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Later-Installment Weirdness

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Professor Farnsworth: My god... This is the greatest mystery of all time! We must fly to Rome and exhume the body of St. James!
Hermes: Didn't we use to be a delivery company?

Early-Installment Weirdness is a case in which a Long Runner's earlier episodes or seasons differ significantly, mainly due to the series experimenting until it manages to find its voice and tone. After that it usually stabilizes into the series it's known and loved for.

However, a Long Runner might one day decide to start Breaking Old Trends left and right. A number of factors could be at play here: the tone of a series may steer off course, taking a turn towards Cerebus Syndrome, or perhaps Denser and Wackier; it could also stem from a loss of some of the original key creative people, and an addition of new writers and producers; it could also be the result of a series aging, and the writing staff not knowing what to do with the show anymore as just about every possible scenario and situation has already been done. Or it could be simply because the creators want to implement a new concept to adhere it to the established canon.

In cases of Later Installment Weirdness, you may also come to find certain kinds of episodes to become more commonplace, such as bizarro episodes, unusual special episodes, or episodes that break away from the series' typical premise. Recurring characters and other minor supporting characters may also find themselves carrying the show rather than the series' usual major cast, especially if said cast finds itself reduced.

Note that this is not inherently a bad thing. Sometimes the new direction can help breathe fresh life into a series that was growing stale. Other times, however, it can lead to cases of They Changed It, Now It Sucks! if people don't appreciate the shift in style. Compare Jumping the Shark, where a single moment in a series' run is considered the show's turn for the worse. As a suggestion, examples should come from franchises that show some weirdness after having devoted to a Growing the Beard formula.

Compare Genre Shift.

Do not add any examples from works that haven't finished their original run. This ensures that the weirdness doesn't become the new normal as the series progresses.

Example subpages:

Other examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Dragon Ball: Buu Arc is far more goofy and filled with gags than any of the other Dragon Ball Z arcs. This was especially prominent for western viewers who started with Z first: while Z certainly has its comedic moments, the amount of goofy scenes, ideas and subversions hadn't been that common since the manga's very first arc, the Pilaf Arc, which of course most viewers of Z hadn't been exposed to. What puts the Buu Arc above and beyond the Pilaf Arc is that this was mixed with the drama and tension of a typical DBZ Villain Arc, which resulted in a lot of the Surprisingly Realistic Outcome, Crosses the Line Twice and Mood Whiplash tropes. The fact that the Buu Arc turned into the longest storyline in the franchise accentuated the matter.
  • Hamtaro moved from a slice of life series to a kids' fantasy series in later, Japan-only seasons, prompted by the introduction of Lapis and Lazuli and Sweet Paradise, a world made of candy. The final seasons dialed this back, though it had occasional fantastic episodes.
  • No Matter How I Look at It, It's You Guys' Fault I'm Not Popular! is iconically thought of as a Cringe Comedy with a Minimalist Cast, mostly featuring episodic plots about Tomoko's ill-fated attempts to raise her social status. Around chapter 70, though, it introduces a larger cast of characters and has Tomoko developing significant relationships with them, and the series becomes more focused on her circle of friends as a whole, with arcs carrying on through multiple chapters. Tomoko goes through a fair bit of Character Development, becoming more socially adept and kind, though maintaining some of her original flaws. And while Tomoko has always been Ambiguously Bi at minimum, later storylines tend to border on the Yuri Genre, with multiple characters implicitly or explicitly nursing a crush on her.
  • Pokémon: The Series zigzags with this, due to the show being a Long Runner and often having to adapt the conventions of the newer games:
    • With the exception of Ash, Pikachu and Team Rocket, the main cast has altered through almost every region - only Johto kept the original human trio of Ash, Misty and Brock, and that was after Brock sat out the Orange Islands filler arc - and even with those, their personalities alter. Best Wishes in particular sported an odd alteration by way of a Soft Reboot, reconstructing the trope by making Ash even more of a novice than his original Kanto personality and the bumbling Team Rocket trio into genuinely serious, competent villains who appear only semi-recurrently (leading to occasional full Slice of Life episodes with the hero cast). XY afterwards went back to Revisiting the Roots in a lot of places, though even then some formulas were still broken.
    • A drastic case came with Sun and Moon: Ash was heavily redesigned, and instead of a journey plot like the previous six generations, Ash attends a school and only occasionally travels across the region on class field trips. The frequently zany, occasional fourth wall-breaking tone (with occasional darkness) of the original Kanto arc, which previously fell under Early-Installment Weirdness, has also been re-instated.
    • Pokémon Journeys continues the more episodic storytelling from Sun and Moon, but also focuses not just on the most recent Pokémon region at the time (Galar) but on every region to have ever been featured in a main Pokémon game. It's also the first season to eschew a female main protagonist: Ash's only traveling companion is the male Goh, though Goh does have a female friend (Chloe) who regularly appears.
    • Since Pokemon Advanced, the leading lady of the previous era would return to buddy up with Ash, but after D/P, who and for how long would change. Where Misty and May's returns were usually one or two-episode events, Dawn's return in Best Wishes was an entire season, bringing along Cynthia for the ride. No one would show up for the X & Y era and instead of Serena, we got a double dose of Misty and Brock in the Sun and Moon era.
  • Pretty Cure: Since the end of Go! Princess Pretty Cure, it's been common to do a Distant Finale showing the heroines all grown up. As well, since the end of Maho Girls Pretty Cure!, it's been common to do an Early-Bird Cameo of the Pink Heroine of the following series.
  • Sailor Moon had a preview for the plot at the start of every episode. The dub, unlike later English adaptations of anime, left it in. However, starting with episode 23 of SuperS, the preview is replaced with a pre-title sequence.
  • Tenchi Muyo!: The Funimation era of dubs had a few quirks that weren't done during the Pioneer era.
    • The 3rd OVA series was the first series to use the series full title of Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-Ohki instead of just Tenchi Muyo!
    • The dub for Ai Tenchi Muyo had a few odd quirks to it in terms of names. Throughout the other dubs, Ayeka and Washu's endearing name for Tenchi had been "Lord Tenchi". Ai, instead, changes it to "Master Tenchi". As well, Sasami tended to refer to Tenchi as "big bro Tenchi", something she hadn't done in the other series.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!:
    • The Millennium World arc, which takes up the final seven volumes of the manga, features a grand total of two proper Duels (both of which are late in the run), instead focusing on Egyptian ka battles for most of its run. Seto Kaiba, the main Breakout Character, is also almost completely absent, though his past incarnation Priest Seto is a major player. The anime version added him back in, and featured an additional Duel between him and Bakura.
    • The first three series all featured a mix of Urban Fantasy steeped in real-world mythology and occultism, and science fiction mostly expressed by fantastical technology. Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL downplayed the former in favor of more soft-science (aliens, other dimensions, exotic energies, etc), only bringing up occult or mythological elements in one mini-arc, and later shows downplayed them even further, with Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS being almost purely science fiction.
    • Duel writing in the first three series (barring duels originating from the manga) tended to be heavily interlinked with what was going on in the actual game, with characters frequently using preexisting cards. From mid-Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds onward, though, the writing became far more focused on cards created specifically for the episode or the situation, to the point of many characters using zero preexisting cards. Additionally, the various shows also introduced alternate duel formats (Riding Duels, Action Duels, Speed Duels, Rush Duels) in which the majority of duels take place, meaning that traditional duels happen very infrequently.
    • Yu-Gi-Oh! SEVENS, due to a change in studio and its status as a reboot, is the first series to not use an artstyle based on Kazuki Takahashi's. He hadn't actually had design input on a new series since Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL, but the following two shows were still clearly trying to match his aesthetic.
    • While Yu-Gi-Oh! GX and Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds clearly take place in the same universe as the original anime, later shows tend to be increasingly distant from it outside of the occasional Mythology Gag, to the point that it's often questioned by fans if they represent alternate continuities altogether (putting together a cohesive timeline is not easy).

    Asian Animation 
  • Happy Heroes: It took until Season 9, six years into the show's run, for the episodes to list some of the people who worked on them in their title cards.
  • Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf:
    • The show starts out as a simple Road Runner vs. Coyote story about Wolffy's various attempts to capture and eat the goats living in Green Green Grassland. Later seasons add more fantasy or action elements and sometimes change the plot entirely; for example, Season 17 has Weslie becoming a Kid Detective and Season 29 has Wolffy accidentally being turned into a dog and using this new form to gain the goats' trust and go undercover for them.
    • The later seasons' plots tend to get so complex that they have to continue them across multiple seasons, a trend that started with Marching to the New Wonderland's sequel Adventures in the Sea.

