit of making characters less sympathetic. The things is, it usually happened to minor character like Arnook and Pakku; while the first major character to go through this, Katara, was still portrayed as a decent yet flawed person. It's only when the story applied this the Aang and the Air Nomads, however, that people started to complain, as the story turned the nicest character in canon into a selfish, immature child, and a bunch of peaceful Nomads into a brainwashing cult. Now this story just comes across as a massive case of Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy.
  • A case of "Author Original Sin" occurs with Coeur Al'Aran, a writer of multiple RWBY stories. His ealier works faced some criticism for having inconsistent themes (Professor Arc), making the characters more selfish and obnoxious than they are in the original (From Beyond) and using Deus ex Machina to conclude plots (Not this time, Fate). Most of these complaints, however, were limited to singular instances and rarely ruined the readers' enjoyment of the stories. Forged Destiny took all the above-mentioned flaws, multiplied them and combined them together, resulting in a story that is frequently accused of featuring Ass Pulls, enforcing messages that heavily contradict each other and having an entire cast of Unintentionally Unsympathetic characters.

    Literature 
  • A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons succumbed to the sprawling, complex nature of the A Song of Ice and Fire storyline that had previously been a selling point. The series has always been about gradual plot development and long term pay-offs, with a lot of detail put into exploring the backdrop of the action and the world in general — but this was all complemented by significant happenings. Though some POV characters had less to do than others, each book had a dramatic arc to it. Feast and Dance, meanwhile, are criticized for essentially very little happening because the focus is drawn so wide, with too much time spent describing characters and places that don't really matter—issues that culminate in the books ending without their logical climax out of a combination of the author and editor needing to publish SOMETHING already and the fact that Dance was already so long that it tested the limits of bookbinding technology despite being unfinished. Notably, when the HBO adaptation Game of Thrones reached this point in the series during season 5, many of these same criticisms — namely, that the show was moving too slowly and was having trouble corralling all of its many plotlines — were repeated almost verbatim by TV critics, even with the show's attempts at Adaptation Distillation.
  • Similarly, while The Wheel of Time always suffered from too many subplots, dozens of viewpoint characters and massive word count padding, in the earlier books it was easier to overlook this because Robert Jordan was able to write an interesting story into each thread of the epic. Then came Crossroads of Twilight, when the first section of the book was dedicated to showing what various characters had been doing during the Battle of Shadar Logoth, which was essentially 'nothing at all.' Crossroads of Twilight was seen as the weakest book in the series for this reason.
  • In the Bitterbynde trilogy's first book, The Ill-Made Mute, the characters frequently sit down and begin to tell a Tale-within-a-Tale, usually some retelling of a known myth about magical creatures. This fit in with the book's easygoing pace, the characters in question, and it helps to build the world of Erith as a world where such occurrences are commonplace. The prose is also lavish and very detailed, but again, it's used well and it creates a beautiful and distinct world in the reader's head. By the time the second book rolls around, the easygoing pace is maddeningly slow, the prose has gotten to a point where the reader needs a dictionary handy at all times, and a knowledge of how to diagram a sentence, and the constant interruption with myths and folktales becomes a huge distraction and hindrance. The third book is nearly unreadable, for these and other reasons.
  • Troy Steele at Blogger Beware argues that the Goosebumps series was ruined by its sixteenth book, One Day at Horrorland, long before the series' generally acknowledged decline. While Horrorland became one of the series' most popular books, it eschewed the semi-realistic approach of earlier Goosebumps entries, where ordinary kids encountered a low-key, supernatural menace (dummies, ghosts, haunted masks, etc.) within everyday environments, in favor of a fantasy environment heavily populated by monsters and magic, not to mention increasingly improbable and convoluted plots (with a complement of gross-out effects). Because Horrorland was such a hit, R. L. Stine revisited its basic formula again and again, to rapidly diminishing returns.
  • Most fans of Harry Turtledove's Timeline-191 Alternate History saga agree that the series fell into Seasonal Rot around the middle of the American Empire trilogy, once Turtledove fully committed to turning the series into a repackaged American retelling of 20th century European history. Some serious history buffs criticized Turtledove for failing to explore some potentially interesting implications of his historical setting, while others took issue with his occasional moments of Critical Research Failure as he repeatedly twisted his alternate vision of American history just to make it resemble actual European history more closely.

    But in hindsight, most of these trends can be traced back to the more highly-regarded first installment in the series, How Few Remain. How Few Remain was ostensibly about the United States and the Confederate States fighting a theoretical Second Civil War in the 1880s—but if you know your European history, you'll notice that the Second Civil War is essentially a retelling of the Real Life Franco-Prussian War, with the US and the Confederate States standing in for France and Germany, and the contested Mexican territories of Sonora and Chihuahua standing in for Alsace and Lorraine. Even the thing about wasted storylines can be traced back to How Few Remain: a major plot point in that novel involves Emperor Maximilian I controlling the Second Mexican Empire in 1881, but the series never actually acknowledges what became of Benito Juárez's ongoing civil war with Maximilian's forces, or of Napoleon III's plan to use Maximilian as a pawn to establish his own North American Empire as a rival to the United States.note  And of course, How Few Remain also involves Abraham Lincoln, disgraced by his loss of The American Civil War, becoming a Socialist organizer, despite there being little to no evidence that Lincoln ever held Socialist views — just to establish a plot arc involving Socialism becoming a major political force in America just as it did in Europe. But once Jake Featherston and the Freedom Party turned out to be American analogues of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party, anybody who passed 8th grade history could guess how the series would end.
  • In the latter two books of Jumper, Cent is a Base-Breaking Character, since a lot of readers found her to be obnoxiously perfect; able to trivially take out adversaries in seconds, when her parents never managed to solidly defeat them, inventing tricks that her parents never imagined, being an author mouthpiece for various issues in identity politics, and everyone else ultimately being a supporting character to her space program in the final book. However, just about all of this is true of Davy and the first book too; about the third thing Davy does with his power is get effortlessly rich, uses his teleportation ability to defeat terrorists where nobody can oppose him, and he consistently tests his ability and develops new uses for it. Furthermore, the first book is almost an Author Tract peddling Alcoholics Anonymous and its sister organization Al-Anon, and Davy is a teetotaler start to finish. The difference, in these readers' eyes, is that Davy is shown to be a flawed and somewhat morally-ambiguous individual even when he ultimately begins doing heroic deeds (he gets his money by robbing a bank, and he only begins his hijacking interventions for the decidedly selfish reason of finding his mother's killer), and the author carefully rations out the times when Davy is able to use his power to simply solve the plot. Cent starts as a Plucky Girl and consistently forces her way through the world through a combination of powers and sheer stubbornness, and rarely suffers any consequences for doing so; even when things do go pear shaped, it's not due to any flaw of hers, but the independent actions of others.
  • Twilight: A reason why Breaking Dawn is a Contested Sequel might be due to this trope and Wish Fulfillment. Breaking Dawn, among other things, significantly empowers Bella, inserts her into a Teen Pregnancy storyline that ultimately ends well, has clumsy Cleaning Up Romantic Loose Ends involving Bella's child, and has an anti-climatic Happily Ever After ending. Thing was, in the earlier books Bella worked better as an Escapist Character who could easily appeal to teens since she was presented as (at least ostensibly) a Cute Bookworm Naïve Everygirl who finds herself cavorting with filthy rich vampires and greaser werewolves, and even has romantic entanglements with them. However, once she became an Invincible Hero who has Idealized Sex with her new husband Edward, blatantly enjoys her newfound wealth and power, and has an equally glamorized daughter, any relatability she had was essentially gone, and the writing issues of the previous books were more apparent.
  • E. L. James' post-Fifty Shades of Grey novels, the Perspective Flip spinoffs Grey and Darker and the standalone novel The Mister, were criticised for presenting abusive stalkers as romantic heroes and horribly regressive gender roles in general, and sold poorly because of it. All of these things were present, and widely criticised, in not only the Fifty Shades books but also in the Twilight series that inspired them, all of which sold extremely well regardless. But when the narrative was presented from the perspective of the man doing the stalking and the abuse, these things became impossible to ignore and hurt critical and commercial reception.
  • In L. Frank Baum's Land of Oz series, filler chapters where the main characters visit a Wacky Wayside Tribe with a particular gimmick go back to the very first book, when Dorothy and her friends visit Dainty China Country on the way to see Glinda the Witch of the South. L. Frank Baum would go on to use this in many books to come, and in moderation it could serve as World Building, although some might say Baum relied on it excessively in a few books (The Road to Oz in particular being practically nothing but Wacky Wayside Tribes). In his final four books or so Baum managed to reign this in, with steadily fewer such diversions from the main plot. Future authors in the series such as Ruth Plumly Thompson would take this trope and run with it, however, sometimes to the point where it felt more like padding to make the story longer.
    • People who criticize Thompson's addition of several previously unmentioned tiny micro-kingdoms within Oz might forget that L. Frank Baum actually did this first; the Queen of the Field Mice in the very first book being the first appearance of an alternate monarch in Oz, with the first small kingdoms within Oz being introduced in the sixth installment (Utensia, Bunnybury, etc.), and larger prominent kingdoms being Jinxland in The Scarecrow of Oz and Oogaboo in Tik-Tok of Oz. They were usually less central to the overall plot in Baum's books than Thompson's, however. The main problem people had with Thompson’s usage was she often used it to focus on her own original characters at the expense of the established Oz characters created by Baum, who would be relegated to minor roles if they appeared in the plot at all; but again, Baum sometimes did this himself.
