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  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.:
    • In the first season, Skye's computer hacking was her primary asset to the team, working mainly with science duo Fitz-Simmons. Whenever she did take part in any action scenes, her inexperience was always part of the conflict. Come the second season, Skye is a full-fledged field agent and a budding Action Girl, and her hacking skills are now a secondary ability at best. In hindsight it becomes obvious that Skye's hacking skills were only added as an excuse for her to hang around with Coulson's team until the actual reason she was on the show - her status as an Inhuman and the MCU equivalent of Daisy Johnson- could be revealed. Once that Myth Arc took off, it was no longer necessary, and her hacking became much less prominent.
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    • Simmons being the team's primary medic, despite being a biochemist rather than a medical doctor. When the show first started it was justified as they were a small team and she was the closest thing they had. From season 2 onwards though, the plot shifts to being about Coulson rebuilding the entire organization. As S.H.I.E.L.D. gets bigger and bigger, with dozens if not hundreds of members, it becomes a lot less plausible that there isn't anyone better suited around. In season 3 Lincoln Campbell, who actually is a medical doctor, joins the main cast, but his medical expertise is ignored and he instead starts training to become a field agent (while Coulson probably wouldn't want to put a newcomer he doesn't particularly like or trust in charge of an entire division, there's no reason he couldn't still perform surgeries and the like). Of course, the real reason for this is that being The Medic is Simmons's niche, whether the show calls it that or not, and giving that role to someone else would make her redundant. Still, it can get a little silly.
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    • The show in general is an example of being a last remnant of the whole "Everything is connected!" gimmick that the Marvel Cinematic Universe was trying to push early on. The films that make up the MCU, and the television shows that combine to form the Netflix Defenders continuity, have pretty much abandoned trying to overlap with one another. However, the same can't be said about Agents of SHIELD. Even though there hasn't been any major ramifications from the films that have affected the show since the HYDRA twist caused by Captain America: The Winter Soldier, it still doesn't stop the show from making obvious references to characters and such that only appear in the films. What you're left with is a one-sided relationship within the franchise where Agents of SHIELD acts like it's part of the MCU film continuity, but said films end up completely ignoring the events that go down in the show.
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  • The Fast Forward on The Amazing Race. For the first four seasons, there was one on every leg, giving each team one free pass per season. However, for budgetary reasons (as it was not cost-effective to set up all these single use tasks, especially when half of them never got used, and therefore never made it onto the show), starting with Season 5, the Fast Forward was cut back to only one or two per season, although the "one per team" rule still applied. With all the strategy drained out of it, the Fast Forward has mostly become a cheap and/or easy win for a team that was already in the lead, as no team outside of the lead pack would dare risk it, as to try and fail to get it would mean certain elimination (as happened to Terence & Sarah on Season 13).
  • American Dreams. Its original gimmick of American Bandstand performances (and then modern-day stars doing faux-Bandstand performances) seemed more and more awkwardly included, as the show attempted to become refocused as a serious drama that just happened to take place in the 60s.
  • Mr Lucas on Are You Being Served? was presented as the young, straight, white, male This Loser Is You in the series's pilot. The series soon progressed into typical British farce and he was demoted into a Deadpan Snarker.
    • That's because the show was originally designed as a "youth" vehicle, and Trevor Bannister and Wendy Richard were to play the main characters. The producers' mistake was in assembling a stellar and highly professional cast in the shape of Frank Thornton, Mollie Sugden, John Inman and Arthur Brough, who outshone the "stars" of the piece. Eventually Trevor Bannister left - not because he had been promised a starring role and he kept getting upstaged, but rather because he felt that the scripts were getting too repetitive.
  • In the later seasons of Angel, Gunn has to deal with the issues of being no good for anything but fighting. Wolfram & Hart solves the issue on purpose after Angel and crew convince him to stay with them, by shooting his brain full of lawyer training.
  • On Boy Meets World, Topanga's name was one. Her character was given that name to emphasize her Granola Girl personality and overall weirdness (the name comes from Topanga Canyon in Los Angeles, where a lot of hippies reside), but after her character was retooled in season two and those aspects of her character were dropped, she just became a normal girl with a weird name. In light of this, there were several jokes about her name throughout the series.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Giles was such a key part of the good old days of the show that getting rid of him would have caused an outcry; he left and came back several times, even if he didn't seem to contribute anything much. (Don't even start on his weird behaviour in Season 7.) It could be argued that he was pointless as early as Season 3, when he was no longer Buffy's Watcher, though he still kept doing the job after the Council fired him and it wasn't until Season 4 that his role really lessened in importance.
