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Seasonal Rot

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"They can't just cancel a show like Alphas. They have to help the viewers let go. Firefly did a movie to wrap things up, Buffy the Vampire Slayer continued on as a comic book, Heroes gradually lowered the quality season by season, 'til we were grateful it ended."
Sheldon Cooper, The Big Bang Theory ("The Closure Alternative")

An installment in any long running series that is widely held to be of notably poorer quality than the other installments. Often tied to the dislike of a specific arc, but can also befall episodic shows. In some cases, a new director takes over and pulls the series in a different direction; this can give the impression of Seasonal Rot to those who liked the old way, but may also bring in new viewers who prefer it like this (in other words, a change in tastes or audience).

Sooner or later, if a show runs long enough, Seasonal Rot always sets in. Sometimes it's a temporary dip from which the series recovers (perhaps by bringing in new writers, changing the premise, or in severe cases simply ignoring the events of the rotted season). Other times, it proves to be irreversible and grows worse with each new season, at which point the series has Jumped The Shark.

If the Seasonal Rot occurs because of a poorly-conceived major change to the status quo in an attempt to go in a new direction, it's a season-long Audience-Alienating Era. In contrast, if Seasonal Rot is the result of elements that were always in the story growing out of control, you may be looking at a Franchise Original Sin.

One reason that Short-Runners are often fondly remembered is that they never live long enough for Seasonal Rot to set in (though exceptions do exist). Compare Franchise Zombie, Sequelitis, Audience-Alienating Era, Sophomore Slump and Later-Installment Weirdness; and if the whole network is undergoing this, Network Decay. Contrast Growing the Beard and Win Back the Crowd. A Retool may also be in order should the writers feel that the work needs it.

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



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    Anime and Manga 

  • Pokémon: The Series: Everything after Kanto has a fair share of detractors, with the most common complaints being Executive Meddling, recycled plots or lack of major character development for Ash and Team Rocket. The eras most commonly accused of this, however, are Johto note  and Black & White/Unova note . Funnily enough, despite both Johto and Unova generally being considered the show's weakest eras, where the rot sets in for them is the opposite. For example, while Johto's beginning and middle sections are widely perceived as uneventful and sluggish, the last third (featuring well-received moments like the Larvitar arc, Ash defeating Gary at the Silver Conference, Ashachu, and the original trio's emotional farewell in Gotta Catch Ya Later!) is widely viewed as an improvement. In contrast, Unova is widely considered to start out as promising, addressing many fan complaints (Team Rocket's incompetence, Ash not catching enough Pokémon) head-on, but it starts squandering this potential around the middle, so that by the time of Decalore Islands the season was viewed by many as irredeemable.
  • The third season of Monster Rancher is a Post-Script Season significantly Lighter and Softer than the rest of the series, having villains that are Denser and Wackier, no real stakes until the end, a fair amount of filler, and a rushed (if still epic) climax. It doesn't help that some popular characters are reduced to one-episode appearances and Holly becomes mostly useless. It definitely still has a lot of fans though, with many saying that while the overall story is weaker the season still contains some of the best episodes in the whole anime and gave the series a more satisfying conclusion.
  • Rockman.EXE Stream, the fourth season of the MegaMan NT Warrior anime, is looked down upon for turning the original "digital avatars fighting on the internet" premise into a Sentai show revolving around an ever-growing team of main characters with the ability to turn their Navis into super suits. The transition started with the previous season, but at least that mixed those segments in with segments that actually focused on MegaMan.
    • The main villains' (Duo and Slur) status as Invincible Villains and Karma Houdinis is quite annoying. Granted, this is addressed towards the end; the heroes do defeat Duo and Slur is killed off by Bass.
    • Supposedly the whole Cross Fusion business came about as a result of Executive Meddling, as the show's Axess timeslot onward was right before an actual Sentai show. What's more, having resources and budget being shifted around to The Movie (plus incorporating said movie into the plot of the TV series itself) was probably responsible for the mostly abysmal art and a story that doesn't know what to do with itself.
    • The Mega Man Star Force anime had this to a lesser degree in that there was virtually no plot in episodes 31 on until the end of the first season. So it's more like half-seasonal rot. A condition which continues into the second season, with the addition of discarding almost every aspect of the game it's purportedly based on, up to and including The Rival becoming the polar opposite of his game self.
    • NT Warrior also runs into this during its second season. First it throws in a ridiculous amount of filler before remembering it has a plot, then it wraps up the plot before the season is even over, and then it fills out the rest of the season with more filler the plot had dried up.
      • The last episode is particularly notable for this, being a blatant Shout-Out to Ghostbusters and consisting of, to quote a fansite, "twenty minutes of filler, a minute of eyecatches, and the entire plot crammed into the ending theme." To say nothing of the episode a few earlier that is a rather gimmicky race...
      • The last episode has the most insulting thing in the entire anime — the last boss of the first game randomly pops up and is defeated in less than a minute with barely any introduction.
      • Beast is widely considered by fans to be a huge improvement over Stream, but the sequel Beast+, the last season of the anime, is unfortunately another slump, as well as a Post-Script Season. While the first season , Axess, Stream, and Beast adapt the main series games, Beast+ attempts to adapt all of the spinoff material, such as Network Transmission and the cell phone games, but it's sloppily done thanks to poor writing and pacing. The length of each episode is also reduced to ten minutes, and the time slot was changed to give it a shared spot with another anime. Worst of all, while each of the previous seasons have endings to their arcs, Beast+ just stops. As the Star Force anime was announced to be released before the game version, obviously they needed to wrap up EXE, but they really couldn't have done a worse job.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!:
    • Yu-Gi-Oh! GX's fourth season was widely seen as this upon airing, due to a somewhat rushed conclusion, a main plot that was a bit of a Mind Screw, and a weak final boss. That said, opinions of it seem to have improved due to it showing the culmination of Jaden's character growth and tying up most of the show's plot threads through some pretty heavy-duty Book Ends, with the final Jaden/Crowler duel being a common "best duel in the series" candidate.
    • The first two arcs of the second season of Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds get this kind of flak, with the Road to Destiny arc being composed of almost nothing but Filler and the WRGP arc containing numerous examples of characters holding the Idiot Ball, as well as card shilling almost at Pyramid of Light's level. The concluding arc, the Divine Temple, was with the exception of one specific plot twist much better-received. This may in part be because the first season's Fortune Cup and Dark Signers arcs, widely regarded as high points not just of this series but also of the entire franchise, being tough acts to follow, though.
    • Depending who you talk to, some or all of the filler of the original series, especially the fourth season ("Waking the Dragons"), which is nothing but a filler arc. Promptly lampshaded in Yu-Gi-Oh Abridged:
    Bakura: [...] How about the bikers from season 4?
    Marik: You mean the season nobody liked?
    • Though the exact nature of how and when Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V suffered the rot is uncertain, most agree that everything after the initial arc was a step down at best, and an embarrassment to the franchise at worst. The poor reception of the later seasons on sites like NicoNico Douga was so disastrous that until the second season of Kemono Friends, ARC-V episodes were the worst-rated episode premieres in the site's history (as in, the entire bottom 10 was various episodes of ARC-V). The Troubled Production behind the scenes was significant enough that it seems to have forced a major reworking of Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS, and had long-lasting impacts on the franchise's future.
      • The Synchro Arc suffered from major Arc Fatigue problems. By all rights, it should have been a sidestory, but the plot is dragged out by a bit where they run around the city with no direction, get taken to prison, and escape prison, which then transitions right into a tournament arc—said tournament arc also split up the characters into different rooms, meaning there was minimal interaction between the cast for most of its run. It took up almost a third of the series, yet it also had by far the least impact on the story of any arc. It was also marked by the introduction of new incarnations of Jack and Crow; the latter is already a Base-Breaking Character and the former became one rather swiftly despite his former popularity, being accused of Creator's Pet status. Yuzu, despite a great start in the first season, suffered from being majorly sidelined, and an episode that looked like it would be a major turning point hit the Reset Button rather hard, souring many on the show's Myth Arc.
      • The Xyz Arc finally got the show's plot back on track, but had to deal with new incarnations of Edo and Kaito—while Jack and Crow were controversial, Edo and Kaito were flat-out disliked, due to one coming across as an Adaptational Wimp and the other as a hypercompetent jerk, while both were changed to In Name Only levels. Yuya's Character Development from the Synchro Arc, one of the more well-received parts of it, was abandoned in favor of reverting him to his first-season self. It also began the trend of "the EGAO Messiah", where Yuya can magically cause opponents to switch sides because they think his dueling style is so amazing—this wasn't helped at all by it inexplicably being only a quarter the length of the Synchro Arc, despite having been built up far longer, making the whole thing very rushed.
      • The Fusion Arc featured some major padding, such as the Battle Beast miniarc (despite still being only half the length of Synchro), but was most notorious for bringing the sidelining of the female cast to a head, with the four bracelet girls spending almost the entire run under borderline-fetishistic mind control before being disintegrated, and new legacy-character Asuka being barely a presence before getting easily curbstomped. Aside from that, the arc was tonally bizarre, with Yuya vacillating between a mentally-devastated ball of angst and an unbearably upbeat goofball, and despite the padding, it still felt oddly rushed.
      • The show's final arc started off by being dominated by the battle with Zarc, whose arrival, being built up for the entire series, ended up being absolutely baffling, between his ugly design, bizarre backstory and motivation, and bland personality. Five straight episodes were dedicated to the good guys failing to inflict any lasting damage on him, quickly devolving into a bore, before he was defeated in a rather anticlimactic fashion. What was more problematic was that, after Zarc was defeated, the show spent another eight episodes trying to resolve loose plot points while framed around the rather absurd setup of making a baby possessed by Zarc smile, with those resolutions being strange at best and incredibly tone-deaf at worst. This was all with minimal advancement to the plot of the female lead being seemingly dead, which was resolved by bringing her back in the final episode with everyone being completely satisfied at this... despite not bringing back her counterparts, leaving them either dead or stuck Sharing a Body.
  • For a series with only two animated seasons, Kemono Friends. The second season is a soft reboot of the first that is also backtracked into a sequel. For rather uncertain reasons, the director of the prior season, who was generally accepted to be the show's heart and soul, was fired, and the result was that a series that had previously run on its distinctive charm and energy suddenly felt like it'd had its soul sucked out, being exactly the sort of empty cash-grab that the first season had won praise for not being. It was especially typified by a new protagonist, who immediately became a Replacement Scrappy. The final episode, due to essentially reading like an insistence that the show's new management was better, is currently the lowest-rated anime premiere on NicoNico Douga as of this writing.
  • Many consider Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion R2 a step down from the first season due to increasingly absurd plot twists, the vast majority of the old cast being Out of Focus, plot threads going unresolved or just dropped entirely, and an increased focus on mecha battles at the expense of the strategic interplay that characterized much of the first season (and main character Lelouch).
  • It's generally agreed upon by fans that Fist of the North Star takes a noticeable decline in quality after the conclusion of the Hokuto Brothers arc, which serves as the major focus of the manga's story. While the Jakoh, Shura, and Bolge arcs weren't terrible, they're seen as mediocre compared to what came before it as a result of it being a Post-Script Season, and the arcs between the Shura and Bolge arcs are heavily considered the nadir of the series in terms of quality. The arcs after Raoh's defeat rely mainly on rehashing previous story elements, hastily retconning several elements of the manga, placing an increasing amount of emphasis on the Sorting Algorithm of Evil and Ki Attacks (though not to the extent that other shonen comics such as Dragon Ball take it), and in the arcs after the Shura one, relegating Kenshiro to the sidelines so that he can give an Anvilicious moral lesson to the villains and pull a Big Damn Heroes moment at the conclusion of the Bolge arc. Because of this, most adaptations of the manga only go up to the end of the Hokuto Brothers arc, with only Fist of the North Star 2 and several video games touching on what came after (and even then, Fist of the North Star 2 ends with the Shura arc rather than adapting anything past that).
  • Slayers:
    • For a lot of fans, the third season of the anime, Slayers TRY. What would've been an intriguing story was bogged down by poor characterization (the four heroes are Out of Focus and have no Character Development, a stark contrast to the previous season), a convoluted plot, stale humor, and too much focus on the Holier Than Thou Guest-Star Party Member, the Big Bad, and his mooks. Even Hajime Kanzaka, who created the series, admits to disliking the TRY arc.
    • Revolution and Evolution-R serve as little more than nostalgia fuel, adding nothing different or interesting to the franchise, Revolution deserves special mention, for stretching Lina's vices to borderline unlikeable levels.
  • The second season (of three) of Akazukin Chacha is best not watched. Or, at least have the remote handy to fast-forward through the several minute-long transformation sequences (yes, multiple in a row...).
  • The second arc of Death Note, especially in the manga. After a Time Skip Light gets two new opponents, Mello and Near, setting up a three-way cat-and-mouse duel. Unfortunately the story falls prey to Too Bleak, Stopped Caring territory. Light comes across as a two-dimensional villain, and it's hard to cheer for Near, due to his spoiled ungrateful nature and his whole character being a Suspiciously Similar Substitute of L with no unique traits. Mello is interesting but is Out of Focus half the time, making the Light vs. Near conflict awfully similar to Light vs. L. The Shinigami appear less and less, and there are truly insane Walls of Text. The biggest contributing factor is the fact that the author wanted the series to be exactly 108 chapters long, but didn't quite have enough material to fill that amount, so the story ended up severely dragged out and padded. For comparison, the anime adaptation crams the entire second half of the manga from Near and Mello's introduction onward (a whopping 59 chapters) into just 11 episodes.
  • Sailor Moon has three arcs that are regarded as weaker than the others: The Makaiju arc in R, and the final two seasons, SuperS and Stars:
    • The Makaiju (Doom Tree in the original dub) was a filler arc done because the series was expanded after the original story, but with no manga material to work from, the anime directors created a completely new arc to fill time and build the story structure for the season that would become R. Fan opinion is mixed at best, but even those who like it admit that it doesn't add much to the overall plot.
    • Sailor Moon SuperS, is usually regarded as one of the weakest of the series even though it has some of the best animation. In addition to leaving out the highly popular Outer Guardians introduced in the previous series, it consists of mostly comedic filler episodes and deviates from the manga's corresponding, dramatic "Dream" arc. It also doesn't help that a series titled Sailor Moon spends much more time on Chibiusa than on its main heroine.
