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Star Trek Movie Curse

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"Sure as day follows night, sure as eggs is eggs, sure as every odd-numbered Star Trek movie is shit."
Tim Bisley, Spaced, played by Simon Pegg, who starred in the eleventh Star Trek movie, wrote the thirteenth, and noted the irony.

As a series or franchise goes on and the number of sequels and side works/spin-offs/etc. increases, it's all but certain that the audience will not find them to all be of uniform quality. However, there are a number of works that show this in one particular way: audiences will generally find that the quality bounces back and forth in a numerically ordered fashion. Typically, this will show up as either the even- or odd-numbered sequels being better than the opposite, although other variants exist.

The Trope Codifier is the Star Trek movies, which have had a long-standing reputation of "the even-numbered movies are a lot better than the odd-numbered ones".

See also: Sophomore Slump, for when the first in a series is good, the second is trash, but the third is good again.

Not to be confused with The Production Curse, where the problems go much, much, deeper.


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    Star Trek (Trope Namer) 
Star Trek is the Trope Namer, although ironically it's more Common Knowledge than an actual example.
  • Of the original cast films, everybody agrees that the even-numbered films (The Wrath of Khan, The Voyage Home, The Undiscovered Country) are excellent as both science fiction films and Star Trek films. However, the odd-numbered ones are a mixed bag: the first one (The Motion Picture) is generally considered to not be too bad, with its worst offenses being its leaden pace (a much shorter Director's Cut from 2001 was very warmly received) and excessive padding with special effects, while the third film (The Search for Spock) is a cheap-looking, continuity-dense affair that is at worst So Okay, It's Average and at best an underrated gem. It also crucially connects with the second and fourth movie to be a sort of trilogy. Only the fifth film (The Final Frontier) is universally derided as awful on almost every conceivable level (though some consider it So Bad, It's Good). The "Star Trek curse" received a boost in popularity when Siskel & Ebert listed Final Frontier among the ten worst movies of 1989. The odd movie curse started with fandom after The Search For Spock and was confirmed by The Voyage Home, but Final Frontier sealed it. The Motion Picture and The Search for Spock obviously made enough money to keep the franchise going.
  • By the 1990s, the curse had taken root in the public's mind, and the three Next Generation films released in that decade certainly didn't shake the perception. The seventh (Generations) and ninth (Insurrection — which the crew dubbed "Nine of Ten" in a futile effort to shake off the curse) films are both considered forgettable and lackluster, and Generations has a fairly sizeable hatedom for Trope-Naming "Dropped a Bridge on Him". Only the eighth (First Contact) is well-loved by fans and critics. The tenth film overall and last Next Generation film, Nemesis broke the pattern by being poorly received, ending up as a Franchise Killer.
  • The Kelvin timeline films (Star Trek (2009), Star Trek Into Darkness and Star Trek Beyond), are seen as further "evidence" amongst fans that the curse has appearently been inverted in the 21st century. 2009 was seen as a solid film that revived Star Trek on the sliver screen after Nemesis bombed. Into Darkness, on the the other hand, due it openly referencing Wrath of Khan (to the point where some see it as copying it a little too closely) and its allusions to the The War on Terror, was met with a very polarized response by the fanbase and as such is regarded as a Contested Sequel, despite receiving generally positive reviews from critics and being the most commercially successful of all the films. Finally Beyond was more universally well-recieved by the fans and those who were left cold by Into Darkness see it as a Surprisingly Improved Sequel.
  • When Paramount promoted the 2009 reboot with Blu-ray box sets of older Star Trek movies, they also provided the option to buy each even-numbered Blu-ray (save Nemesis) by itself, but kept the odd-numbered BDs and Nemesis exclusive to the sets. The promotional campaign for Star Trek Into Darkness brought forth individual releases for the odd-numbered discs and Nemesis, but their front covers didn't boast any blurbs of critical praise.
  • There is also a separate curse revolving Star Trek video games, that is most of them falling to The Problem with Licensed Games.