      • In fact, quite a few of the things Thompson's Oz books are often criticized for; Loads and Loads of Characters, filler Wacky Wayside Tribe chapters, excessive pun-based humor and the like, are all things present in Baum's Oz books to varying degrees, especially the earlier ones. To what degree she is either being judged too harshly just because she replaced Baum, or she actually does over-accentuate the weaknesses already inherent in the series, may vary from book to book, and the reader's opinion.
    • The chronic Protagonist Title Fallacy issues of the series go back to the very first book, since the Wizard, the namesake of the book, is a relatively minor character compared to Dorothy and her friends. To be fair it wasn’t Baum’s first choice for a title, and later on the publisher was the one to decide on book titles, often going for marketability over reflecting what the actual story was about.
  • The later installments in Gregory Maguire's The Wicked Years are sometimes criticized for being rather deliberately paced, with meandering plots that generally put more emphasis on characterization, world-building and philosophical themes than on advancing the Myth Arc. But this criticism could also arguably be made of the original book Wicked, which is still widely considered a modern classic.note  Much like its sequels, Wicked suffers from a rather slow-moving plot with relatively few major plot developments, and even some of its most important story beats either happen off-page or are left ambiguous. Readers just didn't mind as much at the time, since the protagonist Elphaba was interesting enough to make up for it, and the novel was a reimagining of an extremely well-known fantasy story. Not to mention that it was pretty clearly not intended to be the start of a saga (hence the 10-year Sequel Gap between Wicked and Son of a Witch), so most readers didn't mind that it was more of a leisurely character study than a gripping epic. But when it was followed by novels that had clear and deliberate sequel hooks, much fewer classic L. Frank Baum characters, and protagonists that generally weren't as memorable as Elphaba, the flaws in the story just became more obvious.

    Multiple Media 
  • The things that fans of BIONICLE usually cite as the worst parts about later stories had their triumphant coming-out party in "Time Trap", which was one of the best-regarded books in the franchise. "Time Trap" leaned heavily on Science Fiction over Fantasy, pushed the Dark Hunter faction and their rivalry with Makuta to the forefront, had the first allusion to the Order of Mata Nui, and was the first story to really play up Makuta as an Evil Genius with very clear goals and "plans within plans" to manipulate everyone, rather than the formless Ancient Evil of the online game or the mysterious Tragic Monster of the films. All these things were interesting at the time because they were new, and "Time Trap" in itself was an excellent story, with the implication of a larger world and Makuta's larger plans providing a lot of intrigue. But later on, pretty much every mystical element was removed or retconned out, multiple extra factions were introduced with increasingly complicated motivations, leading to a Kudzu Plot, and Makuta's planning was exaggerated to the point of him being an Invincible Villain who was always behind everything no matter how little sense it made.
    • Going even further back, the second movie, "Legends of Metru Nui", and the 2004 story arc as a whole introduced the faults that "Time Trap" brought to the surface. The story took on a sci-fi bent, contrasting with the Polynesian-influenced fantasy of the previous arcs. The Dark Hunters were introduced in the form of Nidhiki and Krekka, and the Brotherhood of Makuta was first alluded to in the film. Finally, Makuta's plans for the Mask of Time were the first sign of him having a long-term plan. These traits would be magnified greatly in the franchise's later installments.
    • The latter half of the toy-line was derided for using the exact same build scheme introduced in the 2006 waves, which used many specific parts that made sets easy and uninteresting to build — the only variance came from swapping part designs, which gave figure hit-or-miss proportions / visual cohesion. That said, the first year to do this was a direct continuation of last years story, so reusing the build scheme made sense, and it was bolstered with a number of unique sets (the Barraki, Nocturn, Karzahni, Gadunka, Maxilos & Spinax) that did interesting things with the pieces available to it. The next year wasn't so lucky, as not only did it reintroduce the Toa Nuva with underwhelming Adaptive Armor designs, but the impulse sets were simplified to the point they barely qualified as construction toys, and the larger price points were mostly occupied by huge vehicle sets instead of interesting titan figures. On top of that, an attempt to correct faulty socket-joint manufacturing from last year ended up Gone Horribly Wrong, dooming the already limited limb parts to breakage. These problems plagued the line for another year until LEGO pulled the plug on it.
    • And way before that, you could look at the Toa and Bohrok sets, who made up the first four waves of canister sets. The Toa sets were all very similar, the Toa Nuva sets were basically the same as those but with armor, and the Bohrok and Bohrok-Kal sets were all totally identical with the exception of colors and weapons. This wasn't seen as a killer because a) it was early, and the later Rakhshi and Toa Metru redesigned even harder, b) the Toa and Bohrok sets were, if nothing else, very different from each other (a humanoid warrior versus a squat bug-creature) and c) the various Rahi and Titan sets all had very different builds.
  • The DC Animated Universe is responsible for kickstarting the depiction of Superman as a distrusted and destructive hero in The Oughties and The New '10s (such as Injustice: Gods Among Us, a number of AU stories such as Superman: Red Son, and also in the DC Extended Universe). However, the franchise's caretakers sparingly depicted the evil/destructive Superman. In the 14 year run of the franchise, Superman has been depicted as evil only four times –- "Brave New Metropolis" and "Legacy" (Superman TAS), "A Better World" (Justice League), and "The Call" (Batman Beyond). The Cadmus arc of Justice League Unlimited doesn't actually feature a rogue Superman (although he does Took a Level in Jerkass and suffered for it, such as the episode "Clash") but is motivated by paranoia resulting from the events of "Legacy" and "A Better World". Furthermore, while Superman does cause collateral damage, he still prioritizes saving lives and deliberately holds back, only going all in as a last resort when fighting Omnicidal Maniacs like Mongul or Darkseid.

    Later writers have continued to draw from the Beware the Superman well but without balancing him with the more cheerful, idealistic hero who saves people. Most notably, the DC Extended Universe shows Superman failing to limit collateral damage and becoming distrusted by humanity, so much so that the idea of Superman as an In-Universe icon of hope may as well be an Informed Attribute. The highly popular Injustice games and tie-in comic series feature Superman as a main villain that has Jumped Off The Slippery Slope from a single justifiable Moment of Weakness into outright murderous tyranny. Additional DC stories wherein the idea of "Supes gone Bad" has at least been toyed with somewhat (such as Earth 2 and Superman apparently coming Back from the Dead to become a psychotic Dragon for Darkseid only to turn out that it's the local version of Bizarro instead) have been on the rise and tales of psychotically evil Superman Pastiche characters have also hit the mainstream (Irredeemable, Brightburn). The overall result of this being that many fans worry that these high-profile stories have damaged Superman's brand by making the evil, destructive Superman an equally familiar presence alongside the regular Ideal Hero one.
  • Many complaints with adaptations of Spider-Man in The New '10s could be traced back to Brian Michael Bendis's run on Ultimate Spider-Man. For the series, Bendis went with Adaptation Origin Connection approach that would interconnect much of Spider-Man's mythos. Notably, Norman Osborn got his powers from the same Applied Phlebotinum that indirectly empowered Peter Parker, Uncle Ben's murderer was working for The Kingpin, and Peter became more dependent on outside figures for supportnote . While some complained how Bendis's approach made Spider-Man's world too insular and less interesting, it was tolerable since Bendis was careful to show Peter starting off as an independent superhero and holding off the major reveals until after he became an established character in his own right. Newer adaptations however focused too much on trying to connect everything at the cost of Spider-Man's independent origins. In The Amazing Spider-Man Series, Richard Parker became one of Oscorp's head scientist and by proxy became involved with every part of Peter's life, from his powers to his rogues gallery, since he created the spider that gave him his powers and was involved with the Osborns' entire motivation of wanting to cure their illness. In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Peter received his iconic suit from Tony Stark and would later be mentored by both Stark and Furynote , with both of his so far released movies focusing heavily on his relationship with Tony. Likewise, the Ultimate Spider-Man animated show had Peter joining a team of teen superheroes with him arranged by Nick Fury to be their leader note . By focusing heavily on the streamlined and connected mythos of the Ultimate comic, the adaptations end up making Spider-Man less of a grounded Self-Made Man and more of a Pinball Protagonist.
  • Disney's second Mary Poppins movie, Mary Poppins Returns, has received criticism for retreading plot points from the first film, such as Mary Poppins and the children entering a drawing, and the kids meeting one of her quirky relatives. This repetitiveness also applies to the original Mary Poppins books, which tended to put new spins on old stories. Unlike the movies, which have a 54-year Sequel Gap between them, all eight books (separated by gaps ranging from 1-13 years) had the same writer — P.L. Travers — and a medium that didn't require any actor changes in between installments.
  • Transformers:
    • The biggest complaint about the majority of modern Beast Wars material is the attempts to connect it to Transformers: Generation 1, with the preferred option of treating the G1 era with a mythic, mysterious reverence being ignored. Despite this, attempts to make more direct connections went all the way back to the original cartoon's most well-liked episodes, including "The Agenda" — generally considered one of the best episodes of its entire run, where Ravage showed up alive and well and the entire plot is about definitively confirming that the conflict of Beast Wars is an extension of the original cartoon's conflict. And even then, the idea of the original events being mythologized was a bit odd to begin with, as the given time was only 300 years later for a race known to live for millions. However, the surprise factor, the added significance to the show's events, a pivotal scene of the characters walking amazed among the giant, ancient, sleeping bodies of their ancestors, and Ravage as a secret agent with a Russian accent were cool enough to forgive the oddities. However, Ravage also poked a hole in the whole idea that the G1 cast was gone and couldn't exist in the Beast Era. This opened the floodgates for every other comic writer to reveal that, among other characters, Grimlock, Razorclaw, Rodimus, Cyclonus, Skywarp, Divebomb, Arcee, Laserbeak, Buzzsaw, Ironhide, Silverbolt, and Prowl (twice) all made it over, and pretty much every other Beast Era character to share a name with a G1 character somehow was that character even if it seemed like otherwise. From that point onward, the last generation proceeded to take over any given Beast Era story, pulling focus away from the well-liked Beast Wars cast and turning the original scene from gazing at their millennia-old ancestors to looking at people who were still alive and well and who most of the cast already knew. From that point on, it was only a very small step to doing a story where the Beast Wars cast fought in the mythical Great War... which was exactly what eventually happened.