    • The final season, Stars, isn't much better. The ratings had nosedived by this point, though they naturally recovered for the entire series' Grand Finale. Fans are generally at least a little warmer to the season than Super S, though it mostly depends on how much they like the gender-bending Sailor Starlights (which is a mix of hating new characters, hating the Shipping that arose because of them, and hating transgender people—but that's another can of worms entirely). It also leaves out vast chunks of the manga compared to previous series, and many, many manga characters do not appear at all in the Stars anime. The fact that the Outer Guardians returned only to be Demoted to Extra and turned into The Load rather than an asset didn't help.
  • Bleach:
    • The later parts of the Arrancar saga are considered this. Common issues cited include poorly implemented plot twists, many anticlimactic fights and an extremely painful case of Arc Fatigue.
    • The Lost Agent Arc is considered a very problematic part of the canon storyline. Initially well-received as a chance to allow the human characters to shine, the new characters were unconvincing, the new powers introduced were considered confusing, and the arc ended with the Shinigami saving the humans in an extremely rushed wrap-up of the arc. This was predicted by the fandom but still caused huge disappointment. The arc is regarded as nothing more than a poorly designed plot device to give Ichigo back his powers; even the fans that like the arc regard it as a good example of how Kubo starts an arc really well, but cannot sustain the quality to the end.
    • The filler arcs created by the animation studio are regarded as sub-quality storylines with villains that are usually a rehash of canon villains.
      • The Bount arc borrows from canon Quincy and Mod-Soul back story to create the Bount. It was excessively long, introduced too many characters that were either poorly characterised (the Bount villains) or regarded as extremely irritating (the Bount Mod-Souls). The plot was a run-of-the-mill "turn against the creators" storyline and had a predictable ending.
      • The Gotei 13 Invasion Arc completely rewrites even important canon to justify a predictable and lack-lustre "take revenge against superiors for an ancient personal slight" plot. A filler character who turns normally comedic Kon into her Love Interest and the hero of the show reduces the main characters to shilling roles. She takes a single day to develop from powerless Damsel in Distress to more powerful than even Yamamoto, Aizen and Ichigo. The poor filler characterization, marginalization of main characters, and extremely unbalanced power levels all contribute to make it the most poorly received anime storyline within the fandom.
  • If things can be divided by story arcs for this, Otogi Zoshi noticeably suffers in its second arc. The pacing is poor compared to the first, the artwork (generally quite nice to look at for the first half) has a considerable quality drop, plot points don't link as clearly to the conclusion, and much of it slips into predictable mystery of the week stuff. If the page for Otogi Zoshi itself is to be believed, in the form of a tight schedule, tight budget, and the presence of 14 directors is very likely to blame.
  • The second season of Haruhi Suzumiya. After it was announced the light novel The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya would be adapted into a movie the writers were forced to stretch out the material before it into a full 14-episode season. How did they manage this? By making eight versions of essentially the same episode with the only differences being the characters' outfits and the numbers mentioned in the exposition. For reference, the original novel didn't do this. They simply told the story once, like anyone sane and non-trolling would do.
  • Season 2 of One-Punch Man had to deal with a change in animation studios, with J.C. Staff taking over for Madhouse. This resulted in the animation quality taking a nosedive, with the incredibly fluid and immaculately presented action sequences from the first season being replaced by stiff movement and flat composition. While the writing remained relatively untouched, given that the first season was especially praised for its incredible action the downgrade came as a major punch to the gut in the eyes of many fans and critics.
  • Naruto:
    • Seasons 4, 5, and the last legs of 3 after the Sasuke Retrieval Arc are not well regarded. This is because they form a massive block of over 80 filler episodes that make up the space between Naruto and Naruto: Shippuden. Besides the immense length of time, the episodes themselves simply tend to be lower quality or have Idiot Plots. The lack of character consistency, especially with Sakura, doesn't help. Some of the arcs were regarded as good among them, but they were seen as far and few in-between, and did not change that the overall canon story came to a halt for so long, causing Arc Fatigue. Shippuden tried to correct this by spacing out its filler more instead of having it all together, with mixed results.
    • The manga itself suffers from it in its last arc, The Fourth Shinobi War, for a chunk of the fanbase. The reason being its length, some divisive choices (like Obito being Tobi) and the sudden introduction of Kaguya with an expansion of the lore deemed unnecessary by many.
  • YuYu Hakusho: Most fans agree that the high point of the series is the Dark Tournament arc. Some think it's the Chapter Black arc. Despite this, most people agree that the Three Kings Saga is bland in comparison. It doesn't help that The Lancer of the main four is Demoted to Extra after spending a third of the previous arc being a Badass in Distress and the first third of the arc being Brought Down to Normal and thus useless. Said character stays in school instead of joining his friends on their last adventure and isn't shown outside of flashbacks between the time his friends leave and the last episode. Fans also hate that the show goes from saving the world to participating in Demon World politics. No one is necessarily evil in the final arc, which makes fans feel mixed about who to root for. In the end, none of the protagonists even make it to the final round in the tournament. The antagonist beats Yusuke, but is too worn out from that fight to defeat the next opponent. The sudden drop of Kuwabara combined with the anti-climactic final battle and the fact that the heroes aren't doing anything as heroic as they normally would makes most fans complain about the final arc.
  • Medabots Spirits, the second season of Medabots. After the confusing yet satisfying ending of the first season, fans dislike Spirits for putting over half the original cast in a bus. It doesn't help that the aforementioned series does have Canon Discontinuity of its own that it's not even mentioned in dialogue — what happened previously not only with the finale, but the exclusion of part of the cast. The first Medabots' strongest aspect is its pacing — it manages to insert a lot of plot and character subplots in few episodes, and yet never feels (too) rushed. Spirits, on the other hand, sticks with a single plotline (Kam's) through its entire run, and suffers dearly for it, as episodes have to constantly reinforce the status quo to stop the plotline from ending, thus advancing the plot at a snail's pace for its 39 episodes. The exclusion of most of the original cast helps to make that more apparent — with less characters, episodes have to focus exclusively on Ikki, Erika, and sometimes new character Zuru, making stories less varied. Spirits does away with the first series' strengths, and plays up its weaknesses.
  • Rurouni Kenshin ended up getting bogged down by filler. While earlier filler episodes are brushed off as fans still consider that part of the series consistent, many consider the dropping point to be what came after Kyoto. It's filler, endless amounts of filler. Much like Naruto and to a lesser extent Bleach, it relies on poor plots and managed to drive fans away.
  • While many are divided on whether or not the first season of Freezing had its problems, the season that came after it is very much agreed to have lots of them. The most reviled of the bunch is the meshing of the Siblings and E-Pandora arcs, as it not only disrupted the story's flow, but managed to make Satellizer and Kazuya much less endearing in the process.
  • Many Sword Art Online fans consider the Fairy Dance arc as a low point of the series, especially since it nullifies the previous arc's conclusion. Asuna is reduced to a Damsel in Distress (though she certainly tries to get out on her own), and the romantic aspects are focused on Suguha and her feelings for Kazuto/Kirito. The fact that the anime version removes any evidence that Liz, Silica, Agil and Klein are also in the game doesn't help matters. In addition, the Arc Villain, Suguo, is much less interesting than the previous villain. When Episode 21 hit, the arrival of (brief) Tentacle Rope had some of the fanbase screaming, and Episode 24's Attempted Rape of Asuna in front of Kirito sent them into nuclear-level reactions. As a result, quite a few people that had previously praised SAO switched to bashing the series by the arc's end, and while Phantom Bullet and especially Mother Rosario improved things immensely, some fans just never let it go.
  • Dragon Ball:
    • The Buu Saga is seen as this by some fans. Most of the issues pointed are the story being more over-the-top than ever with examples such as the Super Saiyan 3 form, Piccolo being Demoted to Extra, Buu in his Super form being almost the same as the previous villain Cell but lacking any solid motivation, Vegeta making a Senseless Sacrifice despite an attempt to develop him, Goku and Vegeta being the Spotlight-Stealing Squad again when the series appeared to be focusing on Gohan, the divisive characters of Goten and Trunks, and the anticlimatic and sudden ending. This seems to be more a case of Americans Hate Tingle, though; in Japan, Buu is a more popular villain than Cell (who is seen as a step down from Frieza) and Japan's audience wanted Goku back (he was ranked #1 on a fan poll) so they didn't mind him taking over the last leg of the arc along with Vegeta (who ranked #2 on the same poll).
    • Dragon Ball GT tries to recapture the charm of the pre-Z series but fails to emulate it. It then switches back to the Z style but becomes too convoluted story-wise and filled with plot holes.
    • The first two arcs of Dragon Ball Super are this, to many fans' annoyance, since they are remakes of the movies Battle of Gods and Resurrection of F, but unlike those two movies, the animation quality is infamous for how Off-Model and amateurish it is, to the point many fans lost hope in the series. Of the two arcs, Resurrection of F is considered the worst for having the worst climatic fight in the franchise, a far cry from its movie counterpart that is praised specifically for the animation in the fight scenes. While the animation is still problematic, by the time of the third arc involving the Universe 6 Tournament, the show managed to recover part of its fanbase, and by the time of the Future Trunks saga, it was generally agreed the show grew the beard entirely.
  • Ai Mai Mii: Mousou Catastrophe, the second season of Ai Mai Mii, lacks the fast pacing and rapid-fire gags that make the first season entertaining. Many fans find the episodes slow and boring, and the attempts at serious drama fall flat.
  • In Shaman King (manga version), many readers find the post-hiatus issues to be a drop in quality. Instead of becoming more interesting, characters (both heroes and villains) grow much more unsympathetic and preachy. The fact that the manga ends on a condescending, defeatist note about the nature of normal humans and the future of humanity caused some to accuse the author of misanthropic ranting, given how little the manga actually does to refute Hao's anti-human views.
  • Shugo Chara Party! is seen as a major downgrade compared to the previous seasons and was a Franchise Killer, and for good reason. The live action segments are seen as annoying and jarring, a mini-anime focusing on the guardian characters and full of unfunny gags takes up a third of each episode, and the actual anime only takes up twelve minutes of screentime, and has a slew of new problems all on its own. The season goes through an unexpected Genre Shift from a magical girl show to a Lighter and Softer slice of life comedy. Amu is pushed to the side for Canon Foreigner Rikka, who has a special ability that renders Amu completely irrelevant, and when her Heart's Egg actually does hatch, it turns out her Guardian Character is little more than an Amulet Dia clone. And Ikuto is absent for almost the whole season only to come back for the last episode just to resolve the series' love triangle. Most people like to pretend it never existed. It's even believed to have had a hand in the manga ending earlier than expected, which should tell you a lot.
  • Dog Days has its second and third seasons, which are generally too busy stripping the female cast naked to focus on the cute and charming characters or the overarching plotline that make the first season so enjoyable. This can be especially uncomfortable for some viewers given how young most of the girls look. One reviewer even compared the first season to a serious Visual Novel with the latter two being the bonus discs with all the pervy extra content.
  • Food Wars!:
    • The Tōtsuki Reformation Arc is considered this for a number of reasons. Among them is the tone of the arc being too serious for a manga relying on over-the-top cooking competitions, but without any actual depth to it. Having almost every character aside from Erina, Soma and their fathers fall Out of Focus was also not a welcome decision in the eyes of many fans. Furthermore, the Arc Fatigue set in as the pace slowed down to a gruesome crawl that led to the arc taking two and a half years to finish (slightly bettered by having small mini-arcs within it, but still), leading to a rushed resolution that many found anti-climatic.
    • The previous arc had already left the manga with a mixed reception, but it was immediately followed by the even more poorly received Les Cuisiner Noir Arc, which introduced a group of Scrappies as the villains with implausible cooking gimmicks (that the author tries to pass off as superpowers) and egregiously destroying the previously established status quo regarding abilities of the characters. This came at the expense of ignoring the already established ensemble which contained more likeable characters. It also derailed Soma and Erina's Character Development in order to set up a Love Triangle in a convoluted Romantic Plot Tumor between them and the Big Bad, and forces a number of Ass Pull twists in order to set up the villains and move the plot forward. In the climax, the author prioritized Erina's family issues over resolving Soma's progress and goals—which was the original premise of the manga. And to make matters worse, despite the unnecessary love triangle plot, there is no resolution.
  • Many Yo-Kai Watch fans believe the original anime suffered from this in its later episodes (especially in the third season) and is responsible for the decline in viewership of the show, with the increase of recurring Scrappy characters, Toilet Humor, the derailment of several popular Yo-Kai from the games, Flanderization of several characters, and, in the case of the English dub, replacing the entire voice cast due to budget issues.
  • The Promised Neverland: While Season 1 of the adaptation was well-received, fans were quick to notice that during Season 2, the anime was starting to deviate from the manga itself - skipping more than 100 chapters worth of story, cutting out several fan favorite arcs and characters - building up to a very lackluster ending. The manga itself had polarizing later arcs and was criticized towards the end (due to pacing issues, anti-climactic confrontations, and a controversial ending); the anime, which had the chance to try and improve on the original series' faults, only made that criticism worse.
  • While the first season of Berserk (2016) was hardly acclaimed to begin with, the second season is a very noticeable step down. A slashed budget took a major toll on the already flawed animation, major plot elements from the manga were Adapted Out, and the overall story felt even more rushed and messy, due to covering multiple complex arcs.
  • Several people say that Fairy Tail fell into this during the Grand Magic Games arc. It's the first real arc post the first Time Skip after the short reintroduction, it's also the longest running arc of the series at that point, and it reintroduces a bunch of supporting characters from past arcs while also boosting the character roster with plenty of new arrivals. Complaints especially go to several of the newly-introduced characters being underutilized or getting ultimately anti-climatic fights with the established cast, the Next Tier Power-Up Hand Wave used to justify how the time-displaced Fairy Tail elites managed to catch up in at most three months what everyone else had seven years of honing their skills, the Arc Fatigue as it nears the end and has to contend with government conspiracy taking center stage, and the Arc Villain tends to be seen as one of the weaker ones motive-wise and personality-wise with several of the time-displaced dragons getting more approval.
  • Why the Hell Are You Here, Teacher!? started off with a Tough Act to Follow; the first teacher, Kana Kojima, is perhaps the most popular in the series, enough that later arcs are often compared unfavorably to hers. Many readers want to see her and Satou become the central focus of the story again, or would have preferred that instead of introducing a new couple for each volume, the story should have focused entirely on her evolving relationship with Satou, although the pair of Tanaka and Tachibana, of the original four pairs, seems to be almost as highly regarded. As a whole, the first four pairs remain the highlight of the series, and their arcs being anime-adapted certainly helped. From the fifth storyline onwards, reception has definitely been more mixed. The Arc Fatigue of Tadashi Nakamura's storyline being stretched over three volumes rather than one like every other student character got was poorly received, to say the least.