    Anime & Manga 


  • While fans of the Temeraire series of books don't necessarily find the even-numbered books to be bad, there is definitely a pattern of odd being "war and lots of cool dragon battles" and even being "travel and lots of talking." However, both the sixth and seventh books are travel and diplomacy, and the eighth is Napoleon's Russian campaign.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Fans of 24 have noted that odd-numbered seasons are generally the show's better ones, featuring a variety of different terrorist scenarios, while the even-numbered ones always revolve around nuclear Islamic terrorism and are generally greatly inferior (except for possibly season 2, which is considered to have a solid core storyline, but let down by the subplot involving Kim constantly being taken prisoner).
  • American Horror Story: Murder House and Asylum are generally agreed to be good seasons, but after that began a notable trend in which odd-numbered seasons tend to be better well-received than even-numbered seasons, with Coven being well received, while the fourth season, Freak Show was considered to be one of the series' worst seasons. Hotel, the fifth season, before it even premiered, became "the season without Jessica Lange." Notably, it was the first season with lower premiere ratings than its predecessor, but it still managed to be successful in its own right. Roanoke, the sixth season, due to its unusual nature, became one of the most controversial seasons to date, while its successor, Cult, while divisive, is much better received due to its satire, and the eighth season, Apocalypse, while agreed to be well-received for its Continuity Porn, is agreed to be lacking in terms of its own story. The ninth season, 1984, is agreed to be one of the show's best seasons, due to its twists on the slasher horror genre and having a story that stands out even with Continuity Nods. The tenth season, Double Feature (which includes both Red Tide and Death Valley), stands out as one of the worst seasons, narrowly beating out Freak Show due to their incredibly underwhelming stories and gratuitously bleak endings. The eleventh season, NYC, is well-received for being one of the most grounded horror stories and its unique portrayal of the AIDS epidemic.
  • Buffyverse:
    • Buffy the Vampire Slayer has an odd relationship with it. Season 1 is often — and perhaps retroactively — seen as a weak and plodding start. It suffers from Early-Installment Weirdness and mostly consists of inconsequential Monster of the Week episodes with the Master only being relevant for a few episodes. Season 2 is the point the show found its voice with a stronger continuity, more Character Development for the cast, the introduction of fan favorite Spike and the game-changing Face–Heel Turn of Angel. Averted with Season 3 which is generally seen as just as good or even better. However, Season 4 is widely unpopular for the Genre Shift with a secret government army, Buffy's bland new boyfriend Riley, and the lackluster Adam as the Big Bad. Season 5 is generally considered as a return to form thanks to dropping Riley, the handling of the death of a main character, Glory being one of the most popular villains and a memorable finale that could have been a satisfying end for the show. Again, the show dropped in popularity after creator Joss Whedon's departure. Season 6 focused heavily on drama and Buffy's struggle with depression and lacked an overarching Big Bad other than the comedic and ineffectual (well... at first) Trio. This eventually culminated with controversial plot points like Xander leaving Anya at the altar, Tara abruptly dying, Willow turning evil, and Spike attempting to rape Buffy. Season 7, despite Whedon's return, is also considered as a low point. Fans are split whether it was a marginal improvement for reverting the bleakness and the return of a more compelling villain with the First Evil or even worse because of the annoying potential slayers, the First Evil arc dragging on for too long and overall lacking the emotional stakes of the previous season.
    • Coincidentally, Angel followed the same pattern as its parent show. The first season, while not bad, was mostly episodic, struggled to find its identity, and relied on crossovers with Buffy to keep ratings. This was possibly not helped by the early departure of Doyle then Wesley and Gunn not joining the cast until later on. Seasons 2 and 3 are generally seen as the point where the show hit its stride] thanks to a stronger continuity, the introduction of Lorne and Fred with Darla and Holtz being both terrific antagonists. Season 4, however, is widely seen as the nadir of the show and suffered from a convoluted arc and an unpopular romance between Cordelia and the underage (and despised) Connor. The subsequent and final season is widely seen as a return to form thanks to a heavy Retool, Spike being transplanted from Buffy, and overall is seen as one of the strongest installments of the Buffyverse.
  • Fargo is a weird example, as its first three seasons were well-acclaimed. However, the odd-numbered seasons had significant criticisms: Season 1 sometimes had too many Call-Backs to the original movie, and even felt like a retread to some viewers. Season 3 had a Slow-Paced Beginning that made the season drag, and an Ambiguous Ending that upset some for a lack of closure. Both are in contrast to Season 2, which had near-universal acclaim for its more original plot and complex character arcs. The curse later switched around with Season 4. Considered the weakest season of the show for large amounts of Author Tract, They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character, and abandoning the show's main setting of Minnesota, Season 4 was largely seen as the show's lowest point. This was in stark contrast to Season 5, which pulled a Win Back the Crowd with a return to the Minnesota Nice elements and a stronger main villain.
  • Justified, while still being a very well received show, suffers this to some extent: Seasons 2, 4 and 6 are considered all-time great seasons of television. Season 1 has all the signs of a series in the process of finding its voice; Season 3, although widely beloved, was seen as a step down from the superlative second; and Season 5 is almost universally considered the worst the show ever had.
  • Power Rangers:
  • Season 2 of RuPaul's Drag Race: All Stars is generally considered to be one of the best seasons the show ever produced, All Stars or otherwise, following the universally reviled Season 1. Season 3 was then widely hated for its lackluster challenges and infamous final episode, with Season 4 being seen by many as a return to form. Like clockwork, Season 5 was again a disappointment for many, then Season 6, while not without its faults, was generally praised thanks to its talented cast, fun episodes, and strong finale.

