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Franchise Original Sin

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rule of thumb: if you can imagine a reboot or spiritual successor without the element in question, then it qualifies. If you can't, then it 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.

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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. (In fairness, Huntress and Robin were basically killed to wipe the slate clean, as they wouldn't have had any easy place in the Post-Crisis universe.) 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.
    • Talking of, COIE was also the first event comic to really use Tonight, Someone Dies as a selling point with the above two characters of Flash and Supergirl. Their deaths are still held up as classic moments in comic history, and a major reason behind this is that their deaths stuck (only being undone two decades later), and the writers knew that they would probably stick. Both franchises had been in a major slump, and in Supergirl's case, editorial edict was not favorable to her existing, and so their deaths were more or less the writers letting them go out on a high note. But as Comic Book Death became codified, it became almost obligatory for event comics to off at least one A-lister (and for said A-lister to return inside of a few years), causing the deaths to lose all impact. Readers stopped caring about the deaths of major characters when it often wouldn't even lead to their book being cancelled.
  • Some of the worst excesses of the Dark Age can trace its roots to the legacies of the best works of Alan Moore and Frank Miller, both whom were praised in their day for their realism, their creativity, and for bringing comics Out of the Ghetto:
    • Watchmen and Batman: The Dark Knight Returns are still recognized as among the greatest graphic novels in the medium's history. Both comics won enormous praise and commercial success for their elevation of the medium to new levels of artistic credibility with Watchmen even being recognized by Time in 2005 as among the 100 greatest novels ever reviewed by the magazine (the only graphic novel on the list). They also contained levels of violence and sex that were, at the time, unheard of in comics. However, both works were intended for mature audiences and clearly divorced from the regular comics continuity and the point and subtext of both comics is that superheroes or crimefighting and the adult world (i.e. real-life politics, history, economics, sex) don't actually mix, and at the end of both stories, Bruce Wayne is forced underground, while in Watchmen, the only character with the classic Black and White Morality of superhero comics, Rorschach, ends up dead. Writers and editors who didn't get the fine print or read too deeply assumed that those were the reasons why the comics were successful or great works leading to a slew of comics that desperately aimed to be 'mature' yet reveled in the most immature sort of shock value.
    • Other comics by the same writers, such as The Killing Joke also had a lot of dark and edgy material that was widely misinterpreted. Moore's Killing Joke had Barbara Gordon assaulted and crippled by the Joker in a ploy to humiliate her father, while proving to him and Batman that everyone's "one bad day" from being him, when the actual story is about Joker's Multiple-Choice Past and a possible reinterpretation of his origin that opens up the brief, but doomed, possibility that Joker could be cured should he be able to choose to. Instead the story codified the Joker as an ultra-violent malingerer and an embodiment of Insane Equals Violent, while making many of Batman's supporting-cast open season for him to hunt down to hurt Batman and up his cool cred, leading to gratuitous stunts such as the death of Jason Todd, and Sarah Essen Gordon, while also having Joker, once seen as a one-dimensional silly gimmick villain, into now being an equally one-dimensional murder-happy villain, leading in time to stories like Death of the Family and Joker that verge on Torture Porn.
  • Frank Miller:
  • X-Men:
    • A lot of the series' problems started with Chris Claremont doing too many things on the fly and not often planning ahead. But at least he didn't force those Running the Asylum now to take his older plots as canon gospel. That is their own fault. Claremont himself became notorious for his writing quirks: Talking Is a Free Action, dialogue switching back and forth between stiff exposition and attempted naturalism, fetishizing "empowered women", getting way too invested in elements only he cared about, and diving into soap opera to the point of plots and themes taking a backseat. In his early years, he got away with this partly because his style was new and innovative, and he had artists willing to tell him to tone it down. When he came back years later with the same old problems and Protection from Editors, people were much less forgiving.
    • "The Dark Phoenix Saga" is still regularly cited as one of the greatest comic book stories of all time, but it was also effectively "ground zero" for nearly everything that fans complain about in X-Men's later years. Most of its big moments still hold up today, but many of them started to lose their luster when later writers tried to replicate the magic of a classic story by copying its most superficial beats. The death of Jean Grey? An emotional gut-punch at the time, but not so impressive when later writers got into the habit of killing and resurrecting major characters so often that it became cliche. Turning the moral center of the X-Men into a genocidal supervillain? Shocking and unexpected then—but you can only turn a superhero into a supervillain (or vice versa) so many times before it becomes predictable and trite. Wolverine taking on the entire Hellfire Club singlehandedly? An awesome action sequence at the time, but not so awesome when later writers turned the character into an unkillable death-machine who regularly hogged the spotlight from other beloved characters. Putting the X-Men in the center of an epic Space Opera? A great climax at the time, but not so great when later stories tried to top it with increasingly bombastic set-pieces that prioritized cosmic spectacle over story and characterization.
