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Growing the Beard

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"Hunky Dory gave me a fabulous groundswell. I guess it provided me, for the first time in my life, with an actual audience – I mean, people actually coming up to me and saying, 'Good album, good songs.' That hadn't happened to me before. It was like, 'Ah, I'm getting it, I'm finding my feet. I'm starting to communicate what I want to do. Now: what is it I want to do?' There was always a double whammy there."

The opposite of Jumping the Shark, Growing the Beard is the definitive moment when a series begins to become noticeably better in quality. This often involves a new writer or other creative person coming on board, the happy discovery of a popular character, or the exit of a meddling executive or less popular characters. In general, this is where a franchise is realizing what works and starts to find its voice.

If it is a comedy, then this is usually when it deviates from an overall lighthearted tone and reaches an impressive emotional depth. If it is a drama (or something in between), this would be when the character dynamic is spelled out clearly and starts to resonate with the storyline. In the case of science fiction, another major characteristic of this trope is that the show will begin to develop actual continuity (generally spanning the lifetime of the series once begun), rather than just spending its time on one-off episodes which don't mean anything outside each individual episode itself. While there may not be a true Myth Arc as such, there will still be some form of memory, and you can expect to see events from episodes referenced by characters later.

The key to this trope is seeing a dramatic "before and after" difference along the life of a series. The element can sometimes be attributed to a single, outstanding episode that defines the show. Other times it is just a general improvement, like the Trope Namer Star Trek: The Next Generation. Fans of the series noticed a sharp increase in the quality and consistency of stories and the show really starting to gain its own identity, and this coincided with Commander Riker, Jonathan Frakes, growing a beard — even though it still took a little more time before it really took off.note  The term has spread into internet vernacular to the point that Frakes himself has even brought it up. History repeated itself a few years later when fans noted a marked improvement in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine after lead actor Avery Brooks grew a beard (and shaved his head, to boot).note  As an added bonus, Frakes and his beard are actually responsible for two examples of this. The late 90s Cult Classic anthology series Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction was hosted in its first season by James Brolin, who narrated in something of a dry, kind of detached style. Come season two, Frakes and his beard took over, and narrated in a much more lighthearted and pun-laden style, which made the show far more fun.

It's almost worthwhile to call this "Finding the Beard", because nearly every serial media that persists has some degree of change from its initial variation. Continuity Creep, Story Arc and Myth Arc are all strong reasons why this can happen, helping the audience grow more interested in this new show. See also Surprisingly Improved Sequel.

Take note that this is not a requirement with every series. They may have just fallen away unnoticed. Maybe it started at a high quality and there is no dramatic difference in quality as mentioned, unless it only went downhill from there.

In general, this happens only once during a series' run. But there are times where long after Growing the Beard a show starts to hit a low point like an Audience-Alienating Era or Strictly Formula. A second Growing the Beard can occur with a refreshing of ideas and hitting a new high. We might well call this variant "Greying the Beard".

Also note that just because a series eventually grows a beard doesn't mean it was actually bad to start with. Getting a new viewer into a series with an abysmal beginning can be difficult, as they only have one's word that "it gets a lot better, really". Sometimes though it's just a case of smoothing out any elements of Early-Installment Weirdness. Being So Okay, It's Average is sometimes the worst offense a show can have before it evolves, or it takes a season or two of being just "good" before it develops the myth arc it became famous for. For example, Calvin and Hobbes may have needed some time to develop into a truly great piece of work, but it was still an excellent and clever strip from the very beginning.

Also note that fans can be starkly divided as to whether a change is Growing the Beard or Jumping the Shark. Usually such judgments cannot be made objectively or definitively at the moment it happens.

A beard growing moment is also called a Riker's Beard moment.

Sometimes the improvement is associated with changing around the creative team, which would intersect with My Real Daddy as it means the work succeeds because of someone not acknowledged as the original creator. A Franchise Original Sin can also be associated with elements both before Growing the Beard and after, as it can be related to elements always associated with the work before it became a problem.