  • LL Cool J: While his first album Radio is a warmly remembered debut, it was only his sophomore effort Bigger and Deffer that made him into a mainstream superstar. His third album, Walking with a Panther, was a major disappointment at the time released during his feud with Kool Moe Dee, but his fourth record Mama Said Knock You Out marked the high point of his whole career. His fortunes began slipping again with the misguided attempt at gangsta rap, 14 Shots to the Dome, only for his sixth album Mr. Smith to solidify his post-Chronic staying power with three top 10 hits. The shiny suit hip hop album Phenomenon, while still fairly successful, wasn't as warmly received as its predecessor. Its followup G.O.A.T. is often considered LL's last good record. 10note  was his biggest commercial success since Mr. Smith but otherwise not well-received by most fans, while The DEFinition saw diminishing returns despite two moderate hits. Todd Smith produced his final major hit "Control Myself", but is otherwise regarded to be one of his worst albums; Exit 13 was slightly better-received, but not a commercial success. His final studio album to date, Authentic, was Overshadowed by Controversy due to releasing at the same time as the infamous Brad Paisley duet "Accidental Racist".
  • Though not applicable to his entire output, the operas of Gioachino Rossini between L'italiana in Algeri (his eleventh) and Otello (nineteenth) fall into this territory, with the odd numbered operas (L'italiana, Il turco in Italia [13], Elisabetta, regina d'Inghilterra [15], The Barber of Seville [17] and Otello) being better respected than the evens (Aureliano in Palmira [12], Sigismondo [14], Torvaldo e Dorliska [16] and La gazzetta [18]).
  • The pop-reggae musician Shaggy fell into this pattern with the first six albums of his career. His odd-numbered records (Pure Pleasure, Boombastic, and Hot Shot) sold millions worldwide and produced his most popular singles. Conversely, his even-numbered releases (Original Doberman, Midnite Lover, and Lucky Day) were commercial failures that produced few to no hits.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • The best remembered seasons of the original version of WWE NXT are the odd-numbered seasons. The first was universally considered the best, back when the NXT concept was being taken seriously. It directly led to The Nexus, one of the most iconic angles in WWE history, and also launched the short-lived but hugely memorable WWE career of Daniel Bryan. The third season is remembered for being the only all-female season and for its So Bad, It's Good nature, to the point that the season got a TV Tropes page all to itself. The fifth was the year-long season with a noticeable retool that, for better or worse, gave the product a different image. The second and fourth seasons, however? They were forgotten almost instantly.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons' even-numbered editions, regardless of individual quality, seem to coincide with downturns for the brand:
    • Second edition happened during Lorraine Williams' controversial tenure as head of TSR, and was known for attempting to avoid the controversy of the Satanic Panic by removing all references to demons and devils. This edition saw D&D lose its position of top-selling RPG for the first time, to Vampire: The Masquerade, and TSR going bankrupt and being bought out by Wizards of the Coast.
    • After a revival of the brand with 3rd edition and 3.5, 4th edition made a controversial overhaul to gameplay and stands as probably the least popular edition, losing the title of best-selling RPG once again, this time to the 3.5-based Pathfinder.
  • Magic: The Gathering: Odd-numbered installments of the Self-Parody un-sets are better received than the even-numbered ones if we ignore Unsanctioned (which had an unusual release model and consisted mostly of reprints). The first one, Unglued was well received. The follow-up Unhinged went over worse thanks to mechanics that were seen as clunky and unfun, leaving the series dormant for 13 years. It finally made a comeback with the popular Unstable, only for Unfinity to have a mixed reception due to the unpopular decision to retire the silver border in favor of making some un-cards legal — which in particular included the divisive-at-best sticker mechanic.

