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Sophomore Slump

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"Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine."

After a stellar first installment/season, a series has a second installment/season that either feels suspiciously like the last or just isn't as good. Tends to be more prevalent in dramas than comedies. A specific form of Seasonal Rot, though perhaps not always bad so much as just underwhelming when compared to what came before.

Sophomore Slump concerns shows that make it past an awful second season and into a decent or fantastic third season. If the show doesn't survive the second season, it's a Second Season Downfall.

This happens in music with depressing regularity as well. Usually, it's because after the first album (which usually has a couple of years of development under its belt and plenty of trial and error from live concerts to help the band determine what does or doesn't work), the record company wants a second album produced within a year. The second album is therefore very likely to consist mainly of the songs that were cut from the first album because they were considered inferior. Combine this with the fact that most bands popular enough to get a second album will also be constantly on tour and one can see why this happens.

This term as used in sports refers to players who become breakout stars during their rookie seasons, only to follow up with underwhelming second years, whether because of injury, changes within the team, heightened expectations and publicity leading to faltering on-field performance, etc. Some of them are able to figure out how to get back on track for their third years and beyond, while others end up skidding for a few years and then disappear, with varying levels of infamy based on how highly touted they were before or during their freshmen seasons.

A related term, used in computing, is the "second system effect." Freed from the tight schedule and budgetary demands of the first system, the programmers attempt to "correct" everything that "went wrong" the first time, usually with disastrous effects.

This may happen when your first season is widely considered a Tough Act to Follow, but it's not a rule.

Compare Oddball in the Series, Sequelitis, and Seasonal Rot. Could cause a Broken Base if another portion of the fandom disagree with the opinion that the work is going through a Sophomore Slump. If it's inverted, see Growing the Beard, Surprisingly Improved Sequel or Even Better Sequel. If it's a longer-running series that's consistently good, then bad, then good again, then bad again, then repeat, see the Star Trek Movie Curse. If there really are only three installments, it's basically Middle Child Syndrome for installments/series.

Has nothing to do with what comes after the freshman fifteen.


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  • Pokémon: The Original Series if one counts Kanto/Orange Islands as the first series and Johto as the second. The Johto arc was more or less a total rehash of the first, except with even more Filler and Suspiciously Similar Substitute Pokémon on Ash's team that just didn't live up in power, personality, or appeal to the ones he Put on a Bus after the Orange Islands. Of course, the Orange Islands arc itself has its own problems as well and is frequently accused of being a filler arc, so regardless of which is the sophomore the trope applies, with the recovery occuring either during the last third of Johto (if the slump was the Orange Islands) or some point in the Hoenn saga (if the slump was Johto.)
  • Digimon Adventure 02 is infamous for its Distant Finale, and in part due to a Kudzu Plot that left a lot of threads dangling. Also, having one of the most famous Big Bads in Digimon history be defeated by talking left a bad taste in many fan's mouths.
  • The first half of Code Geass R2 was a rehash of many elements of season 1, going so far as to have Lelouch reuse plots in suspiciously similar circumstances. It was purposely done this way to appeal to the new audiences in R2's new time slot. Fans such prefer R1 and the second half of R2 to it by a wide margin.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam 00 has the second season, generally considered to be weaker than the first due to it rehashing the same "protagonists fight a paramilitary force controlled by the Big Bad" plot done twice before. This caused the 2008/2009 season to be remembered as "the time Sunrise blew it all" on the seasonal plan since it aired alongside R2 above.
  • Despite a significant Animation Bump, "Second Stage" of Initial D isn't deemed to be on par with "First Stage" due to its shorter length and having less narrative charm. That the plot in this Stage focused less on protagonist Takumi Fujiwara and his budding street racing skills against various opponents, while putting more screen-time to rival Team Emperor's conquest of the Gunma Prefecture, the Internal Reveal and fallout of Takumi's girlfriend Natsuki Mogi's Enjo Kosai habits, as well as a sub-plot involving Itsuki Takeuchi's friendship with Kazumi Akiyama, may explain the slump.
  • Psycho-Pass Season 2 was derided for being mediocre and rushed with a boring storyline which is a rehash from Season 1 storyline and new characters which the viewers don't care much, particularly with the new Inspector, Mika Shimotsuki. Season 3 managed to fix some of the damages such as new characters that made the viewers care while it reworked with Mika's personality and an interesting storyline.

    Films — Animation 
  • Direct to Video sequels to films in the Disney Animated Canon:
  • Pixar:
    • A Bug's Life was their second film and while it's well-liked, it tends to be forgotten. The fact that it's sandwiched between Toy Story and Toy Story 2 doesn't help; indeed, it's the only one of Pixar's first seven films not to have spawned a franchise.
    • Cars was, upon its release, considered the weakest film they had ever put out, which still meant it had a fairly warm reception. Cars 2, a Mater-centric spy flick, became the first Pixar film to have a critical and audience response that was downright bad, and is still considered the company's worst film. Cars 3, which stuck much closer to the first film's tone, was much more appreciated.
  • The four Futurama Direct to Video movies suffered this. The first one, Bender’s Big Score, is very well-regarded. The second one, The Beast With a Billion Backs, tends to get the worst reception because of the fact that the antagonist Yivo was Easily Forgiven for using tentacles to unwittingly mate with everyone in the universe. The final two get more varied reception, but are both generally seen as better than The Beast With a Billion Backs.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Kevin Smith's much-loved first film, Clerks, was followed up by the much-maligned Mallrats, considered one of the weakest entries in his View-Askewniverse series by many fans.
  • The Temple of Doom was this in the original Indiana Jones trilogy, with some fans finding it less memorable than Raiders of the Lost Ark, not having the fun or heart of The Last Crusade and just being generally mean-spirited, squicky and not in style with the other films.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • While Iron Man 2 was relatively successful with audiences and critics, many felt it was not as exciting as the first or third films, and is regarded as the weakest entry in the Iron Man trilogy by the majority of viewers. It's also widely considered one of, if not the weakest entries in the entire franchise.
    • Phase Two is seen as the weakest part of the Infinity Saga — lacking the fun and novelty of the Phase One films and the emotional highs of the Phase Three films, and criticized for falling victim to Superman Stays Out of Gotham — the actors' contracts in the fledgling MCU meant they couldn't cross over with one another as much as they would later on — and for every film's climax being a large-scale aerial battle in an attempt to recapture the thrill of The Avengers (2012), until Avengers: Age of Ultron put a twist on it and then largely retired that routine. Of the Phase Two films, only Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Guardians of the Galaxy (2014), and Ant-Man were universally well-received. Phase Two was also when the MCU started to face criticisms of favoring White Male Leads, bland villains and too many jokes — most of which were addressed in the Phase Three films.
    • Thor was a well-received film that provided a Breakout Character in Loki (which turned Tom Hiddleston into just as big a star as Chris Hemsworth). Thor: The Dark World was much more divisive — with criticisms hurled at it for having a Generic Doomsday Villain, too much focus on the human characters and some Mood Whiplash involved in the joking around. Much like the aforementioned Iron Man 2, it's largely considered to be one of, if not the worst entry in the MCU. Thor: Ragnarok is the best rated of the movies critically and, while it has a divisive reaction among fans (particularly for the aforementioned jokes), it has made much more of an impression on the public consciousness than the second.
    • The Avengers was considered the high point of Phase One and received glowing praise from both critics and comic book fans for successfully connecting already well-received films into one. Avengers: Age of Ultron, while not bad, is considered to be the weakest of the Infinity Saga Avengers movies due to the controversial development of multiple characters, Executive Meddling, and generally not being able to get the same impact as the first movie. Avengers: Infinity War is better received for having an excellent villain in Thanos and a good mix of action and humor although the first movie is seen as better. Avengers: Endgame, despite Continuity Lock-Out, is praised for being one of Marvel's best movies and a satisfying conclusion to the Infinity Saga, having even higher ratings and box office than the first movie.
    • For the MCU as a whole, the second movie The Incredible Hulk (2008) is one of the least popular thanks to the wild difference in tone and Edward Norton playing the titular character instead of Mark Ruffalo, and many finding the film's plot to be simply unmemorable, not helping with how later installments in the MCU scarcely even acknowledge the film. It was also the lowest rated movie until the aforementioned Thor: The Dark World.
  • Mission: Impossible II is the most reviled of the Mission: Impossible Film Series, while the third was received better and each following movie was considered an improvement.
  • A Shot in the Dark is actually a good movie, but aside from starring Peter Sellers as Inspector Clouseau, being directed by Blake Edwards and featuring music by Henry Mancini, it has very little in common with The Pink Panther (1963). However, people usually see it as where the series actually started Growing the Beard.
  • Quantum of Solace for the Craig-era James Bond. It suffered from the writers strike and didn't have the success of its predecessor, Casino Royale (2006), mostly because of the grimmer tone and being so different in style from other Bond films. The next installment, Skyfall, was much more critically acclaimed.
  • The Maze Runner (2014) was a Sleeper Hit that was praised for being smarter and better made than a lot of other YA sci-fi dystopia films. Its second film, Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials, was viewed as a real step down - one critic even calling it "a typical middle movie" — and especially for radically differing from the book. When the third film, Maze Runner: The Death Cure, was released, although critics were lukewarm to it, audiences were a different story, calling it the best film of the series.
  • Though Scary Movie 2 isn't considered the worst film in that series, with nearly everyone agreeing to the fifth film to be far worse, it's still generally seen as inferior to the first and third films, with even creators the Wayans Brothers being on record as disliking it due to the rushed writing and filming process.
  • Exorcist II: The Heretic is seen as the worst film in the Exorcist series. The first film is considered an all-time classic, and the third an underrated cult hit, but the second suffers from a Genre Shift away from horror as well as a generally bizarre and unintentionally funny storyline. Opinions on the two attempts at a prequel film (Exorcist: The Beginning and Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist) tend to vary, but very few consider them to actually be worse than the second film.
  • While neither xXx nor XXX Return Of Xander Cage exactly got glowing reviews, they were both considered to be a lot of dumb fun, with the former film being an outright box-office hit and the latter doing well internationally. The film in-between then, however, xXx: State of the Union, was a critical and commercial bomb that didn't even star Vin Diesel.
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy's Revenge is considered by some to be one of the worst films in the A Nightmare on Elm Street franchise, and the third film is almost universally considered an improvement, and one of the best films of the series, and the fourth has plenty of fans too. The fifth and sixth films are hated even worse than the second though.
  • Related to Tough Act to Follow, Rob Marshall directed the musical Chicago - which received critical acclaim, a Best Picture Oscar and helped revive interest in modern musicals. His second musical film - Nine (Musical) - was met with lukewarm reactions and failed to make an impression on the general public. His third, Into the Woods, was much more successful.
  • 2 Fast 2 Furious is the least popular installment of The Fast and the Furious film series. It's also the only one without Vin Diesel.
  • Bad Boys (1995) was a well-received by audiences in spite of middling reviews. Bad Boys II was also financially successful, but got a heavily negative reaction from critics, while audiences were ambivalent at best. The years since have rehabilitated its reputation somewhat, albeit only to the extent where it's gone from being seen as a crappy sequel, to one that's decent, but not as good as the films either side of it, given the third was widely considered a very Surprisingly Improved Sequel.
  • Beneath the Planet of the Apes is widely considered a huge step down from a sci-fi classic, due to its cheap production, overly bleak and nihilistic feel (specially the Downer Ending), clunky political commentary, and the mutants feeling far too bizarre and off-the-wall even for this series. However, the third one is widely considered an improvement.
  • Men in Black II is generally considered the worst of the first three MIB movies, although not nearly as bad as the fourth.
  • National Lampoon's European Vacation failed to achieve the classic status of its predecessor, National Lampoon's Vacation, or its successor, National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation.