    • Many of the criticisms that fans raise about CGI Transformers cartoons (small casts, few environments) were present in Beast Wars. Creating new character models was expensive, so the cast was kept small, and as a result the writers focused more on character development and plotting to great acclaim. Over the years, many shows emulated this model to varying degrees of success. The difference now is that the formula is familiar and the technology is no longer groundbreaking or revolutionary as it was in the '90s. It became especially noticeable during Transformers: Robots in Disguise which relied on Monster of the Week plots for much of its run and recycled character models to populate its cast. Also, Beast Wars did a good job of justifying it with the simple answer that the cast was comprised of two small spaceship crews on a prehistoric Earth, meaning the lack of other characters or environments was well-justified... not so much in shows that take place on modern Earth and involve groups of characters that really should number more than a Five-Man Band or two. Compare the lush cityscape and massive Continuity Porn crowd shots of the 2D Transformers Animated with the empty deserts and recycled models of Transformers: Prime (and remember that Prime is considered to have the best animation by far of the various CGI shows).
    • Fans of Transformers: More than Meets the Eye tend to see the comic's later arcs, especially Lost Light onwards, as a step down from the first few years, but a lot of the problems to crop up were there from the beginning. Snarky and self-referential dialogue, absurd plots, messy treatment of relationships, slow-burning arcs, and a habit of focusing too strongly on a core cast that displaced a lot of potentially interesting characters were all present—but James Roberts had yet to obtain Protection from Editors, and also had enough time to make sure his plots paid off. In later arcs, the dialogue became a World of Snark, the "Megatron's redemption" arc became a Plot Tumor, the plots moved from "quirky soft-sci-fi" to "flatly ridiculous", and most of the non-core cast was either written out or killed off. It didn't help that the oncoming end of the IDW continuity meant that Roberts had far less time than he seemed to be expecting to resolve dozens of hanging plot threads, resulting in the final arc having to take a lawnmower to the Kudzu Plot.
    • IDW had a habit of completely rewriting characters to In Name Only levels arguably as early as Thunderwing in Stormbringer, their second miniseries (from a Noble Demon leader to an insane Generic Doomsday Villain), and continuing with things like Galvatron as a seperate character from Megatron, Fortress Maximus as violent and aggressive, and Jhiaxus and Scorponok as Mad Scientists. Japanese characters were particularly susceptible, with Dai Atlas and Overlord being majorly reworked from their prior appearances. This also had precedent in other fiction, with Red Alert literally being a renamed Ratchet and two Sentinel Primes being antagonistic. But most of the time, these rewrites were welcomed as efforts at Cast Speciation (most of the above characters were faction leaders who couldn't easily coexist with Optimus and Megatron), and oftentimes the rewritten personalities proved popular in their own right. Overlord in particular went from a generic Big Bad to a gleefully violent and disturbingly powerful Blood Knight, earning him a following that surpassed his Japanese counterpart. On the other hand, the rewrite of Star Saber in the pages of More than Meets the Eye as a psychotic Knight Templar religious extremist with basically no redeeming qualities, where his prior incarnation had been a Super Robot Ideal Hero, proved far less popular. Unlike many other Japanese characters, Star Saber had a decent-sized cult following that wasn't happy to see him rendered unrecognizable, and unlike prior rewritten characters, he didn't even maintain the allegiance of his original version; even the Animated and DotM Sentinels were still technically on the same side as the original. It didn't help that his personality wasn't interesting enough to win over new fans of him, leaving fans of MTMTE bored and fans of Victory disgusted.
    • Later figures in the Masterpiece line became rather controversial for their "cartoon-accuracy at all costs" mantra, even to the point of having to design extremely complex transformations to get the characters just right or short-selling things from the toys or continuities besides the cartoon. But really, the novelty of having a character who actually looked like they did in the cartoon was a major selling point in the line's early days (most characters hadn't had a toy of their original designs since the 1980s), and even the very first Masterpiece figure MP-1 Convoy (Optimus Prime) cheated and complicated its transformation in the name of that accuracy (for instance, instead of using the truck's actual grille, it folds out a fake one). However, it was still clearly designed as a toy foremost, and the "cheating" mostly served to make him look more streamlined. Compare this to MP-44, the third Optimus mold, where literally every truck part on the robot mode is fake in the name of matching the cartoon's proportions. It also doesn't help that at this point, most fans are spoiled for choice for figures that actually generally look like their favorite characters, forcing Masterpiece to double down on extreme cartoon-accuracy with mixed results.

    Music 
  • "Believe" from Cher and the abuse of Auto-Tune. Before then, Auto-Tune was primarily used for its intended goal of (minor) pitch correction. However, Cher liked the sound it gave to her voice and decided to keep it. It worked for "Believe" since, as a techno-pop song, it was supposed to sound weird and otherworldly, and that song was a massive hit. However, ever since, Auto-Tune has slowly started to take over pop music, with almost every song having a weird robotic element to the vocals, even songs that aren't supposed to sound weird and otherworldly.
  • Lupe Fiasco was lauded for his political and social commentary in a genre that, by the '00s, was largely more pop-oriented, cleverly exploring topics like urban poverty and greed on his albums Food & Liquor and The Cool. Both of these albums are very highly regarded in 2000s hip-hop. However, his subsequent albums Lasers and Food & Liquor II were accused of trying to do the same, but with less subtlety. While Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped, general fan consensus is not as positive on his subsequent albums.
  • Eminem received a lot of praise and controversy for his use of boundary-pushing gross-out humor on his three albums after Infinite: The Slim Shady LP, The Marshall Mathers LP, and The Eminem Show. Encore and Relapse, however, were accused of turning the humor and accents Up to Eleven, without as many of the substantial songs that balanced it out on the first three albums, and are generally viewed as the weakest in his discography. Eminem himself has expressed some Creator Backlash towards these albums, and has claimed his drug addiction as a reason as to why Encore and Relapse feel so all over the place.
  • Post-Grunge is The Scrappy of music genres for fans of Alternative Rock, who by and large view it as a betrayal of everything that grunge stood for, taking a genre that was born as a backlash against corporate rock and turning it into a symbol of such. Yet the warning signs of where grunge was headed were there almost from the moment it got big.
    • Nirvana's Nevermind, the landmark album that catapulted grunge into the spotlight, came to be known as much for its epic riffs and (by grunge standards) fairly polished and commercial sound as it was for its Darker and Edgier lyrics and subject matter. Kurt Cobain himself developed very conflicted feelings towards Nevermind, particularly the lead single (and the band's Signature Song) "Smells Like Teen Spirit", largely for this reason, and Nirvana's follow-up album In Utero (which, notably, a large contingent of fans sees as Nirvana's true masterpiece) quite deliberately had a more abrasive, less mainstream sound in an attempt to turn off what Cobain saw as the band's Misaimed Fandom. Even as early as 1997, before Post-Grunge had fully emerged as the dominant brand of American rock, music critic Chuck Eddy had noted that Nirvana pioneered its most overdone tropes.
    "Nirvana popularized the hokey 'here comes the part of the song where we have a tantrum' school of '90s rock that's played a major role in hiding Courtney's powerful voice ever since, and they were pioneers of the 'you can tell this song is serious because we're playing it really slow' school as well."
    • Nirvana's contemporaries Pearl Jam and Soundgarden also played a heavy role in popularizing the most derided tropes of post-grunge, such as recycled Classic Rock riffs, Wangsty lyrics, and especially yarling (post-grunge vocalists from Scott Stapp to Chad Kroeger were heavily influenced by Eddie Vedder's style of singing). Even at the time, Pearl Jam's debut album Ten attracted some Hype Backlash from Seattle grunge purists, with Cobain calling them sellouts and Vedder himself expressing disappointment over the production, though their continued experimentation on Vs. and Vitalogy, as well as their fight with Ticketmaster, eventually won Cobain and many other critics over.
  • Emo Music is frequently criticised for angry, sexist lyricism that frequently spills over into glorifying downright disturbing views towards women. This arguably dates back to what is arguably the Trope Codifier for the genre, Weezer’s critically-acclaimed Pinkerton, which has lyrics that frequently engage in stalking, oriental fetishism, or downright manipulative, possessive behaviour. The main distinction is that while Pinkerton largely comes across as pathetic and disturbing, it’s on purpose, with enough moments of self-awareness and humor to make it clear that they knew the sentiments contained within the album weren’t remotely healthy - something that many of the bands that followed in their footsteps seemed to lack.
  • When Queen released the album The Game in 1980, with its disco and Synth-Pop influences, it managed to be a smash hit in the US (where it made about half its sales), even though disco was undergoing heavy backlash there at the time. It's still considered one of their better albums, yet on their 1982 follow-up Hot Space, they embraced disco whole-hog. Hot Space was lambasted for its deviations from the band's traditional rock style, and while Queen's international popularity would quickly bounce back, Americans wouldn't take them seriously again until after the death of Freddie Mercury in 1991.