  • Generation X was Dawson's Creek with a cast of mutants. As such, its main failing from the beginning was a general lack of plot direction. The characters did whatever, and in the first two-thirds this was fine because their characters played off each other and the comic climate accommodated its leisurely pace. It helped that, being like a Teen Drama, it dealt with common teen problems. As the series wore on and the '90s gave way to the early '00s, however, the general quality dissolved little by little. The character interactions became strained, and the teenage fans had begun moving on to more meaty stories. This (coupled with lots of changes in creative teams) eroded all the draws that kept readers on the book, and the old aimlessness came out.
  • Uderzo's run as writer of the Asterix comics started out very similarly to Goscinny's run, but with a few immediate shifts in character — first, that Uderzo had a more satirical and parodic sense of humour than Goscinny, who was more into absurdity and anarchy; second, that Uderzo liked writing more complicated, cinematic adventure plotlines, where Goscinny tended to prefer plots that were in the background to the characters's antics; and third, that he pushed fantasy elements further into the foreground, where the setting up until that point had been a Purely Aesthetic Era version of Ancient Rome with one really important fantasy element. This is not considered to detract from the quality of most of the early Uderzo-only books, like The Great Divide, Asterix and Son, and The Black Gold (with a very un-Goscinny James Bond parody subplot), although they are definitely different in tone, but books like The Magic Carpet (where the Dreadful Musician suddenly develops a magic power necessary for the plot to work) and Obelix All At Sea (Obelix gets turned to stone, reverts to childhood, and they all go to Atlantis) are often criticised for being straight fantasy adventures with not much in the way of humour. Then there was Asterix and the Secret Weapon, a book about a Straw Feminist taking over the village and defeating a 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:
    • The Night Gwen Stacy Died, the famous Gwen Stacy death plotline. Behind the scenes, it happened as a way for writer Gerry Conway to resolve the Gwen Stacy romance since she had become too close to Peter and realistically they would eventually marry and settle down which aged up the character considerably. Thing is, Gerry Conway was a decent writer and the storyline worked out pretty well, becoming a stunning Wham Episode that changed the course of the series. When a later editor developed the same fear of aging Peter too much, we got universally reviled storylines and retcons like Sins Past and One More Day.
    • The Death of Jean DeWolffe as well. While Gwen Stacy's death is the Trope Maker of the Stuffed into the Fridge trope, this was the Trope Codifier. The writer, Peter David, specifically said that this death was included to be shocking, as well as to subvert the Dying Moment of Awesome trope that had become standardized for Character Death. David wanted Jean's death to be undignified, unheroic, and completely out of nowhere. This paved the way for both Marvel and DC to start handing out shock deaths like candy, a trend that continues to this day.
  • 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, Incredible Hulk became a mass-murdering cannibal, Hank Pym became a domestic abuser, Black Widow became a turncoat who betrayed her teammates and committed high treason, and 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. However, all of this was overshadowed by the well written, fresh and at times shockingly realistic examination of the Superhero mythos the storylines provided. Thus initially, these changes were seen as part of the parcel ensuring that the Ultimate versions were more than just shallow clones, capable of being taken in new and interesting directions that their mainstream counterparts never could, establishing the Ultimate universe as standing out on its own merits and being willing to go to darker places than the original. But as the series went on repeatedly portraying beloved heroes as less and less sympathetic, audiences interest began to waver, and the Ultimate Universe acquired a reputation as a place where everyone not named Spider-Man 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.
    • One of the largest overall changes the Ultimate Universe made was tying many previously completely separate characters and groups (e.g. Spider-Man, Ultimates, Hulk, Black Panther and the X-Men and entire mutant race, as well as numerous villains etc.) to a single Meta Origin, namely attempts to recreate Captain American’s Super Serum. At the start, this fit well with the more grounded and higher realism approach to the world and super heroes (such as providing Doing In the Wizard explanations to traditionally mystical or fantastic heroes) that Ultimate aimed for and served as an interesting thorough deconstruction of No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup. However, as the years went on and the Ultimate Universe grew, it began to accept and embrace the more fantastic and science fiction ideas which it initially shunned (Thor really turning out to be a Norse god rather than a mad man with an experimental weapon, the existence of aliens and magic etc.) This caused the origin to lose its unifying status and instead appear more basic and repetitive, with some fans arguing it was confining towards the storylines and characters. Over time, the sentiment grew that simplifying and sharing the origins of so many characters made the Ultimate Universe feel smaller.