  • In the Anne of Green Gables series, Anne of Avonlea tends to be considered the weakest book, being blander and more cutesy than the others, and having mainly been written because of public demand for a sequel. Unsurprisingly, its few adaptations tend to combine it with the more popular third book, Anne of the Island.
  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is generally seen as the weakest of the bunch. It’s heavy on exposition and follows the same basic plot structure as the first one without adding too many new elements or characters. While it’s definitely an Innocuously Important Episode in setting up things like horcruxes and Voldemort’s backstory, it doesn’t pay off until much later which makes it come off as slightly boring. According to Word of God, she intended to include more Foreshadowing for later books as well as exposition about Voldemort's backstory, but her editor insisted she cut them (as she had yet to achieve her Auteur Licence). As a result, many fans have It's the Same, Now It Sucks! reactions. It’s also regarded as the weakest of the films, though Daniel Radcliffe claims it's his personal favourite.
  • Jam is seen as this compared to the author's other works. Mogworld was generally well received, though with some criticisms that it had many hallmarks of being someone's first novel, and both Will Save the Galaxy for Food and Differently Morphous were spun off into successful series, each with there own small fandom. Jam, by comparison, has been mostly forgotten about by Yahtzee's fans, and is generally the least well liked of his novels for several reasons, including the sluggish pacing, borderline Random Events Plot, and Pinball Protagonist.
  • Prince Caspian is often viewed as the weakest of The Chronicles of Narnia, chiefly because of its slow pace, and secondly because it rehashes the plot structure of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (an evil ruler has taken over Narnia, and the four Pevensie siblings are called upon to overthrow them, leading to a climactic battle), which the later books refreshingly avoid.
  • The Dresden Files was kind of this way with Fool Moon. It wasn't bad per se, it wasn't as good as Storm Front, but the series certainly improves with Grave Peril. Opinions vary, though.
  • Most of the Warrior Cats fandom declares that The New Prophecy, the second arc, just isn't as good as the original series, though many admit that the writing quality, if not the story as well, improves at the third arc.
  • While it was actually the third book by Dr. Seuss, The King's Stilts suffered from poor sales compared to The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins, his first book to obtain success with both critics and readers.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Desperate Housewives had a decline in quality after season one. Some people say it returned to its premises in season three.
  • The Doctor Who revival:
    • The second series wasn't bad, but it was one of the most uneven. It gave us a few wonderful episodes like "School Reunion", and "The Girl in the Fireplace" but also had some of the show's bigger clunkers, like "Love & Monsters" and "Fear Her". There was also a story arc that didn't give as great a reveal as other Series, and which many fans felt was there for Russell T Davies to set up his own show. Also despite many fans loving the Doctor/Rose romance, there is quite a group that felt it was becoming a Romantic Plot Tumour, even those who liked Rose in the first Series felt she became unlikeable here.
    • The sixth series is this, being the second season of Steven Moffat's tenure as showrunner (with a new Doctor, new companion, and a lot of new people behind the scenes), after an outstanding first season. Again, some of the show's best ("The Doctor's Wife", "The Girl Who Waited"), were alongside some of the show's biggest misfires ("The Curse of the Black Spot", "Let's Kill Hitler"). Additionally, many felt like Moffat was trying to do a little too much and the plot got tangled, and the characterization of River Song took a big hit. In a season review from the Nerdist (one of Doctor Who's biggest cheerleaders), the writer even uses the term Sophomore Slump to describe it.
  • Elementary's second season was as enjoyable as the first as far as episodic plots are involved but was marred by Conflict Ball-induced stupidity, Sherlock and Joan bickering rather than getting closer like fans wanted, and Mycroft's drawn-out plotline, and a somewhat unbelievable romantic subplot with Joan. Season three, thanks to Kitty's terrific character arc, and a saner dynamic between Joan and Sherlock was a return to form.
  • Friday Night Lights had a number of implausible developments in its second season (including a murder perpetrated by two of the main characters) that did not fit at all with the realistic, muted tone of the show. The move to cable in the third season helped it to return to its previous feel.
  • The second season of Game of Thrones was, while still good, generally more uneven than the first season, since while the first book was mostly linear (with basically three main plotlines- the Wall, the East and Kings' Landing/related subplots) with a strong focus character (Ned Stark) and Driving Question (why was Jon Arryn murdered?), the second book A Clash of Kings suddenly had an explosion in the number of plotlines which were increasingly divorced from each other, and many which were not TV-friendly, which led to the TV writers making deviations that didn't quite work (Jon, Robb and Dany's plotlines were big offenders). These problems were mostly solved in the third and fourth seasons, as splitting the third book A Storm of Swords allowed the show to breathe, the writers became more confident with reducing the number of plotlines per episode, and the quality of TV original material improved massively.
  • The second season of Lost has its strengths, most notably introducing fan-favourite characters like Desmond, Ben, and Mr. Eko, but also suffers from many stalls in the plot with little to no questions being answered. The writers apparently picked up on this, as although the third season had a rough start, the remainder of it really started kicking up the plot twists and actually started answering some major plot threads. It still has its detractors but is often agreed to at least be a step up from season 2.
  • Saturday Night Live has had numerous ups and downs over the years, but if one considers it in terms of eras rather than seasons, the "new cast" era of the sixth season definitely represents a sophomore slump. Gone was the entire cast from the first five years, gone was show-runner Lorne Michaels, gone was the house band, heck, even the writers were mostly different. New producer Jean Doumanian, who had previously been responsible for booking musical guests, didn't know comedy at all, and the new cast was uneven, some very talented and some not so much, but unable to gel into a cohesive comedy unit like the first cast. Instead of Dan Aykroyd or Bill Murray naturally rising to the top, Charles Rocket was forced into the "star" role and utterly failed to connect with audiences, while Eddie Murphy was shoved into the background, not experiencing his break-out status until the following year.
  • The second season of The Walking Dead (2010) is often considered its weakest due to a considerably slower pace and little plot development, with most of the episodes confined to Hershel's farm. Most people agree that Season 3 was a significant improvement.
  • The second season of Once Upon a Time was considered a major step-down from the first, particularly in the second half, due to a sudden glut of new plotlines and characters reducing focus from the plotlines and characters the show already had.
  • Many fans agree that season 2 of Victorious saw a noticeable decline in quality, mainly due to the massive Flanderization of Ensemble Dark Horses Cat (from a Mood-Swinger Cloud Cuckoo Lander to The Ditz) and Jade (from a Jerk with a Heart of Gold Noble Demon to The Sociopath), the Ship Sinking of Cat and Jade's popular Odd Friendship, and the excessive Character Focus on Tori, when in season 1, each of the characters had their own Days In The Limelight. Season 3 broke the fanbase — it's either funnier than ever, shows some nice development all around and doesn't just waste characters, or even worse to the point where the show has Jumped the Shark.
  • Homeland's second season tossed away the cat-and-mouse game between Carrie and Brody in the middle and made the latter as The Mole for the CIA at the former's urging along with some characters holding the Idiot Ball. But at least, the season finale paid off with Abu Nazir's Thanatos Gambit by killing a majority of the CIA personnel with a bomb and pinning the blame on Brody.
  • One Tree Hill is a fine example of this trope. After a powerful first season, the second season gave us the undoing of Lucas and Nathan's close relationship, two Scrappies in the form of Felix and Anna, the Peyton/Lucas/Brooke love triangle basically forgotten, Lucas and Peyton barely interacting and Lucas seemingly becoming truly interested in Brooke out of nowhere halfway through the season, Haley becoming a rock star for no reason, which almost caused the Ship Sinking of Naley along with her cheating on Nathan with Chris Keller, and Keith (once again) allowing himself to be screwed over by his younger brother. In fact, most people consider the season basically a complete write off.
  • Charmed opened with a strong enough first season, but its second is much more divisive. It chose to downplay the supernatural aspects of the sisters' lives — featuring a Romantic Plot Tumour involving Piper's love life and general bad quality of writing. It's regarded as the weakest of the Prue seasons. Seasons 3 and 4 are the most beloved of the show. Interestingly enough within the Paige seasons, Season 5 is the second of those and falls into this too — with a Lighter and Softer tone and a reliance on standalone episodes, as well as making Phoebe Took a Level in Jerkass.
  • Revenge was considered to have a stellar freshman season which was followed by a rather sub-par second season — the biggest issue being the Kudzu Plot that involved a Greater-Scope Villain, which not only took away the focus from Emily Thorne's quest for revenge on the Graysons but led to some rather blatant Arc Fatigue that wore viewers down. It returned to form late in the season with a resurgence in quality, thanks to some well-timed Character Deaths and finishing The Man Behind the Man in time for Season 3. The third season revitalised interest with a new ongoing mystery in its opening episode and great character drama which helped make the Myth Stall less blatant, and concluded with some excellent plot resolutions and a last-episode twist that ended it on a high note — it is considered the second-best season by most. Season 4 created a Broken Base due to its questionable execution but is generally regarded as superior to the sophomore season, which was the show's weakest point.
  • Sleepy Hollow, after a popular first season, suffered from a rankings downturn during its second season that sidelined Ichabod and Abbie's relationship in favor of family drama and Base Breaking Characters. The series was still renewed for a third season, but the ending of that season killing off Abbie caused many viewers to permanently abandon the show and it was canceled after the fourth season.
  • True Detective had a critically adored first season with its dark mystery and atmosphere, but the second season was widely considered to be weaker in comparison seemingly abandoning those very elements. After a three-year hiatus, Season 3 returned the show to form and earned renewed acclaim.
  • Last Man Standing did well in the ratings in the first season, but the producers and writers decided to retool the show to help it stand out more against other sitcoms. They recasted Kristin Baxter and amplified her Granola Girl characteristics and aged her son up. They also made her son's father Ryan a much more prominent character, changed him into a Soapbox Sadie and went with an All in the Family political angle by contrasting the conservative Mike with Kristin and Ryan's ideals (the twist being that Mike's opinions generally tend to be more reasonable). The ratings managed to stay stable and warrant a third season but most of the changes were met with backlash by the show's fan base (aside from the introduction of Ensemble Dark Horse Chuck Larabee). The writers began fixing it in the third season by giving Kristin some much-needed Character Development to put her more in line with her season one characterization, reducing the number of appearances Ryan made and toning down the political aspects so they became more of an undercurrent to the character relationships.
  • The second seasons of both Star Trek: Voyager and Star Trek: Enterprise are generally regarded as their weakest. While neither show's first season is regarded as especially good, they're usually seen as at least So Okay, It's Average, and their flaws are considered more forgivable considering the writing staff needed to find their feet. By contrast, the second seasons are considered regressions in quality and contain several episodes regarded as the bottom of the barrel for both shows ("Twisted" and "Threshold" for Voyager, and "A Night in Sickbay" and "Precious Cargo" for Enterprise). The second season of Voyager also suffers from the writers doubling down on Status Quo Is God, after the first season had shown more conflict between the Starfleet and Maquis crewmembers, and had the crew more willing to bend the rules to deal with their desperate situation.
  • While the second season of Stranger Things was still warmly received, a number of fans and critics saw it as meandering, awkwardly paced, lacking in real stakes, and too sprawling for its own good, with the episode "The Lost Sister" (which even the Duffer Brothers described as a Poorly-Disguised Pilot for a Spin-Off) coming in for particular criticism for breaking the show's pacing right on a cliffhanger. By contrast, the third season was an Actionized Sequel and more tightly focused on the main characters, and while fan consensus still ranks the first season as the best, the third is regarded as more or less a return to form.
  • While not bad, it's generally agreed that season 2 of Daredevil (2015) is weaker than the first and the third one. The popular villain Wilson Fisk is Demoted to Extra and the second half focus on the divisive Hand organization. Season 3 is generally considered to be a return to form with Wilson Fisk as the main antagonist again as well as introducing Bullseye.
  • The very first Super Sentai series, Himitsu Sentai Gorenger, is still the highest rated entry in the franchise even after several decades and with 84 episodes, is also the longest. The second entry, J.A.K.Q. Dengekitai ran into problems from the get go, failed to get a foothold rating wise and eventually got cancelled, lasting only 35 episodes (the shortest run of all Sentai shows note )
  • The first season of Broadchurch was universally acclaimed by critics and audiences alike. Season 2, while not exactly bad, contained the infamous trial plotline, which was criticized for being an extremely inaccurate portrayal of the British legal system, and taking time away from Alec and Ellie's partnership and the actual mystery, two of the biggest drawing points of the show and what made it so acclaimed. Season 3 introduced a completely new case that didn't feel like a rehash of the original one, brought Alec and Ellie's partnership back to the forefront, and dialed down on Season 2's Too Bleak, Stopped Caring tone. It was largely agreed to be a return to form for the show and was received far more warmly than the previous season.
  • Spartacus: Blood and Sand is a curious example. Its second season produced was a prequel miniseries set six years before the first (created after lead actor Andy Whitfield needed to seek treatment for cancer). The show's canonical season season Vengeance saw two major recastings - Liam McIntyre having to take over from Andy Whitfield after his passing and Cynthia Addai-Robinson replacing fan-favourite Lesley-Ann Brandt as Naevia (and the latter soon became a huge Replacement Scrappy). In addition to this, the show suffered from changing the familiar setting of the ludus to the rebels now being on the run; not helped by a change in the writing team making it feel like a different show. The decision to undo Lucretia's death at the end of Blood & Sand was poorly received (and blatantly said to keep more familiar faces around to help with the aforementioned recastings), especially the resulting arc attempting to make the viewer sympathise with Lucretia over Illythia. The show ramped up the Anyone Can Die nature seemingly for shock value, with eleven main characters dying across the season, and many bemoaning the wasted potential of some. That being said, the season is praised for incorporating the Ensemble Dark Horse Gannicus from the Gods of the Arena prequel into the main cast, as well as introducing many characters such as Nasir and Saxa who would become fan-favourites, Mira's well-received Character Development into Action Girl, and Craig Parker getting to shine with more screen time as the season's Big Bad. The season was still critically acclaimed, meaning this was rather downplayed overall.
  • Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers's first season was a cultural phenomenon, becoming one of the most popular children's shows worldwide. Even though fans recognise it isn't of the best quality, it's still enjoyed for nostalgia's sake. The second season coincided with Austin St. John, Walter Emanuel Jones and Thuy Trang leaving over a pay dispute, resulting in laughably bad Fake Shemping with stock footage, body doubles and voiceovers that barely sound like them, until they introduced their replacements. This is also the season where Tommy Oliver went from being the Sixth Ranger to The Leader, and becoming extremely overpowered and turning into the Spotlight-Stealing Squad. Season 3 would be a return to form, and is generally considered the best season from a writing point of view.
  • The second season of Top Chef was, to put it lightly, not great. The majority of the problems came from the cheftestants being one of the most argumentive group of the early seasons, including accusations of cheating in front of the Judge's Table and the infamous head-shaving incident. The negative reception caused Bravo to cancel a potential reunion episode, but surprisingly, the show was renewed, and it still continues to this day. The one positive out of this season is the inclusion of Padma Lakshmi as the new host, which people agree to be an improved one over Katie Lee Joel.