For tropes about the growth of actual beards, see Time-Passage Beard and Beard of Sorrow.


Example subpages:

Other examples:

    Asian Animation 
  • While Seasons 1 and 2 of Happy Heroes are by no means considered terrible, Season 3 is notable in that it establishes lore and running gags that would go on to become series staples (such as Doctor H.'s missing father and Big M.'s vomit-inducing ugliness), and it benefits from introducing the fan-favorite character Kalo.
  • For some people, Lamput got better when its episode runtime increased from 15 seconds to two minutes, giving it more room for good jokes and stories.
  • The first season of Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf is just a Road Runner vs. Coyote story about Wolffy trying and failing to catch the goats every day. For some people, the show is much better in its later seasons when it begins to have continuous stories and larger plots, some of which (Marching to the New Wonderland and War of Invention) stretch across multiple seasons.

    Comic Strips 
  • Berke Breathed acknowledged that Bloom County didn't really take off until Opus, Binkley and Milo became the central focus. He admitted that early on, he didn't know what direction to take the strip (leading to a massive Retcon of nearly the entire first year and a half), and that he often cribbed Doonesbury in the earliest strips.
  • Calvin and Hobbes opened up emotionally with the baby raccoon arc. It opened up creatively with the transmogifier arc.
    • The "big dog that stole Hobbes" arc predated the baby raccoon arc, and was the first thing to really open sentimentality into the strip, setting the stage for baby raccoon. It also let Watterson know that the readers were connecting with the characters as he began receiving letters from fans who were worried about Hobbes before the story even resolved.
  • Doonesbury was originally about a group of kids in college for the first decade or so of its run. Gary Trudeau took a 2-year hiatus and then began drawing the strip again, developing the art style and real-time storyline that the strip is known for today.
    • While the art definitely improved after his hiatus, the writing of the strip had always been top notch. See Trudeau's Pulitzer he won in 1975 as evidence of that.
  • For the first few years, FoxTrot was just a funnier, quirkier version of the typical family gag strip with several of the cliches (Older brother's eating habits, daughter's ditzy behavior, father's cluelessness, etc.) turned up to eleven. And then, in 1989, Jason dressed up as Batman to go see the new film, introducing the film's pop culture awareness and geek sensibility that would eventually come to dominate the strip.
  • For its first month and a half, Garfield was centered on the titular cat and Jon. The introductions of Lyman and Odie made the strip one of the most familiar to many readers.
  • Knights of the Dinner Table was initially a short, fairly shallow series of one-off jokes featuring Flat Characters, no ongoing story, and crude art. Over the many years of its publication, it's evolved to a lengthy, deep series featuring fully-fleshed out characters, long story arcs, and...slightly less crude art. The turning point was probably when it stopped focusing on every strip being a brief joke ending in a punchline, and started truly dwelling on the narrative of the campaign, as well as the lives of the denizens of Muncie.
  • Peanuts:
    • In the first few years after its 1950 debut, it was a basic gag strip about children, with a few odd quirks (a kid playing Beethoven on a toy piano, a smart dog, etc.). Then in a 1956 sequence, Charlie Brown got his kite caught in a tree, and was so angry he decided to just stay there. This went on for over a week, with other characters walking by and making sarcastic or inane comments. Charles M. Schulz himself later identified this sequence as the moment when the strip's unique brand of humor finally took shape.
    • Another often-cited (by critics and creator alike) example of a turning point in Peanuts is Snoopy's Anthropomorphic Shift: gradual for the most part, but one day he began walking on his hind legs, and there was no turning back.
  • The Perishers initially featured strong artwork and occasionally funny jokes, but was marred by generic characters and an over-reliance on Running Gags and cutesy moments. This changed when initial writer Ben Witham was dismissed and replaced by Maurice Dodd, who fine-tuned the strip's humour and made it ten times better in the process.
  • Sally Forth (Howard) started out as a prosaic 'liberated wife/mother in the workplace' strip, until Francesco Marciuliano was hired as writer, putting a cheerfully goofy-yet-grounded spin on things.

