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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.

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.

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 isn't a Franchise Original Sin. 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. Contrast "Seinfeld" Is Unfunny, when overexposure makes the original seem less good in hindsight.

Please be careful you aren't Complaining About Shows You Don't Like.


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.
     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.
  • Some of the worst excesses of the Dark Age can also, quite famously, trace their roots back to two of what are still recognized as among the greatest graphic novels in the medium's history: Watchmen and Batman: The Dark Knight Returns. Both comics won enormous praise and commercial success for their elevation of the medium to new levels of artistic credibility; the former was 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. Writers with less talent than Alan Moore and Frank Miller mistakenly assumed that that was the reason why Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns were so successful, leading to a slew of comics that desperately aimed to be 'mature' yet reveled in the most immature sort of shock value.
  • Frank Miller:
  • A lot of the problems with X-Men 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.
  • 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 Astérix 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 female villain by offering her 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.
  • Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog
    • They can point theirs all the way back to issue 50 and the creation of Knuckles' comic. Issue 50 was meant to be the Grand Finale for the comic and have Robotnik finally Killed Off for Real. However, the comic was Un-Cancelled and entered its Post-Script Season, leaving everyone to scramble as to what to do. Robotnik was first replaced with Ixis Naugus, only to be put away and replaced with Dr. Eggman in time for Sonic Adventure. However, Eggman was portrayed as an ineffectual villain and the comic seemed to just forget Eggman and focus more on Love Triangles, aliens, and everything that wasn't "speedy blue hedgehog fights fat scientist". It got to the point where the writers considered bringing the original Robotnik back, and Ian Flynn had to utterly destroy the status quo in order to bring things back on track.
    • The Knuckles comic was another problem, with writer Ken Penders deciding not to expand on clues left behind with the video games at that time to create a soicety of Echidnas. It worked out for a while, mainly because it was World Building, but after the two comics joined together it felt like the echidnas were too perfect in their portrayal. Then Penders decided to make Knuckles The Avatar, a hero prophesied to bring peace to Mobius, effectively giving Knuckles a bigger role in the story... at the expense of Sonic.
    • The revelation that Espio was a member of a ninja clan and then betrays the Chaotix to the Iron Dominion (said ninja clans' masters) was only the latest in a series of Retcons/Face Heel Turns involving certain characters during Ian Flynn's run, most famously Fiona Fox revealing out of nowhere that the only reason she fell in love with Sonic was because of Scourge, and then betraying the Freedom Fighters to be his girlfriend. While not without controversy (like a lot of Ian Flynn's run), it slid by, as Fiona was a mostly forgotten Canon Foreigner before exploding in popularity as a villain. In the spoiler character's case, however, he was not only a popular character as a hero, but also a character straight from the games, and it became far harder to ignore.
    • The Executive Meddling was there from the beginning, with Sega executives having a role in what gets produced. However, by the time the comic got canceled this had blown up to the point that there were entire mandates on how the comic should be written. By the time pre-release materials for the then-upcoming IDW comic was released, one of the confirmed differences between it and the Archie run was that Sega would operate on a "case-by-case" basis, likely to alleviate complaints about how controlling they are with other media adaptations.
  • 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:
  • 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 unrepentent 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, the 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 even Captain America became something of a Politically Incorrect Hero, while the first two installments featured the team turning on Thor and the Hulk and beating them to a pulp with surprisingly little hesitation. Initially, these changes were seen as 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 and repeatedly portrayed beloved heroes as less and less sympathetic, audiences interest began to waver, and the Ultimate Universe acquired a reputation as a place where everyone was a jerk. By the time the mass deaths began, their 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. Case in point: the first volume of Ultimate X-Men ends with the X-Men being hailed as heroes after saving Washington, D.C. from a Sentinel attack, while the first volume of The Ultimates ends with Hank Pym putting his wife in a coma after the Hulk murders over 800 people.
  • 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 ever since The '80s, his intelligence and smarts have been inflated to such immense proportions that he has even outwitted demigods such as Darkseid who belongs in Superman's rogue gallery for a reason. This has led to accidental memes such as "I'm the goddamned Batman" to Hand Wave his solutions to problems way out of his mere human league. But it also makes one wonder, if he can take on Superman Foes with such ease and grace, then why would human villains such as the Penguin or the Joker make Batman sweat?
    • 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 (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 (as a well-received at the time Ret-Canon from Batman: The Animated Series), 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. 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. 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, and Iron Man), 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.

    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 fic simply made them Always Chaotic Evil.
  • The Stalking Zuko Series gets some criticism for its Pacing Problems in 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.

    Literature 
  • A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons succumbed to the sprawling, complex nature of the 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 (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. 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. 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.
  • 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 dicidedly 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.