    Video Games 
  • Assassin's Creed has seemingly fallen into this with the even-numbered games being better received than the odd-numbered ones. Even after they Stopped Numbering Sequels with Unity and Syndicate it held the pattern.
  • Dead or Alive also seems to have a pattern of the odd-numbered games being better received than the even ones, upgraded versions notwithstanding. The first game is well regarded, while DOA2 was hampered by the Obvious Beta nature of the original release (something that the revisions would amend, particularly DOA2: Hardcore). DOA3 was well received and became a Killer App for the Xbox, while DOA4 is a Contested Sequel for competitive players. DOA5 was well received due to its character redesigns and numerous Guest Fighters, while DOA6 is one of the most contested entries to date due to its Tamer and Chaster redesign of costumes and lack of the series' trademarked fanservice.
  • Deus Ex has this issue with odd-numbered games being considered amazing and even-numbered games being Contested Sequels. The original Deus Ex is considered one of the greatest video games of all time, the direct sequel Deus Ex: Invisible War is significantly less popular due to the oversimplification of game mechanics, the prequel Deus Ex: Human Revolution is seen as a return to form for the series, and Deus Ex: Mankind Divided received flak for its short length.
  • In the Devil May Cry series, the odd-numbered games are better received than the even-numbered ones. The original is, Early-Installment Weirdness aside, a well-liked hack and slash. The second game is widely seen as the worst to the point that even Capcom rarely acknowledges its existence. The third game is a Surprisingly Improved Sequel and possibly the best in the series. The fourth game is good but it's considered to be a step down from its predecessor because of Nero replacing Dante and its excessive backtracking brought about by a Troubled Production. The reboot broke the trend being by far the most contentious installment. The fifth game in the main series both plays this straight and inverts it, straight as in as far as main series goes, it has received universal praise while inverted in the fact that it is technically the sixth game in the series if you count the reboot.
  • The Fallout series has one, in which the fourth game by the current owner will be considered the worst from that company. Interplay's fourth game, Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel, flopped so badly that it led to Interplay going bankrupt and being forced to sell the rights. If you ignore third-party developer Obsidian Entertainment's Fallout: New Vegas, then the fourth Fallout game under Bethesda's banner (after Fallout 3, Fallout Shelter, and Fallout 4) was Fallout 76, which became the worst-reviewed game of the entire series.
  • Early Final Fantasy titles followed a pattern where odd-numbered games were more gameplay-focused than the even ones, which were more story-driven. Final Fantasy VII broke this pattern, and all games afterwards tended to be very story-heavy.
  • Mario Kart: The evenly-released installments (64, Double Dash!!, Wii, and 8) are generally agreed to be much better than the oddly-released installments, which have more contentious elements to them. Super Mario Kart is often said to lack polish compared to later entries, Super Circuit is considered a Bizarro Episode that has rather unintuitive controls, DS' meta became dominated by snaking, 7 has the most questionable character roster in the series, and Tour's microtransactions became a hot button amongst the fandom. Mind you, even the more contested entries are still seen as games of decent-at-worst quality while the more celebrated entries also have their fair share of controversial aspects (ex. the two-driver-per-kart mechanic in Double Dash!!, the strength of bikes compared to karts and their ubiquity in online play in Wii, 8 feeling more like Super Smash Kart than a proper Mario Kart game due to all the crossover elements and having its own share of questionable roster choices*, etc.), to the point that every game from Double Dash!! onward could qualify as a Contested Sequel in some way or another.
  • Metroid: The 2D lineage has the curse with the even installments. While still agreed upon to be good games, both Metroid II: Return of Samus and Metroid Fusion are nonetheless viewed as step downs from their respective predecessors (Metroid and Super Metroid) due to having more linear progression. This extends to the remakes as well, with Metroid: Zero Mission being beloved while Metroid: Samus Returns received more scrutiny from the fanbase than it did from critics (though this was in part because of a very well-received Fan Remake that had been in circulation before Samus Returns released, with Nintendo issuing a DMCA takedown of AM2R before unveiling their own official product).
  • For the Samurai Shodown series, the even-numbered entries (excluding updates, and counting Edge of Destiny as the seventh entry and 2019 as the eighth) are generally considered even better sequels compared to the odd-numbered entries.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog has had many, many, many ups and downs, with a humongous Broken Base and many an Audience-Alienating Era to show for it. The cracks started showing around the time of Sonic Heroes, then got extremely visible around the time of Shadow the Hedgehog and Sonic the Hedgehog (2006), due the increased focus on ultra gritty stories and questionable story beats resulting in truckloads of Narm, alongside increasingly slippery and sloppy gameplay. Things started looking up around the time of Sonic Colors, only to backslide and reach a new polarizing era with Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric, continuing further with the middling reception of Sonic Forces. However, the Surprisingly Improved Sequel that was Sonic Frontiers, alongside the overall positive reception of the movies, and the mostly good view of the IDW comics, restored a significant amount of goodwill by the early years of The New '20s. Time will tell how this era plays out.