    • Xander's lack of anything to do from Season 4 was even more obvious. Nicholas Brendon was apparently told by Joss Whedon that his story had come to an end, but since he was one of the original four, he couldn't go. Even the show itself dealt with Xander complaining about his own uselessness a few times. The season 8 comics decided to give him something to do by basically having him replace Giles as watcher. Since the Slayers are a giant international organization now, he has much more work to do than Giles did.
    • Vampires themselves became an Artifact on the show. In the first three seasons, vampires posed a serious threat and the Big Bads of seasons 1 and 2 were vampires. However in later seasons, the Big Bads became Frankenstein's monster-esque half-human, half-demon cyborgs, evil hell gods, and the First ever evil itself. As a result vampires on the show had pretty much become little more than Mooks to be quickly dispatched to demonstrate Buffy's strength. The show was called "Buffy The Vampire Slayer" so she had to be shown slaying some vampires even if she had bigger threats to deal with.
  • The Book of Shadows in Charmed was initially vital to the sisters when they were starting out, informing them of their powers and listing all the known demon threats. However the sisters eventually grew powerful and creative enough to write their own Power of Three spells, as well as having strong enough active powers on their own (Piper's exploding power could dispatch three demons at a time by the end whereas in the first season a Power of Three spell was needed for everything). They were also able to come up with their own effective potions so looking something up in the Book didn't seem to have much use other than simply being what the sisters normally did. The justification used is that the next generations of witches after them wouldn't have the Power of Three so they would need the book.
  • Josh Chan starts out as Rebecca's main Love Interest in Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, their relationship being the ultimate goal of the series. After their breakup Josh remains an important character but he has very little plot relevance, and his storylines rarely involve Rebecca. He still has feelings for her as of season 4, but by this point Rebecca practically has her own harem of suitors, with Josh arguably being the least important one. It's probably not a coincidence that, as Josh stopped being relevant, his character arc involves him Desperately Looking for a Purpose in Life.
  • On Dallas, Lucy Ewing became an artifact character around the fourth or fifth season once she grew up and stopped being a wild teenager. The writers gave her a drug problem, got her off of it and had her chase different short-term male guest stars (she almost married one until J.R. found out he was gay). Her appearances on the show notably dwindle from the sixth season; finally they Put Her On a Bus to Atlanta to marry one of the previously-mentioned males, brought her back after the divorce, sent her to Italy, brought her back again, and finally sort of lampshaded the whole thing by excluding her from the series finale episode and adding a line that in a world without J.R., she'd never have been born.
  • Degrassi: The Next Generation was originally a drama about teenagers and a parallel one about the now-adult former students of The '80s' Degrassi High), in near-equal parts. The older cast was de-emphasized until most of them left at the end of season 5 leaving only Snake / Mr. Simpson, and even the parts of his personal life outside school were phased out.
  • As the page quote implies, the TARDIS in Doctor Who maintains its old police box disguise long after the once-omnipresent police boxes have completely vanished. (The only one still standing in Britain is basically a monument to the series.) Ironically, the police box disguise in itself was originally a case of Coconut Superpowers; it was easier to just keep reusing the same prop over and over rather than make a new one for every new environment.
  • The Artifact (yes, that is its name) from Eureka is an example of this; it had its own arc ending with an ominous declaration that one character, Nathan Stark, would eventually figure out what it is, but then the show got more episodic, Stark was disintegrated and The Artifact was further forgotten about after the series' Cosmic Retcon.
  • Harriet Winslow of Family Matters would ultimately end up as this by the latter seasons, after it became clear that Urkel was the undisputed main character. The irony about this is that the show started off as a spinoff of her character and her family. But after Urkel-mania became big, the show started to focus more on the members of the Winslow family who actually had dynamic and comedic relationships with Urkel (Carl, Laura, and Eddie). Harriet ended up being the last holdover who never got written out of the show. Even then, Harriet's actress realized this and left the show, and the character was recast with a new actress for the last few episodes of the series.