    Comic Books 
  • After Brian K. Vaughan left Runaways, the series struggled to find a consistent theme. First there was a time-travel arc, then an arc involving the Majesdanians trying to capture Karolina for her role in the destruction of their planet, then an arc where a Howard Stern expy tries to initiate a Zombie Apocalypse in Los Angeles, and finally the Darker and Edgier "Homeschooling" arc, which turned into such a mess that Marvel put the series on hiatus for eight years.
  • The last leg of Alan Moore's Swamp Thing run steered away from the series' traditional horror roots and straight into sci-fi — albeit often with horror trappings. Moore's successor Rick Veitch took things even further, making Time Travel an integral part of Swamp Thing's abilities.
  • The original Jaime Reyes Blue Beetle run had him discover that his powers came from aliens, whom he finally defeats around issue #25. Following John Rogers' departure at the end of the arc, the series didn't really know what to do, throwing out a few filler stories until it was canceled with issue #36, moving over to Booster Gold as a backup strip. The last two issues managed to bring back some alien politics and provide a Sequel Hook, though.
  • The 1980s saw a LOT of shakeups at Marvel Comics. A lot of these changes came in the aftermath of Secret Wars and continued through there:
    • Spider-Man saw him obtain an alien costume which would become the more famous Venom when it proved unpopular with the fans. Marvel would push the black costume more with a cloth costume made by the Black Cat.
    • The Fantastic Four would go through a lot of line-up shifts thanks to Secret Wars. The Thing would be replaced with She-Hulk and soon after he came back and she left, Mr. Fantastic and the Invisible Woman left and were replaced by Sharon Ventura (the second Ms. Marvel) and the Inhuman Crystal.
    • Following The Surtur Saga, Thor was soon cursed with immortality yet unable to heal, forcing him to gain a full beard and don a massive blue and gold armor to hide his wounds.
    • Steve Rogers would be forced to retire as Captain America, donning a black and red costume and a new shield to call himself "The Captain" while a new Captain America would rise as John Walker. It was later revealed to be a Red Skull plot.
    • The Incredible Hulk went through a lot of crap in a short period of time — gaining control, losing control, being banished, returning, being separated, being restored, turning gray once more, becoming Joe Fixit, the works.
  • Similarly, the late 60s through the late 70s saw a lot of odd shakeups at DC Comics.
    • For Superman, there was the Kryptonite Nevermore storyline. This storyline saw Superman's power levels brought down to manageable levels, Kryptonite on Earth being rendered inert and Clark, Lois and Lana being made reporters for GBS News. Most of these changes wouldn't stick as Superman's powers would return to their mind-numbingly powerful levels and a "meteor" of Kryptonite would reshower the planet with the stuff again. It wouldn't be until after Crisis on Infinite Earths that these sorts of changes would take hold again.
    • For Wonder Woman, there was a very infamous period in Wonder Woman (1942) where Diana, trying to help Steve Trevor, changed up her looks and ended up forsaking her powers as Wonder Woman, only to have it be All for Nothing when he's killed, leading to a period where Diana was now wearing catsuits and training in martial arts (notably resembling/copying Emma Peel) under the assistance of a monk known as I-Ching. This would only last three years.
    • For Batman, Dick Grayson would end up going to Hudson University for college and, in response, Bruce Wayne and Alfred would end up moving from Wayne Manor and the Batcave to a penthouse with a smaller "Batcave" hidden in the building. During this time, Batman would return to his grim and gritty roots, being the terrifying creature of the night once more. Dick would return and they would move back into the Manor, but it wouldn't be for nearly 15 years.
    • For Green Lantern, Hal Jordan would team up with Green Arrow Oliver Queen to be the "Hard-Travelling Heroes", pairing up with a Guardian known as "Old Timer" and sometimes Black Canary to hit the road and deal with social problems across the United States. The biggest ramification of this storyline was the revelation that Speedy had a drug addiction.
  • From 1984 to 1996, the Justice League of America found itself a repository of B-Listers and has-beens. Starting with the Justice League Detroit era, there would only be one or two A-Listers with random others along for the ride. It wouldn’t be until Grant Morrison took over that the Big Seven would make up the team once more.
  • Between Crisis on Infinite Earths and Green Lantern: Rebirth, the Green Lantern franchise was in a constant state of flux, as if DC had no idea what to do with it.
    • After the Crisis, the Green Lantern title was changed to The Green Lantern Corps, which focused on Hal, John, Guy and four alien-based Lanterns protecting Earth after the Guardians left with their Zamoran counterparts. This lasted only two years before the entire Green Lantern Corps were depowered save for the three human Lanterns.
    • After spending time in Action Comics Weekly and launching a revamped origin for Hal, the Green Lantern title was relaunched, returning the Guardians and restoring the Corps... for all of about four years when Emerald Twilight struck, turning Hal evil, destroying the Corps completely and turning Kyle Rayner into the sole Lantern, a move that lasted well over a decade.
    • Guy Gardner had a weird transition. Guy would be the Green Lantern in other titles before the events in the relaunched Green Lantern had him kicked out of the Corps. Guy responded by enacting a plan to end up stealing Sinestro's Yellow Power Ring (and getting his own title to boot), which he only kept for a little over a year before Emerald Twilight caused him to lose that as well. Then, it was revealed that he was actually part of a race of shapeshifting aliens and could create weapons from his arms. He would appear sporadically until Rebirth reset him back to a human Lantern.
  • Due to the Continuity Reboot that hit the title, the last 40 issues of Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics) can be seen as this. Initially being heavy on its former Sonic the Hedgehog (SatAM) setting, the reboot jettisoned most of this in favor of using the games with small aspects of the old cartoon in it. All familial aspects were jettisoned save for non-video game-based characters and those with established in-game families, Knuckles was once more Last of His Kind and Sonic had no love interests at all.

    Comic Strips 
  • For most of its run under original cartoonist Jeff MacNelly, Shoe was often political and topical in nature, including caricatures of contemporary politicians, and a well-remembered Boot Camp Episode where Skyler enters Camp LeJeune under the assumption that it's a summer camp. But after MacNelly died, the strip got handed over to Gary Brookins, who turned it into a series of one-liners about growing old or failing to understand the opposite sex.
  • The last two decades of Peanuts are not especially well remembered or well regarded by those who do, but one noticeable feature was the uneven, sketchier art style it took on, the result of Charles M. Schulz having Parkinson's disease. This carried over to The Merch (which by this point was probably seen by more people than the comic strip) due to Schulz insisting on producing the artwork himself, leading an entire generation to grow up with this style. After his death, merchandise (now made either by cut-and-pasting old material or by other artists) almost immediately reverted to the way the strip looked in the '60s and '70s.
  • Dick Tracy in its late period in the 1970s with Chester Gould may have pulled back from its Audience-Alienating Era with the Moon period, but it still had the bad habit of having the story formula of Tracy stopping a crime, finding out they have to let the crooks go because they were Off on a Technicality and stand around complaining how the cops were handcuffed by new rules, stopping the story dead.
  • B.C. could be said to have gone into this after cartoonist Johnny Hart became a born-again Christian in The '80s, turning his work increasingly from a gag-a-day comic to one where he espoused his fundamentalist Christian beliefs (including very overt references every Easter and Christmas, jokes about the "War on Christmas", and two controversial strips seen as attacks on Judaism and Islam). When Hart died in 2007, his grandson Mason Mastroianni took over the strip and reverted it largely to its roots.

  • Women's fashions in the later parts of a decade would look different than the rest of the decade. And such trends would preview the styles of the succeeding decade.
    • Due to World War I, the second half of 1910s fashions appear more loose and tunic-like than the first half. Skirts got wider and shorter, and more women wear simple narrow brimmed hats, and adopt loose bob hairstyles.
    • Around 1928-1929, women's silhouettes appear more feminized as women's curves have returned and hemlines gradually drop with handkerchief and waterfall skirts masking them.
    • With the inspiration of the Berlin Olympics and the popularity of jitterbug and motion pictures set in the Victorian era, fashions became more whimsical in 1937-1939, with harstyles updone with rolls, alpine hats and fedoras replacing snug pillbox hats, the shoulders became more robust, and skirts rose up at calf level to help ease at dancing.
    • Due to the influence of the New Look in 1947, make-do-and-mend fashions were pushed aside for full glam consisting of longer skirts, whether full or pencil, and a cinched waist, and a focus on the narrow, often bare shoulders.
    • Late 1950s fashions have women wearing straight cut jackets and pencil skirts that reach to the knees. Hairstyles gradually pick up volume, and winged eye makeup got thicker.
    • Under the counterculture movement of the late 1960s, young people went for fashions that were earthier, hairstyles were let down, and women started to wear pants.
    • Much of the high fashions in the late 1970s opt for simple glam looks with nary a hint of the hippie style, while some designers borrow elements from New Wave such as teased spiky hair, neon makeup, and broad shoulder pads to the catwalk.
    • With the growing influence of Hip-Hop and minimalism, fashions of the late 1980s are taking influence from them.
    • As the new millennium was approaching, fashions of the late 1990s discarded the grunge look in favor of more metallic and digital aesthetics.