  • The Soulcalibur series (excluding the first game, Soul Edge/Soul Blade, and spinoffs) seems to suffer an inverse curse from that of its sister series Tekken, though it's actually is something of a loop-de-loop. The first Soulcalibur is, to date, the highest-reviewed game in the series (a whopping 98% on Metacritic), completely displaced its predecessor in the minds of the public, and had a stellar Dreamcast port that became a Killer App for the system. While Soulcalibur II didn't receive as high a critical reception*, it is considered by much of the fanbase to be an Even Better Sequel and led to the series gaining even wider appeal. Soulcalibur III had mixed reception due to its bugs, lack of balance, and being exclusive to the PlayStation 2* while Soulcalibur IV had more refined gameplay albeit at the cost of story content; SCIII edges out IV in critic scores* and is typically preferred by the fanbase on account of the strength of its single-player experience. Then came Soulcalibur V, which was widely derided for its removal of fan favorite characters and lackluster single-player content, nearly putting the series on ice and being commonly seen as the lowest point of the Soul series. On the other hand, Soulcalibur VI was regarded by many as a return to form in terms of both single-player and multiplayer modes, becoming a critical and commercial success.
  • Most Spider-Man games have the distinction where direct sequels to a game are thought of as weaker than their predecessors. This includes Enter Electro to the first PlayStation title, Spider Man And Venom Separation Anxiety to Spider-Man and Venom: Maximum Carnage, Spider-Man: Edge of Time to Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions, and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 to the first. The games based off the Sam Raimi trilogy zig-zag this: Spider-Man 2 is considered an Even Better Sequel to the first due to its Genre Shift, but Spider-Man 3 more directly follows up on the second by also adopting the sandbox gameplay style, and is similarly thought of as a disappointment.
  • Street Fighter:
    • Present with the numbered mainline games. The second and fourth games in the series are remembered as the games that respectively launched and reinvigorated the fighting game genre. The first game, which played very differently, has been largely forgotten in the shadow of its successors, the third is seen as great but not quite on the level of the second (except in competitive circles, but even then the game wasn't viewed very positively in the early days), and the fifth is highly divisive due to the limited features and it being seen as too unfriendly for casual gamers. While the sixth didn't exactly reinvigorate the genre (as it's still generating buzz), it managed to include every feature players wanted right at the start and made it so that it was also accessible for causal gamers, reigniting interest in the series.
    • If one counts the Street Fighter Alpha series of interquels, however, the trend breaks, as the trilogy had strong sales and were collectively seen as a worthy successor to SFII, even if they could never replicate that game's landmark influence on the genre. Following the release dates further complicates things, as III launched after Alpha 2, meaning the two subseries were running concurrently during the end of The '90s (with Alpha 3 having to Win Back the Crowd after the poor reception of New Generation and Second Impact).
  • Streets of Rage series is yet another example of the even-numbered entries being better received than the odd ones. The original, while decently regarded, was ultimately seen as little more than Sega's answer to Final Fight and had quite a bit of Early-Installment Weirdness going on. The sequel, on the other hand, is where the series truly came into its own and is typically viewed as one of the greatest Beat 'em Up titles of all time. Part 3 was seen as a step down from SOR2, including a very experimental soundtrack from series composer Yuzo Koshiro that wouldn't be vindicated until many years later (and even then is it usually compared unfavorably to the music of the first two games), and the American version having a reworked plot and unnecessarily ramped up difficulty at the behest of Sega's American branch certainly didn't help matters. The long-awaited fourth installment would be lauded as a return to form, with general consensus being that it doesn't quite outdo the second game (or the similarly acclaimed Streets of Rage Remake) but certainly not for lack of trying.