  • Whereas the first two Doors albums, The Doors and Strange Days, are good enough that even the filler material is compelling, from Waiting For the Sun onwards the band increasingly came to be consumed by its esoteric mystique — the very same quality that had helped to fuel its success in the first place. The band's impenetrable Word Salad lyrics weren't too distracting when the music itself was so enjoyable, but the combination of inscrutable lyrics and mediocre tunes was just too much of a hurdle for the later albums to surmount...until L.A. Woman, that is.
  • Disco began as just that: music played in discos. In a setting where people are dancing, songs with a constant uptempo beat, musical repetition and extended length are welcome, and in the right hands those things could be used as the basis for well-crafted music. But once disco hit the mainstream and everyone started playing Follow the Leader, those characteristics started to annoy people and the backlash was inevitable.
  • Linkin Park's Minutes to Midnight was widely criticized for the lack of rapping and Mike Shinoda's presence on vocals in general, with Chester Bennington taking up all the spotlight. However, two of the most popular songs from Meteora — "Numb" and "Breaking the Habit" — did not feature any rapping, and the latter didn't feature Shinoda on vocals at all. This was tolerated back then, because the rest of the album had Shinoda featured prominently, but when he's Demoted To Backing Vocalist, and Chester was the de facto frontman, that's when people objected. This has since been acknowledged, as Shinoda has been rapping (and also, singing) much more prominently in their later albums.
  • The early-mid-'10s saw the rise of "bro-country", a strain of Country Music that was often derided for overblown eletric guitars, computerized hip-hop beats and fratbro-esque lyrics that painted an over-idealized portrait of life in the rural South as a land of booze, sex, and partying. While it was popularized by Florida Georgia Line's "Cruise" (for which the term was coined) and the later material of Luke Bryan and Jason Aldean, Todd in the Shadows pins the blame a decade further back, pointing out that Big & Rich were doing country with a guitar-focused sound, party-focused lyrics, and a smittering of rap influences as early as 2004. While their brand of it was generally well-received for being ballsy and interesting, later rock-and-rap-influenced country seemed to be using its influences entirely to strain at gaining street cred.
  • Metallica's 1991 Self-Titled Album (known to fans as "The Black Album") was criticized by longtime fans for moving away from their trademark Thrash Metal style, but it was not only by far the most successful album of their career, it was one of the best-selling albums of all time, earning them legions of new fans. However, their subsequent albums Load in 1996, Reload in 1997, and St. Anger in 2003 saw them increasingly move towards mainstream hard rock, producing what came to be viewed as a Dork Age for the band in the '90s and '00s.
  • David Bowie's Let's Dance album was positively received at first. The idea of such a weird artist as Bowie making an album of masterful commercial pop was just crazy enough to be interesting, and fans eagerly awaited which new sound he'd go for next. The disappointment when Bowie went on to release two increasingly poor '80s commercial pop albums was enough to turn fan opinion against Let's Dance as the point where Bowie's Dork Age starts, even though the actual content of the album is still thought of as pretty much fine on its own.
  • Michael Jackson:
    • His later albums were often criticised for his tendency towards the syrupy and the angry. These elements were always in place, but were kept balanced out with accessible music, largely due to others around him (such as his brothers in The Jacksons and producer Quincy Jones). By the time of Dangerous, Jackson had total control over his music and the elements described became much more prevalent. Whilst at the time it and its follow-ups HI Story Past Present And Future Book I and Invincible were very popular, they are often seen nowadays in lesser terms than Off the Wall, Thriller and Bad.
    • As beloved as the video for "Thriller" is, almost everything that would come to be mocked in his later "short films" starting with "Bad" begins with it: extended Talky Bookends that could be excised without affecting the Excuse Plot, celebrity cameos (Vincent Price's "rap" here), state-of-the-art special effects lingered upon for minutes on end, and a big-name director behind the camera. The difference is that beyond the novelty of all this in 1983, these elements work together as a piece — it's a horror movie pastiche befitting a song about horror movies. Later "short films" would have increasingly ridiculous and random Excuse Plots and Talky Bookends, name directors hired solely to give Jackson "street" credibility, celebrity cameos that left them extremely dated within five years or so, and (in the more fantastical examples) then-state-of-the-art effects shoehorned in every nook and cranny because Jackson was the greatest entertainer in the world and nothing less would do for him.
  • The conventional wisdom that Woodstock represented the zenith of the dream of The '60s, while the Altamont concert four months later represented the collapse of that dream, ignores that many of the same issues that plagued Altamont also plagued Woodstock. A larger-than-expected crowd that became a logistical nightmare, a major traffic jam, people suffering bad LSD trips, and even deaths all occurred at Woodstocknote . Obviously, the big difference was that Woodstock's organizers didn't hire the notorious Oakland chapter of the Hells Angels as a security force, but in general, they lucked out in making some good choices in key areas (like medical facilities) that prevented a big disaster.
  • The same applies to Woodstock '99, the notorious thirty-years-later follow-up that degenerated into a riot. Podcast 99, a podcast covering the history of Woodstock '99, notes that everything that went wrong in 1999 had precedent in 1969, in particular the Troubled Production nature of the event (including identical problems) and the fact that the organizers were out mainly to make money. Obviously, the original Woodstock wasn't as blatantly commercial as '99 was, but the organizers were still seeking to raise money to open a recording studio.
  • Rascal Flatts moved toward a new sound in 2005. Originally purveyors of fairly light and breezy country-pop, they went for a much heavier sound starting with 2005's "What Hurts the Most". Produced by Dann Huff, it stood out thanks to its Power Ballad production style and emotional lyrics, and remains one of their most famous and beloved songs. But over the next five years (2005-2010), Huff continued to subject them to the Loudness War, saturating all their songs in screaming guitar solos and blaring string sections, which forced lead singer Gary LeVox's voice into an extremely high-pitched, melismatic, nasal delivery that quickly grated on critics and fans alike (the nadir widely considered to be "Bob That Head", one of their few uptempos in this era), combined with attempts at "emotional" lyrics that attempted to duplicate "What Hurts the Most" but often felt hollow and full of narm. Fortunately for fans, they got the message, as after their original label Lyric Street closed, they moved to Big Machine, and ultimately ditched Huff in favor of producing by themselves.
  • Eddie Deezen has referred to the 1960 film G.I. Blues, Elvis Presley's first project upon completing his service in the Army, as the point where Elvis' career died, mainly by establishing the musical comedy formula that all of his films after that would take. John Lennon shared much the same opinion, remarking upon Elvis' passing in 1977 that Elvis "died when he went in the Army" and that his entire career that followed was "a living death". In G.I. Blues, the once-controversial, rough-hewn, hip-shaking rock star became a handsome, clean-cut romantic lead serenading young women with ballads that would've been more at home with Frank Sinatra or Dean Martin, and when the film became one of the biggest hits of 1960, that Bowdlerised version of Elvis became his type going forward. The difference between G.I. Blues and Elvis' later musicals was that he made this one with good intentions as a tribute to his fellow soldiers, and its story (about a tank crewman serving in West Germany who moonlights as a singer) was heavily based on his own experiences in the Army. The rest of his film career, by contrast, felt increasingly mercenary, especially after his stabs at dramatic acting after G.I. Blues failed at the box office while Blue Hawaii became the biggest hit of his film career, hence why Elvis' movies came to be remembered as his Dork Age.
  • As noted in this video by Sarah Z, ARK Music Factory originally made pretensions towards being a legitimate record company as opposed to a vanity label, recording pop songs that, while not great, were more or less acceptable... until "Friday" by Rebecca Black, the worst song they ever recorded, became a smash hit in 2011 on the strength of Bile Fascination. From that point forward, ARK tried to make lightning strike twice with songs that were designed to be So Bad, It's Good by copying the "Friday" formula, to diminishing returns that culminated in the label folding in 2013. Moreover, Sarah Z also argues that the impact of "Friday" reached beyond just music, marking a negative turning point for internet culture as a whole. The massive controversy that swirled around the song demonstrated that anger and outrage could be very effective drivers of conversation and engagement, creating a template for later companies, celebrities, and influencers that engaged in publicity stunts designed to court controversy in order to build brand awareness.
  • Macklemore's "Same Love" was an Anvilicious song about a social issue (homophobia and same-sex marriage) that risked coming off as insincere thanks to Macklemore's own privileges, but the song was largely a success, in part because Macklemore took a step back after the first verse to ensure that he wasn't the focus of the song, and also by giving a prominent feature to an LGBT musician (Mary Lambert) to provide some much-needed emotional weight. "Same Love" would unfortunately pigeonhole Macklemore as "that white rapper who talks about other people's issues", and later songs in the same vein would often lack the same level of precision that made "Same Love" work, in addition to making the songs be much more about his own experiences. 2016's "White Privilege II" (about his place within hip-hop in an era of Black Lives Matter) is generally held as the turning point, with its almost nine-minute running time making himself look overly indulgent.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • WWE has the breakup of The Rockers. The immense success Shawn Michaels found after the breakup was good for the business no question, even taking the diva persona Shawn acquired as a result of it into account, but Marty Jannetty's fade into obscurity was unfortunate. The plan was for both members of the team to become big singles stars but it came to be that, in trying to duplicate the success of Shawn Michaels, WWE broke up a lot of popular tag teams and instead of getting one good singles star out of it usually ended up with two wrestlers fading into obscurity and eventually this behavior all but destroyed the tag team division. Right before WWE's tag team division could be considered dead there was an unexpected revival in the 90s...only for the sin of the Rockers to be committed once again in what would become a recurrence.