    Films — Animation 
  • Tarzan: Within the greater context of the Disney Renaissance. The most obvious departure from the old 90's formula was the fact that almost all the music was sung in the background, as opposed to being sung by the characters (bar a few measures of "You'll Be in My Heart" sung by Kala near the beginning, and "Trashin' the Camp").
  • Most pre-Renaissance Disney Animated Canon films fit under "Alternate Universe Hypothesis" or "Diegetic Hypothesis" when it comes to Musical World Hypotheses. The characters were actually singing most of the songs in-universe, while post-90s films instead mainly use "All in Their Head Hypothesis" or "Adaptation Hypothesis". The films were also usually not "Disney musicals" as people know today. The early princess films such as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Cinderella had memorable but low-key songs and a low amount of large musical numbers, compared to works like Aladdin or Beauty and the Beast.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Alvin and the Chipmunks: Downplayed with the fourth installment, The Road Chip, as it has a few oddities such as the Chipmunks having slightly different 3D models and being the only installment where Ian Hawke doesn't appear.
  • Home Alone: Both Home Alone 4 and Home Alone 5 differ significantly from the first three, starting with the fact that both are TV movies that were made without John Hughes' involvement. 4 recasts the original characters with different actors and Retcons a lot of the family's original dynamics (the parents are divorced, Kevin's older siblings are closer to his own age), Harry is replaced with Marv's girlfriend, while Marv looks and acts like Harry. 5 was made well after the series was considered finished, and involves an entirely different cast of characters (much like 3, but Hughes wrote and produced that one).
  • The last three Marvel One-Shots differ so drastically from the first five, that Marvel Studios originally released them as a separate series. Team Thor, Part 1 and Team Thor, Part 2 comprise a two-parter, the first half of which never received a Blu-ray release. Both of these and Team Darryl also stand out as the only One-Shots in which characters talk to the camera, due to the mockumentary format.
  • Men in Black 3, being the last movie in the original live-action trilogy starring Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones, is the only movie in the series:
    • To not have Rip Torn as Zed and Tony Shalhoub as Jack Jeebs.
    • To involve time-travel and thus not primarily take place in the present day.
    • To not focus on New York City (again, due to time-travel, the story primarily takes place in Cape Canaveral, Florida in 1969).
    • To not have a Gainax Ending about the universe's scale.
    • To not have a closing credits theme by Will Smith. Instead, Pitbull performs the closing theme.
  • The final Blake Edwards Pink Panther films were just plain weird: Trail (1982) was a mishmash of footage (some of it unused) from the previous films to make up for Peter Sellers' absence. The second half of the movie shows only one journalist interviewing the supporting characters, and the movie ends without conclusion. Curse (1983) had another detective investigating the protagonist's disappearance and Roger Moore making a cameo appearance as Clouseau, who had undergone plastic surgery to change his appearance. And Son featured Roberto Benigni as Clouseau's illegitimate son.
  • Godzilla: Final Wars is the last installment of the series's "Millennium Era" and absolutely nothing like the preceding films. The earlier movies are relatively serious, character-driven sci-fi thrillers that treat the monsters as real threats. Final Wars is a deliberately campy, over-the-top Genre Roulette that tosses any attempt at characterization aside in favor of nonstop action and tends to use the monsters more as a source of comedy. Both of the subsequent reboots of the franchise had elected to go back to the serious, character-driven style.
  • The Wrecking Crew is the fourth and last of the Matt Helm Spy Fiction movies starring Dean Martin. Some elements that were consistently present in the previous films are missing from this one:
    • It's the only one not to feature Matt's secretary Lovey Kravezit.
    • The evil organization BIG O does not figure into the plot at all.
    • There's no Take That! aimed at Frank Sinatra.
  • This occurred with Transformers: Dark of the Moon's tie-ins:
    • The Transformers: Dark of the Moon is divided into three chapters for the Autobots, three for the Decepticons and one for Optimus Prime and an epilogue unlike the previous two games where there was an Autobot Campaign with an abridged version of the film's plot and the Decepticon Campaign which was an alternate telling of the film. In addition, it's supposed to be a prequel but contradicts the film a couple of times (at the end of the Optimus Prime boss battle, Megatron kicks Optimus into Shockwave's room to be killed by the Decepticon assassin despite needing the Matrix to reawaken Sentinel in the film and the component Megatron needs Shockwave to retrieve is a Pillar instead of the Ark's engine component.) Also, the multiplayer is WFC's multiplayer with new names for the classes and most of the voice cast is from WFC too with the exception of Jess Harnell as Ironhide and Steve Blum as Starscream.
    • The comic book tie in is written by John Barber and as such, has numerous references to the previous story, Rising Storm. For instance, the Autobots' first scene has Bumblebee, Sideswipe, Mirage (Dino) and Wheeljack (Que) raiding an "illegal nuclear facility" in the Middle East, recovering illegally-possessed Cybertronian technology that the country had been covertly supplied with by the Decepticons.

    Game Shows 
  • Family Feud:
    • The final season of the original Richard Dawson run expanded the target goal to win the game at $400; the goal was reverted to $300 when the Ray Combs era began.
    • The introduction of the Bullseye round can count as Later Installment Weirdness for the last two seasons of Combs' tenure in particular, and Dawson's 1994-95 comeback season is this for the entire 1988-95 era. The Bullseye round also served as an example when it was re-introduced in John O'Hurley's last season, which also brought in family introduction videos and a car bonus in Fast Money. Only the latter aspect carried over to the Steve Harvey era.
  • The Hollywood Squares:
    • The year 1979 brought the new theme — "The Hollywood Bowl" — and new contestant/host's podium. The iconic 3-by-3 structure remained the same.
    • The final season in Las Vegas, which ran five days a week and was conducted as a year-long tournament. The use of new to- and from-commercial wipes was one thing; the intro, an "And Starring" billing for Paul Lynde (the legendary center square) and no Secret Square was quite another.
  • Match Game: The 1978 set and, just a few weeks earlier, the introduction of the Star Wheel. But then there was also the matter of no more canned laughter as Johnny Olson proclaimed, "Get ready to match the stars!" — it was applause as each celeb was introduced; this was started sometime in November 1978 (with the CBS daytime episodes). Richard Dawson being gone was another.
  • What's My Line?: A few turns:
    • Some consider the entire 1968-1975 syndicated run to be an example, given the fact that it was a daily show (and not simply a Sunday night institution), that Bennett Cerf — and all the men, for that matter — simply wore sport coats and suits rather than tuxedos, and that someone other than John Daly — Wally Bruner and even later, Larry Blyden — was the host.
    • The addition of a "Who's Who" segment — although certainly in keeping with the "guess the occupation" theme — was enough of a difference for some.
    • Finally, the "new" set — light purple and adorned with question marks — set off the final season from the earlier syndicated shows.
  • Wheel of Fortune:
    • With the NBC daytime show, a few might include: The introduction of the "Jackpot" space during the fall of 1986; the departure (and untimely death) of longtime announcer Jack Clark and replacements (M.G. Kelly and later, Charlie O'Donnell) and — most notably — the departure of Pat Sajak by his successor, Rolf Benirschke. The CBS/Bob Goen era is another and in fact has several "later installment" moments of its own, including the move back to NBC, upgrades in bonus round prizes (smaller scale nighttime show-style showcases, but still more elaborate and expensive than early CBS episodes) and the reliance of several home viewer contests to entice a declining audience share.
    • For the syndicated run any point since Season 14 (1996-97), when large parts of the show were overhauled: most notably, the show got an electronic puzzle board in February 1997, thus requiring hostess Vanna White to touch letters instead of turning them. Also, the Wheel was pared down to only one template with only the highest amount changing between rounds, instead of each round having a unique set of dollar figures. Subsequent seasons began a series of add-ons that further differ from the long-established formula, such as gift tags placed over dollar amounts, Free Play replacing Free Spin (which had been an element of the show since the pilot in 1973), the Wild Card, Mystery wedges, a "bonus wheel" in the Bonus Round replacing the long-standing W-H-E-E-L prize envelopes, and a $1,000,000 top prize. Toss-Up puzzles were also added in the early 2000s. The puzzle writing also became more contrived over the years, with many puzzles containing far more words than necessary to increase letter-calling, and many Schmuck Bait/Nintendo Hard Bonus Round setups.