    Asian Animation 
  • The Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf season War of Invention is noted for having a different art style and writing direction from the other seasons, neither of which meshed well with viewers. Thankfully, all seasons afterwards, including the ones that are direct sequels to War of Invention, go back to the original art and writing styles.

    Comic Books 
  • Spider-Man:
    • Spider-Man comics were consistently popular and well-received for over 30 years until The Clone Saga of 1994-1996. The storyline initially featured decent sales figures, but by the end, not so much. The negativity was largely because the Clone Saga just wouldn't end. After it was all over, the newer storylines were seen as an improvement, but the damage was done, with sales still in deep trouble. Executive Meddling led to those storylines being cancelled, two of the four titles being outright cancelled, the remaining two being rebooted and a deeply unpopular era overseen by Howard Mackie and John Bryne.
    • The JMS run is generally agreed to have started out very good, with some cool new additions to Spidey's Rogues Gallery and the introduction of a solid Myth Arc. But then editor-in-chief Joe Quesada began ruthlessly meddling in nearly everything, which led to horrible plot twists and near-unanimously reviled storylines like Sins Past and One More Day, turning the Myth Arc into a tangled mess.
    • One More Day/Brand New Day had the wider rot problem of the sales of the franchise going straight into the toilet, even with Marvel cancelling all satellite Spider-Man books and upping Amazing Spider-Man to three times a month publication. Marvel hyped Amazing Spider-Man #647 as "the end of Brand New Day," but in truth simply changed the release schedule to twice a month in a desperate effort to save the comic, as the unpopular new direction was causing it to hemorrhage readers at that point. At that point, Dan Slott's "Big Time" arc began and his run was well-received, however...
    • Slott's run itself, once praised as a return to form with the well-received Big Time, No One Dies, and especially Spider-Island storylines, is widely considered to have gone through this as well. Some say that the aforementioned Superior was the starting point, especially since in order for the story to work Slott flat-out ignored that Spider-Man's supporting cast have traditionally been among the best normal humans at playing Spot the Impostor, but that book built up a cult following of its own. By contrast, almost nobody likes the relaunched Amazing title with Peter back in the mantle. It got off on a bad foot to begin with by having all of Peter's previous love interests dump him so he could be paired with Silk, introducing a widely derided Original Character of Slott's, then continued with the Spider-Verse Bat Family Crossover, which consisted largely of various Alternate Universe Spider-People being brutally killed, some of whom died in ways that got fans speculating that Slott was trying to piss them off. The storylines following that just dug the grave deeper, with reception of Slott's work getting worse and worse as many came to feel he had completely lost the voice of Spider-Man in favor of Flanderizing him into an impotent Manchild and to have no more regard for even basic storytelling. It all hit it's zenith with the much-despised Dead No More, an event that was mostly just a tired rehash of the Clone Saga but with all its flaws exacerbated. By that point, fans were pleading for Slott to leave the book, which he finally did following the Go Down Swinging arc… a story that, ironically, was extremely well-received.
  • While the X-Men books have had their share of up and down periods, it could be said that the former flagship title Uncanny X-Men experienced a decline in quality starting with 1998's "Hunt for Xavier" arc, from which it did not recover fully until the end of Chris Claremont's third run on the title in 2007, when Ed Brubaker took over the book.
    • Another common view is that the franchise became a directionless mire of unresolved storylines, inconsistent characterization, tangled family trees, alternate universes and angst shortly after the end of Claremont's first run. 1998 does indeed mark the beginning of a severe creative decline that exacerbated these issues and alienated both dedicated and new readers. Either Joss Whedon or Grant Morrison is said to have heralded a brief return to the quality and relevance of the mutants' heyday.
    • There was another period of rot that ended in 2011, though fans are divided on when it started. Some place the beginning as far back as 2005 and House of M, the aftermath of which left mutants a Dying Race and the "struggle for survival" aspect of the comic being played up repeatedly and Anviliciously. Others are more generous and say the rot didn't kick in until 2009, with Matt Fraction's run (often considered the second-worst in the book's history) and the "Utopia" storyline.
    • There's a dissenting opinion that the whole arc from House of M to Second Coming or Avengers vs. X-Men was a strong arc with the mutant race saved in a satisfying manner, but the period after had back-to-back direction and resolution issues, with the Revolutionary Cyclops storyline starting strong but petering out, the "should we send back the O5?" story being answered in Battle of the Atom with no judgment calls needed or possible, and finally the Inhumans plot, where the main conflict is a blatant rehash of the Decimation arc, plus Cyclops is shunned in-universe for stopping a poison cloud from killing thousands. This culminated in Inhumans vs. X-Men which is itself a rehash of Avengers vs. X-men but deeply suffers from attempting moral equivalence in a conflict where one side is trying to stop genocide by negligence and the other side's stance is that it's okay if some people get poisoned, as long as they can keep producing superpowers. While AvX has flaws, IvX has the inglorious position of being a combination of two storylines that'd been done better before, leaving fans scratching their heads as to the editors' and writers' grasp of the moral situation they'd set up. The run after all this hardly fared any better, as it was mostly just wheel-spinning until the onset Jonathan Hickman run/Soft Reboot could begin. Note that the Hickman run — already widely acclaimed as the one of the best X-Men eras ever — went out of it's way to functionally undo or ignore nearly everything that happened after the aforementioned House Of M, only keeping around a scant number of status quo changes from that era (the new characters, Rogue and Gambit being married, etc.). "That era" for the record consists of a decade and a half of stories, and is even dismissively referenced in-story as "the lost decade", which provides a stark idea of how the whole Post-Decimation period of X-Men is viewed by fans and creators alike.
  • Depending on who you ask, the seasonal rot for Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics) started either after issue #50 (the appropriately-titled "Endgame" arc, which was intended as the Grand Finale but was changed at the last minute, which caused problems for the writers), #125 (the end of a then-highly contentious arc, which led to a few issues in space followed by a one-year Time Skip) or after issue #200.
  • The "second season" of Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane, since the writer and the artist both left and they subsequently hired new people. The writing and art style shift is... jarring, to say the least.
  • The "Reads" arc of Cerebus, largely due to consisting mostly of an extended Author Filibuster.
  • The first half of 2009 issues of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8 comic is vastly considered to be the weakest point of the series. The second half of 2009 is also considered sub-par by many, though not to the same extent.
  • When Claremont took over writing duties for Exiles, it was with the editorial edict passed down upon him to get rid of the mainstay characters and replace them with variations of his pet characters (such as a spoiled-brat version of Rogue, a male version of Mystique, a generic teenage version of Shadowcat, etc.) Needless to say it didn't take well with fans.
  • Robert Kirkman's run on Ultimate X-Men is generally thought of as a low point for the series. Many readers consider the series to have been at its absolute worst during Aron Coleite's run.
  • The common fan consensus is that W.I.T.C.H. started going downhill after Orube got Put on a Bus following Cedric's Redemption Equals Death. The plots get weaker, the Big Bads feel more and more like the same evil queen over and over again, and the girls get a Girliness Upgrade. Fans often shun everything from "New Power" onward, especially when the writers decided that having a plot be about a Mr. Fanservice White Hair, Black Heart and his romance with a Mad Scientist's Beautiful Daughter (who uses Gratuitous Japanese) would be a good idea.
  • Almost no fan of Marvel 1602 will admit that the sequels were of the same quality. Granted, the original series had Neil Gaiman, and that's a Tough Act to Follow.
  • Most fans of Runaways will tell you that the series started to decline in quality immediately after Brian K. Vaughan left, but the rot really started to set in when the series was rebooted under Terry Moore and Humberto Ramos. Moore had a limited grasp of the characters' personalities and couldn't find the proper balance between comedy and drama, and Ramos' cartoonish style was not very flattering to the non-white members of the cast and didn't mesh very well with a story arc that saw Karolina and Xavin being accused of genocide (and Xavin ultimately handing themselves over to the antagonists to answer for their supposed crimes.) Things improved when Moore and Ramos left, but the series was eventually cancelled in 2009.
    • Runaways (Rainbow Rowell) started off in a promising manner, with Rowell resurrecting Gert and Victor and restoring the team to its early-volume 2 lineup (the most popular lineup) and canonizing Nico and Karolina as an Official Couple, something fans had wanted for over a decade. And then the "Cannon Fodder" arc happened. Many fans had wanted the Runaways to be actual superheroes again, and the arc promised that they would finally get their wish, with the team getting a new mentor and actual costumes. Rowell, on the other hand, had no interest in traditional superheroics, and so the arc ended with a massive case of Yank the Dog's Chain, after which the series was put on hiatus for almost a year. When the series finally returned, it limped along just long enough to claim a Milestone Celebration (the 100th issue overall) before getting unceremoniously cancelled.
  • Asterix: After the death of scriptwriter René Goscinny, artist Albert Uderzo took the difficult decision of continuing the series alone. Though the artwork of these comics is still top notch and the stories are OK on their own terms, Uderzo lacked the wit of his script writer. Many Asterix stories after 1977 are far less clever and funny and more fantastical and melodramatic. It essentially became more geared at children than before, with the atrocious Asterix and the Falling Sky note  as the final sign that Uderzo just didn't care anymore. He quit drawing the strip after that, and new artists have continued the series.
  • Suske en Wiske has experienced a notable decline ever since the series started using standard Dutch and moralistic endings in the 1960s. The decline of the series sank even lower after creator Willy Vandersteen became less involved. After his death in 1990, quality predictably went into the gutter, with each successive storyline having less and less to do with the initial premise.
  • The Dandy of the latter half of the 1960s and 1970s, while considered a golden age for the comic by some, is often seen as a weak point in the comic's history by many due to how badly the comic fell behind the times, with outdated strips like Black Bob and Winker Watson running in an era where other comics had more relatable, down to earth strips like Dennis the Menace. To add to this, most people drawing the strips were veteran artists who had started with comics in the 1940s or before. If an artist died, then more often than not their strips were reprinted, rather than replaced or given a new artist. Little effort was made to remedy this until Albert Barnes, who had been the Dandy editor since its inception in the 1930s, was finally replaced... in 1982.
  • Matt Fraction's run on The Mighty Thor was heavily criticized for mischaracterization, drawn-out stories with no payoffs and abrupt endings, and ignoring any history that was not absolutely vital to the title. The shoddy quality is very noticeable since it followed JMS' critically acclaimed run.
  • Agent Venom ran into this after Rick Remender left the comic and Cullen Bunn took over as full-time writer. While there were some good points (as well as the introduction of Mania, a huge Ensemble Dark Horse), in the end the comic just wasn't the same, with a far less interesting main villain, Flash's supporting cast and established foes falling Out of Focus, and a general decrease in the characterization that had been the comic's strong point. The book limped on for a bit before being cancelled midway through the resolution of its Myth Arc.
  • Almost the entire Ultimate Universe went through this, as all the writers except Brian Michael Bendis either treated it like a part of the company where continuity doesn't matter (creating tons of plot holes and OOC) or seemed to think its purpose was to be as overly dark and angsty as possible. The only books that weren't struck with this were Ultimate Spider-Man and the books directly linked to it. The Ultimate Universe rotted to the point that it was officially destroyed in Secret Wars (2015).
  • The original run of Rogue Trooper should have ended, in the opinion of many fans, when Rogue dealt with the Traitor General. The Friday reboot and subsequent merging of both continuities only made things worse. Newer Rogue strips are, as a result, set during Rogue's heyday.
  • The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Volumes I and II are very well-regarded due to having strong plots which support a plethora of literary references and dirty jokes. However, in Volume 3 and Black Dossier, the plot starts to take a backseat to the references, which become increasingly obscure, and the jokes, which become increasingly dirty. What began as a fun comic any moderately well-read individual could enjoy became a nigh-incomprehensible tour of all the weird books Alan Moore wanted you to know he read. The Century mini-series also gets this reaction quite a bit, due to it continuing several of the aforementioned issues regarding plotting and unnecessarily obscure references while also gradually becoming an extended Author Tract on why Alan Moore hates 21st-century pop culture in general and Harry Potter in particular.
  • To many, Scott Snyder's Batman work is affected by this. It started off strong with the "Black Mirror" arc in Detective Comics, which was a largely low-stakes story with Dick Grayson as Batman, and a more classic take on the franchise while Grant Morrison was doing their typical experimental and trippy stuff. He also had the Gates of Gotham miniseries, which is liked for using underutilised characters while also working in some a healthy amount of world-building for Gotham. Then came the "Court of Owls" arc, which is generally liked for having a neat conspiracy angle and some more world-building, although it's considered overly long and wordy by some. After that is where the rot may or may not set in, depending on who you ask:
    • "Death of the Family", an incredibly divisive arc which features the return of the Joker and loads and loads of death, violence and gore, with the Joker himself hitting Invincible Villain levels. Things also got a lot wordier.
    • Then came "Zero Year", a story meant to give readers Batman's new origin that was unfavourably compared to the acclaimed "Year One" by Frank Miller, while also suffering from a huge case of Arc Fatigue (it ran for an actual year, not including issue #0) that led many to stop reading the series. People came back for Snyder's "Endgame" arc, which is also divisive for being overly wordy and featuring a weird attempt at retconning the Joker to be some immortal spirit... thing.
    • Many fans agree that the Batman storyline "Superheavy", is this for Scott Snyder's entire run on New 52. The storyline sees James Gordon play a Powered Armor-riding Batman after the real Batman vanishes following the events of Batman: Endgame. A lot of it has to do with the fact that Gordon is a real jerkass most of the time, and many readers were just waiting for Bruce to finally decide to hop back in the saddle. At the same time, the story focuses way too much on the idea that Jim has to be Batman his way, which is a story idea incredibly overdone not only within the superhero genre as a whole, but also within the Batman franchise. In fact, "Superheavy" does little aside from deal with Jim's insecurities and Bruce returning to the role, with an utterly forgettable villain in the centre. Even the Bruce stuff is generic; it just... happens the way you'd expect it to after the first issue. The series concluded, and by the time Tom King came on as a new writer and Snyder was put onto All-Star Batman, a sigh of relief was had by all...
    • ...until Dark Nights: Metal happened. It's an incredibly divisive event for how it runs off Rule of Cool and attempts to pull some very... odd retcons, like having all the immortals in the DCU be connected, a strange retcon to Hawkman and Hawkgirl's origins that makes them weird immortals who still die, as well as its interpretation of Barbatos. While Snyder's early Batman work was loved, these days, he's divisive at best.
  • Batman (Tom King): It's generally agreed upon that Tom King's run during the comic went through this, though there are debates as to when it started. However, most believe that regardless of when it started, it had fully settled in after Issue #50, aka the failed Batman/Catwoman wedding. After that, the serious flaws of the run became apparent, including anti-climactic finishes to plots, increasingly contrived writing, awkward dialogue and the derailment of Bruce's character, which sees him become an Unintentionally Unsympathetic Jerkass Designated Hero that became so hated that he was disowned by a number of angry and disgruntled fans. When it was announced that the run was going to be cut short at Issue #85, with the rest of King's story being relegated to an out-of-continuity Batman/Catwoman miniseries, many felt it was a mercy kill.
  • Justice Society of America/JSA had this occur, though there's some debate on when it started. General consensus is that the series started strong when under James Robinson, Geoff Johns and David S. Goyer, and had completely Grown the Beard once Geoff Johns became its sole writer. However...
    • Some felt that there was a gradual decrease in quality over time once the series began to wrap up, culminating in Paul Levitz' mediocre run that was dated and weirdly played on Stargirl's Virgin Power for some reason.
    • Others feel that the relaunched Justice Society of America series was the decline. While the first arc is liked and brought in fan-favourite Cyclone, it also was immediately followed by a crossover with Justice League of America that had no baring on the JSA themselves and just served to bring back the unrelated Legion of Super-Heroes. It then had a follow-up to Mark Waid's acclaimed Kingdom Come that was not particularly well-liked, either, and the tale end of Johns' run had him become more fond of violence and gore, leading to very dark stories that didn't fit the JSA.
    • Finally, there's the end of the run, which is vocally disliked. It divided the team by splitting off many of the younger heroes to launch JSA All-Stars, there were mean-spirited writing such as depicting the black Mr. Terrific being stabbed in an alley and killing Alan Scott randomly, and by the time the series ended thanks to the New 52 reboot, it was a mercy killing. Unfortunately, it was followed by Earth 2, which had its own share of issues...
  • Earth 2: There's some disagreement on when it set in, but general consensus is that, by the time it ended, it was a mercy killing.
    • Some say the series had an immediate drop in quality once James Robinson left, with the original premise, that Earth 2 is a place where the Justice Society and other discarded characters can flourish, being scrapped in favour of more Superman and Batman. This is also accompanied by constant conflict and conflict, with no Breather Episode to let the characters or readers catch a break.
    • Others feel it was the Worlds End run that did it, with the writer blatantly not doing his research (or remembering his own writing in the case of Dick Grayson's son changing names multiple times) and telling drawn-out, grimdark stories that just go nowhere. And of course, the constant, unending fighting drags on.
    • And yet others feel that Society was what finally killed it, with the distrust of heroes being pushed to an unbearable extreme, everyone holding their own Conflict Ball by default, and obvious Executive Meddling at play as stories are retreaded time and again — sometimes a story will be heading in one direction then suddenly stop... only to be retold! And then the Justice Society was announced to be returning to the main DCU, and it seemed like the series just existed to waste time by that point.
  • The Transformers (Marvel), given its Merchandise-Driven nature, has an ongoing Cast Herd that gradually became more and more difficult for writer Bob Budiansky to manage as the series went on, especially given the heavy Executive Meddling to ensure that even more characters were added. Headmasters alone adds more than sixty new characters to the cast, and after being forced to kill off Optimus Prime (doing so in a controversial way, due to allowing NPCs in a video game to die) and Megatron (in a better-received story having Shockwave push him over the edge), the story quality begins to fluctuate wildly, older characters start getting derailed, and plots and dialogue become increasingly incoherent and silly. Towards the end, Budiansky killed off over fifty characters in one issue, which failed to even really dent the horde.note  Five issues later, he left the book to Simon Furman, who would go on to put out some of his best work as he drove the plot into a more serious and epic direction.
  • Evan Skolnick's run on New Warriors. The blame can't all be laid at his feet, though: original writer Fabian Nicieza's departure after issue #53 coincided with a downturn in sales that would eventually culminate in The Great Comics Crash of 1996. As a result, Skolnick was ordered to consolidate New Warriors closer with the other titles under the Spider-Man editorial office: as a result, about half the main characters were abruptly kicked off the team (including team leader and founder Night Thrasher) and replaced by new members such as Scarlet Spider. The series never really recovered: it was cancelled about two years later, and despite occasional attempts at revival (including one Retool into a wacky comedy lampooning reality TV) it's never caught on again since then. Civil War was allowed to use the team as C-List Fodder, which shows how little Marvel valued New Warriors a decade later.
  • Monica's Gang suffered a steep drop in quality during the New '10s, due to what's perceived as less inspired plotlines, lower-quality writing devoid of witty dialogue, and the protagonists losing their most noteworthy traits and becoming Flat Characters; which overall made the work much less appealing to older readers. Older readers also think the creative team is doing a reverse Art Evolution, as the digital art is mostly low-effort and some stories seem to give a Wild Take to the characters for no reason every other panel.