  • Super Smash Bros., while mostly well-loved by gamers, isn't without a rocky history. The first installment was seen as an upstart fighting game that had yet to find its voice. Melee is considered a substantial improvement and one of the best four-player party fighters of all time. Brawl was still tons of fun for most gamers, especially with the fan-favorite story mode The Subspace Emissary and the arrival of plenty of beloved characters, but many people agreed the gameplay wasn't nearly as competitive-friendly as Melee was. Both halves of the fourth game were widely seen as a return to form, keeping some of Brawl's more liked changes while reverting the less popular ones back to how they were in Melee. Ultimate seems to have broken the curse, seen as a substantial improvement over the rest of the franchise, taking the elements that the base has come to love (the original's character crossover excitement, Melee's competitive-friendly gameplay, Brawl's story campaign, and 3DS/Wii U's clean look) and combining them into one; it does have some shortcomings, such as a flawed online service, but the reception has definitely been highly positive overall.
  • Not counting the spin-offs or upgrades, Tekken also seems to have this curse, albeit only starting from the third and fourth games — Tekken 2 was seen as a stark improvement over the original by both players and devs alike, and received its own Even Better Sequel in the commercially and critically successful Tekken 3. Tekken 4 was seen as a fairly weak entry that changed too much (from the gameplay mechanics to the roster count), while Tekken 5 reverted many of those changes to wide acclaim. Since then, the following numbered installments have so far alternated in terms of perceived quality, with Tekken 6 being seen as a step down from 5 whereas Tekken 7 was received much more favorably, going on to become the most commercially successful entry in the series at nearly 12 million copies sold as of March 2024. For the Tag Tournament games, meanwhile, the original was seen as great while the second received a more middling (but still decent) reception.
  • Uncharted: While downplayed, as all of the games in the series are considered good, the even-numbered games have received much more praise than the odd-numbered ones. The first game, Drake's Fortune, is seen as a good start but did still have some shaky moments. The second, Among Thieves, is considered to be where the series really came into its own. The third game, Drake's Deception. received much praise, but did have some problems with being a little too similar to the second. The fourth game, A Thief's End, once again received near-universal acclaim for featuring more open areas, new gameplay elements, and a much more emotional story to serve as the series' big sendoff.
  • Valve Software has the Threes Curse, that being their inability to produce a game with a three in the title. Left 4 Dead, Team Fortress, Defense of the Ancients, and Portal have all had their most recent entries at 2 (Left 4 Dead 2, Team Fortress 2, Dota 2, and Portal 2 respectively), with no news of anything further, but Half-Life is the most infamous: Half-Life 2 had two "Episode" installments in 2006 and 2007 to act as continuations rather than a third game, and the third Episode fell into Development Hell and had yet to be released over a decade later. This was finally bucked with the release of the third Half-Life installment in 2020, Half-Life: Alyx, which was met with extreme acclaim.
  • Though all of World of Warcraft's expansions tend to be divisive, the even-numbered versions of the game are generally not remembered as fondly as the odd-numbered ones.
    • Even: The Burning Crusade got bad flak for its lore developments, particularly cases of Character Derailment. Cataclysm originally held the title of the weakest expansion after Wrath of the Lich King proved to be a Tough Act to Follow. Warlords of Draenor dethroned Cataclysm for having too much gameplay tied into garrisons and its overall short length (being the first expansion to end with a .2 patch instead of .3 or .4, and having only three raids across two tiers) despite having a slightly higher price tag than previous expansions. Battle for Azeroth is loathed by much of the playerbase for various reasons, primarily having unsatisfying gameplay and a plot that felt like a repeat of Mists of Pandaria.
    • Odd: The "vanilla" version when the game launched in 2004 is generally treated kindly in spite of its flaws that would be ironed out over the next two decades. Wrath of the Lich King is considered by many to be the game's absolute peak in terms of both gameplay and story. Mists of Pandaria received some criticism for its setting and the addition of the pandaren race, but was eventually Vindicated by History for its good points. Legion is seen as a genuinely good expansion that fixed most of the problems that players had with Warlords on top of adding a popular new class and the widely acclaimed class halls and campaigns.
    • Shadowlands, the eighth expansion and ninth version overall, seems to have bucked the trend. While it sold well, it was also heavily criticized for its overreliance on tacked-on gameplay systems that continued a trend started by Legion, a story that attempted to be "epic" but ended up feeling more like a Saturday-Morning Cartoon, and simply didn't feel like Warcraft anymore. The expansion's first major patch was similarly met with ridicule over being released a whopping eight months after the expansion's initial launch and its increasingly questionable writing and doubling down on the aforementioned systems, which, combined with the Obvious Beta release of Warcraft III: Reforged, the lukewarm reaction to the re-release of the aforementioned Burning Crusade, and some other controversies surrounding Blizzard Entertainment at the time, turned both the company and their flagship game into a laughing stock.