    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, Gandunka, 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 so-so 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-point 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 "impulse" 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 line improved with the later Rakhshi and Toa Metru, and b) the Toa and Bohrok sets were, if nothing else, very different from each other (a humanoid warrior versus a squat bug-creature).

    Music 
  • From Cracked's Adam Tod Brown: "4 Classic Rap Albums That Ruined Rap Music."
    • The Notorious B.I.G.'s Ready to Die for "marrying rap and high fashion". His slick, suave persona stood out in a crowded genre that, until then, was dominated by a gritty, inner-city gang banger image, allowing him to sell Gangsta Rap to a mainstream that was still a bit uneasy with such content. In the long run, though, he wound up being the Trope Maker for Glam Rap, which completely took over hip-hop in the coming decade. Brown later doubled down on this assessment, going so far as to claim that, had Biggie never been murdered, the path of his career and music in the ensuing years would've mirrored that of Puff Daddy (who was his mentor and boss at Bad Boy Records) or Jay-Z.
    • Raekwon the Chef and Ghostface Killah's Only Built 4 Cuban Linx starting the trend of rappers taking on several different personas and alter-egos.
    • LL Cool J's Bigger and Deffer, particularly the song "I Need Love", inflicting the rap ballad on the world. While "I Need Love" was a great song, few rappers have been able to do the rap ballad half as well as LL Cool J.
    • De La Soul's 3 Feet High and Rising and De La Soul Is Dead popularizing 'skits', which break up the flow of an album and are rarely all that interesting.
  • Every album Ministry put out in the 2000s seemed like an extended political Author Tract, but they first dabbled in political themes on 1986's Twitch, meaning political lyrics have been a part of Ministry's music longer than guitars.
    • This is not to mention their 1982 unreleased single "Same Old Madness", about Cold War nuclear paranoia. So technically Ministry was political before their first album even came out.
  • "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 first three albums, 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 some Creator Backlash over the production, though their continued experimentation on Vs. and Vitalogy eventually won Cobain and many other critics over.
  • 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 mid-'10s saw the rise of "bro-country", a strain of Country Music that was often derided for its lightweight pop/rap-influenced sound 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, Todd in the Shadows pins the blame a decade further back, pointing out that Big & Rich were doing rap-influenced country in 2004. While their brand of it was generally well-received for being ballsy and interesting, later 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.
  • Sean O'Neal and Clayton Purdom of The AV Club have argued that the weeks from June 23 to July 8, 1997 were "the worst two weeks for music ever recorded". Their argument rests heavily on the idea that, in that short moment, every much-maligned trend that showed up in pop music in the late '90s, from the "jiggy era" of rap to Nu Metal to Ska Punk to swing revival, had its mainstream breakthrough, while the Alternative Rock that dominated the first half of the decade was on its last legs, having run out of steam creatively and starting to give way to the return of manufactured boy bands and idol singers.
  • Michael Jackson's 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" and "Invincible" were very popular, they are often seen nowadays in lesser terms than "Off The Wall", "Thriller" and "Bad".
  • 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 didn't hire bikers as a security force, but in general Woodstock's organizers lucked out in making some good choices in key areas (like medical facilities) that prevented a big disaster.
  • 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.

     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 to the USA scene, 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.
  • 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, her popularity 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 and could not appeal to audiences as Sable could 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 mainstays 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.

    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".
    • 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. 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.
    • In turn, 3e's availability of magic items 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 viking tales: the Bard.
    • 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, and in the process, removed what had previously been the distinguishing feature of a wizard over fellow mage classes - the ability to swap out its spells.
    • 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, which featured an actual plot, a significant backstory, heavy roleplay, and a significant 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 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.
  • Shadowrun, being a Cyber Punk game, always had a focus on gritty Anti Heroic player characters getting by in a gritty world. But, as editions went by, the designers dug deeper and deeper pits for the setting, until, by the end of 4th Edition, Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy was settling in. There Are No Good Executives, and every Shadowrunner is an amoral jerk who'll do any old horrible thing for a quick buck at best, with the game designers actively pooh-poohing the idea of Shadowrunning teams having any kinds of morals or standards on the forums. Fifth edition has its flaws, being littered with poorly-adapted design artifacts from earlier versions of the game, but many players are just happy it's finally trying to reverse that particular trend.
  • 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.

     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 

    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.

     Webcomics 
  • One of the most common issues readers have had with Act 6 of Homestuck 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.

     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.
    • 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 Superbabies (2004) or TMNT (2007), due to special request, and these were considered more acceptable since they were mainly one-offs. 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.
  • Twitch Plays Pokémon: Democracy was introduced in the very first run, Red, and was used there more frequently than in many of the runs that followed — yet it's often considered the sign of why TPP has declined.
  • 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 Seasons 3 respectively, he was seen as interesting, intimidating, and all arounda villain the audience could Love to Hate. However, that meant that when the storyline moved past hijm, 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 and actually seem to like it better that way.