  • Originally, Zoe, Demetri's fiancee on FlashForward (2009), was supposed to have an increased role later in the series due to Demetri dying as he had originally learned he would. When the producers decided to keep him alive since John Cho had gained some popularity following the Star Trek reboot and the show's ratings needed all the help they could get, they left Zoe with no real role otherwise, and her appearances were reduced shortly before she broke up with Demetri before the first season finale, which also turned out to be the series finale.
  • On Frasier, Daphne’s “psychic powers” were originally proof of her dottiness, a characterization which steadily declined, particularly in later seasons, as she increasingly became the Straight Man (or Wise Woman) to the antics of the Cranes, especially Niles. The season 8 episode "The Wizard And Roz" brought the issue back to the forefront, when Daphne agreed to be tested by an ESP expert. It was played fairly straight as a case study in tolerating a partner’s alternate belief system — a pretty serious evolution from the original premise.
  • FX and its sister networks FXX and FX Movie Channel now only share a relationship with the Fox network by name (FX originally stood for Fox Extended), as Fox sold the networks along with their film and television studios to Disney. However, FX had been developing its own identity in recent years by venturing into more avant garde fare that would otherwise be inapproprite for Fox, so its association with the network is no longer emphasized as much as it was in the past.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • The presence of the Baratheon stag in the show's opening sequence has become this as of the sixth season, since the last Baratheon branch—Stannis, Selyse, and Shireen—were killed at the end of Season Five. While King Tommen wears the Baratheon name and antler crown, he is (not-so) secretly Jaime Lannister's son and thus a Lannister through and through. The only still-living person with Baratheon blood is the bastard Gendry, whom Robert didn't even know he sired (hence why he lacks the appropriate bastard surname "Waters"). He has managed to escape both Cersei's purge of Robert's bastards and Melisandre sacrificing him for her spell, but hasn't appeared in several seasons. And with Tommen's suicide at the end of Season 6, House Baratheon is officially extinct.
    • Back when Talisa Maegyr was still going to be Jeyne Westerling, she was made a battlefield nurse so she could tend to Robb after he was wounded, like their story in the books. Then the writers decided to scrap that and make it a simpler love story, but were far enough along in production that she was still stuck being a nurse, despite it no longer serving any story purpose and not making much sense why a Volantene noble would be doing it after they decided to completely change the character.
  • Glee:
    • Mike and Tina. In Season 1, Tina had a fake stutter and was dating Artie. Mike danced with his friend Matt. Between seasons one and two, Tina dumped Artie for Mike, and Mike got a bigger role, Tina's dropped dramatically, and Artie became a fan favorite. Now Mike exists to do cool dance routines and Tina exists to cry while she sings.
    • Many consider Sue Sylvester to be an Artifact from when Glee was more of a satirical, dark comedy. She has mostly given up her vendetta against Will Schuester and the Glee Club, and the writers have been scrambling to give her a purpose ever since.
    • The Glee Club itself became an Artifact in the fourth season, when the show started to divide its attention between New Directions in Ohio and the graduates who moved to New York—originally just Rachel, who was later joined by Kurt and Santana. While the New York storylines were new, dynamic, and proof that life can get better for an outcast after high school, the Ohio storylines felt like an obligation at best and an afterthought at worst. The writers eventually realized this, and McKinley High was dropped altogether in favor of New York, with fan favorites Sam, Artie, Blaine, and Mercedes moving there to join the aforementioned trio. However, the show did return to Lima in the final season.
    • The show's White Male Leads Will and Finn became this as well, as both characters lost purpose as the show went on:
      • Will was the teacher/mentor of New Directions, and his personal life—such as his tumultuous first marriage with Terri—was often a plot point. But by the third season, Will had begun a long-term relationship with Emma, and the kids were able to carry the bulk of the episodes by themselves (it didn't help that Will-centric episodes after the first season were largely hated by fans and critics). In the fourth season, he was even Put on a Bus temporarily to allow for actor Matthew Morrison to take on a Broadway play, and the show got by just fine without him. Once he came back and finally married Emma, his role was relegated to supporting mentor figure.
      • Finn was one of the central teen characters in the first two seasons, the quarterback who's secretly a good singer, and much of the show focused on his conflicting interests. But by the third season, it had become clear that he was not the best male singer in the group and more song leads went to Kurt and Artie. Plus, the other kids' issues began to draw more focus since Finn had become comfortable in the club and his relationship with Rachel had stabilized. It actually became a plot point that he was So Okay, It's Average at every venture he pursued, causing him to return to Lima after graduation to fill in for Will due to his aforementioned sabbatical. But even then, his contribution to the plot was minimal and his relationship with Rachel felt increasingly forced. Corey Monteith's death—and Finn's along with him—was tragic and untimely, but it allowed the show to move on without having to figure out how Finn fit into things.