  • The Berenstain Bears began to enter this territory with the later books. While the stories didn't get overly preachy, political and even religious content began to creep into a degree that had not been present before. While the earlier books had never denied that a grown-up world apart from Brother's and Sister's childhood experiences existed in Bear Country, the mature issues had always been only fleetingly and non-specifically mentioned, and Brother and Sister themselves were never involved in them (such as when Mama and Papa have to get them a babysitter because they're going to a political meeting for the day). But a later book had Sister use the word "sexist" (which should not even be part of her vocabulary yet) and later books are explicitly Christian.
  • In the original Goosebumps series, every book with Slappy as the villain had a female protagonist. In the revival series (HorrorLand and so on), they're all male. For whatever reason, original comic book stories still use girls, though.
  • The final Harry Potter book, Deathly Hallows, is the only one that doesn't mainly take place in Hogwarts, instead having the protagonists travel around Britain for most of the plot, and is the only one to have a "hero's quest" structure instead of the previously standard school year structure. It's also the only book without any Quidditch. Fittingly the films are an example too — as the seventh is the only book to be split into two films (plus the same points that were present in the book).
  • Madeline's Christmas, the last book of the Madeline series written by original author Ludwig Bemelmans, is a classic example of this trope. While the first book is a Slice of Life and most of the others, while adding more adventure, still avoid fantasy, the Christmas book introduces a magician who sends the little girls home for the holidays on flying carpets! Unsurprisingly, the animated adaptation tones down the weirdness, replacing the magician with a kindly old woman who helps the girls in a Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane fashion.
  • The last two books in Mary Graham Bonner's Magic series both suffer from this. The Magic Clock is the only book in the series to not be even remotely educational, instead being a straight-up fantasy adventure; while The Animal Map Of The World is the only book in the series to not have the word “Magic” in the title.
  • The last book of Sherlock Holmes stories (which were previously always written in first person from Watson's POV) feature two stories narrated by Sherlock Holmes himself (though still presented as his memoirs), one that was basically a play, and one in third-person narration. Sir Arthur had stated explicitly that he was tired of the series.
  • The last book in the Venus Prime series is very thematically and stylistically different from the previous five. Most of its events are narrated in the first person by Prof. Forster, Sparta and Blake are seen entirely through other characters' eyes, and at one point, they and Forster go back in time to Ancient Mycenae. At another point, the book awkwardly diverts for three chapters to a first-person account by Klaus Muller, a Swiss deep-sea engineer who stumbles across the world ship.
  • The Bruce Elliott-penned stories featuring The Shadow were much different from the stories penned by the other authors who had taken up the "house name" of "Maxwell Grant"note . Many of them were straight up mysteries as opposed to pulp thrillers, and near the end of Elliott's run, The Shadow himself didn't appear in a number of stories in his own magazine, instead leaving the action to Lamont Cranston note  and Commissioner Weston. This was part of a postwar Audience-Alienating Era imposed by the current editor who apparently hated pulps and wanted to turn the magazine into a more "respectable" mystery magazine, and also coincided with a wartime format change from novella to digest format meant to save paper. This failed miserably. Walter Gibson, The Shadow's creator, was brought back along with a previous and well-liked editor and the rescinding of the format change. Unfortunately it came too little too late and four issues after the snapback, the magazine was cancelled.
  • Madeleine L'Engle's books have some Later Installment Weirdness to go with their usual weirdness.
    • Many Waters is pretty different from the other Time Quartet books. For one, it stars Sandy and Dennys, the "normal" members of the Murray family; more to the point, though, its plot (about the two accidentally transporting themselves to just before the Biblical flood) is more explicitly religious (and, one could argue, more normal) than the other entries in the series, which mix a vague and largely ecumenical theism into their cosmic Science Fantasy adventures. It's also the only one of the four set entirely on Earth.
    • An Acceptable Time is an odd example of this. It's often counted as the fifth book in the seriesnote , which is hence renamed the Time Quintet, but it's set long after the other books and stars Polly O'Keefe, meaning that it's also considered an entry in the O'Keefe-centric Sequel Series. If one does consider it a Quartet/Quintet book, her mere inclusion fits this trope.
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Books after Hard Luck tend to have almost no recurring supporting characters, Manny and Rodrick are Demoted to Extra, the tone is Denser and Wackier, and Vacation Episodes become much more common (taking up three and a half books).
  • For the most part of the Discworld books set in Ankh-Morpork, Vimes' butler, Willikins, was a typically soft-spoken and professional butler with just a hint of a violent past and the associated fighting skills. By the time of Snuff, he instead became an outright thug and bruiser (though unfailingly devoted to his employer and his family), hiding it under a thin veneer of butler-hood.

  • MAD went through two examples:
    • In the mid-1990s, they shifted toward a more vulgar and visceral style of humor, with increased appearances of PG-13 language, sexual innuendo, and grossout humor than was present in most of the magazine's history. Some of this was due to the addition of younger talent (and the departure of older talent, whether to age or dissatisfaction with the tonal shift) and change in editors over the years, particularly following the death of founder William M. Gaines.
    • About a decade later, the magazine switched from newsprint to glossy, allowing for articles to be published in color for the first time since the early comic-book days. They also began taking ads at this time.
  • Rival Cracked went through this at the Turn of the Millennium in an attempt to play catch-up when Dick Kulpa, formerly of Weekly World News fame, took over as editor. The covers were much more crowded with text; the art slicker and more colorful, while the writing pushed for a Totally Radical feel. He also changed the payment plans for artists, which ended up driving away flagship artist John Severin and a few others. After financial difficulties and an anthrax attack ground this version of the mag to a halt, other editors attempted a Retool into a "lad mag" akin to Maxim. This also failed, and the "Cracked" name was given to the otherwise unrelated humor site of the same name.
  • Macintosh computer magazine MacAddict was known for most of its run as a wacky, lighthearted magazine. Many of the articles had a humorous tone laden with Running Gags and cartoons, while the review section used a cartoon mascot called Max. But in the later years, the magazine got a sterile, white-and-blue makeover and a more serious tone (including a standard five-point scale rating system), culminating in a rename to Mac|Life.
  • Disney Adventures seemed to shift away from the "Disney" half of its name in the 21st century, likely due to the animated films going through an Audience-Alienating Era and the Disney Channel shifting its focus toward kidcoms. The articles became much shorter, celeb cameos rarer, and the comics became much of an afterthought consisting solely of a few original properties with little or no Disney flavor (compared to the magazine's prime, when they included comic adaptations of Disney properties, along with reprints of licensed The Simpsons comicsnote  and even excerpts from Bone). It even got to the point where issues would center on a non-Disney property, such as SpongeBob SquarePants.