  • In the early 90s, All Japan Women's Pro-Wrestling decided to market itself towards adult men rather than its traditional audience of schoolgirls. The wrestling of this era was highly regarded and they sold a lot of tickets, but fewer young girls among the audience meant fewer girls who were interested in becoming wrestlers, leading to a dearth of talent as the current crop aged and retired. Though women's wrestling in Japan never hit the nadir that it did in the US, it never again reached the heights it did in the 70s, 80s and 90s, and AJW itself closed its doors in 2005.
  • The success of ECW lead to an influx of garbage wrestlers who could not wrestle well but could bump, swing stuff around or were willing to jump off high places, and also popularized valets mainly there to do "cat fights". These did not originate in ECW, but this is where they caught on. Abdullah the Butcher, The Sheik, Dick the Bruiser, those guys could still work traditional matches well... Sandman not so much. Also, the ECW women typically had more to their roles during their early to mid years but as ECW wound down...rolling around and broncho busters were about all women did. Prior garbage feds like FMW tended to produce some of the most fearsome women divisions on the planet. Following in ECW's wake, XPW, IWA Mid-South and CZW would magnify these flaws to new heights (though in fairness, the latter two would learn from their mistakes and outlast ECW).
  • "Stone Cold" Steve Austin's refusal to tap out to Bret Hart in their iconic Submission Match created a trend for future wrestlers. It was the career defining match that set the tone for Austin's gimmick for years. His refusal to tap out would actually become a reoccuring topic when he turned Heel. Although there were wrestlers (namely Hulk Hogan) who also never tapped out, Austin was the first person they ever brought attention to. In later years, wrestlers like John Cena have been criticized for never tapping out and tapping out in general being treated like a coward's action, making it hard to have technical, submission-based wrestling offense without making the loser look weak.
  • Similarly, Austin's return after his 1997 neck injury meant that, for the next two years, the main event scene in WWE was built around a man who couldn't do much in the ring; making matters even worse, the few top opponents he had to start with (Undertaker, Kane, Mick Foley) really couldn't carry him the way Bret Hart or Shawn Michaels could. To compensate, marquee matches coalesced into a "Main Event" style; a lot of brawling with very little traditional wrestling, a few big, but safe bumps (particularly into the announcer's tables), an inevitable ref bump and a hot sequence at the end often involving wrestlers kicking out of each other's finishers. When new wrestlers came in from other companies with fresher, more physical styles, they were often kept out of main events for "not knowing how to work," and the "main event" style would often be castigated by critics and fans alike.
  • WWE giving the women's title to Sable, a model who had not gone through developmental nor wrestled on the independent, territorial or foreign circuits. Sable went beyond needing to be carried; she flat out refused to take bumps. Still, the popularity she had gained as a valet revived interest in the division and led to talented wrestlers putting on good matches - not to mention that Sable was quite muscular for a model, so, Kayfabe aside, the idea of her powerbombing someone was at least plausible. The sin was actually having Sable win the title from Jacqueline, which necessitated she be exposed in extended matches and set up Trish Stratus, another inexperienced model, getting the title when it was vacated. While Trish, to her credit, became a respectable talent despite her beginnings, WWE continued to push models with little to no wrestling experience, to the point it had to take the title off television altogether when the roster overflowed with inadequately trained people who were not learning as quickly as Trish, did not appeal to audiences as Sable had and didn't have enough carriers to offset the low level of performance.
  • The First WWE Diva Search added nothing to the program in the long run but did not do any damage either, as everyone soon forgot about it. What everyone remembers is the 2004 quarter-million-dollar Diva Search, which lead to a football player from the Lingerie Bowl with no wrestling experience coming straight to television with with a bigger paycheck than half the roster. That in itself would not have been so bad if not for the aforementioned sin of Sable, which lead to three wrestlers being released in favor of runner ups from the 2004 Diva Search, who stayed on longer than the fan-voted winner. This decision was the direct cause of the women's title being removed from television, and there were three more Diva Searches before the fans made it clear enough was enough. At least the last two actually kept the winners over the runners-up.
  • TNA's is the signing of Kurt Angle. Make no mistake, Kurt is undoubtedly the greatest signing the company has ever made — he legitimized them as a major wrestling promotion. The real issue was his booking. For his first couple of years, Angle remained the focal point of TNA and was constantly booked over the younger, homegrown talent. His Spotlight-Stealing Squad status was so bad that TNA was nicknamed Total Nonstop Angle at one point. While all this would be bad enough, the real danger of Angle's booking was the precedent it set. After Angle, the company started signing more and more older stars primarily from the Monday Night Wars and putting them over the younger talent. This trend peaked during the start of the Hogan/Bischoff era, where basically anyone who wasn't a major player in the Monday Night Wars was pushed down the card and/or released to make room for Hogan and Bischoff's friends. As a result, TNA went from a promotion that had some vague similarities to WCW to WCW-lite. In short, Angle was the beginning of the end for TNA, and the damage in the fallout of his signing is something that the company still hasn't recovered from, both in regards to their reputation and finances, to this day.
  • The Rock's return to the WWE between Wrestlemania 28 and Wrestlemania 29 might appear to be shaping up into one. When it happened, almost everybody was happy: the fans were happy to see The Rock return, WWE got some mainstream press (which they're always desperate for), and in general, despite the flaws in the execution, all was good. However, when WWE saw the surge they got from a returning legend, they've tried desperately to make that same lightning strike twice, bringing multiple former Superstars back, including Chris Jericho, Rob Van Dam, Brock Lesnar, the New Age Outlaws, Batista and Sting. Some have worked, some haven't, but as a whole, the sheer number of them are seen as damaging. It creates difficulty in working angles and building momentum due to their spotty appearances, which can damage the push of younger wrestlers who are working with them. The sheer number of them who are clogging up the roster, and the short-term rise in popularity, could potentially hurt WWE long-term by not giving their rising stars the time to become the main-event performers they need to be when the current generation starts to step down. While most of the returning Superstars themselves are very popular, the term "part-timers" has become a dirty word among WWE fans.
  • Speaking of Brock Lesnar, this also applies to his "Suplex City" gimmick, wherein he endlessly spams German suplexes in his matches, only stopping for an occasional spot of him driving his opponent into the corner, standard punches/kicks, or his Finishing Move. When it started, it was first used against John Cena, then later Roman Reigns — where it worked well because of the Catharsis Factor. Fans were tired of Super-Cena booking, and Roman was obviously being groomed to be Cena 2.0 when the character was an ill fit for him, so the fans enjoyed watching those two get punished. However, come 2016 and used against wrestlers who didn't have the power of booking protecting them, its flaws were exposed. At first there was his street fight at Wrestlemania against Dean Ambrose, who most saw as a rising star and possibly the man to get the vaunted win over Brock. However, fans instead got a glorified squash match where Brock no-sold every weapon Ambrose used on him, stopped him from using others (including a chainsaw and Barbie, making those two legends gifting them to him pointless) in a clear bid to avoid getting injured before his upcoming UFC match that summer. But the straw that broke the camel's back was his match with Randy Orton, one of the few men who could believably have a competitive match with Brock, at Summerslam. Instead, Brock threw him around like a rag doll, and while Orton got some offense in, he ended up losing by technical knockout as Brock busted his forehead open with elbow shots. Orton lost so much blood and had such a wound that he needed ten staples to close it, and suffered a concussion. As a result, fans turned on Brock en masse to the point where Goldberg squashing Brock at Survivor Series provided Catharsis Factor in the other direction for many.
  • WWE's failed attempts to universally get over the likes of John Cena and now, Roman Reigns can likely be traced to one person- Hulk Hogan. When Hogan first debuted in WWE, he was like no wrestler fans had ever seen, and his All-American Face character and Large Ham personality made him one of the most popular people in wrestling. However, as the business evolved and Kayfabe become less enforced, plus society having grown more cynical over the years, an All-Loving Hero no longer had the same impact as before, causing fans to reject such a character. The cracks were already there with Lex Luger & Diesel in the mid-90's as that character archetype was already starting to wane. However, because Hogan is still beloved by WWE fans even today note  the company seems to always make their top face a clone of Hogan, then wonder why the fans don't cheer him.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • The common complaint about the 3rd Edition and its permutations was being too focused on spellcasting to the point of casters being broken. Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards, in truth, had always been around in D&D. There's a reason nearly every high-level character in most settings was a caster; the original 1st Edition Player's Handbook has dozens of spells that hit Story-Breaker Power level. 3e simply removed many of the things that had made casters something of a gamble to play, while also making warrior-type classes much less impressive. In particular, the lament of warriors being tactically boring was even worse in 1st Edition, where warriors had almost no options outside of simple attacks. It was acceptable then, because the warrior still had an important job and role, but when the casters could take care of themselves, the warrior-type characters resigned themselves to a long career of saying "I move and attack" over and over. This was also due to a fundamental change in focus; the main benefit of Fighting Men in the early editions was that they gathered political power and armies of followers while being the only ones that could use things like magic swords. When magic items became democratized and the focus shifted much more to small-scale adventure parties this all became meaningless. Basically wizards still got to be Merlin, but fighters got demoted from King Arthur to "Third Knight From the Left".