  • In Grimm, the character of Monroe was originally introduced as Edward Monroe. The character's first name has been completely forgotten. To the point where his parents and girlfriend both refer to him as Monroe.
  • Potsie of Happy Days suffered from this in the show's later seasons. The show started off centering around Richie and Potsie getting involved in unwise schemes and pranks. Then, after Fonzie became the star and Richie left the series, Potsie no longer served any purpose, but that didn't stop him from making awkward token appearances in the later years.
  • Herman's Head went through this in its later seasons. Once the show had used up all the potential in the "see aspects of Herman's brain fight it out" gimmick, and moved on to slightly deeper storylines, the brain-characters were pushed further and further in the background, until eventually they would barely make anything beyond a perfunctory appearance.
  • The patient of the week on House has been secondary to the main characters' personal issues since Season 4, whereas the show's original premise was "a medical drama in the style of a cop detective show". The fact that the audience found the characters so engaging is a credit to the writers, but means that more and more frequently the episode will sideline the patient or sometimes not even feature one.
  • Frank Underwood's straight-to-camera asides in House of Cards (US) gradually became less frequent to the point of being phased out by late season 3, but came back in full force for season 4.
  • During the initial seasons of the South African soap opera Isidingo, the instrumental theme tune prominently featured a saxophone. During the pre-credit sequence, this same tune could be heard faintly in the background. Then in 2011, the theme tune was modified somewhat. The major change being that the saxophone was replaced by a synth - though the melody remained the same. Strangely though, the post-2011 episodes still featured the older, saxophone laced music in the pre-credits sequence.
  • The idea of responding in the form of a question on Jeopardy!. It originated as a response to the quiz show scandals of The '50s, an inversion of the formula where the contestants were given the answers and had to provide the questions. In the early days of the show the clues were indeed phrased as reasonable answers to the required questions; today, however, most of the clues are written much less straightforwardly, and there are many categories where the clues are simply quotes or titles that the "What is X?" response format makes no sense with.
  • There are two main ones in Kamen Rider:
    • First of all, the motorcycles. Initially, the hero's character designs were based loosely upon bikers. However as each newer season moved thematically further and further away from this, the bikes are kept in, just to make sense of the "Rider" in the title. They'll sometimes be introduced and never seen again.
      • Some series, such as Kamen Rider Double and Kamen Rider OOO have tried to avert this by using the bikes much more prominently; Double's bike can convert into a watercraft or jet and is used to fight giant monsters, while his ally Accel turns into a motorcycle. At the very least, they'll still use a signature motorcycle to get around, if nothing else.
      • Eventually they bit the bullet with Kamen Rider Drive and did away with the bike entirely, giving Drive a Cool Car instead. Motorcycles are still present, but they belong to The Rival Mashin Chaser and Drive's ally Mach instead, and even then, their motorcycles can combine into a vaguely car-like vehicle. The car theme was even a marketing point, with the tagline "This Rider is a driver!" Ironically, this brought the series back to the "man and machine" concept that the bikes were originally used for. The next season, however, returned to having a motorcycle present but very seldom seen.
    • The other big one is likely the compound eyes on the masks. It made perfect sense originally, because the other big element of Kamen Rider's character design was being based on a grasshopper. Most of the Kamen Riders since the Heisei era haven't had any kind of insect theme (with some exceptions), but they retain the bug eyes because that's just what Kamen Riders look like. To a lesser extent, the signature move of Kamen Riders is still the Rider Kick, which, though not entirely incongruous today, made a lot more sense for a character based on an animal known for its incredible leg strength than a character based on a beetle or an oni or a space shuttle.
    • Kamen Rider #2 (Hayato Ichimonji) in the original Kamen Rider, and Riderman (Yuki Jouji) from Kamen Rider V3 are both counted as primary Kamen Riders by the franchise, and thus make appearances in the lineup when all the main characters are needed to show up, when other Riders who appeared later don't. It makes some sense for Hayato, since he was the main character for a good chunk of the show, but Riderman was never the main character of the series he was in. This fact originated when all the series were clearly part of the same universe, and V3 declared Riderman to be the fourth Kamen Rider, but it's remained the case even into the Heisei era of the franchise, when the shows started to become more standalone and the modern conception of the secondary Rider, who had the title of Kamen Rider but wasn't the main character, started to emerge.