     Western Animation 
  • Adventure Time: Princess Bubblegum's darker side was emphasized as early as Season 3, with her creation of Lemongrab being something akin to a Mad Scientist creation. It was well received, giving some more depth to her character. Later seasons, however, are criticised for taking this dark side and taking it to borderline sociopathic levels, with the "Bubblegum ranting at length to wizards why their belief in magic is stupid" scene being The Last Straw for many.
  • In Tom and Jerry:
    • The title characters would in some of the original shorts be friends and speak, though rarely (and something would always come between their friendship, making them fight again). These elements are what is most reviled about The Tom and Jerry Show from the 1970s, and Tom and Jerry: The Movie.
    • When Tom and Jerry began appearing in crossover Direct-to-Video movies in the late 2000's, such as with The Nutcracker and Sherlock Holmes, it was either accepted or ignored, because at least they still had some measure of originality. Eyebrows were raised when they crossed over with The Wizard of Oz, but it being a public domain story that they at least attempted to do different things with (although heavily basing it on the 1939 film), it was largely excused. It finally seemed to cross a line with the release of Tom and Jerry: Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, a shot-for-shot animated remake of the 1971 film adaptation with Tom and Jerry thrown in as an afterthought, sparking outrage and ridicule across the internet, mostly from people who didn't know these movies had been coming out for around a decade. It seems somewhere along the line Warner Bros. figured they'd found a formula that enabled them to forgo creativity and originality in the Tom and Jerry direct-to-video movies yet still churn a profit, resulting in a steady decline of effort put into the writing.
  • While the show Goof Troop was well-received and considered a good show in its own right, many have blamed it for planting the seeds for the Totally Radical attitude and theme that took over many later shows for the Disney Afternoon television block; the shows that had taken on those themes were considered the killers of the block itself during the latter half of the '90s.
  • The Simpsons:
    • Back when it started, the series was revolutionary when compared to other cynical shows centered on a dysfunctional family because it was an animated show set in Comic-Book Time and with Negative Continuity. The family could go anywhere, interact with anyone, and do anything without having to care about budget constraints, actors that wanted to leave or children that grew up. However, after 20 years that original strength has turned into its biggest constraint. Bart and Lisa behave like teenagers, but they are still 10 and 8 and go to the same elementary school, so the writers can't make them face the actual teenage (or young adult) problems they would be dealing with by now if the show was live-acted or used Webcomic Time; Marge and Homer have gone through countless marriage crises and been thrown into jail countless times, but they have to go back home together at the end; Maggie feels more like a prop than a character in most episodes because the writers can't think of new plotlines starring a baby, etc. As a result, the show has become stalled and boring.
    • Pop culture references, including cutaway gags and episode-length spoofs, have been a staple of The Simpsons since its earliest seasons (eg. "Bart the General" riffing on Patton, "Kamp Krusty" on Apocalypse Now, "Stark Raving Dad" on One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, etc.). Generally, though, earlier episodes tend to spoof classic movies and TV shows, where later episodes tend to parody then-recent films or cultural trends. Which wouldn't necessarily be bad, except most such episodes wind up only spoofing a film/show's most obvious aspects, and their subjects are far more likely to become completely forgotten soon after.
    • One of the show's favorite tactics since the earliest seasons has been to start off the first act with an unrelated plot (for instance, "Homer Badman"'s first act is about Homer and Marge going to a candy convention). It worked then, because they always used the opening plot to lead into the main plot (Homer pulling a piece of candy off the babysitter's butt and getting sued for sexual harassment). As time goes on, though, the transitions between plots have become increasingly abrupt and threadbare, to the point that these first-act plots could probably be cut from the episode entirely, and are used as little more than padding because the main plot can't stand up on its own.
    • "Lisa Goes Gaga" was widely seen as the nadir of the show in terms of celebrity guests, with many people being disgusted by how the series treated their Celebrity Voice Actor as a glorious messianic figure who saves the family. But the root of this issue lies in Season 1's "Moaning Lisa" and Season 3's "Lisa's Substitute", often considered some of the show's most soulful episodes — they even focused on Lisa, just like "Lisa Goes Gaga." The difference was that in those episodes, neither Ron Taylor nor Dustin Hoffman played themselves — they were likeable, competent, friendly characters who happened to be played by celebrities, which made it feel like the celebrity was lending their talent to bringing the character to life. When celebrities did go As Themselves in early seasons, it was in incidental roles, with no small amount of Adam Westing, and they usually came off as jerks or weirdos (such as Leonard Nimoy above and Adam West himself). These celebrities were either used to further characters or add jokes to an episode, not being added for their own sake, and never in such a manner that made the episode feel like it was fellating them — something that later episodes would roundly ignore.
    • "Rubber-band reality" was a term coined by Matt Groening to allow for more out-there gags. It essentially dictated that the show could have absurd, silly, or unrealistic gags, so long as they were only gags and quickly ignored afterward — essentially, they could "stretch" the reality of the show, but they would always have to let it "snap back." For instance, in "Last Exit To Springfield," Burns breaks out a pair of Killer Robots in the hopes of using them as strikebreakers, but the scene only lasts a few seconds and has no bearing on the plot, which remains fairly down-to-earth. As the series went on, the "rubber band" of reality would be stretched further and further, to the point where they started forgetting to snap it back altogether — as early as Season 6, one episode featured Killer Robots trying to murder the family as the episode's climax. By Season 11, which featured magical jockey elves, octuplets, tomacco, and the family casually hanging out with celebrities, the rubber-band reality had turned the Simpsons universe into a World of Weirdness.