  • As argued in this article by Kevin Wong of Kotaku, the Wolverine Publicity given to Snoopy starting in the '60s foreshadowed how Peanuts transformed from a grounded and fairly dark Slice of Life comic strip into the shallow and saccharine pap that marked its Seasonal Rot from the late '70s onward. Originally, Snoopy was written as a normal dog, but as he started to gain an actual personality (for lack of a better term), he and his fantastic adventures became a nice contrast to the rest of the strip. In time, however, the increasing humanization of Snoopy grew out of control, the strip focusing more on putting Snoopy in goofy costumes and crazy situations as opposed to the social commentary on growing up that was the strip's hallmark in its early days. Other characters were pushed Out of Focus, while depth fell by the wayside in favor of gags and cuteness. Eventually, it culminated in the addition of other animal characters, such as Woodstock (who existed pretty much just to be cute) and Snoopy's family, meaning that Snoopy didn't have to interact much with the human characters at all anymore.
  • The Death of Superman is the Trope Codifier for the modern overuse of Death Is Cheap in comic books: a story in which the major superhero of the DC universe dies and is brought back over the course of a major storyline. However, back then, killing Superman was actually shocking to the audience because it hadn't been done to death yetnote , created immense Emotional Torque, and the Reign of the Supermen was a brilliant takedown of the '90s Anti-Hero. It's still a classic of comic book storytelling and a point of light in The Dark Age of Comic Books, but it also set such a trend for future Character Death that the comic book afterlife had to have a revolving door installed.
  • Superman: The comics in general have an original sin in that Superman's powers were not only extraordinary but also never really defined. "Faster than a speeding bullet! More powerful than a locomotive! Able to leap tall buildings at a single bound!" still leaves a lot of leeway regarding Superman's speed and strength. Not only that, but before The Golden Age of Comic Books was over, extra powers such as super-hearing, flying and x-ray sight were added to Supes' power roster. This led straight into the Silver Age and its penchant for piling up Superman's over-the-top powers such as super-ventriloquism, which in turn ended in power downgrades for Superman whenever reboots occurred. As a result, Superman's level of strength is notorious for fluctuating depending on whether the writers want him to be an upper-mid-tier hero or a nascent deity.
  • Batman:
    • Batman has always been called "the world's greatest detective", but to prevent his crossovers with superhuman heroes becoming Story Breaker Team Ups, the writers inflated his intelligence and preparation abilities to help keep up. While it was odd for essentially a street vigilante to take on Persons Of Mass Destruction, the idea that a Badass Normal could take on much more powerful opponents was very appealing to read plus helped justify Batman's place in the Justice League of America despite his low level of power. However, these match ups became common enough to reach memetic levels, making it seem like he can defeat anyone because "I'm the goddamned Batman". Now what is odd is why he ever has trouble on his home turf, which has supervillains low on the power scale at worst, let alone why his preparation abilities have not taken Gotham City out of being a Wretched Hive with repeat offenders.
    • The Joker becoming more bloodthirsty in The '70s was a refreshing change of pace and justified how one who was once written as a goofy prankster could be Batman's Arch-Enemy. It did leave a question of Batman's (and Gotham's law enforcement in general) inability to permanently deal with the threatening clown, but this could be raised to the rest of Batman's Rogues Gallery, and moments where he did something genuinely monstrous were mostly outnumbered by times where he was a capering loon, which made the genuinely horrible stuff all the more surprising. However, the Joker's bloodthirsty side started to stand out a bit too much, with the actions of brutally murdering Jason Todd and crippling Barbara Gordon, pushing him into Complete Monster territory. Worse, stories involving him murdering people for no reason, working in the shadows of the above two, increasingly became the norm for him, causing him to lose the Wild Card excuse and a lot of his charm. Compare "The Laughing Fish", often seen as a pivotal 70s Joker story, which shows him start out with a completely absurd plan (attempting to copyright poisoned fish) and only killing people when he's angry that they don't take him seriously, with many modern stories where his entire modus operandi seems random murder from square one. As a result, a character whose gimmick was meant to be unpredictability has become notorious for his predictable stories, and a lot of fans believe that making him an exception to Batman's strict refusal to kill would be the more heroic stance for the Dark Knight to take.
    • Batman's Woobie tendencies were there almost from the get-go. He eyewitnessed his parents' murder which scarred him for life. Then the Joker was given a Jerkass Woobie background in The Killing Joke (although, given his Multiple-Choice Past, it's questionable how much sympathy, if any, he deserves). Then The Penguin got one, and then Mr Freeze, and then... until nowadays even third string characters such as the Kite Man (!!!) must have a sob-story to justify their descent into evil.