    Visual Novels 
  • Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony has this formula with its cases. The first class trial is fairly well liked, although killing off Kaede is highly controversial. The next two cases are generally considered relatively weak, possibly in part due to the first being a Tough Act to Follow. The fourth case and the fifth case are generally seen as the high points of the game. The sixth case, however, is often regarded as one of the worst, without even going into the very controversial ending.

    Web Animation 
  • Sonic for Hire began experiencing this following Season 2, where odd-numbered seasons (Seasons 3, 5, and 7) are well-received while even-numbered seasons (Seasons 4, 6, and 8) are highly divisive.

  • Survivor: Fan Characters, especially later on, follows a trend opposite that of Star Trek: The odd-numbered seasons are quite popular while the even-numbered seasons get lukewarm reception at best. The author himself has noticed, and hopes Season 14 will break the pattern.

    Web Video 
  • The Nostalgia Critic summarizes the Trope Namer throughout a series of reviews on the odd-numbered installments with a recap saying "Last time, in the good Star Trek movie..."

    Western Animation 
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • The show's seasons tend to alternate between base-breaking and generally well-received by the fandom:
      • While Season 1 is by no means considered bad, it suffered from Early-Installment Weirdness and a much more restrictive Aesop format due to having to adhere to E/I guidelines.
      • Season 2 is generally considered to be where the show grew the beard (although it had far more controversial episodes than Season 1 did).
      • Season 3 suffered from being half the length of the previous two and having an extremely controversial finale where Twilight Sparkle becomes Princess of Friendship, seen by many at the time as Jumping the Shark (although it has since been the consensus that it did not actually signify a long-term decline in quality).
      • Then Season 4 was mostly well-received (especially the finale).
      • Season 5 (seemingly) broke this trend by being generally well-received, although its finale was controversial for featuring Starlight Glimmer's Heel–Face Turn, which some saw as undeserved (or, at least, rushed and anticlimactic).
      • Season 6 promoted Starlight Glimmer into one of the main characters, which furthered the Broken Base of the Season 5 finale.
      • Season 7 was much more well-received than its predecessor.
      • Season 8 created another Broken Base due to its premise of making the main characters teachers at a new "School of Friendship", which is either a blatant gimmick or an interesting source for new episode plots and characters.
      • Season 9, the show's Grand Finale, was generally seen as a fitting send-off for the show, meaning the curse was inverted starting with the 5th season.
    • The spinoff Equestria Girls follows the standard evens-over-odds curse with its movies/longer specials. The second, fourth, and sixth are much better received than the first, third, and fifth.
  • Spider-Man: The Animated Series: The odd numbered seasons actually do better than the even numbered seasons. While the first season lacks the story arcs of the later seasons, it's fondly remembered for having many well liked episodes and for how it introduced its characters. Season 2 on the other hand is less popular, as while it had a few well liked episodes such as the two part crossover with X-Men: The Animated Series many didn't enjoy the "Neogenic Nightmare" storyline of the season. Season 3 meanwhile is much more well liked for its "The Sins of the Fathers" arc, which many found more thematically interesting especially since it can be applies to a larger variety of characters as opposed to neogenics, which was more specifically tied to characters with origins similar too Spider-Man's. It helped that this season not only had some fan favorite episodes, but it also finally introduced the Green Goblin and had a memorable conclusion. Season 4 suffered from a lack of direction with its "Partners In Danger" arc, as while it did introduce Black Cat who fans liked the season mainly brought back some of the weaker elements from Season 2 such as Morbius. It didn't help that the storyline of Spider-Man relationship with Black Cat was rendered pointless when she left, with the show then continuing the storyline of Season 3 for the last couple of episodes. Season 5, while not considered as good as Season 3 and suffering from an infamous cliffhanger ending, is more enjoyed for having several different story arcs that had the character interact with a variety of different heroes and villains, culminating in the first Spider-Verse storyline in the character's history.
  • Teen Titans (2003): The even-numbered seasons tend to fare better than the odd ones. Season 2 had the Terra betrayal arc based on The Judas Contract while Season 4 had Raven facing her father Trigon over the fate of the world; both storylines are considered to be the most iconic parts of the series. Season 1 was still struggling to find its voice, Season 3 was Lighter and Softer and had Cyborg facing the lackluster Brother Blood, and Season 5 had some divisive changes to its formula while infamously ending with an ambiguous and inconclusive episode.