    • The Couch Gag was one of the show's most beloved elements from the start for providing new jokes and weird imagery, but on occasion, as early as Season 4, it was used to stretch a rather light episode out. In particular, the "circus" couch gag was explicitly created to pad the runtime, being twenty-three seconds (not counting the rest of the opening), and showing up in a total of eight episodes. One episode (which, to be fair, was a Clip Show) played twelve couch gags in succession, including the circus gag, taking up a whole minute of screentime. The thing was, back then, long couch gags were rare; aside from the above two and not counting the changed credits for Treehouse of Horror, not one Couch Gag in the first eight seasons went over fifteen seconds, and most lasted about four. It was, after all, a gag — a quick joke. By the later seasons, though, long couch gags started to show up more and more often, with the show breaking its own record multiple times, and post-Season 20 or so, a twenty-three-second couch gag likely wouldn't even be in the top half. The show even turned the gag into something of a publicity stunt, doing things like hiring other animators or making extended references to other shows airing. Making things even worse was the shift to a four-act structure and episodes getting noticeably shorter in runtime to squeeze in more ads, meaning that on top of being longer, the extended couch gags were now eating up larger portions of the episodes. It's estimated that some episodes would, with their opening sequences removed, be about six minutes shorter than their older counterparts.
    • "That '90s Show" was largely despised for its attempt to invoke the Sliding Timescale, but a sliding timescale had been around even in the celebrated original set of flashback episodes. Most obviously, "I Married Marge" is clearly dated to 1980, while "Lisa's First Word" is dated to 1984, despite them centering on the births of a ten-year-old and an eight-year-old, respectively. But, bar a few jokes about The Empire Strikes Back and the '84 Olympics, the overall feel of the episodes fit into Broad Strokes well enough to be accepted as "they were born in the early '80s", especially given that it was a difference of only two years. However, "That '90s Show" dates itself to ending at 1998, and with events that are supposed to take place before the other two, a difference of eighteen years — that's a bit much.
  • As the Ben 10 franchise went on, one of the most major complaints about it is that many aliens in the sequels use similar abilities, as well as many outright having the same power. Surprisingly, the first show could run into this problem too, with a few aliens with redundant abilities that could sometimes render another alien obsolete (Benvicktor/Frankenstrike, along with super strength, has lightning powers, and generally does everything Fourarms could do, except without the arms). Omniverse is also similarly criticized for its overt focus on old elements, pandering to first-series fans, and sometimes script-recycling. These elements can be traced to its immediate predecessor too, with several major plot elements being recycled from the original show (Kevin's insanity and being a composite form of Ben's aliens, which were heavily referenced) and featuring a guest appearance from the original Ben.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants:
    • A common complaint about modern day episodes is the tendency to overhype regular episodes as huge specials. This trend started back during seasons 2 and 3 of the show, which is often considered to be during the show's golden age, with episodes such as "Party Pooper Pants" (which would have been standard length were it not for the Patchy segments) and "Shanghaied" (whose gimmick only worked the very first time it aired). It wasn't until the first such "special" to air after The Movie, "Best Day Ever", that fans started complaining, as it took a 24 hour marathon of the most beloved episodes of the series, as well as the movie, to advertise an 11 minute episode that quickly became hated.
    • The show's oft-criticized descent into gross-out humor and Getting Crap Past the Radar started as early as season 2, with "Something Smells" revolving entirely around the joke that SpongeBob's breath stinks and he doesn't realize it. Typically though, it would be limited to one or two Cutaway Gags per episode, whereas later seasons feature whole episodes centered around SpongeBob getting a splinter or contracting a fungal infection. Many have pointed out how the main problem stemmed from the writers attempting to emulate the style of episodes from Stephen Hillenburg's first tenure as showrunner without proper knowledge as to how he was able to make it work.
    • Mr. Krabs in later seasons has become infamous for his tendency to do underhanded, immoral, or even illegal things if it means turning a quick buck. However, even in the first three seasons he was shown use tactics like animal abuse, forcing his employees to use an ancient diseased patty, enslaving his employees, or selling SpongeBob's soul for 62 cents in the name of profit. The difference, though, is that whenever he crossed a line in the first few seasons, he was generally punished for it or at least realized the error of his ways. In many later episodes, Krabs gets away with a slap on the wrist, if that.
    • One of the biggest complaints people have with the modern series is the way they treat Squidward, This was in the Pre-Movie episodes, believe it or not. Thing is, Squidward was an arrogant jerk at best, and was someone the audience would Love to Hate. Whenever the episode was sympathetic, they usually brought in someone even worse, namely Squilliam. As such, the audience usually laughed at Squidward's misfortune. Then they tried having him be both sympathetic and a Cosmic Plaything in the same episode, to diminishing returns.
    • Early in the show's run, Patrick's idiocy made him one of the most beloved characters due to his lines and antics being witty, endearing, or ending up with hilarious reactions from other characters. Unfortunately, later on, his idiocy ended up focusing more on how much he screwed up, resulting in reactions and idiocy that would drag on and end up feeling cruel to whomever experienced his antics, with him comming off as a Jerkass and getting little comeuppance for screwing other characters over for little reason. As a result, his reputation did a complete 180 and he became one of the most hated characters on the show.