  • MGMT tried to avert this by following up the synth-heavy, well-received Oracular Spectacular with a totally unexpected surf-rock inspired album, Congratulations. However, this got slightly more mixed reception precisely because of this.
  • Meat Is Murder by The Smiths is a famous example of this. It's actually pretty good outside of the title track and contains a few of their best-known songs, but it received very mixed reviews when it was first released and is frequently regarded as their weakest album.
  • Starflyer 59's second album, Gold, is an interesting case. Fans initially disliked it enough that they would tell Jason Martin to his face that his new album was terrible. Then the fans started warming up to the album. Nowadays, the old-time fans are the ones most likely to cite Gold as Starflyer's best album ever.
  • Razorblade Suitcase by Bush. A highly commercial grunge band cashing in on the state of popular music at the time probably shouldn't have chosen Steve Albini as a producer (a man who, given his history with unconventional acts, probably shouldn't have chosen Bush as a client).
  • Don't Look Back by Boston. For proof, look at their Greatest Hits album, which essentially contains half their first album, plus a handful of other songs. Then again, it does happen to be the second highest-selling debut album of all time.
  • Haim experienced this with their second album Something to Tell You, which they admit they struggled to conceive songs for and most critics appraised as being So OK, It's Average. They would Win Back the Crowd with their widely acclaimed Darker and Edgier third album Women In Music, Part III.
  • Van Halen II, while not a bad album and has its share of classic songs, it's still essentially a retread of their first album, making it one of the band's more forgettable Diamond Dave-era releases.
  • The concept of sophomore albums essentially being a slapdash retread of a debut album's concepts/styles gets lampshaded with the title of Talking Heads' sophomore album More Songs About Buildings and Food. The album itself is a subversion; it's generally considered to be much better than their debut, in part due to dropping unsympathetic producer Tony Bongiovi (who persistently tried to push Talking Heads into becoming a pop band) in favor of the much more creatively-inclined Brian Eno.
  • Interestingly, the original liner notes to The Beatles' second album With the Beatles have the band's PR guy Tony Barrow not only openly admit that the album is a blatant attempt to recreate the formula of Please Please Me, he uses it as a selling point. Then again, when the band in question is The Beatles...
  • U2's second album October. In their defense, the band had to hastily record many of the songs because a briefcase containing Bono's lyrics for the song was lost, forcing Bono to improvise lyrics for the album.
  • Franz Ferdinand's second album, You Could Have It So Much Better, while still quite good, is considered to be considerably worse than both their debut Self-Titled Album and their third album Tonight: Franz Ferdinand. Most critics attribute this to the fact that they sort of rushed it (releasing it about eighteen months after their debut) in order to prove that they weren't just a flash in the pan, while they could take their sweet time on their debut and the third album (which was released nearly four years later and was something of a New Sound Album).
  • Mogwai's second album, Come On Die Young received lukewarm reviews upon release in opposition to the universally acclaimed Mogwai Young Team.
  • Since Appetite for Destruction is the best-selling debut albums of all time, it's only natural Guns N' Roses would have a tough time following up. Their second release, bundling an old EP with some acoustic numbers, did not reach the popularity of their first album. Even the Use Your Illusion albums were following a very tough act.
  • Manic Street Preachers' second album Gold Against The Soul is largely regarded as an awkward album, as it is half commercial songs intended to appeal in America and half ones with intentionally controversial lyrics and somewhat abrasive melodies.
  • The Clash's Give 'Em Enough Rope. The album is not bad, it just fails to deliver. This is because it contains a cover version of a well known song ("English Civil War", being American Civil War era song "When Johnny Comes Marching Home" with updated lyrics), a song with the same riff as a previous single ("Guns On The Roof", the single in question being "Clash City Rockers"), and "Drug Stabbing Time", which may be the worst thing (lyrically) the band ever recorded. The "commercial" production touches of Sandy Pearlman (best known for his work with Blue Öyster Cult) also pissed off a lot of punk purists. However, the album's variety did pave the way for London Calling, their most popular album.
  • Puddle of Mudd's Life on Display, their second major label album was lambasted upon release. Part of the reason for this is that their previous album, the commercially successful Come Clean, consisted of re-recorded versions of what they considered the strongest songs from their first two independent albums, so the material on that album was already what the band considered their best material.
  • Gogol Bordello's second album Multi Contra Kulti Vs. Irony has always seemed like somewhat of a rush job. Before it came out they released a single "When The Trickster Starts A Poking/Occurrence On The Border" which attracted some indie attention. Presumably, this was intended as a stop gap but they included both songs on the album anyway. A few of the other tracks on the album like "Let's Get Radical", "Punk Rock Paranada", "Through The Roof And Underground" and "Baro Foro" are also loved by fans, but the rest of it has the air of filler and failed experiments. The band rarely play anything from the album these days except "Baro Foro".
  • Hootie & the Blowfish quickly exploded into mainstream superstars with the success of Cracked Rear View, which was praised by critics for its roots rock approach during the waning days of the grunge boom and became the second best-selling debut album of all time. Their follow-up, Fairweather Johnson, received middling reviews and quickly fell into obscurity.
  • Nick Lowe's above-quoted twin songs were inspired by how his previous band Brinsley Schwarz flamed out due to record label mismanagement. Amusingly enough, both the album with them (Jesus of Cool) and its successor (Labour of Lust) performed more or less equally: they both got acclaimed and spawned a hit single ("I Love the Sound of Breaking Glass" for the former, but only in the UK, and "Cruel to Be Kind" for the latter, in the UK, the USA, and Canada).
  • Chumbawamba attempted to follow up their smash-hit major label debut Tubthumping with WYSIWYG, whose lead-off single ("She's Got All The Friends") was quite obviously an attempt to mimic the shouty-pop of "Tubthumping." No one cared, and Chumbawamba returned to their previous preference of independent releases. (These days, the group would rather pretend that the "Tubthumper" era never occurred.)
  • Milli Vanilli actually attempted a second album, believe it or not. After their twin 'debut' releases ('All or Nothing' outside of the USA, and the far more commercial 'Girl You Know It's True' in the USA) hit it big, they immediately recorded a follow-up album ('Keep On Running') using the same gimmick — middle-aged guys on vocals, dreadlock guys on the cover. Shortly after the title track was released as a single, however, the controversy erupted. The new album was retitled 'The Moment of Truth' and credited to The Real Milli Vanilli, showing the actual singers on the cover. In the end, the retooled album was somewhat of a success in Europe, as the group still held popularity there. America, unfortunately, hated the group at this point, and the album never saw a US release. (At least, not in its original form — the vocals were later re-recorded by other singers, and the album was released under the band name Try 'n' B. This version bombed completely.) They even made an album of the two stars themselves singing under the name Rob and Fab. It didn't do so well.
  • Green Day's Insomniac (though their mainstream sophomore, as it's their fourth) was not as well received as Dookie, particularly for being Darker and Edgier.
  • The Vines got huge press for their debut album, Highly Evolved, which went platinum in their native Australia and gold in the UK and America. Follow-up Winning Days had songs written around the time Highly Evolved was recorded, that didn't make that album. Critics noticed, and while the album went gold in Australia, it fizzled out everywhere else. Not helped by the fact that the frontman, Craig Nicholls, had struggles with Asperger's Syndrome that caught up with him during the promotion of the album, resulting in an assault charge.
  • After breaking out with Smash, The Offspring failed to deliver the same commercial success with Ixnay on the Hombre, even though it was praised critically, some actually considering it superior to the album prior.
  • According to an article in the LA Times, Drake tried hard to avoid this with his second studio album, Take Care (hence the title). It was successful, as Take Care is his most commercially successful album.
  • Referenced by Fall Out Boy with their song "Sophomore Slump Or Comeback Of The Year".
  • Pink Floyd's first album, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, is often regarded as a masterpiece of psychedelic rock. However, their second album, A Saucerful of Secrets, was at the time generally dismissed as an inferior imitation at best, partially due to the departure of Syd Barrett.note 
  • Jennifer Lopez narrowly averted this with her second album, J.Lo. While the album and lead single "Love Don't Cost a Thing" started off strong, her follow up singles, "Play" and "I'm Real," both underperformed. It was only after her now-famous remix of "I'm Real" with Ja Rule that things got back on track.
  • The Jam's second album This is the Modern World is generally regarded as a rushed and very much inferior gap-filler between their pretty good debut In the City and the widely hailed classic third album All Mod Cons.
  • Deep Purple Mark II(a) released two classic albums, Deep Purple in Rock and Machine Head. Sandwiched between them is a little lost album called Fireballnote , which has a couple of great songs and a lot of failed ones that attempt to get out of the formula established by In Rock but end up nowhere. Interestingly, one of their greatest hits, "Strange Kind of Woman", was recorded during the same sessions but not included on the UK album (on the US or Japanese versions of the album, SKOW is included, making it somewhat stronger).
  • Suffocation's Breeding the Spawn, which is almost entirely down to the production — and hoo boy, is it a mess. The reason is that the band got a pittance from Roadrunner Records, who were too busy chasing mainstream success to give a crap about Suffo or any of their other death metal bands. As a result, not only could they not get down to Florida to do another session at Morrisound (where they recorded Effigy of the Forgotten), they apparently didn't have enough money to get a half-decent production job. This led to other complaints, namely that they failed to evolve in any meaningful way from Effigy (although either a really good ear or a listen to any of the re-records placed on later albums debunks this and reveals the album as being one of the most technically complex albums not only of their catalog, but in the genre as a whole). Mercifully, they came back with a vengeance on Pierced from Within, which paired the complexity of its predecessor with far better production, courtesy of a return trip to Morrisound.
  • Jason Aldean's second album, Relentless, was his only one not to produce a Top 5 country hit (although "Johnny Cash" and "Laughed Until We Cried" both just missed, at #6). It's also his weakest-selling album to date. However, he bounced back nicely starting with the third album and ascended to A-lister.
  • Jerrod Niemann had a strong start with his first major-label album, Judge Jerrod & the Hung Jury, which produced a #1 hit in "Lover, Lover" and a Top 5 hit in "What Do You Want". His next album, Free the Music, performed dismally — its lead single barely made Top 20, and the followup barely made Top 40, and the album only sold eight thousand copies. However, he seems to have bounced back quickly with the third album, High Noon, whose lead single "Drink to That All Night" quickly became his second #1 in April 2014. Double-subverted in that the album's next single, "Donkey", became a Creator Killer due to its crudely-written, Double Entendre lyrics.
  • Rick Trevino, a minor country music singer in The '90s. His self-titled first official albumnote  was certified gold and had two Top 5 hits ("She Can't Say I Didn't Cry" and "Doctor Time"). The next album (Looking for the Light) had three singles, but the only one that even made Top 40 was the poorly received novelty "Bobbie Ann Mason". The third album, Learning as You Go, brought him back to form, with three straight Top 10 hits (the title track, followed by "Running Out of Reasons to Run" — his only #1 hit — and "I Only Get This Way with You") before the hits tapered off again. (However, he did win a Grammy in 1998 as part of the supergroup Los Super Seven.)
  • Randy Houser. His first album had the fan favorite "Anything Goes" (his debut single) and a big Top 5 hit in "Boots On". But his second album was delayed repeatedly due to its singles underperforming, with the second single ("I'm All About It") not even making the final cut of the album. The album was released to little fanfare and nothing else from it went anywhere. He was prepared for a third album, but when its lead single ("In God's Time") went nowhere, he left the label. Then he signed to Stoney Creek Records, where he released How Country Feels. The title track became his first-ever #1 hit in 2013, followed by a second #1 in "Runnin' Outta Moonlight" and additional Top 10 successes with "Goodnight Kiss" and "Like a Cowboy".