  • Many fans of Escape from Vault Disney! believe the podcast considerably improved after the 5-month long hiatus imposed by the COVID-19 Pandemic. Reasons include a new intro and intermission music replacing the generic banjo music with impactful licks based on the "Walt Disney and You" VHS promos from the 80's, the transition from in-person only guests to Zoom allowing a more diverse and fun group of guests than whoever's near Tony Goldmark in Southern California, and the inclusion of the State of the Parks segment leading to interesting theme park discussion when needed.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • The Big Boss Man, aka Ray Traylor. When he debuted in the WWF in the mid-80s under the guidance of manager Slick, he wrestled much like the Wrestling Monsters that were frequent in the time period. In fact, he even got teamed up with one, Akeem, to form the Twin Towers. The beard-growing period came for the Boss Man in 1990, when he split from Akeem and Slick and underwent a Heel–Face Turn. The next couple years or so saw him becoming more of a Lightning Bruiser in the ring, and an much beloved upper-midcarder. When he came back to the WWF in the late 90s, he'd grown the beard in terms of his on-screen persona (he went from the cop outfit to the SWAT-team getup), but he wasn't the in-ring worker he once was.
  • Daniel Bryan in the most literal way possible. He debuted clean shaven and wasn't much more than a jobber. He moved to Perma-Stubble when he left NXT and a goatee when he won the US Title and MITB. He started growing it out when he became World Champ, but it wasn't until Team Hell No that he became a true star, when he stopped shaving entirely. By the time he was main eventing WrestleMania XXX, he looked like a wildman from the mountains.
  • Dwayne Johnson began his pro wrestling career as Rocky Maivia, a one dimensional face in a time where people wanted something more. In short order, he made a heel turn, started constantly referring to himself in the 3rd person, took the mic and ran with it, and even main evented WrestleMania as The Rock. Now many consider him one of the greatest wrestlers of all time, and easily the most charismatic man in wrestling history.
  • Kurt Angle was always seen as a great wrestler, but people didn't start calling him the greatest wrestler of all time until he shaved his head after losing a Hair Match to Edge in 2002 (making this, in a way, a reverse Growing The Beard!). He became one-half of the inaugural WWE Tag Team Champions, had three more World Title reigns, and delivered Match of the Year contenders.
  • "Stone Cold" Steve Austin was originally given a gimmick of "The Ringmaster" and managed by Ted DiBiase. It was a pretty bland gimmick until he ended up losing DiBiase as manager in a match. Then he started getting himself involved with Bret Hart. He arguably grew his beard officially in a submission match at WrestleMania 13 when he refused to tap out to Bret Hart's Sharpshooter and passed out instead.
  • Randy Orton debuted as a bland smiling baby face in 2002 with none of the things that would later make him a legend and seemed to not be going much of anywhere even after being traded to Raw in September 2002. However... when Randy Orton went down with a shoulder injury, he was sidelined for months and instead of disappearing from our screens would cut a series of promos called Randy News Network which would see Randy Orton cut snide updates about his shoulder injury assuming everyone missed him which would see Randy slowly turn heel before joining Evolution. The rest is history as Randy eventually became a co-face of the company along with John Cena
  • Speaking of big match John... John Cena would debut on the June 27th, 2002 episode of Smackdown as the prototype accepting the open challenge laid out by Kurt Angle. Despite losing that match he made a huge impact with dropping the "RUTHLESS AGGRESSION" line before smacking Kurt Angle but besides that had nothing else to him besides his look. It was looking like he would have been fired but it was when Stephanie McMahon overheard him freestyle rapping that Cena's Doctor of Thuganomics character would be born. This newfound character led to Cena winning the United States Championship at "WrestleMania 20" before officially becoming WWE Champion a year later at "WrestleMania 21". He then slowly became the face of the company having multiple WWE and World Heavyweight Championships reigns