    • Some of the more abrasive humour of the later seasons was already coming into play as early as the Second Season, however mostly only to the level of giving the show a sharper more frenetic energy compared to the downright mean spiritedness of the post-Movie seasons. Spongebob had already started to become more obnoxious and hyperactive, though the consequences of his actions were kept carefully in check to keep him sympathetic (e.g. while he aggravates Squidward and Mrs Puff in early episodes, a lot of their worst misfortunes are brought upon themselves taking extremes to get rid of him, while in later episodes he genuinely just singlehandedly makes their lives miserable in his stupidity). Sandy had also become far more standoffish and arrogant by the second season, though given her initial overly positive characterisation, this was only really taken to the point of giving her some level of vices so she could contribute better to the humour and become an endearingly flawed character like the others.
  • Family Guy
    • The pre-uncancellation seasons already showed many of the traits that would fully manifest once it came back, including Cutaway Gags, Overly Long Gags and the main characters bordering on Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonists. In the earlier seasons these were balanced out and broken up enough that it wasn't as much of a problem, and the formula was new enough that they were still genuinely surprising when they happened and not expected as they are now.
    • The criticism of religious people seen in the series can be spotted as early as Season 2, with "Holy Crap" focusing on Peter's Catholic father Francis who comes and makes things worse for the Griffin family while living in the family's house. However, Francis is balanced out by the Pope who is a Reasonable Authority Figure and grows impatient with Francis’s nastiness, implying the issues with Peter's father are more linked to zealotry and a general mean attitude rather than completely stemming from Catholicism. This is to contrast with the infamous Season 7 episode "Not All Dogs Go To Heaven", which has the Family-Unfriendly Aesop that Belief Makes You Stupid all together.
    • The cast’s horrific treatment of Meg is now one of the most frequently criticized aspects of the show, provoking many a "not funny" reaction from fans; despite the show’s attempts to play her treatment for Black Comedy, quite a few people have pointed out that it often borders on outright emotional abuse. But in some ways, this can be traced back to the earliest episodes, where Meg was a considerably different character. While her family certainly didn’t hate her in those episodes, one often got the sense that the writers didn’t particularly care for her: she was the least developed of the Griffin children by a pretty wide margin, and didn’t really have her own comedic gimmick like her parents and siblings did. In later seasons, the writers never really gave her Character Development, but they did give her the "gimmick" of being despised and/or ignored by her entire family — which many fans liked even less. If you compare Meg’s appearances in Season 1 to her later appearances, you’ll notice that she isn’t exactly less of a Flat Character in those early episodes, but she at least wasn’t just the object of other people’s hatred.
    • One the most frequent criticisms is despite the show's open liberal bias, the show is reliant on offensive stereotypes to the point of downright racism. Of course the show has always had them but in earlier seasons nearly all of the stereotypes mocked the idea of stereotypes far more than it did the minorities they represented. It was such a successful formula that many of the stereotypical characters were widely praised by the minorities they depict. However over the years Seth Macfarlane seems to have gotten the idea that this means people like having their ethnicity and sexuality mocked and that he can indulge in racial humor and be progressive. More and more recurring characters are intended to by sympathetic despite being increasingly flanderised stereotypes. This also hasn't gelled well with the show's increased use straw characters about religious people and conservatives, since the show depicts those stereotypes as being true. The resulting implications that the writers genuinely believe non-strait non-white people only behave a certain way has driven many fans away.
  • The signs of the Avatar series focusing on teenage romance and Ship Tease at the expense of plot and character development could be seen all the way back in the original series, as later seasons gave those subplots more focus in response to the creators realizing how large and vocal the shipping community was, but because the 3 season story arc had already been planned out there was only so much room for those scenes to be inserted and for the most part they didn't feel like they got in the way. Come The Legend of Korra, which had a brand new story arc built from scratch around older teen protagonists, and the creators put in far more romance and a Love Triangle from the second episode to the point it became a Romantic Plot Tumor that made many fans dislike one of the central characters (Mako) and the rest of the plot, including the main antagonist and the social forces behind his movement, felt rushed and underutilized. Later seasons tried to undo the damage by having Mako and Korra break up, and fan consensus is that it wasn't until season 3 that the story began to truly feel more balanced. Another major factor is that unlike the first series, the first season of Korra was written under the possibility that it was a self-contained mini-series that could be expanded into three more if the former was successful while a combination of Troubled Production and Book 2 serving to deconstruct the previous events led to Seasonal Rot. Seasons 3 and 4 were made back to back and feature far more confidence in shoving the romantic material to the side.
  • Part of the reason Chowder became popular was its heavy usage of Painting the Medium and fourth wall breaking jokes. In the final season, gags about breaking the fourth wall became so overused that the novelty wore off.