  • Cat Stevens' second album, New Masters, fared so poorly that he wouldn't release his third album, Mona Bone Jakon, until 1970 (although his musical absence was due to contracting tuberculosis and not the album's failure). Then again, New Masters has one of his most famous (and frequently Covered Up) songs, "The First Cut Is the Deepest."
  • Lionheart by Kate Bush is generally considered inferior to both The Kick Inside earlier that year and Never for Ever two years later. Even decades later, Lionheart is still one of her least acclaimed proper studio albums, next to The Red Shoes, which was widely seen as a Sell-Out album at the time.
  • SHeDAISY's first album, The Whole SHeBANG, was certified platinum and produced three straight Top 10 hits on the country charts. They followed it up with Knock on the Sky, which underperformed and had only two singles, both of which barely made Top 30. Their third album, Sweet Right Here, brought them back up to speed with gold sales and the hit singles "Passenger Seat", "Come Home Soon", and "Don't Worry 'Bout a Thing". The last of these mocks their sophomore slump twice with the lines "Ever knocked on the sky and had it fall on your head?" and "Ever found your last record in the bargain bin?"
  • This doesn't just apply to albums — singles can fall victim to this, too, as The Byrds did this with "All I Really Want to Do," released between their two #1 hits, "Mr. Tambourine Man" and "Turn! Turn! Turn!" Beaten by Sonny and Cher's cover of the song, The Byrds' own version peaked at #40, just barely qualifying it as a hit.
  • Canadian country music group Emerson Drive. Their self-titled American debut albumnote , for DreamWorks Records, produced two big hits in "I Should Be Sleeping" and "Fall into Me". What If? completely tanked stateside, with none of its singles doing anything on the U.S. country charts, although "Waitin' on Me" was a minor hit in Canada and Lonestar later Covered Up the album cut "You're Like Comin' Home" to Top 10 success in 2005. On top of that, DreamWorks Records closed in mid-2005. Two years later, they signed with the small independent Midas Records and released Countrified, which brought the semi-hit "A Good Man" and their only American #1 hit to date, "Moments". Although their momentum dropped off again with the next album, they have continued to be successful in Canada.
  • Jamie O'Neal got hit with this pretty hard. Her first album had back-to-back #1 hits with "There Is No Arizona" and "When I Think About Angels" (in fact, the former made her beat out Keith Urban by one week to become the first Australian with a #1 country hit in the States). The lead single to her second album underperformed so badly that the album didn't even get released, and she was dropped by the label. But her third album (and second released) got her additional hits with "Trying to Find Atlantis" and "Somebody's Hero", the latter her first Top 5 hit since her debut before her momentum dropped off again.
  • While Jack Ingram had been independently releasing albums since 1995, his first to contain a hit was Live: Wherever You Are, a mostly live album Book Ended by the studio tracks "Wherever You Are" and "Love You". The former was a huge hit, becoming the first #1 for the Big Machine label (which would later have phenomenal success with a young Pennsylvanian named Taylor Swift). Ingram's second Big Machine album was a flop, led off by a country-rock cover of Hinder's "Lips of an Angel". His third album seemed to be headed for a flop too, but in 2009, he scored his second and final Top 10 hit with "Barefoot and Crazy".
  • Like the Byrds, Dusty Springfield had two big hit singles early in her career, "I Only Want to Be with You" and "Wishin' and Hopin'," and a less memorable single between them, "Stay Awhile."
  • Ash's first full-length album, 1977, was very well-received, containing such hits as Kung Fu and Girl From Mars. (The preceding mini-album, Trailer, was also well-received). Then came Nu-Clear Sounds, the second full-length album, which nearly left them bankrupt. After a rethink, they came back with Free All Angels which contains such hits as Burn, Baby, Burn and Shining Light and is considered by many to be their masterpiece.
  • Giuseppe Verdi followed up the success of Oberto with his first (and penultimate) comedy, Un Giorno di Regno, which was pulled after a single performance. In his defense, it had actually been written when he was suffering from Creator Breakdown, having lost his wife and two infant children.
  • After Gioachino Rossini established himself as a musician of both serious and comic operas, respectively, with Tancredi and L'italiana in Algeri, he floundered in both genres with Aureliano in Palmira, now rarely performed, and Il turco in Italia, which has since been Vindicated by History. He continued to struggle with his operas until The Barber of Seville in 1816.
  • Though it peaked at #1 in Billboard and scored a #1 hit with "I'm a Believer," More of The Monkees was basically a slapdash effort of outtakes from the group's first album (with a few other songs, "Believer" included, thrown in) put together by label Colgems Records to promote the group while they were touring and working on the TV show. The group were not aware that the record existed until after it was released, and their dissatisfaction with the album's cover and liner notes led them to fight for creative control on their next three albums.
  • The Rolling Stones had this on both sides of the Atlantic with The Rolling Stones No. 2 in Britain and 12x5 in the US. Though both albums are pretty good, they basically follow the format of their debut album, mostly comprising covers of songs over original material.
  • Following the success of his first opera, Le villi, Giacomo Puccini suffered this with Edgar, which remains one of his more obscure operas to this day.
  • Katy Perry's Prism fits this with its singles. "Roar" was a #1 smash hit, then the follow-up "Unconditionally" fizzled out pretty quickly after its debut. The third single, "Dark Horse", was an even bigger hit than "Roar".
  • Rihanna's debut single "Pon De Replay" was a big #2 in 2005. Her follow up "If It's Lovin' That You Want" went nowhere, and then "S.O.S." (the lead single to her next album) became her first #1.
  • Hamilton, Joe Frank, & Reynolds: Their self-titled debut (with "Don't Pull Your Love") hit #59, their follow-up only reached #191, and their third album, Fallin' in Love (featuring the #1 hit of the same name), reached #82.
  • If you start with their commercial breakthrough As Cruel as School Children, Gym Class Heroes fit, as their follow-up The Quilt, although their highest charting album on the Billboard 200, didn't produce any hit singles, unlike its predecessor and successor.
  • Before they recorded their self-titled album, The B-52s wrote more than an LP's worth of songs, and deliberately saved songs for the followup to try to avoid this: In fact, only three new songs were written during the Wild Planet sessions, with the rest being songs that they'd been playing live since before the self-titled album came out. Wild Planet sold better than the debut and was critically well-received... Though the self-titled album is still generally more well-known due to featuring "Rock Lobster", a Signature Song for the band.
  • Trace Adkins had a hugely successful debut album Dreamin' Out Loud. His followups Big Time and More... sold far more poorly, with neither scoring a major hit. But he got back on track with Chrome, Comin' On Strong, and Songs About Me, which were far more successful and notched some of his biggest hits such as "Chrome", "Hot Mama", "Songs About Me", and "Honky Tonk Badonkadonk".
  • Kip Moore had this happen. His first album sold platinum, including the hits "Somethin' 'bout a Truck", "Beer Money", and "Hey Pretty Girl". The second was delayed nearly two years due to the originally intended lead singles "Young Love" and "Dirt Road" faring poorly — and they didn't even make the final cut of the album! Once the album was finally released, its singles barely made Top 20. He got back on track with album number three, whose lead single "More Girls Like You" was a gold-certified Top 5 hit in 2017.
  • The vocal female trio Wilson Phillips were very hot off their successful debut album in 1990, containing 3 number-ones, "Hold On", "Release Me" and "You're In Love", and were nominated for 4 Grammys including Best New Artist. But their second album Shadows and Light in 1992, was a very tough act to follow. In contrast to their debut album, this had a more personal and serious tone in their songs such as their estrangement from their fathers or child abuse. While the album did sell well, being certified Platinum, the singles didn't have much success as their previous ones, and none of them cracked the top 10. After the album's release, Chynna Phillips decided to go solo, and the trio disbanded. They eventually reunited in 2004 before breaking up again and then reuniting again in 2010.
  • Most critics and fans agree that Kacey Musgraves Pageant Material is not as good as Same Trailer Different Park. Many fans speculate that this is because she is trying to please country radio by releasing the two weaker but more mainstream singles, resulting in the album not receive any Grammy nomination for the singles. Golden Hour rebounds spectacularly, resulting 4 Grammy wins for her in 2019.
  • Europe, if you discount their first two albums which only charted in their native Sweden, had a smash hit with their first internationally successful album The Final Countdown. While its follow up, Out of This World, sold decently, it wasn't on the same level either critically or commercially and was generally seen as a bunch of songs that didn't make the cut on Countdown. The band then came back with a strong album, Prisoners in Paradise but unfortunately that was released just a week after a little album called Nevermind, with predictable results, forcing the band to go an hiatus for a number of years.
  • Weezer's second album Pinkerton started as this trope. In wake of the upbeat and fun first album, fans were expecting more of the same, only to be disappointed when the album turned out to be harsh, noisy, and downright sad at times. It was trashed by critics and sold much worse than The Blue Album, forcing Weezer into hiatus as they would later return to poppier music with Weezer (The Green Album). However, fans and critics later realized how brilliant the album was years later, and it quickly became their most celebrated album, which led to it subverting this trope and Weezer recording more emotional music again beginning with Make Believe.
  • Arrested Development's debut album 3 Years, 5 Months and 2 Days in the Life Of... managed to overshadow a very good vintage of Gangsta Rap with their Conscious Hip Hop, and won two Grammys. The group then went for a more experimental approach with their second album Zingalamaduni. The album bombed hard, got mixed reviews and a poor audience response, and completely destroyed the momentum they built up with their first album. The band eventually broke up, and soon faded into obscurity.
  • Naturally, Duran Duran expressed concern with this while working on their second album. Ironically, Rio became one of their best efforts, scoring hits with both "Hungry Like the Wolf" and the title track.
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers' fifth album, Blood Sugar Sex Magik, was their mainstream breakthrough thanks to the hit single "Under the Bridge" (and other songs like "Give It Away", "Suck My Kiss" and "Breaking the Girl"). Then their guitarist John Frusciante left the band, and they struggled to find a replacement guitarist for two years before finally settling on Jane's Addiction guitarist Dave Navarro. Moreover, the lead singer Anthony Kiedis relapsed, which created additional delays. By the time their sixth album One Hot Minute came out, it had been nearly four years since the release of BSSM, and it didn't perform nearly as well.
  • Remo Drive's debut album Greatest Hits quickly became an overwhelming critical and commercial success that broke the band into the Alternative Rock scene. Then they fired long-time drummer Sam Mathys, effectively disowned their earlier material by deleting it all from their Bandcamp, and took their sound in a much poppier direction with their follow-up Natural, Everyday Degregation which abandoned the emo punk rock sound that catapulted them into stardom. The album was a massive flop, was torn apart by critics, divided their fanbase, and completely destroyed the upward momentum they built up with their first album. Their third album, while cited by critics as an improvement, released to little fanfare and received similar scorn from fans.
  • I See Stars got hit with this with their second album, The End of the World Party. Their first album, 3-D, blew up almost overnight during the MySpace era thanks to them blending pop and metal in a unique way. Sumerian Records quickly signed them and were shaping to be the American version of Asking Alexandria. However, The End of the World Party leaned too much on the pop side and alienated fans who liked the metal elements (partly due to harsh singer Zach Johnson leaving). As a result, I See Stars didn't blow up in popularity as much as other MySpace bands. I See Stars maintained a fanbase, but they were never able to recapture the popularity they had during the MySpace days.