  • Anytime you put a wrestler in a hardcore match with Mick Foley, this will happen.
    • The Undertaker had grown stagnant as a wrestler, and hadn't wrestled an interesting match in years. Then Mankind shows up in 1996, and proceeds to take The Undertaker to the limit, now, both men are legends.
    • Triple H had recently won his second World Title from the Big Show, but fans didn't really take the guy as a serious champion. Most still saw him as Shawn Michaels' Depraved Bisexual cohort from DX. Until his matches with Cactus Jack at the 2000 Royal Rumble and his other match with Cactus Jack in a Hell in a Cell at the 2000 No Way Out. Through a combination of Nepotism and Executive Meddling, he has been the Villain Protagonist of the whole company for 14 years and counting.
    • Randy Orton was considered nothing more than a bland third generation wrestler who only got there because his dad was Cowboy Bob Orton. Kind of like how fans first responded to The Rock. After a feud with Mick Foley culminating in a match at Backlash 2004, he became a real main eventer, and beat Chris Benoit for the World Heavyweight Championship at the main event in SummerSlam four months later. Today, he's practically one of the faces of the company.
    • Edge had already built up quite the midcard following thanks to the three-way feud between him and Christian, the Hardy Boys, and the Dudley Boys in the early 2000s, but most people didn't take him seriously as a main event talent, even with a blink-and-you'll-miss-it WWE title reign under his belt in early 2006. Enter Mick Foley again, and a hardcore match at WrestleMania 22, and suddenly Edge had become cemented as not only a main event talent and worthy champion, but a future legend. Destroying his "friend" Matt Hardy's career didn't hurt him too much either.
  • The entire industry of Professional Wrestling itself is one of the great American success stories, going from "soul patch" to "Greek Orthodox priest" in a mere three generations. A key splash of Minoxidil came in the 1930s, when Boston promoter Jack Pfefer started to move the image of the business away from "actual sport" to stylized, circus-style entertainment. But the beard really got bushy in the 1990s with the advent of Monday Night Raw: now the disjointed spectacle coalesced into a weekly soap opera with recurring characters and much more interesting storylines. The final touch, arguably, was Vince McMahon establishing himself as an on-screen villain toward the end of that decade, providing a sort of axis for his elaborate fictional world.
  • Dominik Mysterio had a considerably lackluster early years in WWE's main roster as fans didn't really catch on with the idea of supporting Dominik despite being pushed to win the SmackDown Tag Team titles alongside his father Rey due to his relatively bland personality and being seen as someone who only got to where he is thanks to Rey's influence. This changed in late 2022 when he turned heel and betrayed Rey and Edge at Clash of the Castle to join The Judgement Day. Dom's heel turn saw him develop a Smug Snake, Boisterous Weakling, Prison Changes People character who seems to be hell-bent on making his father's life hell whenever possible. He also changed his moveset and mannerism by emulating his Honorary Uncle Eddie Guerrero more, addressing the problem of Dom not being able to emulate Rey's moves well thanks to his larger build. The improvements on both in-ring and promo work as a heel, coupled with his entertaining character work, got him so over that he quickly became a huge Hate Sink that constantly generates nuclear heat wherever he went. Not bad considering where he was less than a year ago.
    • To a lesser extent, he also did this for the Judgement Day. The faction had a hard time finding their footing and getting over with the crowd thanks to their underlining supernatural influences, which was considerably out-of-place in the generally grounded (if somewhat wacky) atmosphere of WWE. Dom's inclusion into the group saw them gradually transition from this into a more delusional, high school bully-esque stable of heels, which everyone agrees works much better for them.