  • The Dark Knight Returns was the first comic to ever show Superman and Batman really come to blows, and it fits a lot of the critiques that would mark later Superman/Batman brawls. Both characters undergo some Flanderization to make the fight happen in the first place, Batman has everything weighted in his favor, Superman comes off as a lot dumber than he should, and the actual fight features a lecture on Batman's part about how much better than Superman he is. All these things were forgivable because of what a massive upset it was, how well it underpinned the themes of the comic, and how bizarre it was to see a man who could tug a planet be held to a standstill by a Badass Normal (and the fact that it was an alternate timeline helped the character issues go down). Nowadays, Superman/Batman fights have happened so much that they've become a borderline loathed cliche, with the shock wearing off to Fridge Logic, the idea of Batman winning becoming downright expected, the character issues much less forgivable in a mainline comic, and the morality and themes devolving into "Batman is soooooo much better than Superman, you guys."
  • Kingdom Come
    • It was the first comic to pair Superman and Wonder Woman together, a trend that would crop up a lot in Elseworld comics and eventually becoming briefly canon during the New 52. It worked there because there was lots of time spent explaining their relationship and crafting realistic circumstances for the two to be together. It's heavily implied, even then, to start off as a tragic, even loveless relationship - two grieving people latching onto each other for a source of stability, regardless of whether they actually have anything going on. Later adaptations that would see them together tend to ride off the popularity of the pairing without giving it the needed justification beyond "strongest guy and girl hook up". It also started the trend of such stories killing off or derailing Lois Lane, but it didn't start the trend of Superman getting over it almost immediately.
    • Wonder Woman using lethal force. Her being shown a sword-wielding warrior willing to kill was rather clearly written as a component of the Bad Future: the Wonder Woman of Kingdom Come had been banished from her homeland, seen most of her friends die, and lost hope in her own morals, and her largely ditching the lasso for a sword was a symptom of that. It would be up there with doing a story where Batman routinely carries a gun. Unfortunately, between Kingdom Come's iconic status and Wonder Woman's comparative Mainstream Obscurity, it ended up becoming many readers' first impression of Wonder Woman, and many readers found the "warrior" imagery of a sword-wielding Wonder Woman credible - despite the entire purpose to Wonder Woman's character being that she's a warrior from a world where stabbing people with a sword is not the solution (there's a reason her actual signature weapon is a lasso). Consequently, many later writers had Wonder Woman go from being one of the most loving and forgiving heroes on the Justice League to one of the most willing to use lethal force, and eventually Flanderized into stabbing people whenever possible.
  • Marvel 1602:
    • The three sequels/spinoffs — 1602: New World, 1602: Fantastick Four, and 1602: Spider-Man — are generally not fondly remembered by most Marvel Comics fans, largely because they focus so heavily on distinctly Silver Age characters who really don't fit the Elizabethan setting (like Spider-Man, the Hulk, 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.
  • One of the biggest complaints about modern day Marvel Comics was the replacement of older beloved heroes with younger counterparts that lacked the edges their predecessors had, most notably Amadeus Cho taking up the Hulk mantle and Iron Heart. This wasn't something new, with the recently beloved Miles Morales taking up Peter Parker's role after his death with more powers than the original, and even earlier in Spider-Girl, who both took up Peter's role and in a much more idealistic story to boot. Within these series however, the characters were still built on the themes of their predecessors (Miles didn't want to have anything to do with his powers and caused Peter to die, May decided to act against a crime and realized the importance of taking responsibility), with their predecessors going out in ways that honored them (Peter saved everyone from Electro before dying for Miles, while May succeeded him after he had lived a long life of superheroics), thus the progression to them felt organic. For many cases in modern Marvel, the originals tended to go out in ways that were contrived or insulting (Hulk was killed by an accidental shot by Hawkeye, while Tony was put into a coma during the second Civil War) while lacking the flaws that made up the characters' core themes (Cho was in full control of the Hulk form, with no anger required to enter it), making it feel like they had been abandoned just to move onto someone else that just wouldn't have worked in their shoes.