  • Throughout the run of 30 Rock, fewer and fewer plots directly involved TGS, leaving much of the supporting cast (especially Josh and later Danny) with little to do. Additionally, Pete was originally intended to be Liz's confidante and support system, but this role was increasingly co-opted by Jack, who was originally intended to be semi-villainous. Thus, Pete was slowly repurposed into a miserable Jaded Washout, but still spent much of the later seasons Out of Focus.
  • MacGyver shifted its focus over time from his role as a troubleshooter for the government (and, later, the humanitarian/scientific/mercenary/whatever Phoenix Foundation) to being more of a glorified social worker with the Challenger's Club as his base of operations. As such, many things ended up becoming artifacts. The Phoenix Foundation played a vestigial role in most of the later episodes, Pete became little more than an incidental sidekick instead of a vital character, and even MacGyver's trademark improvisational inventions started requiring special attention to incorporate into the stories. If the series had continued, it probably would have eventually written out all of those elements.
  • Stan Switek in Miami Vice. Switek was one-half of the show's comedy duo, along with fellow officer Larry Zito, and entire segments would be devoted to their antics as they drove around in a surveillance van and got into various shenanigans. However, after Dick Wolf replaced Michael Mann as show runner prior to the third season, when Mann left to work on Crime Story, the show became Darker and Edgier, as did the plots, and Zito was killed off in a dramatic two-parter midway through the season. With his partner gone, Switek had next-to-nothing to do, and spent most of the next two seasons being little more than a background character. The producers attempted to make him relevant again by giving him a gambling addiction and run-ins with the mob, but these were barely remembered in the course of Crockett's amnesia arc and the resulting fallout. The only reason he was kept on is because he was part of the small core cast and a sympathetic figure. Scenes in the series finale that would have clearly showed him becoming a turncoat and ratting out Crockett and Tubbs to a Colombian general were deleted because he wasn't deemed important enough.
  • From the Super Sentai franchise:
    • The science-themed Kagaku Sentai Dynaman was originally designed to be baseball-themed team; elements of this can be seen in several places even in the finalized series. The team's suits resemble baseball uniforms and their helmets have cap-like visors, Dyna Black's Battle Tector looks more like sports equipment than battle armor, the team says "Grand Slam!" to form the Dyna Robo, and the theme song features the distinctive *ping!* of an aluminum bat hitting a ball.
    • Hikari Sentai Maskman was supposed to be called "The Fiveman", hence why the number "5" served as the emblem on their suits and why their first giant robot was called Great Five. Once it got retitled, the "5" is only there for the Rule of Cool. The name "Fiveman" would eventually be used three years later.
  • Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers ran headlong into this as a result of being adapted from three different Super Sentai shows. The first season was based solely on Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger, so things worked just fine. But for the second season, rather than adopting Super Sentai's tradition of making a completely new show and storyline every year, Saban chose to take the monsters and robots from Gosei Sentai Dairanger while retaining the Zyuranger suits for the heroes and keeping the same main villains. The same thing was done for the third season with Ninja Sentai Kakuranger, though in this instance the Kakuranger suits were used for a another team of Rangers. Overall this results in quite a few oddities, since the motifs of the three Sentai teams did not match: while the animal robots and suits in Zyuranger were based on prehistoric beasts, the ones in Dairanger were based on Chinese mythology and the ones in Kakuranger were based on Japanese mythology. The ranger roster and colors also did not match: while all three teams had their respective red, blue and yellow rangers, Dairanger had a "regular" green ranger instead of black and a white sixth (which resulted in the Black Ranger piloting a green-colored lion robot and Tommy being forced to switch suits and powers in the middle of Season 2), while Kakuranger had a female white ranger instead of pink and no sixth (forcing the White and Pink Rangers to share the same Shogunzord). This also holds true for the villains, as the character of Rita Repulsa and her minions stayed on the show for a total of six seasons despite the fact that their Sentai counterparts (Bandora the Witch and her gang) were sealed away at the end of Zyuranger. The most stand-out case is Finster, who was the villains' monster-maker and Mad Scientist, but had his role greatly reduced in the second and third seasons when new Big Bads with the power to make their own monsters were introduced.