  • Country Music singer Aaron Tippin was largely known for most of his career for two things: his extremely nasal twangy singing voice, and his constant use of patriotic and blue-collar imagery, as codified by his debut single "You've Got to Stand for Something" (along with the occasional detour into novelty territory, most iconically with "There Ain't Nothing Wrong with the Radio"). But by 1995's "That's as Close as I'll Get to Loving You", he began recording impassioned ballads more frequently, and his voice became deeper and less nasal. Pretty much his only significant return to blue-collar patriot territory was his post-9/11 release "Where the Stars and Stripes and the Eagle Fly", although it still had him singing in the deeper range. Even a momentary return to novelty territory with 2000's "Kiss This" is noticeably more subdued than "Radio" was.
  • The last two Bloodrock albums (three if you count the unfinished archival release Unspoken Words) move away from their pioneering hard rock style into a more folkish progressive-rock sound with lots of flute. The main reason for this may be the replacement of original lead singer Jim Rutledge with singing flute player Warren Ham, who went on to compose most of the songs on these albums.
  • Carcass was initially a Grindcore/Death Metal act for their first three of their five studio releases. 1994's Heartwork took a shift towards a more conventional style that became one of the biggest influences on Melodic Death Metal and other subgenres (such as Metalcore and Progressive Metal), and Swansong was a complete departure, being comprised of Blues-influenced Heavy Metal with discrete Death Metal aesthetics.
  • Diamond Rio was mainly known for harmony-driven mainstream Country Music with unusually heavy rhythm sections and a strong focus on Telecaster, keyboard/organ, and mandolin solos, exemplified by "Meet in the Middle", "Mirror, Mirror", "Love a Little Stronger", "How Your Love Makes Me Feel", et cetera. Around the release of their fifth album, Unbelievable, in 1999, they shifted to a more pop ballad-driven sound with more emphasis on piano and string sections, as exemplified in "One More Day" and "I Believe", while their up-tempo material became slicker and more pop influenced, such as "Beautiful Mess". Notably, the band underwent the change in sound without a single membership change or a change in record producers, and with absolutely no other session musicians besides the occasional string section.
  • Joe Diffie to an extent. His biggest hits in the mid-90s were novelties such as "Pickup Man", "Third Rock from the Sun", and "John Deere Green", but by the time of his Greatest Hits Album in 1998, he began singing more serious ballads and midtempos. Many critics praised his 1999 album A Night to Remember for not containing any novelty songs at all. The same largely held true for his next few albums. In addition to the move to ballads, these albums also displayed a more pop influence compared to the twangier sound of his biggest hits.
  • Although they had started to drift toward Hair Metal as early as their fifth studio album, Rock and Roll Over, in 1976 ("Makin' Love" is a candidate for the Ur-Example of pop-metal), in the 1980s KISS fully embraced it, and their albums from the "non-makeup" years (1983-1992) sound drastically different from the "classic" Kiss sound, with fast (occasionally very fast) Van Halen-like solos; this reached its culmination with 1987's Crazy Nights, whose fourth track, "No No No", borders on speed metal. In part this was due to new guitarists - Vinnie Vincent, Mark St. John, Bruce Kulick - who sounded nothing like Ace Frehley. But it was also due to the band having to adopt a grittier and more "controversial" image in order to keep pace with the bands they'd inspired. Thus, along with the usual goofy anthems about sex, there are a number of Darker and Edgier tunes with more of a "punk" attitude and even some Precision F Strikes very much at odds with their former (relatively) kid-friendly image. The makeover was only partially successful, with Kiss having fallen into semi-obscurity by the late '80s and enjoying only scattered success until they put their makeup back on in 1996.
  • As their career began to wind down in the latter half of the 1980s, Quiet Riot moved away from the Heavy Metal that had put them on the map and shifted first to synthpop ballads ("Twilight Hotel") and then to jive-talking, bluesy Hard Rock anthems very reminiscent of Aerosmith ("Calling the Shots").
  • Ø, Underoath's final album until 2018's Erase Me. was made without founding member Aaron Gillespe, leaving the band with no more original members. Vocalist Spencer Chamberlain took over Aaron's clean singing along with the Harsh Vocals he had been dedicated to for the previous three albums. Musically, the album borrows heavily from sludge metal and mathcore, resulting in a very dark and intense sound. Erase Me, their first album after their reunion, is musically much lighter but much darker lyric-wise.
  • Big & Rich is mainly remembered for their hard rock-influenced novelty country songs, such as "Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy)". So some may be surprised to find that their 2014 album Gravity is almost entirely composed of ballads such as "Look at You". Zig-zagged in that even as early as their first album, they had minor success with similar ballads such as "Holy Water" or "8th of November".
  • The later output of The Statler Brothers from 1983 until their 2002 disbanding, at which point Jimmy Fortune had replaced Lew DeWitt on tenor/occasional lead vocals and songwriting duties. Fortune had a much younger sounding delivery, and the production was generally more subdued. Bizarrely, three of the band's four #1 hits came during Fortune's tenure.
  • Doug Stone had this to a degree with More Love and Faith in Me, Faith in You having more electric guitar-driven uptempos that had a considerably heavier approach than his previous more downbeat material (even the more upbeat "A Jukebox with a Country Song" is notably more relaxed than the likes of "Addicted to a Dollar" or "Born in the Dark"). Both of these changes were due to James Stroud replacing Doug Johnson as his producer. After a three-year hiatus resulting from a stroke, Stone came back in 1999 with the much slicker and poppier "Make Up in Love" before more or less returning to his ballad style.
  • Da Yoopers from about 1995 onward. Jim Bellmore took over for Joe Potila as lead guitarist, co-writer, and co-producer of the band, bringing a more eclectic rock influence compared to the more folksy sounds the band had already established. The title track of We're Still Rockin' (the first album on which he appeared) is six minutes of Epic Rocking, and many of their later songs overall feature Genre Roulette in full force — although the lyrical content remained largely unchanged due to drummer Jim "Hoolie" DeCaire continuing to co-write and co-produce as he had under Potila's tenure. 21st Century Yoopers in Space (2007) also stands out as a two-disc mega-album with several guest vocalists and a large number of songs by outside writers.
  • David Sylvian's solo output consisted primarily of lushly produced jazz-ambient art pop until his divorce from Ingrid Chavez in 2003, after which he shifted towards avant-garde improvisational music, with his singing voice in turn shifting to a more gravelly style. He is an interesting case as Japan was previously a case of Early-Installment Weirdness, starting off as a glam-punk band before finding their own jazz-influenced sound that Sylvian perfected in his solo career. This means he has a very specific Broken Base — one camp of fans only like his work from 1979's Quiet Life to 1999's Dead Bees on a Cake, the other prefer his material from Blemish onwards.
  • The Spice Girls released a third album called Forever, which came after Geri's departure. It was also a New Sound Album, giving the girls a sound inspired more by American R&B like Destiny's Child or TLC — as opposed to their pop and 90s dance style for the previous two albums. This album also showed Victoria getting more solo lines and verses than she had in the past.
  • S Club 7:
    • The fourth album Seeing Double was recorded after Paul Cattermole left the group — the only album to feature six members rather than seven (and the group was renamed 'S Club'). It also completely moved away from the bubblegum pop of their first three albums (although 7 and Sunshine had moved away too, they still retained some bubblegum pop) — featuring a lot of dance and R&B, even elements of garage. Rachel was also given more prominence as the face of the band — as Jo was suffering from back problems.
    • And the fourth season of the TV series Viva S Club — was the only season not to take place in America. The group relocated to Barcelona instead, and it depicted Paul's departure in the fourth episode.
    • The final S Club project - the movie Seeing Double — is set in an alternate continuity from the TV series. There the group had been portrayed as struggling artists trying to make it in America, whereas the film portrays the group as they actually were (though seemingly pretending Paul had never been in the group). The TV show had also been more of a sitcom, while the movie veered into fantasy — with a plot about a mad scientist cloning pop stars.
  • On his later albums, country parodist Cledus T. Judd overhauled his musical image considerably: while still a parodist, he began performing his songs more straightforwardly with a far lesser Stylistic Suck approach, in addition to shedding a ton of weight and donning glasses. Those who grew up in The '90s and saw an obese redneck squawking out "If Shania Was Mine" in an off-key drawl on CMT might have difficulty recognizing him as early as Just Another Day in Parodies in 2000, and especially on Parodyziac!! in 2012.
  • Miles Davis has done this twice: first was his shift towards avant-garde jazz fusion with Bitches Brew, and then after a lengthy hiatus, towards commercial smooth electronic jazz, a style which he never touched during his earlier career. His last album (completed and released posthumously) featured rapping from Easy Mo Bee.
  • Title Fight was a Post-Hardcore band for most of their career, though by the time they released their second Floral Green, shoegaze influences began to creep into their work. Their third (and to date, final) album Hyperview drops their post-hardcore sound altogether in favor of going all in on shoegaze.
  • Scott Walker, oh boy Scott Walker. His 60s career with the Walker Brothers established him as a top-tier pop ballad vocalist in the vein of Roy Orbison. His first 4 studio albums were a logical shift away from that sound into a poetic chanson style, but those were all commercial failures, leading him to return to softer country pop material...until the Walker Brothers reunion, where he recorded some very artsy rock songs for the Nite Flights album in 1978. Since then, he progressively got more experimentzal, at one point collaborating with Sunn O))) and releasing some of the strangest and most frightening music ever made.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Early Frontier Martial-Arts Wrestling was a mild parody of the Universal Wrestling Federation that featured professional wrestlers taking on martial artists of various styles. The Stuff Blowing Up hardcore Garbage Wrestling that it is best known for came later, but Masashi Aoyagi and Willie Williams were the only "martial artists" who stuck around. There's also the much reviled "World Entertainment Wrestling" era under Kodo Fuyuki's booking, where the product became much Lighter and Softer, but at the same time borderline(and in one case actually with Mr. Gannosuke impersonating Hayabusa) pornographic at points.
  • Yoshimoto Women's Pro Wrestling Jd' was a somewhat hardcore but mostly regular wrestling promotion mainly centered around Jaguar Yokota, be it continaution of rivalries with legends like Lioness Asuka, upstarts like The Bloody or invasions of FMW rejects. During the last four years of its existence with Yokota gone for greener pastures, "glamour" became a Plot Tumor and the main focus of business.
  • Early Chikara was a much more straightforward wrestling show with much more straightforward gimmicks than the comedy promotion it became best known as. Just compare early and later Hallowicked. Mike Quackenbush saw everyone else getting more violent and/or serious and decided he couldn't compete that way. Even then, "fun" Chikara attempted to at least have a proper women's division before he gave up and the show became the free for all where Sara Del Rey, Heidi Lovelace and Kimber Lee successfully won its most prestigious prizes.
  • The 'professional wrestling treated as real sport' presentation of All Japan Pro Wrestling just keeps getting further away. The first bout of weirdness came with the New Millennium when Mitsuharu Misawa left due to a dispute with Motoko Baba and most of the locker room followed him to form Pro Wrestling NOAH. This had the side affect of temporarily turning All Japan into Wrestling Association R as Genichiro Tenryu brought most of the roster over to save the company. The second bout of weirdness was the heavily Merchandise-Driven "Puroresu Love" era of The Great Muta, which saw dabbles into mixed martial arts, Takuya Sugi as a Dark Is Not Evil demon alien thing called AHII, a robot Taka Michinoku, Minoru Suzuki kidnap Nosawa Rongai, the "wall" between All Japan and chief rival New Japan Pro-Wrestling "broken down" and an invasion of Pro Wrestling ZERO1. The third bout of weirdness, when Muta was shamed out of the company following the TARU-Super Hate incident and most of the locker room followed him to form Wrestle-1, was a Mob War style feud between multiple power stables of independent circuit wrestlers that looked suspiciously like something one would see on a Dragon Gate card.
  • Pro Wrestling ZERO1 was always weird, but basically became directionless after the death of Shinya Hashimoto, who at least gave it some consistency as it consistently built him up following his rather embarrassing and brutal loss to Naoya Ogawa. But directionless Zero 1 is the better known part of the promotion's history specifically because people at least think "Zero 1" rather than "Hashimoto".
  • Sinclair Broadcast Group Ring of Honor gradually got weirder as it went on. Bullet Club turning heel, except not really, and headbutting with match maker Nigel McGuinness was a noticeable change in tone to say the least. B.J. Whimter had an uncomfortably unprecedented personal feud with Steve Corino that was almost entirely promoted by the wrestlers themselves. But then The Club turned face, sort of, when Adam Cole betrayed them, Whitmer faded more into the background as Christopher Daniels returned to a major antagonistic force, Dalton Castle and Jay Lethal successfully got face pops challenging the Club, and things seemed on track to normalcy. The biggest departure in talent since the Feinstein scandal, the overbooked debut of Enzo and Cass taking time away from Hiroshi Tanahashi of all people, a so-called Kingdom conspiracy leading to World Champion Matt Taven, spotlights increasingly centered on Bully Ray and Angel Williams becoming Angelina Love to corrupt recap hostess Mandy Leon had fans asking when ROH suddenly became TNA.