  • Many long-time Scooby-Doo fans have argued that the franchise's formula stopped working around the time that they tried to bring real monsters into the show (notably in The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo, the direct-to-video movies, and the live-action films), which killed the elements of mystery that gave the original series its charm. While the original Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! generally stuck to the famous "Scooby-Doo" Hoax for most of its stories, genuinely supernatural elements have been around as far back as that series, and not all of its Monsters of the Week turned out to be costumed crooks. The villain of "Foul Play in Funland" was a real robot gone haywire, one scene in "A Night of Fright is No Delight" had a bone floating onto Scooby's plate with no explanation given, and the supporting characters in "That's Snow Ghost" were implied to have faced a real Yeti in a flashback. Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island (usually regarded as the one of the best stories in the franchise) had it as a selling point that there were real monsters in it. The difference was that there was still a mystery to solve and several plot twists (the zombies are on the heroes' side for one) that it all felt natural.
  • While fans of Rugrats have many different ideas about what caused its Seasonal Rot, the show's increasing reliance on extended over-the-top Imagine Spots is sometimes held up as a symptom of its declining quality, as it increasingly shifted the focus away from the simple day-to-day struggles of the toddlers. In truth, though, the show was always known for its surreal and fantastical overtones — but in its early days, the toddlers didn't need Imagine Spots to make their world seem like a bizarre wonderland, because the quirky writing and animation made the entire setting seem surreal; the Imagine Spots just drew a clear line between the mundane world and the world of the kids' imaginations, where none had existed before. Case in point: compare Season 2's "Toy Palace" with Season 6's "Submarine". The former revolves around the ensuing hilarity when Tommy and Chuckie spend the night in a sprawling toy store that (apparently) includes life-size robotic gorilla toys, automated Old West towns, and a working time machine; the later just has the kids pretending that a van at a car lot is a submarine.
  • A major Broken Base over My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic (including the Equestria Girls series) is the huge number of villains and bullies who get Easily Forgiven Season 3 onward. The trend started at the end of the two-part pilot, where Princess Luna was immediately forgiven for trying to bring The Night That Never Ends on the world. The difference is that such an act could be filed as Cartoonish Supervillainy (a defense that can also be applied to Discord turning Equestria into a World Gone Mad), Luna herself was acting under the control of her Superpowered Evil Side, and she had a sympathetic enough backstory to grant her Ensemble Darkhorse status, making it easier to overlook the cast instantly forgiving her. The future examples were guilty of far more realistic and voluntarily committed misdeeds (Diamond Tiara was a cruel bully, Starlight Glimmer ran a cult devoted to squelching individuality) and had, at best, a last minute Freudian Excuse that tended to make them Unintentionally Unsympathetic.
  • Teen Titans Go!:
    • One of the many things fans/detractors complain about is the Family-Unfriendly Violence. And while this complaint is sometimes justified (the complaint is usually that the Titans are violent towards each other), complaints regarding violence in general are a bit strange, since the original cartoon was an action series where the characters used violence in every other episode. The difference with TTG is that it's a comedy.
    • Certain complaints about the series — particularly the different characterization and the heavier focus on humor — aren't actually all that different from criticisms of the original cartoon from fans of the comics or other more serious DC action shows such as Batman or Justice League. While the original cartoon had dramatic storylines, they were lightened quite a bit from the original comics, where, for instance, Slade was downgraded from a more sympathetic Anti-Villain, the heroes had less characterization, and comedic animesque pratfalls and/or expressions were frequent. The main difference was that the Titans still had depth and characterization, they were still able to act like heroes, and several fans to this day are intimidated about Slade (and most fans admit that, if nothing else, Ron Perlman's voice was pretty memorable). Go! abandoned practically any pretense of character depth that its 2003 predecessor could be accused of lacking in comparison to the original comics, actually making it less egregious in that regard. (Still understandable is the outrage towards a specific incarnation of the Titans being Flanderized in such fashion.) Meanwhile, the release of the DCUA films Justice League vs. Teen Titans and Teen Titans: The Judas Contract have given the Titans their most authentic treatment yet.
  • 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 time – "Brave New World" 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 there's times where he Took a Level in Jerkass and suffered for it, such as the episode "Clash") but is motivated by paranoia resulting from the events of "Brave New World" 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 Mongol 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 not showing much concern about collateral damage and becoming hated and 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 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. 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.
  • South Park made its name with a purely episodic format; while there might be a Sequel Episode to a previous one, by and large each episode was a self-contained story. However (as outlined in this video by PIEGUYRULZ), starting in season 10 it began experimenting with multi-episode story arcs, with the two-parters "Cartoon Wars" and "Go God Go". Many seasons after that would each have arcs that lasted for more than one episode, such as season 11's "Imaginationland", season 12's "Pandemic", and season 14's "200" and "201", providing a nice shift from the usual gag-a-day humor that the show was built around. Season 18 marked the tipping point in introducing full continuity between episodes throughout the season, with multiple arcs that flowed into one another. Fan opinion on the arcs was mixed, but overall, season 18 was still well-received.