    Tabletop Games 
  • BattleTech RPG spinoff Mechwarrior was still very much a war game that just happened to have tabletop RPG elements in its first edition, and it was not well optimized for anything other than small unit combat. Things improved somewhat in the second edition, but it was finally around its third edition that the game figured out how to let its players in on its Humongous Mecha Space Opera setting as more than just another soldier in a drawn-out fight full of record-keeping, calculations, and statistical minutiae, as the setting at the time also bloomed into arguably its most famous timeframe, from the Clan Invasion up until the eve of the Fed-Com Civil War. Conveniently, the game also had rules for people who wanted to play in older periods of time as well, and so generally appealed to most of the growing RPG fanbase.
  • Magic: The Gathering was always a fun game, but the point at which it "grew up"—simplifying rules baggage, gearing toward tournament play, improving art standards, and kicking off its longest-lasting storyline — was the Mirage set. Probably not coincidentally, this was the first set that head-designer-to-be Mark Rosewater worked on.
    • It wasn't until Ice Age that Wizards of the Coast got the numbers right for card value, rarity, and the yearly release cycles with sets.
  • Nobilis was always well thought of by its fanbase, but it's the enormous and gorgeous second edition Great White Book that people generally associate with the feel and appearance of Nobilis.
  • The 2nd edition of Pathfinder had a few uneven years after launch. While hardly unplayable, several base and newly-introduced classes seemed fairly underpowered, and the published Adventure Paths during that time were notorious for poor tuning. Fans generally agree that with the release of The Beginners Box in 2020, the developers had found their footing with the system, with the quality of classes, adventures, and lore-based books released after that point remaining consistently high (which was helped even further by the OGL controversy in 2023 allowing them to go back and fix the previously-underpowered classes for the Remaster).
  • 1st Edition (ie: Rogue Trader) Warhammer 40,000 was essentially Warhammer IN SPACE. 2nd edition refined the concept from being space-elves, space-undead, space-orcs, space-dwarves to being races in their own right, but it took until 3rd edition to expunge the silly elements and turn it into the GrimDark nightmare it is today, highlighted by a major shift in painting styles from technicolor schemes and often awkward banners/slogans to a more gritty and realistic style. 3rd edition also significantly simplified and streamlined many of the gameplay elements that were inherited from its WHFB precursor.
  • To say Warhammer: Age of Sigmar got off to a rough start would be an understatement. Not only did it replace a beloved setting, its first edition had no game balance whatsoever (the rules simply say both players field whatever models they want) along with silly rules for most units, like re-rolls for having a bigger moustache than your opponent. (Really) Then came 2nd Edition, which removed all the joke rules, added a points system and support for competitive play, greatly expanded the world's lore, and added new and well-received factions like the Sylvaneth and Idoneth Deepkin. While fans of Warhammer Fantasy are still sore from its loss, by 2nd Edition it's generally agreed that Age of Sigmar is no longer a joke and can stand up to Games Workshop's other wargames, with some competitive gamers even preferring it to 40k.