    • 3rd Edition often ran into problems regarding followers, from the popularly-house-banned Leadership feat to the bitter attempts to balance out companions gained as class features in the next two. Such problems were already present in earlier versions of the game, though. Many found the follower and stronghold rules convoluted and boring, and just throwing tons of your weak allies at problems to soften them up was seen as a dull strategy to actually play out at the table even if it worked. The difference was that in 3rd, it wasn't too hard to build a follower, cohort, or animal companion who was actually strong enough to keep up with the rest of the party, meaning a competent player could effectively control two or more characters at once.
    • A common gripe about 4th Edition was it being too encouraging to a "magic items grow on trees" mindset, accusing it of being a Monty Haul edition. But the roots of this dated back to 3rd, which had a wealth-by-level chart in the Dungeon Master's Guide that encouraged DMs to give their players a specific amount of gold to buy magic items with. Adventurers wearing impressive magical gear even at low levels and the "magic mart" mindset were worked into the game - it was simply an effort to make sure that the DM didn't wind up overequipping or underequipping the party. Where 4th Edition differed was actively building the wealth-by-level chart into the game's design, virtually requiring players to have specific level-appropriate magical gear just to keep up with their enemies - a DM who didn't use wealth-by-level in 3e was merely making the game harder for his players, a DM who didn't use wealth-by-level in 4e was pretty much signing the party's death warrant. As if to underline this, the magic item section was moved from the Dungeon Master's Guide to the Player's Handbook. The result was that magic items no longer carried the special nature of their earlier counterparts, becoming something expected rather than desired, and low-magic games or settings became an exercise in suicide. WotC seemingly realized the problem and provided rules for replacing the constant magical item upgrades with a simple level-based inherent ability upgrade system in Player's Handbook 2, but the damage was done. It's almost certainly not a coincidence that the next edition, 5th, scaled back this mindset hard, removing the prices on almost all magic items bar basic healing items and pretty much explicitly claiming that "magic marts" don't exist... although, ironically, the game is still designed around players acquiring a relatively wide access to magic fairly early on, and the various official adventures all tend to hand out magical items like candy.
    • In turn, the availability of magic items in all editions from 3e onwards was something some gamers had already expected, growing up as they did on the Gold Box adaptations of D&D. Given the low graphic quality, single player mode, and limited options for storylines, the license use was essentially down to using trademarked cover art and names for monsters and especially magic items and spells. In first and second editions of the game, it was virtually impossible (and not especially worth the effort) for a magic-user to copy all existing spells into his spellbook; in the Gold Box games, it was not only worth the effort, it made the magic-user the single most important member of the party. When the players whose first taste of D&D was these games tried to join actual tabletop, they found the comparative scarcity of magic punishing, and DMs (and writers) tried to accommodate.
    • The games probably had a larger impact with the abundance of actual magic items. Even low-level games like Pool of Radiance or Champions of Krynn would have all of the characters using weapons and armor of +1 or better by the end of the game, along with Gauntlets of Ogre Strength or Girdles of Giant Strength. Comparatively, the magic item generation for the tabletop game seemed awfully stingy, even with the gamebooks' "high magic" option for treasure distribution. It feels wrong to both PCs and DMs to have a 4th level character who only has a Masterwork weapon and a couple potions to their name compared to the much richer characters of the same level in any of the computer games.
    • Virtually from release of the open gaming license, prestige classes were both lauded and loathed, allowing esoteric combinations to turn normal characters into Tank Mages, rendering significant portions of the party useless. This was, however, already true in the core books themselves, with the Dragon Disciple nominally being an advanced sorcerer but proving vastly more powerful as a monk. Moreover, in second edition, dual-classing was often considered a waste of time, but could eventually produce a mage/fighter with virtually none of the weaknesses of the individual class. Before even that, first edition had an obscure section of the Dungeon Master's Guide that allowed players to combine several classes to take an advanced class, the only one of its kind in those days, to be a warrior-legend based on old Celtic and Nordic tales: the Bard. Which is totally hilarious if you're aware that bards are often perceived as one of the most useless classes in D&D, albeit depending on edition. In addition, the AD&D version of multiclassing was even more powerful, especially at a table that houseruled away the racial restriction on levels.
    • Fourth edition's version of magic was often cited as dumbed down compared to prior editions, with only a handful of spells available, and themselves only usable once per encounter or day for the most part. Yet a similar situation was not uncommon in the earlier editions. Many magic-users would prepare only a handful of their possible spells, and swap them out rarely or for special situations, sticking to a small set of reliable spells (which, with casting limitations, could likely only be used a few times). 3e also introduced classes like the warlock, beguiler, and sorcerer, which featured much more limited casting choices than the wizard, and were generally considered alright. The difference was that 4e essentially took what had previously been a playstyle and turned it into writ law. Not helping was the perception that the new edition had stricken wizards of their ability to swap out spells entirely; this perception was wrongnote , but the smaller list of powers that all classes have access to at any given time, and the fact that spell-swapping was a class feature baked into the wizard's class writeup, meant a lot of readers never realized it still existed, and it didn't much impact wizards anyway due to the much smaller list.
    • Similar to the above, Tome of Battle in 3e implemented a very caster-esque system for archetypes not really associated with casting. This created something of a Broken Base, but even those who weren't fond of the system accepted it as a Necessary Evil to level the playing field a little between the insanely broken caster archetypes and the mediocre melee archetypes. However, it seemingly proved a harbinger for 4e's class design, which proved very controversial in part because so many classes used an identical (or slightly tweaked) system of advancement, causing many to decry it as too streamlined for its own good.
    • Ask an old-school player where the pre-made modules went wrong, and they'll probably tell you it happened when the designers started focusing on the story at the expense of making a fun adventure. The first real alteration to the Story-to-Gameplay Ratio happened all the way back in Ravenloft (as in, the original I6 adventure module), which featured an actual plot, a significant backstory, heavy roleplay, and a major NPC who was constantly acting in the adventure. But Ravenloft was still fairly nonlinear, had lots of opportunities to explore, and could vary heavily from session to session, and the significant NPC in question happened to be Strahd von Zarovich, the Big Bad, meaning his actual role in the plot gave him a sense of being a dynamic threat rather than Orcus on His Throne. Later adventures would drop all these things in favor of sticking the party on the railroad tracks, and the significant NPC would instead be a GMPC who would solve the adventure while the players watched. There's a reason Strahd is still a beloved character, while Elminister (who usually fulfilled the above role) is seen as a Creator's Pet.
    • Fourth edition got flak for removing the gnome and the half-orc from the original "core" line-up of races, and replacing them with the dragonborn and tiefling.note  Earlier releases of previous editions of the game would often remove old races, even replace them with new ones, and the half-orc and gnome were actually two of the most commonly put on the chopping block—the half-orc in particular was actually the first race to ever be removed from the Player's Handbook, being booted from the line during the switch from 1e to 2e. This wasn't a popular move, but it was tolerated, and it was also understood that at least some of it was corporate-mandated by the infamously sanitation-minded management of the time. But, for an edition already seen as trying to break with tradition for tradition's sake, the "replacement" of two older races with ones that seemed designed to appeal to new demographics created some bad blood. The next edition would keep all four as "core" playable races, with less backlash.
    • Fourth edition attracted a lot of derogatory commentary over its gameplay and design changes, with critics accusing the designers of reworking the game to be more like World of Warcraft in order to attract a videogaming audience. Eight years earlier, the exact same kind of negative commentary was made when third edition was released, only the game it was compared to was Diablo.
  • Fans of Yu-Gi-Oh! often bemoan the game's ever-increasing Power Creep. This is a thing the game has always done, and if anything, the creep was most noticeable in its early years. The first six or seven new sets in Japan were basically just the game introducing monsters that were better in every way than the ones in prior sets, and then introducing Effect Monsters that had the same stats as the Normals in prior sets but could actually do stuff. At the time, though, this was seen as a good thing, as the meta of early sets had been simplistic, slow, and dirt-stupid, and the more complex and useful cards made the game a lot more interesting. It's just that, with twenty years of cards accumulating, the game inevitably hit a breaking point, resulting in a meta where games between two skilled players with good decks rarely last more than three turns.
    • The banlist in its first incarnation was a major cap on the game's creep, ending the reign of Chaos Format as well as broken decks like Makyura Exchange or Scientist FTK. However, Konami also realized its value as an easy fallback for releasing something broken, which led to the cycle of deliberately releasing overpowered cards, presiding over a meta dominated by those cards, then once everyone owned a set, banning them for years on end, just in time for the next wave of overpowered cards that the old cards would have actually been balanced against.
  • Likewise, Exalted received a lot of flak in Second Edition for causing severe Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy. However, even way back in First Edition, Black-and-Gray Morality was all over the place (to the point that one of the iconic heroes of the Dragon-Blooded was the biggest sex slavery kingpin in the setting) and the canon leaned toward "the world is going to be destroyed because none of the heroes can get their shit together." The difference is that there were plenty of examples of places and heroes who were really trying to do the right thing, and the less-developed state of the setting gave hope that the player characters might just make something better. In Second Edition, there's a much more mapped-out setting, but one with so few good guys (not to mention the inordinate focus on the Infernal Exalted) that a lot of players just asked why Creation is worth fighting for. Third Edition is trying to scale that way back.

    Television Channels 
  • MTV's infamous Network Decay didn't become terminal until the Turn of the Millennium, but the seeds were planted all the way back in the network's Glory Days.