    Season 19, however, had a season-spanning arc that was tied into every episode, with the final three episodes (out of a ten-episode season) devoted purely to wrapping it up. The arc left the show feeling bloated, with less time to turn its satirical eye to other targets, losing the scattershot, highly topical humor that had been one of its trademarks. These problems only got worse in season 20, as every episode in the season was part of a linear story arc that continued from episode to episode, unlike season 19 where the episodes, while part of the overall season arc, had plots that were largely self-contained. Eventually, real life wrote the plot in a way that Trey Parker and Matt Stone hadn't foreseen, forcing them to hastily rewrite the season finale to reflect itnote  and, in the process, abandon several subplots that they had spent the entire season building up. The general consensus was that, on a show as famously rapid-fire and up-to-the-minute as South Park, trying to do a serialized story-line just doesn't work — a consensus that Parker and Stone agreed with when they went back to an episodic format in season 21.
  • One of the most pervasive flaws of King of the Hill was how Hank was always right about everything, and anything that didn't gel with his conservative values was always wrong. As this article explains, Mike Judge had always wanted the show's Central Theme to be about the brand of good old-fashioned integrity that Hank exemplifies proving superior to any snooty bleeding-heart liberals and whatever modern-age PC hogwash they were espousing. Earlier seasons had the counterbalance of co-creator Greg Daniels, who liked to write episodes exploring a character's struggles and shortcomings. Because of this balance, other characters had their time to shine, Hank's uptight, stubborn, out-of-touch nature was often treated as flawed, and as a result, his role as the diligent, no-nonsense, ethical Only Sane Everyman was more sincere and broadly portrayed; anyone could view him as a good man, regardless of their place on the geopolitical spectrum. Eventually, Judge and Daniels became less involved with the show, and the balance began to waver — mass Flanderization ensued, not just of Hank's uptight conservatism, but eventually his role as the Only Sane Man as well. The show fell into a formula of Hank railing against anything that could be considered nontraditional, such as Boy Bands, Open Minded Parents who preferred Gentle Touch over Firm Hand, nerdy Tabletop Game enthusiasts, Bobby being In Touch with His Feminine Side, owning a pet other than a dog, or even Canadians, all of which portrayed as little more than an asinine Subculture of the Week. Because of this, the show that was meant to elevate the image of the humble Bible Belt conservative that was usually an Acceptable Target elsewhere ended up embodying its worst characteristics -- its bullheadedly insular and self-righteous attitude against any ideals other than its own.
  • 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 Shocking Swerve, 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.
  • The Fairly Oddparents:
    • The show has never really had strong continuity, since it was always meant to be a gag-based show for children. Occasionally you'd get a nod to a previous episode, but that was about it. Given the show's episodic format, most fans let it slide. But later seasons are often criticised for outright ignoring continuity.
    • The later seasons have gotten considerable criticism for flanderizing Cosmo into an insufferable ditz, making him one of the show's most annoying characters. Interestingly enough, even in the earliest episodes — where he was slightly spacey, but still competent and good-natured — he was already a flanderized version of the Cosmo who appeared in the original Nickelodeon shorts. There, he and Wanda were both portrayed as completely wise and competent, aside from being slightly out of touch with the mundane human world; his voice was even noticeably deeper and more suave before it got high-pitched and whiny. But it was still tolerable there, because it gave the two some Divergent Character Evolution, there was just more comedic potential in a dumb fairy than a smart one, and despite Wanda becoming the smart one, they were both about equally spacey — so Wanda never really got self-righteous or indignant at her husband's idiocy, and it was easier to laugh along with both of them.