  • Fans of Transformers: More than Meets the Eye tend to see the comic's later arcs, especially Lost Light onwards, as a step down from the first few years, but a lot of the problems to crop up were there from the beginning. Snarky and self-referential dialogue, absurd plots, messy treatment of relationships, slow-burning arcs, and a habit of focusing too strongly on a core cast that displaced a lot of potentially interesting characters were all present - but James Roberts had yet to obtain Protection from Editors, and also had enough time to make sure his plots paid off. In later arcs, the dialogue became a World of Snark, the "Megatron's redemption" arc became a Plot Tumor, the plots moved from "quirky soft-sci-fi" to "flatly ridiculous", and most of the non-core cast was either written out or killed off. It didn't help that the oncoming end of the IDW continuity meant that Roberts had far less time than he seemed to be expecting to resolve dozens of hanging plot threads, resulting in the final arc having to take a lawnmower to the Kudzu Plot.

     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.
  • Nobody Dies: The main complaint about the fic is that it got too silly to be taken seriously, but silliness was always a part of the story. Just look at this version of Rei and what she pulls off. The difference is the silliness was mostly limited to her and balanced out by serious and touching events that made those moments of levity more appreciated. Arguably, the cracks began to show as early as season two, what with more ridiculous events, the goofy antics spreading even into more serious chapters and the introduction of the Ree, a gaggle of girls whose primary purpose was just to be silly.
  • React Watch Believe Yikes: Back during the season one viewing, the author borrowed a joke that one of his reviewers made and used it in the story, giving the fellow proper credit. This gave other people the idea to suggest their own lines for use and it was good because it helped provide exposure and eased the writing process. The first signs of a problem were early into the season two viewing, when one of those jokes resulted in Blake taking injuries as a result, causing a suggestion to have significant, lasting consequences. As a result, when readers realized they could have some degree over the direction of the plot, the reviews became less substantial critique and more about thinking up funny ways to pull the plot where they wanted it to go. And because the author kept taking those suggestions, this caused some of the more inane twists and the increased importance of Noire that the story would be later criticized for.
  • 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 A Song of Ice and Fire storyline that had previously been a selling point. The series has always been about gradual plot development and long term pay-offs, with a lot of detail put into exploring the backdrop of the action and the world in general — but this was all complemented by significant happenings. Though some POV characters had less to do than others, each book had a dramatic arc to it. Feast and Dance, meanwhile, are criticized for essentially very little happening because the focus is drawn so wide, with too much time spent describing characters and places that don't really matter—issues that culminate in the books ending without their logical climax out of a combination of the author and editor needing to publish SOMETHING already and the fact that Dance was already so long that it tested the limits of bookbinding technology despite being unfinished. Notably, when the HBO adaptation Game of Thrones reached this point in the series during season 5, many of these same criticisms — namely, that the show was moving too slowly and was having trouble corralling all of its many plotlines — were repeated almost verbatim by TV critics, even with the show's attempts at Adaptation Distillation.
  • Similarly, while The Wheel of Time always suffered from too many subplots, dozens of viewpoint characters and massive word count padding, in the earlier books it was easier to overlook this because Robert Jordan was able to write an interesting story into each thread of the epic. Then came Crossroads of Twilight, when the first section of the book was dedicated to showing what various characters had been doing during the Battle of Shadar Logoth, which was essentially 'nothing at all.' Crossroads of Twilight was seen as the weakest book in the series for this reason.
  • In the Bitterbynde trilogy's first book, The Ill-Made Mute, the characters frequently sit down and begin to tell a Tale-within-a-Tale, usually some retelling of a known myth about magical creatures. This fit in with the book's easygoing pace, the characters in question, and it helps to build the world of Erith as a world where such occurrences are commonplace. The prose is also lavish and very detailed, but again, it's used well and it creates a beautiful and distinct world in the reader's head. By the time the second book rolls around, the easygoing pace is maddeningly slow, the prose has gotten to a point where the reader needs a dictionary handy at all times, and a knowledge of how to diagram a sentence, and the constant interruption with myths and folktales becomes a huge distraction and hindrance. The third book is nearly unreadable, for these and other reasons.
  • Troy Steele at Blogger Beware argues that the Goosebumps series was ruined by its sixteenth book, One Day at Horrorland, long before the series' generally acknowledged decline. While Horrorland became one of the series' most popular books, it eschewed the semi-realistic approach of earlier Goosebumps entries, where ordinary kids encountered a low-key, supernatural menace (dummies, ghosts, haunted masks, etc.) within everyday environments, in favor of a fantasy environment heavily populated by monsters (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, Gadunka, Maxilos & Spinax) that did interesting things with the pieces available to it. The next year wasn't so lucky, as not only did it reintroduce the Toa Nuva with underwhelming Adaptive Armor designs, but the impulse sets were simplified to the point they barely qualified as construction toys, and the larger price points were mostly occupied by huge vehicle sets instead of interesting titan figures. On top of that, an attempt to correct faulty socket-joint manufacturing from last year ended up Gone Horribly Wrong, dooming the already limited limb parts to breakage. These problems plagued the line for another year until LEGO pulled the plug on it.