    Puppet Shows 
The Puzzle Place: Season 3, which was produced after a year-long hiatus and consists of only ten episodes, is distinctly different from Seasons 1 and 2. The puppets are obviously different than in the first two seasons, with some notable changes to the character designs: Kiki, Skye and Leon's darker skin tones and Kiki's darker hair especially stand out. Skye, Nuzzle and Jody also have different performers (in Jody's case for the second time), and the episodes end with And Knowing Is Half the Battle segments that the first two seasons didn't have.


  • The 90s figures of G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero had noticeably more wacky and neon-coloured figures as it went on. The final year of the toyline reimagined the Joes as a group of almost literal space marines fighting a race of transforming aliens called the Lunartix Empire.
  • Transformers:
    • Near its end, the Transformers: Generation 1 toy line largely gave up on having toys that "just" transformed, the line being dominated by increasingly gimmicky sublines such as the Headmasters/Targetmasters/Powermasters (Transformers that came with a small partner that drove them in vehicle mode and became their head/blaster/engine in robot mode), the Pretenders (small, simple Transformers hidden in a large unarticulated plastic figure), the Micromasters (tiny Micro Machines-esque figures), and most infamously, the Action Masters (slightly better-articulated Transformers... that don't transform).
    • Transformers: Robots in Disguise was an odd mishmash of recolors from many other lines (and in some cases, straight rereleases) and new figures that either had weird proportions or transformed by opening their vehicle mode and unfolding the robot inside. As a result, there were a lot of toys that looked odd standing beside each other - the tiny headed robots that made up Ruination with their pile of connector parts looked oddly archaic next to the fully integrated, human proportioned Build Team.
    • For the franchise overall, the Unicron Trilogy except Energon toylines all included gimmicks unlocked by the MacGuffin du jour. Armada in particular was seen as a strange misstep, since toys occasionally had less articulation than early Generation 1 toys to accommodate a flip-out blaster or soundbox.
    • Transformers: Generations as a combination of this for the franchise and Early-Installment Weirdness for itself. Many figures had intricate, multilayer transformations to have both modes look as close to the character models as possible despite scale issues. As a result, lots of mock parts were used and a few figures suffered from having parts that didn't move around each other very well, leading to broken figures. Later figures in the line simplified things greatly while still having both modes as aesthetically pleasing as possible.
  • My Little Pony:
    • The ponies were generally shaped like ponies — or on occasion, full-sized horses — during the first three generations, barring some of the more unusual types of ponies (such as the seaponies, which were part pony and part seahorse). Starting with the tail end of the third generation however, the ponies have become more and more heavily stylized, with bigger, rounder heads and smaller bodies. Many collectors refuse to collect the newer ponies, because they no longer look like ponies. G4 ponies are often accused of resembling deer, or on occasion, cats.
    • The earlier generations also tended to include a short story about the pony, or a blurb describing it, on the back of its packaging. This was largely dropped sometime during generation 4. This leaves toy-exclusive characters much more mysterious than before. Princess Gold Lily and Princess Sterling raised a particularly large number of questions among fans, due to the fact that the canon indicates that they probably shouldn't exist (since every princess we've seen in the show has generally been a God-Emperor of some sort, so you'd think we'd have heard about these two by now if they were around).
    • The tail end of G1 featured several experimental gimmick lines such as the horse-proportioned Dream Beauties.
  • Gunpla tends to invoke this trope through its Early-Installment Weirdness. It's not uncommon for a new Gunpla to be released that uses an older model frame, especially through its Gundam Build Fighters/Fighters Try/Divers line. When its done with its main High Grade Universal Century line, it comes off as incredibly lazy, like the Gundam Tristan of Mobile Suit Gundam Twilight AXIS.
  • When Hasbro took over the Power Rangers license, their figurines took a massive change from when Bandai America did them. Starting with the Power Rangers Beast Morphers line, gone were the muscular male Rangers, low articulation joints and plain gray (or black) accessories as well as low end morpher designs. The Lightning Collection series continues this trend, even offering sculpted heads that resemble the actor who played the Ranger.
  • BIONICLE had some obvious examples and some that only became clear in retrospect:
    • The 2009-2010 Bara Magna series was a failed Retool attempt, set on a new planet, with a new cast of characters from new species, generic helmets mostly replacing the franchise's trademark masks of power and the toys being a random assortment of heroes and villains rather than clear-cut teams. Originally, LEGO wanted this line to be fully detached from what came before, but writer Greg Farshtey convinced them to make it a sequel with strong ties to the continuity and (eventually) many returning characters. Not much came of this revamp, as LEGO already planned to discontinue the franchise in 2008, making the Bara Magna series a sort of tacked-on ending that exponentially expanded Bionicle's world and flooded fans with loads of backstory as opposed to the series' usual slow-burn mysteries, only to end with barely exploring any of it.
    • Bionicle was extended several times due to its popularity despite being planned as a one-and-done, self-contained story. The 2008 line finally revealed many of the core mysteries that had been set up since 2001, like what the title meant — biological chronicle, meaning the characters and places were literal parts of a giant robot's artificial biology. However, as pointed out by fan analysis, this caused a retroactive disconnect between the original 2001-2003 series and those that followed. The early years were all about the franchise's core concept, every "species" seemed to serve a function tied to the giant robot's workings. Much of the 2004-2010 arcs with their Loads and Loads of Races were more generic science-fantasy that expanded the world and lore far beyond the original outline. They were still parts of the same story, but with less focus on biological analogies (most newly introduced species and locations seemingly existed "just because") and their scope broadened to the point that the 2008 reveal raised as many questions as it had answered.

    Web Animation 
  • The Most Popular Girls in School: Thanks to the immense Art Evolution from Season 5 onward, Deandra's robotic arm no longer whirrs whenever it moves; according to Word of God, the noises were considered too distracting with the improved Stop Motion.
  • SMG4 changed a lot after the series underwent the Cerebus Syndrome in 2018. While the series still has weird and comedic moments at times, the series also started to have a story-driven approach, with Story Arcs and many moments Played for Drama, some of them being very dark for a series that made its name with Surreal Humor.
  • Homestar Runner:
    • Mid-toon Easter eggs are less common in later toons, with very few post-hiatus toons having them.
    • In "Flash is Dead", the "Homestar Runner's Dating Profile" Easter egg has Homestar read the profile out loud. Had the toon been made during the site's height of activity, it almost certainly would have opened in a separate window, with the voiced version being reserved for the DVD release, not unlike similar Easter eggs in various Strong Bad Emails (most notably "english paper").
    • For the vast majority of the website's run Strong Bad and Homestar Runner were enemies, with Strong Bad regularly antagonizing Homestar. In the post-hiatus cartoons starting from the latter half of The New '10s they're a lot friendlier with each other and act more like Vitriolic Best Buds.

  • ID Get dissects and explores this in an arc that parodies Monk. In the arc, the in-universe parody Monk goes through a number of odd changes, such as bizarre and absurd plots, cast changes, and other oddities. As it turns out, this was all intentional on the part of the producer — his motive was that he wanted to preserve the series' quality by ending it after its first or second season, but the network president refused this because they series was a commercial success for them, so the producer began sabotaging the show to get back at the network for milking the series for all its worth.
  • Wapsi Square started out as just a girl in her hometown and her hijinks with her friends, but after a couple years, it became mystical with a little bit of the mundane stuff happening still. Like Monica learned to teleport and didn't think anything of it.
  • In its final years Ctrl+Alt+Del rather awkwardly changed from a fairly tame "Two Gamers On A Couch" gag comic that never really had a deep plot, to an extremely dark and character-driven dramedy involving time travel and a quest to prevent the apocalypse. The shift is... rather jarring to say the least.