    Comic Strips 
  • Little Orphan Annie, especially once it almost completely left its Fish out of Water setup behind and started introducing magic, demons and God regularly interacting with the characters. The initial acknowledgement that Punjab actually had magical abilities counts as Franchise Original Sin.
  • Big Nate, starting in the late 2010s, found itself stuck in this as it recycles plots and humor like Nate finding a girlfriend and failing, Nate losing his temper in class and getting sent to detention, and Nate getting picked on for how his hair looks. It also has been relying too heavily on Kafka Komedy while making it mostly needlessly mean-spirited and unjustified like Nate continuously being manhandled by Kim with her suffering no consequences, his friends treating him more like crap to point of bullying, and random background characters beating on and threatening Nate for petty reasons. Arcs also end too early with predictable endings that offer very little growth or variety to the series as a whole, and they don't really try to make a single attempt to bring out new ideas.
  • Dick Tracy has had quite a few moments of this. The '30s through '50s era was considered pure genius with its cavalcade of strange-looking villains in an immense Rogues Gallery on the same level as Batman. However, the era between 1960 and 1979 is considered abnormally poor, with the addition of aliens and futuristic technologies, to the comic taking a blaxploitation theme, to Dick Tracy growing some jive facial hair. Then Chester Gould dropped out of the production and was replaced by Max Allan Collins, who helped the series regrow by killing off almost everything that the jive era created in the comic until 1992, where more artists took over and the series started to degrade again.
  • B.C. is believed by many to have undergone this in 1984 after its cartoonist, Johnny Hart, became a born-again Christian. What was once a gag-a-day strip that played fast and loose with anachronisms, wordplay, and slapstick increasingly became a soapbox for Hart's religious views, to the point that many papers refused to run some of his strips. After Hart died in 2007, his grandsons and daughter took over and reverted the strip largely to what it had been before.
  • FoxTrot fell into this trope at the start of 2007, when it shifted from a daily strip to Sunday Strip-only. The writing became simpler due to the limits of the format, leaving little to no room for characterization, and the cast was pared down to little more than the Fox family and occasionally Marcus. Even before then, the series was catching some flak for its focus on Jason.
  • Peanuts, depending on whom you ask, became Lighter and Softer anywhere from the late 1970s to the 1990s. The 1990s also saw a shift to more strips focusing on Rerun asking if Snoopy could play or Snoopy interacting with the music staffs as Schroder played piano. Iconic characters like Peppermint Patty, Marcie, and Linus were pushed to the background as well.
  • Shoe: Many longtime fans think that the quality declined once original creator Jeff MacNelly died and the strip was handed over to Gary Brookins (who also took over MacNelly's other strip, Pluggers, a few years prior) and a rotating team of writers. Brookins' art style is similar to MacNelly's, but the writing is a great deal Lighter and Softer, simplistic, and inconsistent.
  • Later installments of the daily Spider-Man strip are commonly criticized for Spider-Man becoming rather pathetic, with his Spider-Sense failing him on increasingly frequent occasions (Spider-Man gets whacked on the back of the head by generic thugs countless times), introduction of lame villains (a failed stage actor becomes a villain named "Clown 9", and for most of the arc easily defeats Spider-Man despite having no actual superpowers) and Spider-Man more often than not ends up getting rescued by other Marvel heroes or even villains. These faults eventually became so noticeable that they were spoofed in the Spider-Verse event, in which the daily strip's Peter is spared from consumption by Morlun thanks in part to his universe's repetitious timeline and the Master Weaver taking pity on the universe and opting to preserve it from Inheritor attacks.
  • For Better or for Worse: sometime around the year 2000, the Pattersons stopped being normal people living in a complicated world and became a family of unrealistic perfection, with the exception of April, who became the Butt-Monkey. On top of the flattened, less realistic characterizations, many of its later arcs were critically ravaged by readers for having plots driven by the characters making poor decisions and unlikable characters (with a lot of ire being directed at everything revolving around Elizabeth's relationship with and eventual marriage to Anthony in particular). These flaws when combined turned what was once a highly-respected comic strip lauded for not being afraid to push the envelope and touch upon topics that few other newspaper comics would, while at the same time presenting a sincere and often genuinely humorous depiction of raising a family that anybody could relate to, into what was widely regarded to be a melodramatic, soap opera-y mess by the end of its original run (and the start of its Continuity Reboot shortly afterward).
  • The point where Garfield started to lose its luster is debatable, but many point to the late 1990s (not long after Garfield and Friends ended) as when it started to set in, while others point to the start of The New '10s. The strip's established recurring cast barring Liz began to appear less and less (including Irma, the mice, Jon's family, the spiders, Nermal, and Arlene) and the strip's world became far smaller, with few strips straying far from Jon's house. By The New '20s, the strip still has a lot of fans, but is more broadly known more for its various internet memes (many of them jokes at the comic's expense), and bizarre remix comics such as Garfield Minus Garfield and Square Root of Minus Garfield than the cultural phenomenon it once was.
  • Dilbert
    • The comic was losing momentum even before its cancellation strip. The humor got meaner while Dilbert lost his Only Sane Man status and became more of a drone in line with Wally so that the PHB could go from being a clueless buffoon to a beleaguered leader who has to harangue his workforce into being productive.
    • The post cancellation strips have been generally unfunny and excessively focused on the very things that got it cancelled.

    Fan Works 
  • Nobody Dies is widely regarded to have fallen into this during its fourth season. While it was always a combo of silly and awesome, it was this point where the plot began to slow down, with the humor and wackiness overriding the serious moments and the flaws of the story becoming more apparent. The fifth season attempted an Author's Saving Throw, but the backlash was still enough for the author to first put it on hiatus, and eventually kill it.
  • Fans of I'm a Marvel... And I'm a DC came to anticipate an engaging, dramatic story arc spanning the fall, winter, and spring of every year. However, fall and winter of 2011, and spring of 2012, only brought videos in which the heroes spout one-liners. None of them exceed two minutes, either. Fans found this especially frustrating because the arc that began in December 2009, "Zero Hour", didn't have a proper conclusion until 2013. Summer 2012 saw new blockbuster movies for The Avengers, Spider-Man, and Batman, but circumstances beyond ItsJustSomeRandomGuy's control prevented him from making videos about them.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series had issues with its second season and the Virtual World/Cancelled Series portion of the third. Both of these relied heavily on referential humor, and overused jokes from the first season. Even LittleKuriboh wasn't fond of the Cancelled Series. LK even admitted that much of his inspiration to continue the series had been sapped thanks to UDE and Konami constantly filing DMCA claims against him on YouTube, which cost him subscribers as well as money in order to get his channel back up after inevitably getting banned.
  • Forged Destiny got hit with accusations of this starting with Book 5. The main problems brought up were stupid moments, rushed explanations resulting in Hand Waves and Plot Holes, and the break-up of the main couple for questionable reasons.
  • Mega Man: Defender of the Human Race may or may not have gone through this, but the author did make note at the end of Episode 16 that he didn't want the story to suffer this and decided to end it at Episode 18.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Little Rascals was hit by this in 1938, when the series moved to MGM. Fans of the shorts criticize the MGM years for growing progressively unfunny, removing the charm that the Hal Roach shorts have, and becoming moralistic, preachy and patriotic.
  • Laurel and Hardy:
    • When the main characters permanently moved from making short comedies to feature films, producer Hal Roach insisted on stronger stories for the team, often featuring a romantic subplot involving characters that are barely related to Stan and Ollie. To this day, fans feel that the side stories nearly slow the films down to a complete halt.
    • Things grew worse when Laurel and Hardy left Roach in 1940, and signed contracts with both 20th Century Fox and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. While some fans feel the quality of the Fox movies gradually improve, for the most part fans agree that the team's later entries don't hold a candle to their films produced by Roach. This is largely because the duo were given scripts that didn't suit their characters.
  • The Three Stooges:
    • The films began to rot around 1945, when signs of Curly Howard's failing health became all too noticeable. Curly clearly lacked the energy he had in his prime, and was unable to do the improvisation that help make his character funny. Things picked up considerably when Shemp Howard replaced Curly in 1946. Unfortunately, the quality of the Stooges' films began to slip again around 1952 when producer Jules White took full control of Columbia Pictures' shorts department. As a way to cut costs, White had the Stooges remake several of their older films, using tons of stock footage from the new films' predecessors. At times, so much stock footage was used that it only took White and the Stooges a day to film the new material. This method continued after Shemp's death in 1955, with the new footage consisting of either Moe Howard and Larry Fine acting as a two-man team (they briefly considered renaming the act The Two Stooges), or Moe and Larry with Fake Shemp Joe Palma. The series didn't improve much when comedian Joe Besser joined the act as Shemp's replacement the following year. Besser's obvious lack of chemistry with the veteran Stooges made him seem like a third wheel rather than a team member.
    • Come 1959 the shorts were discontinued in favor of features, with Besser replaced by Curly Joe DeRita, and in response to the huge television popularity of the older shorts with children an Audience Shift occured. The Curly Joe films are explicitly children's films featuring family-friendly storylines and slower pacing (likely due to the Stooges' advancing ages). Furthermore, DeRita lacked a familiar screen persona that could make him stand out individually. There is noticeably less slapstick violence in these shorts due to complaints from parent groups, who feared the trio's brand of humor was a bad influence on children. Initially, only certain gags were removed from the act, such as the Stooges' trademark two-finger eye poke, but things snowballed from there. This is even lampshaded in The Three Stooges Go Around the World in a Daze, when the Stooges turn a trio of Chinese officers into Stooge clones. Moe's clone gives a Chinese general the famous eye poke, but Moe tells him, "Uh-uh. That's Number 21. We don't do that anymore."
  • The quality of the Universal Horror films took a general dive during the mid-1940s. Most fans would agree that the franchise's golden age lasted from Dracula (1931) to The Wolf Man (1941), a decade that contained a few duds but was mostly undisputed classics. 1942's The Ghost of Frankenstein marked the franchise's transition from A-movies to B-movies, and the films that followed generally have uninspired plots, unpopular replacements for actors who had defined iconic roles in the previous decade, and a failure to take any real advantage of the novel idea of monsters showing up in each other's movies (for example, Frankenstein's monster and the Wolf Man both appear in 1945's House of Dracula but neither of them actually share any scenes with Dracula, or each other for that matter). 1948's Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein was better received that what came before it, and 1954's Creature from the Black Lagoon was a massive success, temporarily stopping the rot before its own sequels turned out to be disappointments.
  • The Godzilla series has had some rough periods during its very, very long history.
    • The films made from 1954 to 1965 are seen as the classic series' golden age. The rot began with 1966's Ebirah, Horror of the Deep, which moves the action from urban Japan to a more budget-friendly deserted island, features very silly monster fights, and in general is a much less compelling film than its predecessors. With the exception of the fan favorite Destroy All Monsters, the rest of the films made until the classic series ended in 1975 tend to follow suit, increasingly relying on tricks such as Stock Footage and casting the same few actors over and over again to stretch the ever-shrinking budgets. Some fans enjoy how far-out and wacky the films during this period can get, but most see it as a dark age. All Monsters Attack is considered the absolute low point of the series, due to being a Clip Show of pre-existing monster battles edited together with footage of some kid dealing with school bullies.
    • The series was rebooted in 1984, and this new string of films is fairly well-liked, but 1994's Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla is universally seen as its weakest link due to its incoherent tone and rather underdeveloped story.
    • The series was rebooted again in 1999, lasting until 2004, and fans tend to think that most of the films from this period are at best, forgettable, and at worst, horrible. The only well-liked film made in those years is the unfortunately titled Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack!. Common criticisms of the others are that they lack originality and rely on emulating the older movies and popular anime at the time too much (with only one entirely new monster being introduced), refuse to build up any sort of coherent continuity, with each film taking place in its own self-contained version of the Godzilla universe, and make Godzilla far too powerful, to the point of there being no doubt at all that he'll win every battle.
  • The Marvel Cinematic Universe, once thought to be an unstoppable juggernaut of critical and box office dominance, started to enter one around Phase 4.

  • Discworld: The last few books are regarded as being a bit weaker, particularly after Unseen Academicals (though some think the rot may have started earlier) for their muddled stories and more abundant Author Tracts. While the series covering real world issues under a fantasy veneer was hardly new, it had previously done so gracefully, effectively, and in concert with a very good story. After the rot set in, it became much more ham-handed, and usually at the cost of plot. Given that Terry Pratchett was suffering from Alzheimer's at the time, this is understandable.
  • Tom Clancy himself admitted that he had run out of good candidates for villain nations by the mid-1990s, which resulted in a pair of suicidally outmatched opponents for the United States in Debt of Honor (Japan tries to go for Round Two against the USA) and Executive Orders (Iran tries to take over the Middle East).
  • Crossroads of Twilight, the tenth book in Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time series falls under this due to excessive use of Padding and Purple Prose, with the lowest average rating on both Goodreads and Amazon of all the books in the series. Many would argue the actual rot began with A Crown of Swords, which is the first book to not move the plot forward at all, and was followed by a book that was similarly stagnant. Winter's Heart concludes with a major game changer, but this was the only real plot progression until Knife of Dreams. Some readers are even more harsh, and will claim the rot started even earlier, with The Fires of Heaven or even The Shadow Rising, which is the largest novel in the series, and the one where several of the more hated aspects really came to the fore. Either way, Knife of Dreams was a significant improvement, resolving several plots and paving the way for the final book with, by WoT standards, barely any padding at all, and the last four books feature a drastic acceleration in the plot.
  • Stephen King's The Dark Tower runs at a strong pace until crashing into a brick wall in Wizard and Glass. Shortly after introducing us to the world of The Stand (a storyline with promise), all we get is a flashback sequence that doesn't flesh out the narrating character any more than the previous books had. Six hundred pages later, we return to the story, which culminates in an Anti-Climax as the Big Bad is reduced to a gibbering lunatic with a handful of grenades, his Magnificent Bastard of a Dragon is offed by his Bastard Bastard, and the ultimate fate of the protagonist is left uncertain, but hopeful.

    What makes Wizard and Glass so painful is the focus of the story. Two stories are happening during the flashback: The War and The Town. One is about the huge shadow-war that is being fought between the armies of the Crimson King and the Gunslingers. This is the one about mythical battles and powerful artifacts being brought to bear against nightmarish demons and mechanical abominations as the world is quickly being brought to the cataclysm that framed the past three books. The other is about Roland's first girlfriend. Guess which gets the book and which gets the chapter.
  • Naked Empire, the eighth book of the Sword of Truth series, is commonly thought to be the weakest part of the series by even people who like it as a whole. Yes, this is the book with evil pacifists. Afterward, the series gains back some of its momentum in the last three books.
  • Jean M. Auel's Earth's Children series
    • Book 5 The Shelters of Stone. Boring repeats of the same kind of issues the characters have faced in the past, no real drama or storyline to carry through the book, retconning... A boring read about two characters who have the same discussions with people as they've had for two books already. The fact that it was published more than a decade after book four might have had something to do with Auel losing her style.
    • The Land of the Painted Caves, last installment of the series, manages to be even worse than Shelters. Specifically, it had the same conversations repeated almost word for word about six times throughout the novel — every time Ayla met someone new, the same conversation went on about how she acquired Wolf. Plains of Passage, with the whole story being one long journey and a six page sex scene every five pages, got pretty boring, too.
  • Maximum Ride:
  • In Death series: A number of readers would argue that this has occurred for this series, but where it happened is debatable. Still, the book New York To Dallas has a number of reviewers feeling that the series is going to come to an end soon.
  • Sisterhood Series by Fern Michaels: This trope most certainly occurred after the book Free Fall. The author herself said that she was only planning on writing 7 books for the series... at first. Then she decided to write more books. This resulted in 13 more books, and the storyline eventually just dragged on. That, and a number of flaws that had been present in the first 7 books became glaringly obvious, and the final book Home Free did have an ending that likely left readers feeling that the series ended not with a bang, but a whimper!
  • The Star Wars Expanded Universe novels get varying levels of this. The Thrawn Trilogy (which began the modern EU) is usually very well-received, while the quality is considered to have gradually slacked off across Bantam's run as publisher (with The Crystal Star and the Callista Trilogy) often singled out as particular low points. When Del Rey took over the contract, their initial output was the epic New Jedi Order saga which was incredibly polarizing. However, the next big series, Legacy of the Force, is profoundly disliked among the fandom, and the subsequent Fate of the Jedi is only considered marginally better.
  • John Carter of Mars: John Carter and the Giant of Mars (the first of the two short stories that make up the eleventh book) is considered by a lot of fans to be weaker than the other Barsoom stories, and is generally considered something of an afterthought. The fact that it wasn't actually written by Edgar Rice Burroughs himself but rather by his son John "Jack" Coleman Burroughs doesn't help either. Further, it was written as a "Big Little Book", a format that required a captioned illustration opposite each page of text, and which were intended for children, unlike the original John Carter novels.
  • Many fans of the Monk tie-in novels angrily disregard the final four books, which a different author wrote. The humor is far weaker (something even the author admits), the mysteries are less challenging (several have Recycled Plots from the author's previous mystery stories), and Status Quo Is God gets evoked, undoing a lot of well-received elements from previous novels (like Monk's Second Love).
  • In the Warrior Cats series, the fourth arc, Omen of the Stars, is generally considered to be the least popular. Some of the most common complaints are the main characters having superpowers and plot points being reused several times (such as forbidden romance).
  • None of the Flashman books are hated per se, but Flashman and the Tiger is the least well-regarded. For one, Fraser uses three short, unconnected novellas instead of a single narrative; for another, he inserts Sherlock Holmes and Watson into one of his stories. This and ongoing Badass Decay have led to heated arguments among ''Flashman'' fans over Tiger.
  • Sergey Sukhinov's Emerald City decalogy (see Tales of the Magic Land). The series started superb, with carefully crafted plot, well-thought characters (heroes and villains alike) and very compelling story. Things started to turn sour after book 5, where the plot started to get strange, the books produced one Ass Pull after another and ran some previously very promising arcs into the ground (Corina's redemption, for example). It went From Bad To Worse since the middle of book 8, which featured massive OOC of many previously very consistently portrayed characters, resulting in plot problems in turn. The books than started to get weirder, suddenly veering into huge flashbacks in the middle of action, and introducing science fiction elements in what was before a fairy tale or fantasy story. This all culminates in the last book, which reveals that the Big Bad and his cronies are "Star Legionnaires of Darkness" (sic!), alternates between extreme silliness and taking itself way too seriously, and finishes with the all-decisive fight between the heroes and Big Bad ending with the Big Bad suddenly fleeing in the middle of fight, while most plot lines concerning minor villains and heroes are simply Left Hanging, and the epilogue, set five years later, never mentioning them. All in all, an extremely disappointing ending to a series that began so very promising.
  • Quite a few people think that with the His Dark Materials trilogy, the last book "The Amber Spyglass", is considerably weaker than the others as a lot of it is an uncomfortable Author Tract on how bad all religion is. Add to that the implied sexual relationship between children and the fact the big battle takes place off-screen...
  • Many consider the later Redwall books to have fallen into this. It varies depending on who you ask but most agree it started with Triss if not earlier. Yet The Sable Quean revived the awesomeness that the series is known for, bringing quite a lot of the fan-base back. Tragically Brian Jacques died after writing one last book after that.
  • R. L. Stine's Goosebumps.
    • The series waxed and waned in popularity during its original run from 1992 through '97, but most fans will argue that the earlier books were superior, while the later ones, with a few exceptions, relied too heavily on recycled plots and overly self-referential storylines, as well as going for intentionally cheesy Black Comedy at the expense of actual horror. It is not surprising that a lot of fans — and the books' publisher, Scholastic — believe that Stine was relying on ghostwriters in order to keep cranking out a new book every month. The fact that the original series ends with Monster Blood IV, often considered its worst book, is seen by many as indicative of its downward spiral.
    • The Series 2000 reboot in 1998 alienated both longtime fans and potential new readers alike, and was cancelled by Scholastic after just two years and 25 books (versus the original series' 62 installments in six years). These books combined a Darker and Edgier tone, outlandish plots, more extreme violence and gross-out content, unlikeable characters, and increasingly frequent Gainax Endings, and proved to be simultaneously too graphic for younger readers and too silly for older fans to embrace, while also deepening tensions between Stine and Scholastic over Executive Meddling, marketing rights, and the aforementioned ghostwriting allegations. Series 2000 was so unsuccessful that it killed the franchise for eight years until it was Un-Canceled with the Goosebumps HorrorLand series in 2008.
  • Book 4 and Book 5 of A Song of Ice and Fire have been accused of this. Not only did the books sprawl massively (going from 10 POV characters in A Storm Of Swords to 22 POVs, forcing what was supposed to be one book into two volumes, split by POV), but there was a lot more padding than in previous books, with far more travelogues and focus on world-building at the expense of plot movement. It didn't help that many new plotlines and characters were introduced, while previous fan-favourite characters were left spinning wheels. Finally, the planned climax of A Dance with Dragons was pushed forward to the as-of-yet unreleased sixth book, leading to the feeling that nothing was achieved. The fact that A Feast for Crows took five years to come out, and A Dance with Dragons took six, did not help matters.
  • Many Alternate History fans find the 3rd and 4th series (American Empire and Settling Accounts, respectively) of Harry Turtledove's Timeline-191 to be way too long on the Allohistorical Allusions and way too short on the actual Alternate History. While How Few Remain and The Great War really delve into how the USA and CSA would interact as members of the great power community, Empire and Accounts are just taking World War II from our timeline and slapping on the new one (Confederacy = Nazi Germany, UK = Fascist Italy, Jake Featherston = Hitler, genocide against blacks in the Confederacy instead of against Jews in Germany, etc.)
  • Animorphs relied more and more on Bizarro Episodes that contributed nothing to the overall plot as the series went on. Half of the last ten books before the final arc were such episodes, and contained some of the worst writing in the series. This is generally attributed to them being ghostwritten.
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid: After "Hard Luck" and “Double Down", the books entered a downward spiral due to Comic-Book Time and most of the cast becoming unlikeable jerks or Demoted to Extra. The breaking point for many readers was "Wrecking Ball", a Series Fauxnale where the Heffleys plan to move to a new neighborhood only for a freak accident during the final pages stop the move and leave the family temporarily homeless. However, the next three books "The Deep End", "Big Shot" and "Diper Överlöde" were more well received, in particular the latter for bringing back Löded Diper after the band was Put on a Bus.