  • Crazy Horse: The switch to "dark and light" and creative stage lighting coupled with the songs of Jacques Morali (a disco record producer and songwriter who wrote songs for The Ritchie Family and the Village People) marked a significant improvement in the quality of the shows beyond just having naked girls dancing as well as the start of its reputation as a chic night Parisian venue to attend.
  • A Very Potter Sequel was significantly more technically sophisticated than its predecessor.
  • Stephen Sondheim was clean shaven for most of his early career, and though he produced good music and lyrics, his Signature Style didn't appear until the mid 1970s, with Company when he literally grew a beard, which he has kept ever since.
  • Believe it or not, even Shakespeare had to grow the beard to become the master we know him as today. With the possible exception of Richard III, most of his earliest efforts are considerably less polished (and as a result, less popular) than the more mature works that would come to establish his reputation as the best of all time. Most scholars would agree that he didn't really hit his stride till Romeo and Juliet, which was something like his eleventh play! ("Something like," because, given the spottiness of early modern publication records, it's impossible to say with absolute certainty when the Bard wrote anything.)

  • Gunpla:
    • During its early stages, Gunpla weren't known for the engineering marvel that is today. A lot of plastic models released during the 1980-87 period are just pieces built in a single or more runner mold in sparse colours and requires the use of glue and full painting, and in the Zeta Gundam's case, small polycap binders, though the need of using glue is still necessary to stick parts. Starting from Char's Counterattack Model series, Bandai introduced a snap-fit system that allows user to snap fit parts without the use of glue, significantly widens the accessibility for users.
    • The Real Grade line is a 1/144 scale line of Gunpla model kits meant to replicate the engineering of Master Grade in the 1/144 scale. The line features the Advanced MS Joint, special parts that consists of pre-assembled parts made using a dual-molding technique with both ABS and PP plastics meant as the inner frame for the model kit, where the majority of the build process is to snap fit all the plated parts onto the inner frame until the final product is completed. However because the frame itself is molded in thin ABS batch and the polysterine parts were easy to worn out over the time, on top of parts might not be able to fit perfectly into the inner frame, resulting in a figure that looks impressive in both visual and engineering standpoint with a build consistency of a hand grenade. The most infamous offender of this phenomenon is the RX-78-2 Gundam and MS-06 Zaku II, MSZ-006 Zeta Gundam, MSN-06S Sinanju, and Gundam GP01 Zephyrantes and its Full Burnern Variant. Starting from the Real Grade RX-0 Unicorn Gundam, the Advanced MS Joints were slowly and steadily replaced with more traditionally hand-assembled inner frame you see in Master Grades, while the MS Joints itself only used in more intricate parts that are hard to mold in the smaller scale. The result? The best Unicorn Gundam plastic model kit ever hit the stores, especially notable since all other Unicorn Gundam releases are known to be a volatile hand grenade (Master Grade Ver. KA), primitive (HGUC), or a glorified brick (PG). This design philosophy would help to shed the Real Grade line from its questionable quality moniker over the years, and today the line itself is almost a perfect scaled down Master Grade with cheaper price point and equivalent-or-better engineering.
  • The first wave of LEGO Hero Factory was met with severe disdain partly because of its Replacement Scrappy status after the cancellation of BIONICLE, and partly because most of the toys were hardly any different than those of that line. The second wave, 2.0, brought about a drastic overhaul of the entire LEGO "Constraction" building formula, with the introduction of a well articulated inner "skeleton", ball joints everywhere, much sturdier ball joint sockets, and a greater room for customization.
  • When BIONICLE first came out, the sets were mainly of the Toa and a handful of animals from in-universe. While McDonalds had kids' meal toys of a few of the Matoran (no less the ones who would become toa later), they were all very basic sets with simple mechanical gimmicks, and in fact were marketed under the Technic brand. The Toa Nuva lookes a lot less odd than the previous Toa Mata, and around that time the other sets started looking a lot less like toysets and more like mechanical creatures. The Metru Nui line was when it really hit its stride, where the toys got better gimmicks.