    • In 1987, MTV premiered Remote Control, a comedic Game Show about TV trivia that was its first non-music-related program. The difference was that Remote Control was a novelty that still reflected the kind of late '80s countercultural mood that MTV had built its brand around, and it was accompanied by other new shows that were still about music. And in The '90s, its non-music programming included creative and bold animated series like Beavis and Butt-Head (which itself had its music video MST segments), Æon Flux, Liquid Television, and Daria.
    • The real original sin, though, was a show that premiered around the same time as those acclaimed animated series: The Real World, the point at which the Reality TV bug bit MTV. The thing was, in 1992 there was nothing else like it on television; its premise was as novel for viewers in The '90s as the idea of a network devoted to music videos was for viewers in The '80s, and it used its Docu Soap format to tackle hot-button real-world issues in a way that network television at the time wouldn't dare. In other words, it made perfect sense for MTV, which had molded its image around being the cool rebel of the music world and youth culture, to create a show like that. In later years, however, as reality show after reality show, many of them borrowing parts of The Real World's formula, took over MTV's airwaves and crowded out not only music-related content but also its scripted programming, and as The Real World itself succumbed to gimmicks and Seasonal Rot, it started to look less like the new wave and more like Patient Zero.
  • Cartoon Network: 2009's CN Real, in many fans eyes, marked the low point of the channel for the decade, mainly because it featured live action reality shows on a network dedicated to animation. However, the network has had live-action promos and even a few live-action elements in their programming. It's just that they were usually secondary to the cartoons, while CN Real was treated as the Flagship Franchise for about a year or two.
  • Since the 2000s, PBS has come under fire for having multinational corporations fund some of its shows, most notably McDonald's and Pfizer funding Sesame Street. This has actually been a thing since practically the early days of the network when it was re-named from NET, such as having Johnson & Johnson giving the money to make Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. But there, it was just a short credit announcing the name of the company or in later years a brief elaborate animation that wasn't so obvious that they were trying to sell stuff, rather than the lengthier commercial-like sequences of today that sometimes make no attempt to hide it, such as the aforementioned Pfizer.

    Theatre 
  • The Lion King (1997) and Wicked (2003) are both quite highly regarded stage musicals, but many theater buffs tend to blame them for indirectly causing Broadway's over-saturation with colorful, family-friendly musical adaptations designed to pander to the sensibilities of tourists. Both musicals were lavishly produced, big-budget productions that—for better or for worse—were largely sold on the strength of their cutting-edge special effects and their instantly recognizable source material. But despite all that, they were really successful because they took some real creative risks with the material that paid off spectacularly, endearing them to casual theatergoers and long-time musical buffs alike. With The Lion King, Julie Taymor chose not to make a slavishly accurate screen-to-stage translation of the popular Disney film, instead opting for a highly stylized reinterpretation inspired by traditional Indonesian puppet theater. With Wicked, Stephen Schwartz and Winnie Holzman dared to turn an iconic American movie villain into a feminist heroine, and were willing to draw their inspiration from a violent, sexually charged Wizard of Oz retelling for adults. Their success seems to have inspired quite a few imitators who tried to make the same magic happen with things like superhero comics and Dreamworks blockbusters, with mixed-to-bad results like Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark and Shrek: The Musical.note 
  • Love Never Dies has been described as all of the bad parts of The Phantom of the Opera with none of the good parts.

    Theme Parks 
  • A common criticism of many new attractions at Universal Studios is that the parks' creative teams seem to have a love affair with "screen" attractions, often to the exclusion of more traditional rides and shows, with virtually every big-ticket attraction in The New '10s being a motion-simulator-driven, 4-D short film where the visual effects and the Excuse Plot take precedence over the ride experience. Few were complaining, however, in 2010 when they first opened Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey at Islands of Adventure. Boasting an All-Star Cast of actors reprising their roles from the Harry Potter films, Forbidden Journey also made use of innovative KUKA arm technology that moved riders around in a fashion comparable to traditional thrill rides. While there had been motion simulators and 4-D films at Universal before, the massive success of this ride, which helped establish Universal Orlando Resort as a serious competitor to Disney World, caused Universal to embrace motion simulators and 4-D films wholeheartedly going forward. Despite its merits as a ride, however, it was the production values of The Forbidden Journey that seemed to have stuck in the heads of Universal's creatives, as later motion simulators toned down the thrills and placed the focus more on the CGI-filled action projected onto the screens surrounding the ride. The resulting complaint can be summed up as, "whatever happened to being able to 'Ride the Movies' rather than watch them in rumble seats?", a complaint that reached a crescendo with the sharply negative reaction to Fast & Furious: Supercharged upon its opening in 2018.
    • Universal's earlier screen attractions were few and far between as well, and like with Harry Potter, often combined elements of screens with physical rides (or in the case of 1996's Terminator 2 3-D: Battle Across Time, a live stage show). With Uni gutting its most beloved attractions left and right over the years while at the same time shoving screens in people's faces, it's understandable why there has been so much backlash over this creative decision.
  • In the lates 2000s, Disney Theme Parks decided to revamp Epcot's World Showcase pavilion and bring more Disney characters to what was primarily a permanent world's fair. The first addition of The Three Caballeros into the Mexico pavilion, while successful, was a mixed bag with die hard fans. Some felt that it dumbed down the cultural elements a smidge, but most forgave it given the characters' popularity in Mexico and that the attraction still touched upon different aspects of Mexican culture. But then Disney made the decision to close down Maelstrom, the ride at the Norway pavilion, and replace it with a ride based off of Frozen (2013), a film that only has loose Norwegian connections in its art direction and costume design. Maelstrom, on the other hand, was a ride that was firmly rooted in Norwegian culture, touching upon all the different aspects of it. The direction eventually led to the announcement of an entirely new ride in the France pavilion based on Ratatouille has led to accusations that Disney is forsaking the original vision of the land in favor of IPs.

    Webcomics 
  • Homestuck:
    • One of the most common issues readers have had with Act 6 was how it added more characters from its beginning, particularly the "player"-type characters that use an online chatting device. This led to a greater amount of dialogue and caused complaints that the plot was moving along too slowly or that the new characters were not as likable as the old. This was also present in Act 5 when the trolls were introduced, only they led to an explosion in the story's popularity while Act 6 has slowly driven readers away. A general opinion was that the new human characters of Act 6 were not as memorable or unique as the original trolls once were, that the new trolls being minor joke characters with the purpose of attacking sections of the fandom came off as a harsh waste of world-building, and that the cast expansion overall failed to re-capture the lightning in the bottle that the twelve initial trolls succeeded in.
  • Sinfest is infamous for its extreme feminism now, but it actually had strips attacking commercialism as early as 2004. In 2008, Sinfest heavily endorsed Obama and attacked imperialism. These attempts at politicization did not receive as strong a reaction as the Sisterhood does now because they did not totally derail characters or use lots of confusing mixed metaphors.
  • One of the problems Dominic Deegan faced as the strip went on was that Dominic was too manipulative and a bit too able to plan everything out. But in the beginning, the audience would at least be aware that he was up to something with some hints sprinkled about, so the reveal never came out of left field and made sense in hindsight. The schemes were also pulled on Hate Sink targets, making his plans a well-deserved smackdown on those who deserved it. It was the "Snowsong" arc that it got out of control, as the audience was completely unaware Dominic was up to something the entire time until the reveal and his target was a more morally gray character whom the point was redeeming instead of defeating. So when that arc neared its end and it took a week of exposition to recap all the information the audience wasn't shown to make sense of the story, that was when it was agreed things got out of hand and there was an Author's Saving Throw by having Dominic called out on his actions.
  • Sprite Comics in general are considered the trash heap of the internet, since there's the idea they were made with very little production value (usually only a few sprite sheets, MS Paint and a keenspace account). This, of course, is also true of the earlier, actually good examples of the sub-genre, like Bob and George and 8-Bit Theater. The big difference is, while those two used the sprites, and the plot of the games they were parodying, as the basis for the comic, they were much more interested in showing off the creators' style of humor, rather than "getting done with" the plot of the games in a visually-uninteresting manner.
  • One of the biggest problems in Sonichu is the over-exposure of Chris at the expense of other characters. This can be seen in the earlier... less controversial issues, where Chris is heavily built up as essentially the god of the setting. However, Chris's appearances were relegated to side stories, with the main plot being Sonichu and the Chaotic Combo's adventures. As the author slowly became more notorious and Real Life Wrote The Plot, Chris slowly became more prominent in the main plot to the point that the titular character was Demoted to Extra, and the tenth issue was solely dedicated to Chris eradicating all of the "bad guys".
  • Survivor: Fan Characters: Most fans consider Season 10, the second All-Stars season, to be the series' worst season. The two biggest criticisms of it are that it turned many of its returning characters, including eventual winner and former fan-favorite Jackie, into one-dimensional caricatures and/or jerkasses and gave its villains like Bonnie way too much screentime and let them survive for far longer than they should have reasonably done. However, both of these problems had their roots in earlier, more well-received seasons:
    • The first All-Stars season had also turned a character who had been a fan favorite in their original season (Bitsy from Season 2, in this case) into more of a jerk who ultimately won their season. While Bitsy taking a level in jerkass did get some divisive fan reaction, it wasn't as severe as the backlash that Season 10's Jackie got because it was intentionally done as part of Bitsy's Protagonist Journey to Villain character arc and it was shown how her new attitude alienated her friends and caused her a lot of emotional turmoil. In contrast, Jackie's increased jerkassery in Season 10 was never built on or acknowledged by the narrative and only served to flatten his personality into a one-note Jerk Jock who was the "hero" of his season only because he was up against even worse villains.