    • And way before that, you could look at the Toa and Bohrok sets, who made up the first four waves of canister sets. The Toa sets were all very similar, the Toa Nuva sets were basically the same as those but with armor, and the Bohrok and Bohrok-Kal sets were all totally identical with the exception of colors and weapons. This wasn't seen as a killer because a) it was early, and the 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).
  • Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald had... mixed reception to say the least, even among fans of the Harry Potter franchise. Perhaps the most consistent complaint about it though was that it had too many major characters, and as a result they all fought for screen time. Of course the Harry Potter books were famous for Loads and Loads of Characters, and most people praised the series for it. And most fans complained when most of these became no more than extras in film adaptations. Of course this was part of the Pragmatic Adaptation mindset of the films. However by the time of Fantastic Beasts, J K Rowling wasn't writing books that other people made into screen plays she wrote the screen plays herself. It worked out alright in the first one, but in the second her typical writing style leaked though. Unfortunately while having intricate plots with many characters over multiple installments makes for a great piece of literature, it doesn't necessarily translate to the silver screen well. Where a reader can make note and commit certain details in a book to memory before reading on and flip backward when a big reveal comes up, this just isn't possible in a movie.

     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 disappointment over the production, though their continued experimentation on Vs. and Vitalogy, as well as their fight with Ticketmaster, eventually won Cobain and many other critics over.
  • 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:
    • His later albums were often criticised for his tendency towards the syrupy and the angry. These elements were always in place, but were kept balanced out with accessible music, largely due to others around him (such as his brothers in The Jacksons and producer Quincy Jones). By the time of "Dangerous", Jackson had total control over his music and the elements described became much more prevalent. Whilst at the time it and its follow-ups "HI Story Past Present And Future Book I" and "Invincible" were very popular, they are often seen nowadays in lesser terms than "Off the Wall", "Thriller" and "Bad".
    • As beloved as the video for "Thriller" is, almost everything that would come to be mocked in his later "short films" starting with "Bad" begins with it: extended Talky Bookends that could be excised without affecting the Excuse Plot, celebrity cameos (Vincent Price's "rap" here), state-of-the-art special effects lingered upon for minutes on end, and a big-name director behind the camera. The difference is that beyond the novelty of all this in 1983, these elements work together as a piece — it's a horror movie pastiche befitting a song about horror movies. Later "short films" would have increasingly ridiculous and random Excuse Plots and Talky Bookends, name directors hired solely to give Jackson "street" credibility, celebrity cameos that left them extremely dated within five years or so, and (in the more fantastical examples) then-state-of-the-art effects shoehorned in every nook and cranny because Jackson was the greatest entertainer in the world and nothing less would do for him.
  • The conventional wisdom that Woodstock represented the zenith of the dream of The '60s, while the Altamont concert four months later represented the collapse of that dream, ignores that many of the same issues that plagued Altamont also plagued Woodstock. A larger-than-expected crowd that became a logistical nightmare, a major traffic jam, people suffering bad LSD trips, and even deaths all occurred at Woodstocknote . Obviously, the big difference was that Woodstock's organizers didn't hire the notorious Oakland chapter of the Hells Angels as a security force, but in general, they lucked out in making some good choices in key areas (like medical facilities) that prevented a big disaster.
  • 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, 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, the popularity she had gained as a valet revived interest in the division and led to talented wrestlers putting on good matches - not to mention that Sable was quite muscular for a model, so, Kayfabe aside, the idea of her powerbombing someone was at least plausible. The sin was actually having Sable win the title from Jacqueline, which necessitated she be exposed in extended matches and set up Trish Stratus, another inexperienced model, getting the title when it was vacated. While Trish, to her credit, became a respectable talent despite her beginnings, WWE continued to push models with little to no wrestling experience, to the point it had to take the title off television altogether when the roster overflowed with inadequately trained people who were not learning as quickly as Trish, did not appeal to audiences as Sable had and didn't have enough carriers to offset the low level of performance.
  • The First WWE Diva Search added nothing to the program in the long run but did not do any damage either, as everyone soon forgot about it. What everyone remembers is the 2004 quarter-million-dollar Diva Search, which lead to a football player from the Lingerie Bowl with no wrestling experience coming straight to television with with a bigger paycheck than half the roster. That in itself would not have been so bad if not for the aforementioned sin of Sable, which lead to three wrestlers being released in favor of runner ups from the 2004 Diva Search, who stayed on longer than the fan-voted winner. This decision was the direct cause of the women's title being removed from television, and there were three more Diva Searches before the fans made it clear enough was enough. At least the last two actually kept the winners over the runners-up.