    • Most of the morphers in the franchise are either worn like wristwatches, or resemble some sort of handheld item like cellphones. In the original series, the morphers didn't really resemble anything in particular, and were usually carried around in the rangers' pockets prior to morphing. This is because in Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger, the Dino Bucklers (the props that became the Power Morphers in the U.S. version) were supposed to be stylized belt buckles with a golden "Z" symbol on the back, which allowed the trinkets to be disguised by clipping them backwards into the holsters worn on the heroes' belts. The problem is, the American Power Morpher toy neglected to include either the Z symbol or the belt holster, which resulted in the belt buckle gimmick being dropped after one episode thanks to the Merchandise-Driven nature of the show.
    • After the death of Zordon the word Zord itself was an artifact of a previous era of Power Rangers history.
    • The lightning-bolt in the logo was (and is) put there for Rule of Cool. However, the original seasons tried to justify it, by having the teens teleport in a bolt of lightning of their color. Since abandoning them, it now has even less purpose.
    • The presence of the Astro Megaship and Alpha 6 in Power Rangers Lost Galaxy is another example, basically causing the season to be a bit of a "transitional" period between the Zordon Era and the later, more stand-alone seasons.
    • The last episode of Power Rangers Wild Force is called "The End of the Power Rangers", due to the fact that at the time, the plan was for Wild Force to be the final season of Power Rangers. However, Disney was convinced to move filming of the franchise to New Zealand to save on costs midway through, so while the plans to end the franchise with Wild Force were scrapped, the episode title wasn't changednote .
    • Then there's the theme songs since Power Rangers Samurai. The Samurai theme was a new version of the Mighty Morphin "Go Go Power Rangers" theme, replacing the lines specifically mentioning "Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers" with "Rangers together, samurai forever", a series Catchphrase. The Power Rangers Megaforce theme song was basically a remix of the Samurai theme, including a barely changed version of that line ("Rangers forever, Megaforce all together") even though this was no longer a Catchphrase for the series. Power Rangers Dino Charge went with a mostly new theme, but still included "Go Go Power Rangers" (though that tune had been used for several older series), and still kept the "Rangers forever" line.
    • Much like Mighty Morphin, Megaforce ultimately mashed up two Super Sentai series in its story- the first half was based on Tensou Sentai Goseiger, while the second half, Super Megaforce, was based on Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger, with the Gokaiger powers becoming a powerup mode over the Goseiger suits. This led to a good number of artifacts resulting from the adaptation, most notably including the Black Ranger becoming a Green Ranger, and a number of Super Sentai teams that had never been Power Rangers showing up with little explanation in their suit-switching gimmick. We got a lampshade hanging for the green suit: when Jake says his Super Mode is the wrong color, The Mentor Gosei tells him that there's a very good reason for that... and is interrupted by the alarms going off. The Rangers rush off to battle the Monster of the Week and the color change is never brought up again.
    • The show's famous Monster of the Week formula can be this at times, since not every season explains it as well as the original Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers did. In that show, Rita Repulsa's minion Finster had a machine called the "Monster-matic" that explicitly manufactured monsters in every episode, and Rita used her magic wand to cause them to grow to gigantic size for the customary showdown with the Megazord. Power Rangers Zeo didn't go into that much detail, but most of the monsters were shown to be at least partly robotic, (implying that the Machine Empire built them), and Clank apparently had a ray device that could make them grow. But in Power Rangers Turbo, where the Big Bad Divatox was just a space pirate with a paltry submarine crew at her disposal, the show never really bothered to explain where her seemingly endless supply of giant monsters came from. Since then, not every season has gone out of its way to give a coherent explanation, but the show can't just abandon the weekly monsters—since it's just not Power Rangers without them.
  • Mr. Bean has not aired on CBC in over a decade. However, the network still proudly airs the popular Merry Christmas, Mr. Bean episode every year as a part of their holiday programming.
  • During the time before PBS replaced National Educational Television or NET, Mister Rogers' Neighborhood featured a building in the model town used for the opening and closing of the show that incorporated NET's unevenly sloped roof logo. Starting in 1971, the building was re-painted yellow-orange, followed by the more familiar red. The odd slope, however, remained until the show's end.