  • The Beach Boys' entire career is basically a crash course of this phenomenon in music, even though their early '70s albums have been Vindicated by History:
    • By 1966, the Beach Boys were regarded as one of the top innovators of pop music (albeit mostly in the UK) with the release of their revolutionary album Pet Sounds. Brian Wilson intended to follow up with an album called SMiLE. Long story short, the project fell apart due to a multitude of factors (a few of which include Brian's rapidly declining mental health at the time and, depending on who you ask, Mike Love) and a stripped-down version called Smiley Smile was released in its place, to the disappointment of many (although the album has since been Vindicated by History), and it all went downhill from there.
    • Brian Wilson rapidly withdrew from the band from that point on, and his brothers, Carl and Dennis Wilson, rapidly took over leading the band for him as their songwriting abilities grew. This led to some cult-classics like Wild Honey and Sunflower (the latter being considered to be one of the Boys' greatest albums). Unfortunately, they were never able to achieve the same commercial success as their 1960s hits, nor did their albums come close to being as critically revered as Pet Sounds.
    • By 1971, Brian had almost completely withdrawn his involvement in the band, and by 1973, Carl and Dennis's leadership diminished due to substance abuse and Dennis's struggling battle with his own inner demons. In 1974, their original label Capitol Records released Endless Summer, a compilation of their old hits which quickly became one of the best-selling albums of the 70s, easily outselling their other 70s efforts, and cementing the band's status as an oldies band. To ride off of this, an attempt was made to bring Brian back to the band's forefront in 1976, which included making him tour with the Beach Boys again (he previously quit touring with them in 1965 due to mental health issues) and produce several more albums. The result was the underwhelming 15 Big Ones, the divisive The Beach Boys Love You, and the unreleased Adult/Child. Brian quickly receded back into the background as it quickly became clear that he was in no shape to continue touring or produce anymore Beach Boys albums, and spent the remainder of the 70s and most of the 80s undergoing therapy by the infamous Eugene Landy.
    • At this point, Mike Love has taken role of the leader, and many fans agree that the band quickly went downhill under his leadership. Throughout this period, the Boys released a series of increasingly hated and poorly selling albums (including a thinly-veiled attempt at catering to the disco crowd during the disco backlash), while their 1960s chart-toppers (with occasional songs from Pet Sounds) dominated their live set to attract the nostalgic crowd. The death of Dennis Wilson in 1983 also served to be a serious blow to the band. Their reputation rapidly declined further, and by the end of the 70s, the Beach Boys were looked down upon by the mainstream as a washed-up oldies band.
    • However, in the mid-to-late-80s, the band managed to briefly propel themselves back into relevancy with their 1988 hit single "Kokomo", which was famously featured in the Tom Cruise movie Cocktail. It reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, although fans are very mixed on the song. Mike Love, in an attempt to make lightning strike twice, spearheaded production for their 1992 album Summer in Paradise (their first and only album without any involvement from Brian Wilson whatsoever), intended by Love to be "the quintessential soundtrack of summer". It was promoted with the band guest-appearing on the popular sitcom Full House (with one of the actors from the show, John Stamos, singing a reworked version of "Forever" on the album) and performing the album's lead single, "Summer of Love", on the action drama series Baywatch. Despite the band's best efforts, the album bombed spectacularly (selling only around 10,000 copies ever, though the actual sales number is rumored to be even less), killed the band's comeback in its tracks, and went on to be regarded as the band's worst album, with even Love appearing to disown it in the decades since its release.
    • The band attempted to follow up with a cover album of old Beach Boys songs sung by country singers, this time with Brian Wilson's (who was recently separated from Landy and administered proper treatment for his mental illnesses) involvement, albeit with little input from him. The result was Stars and Stripes Vol. 1, which was a critical and commercial failure, failing to break the Billboard 200. Any further Beach Boys projects were shelved indefinitely, and to put a cherry on top: Carl Wilson, often regarded as the band's best singer, died two years after the album's release. The band limped through the 2000s as a live band while Al Jardine and Brian Wilson distanced themselves from the Beach Boys (leaving Mike as the only founding member left in the band), the latter went on to have a successful solo career (including the completion and release of the long awaited SMiLE.)
    • In short, the Beach Boys slowly went from one of the most critically acclaimed rock acts of all time to industry laughingstocks and back again, and is presumed to be the reason why so many Beach Boys fans deeply resent Mike Love. While the albums that came after Pet Sounds and before 15 Big Ones went on to become cult classics (again, YMMV on Love You), people prefer to forget about anything they did after that. However, they finally started to reverse their decline with the well-received 2012 reunion album That's Why God Made the Radio. Unfortunately, this victory was short-lived, as Brian, Al, and David Marks (who re-joined for the reunion after decades of absence) were kicked out of the band by Mike Love, and the Beach Boys went back to being a live band.
  • Manic Street Preachers have made a career out of playing with this trope.
  • Very few R.E.M. fans would argue that there isn't a point at which this happened for the band. The band smoothed out its sound as early as its fourth album, 1986's Lifes Rich Pageant, but most of the early fans stuck with them for that one. However, every album after that lost them some fans, even though some of them gained them far more. Document followed with a "bigger" sound and two top ten hits and Green marked the jump to a major label and the songwriting and production no longer resembled that of their IRS albums. Out of Time's first single "Losing My Religion" marked the point at which everybody in the first world had heard of R.E.M and Automatic for the People marked the band's commercial peak with 8 million sales in its first year. Then Monster was almost universally panned due to its grunge sound and sold only one million copies in a year (though has since been Vindicated by History), New Adventures in Hi-Fi passed by mostly unnoticed and Up drew criticism because it was hard not to notice the change in sound that the loss of drummer Bill Berry brought about. The divisiveness of the next four albums is mostly over which ones, if any, are relative returns to form and which ones are just bad.
  • You're generally not going to get much argument from fans of The Band if you say that their first three albums (Music From Big Pink, The Band aka The Brown Album, Stage Fright) are much better than anything they released after.
  • The Monkees: their final original-run album (Changes) and the two latter-day reunion albums (Pool It!, Justus) are usually considered to be their weakest music.
  • Blake Shelton, ever since he switched to producer Scott Hendricks on 2009's Hillbilly Bone, is heavily derided for playing a lightweight country-pop sound and lyrics that switch between vapid Silly Love Songs and overdone "country boy" songs about hot girls, rednecks, and drinking that are already a dime-a-zillion in Nashville. While the purportedly "blander" material spawned a monstrous streak of #1 hits, many fans feel that Shelton all but sold his soul to become an A-lister. It doesn't help that he had a high-profile gig as a judge on The Voice, an unusually commercial move for any country singer.
  • Mayhem is considered to have entered one with Grand Declaration of War. While nothing could have possibly lived up to De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas, the combination of War's highly experimental nature, the lack of Euronymous, and the replacement of the singer doomed the album to derision from unhappy fans. Whether the band has left the Rot behind is the subject of much debate.
  • Many Country Music fans feel that Big & Rich got worse with every successive album. General consensus is that Horse of a Different Color is great, Comin' to Your City is mixed, Between Raising Hell and Amazing Grace is awful, and Hillbilly Jedi (their first release after a four-year hiatus) is still a step up from Grace, but still below par for them. This decline may or may not be combined with Rich's many production and songwriting gigs stretching him very thin creatively, along with his infamous ego and militant conservatism. It seems that the trend finally reversed, as Gravity, their first release after leaving Warner (Bros.) Records, has been fairly well-received due to them deciding to make it all ballads.
  • Emerson, Lake & Palmer after Brain Salad Surgery. Even a good chunk of their fanbase seems to agree that the quality of their work after their peak period took a nosedive.
  • Progressive Death Metal band Between the Buried and Me's The Great Misdirect gets this from a large portion of their fanbase, mainly because Colors was praised for its large amount of experimentation, and people were disappointed when the next album's direction was more just straightforward prog death.
  • Metallica entered one in between Load and St. Anger, with some fans extending the Rot to include Metallica and And Justice For All. They are generally have considered to have recovered with Death Magnetic, only to return three years later with Lulu (their collaboration with Lou Reed, himself no stranger to ups and downs — though sadly this ended up being his last down, and last career move in general). From what we have heard of Hardwired... to Self-Destruct, however, they seem to be leaving this failed experiment behind.
  • Most musical critics seem to be in consensus that Garth Brooks's song quality declined from Fresh Horses onward. His sales did likewise.
  • Bob Dylan has a couple contenders though two of them were only for an album (Self Portrait and Christmas in the Heart) during periods that otherwise yielded great albums. From after Desire (1975) up until his comeback with Time Out of Mind (1997) though there's a definite slip in quality from what came before though which albums are bad, which are underrated and which are just plain weird (Empire Burlesque is on the verge of being disco) is up for debate other than the consensus that Oh Mercy is the only real masterpiece of this period and that Knocked Out Loaded and Down in the Groove being the absolute worst.
  • Jazz guitarist Wes Montgomery's rot started with his later Verve albums, which were becoming more pop-friendly. The trend accelerated when he move to A&M, where his albums sold well, but became more pop-instrumental and less jazz. Sadly, Montgomery died suddenly in 1968, before he could rebound artistically.
  • While it wouldn't be the first divisive album that The Black Dahlia Murder released (Everblack was also polarizing, but had a lot of fans who liked the heavier, darker direction), Abysmal definitely picked up the most flack of any album of theirs in some time. While it has its defenders and most fans can agree that it does have some great songs, the general consensus is that it's a warmed-over retread of Miasma with a bunch of throwaway tracks. While Trevor Strnad has said that it has some deep cuts that he wouldn't mind eventually digging up, he otherwise echoes the opinions of the fanbase, as he has said that it is one of his least favorite releases.
  • Jethro Tull has suffered this, though just when depends on who you ask. Their major mainstream success ended after Warchild (1974), but the group maintained a significant fan base. That fan base was splintered after the big lineup change and the New Sound Album A (1980). Broadsword and the Beast (1982) was the best received of the "electronic" albums (it remains the band's best-selling album in Germany), but Under Wraps (1984) pushed the electronic sound so far that many fans were turned off. The fact that Ian Anderson suffered throat problems that most of the tour had to be cancelled didn't help things, either. Crest of a Knave (1987) brought back the hardcore fan base, but the band hasn't come close the success it had even in the late 1970s.
  • While fans of Ultravox are split between whether or not the John Foxx-led incarnation of the band or the Midge Ure one was better, everyone agrees that they fell into a perpetual rut upon the release of U-Vox in 1986, which was universally panned despite being a commercial success. The band broke up a year later, only to be reformed by keyboardist Billie Currie in 1992 with a vastly different lineup and a pop rock sound far removed from the Foxx lineup's Post-Punk and the Ure lineup's New Romantic. The album this lineup produced, Revelation, was seen as generic and forgettable, as was Ingenuity, which was released under another completely different lineup— again, save for Currie's inclusion. Ultravox then went dormant two years later, only for the Ure lineup to reform in 2008 with a reunion tour, which received much acclaim from fans and critics. However, the album they put out in 2012, Brill!ant, was extremely divisive, with fans and critics split on whether it was a second Vienna or a second U-Vox quality-wise. Unfortunately, this was the last album the band released before dissolving for good— a rather sour note to go out on.
  • New Order fans tend to see the band's post-Republic albums as this, though critics tend to view them more favorably.