  • TNA's is the signing of Kurt Angle. Make no mistake, Kurt is undoubtedly the greatest signing the company has ever made — he legitimized them as a major wrestling promotion. The real issue was his booking. For his first couple of years, Angle remained the focal point of TNA and was constantly booked over the younger, homegrown talent. His Spotlight-Stealing Squad status was so bad that TNA was nicknamed Total Nonstop Angle at one point. While all this would be bad enough, the real danger of Angle's booking was the precedent it set. After Angle, the company started signing more and more older stars primarily from the Monday Night Wars and putting them over the younger talent. This trend peaked during the start of the Hogan/Bischoff era, where basically anyone who wasn't a major player in the Monday Night Wars was pushed down the card and/or released to make room for Hogan and Bischoff's friends. As a result, TNA went from a promotion that had some vague similarities to WCW to WCW-lite. In short, Angle was the beginning of the end for TNA, and the damage in the fallout of his signing is something that the company still hasn't recovered from, both in regards to their reputation and finances, to this day.
  • The Rock's return to the WWE between Wrestlemania 28 and Wrestlemania 29 might appear to be shaping up into one. When it happened, almost everybody was happy: the fans were happy to see The Rock return, WWE got some mainstream press (which they're always desperate for), and in general, despite the flaws in the execution, all was good. However, when WWE saw the surge they got from a returning legend, they've tried desperately to make that same lightning strike twice, bringing multiple former Superstars back, including Chris Jericho, Rob Van Dam, Brock Lesnar, the New Age Outlaws, Batista and Sting. Some have worked, some haven't, but as a whole, the sheer number of them are seen as damaging. It creates difficulty in working angles and building momentum due to their spotty appearances, which can damage the push of younger wrestlers who are working with them. The sheer number of them who are clogging up the roster, and the short-term rise in popularity, could potentially hurt WWE long-term by not giving their rising stars the time to become the main-event performers they need to be when the current generation starts to step down. While most of the returning Superstars themselves are very popular, the term "part-timers" has become a dirty word among WWE fans.
  • Speaking of Brock Lesnar, this also applies to his "Suplex City" gimmick, wherein he endlessly spams German suplexes in his matches, only stopping for an occasional spot of him driving his opponent into the corner, standard punches/kicks, or his Finishing Move. When it started, it was first used against John Cena, then later Roman Reigns — where it worked well because of the Catharsis Factor. Fans were tired of Super-Cena booking, and Roman was obviously being groomed to be Cena 2.0 when the character was an ill fit for him, so the fans enjoyed watching those two get punished. However, come 2016 and used against wrestlers who didn't have the power of booking protecting them, its flaws were exposed. At first there was his street fight at Wrestlemania against Dean Ambrose, who most saw as a rising star and possibly the man to get the vaunted win over Brock. However, fans instead got a glorified squash match where Brock no-sold every weapon Ambrose used on him, stopped him from using others (including a chainsaw and Barbie, making those two legends gifting them to him pointless) in a clear bid to avoid getting injured before his upcoming UFC match that summer. But the straw that broke the camel's back was his match with Randy Orton, one of the few men who could believably have a competitive match with Brock, at Summerslam. Instead, Brock threw him around like a rag doll, and while Orton got some offense in, he ended up losing by technical knockout as Brock busted his forehead open with elbow shots. Orton lost so much blood and had such a wound that he needed ten staples to close it, and suffered a concussion. As a result, fans turned on Brock en masse to the point where Goldberg squashing Brock at Survivor Series provided Catharsis Factor in the other direction for many.

    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 Strahd von Zarovich, the Big Bad, meaning his actual role in the plot gave him a sense of being a dynamic threat rather than Orcus on His Throne. Later adventures would drop all these things in favor of sticking the party on the railroad tracks, and the significant NPC would instead be a GMPC who would solve the adventure while the players watched. There's a reason Strahd is still a beloved character, while Elminister (who usually fulfilled the above role) is seen as a Creator's Pet.
  • 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 
Homestuck:
  • One of the most common issues readers have had with Act 6 was how it added more characters from its beginning, particularly the "player"-type characters that use an online chatting device. This led to a greater amount of dialogue and caused complaints that the plot was moving along too slowly or that the new characters were not as likable as the old. This was also present in Act 5 when the trolls were introduced, only they led to an explosion in the story's popularity while Act 6 has slowly driven readers away. A general opinion was that the new human characters of Act 6 were not as memorable or unique as the original trolls once were, that the new trolls being minor joke characters with the purpose of attacking sections of the fandom came off as a harsh waste of world-building, and that the cast expansion overall failed to re-capture the lightning in the bottle that the twelve initial trolls succeeded in.