  • The subject of the podcast Sophomore Slumps, primarily about famously slumpy second albums, though the April Fool's 2021 episode was about a video game (The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass).
  • Episode two of Mystery Show centers on a book written by Starlee's client that sold terribly and is almost impossible to find. Starlee mentions that this was her second book however, and that her first book did okay, even being written up in People Magazine.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • The first WrestleMania was a sensation that helped usher in the Rock n Wrestling Era - complete with high profile appearances from Mr. T and Cyndi Lauper. The second event was regarded as a disappointment - thanks to the poor decision to broadcast it from three different arenas - and most of the matches being short and unmemorable. With the third Mania, the event became the celebrated tradition it's now regarded as in the WWE.
  • The second season of WWE Tough Enough is regarded as the worst. The first was a success, but the training was viewed as a disappointment. It even underwent Memetic Mutation for Al Snow constantly saying "these kids aren't ready" in all the confessionals. The finale was a debacle too - with the last minute decision to have two female winners instead of one male and one female. The third season was viewed as a little better - and produced more wrestlers who would make an impression in the business.
  • The first season of NXT introduced Daniel Bryan to a WWE audience and produced many more future regulars such as Wade Barrett, David Otunga, Heath Slater and Skip Sheffield, nowadays better known as Ryback (albeit he had to be repackaged after an injury) - as well as the memorable Nexus stable that the contestants formed. The second season was viewed as a step-down, especially with its disaster of a finale. Any of the contestants of that season, such as Husky Harris, the future Bray Wyatt, didn't achieve success until years later or after being repackaged (and their time on NXT therefore ignored). The third all women's season wasn't necessarily seen as good, but still produced more prominent stars in the form of A.J. Lee, Kaitlyn and Naomi. The fourth was seen as just forgettable at best, and the elongated fifth and final season before retool actually saw an improvement as time went on.