    • BIONICLE itself was this for the entire Constraction line of toys for Lego (and possibly every other "series" they had after). Prior to this, they were basically one off "sets" of robots (not always with ball joints either) with a rather bare-bones story and cheesy or bland names. Even the first incarnation of BIONICLE, "Boneheads of Voodoo Island" had that vibe too, until Lego realized that having a strong story and cohesive theme backing the toys would make them sell well. This is in part due to the massive success of their Star Wars License. A focus on ongoing story narratives would later translate to their other lines as well, most notably Ninjago.
  • Transformers:
    • The franchise's first LEGO-styled building toys, the Built to Rule line, was a massive failure with just about everyone, with the toys being not only badly built often in both of their modes and badly articulated, but also just plain bad looking (and also offensively Off-Model compared to their actual transforming toy counterparts). The second wave was a vast improvement, with the figures actually resembling the intended characters, but sadly, due the first wave under-performing, it only saw a limited release and the line was canceled not much thereafter.
    • Although a success from the start, the early Beast Wars toys were often rather clunky and some of them had to be greatly redesigned to look good on the TV show. Later, the animators started working more closely with the toy designers, producing much more intricate and detailed figures that were almost perfect representations of the cartoon models. Sadly, much of their chrome applications and plastic variants didn't stand the test of time as well as the designs, and the following series, Beast Machines, was a tremendous down-step in Show Accuracy/Toy Accuracy, and it was also canceled when it started to get better. Sadly, Beast Machines had a step up in engineering, with intricate, inventive transformations; Beast Wars figures in general were either "stand up and fold out limbs" or "crack open shell and fold entire robot out with dangling animal parts" with a few exceptions.
    • Transformers: Energon for the Unicron Trilogy. While the Transformers: Armada toys were decently show accurate, they had terrible and sometimes non-existent articulation and sometimes bizarre gimmicks. Energon made sure that the robot's limb joints were necessary to the transformation process, resulting in much more posable toys. Transformers: Cybertron improved on this, bringing back unlockable gimmicks while keeping the Energon level of articulation.
    • The Transformers Classics, Universe, and Generations toylines all brought back classic characters and gave them new toys with much better articulation. They also had weapons that could be stored or integrated in vehicle mode, meaning fewer lost parts. While some earlier ones had really fiddly transformationsnote , this got much better as time went on. Early toys either had weird proportions or difficult to play with, while later ones have either improved on the overall appearance or fixed the more involved transformations.
  • The first year of Mixels was met with mild interest, but was touted as "silly" for the most part. It wasn't until its second year of release, with Series 4, that it really took off, using various careers and themes instead of sticking with simple elements and expanding the universe further. The TV series was considered its better point at the same time, with the transition from shorts to specials.
  • The first line of American Godzilla figures by Playmates Toys in 2019 had a disastrous reception. Allegedly they were designed and produced in a hurry to meet the street date, with certain figures being no more than low-grade knockoffs of previous Bandai and NECA figures with bad molding, very muddled details, sloppy paint and wonky articulation. The fact that these toys had replaced the fan-favorite NECA line was also a sour point. Their Shin Godzilla figure (a botched recast of a NECA mold that was reportedly copied without NECA's knowledge) was so notoriously goofy that Playmates themselves stopped promoting it and eventually redesigned it from scratch. The later series were much better received, especially their Godzilla vs. Kong tie-in line and subsequent toys of both vintage and modern kaiju characters based on Japanese media, many of which demand insane prices on the aftermarket, mainly outside the US. While the controversy around their rushed initial releases left a lasting stain on the company in many collectors' eyes, others came to regard Playmates toys as decent American alternatives or companions to Bandai Japan's ever-popular Movie Monster Series, especially compared to other brands that have released American kaiju merch in previous years, like Jakks Pacific or Lanard Toys.