    Web Original 
  • The Cinema Snob has gradually moved from primarily doing No Budget horror, exploitation movies, and porn parodies from the '70s through '90s, to an increasing number of more contemporary films (primarily low budget comedies and Christian movies). This has also led to a significant amount of topical overlap with Brad Jones' other main series, Midnight Screenings.
  • For most of its history, Snopes was focused on Urban Legends, folklore, old wives' tales, and chain letter stories circulated via e-mail (or later on, social media), and most of the articles were written by Barbara and David Mikkelson. But, particularly within the sociopolitical climate of the 2016 election, the site took on more writers and began focusing more heavily on political topics.
  • Starting with Season 11, Caddicarus abandoned his long-standing gimmick of slaughtering or salvaging games that he dislikes or likes, respectively. There is also an increased focus on contemporary games over Turn of the Millennium-era games for which he was nostalgic, with some episodes focusing on multiple thematically similar games instead of just one. He also stopped using goofy puns for the episode titles.
  • Not Always Right: For most of the site's history, the editors have insisted that all submissions be original content. However, in 2020, they began crossposting content from various subreddits.
  • The Angry Video Game Nerd: The iconic theme song was removed after the Darkman review. Subsequent episodes only include the final line of the song "he's the angry video game nerd" until The Rocketeer. All episodes after "Contra How I Remember It" have a digitized version of the AVGN theme song.
  • Atop the Fourth Wall has had a few changes in the past few years.
    • In 2018 the character 90's Kid changed his name to 90's Dude as a bit of growing up (out of universe, Lewis Lovhaug just couldn't justify using the "Kid" moniker when he was in his 30s now).
    • Next was a change in scenery, due to Lewis and Viga Gadson moving to a new house (in-universe, Linkara blew up his old house on accident and Viga is not happy since she had to pay for everything and didn't expect Linkara's friends showing up).
    • In 2021, the series' legendary theme song had its lyrics altered as Lewis considered his old habit of attacking creators personally an old shame and the old theme song did just that.
    • In 2022, not only did his Transformers reviews introduce a brand-new opening instead of using the normal opening, the "Longbox of the Damned" and History of Power Rangers gained new intros.
  • The Simpsons Review Blog Me Blog Write Good underwent a few formula changes throughout its run. For the first 20 seasons, each review featured both a block for Mike's general thoughts on the episode itself and a "Tidbits and Quotes" section for notable details. Due to Mike's increasing apathy for the newer seasons, the format was overhauled from season 21's "Treehouse of Horror XX" onwards to feature more distinct segments of "The Premise", "The Reaction", "Three items of note" and "One good line/moment".
  • Dumb Lawyer Quotes IRL but in Ace Attorney: Unlike the other videos, which use the Ace Attorney beeps and boops, the final installment is fully voiced.
  • Game Theory removed the famous "Science Blaster" intro theme song after the Five Nights at Freddy's: Security Breach triple theory and the first episode remaster featured a compilation of the various intro videos throughout the show's run.