  • The complaint that the plot moves too slowly has always been a complaint about Homestuck. It took three acts to be introduced to the main four kids.
  • Homestuck has always had an interesting relationship with Character Death and resurrection, to the point of death and rebirth being a Central Theme. Much of the world-building meant that characters could feasibly die and then be brought back. In fact, some characters (Nanna, Jasper, and Aradia) were introduced into the story as Dead to Begin With. While plenty of character deaths and rebirths happened as the comic went on, they usually were plot-significant and occurred during major updates. Additionally, some of these deaths did receive Black Comedy (such as the reveal of Jade's dreamself being taxidermied), it was usually more double-linecrossing, if anything. Starting around the "Murderstuck" arc in Act 5 Pt. 2, the tone started getting darker and deaths of significant characters became more common, with a few characters even getting Killed Offscreen. When they did receive dark humor, it often came off more meanspirited. Characters did come back, but there were occasions when it'd come off more like a plot contrivance than anything previously established. After a certain point, characters dying went from a central part of the story's theme to almost literally a joke.
  • Sinfest is infamous for its extreme feminism now, but it actually had strips attacking commercialism as early as 2004. In 2008, Sinfest heavily endorsed Obama and attacked imperialism. These attempts at politicization did not receive as strong a reaction as the Sisterhood does now because they did not totally derail characters or use lots of confusing mixed metaphors.

     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.
    • It was pretty obvious from the beginning that Doug Walker has basically no formal education in film or film analysis; going back to his first reviews, many of them had pretty shallow criticism, bad research, or him missing the point. It wasn't problematic in his early days because he was both one of the only games in town in terms of video-based film reviews and analysis, especially considering his schedule, and he (by nature of his format) chose films that were soft targets for criticism and not widely discussed or defended. When he started doing reviews of recent or popular films, the limitations of his style and skills as a reviewer became a lot more evident, especially with the dozens of film critique and review channels by people who actually studied film professionally or as a hobby (be they students, critics, or even filmmakers) that have popped up in the intervening years. You don't need much more than functioning eyeballs to recognize that Batman & Robin is a mess, but attempting to interestingly dissect movies like Moulin Rouge! or Mad Max: Fury Road requires a level of film knowledge and skill that Doug Walker simply does not have.
    • The weaknesses in the show's filming (bad special effects, amateur cinematography, cheap production values) are a weird case, in that they've undeniably improved from where they were when the series began. But when the series began, it was one guy in front of a camera riffing on movie clips; the humor came from the movie first, the guy's jokes second, and any sketches or stuff that required actual filming a distantly third bonus. When later reviews, especially post-revival, upped the number and length of those sketches considerably (to the point of taking up the entire review in reviews of recent films, due to Doug's policy of recreating clips as sketches rather than waiting for the home release), while they did improve, their lacking quality became a lot more evident. It also became a lot harder to use Stylistic Suck as a defense when the Critic has become a more legitimate enterprise with a studio and an actual budget, but still uses the same Halloween costumes and bad green screen.
  • 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 Season 3, he was seen as an interesting, intimidating villain the audience could Love to Hate. However, that meant that when the storyline moved past him, the writers decided to bring him back, at which point they overexposed him significantly, meaning the audience grew sick of The Darkness.
    • In Act II of "The Stupid Mario Brothers Movie" The Darkness gets back up off the ground after being seemingly killed by Wario, because of a counter curse that was never hinted at. It didn't screw up the movie's plot, even if it made no sense when you really thought about it, so it was tolerated at the very least. Also, Liquid Snake came back to life with no explanation given (though it's hinted that The Darkness had a role in it), but it worked since it lead to the face off scene between Solid and Liquid Snake. This lead to a major annoyance most fans had in the later seasons, where characters are revived for no reason (no good reasons, at least), simply to provide a villain in the laziest way possible. This even got Lampshaded by Snake when Vercetti came back, indicating that at least some of the cast and crew were sick of it as well.
    • Many fans found it extremely hard to sympathise with Mario and Luigi in Seasons 4 and 5, seeing as how utterly isolationist they are. Said isolationist thoughts were present in the very first episode, and worked, since the idea was that Mario and Luigi were fed up with having to save the Mushroom Kingdom all the time and decided to have a vacation. In later seasons, Mario and Luigi do little to solve the problem of the beacon's destruction


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

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