  • In the English Premier League this tends to manifest as "Second Season Syndrome," whereby a newly promoted team will excel in their first season, only to crash and burn (or at least do much poorer) in their second season after promotion. Examples include:
    • 1996/97 — Middlesbrough, after finishing 12th and comfortably surviving in their first Premier League season, finished 19th and were relegated. This one was quite controversial, as the club only went down because they were deducted three points for failing to fulfill a fixture, though it would have been a much poorer second season regardless.
    • 2000/01 — Bradford City had gotten into the top-flight for the first time in 77 years for the previous season, and survived on the last day against all the odds by beating Liverpool. Unfortunately, promotion-winning coach Paul Jewell then left in an ultimately doomed attempt to revive the fortunes of local rivals Sheffield Wednesday, his assistant Chris Hutchings proved severely out of his depth and was sacked just a few months into the following campaign, and the club were relegated at the end of the season, sending them into a downward spiral that saw them relegated three times over the next six years.
    • 2001/02 — Ipswich Town, in probably the Trope Codifier for Second Season Syndrome, finished third-bottom and were relegated (only even finishing that high due to a late run that ultimately wasn't enough) just one year after finishing in fifth place and qualifying for the UEFA Cup in their first season back in the Premier League.
    • 2003/04 — Manchester City, having gotten promoted for the second time in three seasons (after they were immediately relegated back to Division One in 2001/02) and earned their joint-highest finish since the formation of the Premier League the previous season, struggled all season this time around, at one point going three months without a win in any competition. Though they actually stayed up, mostly because all of the bottom three teams had such awful seasons that there was barely even anything resembling a relegation battle this year.
    • 2005/06 — West Bromwich Albion had the previous year became the first side to beat the "Curse of Christmas," a long-standing record of whichever side was bottom on Christmas Day going down. Unfortunately, all it ended up doing was postponing relegation by a year, and they just went down this season instead.
    • 2006/07 — Wigan Athletic and West Ham United had both done well in the previous season, securing solid mid-table finishes (Wigan's still being the highest-ever for that club). In this particular case both clubs actually did manage to avoid relegation by winning on the last day... but it was highly controversial in West Ham's case, as the goal that meant the difference between survival and relegation for them (and by extension sent down Sheffield United) was scored by Carlos Tevez, who was playing for the club under an arrangement later ruled to be illegal.
    • 2007/08 — Reading had finished a comfortable eighth in their first-ever top-flight season the previous year, but a combination of a horrible mid-season run and a late revival by Fulham saw Reading go down on the last day.
    • 2009/10 — Hull City had a mild case of this; they'd only barely survived the previous year, ultimately staying up by virtue of good early-season form, but this time around they floundered all season and were relegated, only kept off bottom spot by a financially stricken Portsmouth side who also had a massive points deduction.
    • 2010/11 — Birmingham City, after yo-yoing between the top two divisions in the previous decade, finally seemed to have established themselves the previous season with their highest finish since 1959. This season, despite winning the League Cup, they were relegated on the last day of the season — albeit bad luck did play a part here, as they were relegated with a points total that would have seen them survive in all but four seasons since the Premier League moved to its 20-team format in 1995.
    • 2012/13 — Queens Park Rangers survived in their first top-flight campaign in 15 years despite a late wobble the previous season, but this time around they recorded the worst start in Premier League history and finished bottom.
    • 2014/15 — Hull City again; the previous season they earned their highest-ever league finish and were FA Cup runners-up, but this time around they struggled a lot more and were relegated despite holding Manchester United on the last day, after other teams like Leicester, Aston Villa and Sunderland caught up on them.
    • 2018/19 — Huddersfield Town, after doing better than expected in their first top-flight season in 46 years the previous season, flopped spectacularly this time around and were relegated off the back of a run that saw them win just 1 of their last 25 matches.note  Oddly enough, this was an exact repeat of what happened the last time they were in the top-flight, having an impressive debut season only to finish bottom the next season (albeit that time they put up a much better fight).
    • 2020/21 — Sheffield United, who were widely expected to go straight back down when promoted in 2019 but chased European football for almost all the season, even continuing to do so after the season resumed following its COVID-19 related break, only to lose their last 3 matches of the season. They then gained just 2 points in their first 17 games of the new season, a new record for worst start, with most of their losses by a single goal (whilst they trailed 2-0 in just 5 minutes in their first game at home to Wolves, they lost by just one goal to 9 of the teams who would end the season in the top 11, out of the 10 they fought in this 17-game winless run). This meant they had too much work to do. Whilst they followed up their first win (in the new year) with one at old Trafford later that month, they angered fans by sacking manager Chris Wilder in March, even with their cause clearly lost at this stage, and placed last, even with a few good but meaningless wins.
    • 2021/22 - Leeds United, who sacked Marcelo Bielsa (their longest serving and most successful boss since David O'Leary 20 years earlier, and his longest association with a club side) in February 2022 with 12 games to go, after conceding 20 goals in a 5 game spell which left them just above the relegation zone (and teams below or around them them like Everton, Newcastle, Burnley and Watford improving, with games in hand to boot), and with the division's worst defensive record. They had established an acclaimed progressive style under the famous boss which got them back into the Premier League and with the best points total of any newly promoted team in 20 years, only to suffer a second season syndrome after being found out by managers playing a similar style (like Frank Lampard and Antonio Conte) and having several key players injured long term like Patrick Bamford, Kalvin Phillips and Liam Cooper — albeit they actually did survive in the end, thanks to Burnley managing to lose their last match of the season despite looking well-placed to survive going into the final day. Though this ultimately just postponed the inevitable by a year, and they utterly crashed and burned in 2022/23, going down with an even lower points total than their notorious 2003/04 relegaiton season.
  • Snooker has the much-vaunted "Crucible Curse": No first-time world champion in the modern era has ever successfully defended their title the following year. That's 20 world champions in 50 years, and counting.
  • In 2002, their second season with Tom Brady as their starting quarterback, the New England Patriots posted a 9-7 record and failed to reach the playoffs. This was the only time in 18 seasons that a Patriots team with Brady as the regular starter failed to win their division. The Patriots rebounded with back-to-back Super Bowl-winning seasons in 2003 and 2004.
  • The Lakers won the NBA title five times in Magic Johnson's first nine years with them, including his first and third. In his second, they were upset in the first round by the Houston Rockets.
  • In Patrick Ewing's four years playing basketball at Georgetown the only year they didn't make the NCAA title game was his sophomore year, in which they lost in the second round to Memphis.