    • Season 9, Bonnie's original season, was also guilty of giving her a massive amount of screentime and letting her get away with things that she should not have gotten away with. However, this all served as a huge build-up to her getting a thoroughly satisfying and cathartic downfall in the finale at the hands of Cherman, who had been the season's Butt-Monkey up until that point, that's widely regarded as one of the series's best moments. The series had also never had such an irredeemably evil, attention-hogging villain like Bonnie before, which made her character feel fresh and exciting. When Bonnie came back for Season 10, the novelty of her character had worn off and she was perceived by fans as a one-note villain with no depth or redeeming qualities who was taking screentime away from more interesting and likable characters. In addition, Jackie, the character responsible for Bonnie's downfall in Season 10, completely lacked Season 9 Cherman's underdog charm and likability which caused Bonnie's downfall to him to fall flat compared to her first one to Cherman. The creator even listed letting Bonnie survive for so long in Season 10 as his biggest mistake of the series and when he later brought her back for a third season, he made sure to give her much less screentime and eliminate her before she outstayed her welcome again.

    Web Animation 
  • Season 16 of Red vs. Blue faced criticism for its Denser and Wackier approach, featuring outlandish elements such as gods and time travel and things like a live-action character. But as some fans, and even the show itself in the following season noted, there was always silliness, particularly in the earlier, more comedic seasons - season 3 had another time travel plot (albeit one that ended up retconned) and a robot reduced to just a head still managing to build other robots and operate a turret. The problem was that after more serious plots entered the show, turning back to weirdness was unexpected and more noticeable.
  • RWBY received a lot of backlash after volume 5 due to awkward dialogue, stilted writing, and lackluster fight scenes. However, the show had rather awkward dialogue and stilted writing since it first debuted; it's just that the fight sequences were so over-the-top and downright enjoyable that no one really cared about these problems. Combined with the passing of the well-loved series creator, Monty Oum, very few people were willing to criticize the show. However, thanks to the declining quality of the fight animations in the fifth volume and putting a greater emphasis on lengthy scenes of exposition, these flaws became a lot more noticeable.

    Web Original 
  • Discussed in an episode of Midnight Screenings. Brian mentions that he initially liked the first Transformers film because it was different from the sequels, but after re-watching it admits that the movie has "the same shit [as the other films], just less of it".
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series:
    • While this abridged series was always a very funny and clever show, it did sometimes rely a bit too much on running gags and pop culture references, even if there wasn't necessarily a joke attached to the reference. Those who don't like the later seasons will usually say it's because the episodes became nothing but running gags and references.
    • "Yu-Gi-Oh! DMX", a running gag of Yu-Gi-Oh! GX characters being depicted as rap artists, originated from one of the most well-liked episodes of the series. People liked it then because it was just a doofy one-off gag, and pretty funny at that. After that episode, nearly every single episode mentioning GX had a reference to it being a stupid show about rap — which, on top of being a Shallow Parody, resulted in fans of GX getting harassed at conventions and a backlash against the Abridged Series. It's one of the few jokes LK has outright apologized for.
  • PIEGUYRULZ invokes this with his assessment of Adventure Time versus Steven Universe where he talks about the flaws of the former that were apparent since the beginning, but were ignored because there wasn't anything quite like it on TV at the time. He even compares it to breaking up with someone, then realizing the flaws that weren't there with the newfound perspective.
  • The Nostalgia Critic:
    • One of the most base-breaking aspects of the post-2013 videos are the Mid-Review Sketch Show cutaway gags, with many feeling that they take too much time away from the reviews. However, sketches are nothing new to the series and have been featured since the early days, and some episodes from what's considered the "classic" era like Home Alone 3 featuring recurring segments that wouldn't feel too out of place in the modern videos. The difference is that sketches in the earlier reviews were used more sparingly and not in nearly every episode; they were also much shorter, lasting up to half a minute at most, and also only focused on Critic himself, while modern sketches are in most reviews, can take up to a few minutes, and focus on gags between new additions Malcolm and Rachel (later on, Tamara), which could often extend a review to over 40 minutes. With all this new focus on sketches, one could say that post-revival Critic is a Spiritual Successor to his now-scrapped show Demo Reel, which received a lot of backlash even from fans.
    • Reviews on later films. The Critic did review films from the 2000s prior to the retool, but the difference there is they were usually from the earliest part of the decade (2000-2002) with a few movies occasionally being from after such as Baby Geniuses (2004) or TMNT (2007). The difference was that these were either special requests or one-offs, or they were still relevant to "nostalgic" media. He would also often talk about characters, films, and specials from later times in his countdown lists, but this was usually given more leeway due to still featuring nostalgic works as well being mixed in. Now in his modern videos, he primarily talks about movies from the later 2000s and 2010s and even movies still in theaters (the latter of which he promised not to review, only to break it in protest of the video takedowns), which has made some people wonder why it's still called "The Nostalgia Critic" due to it being an Artifact Title.
    • The jabs at things Doug Walker doesn't like. The Critic has always employed these jabs, it's just that the newer reviews use them a lot more often, and they tend to be much harsher.
    • It was pretty obvious from the beginning that Doug Walker has basically no formal education in film or film analysis; going back to his first reviews, many of them had pretty shallow criticism, bad research, or him missing the point. It wasn't problematic in his early days because he was both one of the only games in town in terms of video-based film reviews and analysis, especially considering his schedule, and he (by nature of his format) chose films that were soft targets for criticism and not widely discussed or defended, like Batman & Robin or The Garbage Pail Kids Movie. When he started doing reviews of recent or popular films, the limitations of his style and skills as a reviewer became a lot more evident, especially with the dozens of film critique and review channels by people who actually studied film professionally or as a hobby, be they students, critics, or even filmmakers, that have popped up in the intervening years. All of this came to a head with his widely-panned review/parody of the 1982 film adaptation of Pink Floyd's The Wall, which received plentiful criticism for providing only surface-level analysis of the movie, failing to demonstrate proper research (such as apparently ignoring the fact that the album predated the movie by roughly 3 years), and missing much of the point of the original album. Even in light of Walker making it clear that he himself enjoyed the album and simply thought the movie was a bit full of itself at times, his video on The Wall has been touted as a microcosm of several long-persisting issues with his content that made themselves more than apparent here. It doesn't help that the focus of the show has obviously shifted from laughing at the character's bad critiques to expecting the audience to take his word as gospel no matter what, nor does the fact that Doug apparently disregards his own criticisms whenever he feels like it.
    • The weaknesses in the show's filming (bad special effects, amateur cinematography, cheap production values) are a weird case, in that they've undeniably improved from where they were when the series began. But when the series began, it was one guy in front of a camera riffing on movie clips; the humor came from the movie first, the guy's jokes second, and any sketches or stuff that required actual filming a distantly third bonus. When later reviews, especially post-revival, upped the number and length of those sketches considerably (to the point of taking up the entire review in reviews of recent films, due to Doug's policy of recreating clips as sketches rather than waiting for the home releasenote ), while they did improve, their lacking quality became a lot more evident. It also became a lot harder to use Stylistic Suck as a defense when the Critic has become a more legitimate enterprise with a studio and an actual budget, but still uses the same cheap Halloween costumes and bad green screen.
    • Doug's humor as well. While a lot of it came from the Critic reacting to the movie, being based around a manbaby who hates any film he watches, it's only gotten a lot more harsh as well since the revival. The Critic is also not the one mostly getting hurt, as he more causes pain to others rather than getting hurt himself. The Critic used to get a considerable amount of karma payback than he currently does for acting like an ass, but now other people do who probably didn't even deserve it. Considering most other review shows like his generally have the hosts being nice people that the audiences can latch on to, this only stands out further.
  • Stupid Mario Brothers can trace a lot of the problems of Seasons 4-5 back to show's highpoints, specifically:
    • The Darkness. When he was first introduced in Season 3, he was seen as an interesting, intimidating villain the audience could Love to Hate. However, that meant that when the storyline moved past him, the writers decided to bring him back, at which point they overexposed him significantly, meaning the audience grew sick of The Darkness.
    • In Act II of "The Stupid Mario Brothers Movie" The Darkness gets back up off the ground after being seemingly killed by Wario, because of a counter curse that was never hinted at. It didn't screw up the movie's plot, even if it made no sense when you really thought about it, so it was tolerated at the very least. Also, Liquid Snake came back to life with no explanation given (though it's hinted that The Darkness had a role in it), but it worked since it lead to the face off scene between Solid and Liquid Snake. This lead to a major annoyance most fans had in the later seasons, where characters are revived for no reason (no good reasons, at least), simply to provide a villain in the laziest way possible. This even got Lampshaded by Snake when Vercetti came back, indicating that at least some of the cast and crew were sick of it as well.
    • Many fans found it extremely hard to sympathise with Mario and Luigi in Seasons 4 and 5, seeing as how utterly isolationist they are. Said isolationist thoughts were present in the very first episode, and worked, since the idea was that Mario and Luigi were fed up with having to save the Mushroom Kingdom all the time and decided to have a vacation. In later seasons, Mario and Luigi do little to solve the problem of the beacon's destruction
  • Cracked has been criticized for its perceived shift away from a comedy-focused website to one that tries to take itself more seriously. Thing is, "serious" content has been around from very early on. It's just that said content, in addition to taking a backseat to more comedic stuff, generally still had a good deal of levity in it and tended to be more personal in nature (often offering some valuable insights and/or life advice in the process), rather than promoting (often political) ideas that many readers found divisive.

Alternative Title(s): Dork Age Foreshadowing, Foreshadowing The Dork Age

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