    Web Animation 
  • DEATH BATTLE!'s animation, characterization and presentation were rather crude for the first few seasons or so, but over the years have greatly improved. Comparing the original "Mario vs. Sonic" in Season 1 and their rematch in Season 5, and there's quite a significant increase in quality between the two, especially when it comes to the fight animation.
  • Season 1 of Dragon Ball Z Abridged relied heavily on internet culture references and fourth wall gags that, while funny on their own, was love it or hate it. Starting with Season 2 and the Namek Saga, and becoming especially apparent once the Ginyu Force shows up, the dialogue become a lot wittier, relied less on fourth wall jokes and references, and had such excellent edits for the sake of jokes that if you hadn't watched the actual show in a few year you legitimately wouldn't notice a difference.
  • DSBT InsaniT: Episode 5 is where characters really start being fleshed out.
  • The animation of Happy Tree Friends became more polished over time, while episode plots became longer, considerably more complex and more likely to involve multiple characters. This is particularly notable in the TV episodes starting in 2006.
  • Homestar Runner's first major cartoons (which have since been removed from its site) were fairly awkward and at odds in characterisation with later installments. Around the point of the Fluffy Puff Commercial or Where's The Cheat, the characters started to reach their current form.
    • The Strong Bad Emails have almost always been the main draw for the site, and grew its beard when the show became longer and had more outdoors scenes. A decent bet would be the first Compy email "invisibility", which is a prime example of Strong Bad's Imagine Spots
  • I'm a Marvel... And I'm a DC began as some somewhat amusing shorts, though it relied a bit on sticking to the Mac ad series, and the stop motion was rather jarring. The series really got funny when it just picked up the concept of a dick-waving contest between the two giants and ran with it. In other words, the second RandomGuy's Green Goblin showed up.
    • Also on the dramatic side, it grew a dramatic beard the moment it revealed that Superman was missing, and the casual "After Hours" had suddenly become a Crisis Crossover.
      • Related to this was Lex Luthor and Superman's argument about erasing the Marvel universe when viewers suddenly realized the series could also be incredibly deep.
    • It grew the beard a second time, going from great to awesome, by adding one character - Deadpool. "Rorschach and Deadpoooooool. A nut and a fooooooooool."
  • The Most Popular Girls in School: While season one was definitely funny, season two and especially season three is where the show really begins to showcase its storytelling abilities and its comedy.
  • The first couple of episodes of Battle for Dream Island were very fast paced and softhearted, but starting with episode 6, the new pacing starts out very slow, but eventually settles in.
  • Neurotically Yours had very rough animation and was mostly about a squirrel rambling on about what bothered him in the world and a teenage goth girl who kept the squirrel as a pet while listening to punk music and was extremely introverted. Several episodes later, the series quickly evolved with the squirrel, Foamy, giving more coherent and thoughtful rants while also causing shenanigans. The girl, Germaine, also had her own rants and slowly shed her goth persona of the course of several years, revealing a broken and battered girl.
  • Red vs. Blue:
    • The series first started off as a novel concept, but all but two of the actors were amateurs, the sound was muffled and the overall pacing was slow. Season two picked things up immensely, but season three was really where Rooster Teeth got into the swing of things.
    • The real growing the beard moment came with the Recollection trilogy. Blood Gulch Chronicles was undoubtedly hilarious, but there were arguably just as many shows out there that were just as good if not better. Then came the Recollection trilogy with epic fight scenes, interesting plot/character development, surprisingly good acting, an awesome villain and a really gripping story, and it STILL managed to stay absolutely hilarious. All this served to finally cement Red vs Blue up there as one of the greatest Web shows of all time, with quality on the level of professionally made movies. With Season 10, Elijah Wood signed on as one of the voice actors.
  • The first volume of RWBY was pretty okay. The characters hadn't really expanded beyond clichés yet, and there was a lot of exposition to get through. When Volume 2 came around, the groundwork had been laid for more interesting character interactions, Weiss had been Rescued from the Scrappy Heap, and Remnant had been expanded into a world viewers could truly get invested in. Then came Volume 3: it's widely agreed that this is the point where the series truly came into its own. The animation has improved so much it's hardly recognizable as the same show, the voice work is now consistently outstanding, the pacing blows even the best episodes of the previous volumes out of the water, and the humor is much more even. The overall opinion among viewers is that RWBY now feels like a real, broadcast-quality show and not just an amateur web series. Latter half of the season contains the brutal deaths of several beloved characters and aversion of Status Quo Is God which marks a turning point in the series to a more serious show with life and death consequences.
  • The first two episodes of There she is!! are great, but it isn't until the third episode that the story really starts to pick up. This is mostly because, while the first two are pretty much standalone stories, the last three episodes work as a trilogy.
  • The Youtube channel Yarnhub originally started out as a knock-off of Simple History as its videos also covered historical events and shared the same 2-D animation style. However, the channel would grow into its own with the 12th video "The Heroic End of Two Navy Pilot's Inseparable Friendship" when it switched to 3-D animation and focused more on obscure yet exotic events by soldiers during war time.

Alternative Title(s): Grow The Beard, Grows The Beard, Grew The Beard, Grown The Beard