    Print Media 
  • Parodied in a 1982 issue of MAD detailing the devolution of the fictional sitcom "Idle Hours".note  Originally about a trio of high school boys in 1946 Indiana, the show deteriorates thanks to pointlessly "zany" and "socially conscious" new and replacement characters, the loss of established characters (especially to spin-offs), guest stars, and nonsensical plotlines. Just to summarise some of the forms of seasonal rot the article spoofs:
    • The original focus is on high school seniors Nipsy, Conrad, and the Horse. The actor playing the Horse quits after two seasons, and the actors playing Nipsy and Conrad quit after another two, so over half the series' run features none of the original main trio, although members of their families — the Horse's psychopathic cousin Mangler (added in the second season), Conrad's sexpot sister Buffy-Lu (an original cast member) and alcoholic, widowed mother (added in the fourth season), and Nipsy's pre-teen brother Pooky (added in the third season) — remain for much longer.
    • Improbable romances and weddings run rampant, with Pooky romancing and eventually marrying bowling alley owner Elsa even though he is in middle school and she is in her late 40s, and local mortician and Mangler's employer Mr. Ferndipper courting and also eventually marrying Conrad's mother (the wedding furnishing material for an hour-long episode in the seventh season).
    • Characters are spun off into their own series almost every season. The original cast includes gym teacher Mr. Faunce, who gets a spin-off after the original main trio graduate high school (after three years as seniors). Elsa's partner in the pool room she buys after selling her bowling alley, Emilio, gets a spin-off after the sixth season with his fourteen younger siblings (introduced the previous season). Mangler gets a spin-off after the ninth season, and most of the remaining established cast members get spun off early in the tenth season.
    • The series moves from Indiana to Hollywood for the eighth season (justified by having Buffy-Lu get a screen test that includes room and board for the rest of the cast), complete with new characters from the film industry (a sleazy agent and a talentless actor) and a parade of guest stars including Conway Twitty and Annette Funicello when the focus shifts to a small-town radio station bought by Mr. Ferndipper in the ninth season.
    • The series makes stabs at social relevance by introducing the Mangler in the second season to counter accusations that it is too saccharine, and having Pooky and Elsa adopt a Korean war orphan in the fifth season. After Elsa dies of chalk dust inhalation in the seventh season and Pooky is subsequently written out, the Korean war orphan is adopted by Mr. Ferndipper and Conrad's mother, and after they are spun off in the tenth season, the Korean war orphan is the last remaining cast member, and the writers try to establish him as a seven-year-old truck driver with a pet ape. (This proves to be one Retool too many, and the plug is pulled thirteen weeks into the season.)
  • What Car?, a British automobile / consumer magazine Genre Mash Up, was seen as being weaker during The New '10s when the magazine got thinner and wasn't as much of a Door Stopper as during the Turn of the Millennium, the car price guide in the back went vertical instead of horizontal from 2015 to 2019 making it harder to read for some people, and then the use of softer fonts with a single-storey lowercase letter a and not a more-formal double-storey letter A during 2020. In general, though, this trope is zig-zagged; the content was still seen as good, but the esthetics were seen as having hit the nadir and not as simple or colorful as in The '90s.
  • Debates rage on about when it began for Disney Adventures — it either began right after Disney moved the magazine's production from Burbank to New York starting with the January 1995 issue, right after Suzanne Harper took over as editor-in-chief starting with the March 1997 issue, or right after the magazine switched to staple binding and removed Heidi MacDonald's column starting with the January 1998 issue. Regardless of these changes, though, it's worth noting that by 1996 most of The Disney Afternoon comics had ended, by 1997 DA was phasing out educational content in favor of entertainment content, April 1998 saw the last "celebrity posed with a Disney character" covernote  that the magazine was originally known for, by 1999 most multi-part comics had been removed in favor of shorter comics, by 2003 the front cover looked like Tiger Beat, and the logo was replaced in September 2006 (lasting up until the final issue in November 2007).

    Professional Wrestling 
  • The general consensus of wrestling fans in regards to shows like WWE RAW or SmackDown, depending on how poorly the show is booked. (Not helping the former’s case is that it just goes over three hours.) It doesn’t take a genius to understand why business is suffering under the old regime: Vince McMahon, Kevin Dunn, Michael Hayes, Bruce Pritchard...The business has passed them by in 2019. The real stars are being relegated to footnotes, and all WWE wants to do is keep bringing in Hall of Famers, MMA fighters, and boxers.note 
  • The "2.0" retool of NXT in late 2021 after Triple H's medical issues forced him away from booking the promotion has quickly made it clear the much loved days where it was as good or even better than the main brands is over.
  • Impact Wrestling (formerly Total Nonstop Action) has gone from a hot wrestling commodity to a shell of its former self due to how badly-booked and poorly-mismanaged TNA had been.

  • The Brewing Network has this frequently aimed at The Session. Typical among the complaints are the drop in listener involvement in the show (especially when it moved from Sunday to Monday), a drop in some of the more crude humor, a large drop in the number of people involved in episodes (episodes have seen upwards of five people, recent ones have seen episodes with solely JP and Tasty), and a general argument that the show has become less fun.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Every edition of Dungeons & Dragons has had this accusation levied at it, except the very first version and that's only because Seasonal Rot requires a previous version for which it can be considered to have gone downhill from. Every edition has brought its ups and downs, and every edition has had its vocal critics. Third Edition, Fourth Edition and Fifth Edition merely came about in the internet era, where complaints can be more easily made (though Fifth edition is the most well received by far). Of all the editions, Fourth Edition is considered the worst example because it very nearly ended up being a Franchise Killer due to the design choices made during it, as it currently sits as the shortest supported time of the games lifespan.
  • Paranoia started off as a darkly humorous award-winning game with a few awkward mechanics, which was refined into mindless fun in the highly-acclaimed Second Edition. Rot started when publisher West End Games started releasing game modules in interconnected Story Arcs, especially the Great Crash and subsequent Reboot of Friend Computer. Things got worse with the release of the "5th" Edition; Executive Meddling replaced the dark humor with cheap satires of pop culture, while poor artwork, poor production values, and the near-total departure of the original writers doomed the series. After West End Games went bankrupt, the series was resurrected as Paranoia XP, whereupon the (original) writers promptly declared everything from the story arcs onward as Canon Discontinuity.
  • Fantasy Battle had this in its 7th edition rules set. Initially everything was fine with the Orcs and Goblins and Empire releases and while people started to cry foul during the High Elves release, the crunch was essentially accepted. Problems started to creep in with the 7th edition Vampire Counts book, which had several absurdly broken abilities and rules, and became an easy go-to army for people who wanted to win tournaments. Then Daemons of Chaos came out and everything went straight to fucking hell. Daemons were, put simply, unstoppable. Even the widely accepted 2nd place army (Dark Elves, released soon after) and 3rd place Vampire Counts couldn't begin to compete with them. Every new army book that was released ramped up their abilities to 11 to try and compete, but nothing was working and this began to leave older armies increasingly in the dust. Eventually Games Workshop decided 'Fuck it' and after an incredibly underpowered Beastmen release, grabbed the rules set and shook it so hard that 8th edition came out. 8th edition completely revamped a lot of rules, such as how breaking, charging and magic worked, and while far from perfect, at least managed to restore a lot of the balance. Of course a lot of players hated that because of the lore reasons and excuses, causing it to be rebooted.
  • Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay had this with its 3rd edition. Although otherwise a solid game which still has a share of earnest fans, and the core rules on their own work well as a standalone game, it was found too different for the fanbase on the average. When the 4th edition arrived, with most of the changes removed, it found much warmer reception.
  • For Warhammer 40,000 both the 3rd and 5th editions tends to get slapped hard with this. The former for cranking up the Grimdark dial up to the point that an apathetically bleak atmosphere was starting to form, as well as for introducing the (at the time) poorly thought out and overpowered Necrons and Tau. The latter for being the home of Matt Ward's much hated Space Marines and Grey Knights codexes, several questionable rules, as well as in general being considered really unbalanced.
  • Depending on who you ask, Magic: The Gathering entered this during any number of points across its 20+ years: Chronicles, which was the first set to reprint cards from older sets, therefore diminishing their value to older players and collectors; Sixth Edition, which changed the original rules drastically; Eighth Edition, which changed the card frames and "dumbed down" certain cards so the game could be more accessible to a greater fanbase of new players; Time Spiral, which drastically changed how planeswalkers worked and retooled a number of existing story elements; Tenth Edition and Magic 2010, which both altered the existing rules further and streamlined the game significantly; or Zendikar, which is where many players felt the Power Creep of MTG really began skyrocketing. Despite all the discontent, however, the franchise is still going very strong and shows no signs of slowing down, in part thanks to an R&D team that is made of many former players and listens to its fanbase.
    • Due to Magic's reliance on the Standard format (consisting of a small number of recent sets that are still in print) to manage Power Creep, Power Seep and the game having dozens of tournaments a year with Serious Business prizes (typically around the $30,000 mark), whenever a new set is released with a lower power level than the previous, accusations of this tend to crop up. Thus far, it's happened multiple times:
      • Urza's Saga block was so overpowered it resulted in a time called "Combo Winter," home of multiple turn 1 combo decks. The running joke was that the coin flip was the early game, players taking mulligans was the midgame, and turn 1 was the endgame. The block was followed with Mercadian Masques block, the only major block to not include any keywords and of noticeably lower-than-average power level—made all the more obvious by the way-above-average power level of its predecessor. Both blocks have come to be widely loathed.
      • Five years later, Mirrodin block saw the largest number of cards banned in Standard since Urza's Saga block. Its follow-up block, Champions of Kamigawa was underpowered like Mercadian Masques. It's worth noting that a version of Mirrodin's headliner Standard deck is now considered top-tier in the "Modern," format, where every card from 2003 onward is legal, and the Modern version is actually less powerful than the Standard version because 6 cards from the original are banned in Modern.
      • The power of a handful of cards in Zendikar block led to 2010 being the first time since the Mirrodin bannings in 2004 that a card was banned in Standard. The deck in question, Caw-Blade, was considered traumatic enough that its key cards were pre-banned when the Modern format was created a year later. Unlike the Mirrodin deck that was allowed to enter Modern in a more conservative form, Caw-Blade was and remains completely illegal in the format.
      • In the Standard format of 2012-2013, manafixing became very strong, with 3 colors being the default setup, and all 3 color pairs being equally well supported. The following season saw a deliberate de-emphasis on manafixing, to the point that the most powerful decks in the 2013-2014 season were a single color.
    • Most three set blocks have a black sheep set of dramatically lower power level than the other two. To help counteract this trope, Wizards of the Coast announced that the set printing procedure, block structure, and the nature of the Standard format would be altered starting with 2014's Khans of Tarkir block. The much-maligned third sets and beginner-level Core Sets would be phased out, switching the yearly release schedule for a three-set block and a Core Set (two sets of which were usually examples of Seasonal Rot) with two two-set blocks a year. In turn, Standard would switch from 2 years' worth of sets to 18 months' worth, with rotation happening every 6 months instead of every year.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!, much like its longtime rival, has dipped in and out of this frequently. The Link era, though, seems to be a top candidate, due to the new mechanics of the time making a lot of older decks nigh-unplayable without additional support, while also turning a lot of innocuous older cards into Game Breakers. It was also marked by many of the new Links being poorly playtested and prone to creating ridiculously long and unfair combos, most infamously the attempted signature card of the era, Firewall Dragon, which had to be banned. Other common candidates include the early Xyz era, which was marked by the earlier Synchro mechanic being purged with fire and salt in banlists while new decks able to perform infinite loops were untouched, the late Pendulum era, which had the notoriously poorly-designed Zoodiacs, and the early-mid GX era, which saw a general drought of good cards.

    • The 2005 "Toa Hordika" story arc tends to come up as the worst year in discussions; at least it's more universally disliked than some other unpopular years, such as 2009 and 2010. Even the writer himself feels it felt tacked on — which it was. So much effort was put into designing the 2004 setting (Metru Nui) that the guys at LEGO wanted to do more with it, even though the story was already fully wrapped up in the previous year. Thus along came the second Metru Nui arc, during which the protagonists turned into hideous beasts (whose toys were also quite unspectacular and bland), the story got needlessly dark and confusing, and due to Executive Meddling, the main hero had such a sudden Out-of-Character Moment that the writer detests his part of the story to this day. The only good things to have come out of the story were the character Roodaka (who quickly became a fan-favorite) and the book Time Trap, but only because its plot was completely unrelated to the bigger arc. That, and it was the last year to get a DVD special before the fourth one in 2009.
    • While the franchise slowly waned in popularity after 2006, the 2008 "Karda Nui" toyline is where many of the line's problems were on full display. No only was it the second year in a row to use the "Inika Buildnote ", but the figures were even more hit-or-miss than before, something compounded by them being meant to represent the Toa Nuva from the franchise's original arc. The impulse sets were notoriously simplified; the limbs and body were each a single piece with very little customizablity. What really doomed things was an ill-fated redesign of the ball-cups which was off by a few millimetres, causing them to get stressed and eventually break in as little as one use. At least the corresponding story fared better, being the conclusion to the original Myth Arc and containing several huge reveals, the biggest of all being a fondly-remembered Signature Scene.
  • Transformers has frequently had fits and starts of this, and late-run G1 in particular is something of a rollercoaster of quality. The Action Masters of 1991, though, tend to be seen as the low point, largely for ditching the franchise's original main gimmick in favor of increased posability and screen-accuracy (while still not being very posable or accurate), so much so that they were widely labeled (most likely Mis-blamed, but still) as a Franchise Killer.
  • Hero Factory post-2012. The '12 Breakout line is often seen as something of a high point, and the Animated Adaptation hinted at the story Growing the Beard with the return of the first Big Bad and his new diabolical plan. The following lines disregarded these developments entirely, and focused on creating more ridiculous-looking sets and pressing the Reset Button on the plot after each year. The final line, Invasion from Below, was perhaps better regarded for trying to spice up the toy designs by having the Heroes be Minifig-scaled, but the companion episode was even more badly received. Some suspect that this may have had to do with LEGO diverting their efforts to the BIONICLE reboot, which was coincidentally planned since 2012.

    Video Games 
  • The Batman: Arkham Series is said to have gone through this when development shifted from Rocksteady Studios to Canada-based WB Montreal for Batman: Arkham Origins for a multitude of reasons, the most prominent of which being gameplay that failed to evolve in any meaningful way from the previous games. Other criticisms include infrequent-but-sometimes-game-breaking glitches, confusing level design, and a dearth of ancillary activities and non-playable characters despite having a larger open world than Batman: Arkham City. Coming after that universally-adored installment certainly didn't help much. Fortunately, the original developers returned for the next installment, Batman: Arkham Knight, which was generally seen as a return to form after the relatively lackluster Arkham Origins. However, that game had received some criticism for its oversaturation of the newly-added Batmobile mechanics, resulting in it being the lowest rated of the Rocksteady-helmed Batman games, and that's not even getting into the Porting Disaster for PC users.
  • When the Mega Man (Classic) series hit this varies. Depending on who you talked to, the "seasonal" rot began either with the fourth or fifth game, but definitely while the series was still on the NES. Only with Mega Man 9 is the series considered to have climbed out (incidentally, it returned to a "retro" 8-bit presentation). The Mega Man X series is almost universally regarded as entering seasonal rot after Mega Man X5, especially because Keiji Inafune had moved on to the Mega Man Zero series as he intended X5 to be the end, though some felt that the series got some mojo back in Mega Man X8 and Mega Man X: Command Mission.
  • The Tony Hawk's Pro Skater series is often regarded as this. When exactly it began to happen is unknown. Some fans think it's when you got the ability to revert, making landing too easy. Others say it's when you got the ability to get off your board to end combos easily, and also the ability to ride other vehicles. Others say that it is after Tony Hawk's American Wasteland, which was a notable step down in effort from the previous games. EA's Skate series became popular and Project 8 and Proving Ground struggled to follow it up. One thing most fans agree on is that the inability for many people to play Shred and Ride (due to it requiring a special peripheral that required you to be an exact distance from the console) killed the series. Then...Pro Skater 5 happened, which was a horrendously buggy and lazy Ash Can Copy that caused the franchise to bail spectacularly and not get back up again until the remakes of the first two games by Vicarious Visions were released in 2020 to critical acclaim.
  • The Mortal Kombat franchise is said to have began rotting with Mortal Kombat 4, and only climbed out with Mortal Kombat 9. While many still hold Deadly Alliance, Deception and Armageddon close to their hearts, the fact that those games didn't age well on a mechanical and balancing standpoint has many consider them part of the rot.