    Real Life 
  • In Australian Rules Football, the Essendon Bombers seem to have an Audience-Alienating Era roughly every four decades: The decades in which they failed to win a premiership are the 1930s, 1970s and 2010s. The 1890s are an interesting case — while they did win the premiership in 1897, they did NOT win the Grand Final, as the finals that year were in a Round Robin format.
  • Microsoft Windows has had the curse since Windows 3.1, at least when it comes to their major public releases. Windows 95, Windows 98 Second Edition, Windows XP, and Windows 7 were all popular and well-received, while Windows 98, Windows ME, Windows Vista, and Windows 8 made rather controversial changes, were unstable, or had other problems which made it difficult to recommend upgrading. (Even The Un-Favourite releases have their fans, of course.) Windows releases tend to follow a pattern of "revolutionary" — in which many changes are made at once — followed by "evolutionary", or mostly polishing what was in the last one. Thus, every other version has a lot of new bugs and new features, and takes some getting used to; by the time the next version comes out, these issues have mostly been resolved (by patches and service packs for the software, and by users getting used to how it looks and works). Another way of looking at it is that Microsoft puts out a "public beta", followed a couple of years later by the final, mostly-working-as-advertised version, charging their customers for both (and for the privilege of testing their software for them). Microsoft followed Windows 8 with Windows 10 (skipping Windows 9), which was better received than its predecessor by major reviewers and generally continuing the pattern, though with concerns over privacy with the new telemetry system, Microsoft's rather pushy efforts to get Windows 7 and 8 users to upgrade, and the even pushier automatic update systems within Windows 10 itself (basically barring hacking, you can't set Windows 10 updates to manual control). It's not unheard of to hear people joke that Microsoft skipped "Windows 9" because that one would have been a good OS. With Windows 8 being widely derided, Window 10 having a highly mixed reception and a rough start, and early reception to Windows 11 looking to be much the same as Window 10's rocky start, some lean towards the interpretation that skipping Windows 9 has indeed broken the pattern, via ensuring that EVERY version of Windows is going to be problematic from here on out.
  • While the San Antonio Spurs were consistently good starting with their 1999 title, they only got to the finals, all of whom were championships, in equally odd-numbered years (2003, 2005, 2007)... until 2013, when the Miami Heat denied the Spurs a Game 6 title clinch in the last seconds, won that game and the deciding Game 7. And the Spurs won a Heroic Rematch the following year to further break the trend.
  • The San Francisco Giants and "Even Year Magic" (or "Even Year Bullshit" to the rest of the league). They won a World Series in 2010, finished four games back of a playoff spot in 2011, won a World Series in 2012, finished fourth in their division in 2013, and won a World Series in 2014. After a 3-1 loss to the Cubs in the 2016 National League Division Series, the Giants no longer benefit from this effect. Indeed, in 2021 they inverted it by placing first in the National League, the first time they had done so since '12, and exhibiting the best win-loss ratio of any team playing that season.