    Video Games 
  • While the vast majority of the mainline Devil May Cry games were highly praised, Devil May Cry 2 is heavily criticised for its unsatisfying combat, and forgettable story. These days, Capcom has taken to pretending the second game never happened: 3 was a prequel; 4 is set between the first and second note ; the recap of the series in 5 gave it a blink-and-you'll-miss-it appearance with no detail about what its story was (by comparison, even the anime was referenced more extensively in and had more of an impact on the fifth game); and the characters frequently comment on having no memory of the second game when they appear in other media (such as Viewtiful Joe or Marvel vs. Capcom 3), the only exception being Dante's guest appearance in Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne Maniax (based on his DMC2 appearance, as it was the most recent release at the time of the game). Neither Hideki Kamiya (the creator of DMC) nor Team Little Devils (Kamiya's personal dev team for DMC1) were involved with 2, the project instead going to a different team under the direction of Hideki Itsuno (director) and Tsuyoshi Tanaka (producer)—and the 3142 Graphic Arts artbook revealed that Itsuno himself wasn't brought on board until there were only six months left in the game's development period with little to show for it; the original director of the project remains unknown. That being said, this same group of developers was responsible for the third game, which handily proceeded to Win Back the Crowd (critically, at least; sales were hurt somewhat by consumer wariness due to the second game's poor reception).
  • Super Mario Bros.:
  • Prince of Persia: Warrior Within is considered by many to be an example of Darker and Edgier Gone Horribly Wrong. The Two Thrones goes so far as to retcon the Prince's behavior in that game into being a curse.
  • The second Unreal Tournament game, Unreal Tournament 2003 was such a disappointment that Epic gave out rebates to owners who traded it in for the much better Unreal Tournament 2004. With Unreal II: The Awakening, Epic outsourced it to a third-party developer, and ended up being so badly received that it was an outright Franchise Killer for the single-player Unreal games.
  • Dizzy II: Treasure Island Dizzy is rampantly the least popular of the series, due to the extraordinary Fake Difficulty of Dizzy spending the entire game as a One-Hit-Point Wonder.
  • On the NES, Zelda II: The Adventure of Link gets heck for being a radical departure from the rest of the series. A reason was that the usual conventions and mechanics of the franchise weren't fully defined yet, hence why the developers had tried to expand the gameplay features. Though later games returned to more classical formats, it did leave a legacy (for example, it introduced elements to the Zelda games like magic, towns, Dark Link, and character names like Saria or Nabooru).
  • Castlevania II: Simon's Quest was criticized for opting for a different gameplay approach to that of the original game, but its gameplay style would later become the series's bellwether after Castlevania: Symphony of the Night perfected the formula.
  • The King of Fighters: The Rugal/Orochi saga ('94 to '98) is often seen as the series' high point, with it introducing both its trademark characters and 3-on-3 format. The NESTS saga ('99 to 2001) isn't looked at much fondly, what with its more gimmicky 4-on-4 and Striker combat and the newcomers being far more hit-or-miss, not helped by the temporary Channel Hop to Eolith from SNK. 2002's status as the wrap-up party allowed for the return of both the original format and several Ensemble Dark Horses from the prior saga (such as Rugal Bernstein and the Orochi Team), heralding the series getting relatively back on track.
  • Metroid:
    • Metroid II: Return of Samus on the Game Boy suffered this due to some gameplay changes and a more linear progression. And until its long-awaited remake (over two and a half decades since the original's release), it felt very dated visually.
    • Metroid Prime 2: Echoes is considered a bit of a slump for the Metroid Prime Trilogy. While it's generally agreed to be a good game, the brutal difficulty, key collection, and ammo system tend to draw ire. It's also criticized for having many of the same upgrades and weapons as the original, with the only really new upgrades being the Seeker Launcher, Screw Attack, and the Echo Visor. Another point of debate is the multiplayer mode. Most, if not all of these issues were fixed when the game was ported to the Wii as part of the Metroid Prime Trilogy.
  • Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Justice For All didn't quite match up to the first game, mostly due to its widely despised third casenote , the new health system being rather punishing at times, and the lack of an overarching storyline to tie the game's cases together. Fortunately, the next game, Trials and Tribulations got the series back on track, mostly thanks to having a better overall storyline. On the other hand, Justice for All has Chapter 2-4, "Farewell, My Turnabout", widely considered to be one of the best cases in the series.
  • Deus Ex: Invisible War turned off many fans, who felt that it sacrificed much of the complexity and freedom that made the original so enjoyable. Human Revolution has been received significantly better.
  • Mega Man:
    • Mega Man II for the Game Boy was derided due to its easy level design, flawed soundtrack, and generally half-hearted feel. The following three Game Boy entries, however, got successively better, to the point that V is often held in same regard as Mega Man 2 and Mega Man 3 by the fandom.
    • Mega Man X2 borders on being this. While certainly not a bad game overall, it added virtually nothing to the first game's gameplay, dropped its dark, stylish visuals in favor of a style more akin to the Classic series, and was just generally somewhat forgettable. Mega Man X3, while a Contested Sequel, made more of an effort to distinguish itself from the first game, and then Mega Man X4 ended up being a major return to form.
    • Mega Man Star Force 2 was poorly received, probably due to discarding most of the first game's stellar themes. It also had much less nuanced Villains of the Week, going from sympathetic individuals possessed by manipulative beings in the first game to already evil villains who fuse with almost mindless Blood Knight entities in the second. The easily broken battle system probably didn't help either. The third game was better-received but doesn't seem to have been enough to save the series.
  • The second Nancy Drew PC Game, Stay Tuned for Danger, suffered from this, since Her Interactive was still working out the kinks. It had a rather frustrating Insurmountable Waist-Height Fence (namely, you started off the game picking a lock with a credit card; later on, other doors, which are identical and in the same building absolutely have to be opened with keys), a pretty bad loophole (if you enter a certain room before picking up two necessary tools, you are unable to leave again to get them and Game Over), a final game that was so frustratingly difficult they had to release a patch to ease the frustration, a pretty clumsy overworld map (where you had to click on a location, listen to Nancy hail a cab, talk to the driver, then arrive, which is frustrating after several repetitions; the other early games all took place in one location, avoiding the problem). It's telling that thanks to Technology Marches On, the first two games were discontinued because of issues with newer sound and video cards. The first, Secrets Can Kill was later remastered and re-released in 2010, but there seems to be no indication they plan to do the same with Stay Tuned for Danger.
  • Whereas Battlefield 1942 was both a commercial and critical hit, its immediate sequel, Battlefield Vietnam got unspectacular reviews and sank without a trace in the sale charts. Nowadays, most people forget that particular Battlefield game ever existed, and those that do remember it generally rank it as the worst game in the franchise. However, the series' third entry, Battlefield 2 was a return to form, and an even bigger hit than the first game.
  • Kaos Studios was formed out of the core developers for the "Desert Combat" mod of Battlefield 1942. They went on to create Frontlines: Fuel of War, which was an extremely mediocre effort that didn't rise to any great heights, certainly not anything close to the love their Desert Combat mod inspired.
  • Disgaea 2: Cursed Memories is this in comparison to its beloved predecessor, Disgaea: Hour of Darkness. The characters and story of the first game are much more memorable and popular than the Cliché Storm that is the second game. At the very least, the gameplay in 2 is a step up from 1.
  • Drakengard:
    • The original was hit with this backwards. In a lot of respects, Drakengard 2 is a better game than 1; better gameplay, better graphics, much better music, and a less soul-crushing, totally idiosyncratic plot. But that's not what (most) Drakengard fans wanted. The first game's director, Yoko Taro, was not as heavily involved in the development of the second game (only serving as the cutscene director), leading it to have a fairly standard, idealistic JRPG plot as a result in stark contrast with the first game's Crapsack World setting and nihilistic tone.
    • Played straight with Drakengard 3. Yoko Taro was back in the director's chair and the game is filled with all his hallmarks, but general consensus is it didn't live up to the hype of 1. 3 being released after NieR didn't do the game many favors either, essentially meaning it had two Tough Acts to Follow.
  • Xenosaga Episode II was hit with a bad case of They Changed It, Now It Sucks! in addition to numerous technical issues that weren't present in the first game. So much so that many of the changes were reversed in Episode III, including the voice acting.
  • Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is a generally very well regarded game, but it tends to be considered the most controversial among fans of the franchise, due to ditching quite a few well liked elements of the first game, such as the Affinity Chart (in the first game, it showed the relationships between various groups and NPCs as well as how they shift, in the second one, it is simply a skill tree), as well as having a plethora of Scrappy Mechanics, like a gacha system to obtain new Blades and very uninformative tutorials. The third game of the main series, in comparison, fixed up a lot of the problems fans had with the previous games, both gameplay and story-wise (such as Tamer and Chaster designs after the inpractical outfits of the second game), which made it far more warmly received by the fanbase.
  • Dragon Age went through this with Dragon Age II. While many consider it decent for reasons such as its excellent companions, it fell short of Dragon Age: Origins in almost every other way, with Cut and Paste Environments everywhere, tons of bugs and many of them game-breaking, overly simplified gameplay, and an extremely small world to explore. Despite some porting issues and a few other complaints, Dragon Age: Inquisition was widely hailed by critics and fans as an excellent return to form for the franchise, attempting to correct almost all of the problems mentioned above, in addition to taking numerous seemingly unimportant plot points and items from Dragon Age II and making them major plot elements in Inquisition.
  • Final Fantasy II is likely the least popular game in the series. note  At the time, it was one of the most experimental JRPGs, with a very intricate leveling system as opposed to the original's "EXP = Level Up" model, and the plot was very intricate for an NES game, but it had many Game-Breaking Bugs (Ultima did nothing whatsoever, most infamously) and the leveling system was so badly implemented that many players wound up ordering their characters to attack each other to train them up. The game didn't make its way out of Japan for years, which denied it even the Nostalgia Filter, and by the time it was released to other regions (thankfully fixing many of the game's faults in the process), nobody thought it especially innovative anymore. Final Fantasy III is much more favourably looked upon for its world design, more upbeat story, and for introducing the job system. The only knock generally held against it is its brutally unfair difficulty.
  • While Dark Souls is generally considered a fantastic game, its sequel is very divisive among the fanbase and often thought to not be as good, having a number of issues the first game didn't with things such as level design, enemy placement, and boss fights. While the Updated Re-release Scholar of the First Sin fixed many of the issues, it also brought along some of its own and still left in many of the Scrappy Mechanics of the original release. Dark Souls III, along with the series' Spiritual Successor Bloodborne, are considered to be returns to form, bringing back what fans loved about the original Dark Souls and ironing out the issues of II. It's notable that the head director of the series, Hidetaka Miyazaki, did not work on II, which is thought to explain some of its problems.
  • Many fans consider BioShock 2 to be the weakest game in the series, as it stripped away the first game's Deconstruction of the But Thou Must! nature of video games, lacked any sort of narrative twist, and changed the genre from Horror to something more akin to a Tower Defense Game. Irrational Games apparently agrees, because no reference was made to the events of the game in BioShock Infinite's DLC Burial at Sea, which took place in Rapture and set in motion the events of the first game.
  • Fire Emblem Gaiden was very ambitious for an NES title, but it wasn't very well-designed and remained an Oddball in the Series for years, with most of its new mechanics not being revisited until Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones six games later. The fact that it never got a Western release didn't help its popularity. The games before and after were the original (which was even more primitive, but gets a mild pass for being the template for everything after), then a refined version of the original which was widely praised, and the next original game was generally seen as the high point of the Shouzou Kaga games (and, in several camps, a strong contender among the Fire Emblem series as a whole). Its remake, Echoes: Shadows of Valentia, did a lot to help its perception, though.
  • Shovel Knight has an interesting example with its second released campaign, Plague of Shadows. While it is regarded as a solid experience and the writing is generally well-liked, its main points of contention are the more erratic gameplay of its protagonist and the reuse of levels from the first campaign, Shovel of Hope. While all four campaigns reuse the same locations, the ones that followed it, Specter of Torment and King of Cards, changed the layouts of said levels entirely and introduced various new enemies and mechanics taking in mind the abilities of their protagonists, and are considered fresh new experiences better than the original campaign in a number of regards, making Plague of Shadows as generally the least liked campaign in terms of gameplay and level design.
  • Darius II is generally regarded as the weakest game in the series, having even more unfair respawn penalties than the first game (First game? Revert back to your equipment's last major upgrades. Darius II? Loses all of your upgrades.) and obnoxiously large Silver Hawk sprites and hitboxes coupled with a nonsense difficulty curve. Its successor Darius Gaiden is often credited with fixing a lot of the flaws of the first two games by using only one screen and giving players access to powerful weapons sooner, as well as adding some fantastic innovations of its own like unique designs for every level, amazing visual effets that take full advantage of the game's hardware, and a wide variety of new bosses.
  • Kid Icarus is respected as a Cult Classic for its Nintendo Hard difficulty, and Kid Icarus: Uprising is also majorly agreed to be a fresh modernization that introduced many Iconic Sequel Characters such as Viridi, Dark Pit and Hades. The game sandwiched in-between them, Kid Icarus: Of Myths and Monsters, largely fell under the radar despite its improvements, with a common criticism being that it was way too similar to its predecessor. No wonder it wasn't released in Japan until 2012, led to a massive 21-year Sequel Gap between it and Uprising, and the Kid Icarus representation in Super Smash Bros. is taken entirely from the original game and Uprising only.