  • The Assassin's Creed series is considered by many fans to have fallen into this state with the release of Assassin's Creed: Unity. Unity was considered a step backwards from the acclaimed Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag for it buggy launch state, weaker writing, uninspired depiction of Arno, and uninspired gameplay. While its follow-up Assassin's Creed Syndicate was considered an improvement, it didn't quite revitalize the series as hoped. It didn't help matters that Unity and Syndicate were accused of relying too much on familiar gameplay elements, leading to accusations that the series was becoming tired and stagnant. Ubisoft apparently recognized their franchise's state and decided not to release a new game in 2016, partly to make way for the film and partly to allow a more leisurely development to Assassin's Creed Origins, which ended up better received and improved the formula quite a bit.
  • Some say Sonic the Hedgehog started decreasing in quality after its Video Game 3D Leap with the Sonic Adventure duology, which poorly executed its jump to 3D with its increased use of Gameplay Roulette with various characters (most notoriously with Big the Cat and his fishing gameplay from the first Adventure game) and having less-polished gameplay compared to the Genesis titles; or Sonic Heroes for its slippery controls and overly repetitive gameplay. However, most will agree that the series really began to rot with Shadow the Hedgehog thanks to constant rush jobs, as well as the developments that ultimately doomed Sonic the Hedgehog (2006). The series showed considerable improvements starting with Sonic Colors, but after the utter failure of Sega's attempt to "westernize" the franchise with the Sonic Boom spin-off titles (in contrast to the TV series, which has been an overall success), the massive success of Sonic Mania, and the mixed reception of Sonic Forces, it's really hard to describe the current state of the series.
  • DanceDanceRevolution's North American and European releases suffered this around the time of DanceDanceRevolution X, due to the horrible quality of the new cabs caused by distributor Betson attempting to cut corners, the lack of an upgrade option for classic cabs rather than just ordering new cabs, and the lack of eAMUSEMENT integration that is required to unlock a substantial amount of content, three problems that the Asian versions did not suffer from. DanceDanceRevolution X2 was one final attempt to salvage arcade DDR in the West, with somewhat better pad quality. However, the Western DDR scene never quite recovered, and all versions of DDR afterwards became Asia-only, just like before DanceDanceRevolution SuperNOVA.
  • WWE Video Games: While there is some debate within the fandom as to which game is the best in the series (usually either WWE SmackDown: Shut Your Mouth or WWE SmackDown: Here Comes the Pain) WWE SmackDown vs. Raw 2008 is generally considered to be when the rot set in. The expansion to multiplatform and later seventh gen has caused Yuke's to become really, really lazy when it comes to bug fixes and new features, with many moves, abilities and gameplay modes being scrapped for no reason. Then Yuke's was replaced by Visual Concepts for WWE 2K20, which turned out to be such a horrifically broken mess that they had to skip a year to ensure that WWE 2K22 would be of reasonable quality.
  • World of Warcraft has had several expansions seen as a significant drop in quality in contrast to what came before:
    • Despite a strong launch, it is generally believed that Cataclysm gradually fell into this as the patch cycle went on. This is due to not only coming after the critically accalimed Wrath of the Lich King, but a really clunky underwater area on launch(Vash'ir), many promised features not making it to release or being cancelled in development(with Path of the Titans being a infamous one), and various promised raids and dungeons either on launch or content patches such as the Abyssal Maw raid and the War of the Ancients raid that never made it in game. Story-wise, the Big Bad, Deathwing was seen as a one-dimensional force of destruction and criticism was also levelled at the overfocus placed on Thrall throughout the expansion. Patch 4.3, Hour of Twilight was seen as the culmination of the rot with the longest content drought in WoWs history between it and the next expansion, and a raid deemed to be the worst raid in the MMO's history due to it's rampant use of recycled assets and locations.
    • Warlords of Draenor, the 2014 expansion, was seen as a significant step down from Mists of Pandaria. Players criticized it for the addition of Player Headquarters with command tables that let you send NPCs on missions, often compared unfavorably to the mobile phone games whose market Activision was trying to push into at the time. Many players were also turned off by the concept of an expansion taking place in both the past and an alternate timeline, spending most of the expansion in your Garrison instead of out in the world, the inability to use mounts to fly for most of the expansion's lifespan, and the dearth of content, not helping things were the multiple promised features and content that were scrapped or dialed down over the course of development or immediately at launch. It ultimately launched and ended with fewer dungeons and raids than Mists of Pandaria, and it was the first expansion to end after only an x.2 patch instead of x.3 or later. However, it's now seen in a kinder light by many due to having a pleasant questing experience, finally replacing the dated player race models, and lacking many of the issues of the two most recent expansions.
    • While Legion was considered a return to form from Warlords, the very next expansion Battle for Azeroth, removed all the good will Legion built. The game was bogged down with unfun RNG-based gear requiring tedious grinding and what many players consider a worse progression system than the previous expansion had. Plot-wise, the Faction War was seen as a even more poorly written version of Mists faction war with previous fan favourite Sylvanas being turned from an Anti-Hero to an almost cartoonish Card-Carrying Villain overnight, a infamous launch event that not only irreversibly damaged the lore and turned many players against Sylvanas, but was later revealed by disgruntled developers to have been forced through at the insistence of one developer despite the protests of the others, as well as the Horde once again splitting into civil war between a heroic and a villainous faction. It was also criticized for its' attempt to ram through the resolution of the Naga and Old Gods plotlines halfway through the patch cycle in the quickest manner possible, the result being the long awaited battles with Azshara and N'Zoth both being seen as extremely rushed, anticlimactic and a waste of their potential as antagonists despite multiple expansions worth of buildup.
    • Shadowlands, which came right after Battle for Azeroth, has been seen as the absolute lowest point in the game's history, if not the entire franchise's history, this is due to it doing very little to fix the problems of its predecessors while adding several new ones, massive content droughts between only two content patches, generally failing to keep the gameplay fresh, growing Arc Fatigue at the overfocus on the Cosmic aspects of the lore, and having an incomprehensible story that seems to randomly add new plot points, contradict old ones, push important characters to the sidelines, or give previously important characters undignified sendoffs. The Big Bad of the expansion has been derided as the single worst villain in Warcraft history due to a half-hearted attempt to write him as behind every single major tragedy in the franchise despite virtually no foreshadowing or buildup. In addition, Shadowlands launched in the middle of massive scandals and controversies plaguing Activision-Blizzard that, combined with the reception of it and BFA saw many disgruntled players leaving WoW for Final Fantasy XIV. That said, patch 9.2.5 of Shadowlands has been seen as a return to form of sorts with the storyline content in that patch seen as genuinely making an effort to repair the damage of the Shadowlands storyline, and Season 4, introduced in 9.2.5, has been seen as the most fun WoW has been for a long time. Time will tell if Season 4, Dragonflight and potentially new leadership at the top under Microsoft would change WoW's fortunes for the better.
  • Stronghold: It's a matter of debate among fans whether Stronghold, Stronghold Crusader or Stronghold 2 is better, but at least all three are widely praised as good games. From Legends on, however, the series has been almost universally panned, by both critics and gamers.
  • Ratchet & Clank suffered from this with the three games released after A Crack in Time, primarily the first being a linear co-op title and the second focusing on tower defense mechanics, driving away existing fans and tanking its relevance to gamers at large. While Into the Nexus returned to traditional gameplay, it wasn't until the 2016 game that the series hit its stride once more and resonated beyond its hardcore audience.
  • It's generally agreed that Mass Effect went through rot at some point, but there's considerable debate amongst fans regarding where the rot started. To summarize: the first game is widely considered excellent, the second is either better than the first or slightly inferior depending on who you ask, and the third is very divisive, with a surprisingly large number putting the drop in quality at ten minutes from the end of the game. The spin-off is an oddity, in that the fanbase seems to almost universally agree that it's a big step down from the original series.
  • The Resident Evil series is generally considered to have hit this point sometime after Resident Evil 5, which, while somewhat divisive (particularly due to the introduction of Co-Op and often frustrating endgame, but also due to coming after Resident Evil 4, considered to be one of the best games in the series) finally ended the series-long enmity between the heroes and Umbrella. The games that followed, such as Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City, and Resident Evil 6, were considered fairly lackluster and showed very little direction after killing the series' Big Bad, which wasn't helped by the gameplay changes not really gelling with the previous games in the series. It wasn't until Resident Evil 7: Biohazard, alongside the well-liked Revelations spinoff titles that many people felt the series was getting back on track, due to putting focus back on Survival Horror rather than the more action-based direction the series had gone.
  • The Henry Stickmin Series was hit with this in its fifth installment, Fleeing the Complex. While it's far from being considered a failure, it isn't treated as great as before. Attempting to become more serious than the other games, a lot of the humor that the series was known for was stripped out. The fails are more focused on references even for the series' standards and have less impactful punchlines, the FAIL Screens aren't as witty, and the Ghost Inmate and International Rescue Operative endings are the only ones that are funny when running through them without fails. The Grand Finale, Completing the Mission, fixed those problems and outdid its predecessor's most famous jokes, such as the Distraction Dance and Charles' Greatest Plan.
  • The reboot of Final Fantasy XIV was met with critical acclaim and the first expansion pack Heavensward only made the praises sing louder thanks to the expansion pack's developed/developing characters and the story being focused on bringing an end to the Forever War. The second expansion pack, Stormblood, wasn't bad by any means, but many fans felt that the overall story and characters were lackluster (likely due to the story covering two major arcs at once) compared to the ones introduced in the previous expansion. The following expansion, Shadowbringers, however, is widely considered the best expansion in the game and perhaps even one of the greatest experiences in the mainline series as a whole.
  • Pokémon: A segment of longtime fans feel that the installments of the main games from Pokémon X and Y onward aren't as good as the previous ones. The most common criticisms are the lack of post-game content compared to the 2D games, the Gen I pandering, the difficulty of the main story being made easier, and the 3D models of the Pokémon being lifeless compared to the sprites. But many agree the series REALLY began to rot upon its move to Switch from gen 8 onwards, with Pokémon Sword and Shield quickly coming under fire from a portion of the fanbase for actively removing roughly one-third of all Pokémon (more than half prior to the launch of DLC) from previous games with no way of using them at all, the gen 4 remakes Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl being criticized for their polarizing art style and lacking the enhancements made in Platinum and, most infamously, Pokémon Scarlet and Violet being released in a clearly unfinished state with a myriad of graphical and performance issues (many of which persisted even after a day 1 patch).
  • After an excellent run of quality in story segments beginning with Camelot, Fate/Grand Order had the Agartha chapter, generally regarded as one of the lowest points of its run. Absurd sexism, deeply unlikeable characters, repetitive story elements, gaping plot holes, swathes of writing that seemed only to justify the writer's femdom fetish... it's got it all. It's one of the few cases where the North American localization rewriting chunks of it was seen as an improvement. In a 2018 survey asking over a thousand players about their favorite arc, Agartha got one vote, outclassing even the typical "worst chapter" candidate of the very early Septem. Fortunately, the following Shimosa chapter (though not without its critics) was seen as a return to form.
  • It is generally admitted among the Europa Universalis community that updates and accompanying DLCs started declining in quality later in the fourth game's lifecycle. Depending on who you ask, the rot set in early to late 2018, where a series of poorly received expansions started, most notably Rule Britannia, Golden Century, Emperor and Leviathan. In particular, Leviathan and its 1.31 update were outright nigh-unplayable at launch due to the sheer quantity of glitches affecting even parts of the game that weren't modified by 1.31 and some dangerous enough to stop a campaign entirely due to repeated crashes or even entirely corrupting its savefile, giving the impression that despite having taken one year in the making, QA was essentially nonexistentnote . The content of the DLC itself was lambasted for being badly unbalanced note , unfocused note , and sometimes outright unfinishednote . All that caused an overwhelmingly negative reaction of the fanbase against Paradox and the DLC, with the user review of Leviathan reaching the abysmal 7% and becoming the worst-reviewed product on Steam. This, combined with the controversial "reorganizing" that led to the end of development for Imperator: Rome, made some question the very future of Paradox as a game studio. Even studio manager and game director Johan Andersson later admitted in a statement that PDS had dropped the ball as early as Golden Century.
  • Many within the The King of Fighters fandom consider the Orochi Saga ('94 to '98) to be the best story arc of them all, with it introducing many iconic characters and laying the gameplay's ground rules. The NESTS Chronicles ('99 to 2002) isn't liked as much, with K' getting unfavorably compared to Kyo Kusanagi, many newcomers being far more hit-or-miss, the Striker system messing with the gameplay, and Eolith butting in and interfering with SNK's original vision at the tail end, even if 2002 (especially Unlimited Match) is considered a Surprisingly Improved Sequel to 2001. The Tales of Ash (2003 to XIII) proved to be rather divisive, considering the even more insufferable main character Ash Crimson and containing the series's nadir XII, which was decried as a glorified demo for (again, an up-to-snuff, mostly due to finally making Ash tolerable) XIII. Time will tell how the Shun'ei Saga (XIV and XV) will be remembered, especially considering initial cold response to the former's Video Game 3D Leap and complaints about the latter's underdevelopment of several characters, but XV's positive reception from a gameplay standpoint seems to be finally getting the series out of its rot.
  • Genshin Impact: Chapter II of Archon Quest is often considered to be this. Its first half, up to the first fight with Raiden Shogun, was rather well received, but the rest was almost universally regarded too rushed and chaotic with most Inazuman characters having little impact on the final outcome. It doesn't help that Raiden's first Story Quest, which was added in the same version and chronologically follows Archon Quest, didn't provide anything substantial to the story or her character and was more like a date.
  • While not outright bad, Kirby: Squeak Squad is considered to be significantly inferior to previous Kirby platformers due to very little originality and difficulty, weak level design, lots of recycled music and sprites from the GBA games, an asinine plot involving a cake, half-baked new abilities, and lackluster bosses (especially the final boss). note 
  • Rakenzarn Tales took a dip when Dark Kyu decided to rewrite the plot, resulting in it being rebooted twice for Versions 3 and 4. Version 3 was a smaller release than the initial release of Version 1 with an incomplete story arc and none of its new features lasted beyond that version. Version 4 didn't even get its plot going and was mostly just introducing the required party members with its only update being a few sidequests and party members. Version 4.1.1, the third reboot, is agreed to have gotten the game back on track with a finalized, focused script and a new development team to ensure more timely updates that advance the overall plot.

    Visual Novels 

    Web Animation 
  • Among Us Logic's later episodes are widely regarded as a step down, with the exception of the acclaimed No-Visor storyline. Criticisms include having stopped spoofing Among Us in favor of parodying various movies and TV shows, the show's humor becoming too mean-spirited to be funny and losing focus on the character dynamics that made the show great, episodes becoming increasingly formulaic, and various characters Taking a Level in Jerkass or picking up the Jerkass Ball on a regular basis. GameToons has replaced this series with Friday Night Funkin' Logic, and No-Visor's defeat has nullified the central joke of the series.
  • Neurotically Yours. Several fans of Foamy the Squirrel, while they enjoy Foamy's journey to find a new roommate, don't like Germaine's cartoons of recent due to the Flanderization of her sexual tendencies.
  • Benthelooney:
    • Season 5 of Ben Rants gets this for flanderization (The flanderization began in Season 4, but got worse in Season 5), inconsistency, focus on jokes than the subject, and many opinion retcons.
    • Season 4 is this to a lesser extent, as while fans don't believe it's as bad as the 2013 season, the flanderization and change in format began with the first uncancelled season.
  • Red vs. Blue:
    • Season 3 is generally considered the weakest of the original series, The Blood Gulch Chronicles, as the sharp dialogue and character interactions that made the first two seasons so enjoyable were downplayed in favor of a convoluted and overlong Story Arc that was centered around time travel. Fortunately, season 4 had returned to the formula established by the first two, much to the joy of fans.
    • The series had already split fans with Season 14 — an anthology rather than continuing the story — when Season 15 became a low point. After many epic multi-season arcs, it seemed to be a self-contained story with lesser stakes that tried to have more of the goofy comedy of the early seasons. Still, aside from the jokes, the writing was uneven and filled with wasted potential. The follow-up season, The Shisno Paradox, faced even more criticism, particularly from viewers who didn't like the Denser and Wackier route. Season 17 is regarded as a return to form with solid character interactions and development, as well as giving the arc a proper wrap-up.
    • Season 18, Red vs. Blue: Zero, again was a divisive affair, with old fans in particular disliking it even more than Season 16. It was so much of an Actionized Sequel that lacked seriously on the comedy and plot/character development, meaning that aside from the flashy fights and chases, it didn't have enough of the elements that drove people towards the show in the first place.
  • RWBY: Volume 5 is considered drastically inferior to other volumes due to budget issues that resulted in a lack of well-animated action and narration that was slowed by over-reliance on exposition, unnecessary dialogue, and the main plot occurring in a single room for most of the volume. While the creators acknowledged the concerns, and the fans largely agree that later volumes have improved, there remain trust issues about how house-based storylines are handled; in particular, Ruby's team in Volume 8 being confined to a house for several episodes while they deal with critical injuries, leaving other characters to deal with the Big Bad.
  • SMG4 is viewed to have suffered from this after Kevin became the main writer in 2017 due to the heavy amount of repetitive stock voice clips, the greater prominence of Garry's Mod, Flanderization of some characters, overuse of later characters over older ones, frequent references to popular games, series and memesnote , and the overall humor being aimed at a younger audience after the result of a poll. It's comparable to modern Nickelodeon in a way.
  • As the years have carried on, How It Should Have Ended has become increasingly less funny in the eyes of some, going from actually pointing out flawed logic in movies that could fix a lot of problems very quickly to basically removing 99% of the movie's driving forces while clumsily jamming in retro pop culture cameos and shilling Batman.
  • Season 2 of gen:LOCK, changing hands from Rooster Teeth to Hbo Max, wound up a major disappointment for the fans, downplaying the slick mecha action and fun character moments that made them like season 1 while adding a relentless bleak tone highlighted by visceral violence, half-baked political drama, and characters either behaving like jerks or dying seemingly only for shock value. An unexpected addition of sexually explicit content also didn't sit well with viewers.