    • For many, the most glaring element of the show's downfall was it constantly adding in new main characters. The first addition, baby Poof, was at least somewhat tolerated because he was the only one at the time, his reason for being (Cosmo and Wanda wanting a baby of their own) made some sense, and the writers appeared to be putting some effort into exploring what he brought to the table. That same goodwill couldn't be extended to another new character, Sparky the talking fairy dog. Not only did he give the impression that Timmy was retreating into a magical double life instead of brightening his own, but Sparky didn't exactly win over fans on his own merits. Not more than a season later, there would be a third addition to the godfamily in the form of Chloe Carmichael, a kid who Timmy had to share his godparents with — the reason for that requiring a lot of ass pulling. On top of that, Poof was Put on a Bus and Sparky was simply written out without explanation, making it all too easy to assume that the show was running on fumes.
  • Steven Universe: A lot of the shows divisive elements have always been there.
    • Later seasons have been criticized for rushing their story arcs. This can be seen in Season 2, the search for Malachite, despite all the buildup, is only given one episode in between Jailbreak and it's resolution in Season 3. The difference there is that the season still had plenty of story to tell, specifically the threat of the Cluster, and Peridot's Heel–Face Turn, still considered by many to be two of the show's best storlines. When Seasons 3-5 had no real story episodes inbetween their story arcs, the problem became harder to ignore.
    • The sheer amount of human-centric episodes, most of which have no real bearing on the overal plot, has been a sore spot for many. Most fans gave it a slide in Season 1, because the shows main plot had yet to reveal itself, and the next season only had about 6 episodes not related to the plot. Then later seasons brought back the Half-and-half approach, to mixed results.
    • As Robobuddies argues in "The Steven Universe Rant", the show had a habit of subverting many genre tropes by turning them on their head. While this worked for the more overused and obnoxious tropes along with the more dramatic ones in small doses as jokes, the latter became far more frequent, meaning there would just be more and more wasted potential for interesting plotlines and killing off any sense of drama.
  • Looney Tunes
    • Bugs Bunny was always supposed to be witty and resourceful from the start without the extreme absurdity nor the over-the-top wackiness of Daffy Duck. This still didn't mean that he had Plot Armor to carry the day after every short starring the character back in The '40s, but it was fairly established even then that he was smarter (at least where street-smarts concerned) than the usual Looney Tunes character. Chuck Jones took these features to their logical conclusion and added a Bing Crosby-esque sang froid element to Bugs Bunny in The '50s, making his version the definitive one afterwards. Because of this, the studio has been reluctant to wander away from this take too much. But ever since, Bugs seems to be permanently stuck in lower quality iterations of the Chuck Jones version, making him often seem smug and smarmy (that cover image in his trope page is his current default expression) while doing very little and allowing other characters to steal the spotlight.
    • Quite similarly Daffy Duck was made into a more over confident and self indulgent character quite early on, long before Chuck Jones retooled him into a egotistical foil for Bugs. However, this was only to give him some degree of pathos and motivation compared to the one-dimensional heckler he was in his most earliest shorts by Tex Avery, and even after Jones' retool, harks back to his wackier more competent characterisation remerged every now and then. Similar to Bugs however, Daffy traded many hands, with most trying too hard to emulate the frustration of Jones' version, Flanderizing him into a pompous bitter antagonist with an almost Non-Indicative Name.
  • Drawn Together was never to everyone's tastes, being one of the most unabashedly trashy shows on Television. The thing is, earlier seasons had a few surprisingly heartfelt moments that, combined with the show's "take nothing seriously" attitude, gave it a sense of sincerity. That became lost when the third season put more focus on its Vulgar Humor and how unsympathetic the cast could be. This came to a head in the Grand Finale, which not only took the raunchiness Up to Eleven to the point that it came off as mean-spirited, but also clumsily tried to justify it.


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

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