  • MS Paint Adventures: Bard Quest has the unfortunate problem of being sandwiched between the crude but enjoyable Jailbreak and the genre-busting Problem Sleuth, which was followed by the legendary Homestuck. It's the only comic where the Gamebook elements are fairly straightforward (also incidentally the only one that used the traditional Medieval Fantasy backdrop). The comic was dropped fairly quickly, as all the paths end up as dead ends sooner or later.

    Web Videos 
  • The Angry Video Game Nerd features an in-universe example with its pilot episode, a negative review of Castlevania II: Simon's Quest. The Nerdnote  starts off by remarking that while Castlevania (1986) and Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse are excellent NES games, "the game designers obviously were not thinking straight" when they worked on Simon's Quest, remarking on what he considers Scrappy Mechanics unique to this game like a lengthy and unskippable transition between daytime and nighttime, hints from villagers that don't make sense or are outright lies, and Dracula being an unsatisfying Anti-Climax Boss with the right items.
  • DEATH BATTLE!: The first of the three "Goku vs. Superman" fights was seen as a fitting conclusion to Season 1 for the high-scale titular Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny and climactic finish, and the third was similarly praised for showcasing how much the show had improved since then with an even more grandiose animation, the Friendly Rivalry displayed between Goku and Superman, and a post-fight analysis acknowledging the open-endedness of the question of who would win between them. The second, with its far smaller scope, feeling akin to a rehash of the first, and controversial ending analysis and character portayals that many viewed as insulting to both combatants, isn't liked nearly as much, even by Ben Singer.
  • Twitch Plays Pokémon: While the second run managed to more or less avert this, defying expectations note , Season 2 got hit with this hard, containing just five runs, two of which were more or less overlooked and one of which is largely considered a failed experiment in keeping things fresh (also plagued by mild squickiness for some due to the romhacks being used and some community drama).
  • YouTube Poop: King Vs. Mama Luigi - The Epic Battle 3 is widely considered to be superior to YouTube Poop: King Vs. Weegee - The Epic Battle due to its much longer runtime, better editing and stronger plot. Meanwhile, YouTube Poop: King Vs. Gay Luigi - The Epic Battle 2 is widely considered to be the weakest entry in the trilogy due to the lack of epic fight scenes found in the other installments with Gay Luigi only having 20 seconds of screen time and being easily defeated with one attack after having fired a missile at Link.

    Western Animation 
  • Total Drama Action was not well-received by fans of the original series, mainly due to massive amounts of Flanderization. Most of the afflicted characters Snap Back in the third season and it seems like the writers are trying very hard to pretend none of it ever happened (to the point of creating continuity errors in later seasons).
  • The Gene Deitch era of Tom and Jerry is often considered the worst era by fans due to its massive Flanderization of the main characters (Jerry, in particular, took a huge level in jerkass and Tom became more of a Butt-Monkey than he ever was), horrendous animation, sound effects and music (though it did have the nice addition of a beautiful closing fanfare when each short ended). The Chuck Jones shorts are generally considered to be much better, though they still have their detractors. Despite this, the last two shorts "Buddies Thicker Than Water" and "Carmen Get It" are sometimes considered the shorts where Gene Deitch finally nailed the Tom and Jerry formula. Only problem was that his era ended right after.
  • "Book Two: Spirits" of The Legend of Korra received polarized reception from fans and critics due to its poor writing (the villain was seen as dull; the narrative was unfocused, with the Raava and Vaatu conflict quickly overshadowing and sidelining the entire "civil war" conflict; the continuation of the Korra/Mako/Asami love triangle wasn't welcomed) and animation (due to scheduling issues, the animation for the first half of the season was done by Studio Pierrot, rather than the show's usual vendor Studio Mir). Overall, it is generally agreed upon to be the weakest season of the show by even its most die-hard fans. The following two seasons were much better received, and many of Book 2's events would be made fun of in the final season (such as Toph calling the Water Tribe Civil War "nonsense", or the simplistic, uncharismatic Big Bad getting hilariously lambasted in a recap episode by Varrick).
  • Dan Vs.: Season 2 is disliked by a lot of fans for having less Black Comedy and focusing more on Elise. Season 3 is considered an improvement, but there are still some fans who dislike it.
  • Rankin/Bass Productions' second Christmas special, Cricket on the Hearth, stands as the least-beloved of the four they produced during The '60s, due to a nonsensical, Mood Whiplash-ridden script, and shoddy 2D visuals. It didn't even receive a home video release until after rights to R/B's earliest specials shifted from Family Home Entertainment to Golden Book Family Entertainment (later known as DreamWorks Classics).
  • Bugs Bunny's second appearance, Elmer's Pet Rabbit, is commonly regarded as one of the worst in the series, owing to Bugs' extreme Jerkass behavior, Off-Model use of yellow-colored gloves, a voice that doesn't sound anywhere close to his iconic semi-Brooklyn accent, as well as the sloppy timing that Chuck Jones' earlier efforts suffered from. This can't be chalked up to Early-Installment Weirdness either, since Bugs had his iconic trickster personality and voice in his first cartoon.
  • The first Peanuts special is A Charlie Brown Christmas and the third is It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, both of which are holiday staples, while the second is the relatively obscure Charlie Brown's All Stars.

Alternative Title(s): Second Album Syndrome