  • Sluggy Freelance lost a lot of its readers during the massive plotline known as "Oceans Unmoving," mainly because the plot's only relevance to the series was showing what happened to BunBun after Holiday Wars. It took what should have been a very short, sweet explanation and turned into into a one year plotline that constantly stopped the action because it had to cram in as much exposition as possible about the cosmology. For many people, the comic never recovered from it. Others like to just pretend it never happened. Still others found it a fairly interesting change of pace that had a lot of wasted potential. Unfortunately, forcing it upon the readers with only a tangential relation to the rest of the canon was not a smart move on Pete's part. And "Oceans Unmoving" would have been a great thing to release all at once, say as a book. It drew more resentment because it came at the expense of the regular cast, and the cool concepts weren't well served by a one-day-at-a-time schedule. People forget that a lot of Sluggy stories felt overlong and tedious at the time, but read well in the archives.
  • Abnormality mentions it, along with Franchise Zombie and Early-Installment Weirdness tropes.
  • Survivor: Fan Characters: Seasons 8, 10, and 12 are widely disliked by the fanbase for focusing way too much on villains and/or Designated Heroes too flat and/or thoroughly unlikable to even Love to Hate and having too many one-note/Jerkass characters in their overall casts. This is mitigated somewhat, however, by the odd-numbered seasons between them being widely liked by the fanbase.
  • Sabrina Online had the "Sabrina creates a Parody Sue webcomic" arc. It was pretty self-referential and got old pretty fast, but as of June 2012 seems to be over when Sabrina quit the comic after losing interest.
  • Ménage ŕ 3 was felt by many fans to have suffered badly in volume 5 with too much coverage of the car-crash relationship between passive central character Gary and (insufficiently) cute psychotic Yuki. This culminated in several strips of Yuki blundering around in a blindfold being stupid. The ensuing end to that relationship, followed by some fairly radical relationship shake-ups and a crossover, looks to have recovered much of the comic's appeal.
  • Sinfest has this with the Sisterhood arc, where a previously mostly neutral, (fairly) light-hearted strip became a tract for the author's radical feminist beliefs. The new direction of the strip is largely loathed by the strip's fans, partly because of the huge changes in characterization it brought and how ridiculously Anvilicious its message became. Sinfest's arcs in the late 10s were criticized even further for their anti-sex worker and transphobic views. In 2020 the strip's new reactionary direction has drawn further criticism with most of the main cast pushed Out of Focus or Flanderized and many finding the caricatures of trans people especially offensive.
  • Red String began to fall into this during its last year, due to the author having become pregnant and taking several other projects on the side. This caused a decrease in the art quality and some rather hasty plot conclusions.
  • Homestuck: While the webcomic is generally considered to have grown the beard by Act 5, Act 6 featured completely new characters that weren't as overall fanbase-expandingly popular as the trolls were and generally even more divisive, very very long sub-acts (and sub-sub acts!) causing Ending Fatigue, a very long Romantic Plot Tumour causing unnecessary drama between the new kids, and more villains that are so powerful they make you consider whether these kids even have a ghost of a chance, as well as a bunch of jokes that were either too dark to be humourous or just plain considered to be in bad taste. It took years for the original kids to finally meet up with their new counterparts, and when that happened it took many more months in real time for them to actually get on to fighting these new villains. Its ending animation and the following Act 7 were both well received visuallynote , but also got some story-related criticism for leaving a lot of plotlines to seemingly end abruptly and for the eventual victory for the heroes to have just been brought on by anti-climactically making a new timeline, wherein an intentional Base-Breaking Character was brought back and, along with some of the other characters, lost all their character development, and everything went almost perfectly according to plan.
  • Darths & Droids is generally seen as going through this around the time it reached the Original and Sequel movies. While the comic is still funny and clever, it lacks the biting satirical edge that made it stand out from other Campaign Comics. As many have noted, when the series was mocking the Star Wars franchise's own rot, it was a brilliant and unique satire; once it had to tackle the actually good parts of the franchise, it started running out of things to seriously criticize and devolved into just another comic, without anything special going for it.
  • Dominic Deegan had a few weaker arcs a couple years into its run. Specifically...
    • The "War in Hell", criticized for its portrayal of Siegfried and the controversial orc storyline, to the point that "orc rape" is still the (disturbing) rallying cry among its detractors.
    • "Snowsong", where Dominic's planning and controlling hit their peak, mixed with a badly-timed burst of Author Appeal in the form of Mookie's love of superheroes resulted in Greg briefly turning into Shazam!.
    • The "March Across Maltak" for its heavy focus back on the orcs and long length of over a year.
  • Exploitation Now hit this in the later half of Act 3. While the first half has some solid backstory and a bit of development of Bush and Jordan as well as setting up some possible threads for Bimbo and Ralph, the latter half is an extended cliche tentacle monster/magical girl parody connected more to the ultimately unused Babylon Jones while Bimbo and Ralph mostly just complain about their lack of panel time. It does have its humor, but in terms of plot progression, nothing of importance happens.
  • Basic Instructions: At some point after the five-hundred comic mark of the comic's original run, it began to get a little repetitious due to Scott having trouble coming up with new ideas. Some instructions were revisited and reruns became more frequent, sometimes up to one a week for a three-day-a-week webcomic. To Scott's credit, he became aware of it and concluded the comic when he felt he'd reached a point where it wasn't worth going on, only coming back when he felt he could make it fresh again.

    Web Original 
  • The Nostalgia Critic:
    • A lot of people have this opinion towards NC after the series was uncancelled, due to more controversial statements (including a review of Sailor Moon that was absolutely drenched in Unfortunate Implications), actions and criticisms people feel are hypocritical when old reviews are taken into consideration, an Anvilicious tone, sketches that go nowhere, an over-reliance on Straw Critic and the fact that his character arc's resolution was undone.
    • Some of the people who liked the revived series began to quit it come mid-2014, where they felt that the Critic had become more mean-spirited, more hostile towards anyone or anything he doesn't like to the point of insulting people who disagree with him (some even feeling he's become a Straw Critic himself), had skits that overstay their welcome, and ridiculous amounts of Bias Steamroller.
    • 2015 is even worse. In addition to several previous problems growing worse, many were turned off by several of the videos being little more than an Author Tract rather than an actual review, spouting off viewpoints that are clearly supposed to be Walker's rather than the Critic's in-character, and the Critic getting much worse when it comes to reviewing then-recent material, including breaking his previous restriction and looking at Jurassic World, Pixels, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens while they were still in theaters, leaving the "Nostalgia" part as an Artifact Title.
    • In 2019, the decline continued. Since the #ChangeTheChannel scandal, the Nostalgia Critic increasingly became the target of ridicule in many internet circles. His review of The Wall is so widely hated that it became a meme in and of itself. The episode's lacking quality also led viewers to start becoming more critical of future episodes, and reflect on the flaws of past episodes initially given a free pass. The "Maybe he was transitioning" line from the Venom review wasn't received well in certain circles, either. Doug has since abandoned his TV vlogs, editorial series, and other side projects, instead focusing only on Nostalgia Critic and occasionally doing a short vlog on a movie currently playing.
    • This decline has continued unchanged into the 2020s. Where Nostalgia Critic episodes were once guaranteed to make a million views, if not several, they now struggle to garner even a fraction of that peak view count. While there are still those willing to watch, it demonstrates how far the property has fallen in light of the #ChangeTheChannel scandal, with most people now only aware of Nostalgia Critic through mockery from other Youtubers such as Oneyplays. In the end, a comment said it best: "His audience grew up, but Doug Walker himself has not."
  • The Angry Video Game Nerd:
    • Some say the series went through this between James contracting major burnout in late 2009 and the filming of Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie in mid-2012. He had noticeably less energy and passion during this time period, and his "anger" (the defining trait of his character) was quite a bit more restrained.
    • Other fans point out to the era starting in 2018 where production company Screenwave Media took on a much greater role in the production of the shownote . Common complaints include the uncreative and repetitive camera angles, an increasing reliance on guest starts that often fall flat, the Flanderization of the Nerd character (particularly the rebound in juvenile scatophilic wordplay), the introduction of lengthy sponsor skits, the Nerd's anger feeling even more forced that in the aforementioned era, and more generally that the writing and choice of games make it obvious James is no longer writing the episodes. Things got so bad during this era that James responded to fan complaints in a behind the scenes video, which ultimately did little to reassure fans who were skeptical of some of his production decisions (notably his perplexing decision to hang lights from the ceiling) and questioned why Screenwave was not handling these things.
  • Cracked readers tend to argue that the site started going downhill sometime around 2013.
    • More and more of the site's usual contributors started vanishing or leaving the site, content was recycled rampantly, new contributors weren't up to the challenge of replacing the old ones, and the site's direction as a whole moved towards the sort of shallow and humor-light clickbait that Cracked had once been seen as a cut above. Post-2016, the site also developed a strong political bent that, while not new, seemed to crop up in every article that the writer could squeeze a Take That! into. The site's management and moderation became increasingly tone-deaf, driving away a lot of regulars from a once-thriving community. By 2020 or so, Cracked had a single-digit number of actual creatives, with nearly every significant creator from the old days having moved on.
    • 2021 has not improved things for Cracked. Its photoplasty contests, once humorous or informative, are now almost entirely recycled - either just condensing information from older articles or lifting images wholesale from sites like Bored Panda. The actual articles are much shorter now as well, typically only a few paragraphs in length and containing far fewer jokes. Finally, the comment section appears to have disappeared entirely, apparently only visible to people who log in to the site.
  • Depending on who you ask Marble Hornets may have fallen into this during its second half, as the creators created way too many questions and subplots than they could handle. This is far from universal however.
  • Parodied in The Jerry Seinfeld Program, in which Seinfeld went on for 21 seasons (with another five planned). When Elaine and Kramer left (with Jerry and George pretending they never existed) the show truly became about nothing once Jerry ran out of ideas, and has devolved into nothing more than a series of internet shorts lasting about a couple minutes long at most since the show somehow managed to achieve a Nielsen rating of less than .1 and yet is still going, in an extreme case of Adored by the Network. The show eventually devolves into Jerry and George having existential crises on-set, begging to just let the show die already before finally committing suicide.
  • Stupid Mario Brothers: The series is agreed to have gone into this after The Movie. The only well liked part of this period is the Interactive Adventure. Common criticisms include tone deaf stories, characters holding the Idiot Ball, wasting time on Filler, less funny jokes, and the characters becoming unlikable.
  • The Music Video Show had gone through this in seasons 5 through 7. The jokes had become repetitive, the running gags had been run through the ground, episodes blended into each other and the host took several notches of unlikable behavior. Unlike many examples, she made an apology video, stating anger, depression and suicidal thoughts as the cause, pointing to Season 5 as the worst cause.
    • Seasons 9 and 10 have gotten a case of this, specifically season 9. Instead of the usual 25 episodes, these seasons go for 50, with the misses outweighing the hits. Without the 3 month break between seasons like before, the jokes are less thought through and some episodes seem halfhazardly put together. Downplayed with season 10 as, despite similar problems as 9, the season got better and, as it was the last season of the show, it ended on a good note with its 300th episode.
  • ScrewAttack went through this not long after DEATH BATTLE! really got popular. Whilst that show got better the rest of Screwattack's content seemed to suffer with the humor becoming stale and overdone, top tens becoming really generic, and Stuttering Craig becoming much too prevalent in each video (which many fans felt is what caused the first problem). Some fans think the rot may have even happened earlier after many key members left and with the shut down of Hard News. It seemed Screwattack actually realized this and eventually put all resources into Death Battle.
  • After a strong start and a groundwell of support from fans, the "MK3" era of Classic Game Room came to be seen as a low point for many fans. Common complaints include running gags being driven into the ground, too much video time spent on Patreon backer credits and promotion of Mark's other projects with the resulting split effort harming the production, low effort content (most notoriously the #WhoDefeatz videos) paired with Mark's confrontational attitude toward those who criticized those uploads, a more niche and less timely choice of games to review (despite the fact that most of the show's most popular episodes were about current games) and generally feeling tired. The loss of popularity was such that Classic Game Room went from having one of the biggest Patreon account with nearly 10k donated monthly at its peak to Mark announcing the show's end in the comments of an Instagram post without the wider internet really noticing.
  • Diva Dirt started going this way in 2015-2016. Melanie, one of the original writers and eventual editor, left the site and was shortly followed by Ensemble Dark Horse Bobby when he was too busy with college work. This led to the less popular Jack taking control of a lot articles; he became infamous for jokes that weren't funny, getting the names of moves wrong and some oddly selective favoritism when it came to certain women. Then the rest of the site's writers left, and were replaced with people they'd found in the comments - giving it the feeling that it had gone from legitimate news site to blog with multiple contributors.
  • Feminist Frequency experienced a lot of backlash once the 'Tropes vs Women' series moved onto video games. The research mistakes that had been at a minimum in her previous videos increased to an absurd degree (despite Anita's claims that they were "double and triple checked"), and there were soon enough videos pointing out the mistakes to make up a subgenre all its own, with wildly varying quality of critiques. Many gamers and critics outside of the pool of misogynists that made up the project's hatedom began to highlight several problematic statements in Anita's own critiques - such as her disdain for sex workers, claims that any Action Girls were inherently misogynistic and dismissing any large breasted or scantily clad female characters as a "fighting fuck toy". She drew large amounts of controversy for a video where she casually suggested that gamers would be turned on by violence towards women in Watch_Dogs. Liana K released a five-part video series disputing many of Anita's more problematic statements, and others identified Manipulative Editing at play where Anita appeared to have taken footage from other YouTubers without crediting them. Although she released another series of videos in 2016, she soon ended the project and it was rebranded as a non-profit podcast. She later revealed that the corporate sponsorship they had benefited from in the beginning had lost interest and withdrawn their funding.
  • Funhaus has experienced extensive turnover in staff, starting with the departure of recurring secondary hosts such as Joel Rubin and Sean Poole, but eventually including the departure of main co-hosts Bruce Greene and Lawrence Sonntag, the firing of main host Adam Kovic, and the departure of recurring co-host host Alanah Pearce. The only cast members still present from when the former Inside Gaming became Funhaus are James Willems and editor Matt Peake, though several popular members who joined shortly afterward (such as Elyse Willems, Omar de Armas, Jon Smith, and Jacob Fullerton) still remain. This turnover has caused Funhaus's content to change considerably over time; while the key format of one main host playing a game in the foreground while several co-hosts improvise jokes in the background has remained, numerous fan-favorite interpersonal dynamics have of course changed with the personnel. Fan opinion differs widely on whether this is true Seasonal Rot or whether the fandom reaction is a case of They Changed It, Now It Sucks!.
  • Honest Trailers: Honest Game Trailers was viewed to have taken a dip in quality ever since it moved from Smosh Games to Fandom Games, resulting in a different writing team. A common criticism is how the newer Honest Game Trailers lack the tongue-in-cheek humor of the previous ones and focused more on mean-spirited criticisms of the games they covered.
  • CinemaSins: Initially, the videos were pointing out the actual flaws of the movies, like a Plot Hole or Special Effect Failure. However, the show has gradually devolved into a parody of itself, picking apart a movie for the most minor things, like just showing the studio logo or having narration. It's telling that the earlier videos were around 5 minutes long, later ones are 20-30 minutes. At least.

    In-Universe examples 
  • The titular Show Within a Show in The Calvin, Hobbes, and Paine Show is described by its star as too popular to be cancelled, no matter how mediocre it got (with a comparison to The Simpsons).
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The school comic Wacky Dawg suffers from this. Greg states that the strip was pretty funny until it became a vehicle for the author to handle his personal business.
  • It's implied that this would happen In-Universe had the characters not resolved the plot within the sixth episode of Don't Hug Me I'm Scared. The previous lessons had been Creativity, Time, Love, Technology, Nutrition, and Dreams, but it was shown by the machine-generated Teachers that the lessons most likely would go on to include Space, Sports, Magnetism, Digging Holes, Canoe Buying, Files, Traffic, Gel, Smoking, and Music. This can be read as another criticism of childrens' media, focusing on topics that become more inane over time.
  • FoxTrot: Done with Roger's favorite strip, Captain Goofball, in one arc about how Roger's upset to hear that Andy wants it cancelled. When Andy shows Roger the latest strip, Roger says that Captain Goofball just had a bad day, prompting Andy to bring out many old comics pages to show him that it's been declining in quality for a while. Roger's forced to admit that Captain Goofball has gotten stupid over the years, but weakly protests that it was hilarious when he was a kid, prompting Andy to coldly say that today's kids deserve to laugh their heads off.

Alternative Title(s): Season Decay