    Western Animation 
  • Arthur switched from its original traditionally-animated, digitally inked-and-painted style into Flash animation during Season 16. This led to what many view as much less natural motion to the point of bordering on uncanny. It certainly doesn't have the soft, subdued, almost vintage look it had during the 1990s and 2000s anymore.
  • The final season of Babar was an unusual case, as it aired nine years after the previous season ended. It dropped the previous setting and instead focused on the cast travelling around the world in a balloon. It's a wonder that it was officially considered part of the same series rather than its own installment like the later Babar and the Adventures of Badou.
  • Blaze and the Monster Machines did this after its mid-Season 3 Art Evolution. Blaze's start-of-episode viewer greetings became less frequent unlike the first three seasons, and AJ doesn't use his Visor View or skywriting that much. The Monster Dome also isn't seen quite often, and rarely is there a race that takes place there.
  • Blue's Clues: Joe replacing Steve is the most obvious example, but the final season introduced a new segment called Blue's Room (which would later become its own spin-off show) where Blue turns into a talking live action puppet. The other regular segments were all shortened to make room for it.
  • The final season of Captain Planet and the Planeteers, which not only gives the Planeteers new outfits and designs, but also replaces its Opening Narration with a Theme Tune Rap.
  • In the later seasons of Caillou, the titular character is less of a Spoiled Brat and more of a polite, friendly, imagination-obsessed child. Also, the animation switched from digital ink-and-paint to Flash (something sister show Arthur would wait until the mid-2010s to do).
  • The Chipmunks: Since the DiC episodes (including The Chipmunks Go to the Movies) were not seen in reruns for a long period of time, and have had limited episodes released on DVD, it can be a rather disorienting experience for those who are most accustomed to the Ruby-Spears, and the Murakumi-Wolf-Swenson episodes. Also considering the storylines by the DiC era were becoming far more over-the-top cartoony and less believable ("Dear Diary" is a good example).
  • Dexter's Laboratory:
  • Dora the Explorer: Season 7 saw a lot of changes for the show, such as a new theme song, updated animation (with some CGI elements added in, most noticeable with Map and Backpack), and emulating a mobile game on a touchscreen device (like a tablet) rather than a PC game.
  • Disney already took a lot of liberties with Doug after its Channel Hop to ABC, but the last season in particular devoted a lot of airtime to Quailman, with some episodes just being straight-up Quailman from start to finish without so much as a wraparound giving it relevance to Doug's life.
  • The Dreamstone reconstructs this. The closing points of the series play closer to the Early-Installment Weirdness of the pilot episode, downplaying the slapstick Villain Protagonist formula in favour of developing mythos and new worlds and giving the heroes more focus. Some characters, particularly Rufus and Amberley, also gained back shades of their initial personalities and the more madcap humour began to seep onto the non-Urpney characters more, the Comically Lopsided Rivalry downplayed.
  • The later Droopy cartoons made after Tex Avery left MGM can be a bit jarring, as they are done in Limited Animation with neither the Wolf nor Butch/Spike as antagonists, the madcap slapstick humor is severely scaled back, and worst of all, Droopy's face is no longer "droopy".
  • Ed, Edd n Eddy: After the series was Un-Canceled, the show's format suddenly shifted from being perpetual summer vacation to having the cul-de-sac kids in school. This was especially jarring because not only did we never see teachers or faculty, there were no other children. There were also a few one-off appearances of adults, but only arms or legs were visible.
  • Some of the final episodes of The Fairly OddParents! were produced in Flash instead of digital ink and paint like the rest of the series, leading to an animation style more in line with Butch Hartman's other project at the time, Bunsen Is a Beast (which was also animated in Flash). The sudden animation shift is quite jarring to say the least.
  • Season 4 of The Garfield Show begins with seven consecutive five-part episodes aired back to back (covering 12 and a half out of the 26 episodes of the seasonnote ), and also almost every episode during these 5-parters features a song (something that already happened only in multiparter episodes, but since they were fewer in earlier seasons it wasn't so noticeable)
  • The final season of Gargoyles was made by a different staff of writers, and its tone is noticeably different. Each episodes starts an opening narration by Goliath, the episodes are more self contained and less focused on an overarching story, and the characters personalities are slightly different than they use to be, most notably with David Xanatos. Original creator Greg Weisman declared it non-canon, and when he got the chance to do a comic continuation, he re-adapted the first episode (which he had worked on) and then went off in a different direction.
  • "Gerald McBoing! Boing! on Planet Moo", the last cartoon in the Gerald McBoing-Boing series, is also the only one that doesn't rhyme.
  • Looney Tunes:
    • While the late '50s/early '60s cartoons were noticeably more dialogue-based and featured less detailed visuals compared to the 1940s-era shorts, things became very different when the cartoon studio closed in 1964 and production was handed over to DePatie-Freleng Productions: The bulk of the studio's output became the infamous "Daffy and Speedy" cartoons (with Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner being the only other characters to appear regularly at that point; some characters, like Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd, had disappeared altogether at that point), which were replaced when the studio reopened in 1967 with new characters such as Cool Cat, who became the studio's star until the last shorts in 1969.
    • The Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner shorts released during the mid '60s were a lot different than the ones made during the studio's heyday (though the two directed by Robert McKimson were a bit more in line with the classic Road Runner shorts). While Chuck Jones did direct a few of them, they were reused from the unsold Adventures of the Road Runner pilot and have scenes of Wile E. Coyote speaking to the audience. To Beep or Not to Beep also has neither Acme Products nor Binomium ridiculus. More infamously were the Larriva Eleven, where the Road Runner actively fights back against Wile E. Coyote instead of simply running around the desert and, at least in The Solid Tin Coyote, expresses genuine fear of Wile E. Coyote's Humongous Mecha instead of being a Perpetual Smiler. One other cartoon, The Wild Chase, involves a footrace between the Road Runner and Speedy Gonzales, while Wile E. and Sylvester team up to catch them.
    • The final pairing of Wile E. Coyote and Bugs Bunny, Hare-Breadth Hurry, plays out like an ordinary Road Runner cartoon that just happens to star Bugs instead. As a result, Wile E. Coyote doesn't speak in this cartoon, unlike in his previous pairings with Bugs.
    • Revival productions tend to fall under this, attempting to bring back the style that made them famous or taking them on a different direction altogether.
    • The last two Private Snafu shorts, coming right at the tail end of the war (and presumably with all the important training subjects having already been addressed), became more or less military-themed Looney Tunes installments: one with Snafu and a Japanese officer fighting over a small island, and the other one placing Snafu on an uncharacteristic commando mission into the heart of Tokyo.
    • The later shorts featuring Sniffles the Mouse retooled the character into a trickster with a Motor Mouth, and had Slapstick more in line with a typical Looney Tunes cartoon. Most fans consider this to be a good thing, as Sniffles' earlier cartoons are often considered mawkish.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • A big one was the show's attitude toward other species. Earlier on the show had a much more "good species, evil species" sort of approach to things where it was made clear many of the species were by default evil or bad and exceptions were explicitly stated as being uncommon or unique: it was explained that dragons by nature were greedy and Spike was the exception having been raised by ponies, "good" creatures like Thorax and Gabby were explicitly stated to have been "born different", and it was generally okay for ponies to treat other creatures as evil by default (or say they were ugly, like Rarity's line about mules in the season 1 episode "A Dog and Pony Show", although mules or donkeys were never portrayed as villainous). In Season 7 and especially in Season 8, the attitude shifted greatly, with other creatures being treated akin to other races and that fearing or disliking non-ponies was Fantastic Racism and, as shown with Chancellor Neighsay, objectively wrong. It can actually be a touch jarring to roll back to season 5 to find a dream sequence of Rainbow Dash beating up what is now established as another race to be entirely Played for Laughs as a happy dream of hers. This probably ties into Values Dissonance on the "good species, evil species" approach over The New '10s, as it became a much more controversial idea later in the decade.
    • The show has had a slight Anthropomorphic Shift after Lauren Faust left. While Faust was still involved with the series, she tried to make it a point to avoid "human poses" and make sure that, despite their culture and civilization, the characters weren't just four-legged humans. Later seasons made without her diverge from this Depending on the Writer, with more "human poses" and more "characters inexplicably holding things despite having hooves", and have the characters exhibit actual horse behavior less often.
    • The show's general stance on magic, particularly how unicorn magic worked, shifted greatly late into the show's run. Originally it was depicted as, and explicitly even stated, that most unicorns "only had a little magic" and were limited to telekinesis and magic that related to their special talent (Rarity's gem-finding, Shining Armor's shield, etc), and Twilight Sparkle was the exception because her talent was magic which allowed her to learn any spell and have great innate power. Later on this attitude shifted greatly, where generally speaking any unicorn could learn any spell if they just devoted to it, innate power was tied directly to emotion which allowed characters to casually become even more powerful than the alicorn princesses if they got worked up enough, and began giving more powers like laser blasts, conjuring shields, levitating themselves, and the like to just about any unicorn if the situation required it. The only exception was Sunburst, as his low innate magic power was an integral part of his character and backstory, and thus couldn't easily be changed.
  • After The Powerpuff Girls Movie, Craig McCracken left The Powerpuff Girls to create Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends. Chris Savino took over, and the show became more or less a gag comedy instead of a lighthearted action show. The characters also received noticeable redesigns to fit the movie's art-style. In "The Powerpuff Girls Rule", the 10th anniversary special, they used Flash instead of traditional animation.
  • The Real Ghostbusters: When the show was changed to Slimer and the Real Ghostbusters, the show became more childish, as Slimer became more integrated into the spotlight, and the show became Denser and Wackier.
  • Reboot: Season 3 changes up season 1 and 2's episodic nature into a full season-long arc. All the character models improved and were redesigned due to better technology being available to the crew. The show also becomes much darker in tone, dealing with the effects of a villain victory and replacing Bob with Enzo Matrix as the main character. However, this appears to be more of a subversion, as the writers explained this was the kind of show they wanted to write, but couldn't due to excessive Executive Meddling that ceased once the show changed networks, making this a perfect example of the show Growing the Beard. Season 4 kept the changes.
  • The Ren & Stimpy Show:
    • After the second season, John Kricfalusi was fired for not meeting episode deadlines and (according to Kricfalusi himself) going overboard with the show's violent content via the infamous oar-beating scene in "Man's Best Friend". Nickelodeon created its own animation studio (Games Animation), and Bob Camp took over as showrunner. The art style and designs were altered slightly and some voices changed (largely due to Billy West replacing Kricfalusi for certain characters), i.e. Ren sounding more breathy and less hammy. Ren went from a Jerk with a Heart of Gold to a Jerk With A Heart Of Jerk, and Stimpy went from merely The Ditz to Too Dumb to Live. The Games staff even made an episode parodying the creation of the show and the change in staff ("Reverend Jack"). The tones of the episodes also changed; this was both at the request of Nick (who told Bob Camp, "no more psycho-dramas") and Camp himself, who didn't feel it was healthy to endlessly ask, "What would John K. do?" and instead just wanted to make funny cartoons.
    • And then there's Adult Party Cartoon which, in a reversal of before, returned John K to creative control but lacked Camp and several other members of the original show's staff. While it undid some of the alterations from Camp's tenure, it has an even more deranged animation style, far more blatant adult humor and the duo's relationship is openly homoerotic.
  • Samurai Jack was finally Un-Canceled for ten episodes, allowing Tartakovsky to wrap up the story. It's set fifty years after the rest of the series (revealing that Jack no longer ages), is even darker than the previous seasons, has more continuity and now features a Deuteragonist named Ashi, who goes from villain to Love Interest as the story progresses.
  • The final season of The Smurfs received a complete overhaul, dumping much of the cast and the Smurfs' village and seeing the remaining characters traveling through alternate timelines.
  • Space Ghost Coast to Coast changed greatly when it moved to [adult swim]. The show's humor became a lot more random, there was a lot more swearing, Vomit Indiscretion Shots started to appear, and one episode (Idlewild South) even had Zorak and Moltar smoking weed on camera. The show had already started to go in this direction with episodes like Warren and King Dead, but the transition to Adult Swim was when they committed to it.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles:
    • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987) where the last few seasons came to be noted as the "Red Sky" seasons, assumed a different opening theme and sequence, and switched the Big Bad from Shredder and Krang to Lord Dregg.
    • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003): Had a very strong sense of continuity and had several episodes and arcs that were faithful adaptions of the original Mirage Comics up until season 4. Season 5 (The Lost Episodes) continued where season 4 left off but could be considered a Jumping the Shark point with an original mystical storyline and retcons to prior seasons. Season 6 (Fast Forward) was a Retool with the main cast getting flung 100 years into the future with a major tone shift from dramatic action to comedic action, and Season 7 (Back to the Sewer) was a retool bring them back to the present but losing a lot of the original charm and congruence with the comics that the first 4 seasons had, being more similar to Fast Forward's tone.
    • Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is one for the franchise as a whole. The turtles underwent major design changes (the most notable being each of the four being a separate species of turtle) and personality changesnote . The show has a higher focus on episodic comedy than its predecessors, magic and mystic elements play a larger role (up to being the origin of the ooze itself) and even the turtles' weapons are changed, with Raph, Leo, and Mikey wielding tonfas, an odachi, and a kusari-fondo respectively (Donnie keeps his bo-staff, albeit upgraded to Swiss-Army Weapon status). Fan reception was...contentious, which might've contributed to the show only lasting two seasons (though people have been kinder to it looking back).
  • Fans of The Railway Series may be taken aback by later episodes of Thomas & Friends, which not only cease adapting stories from the books, but have a much Denser and Wackier narrative, transitioned from model puppetry to CGI animation (with all the cast fully voiced and animated) and have altered several characters in role and personality (or disposed of them altogether in favor of numerous more gimmicky new ones).
  • Tom and Jerry:
    • The series is most famous for the original shorts done by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera in the '40s and '50s. After they left MGM, the series was sent overseas to cartoonist Gene Deitch, whose often bizarre shorts bordered on Deranged Animation. Later on Chuck Jones took over the series, giving the characters a redesign, and plot-wise making them more like his Road Runner cartoons at Warner Bros. Every adaptation since then likely falls under this trope as well.
    • Even within Hanna Barbera's own run, their later shorts in the mid to late 50s are rather different beasts from their earlier ones. The animation style is more simplistic and flat, looking closer to their television work in later years. The use of supporting characters is more prevalent, with several shorts Tom and Jerry's chase is almost a secondary plot, most of said characters are also more talkative than them, meaning a greater amount of dialogue. Tom's original owner Mammy Two Shoes was also retired by this point, replaced with one shot owners or a more conservative fifties couple. In general, their fifties affairs, while still very slapstick in nature, are also prone to be relatively less violent and mean spirited, with Tom and Jerry's Friendly Rivalry being demonstrated more often.
  • The later Van Beuren Studios shorts directed by Burt Gillett from 1934 to 1936 take a total 180 approach to the studio's previous cartoons, completely overhauling the art direction, animation, and content. Specifically, these new shorts were more sugary and Disneyesque; the earlier shorts felt more like Fleischer Studios cartoons.

Alternative Title(s): Later Instalment Weirdness