  • Ryan Howard on The Office had never been quite important enough to justify his existence as one of the main cast members, but he definitely had a role as The New Guy who would react to all the strangeness of the Office because he wasn't used to it. After the third season he actually started becoming less important than the likes of Angela, Stanley, Kevin, etc. none of whom are in the opening credits. By the later seasons, if Ryan appeared in an episode at all it's as little more than a cameo, and yet he's still there in the opening credits. In season 9, this changed and his actor left the show (only coming Back for the Finale).
  • Once Upon a Time:
    • Archie was part of the main cast in Season 1 but only appeared in ten episodes. He fit with the original intent of the show - which was to have more procedural storylines in the Storybrooke portions. As the fantasy elements were emphasised, Archie as the therapist became pretty redundant and he was left a recurring character in subsequent seasons.
    • The Blue Fairy became this in Season 4. As a Big Good who usually could whip up some powerful magic to stop whatever threat was facing the town, there wasn't much of a need for her with both Emma's powers increasing and the incredibly powerful Regina on the side of good. If Blue ever shows up, it's to deliver exposition.
  • Our Miss Brooks:
    • Walter Denton driving Miss Brooks to school was an artifact from the first audition show with actress Shirley Booth. There, Mrs. Davis has a teenage daughter whom Walter Denton was dating. Mrs. Davis's daughter dumped Walter, leaving him to reluctantly take Miss Brooks to school. Mrs. Davis's daughter was adapted out by the time Eve Arden auditioned for the role, leaving it unexplained how it came about that Walter drives Miss Brooks to school almost every morning. One supposes it's just because Walter's a Teacher's Pet.
      • An explanation given later was that Miss Brooks had a very unreliable car and it was perpetually under repair, leaving Walter to have to drive her.
    • "Stretch" Snodgrass's nickname was an artifact from the radio episode where he was first introduced, "Stretch the Basketball Star." His nickname is said to come about from the fact that he's six feet, five inches tall. When the program went to television, it's readily apparent that Leonard Smith, the actor who played Snodgrass, was nowhere near that height (he was about the height of Eve Arden). It's never again explained how he became known as "Stretch." The fact is lampshaded in the episode "Baseball Slide."
    Miss Brooks (in greeting): Why, Stretch.
  • In Parks and Recreation, the concept of the mockumentary film style slowly dropped into complete irrelevance. Things which have absolutely no conceivable reason for being filmed inexplicably are; characters are shown conversing in their homes on completely ordinary evenings or mornings, and cameramen happen to already be in locations where the main cast has only just arrived, such as inside every house the P&R department visit, even if it belongs to a complete stranger. Nobody in-universe reacts to the cameramen's presence anymore, no matter the circumstances. For a particularly ironic example, in one episode Ron attempts to go completely "off the grid," attempting to scrub the evidence of his existence from every surface of the universe, yet has no qualms with a documentary crew following him around as he does so. Finally, the cameramen are allowed places they realistically never would, such as in hospitals, with no questions asked.
  • Person of Interest's lead character John Reese eventually became this. He stops driving the story midway through season 2, and as the Machine and the characters surrounding it becoming increasingly relevant, he eventually began to cede focus to characters like Root and Shaw.
  • Originally, The Price Is Right was all about the replication of an auction: trying to get a good deal on something through multiple rounds of bidding as close to the actual price, without going over. Which contestant returned each week was based around who got the best "deals" through their bidding; big prizes such as houses, shares of stock, and small business franchises weren't unheard of. With the contemporary CBS version (begun in 1972), the "pricing games" are really the central concept of the show, with the biggest prizes, and the auctioneering aspects of the show are more formalities than anything.
  • Prison Break:
    • The series had this problem a lot; understandable, when the series shifted from focusing on characters in one location to following characters who'd scattered across America - by which point they no longer had a prison to break out of. During season 2, some awkward attempts were made to fold Artifact characters into the series' Myth Arc (though there were some successful attempts too), while others, like Magnificent Bastard T-Bag, ended up getting huge chunks of solo screentime that ultimately contributed nothing to the main arc of the series. The third and fourth seasons did a much better job of giving everyone a role.
    • The show also had a problem with the map of the prison the main character had tattooed on his arms in the early seasons. Once he got out, the map was no longer necessary ... but they forgot to write a scene where he gets the tattoo removed. So, he spends the next two seasons in a tropical prison constantly wearing long-sleeved shirts no matter how hot and humid it got.
  • Psych has Shawn's psychic pretense as something of an artifact. While it's occasionally important, most of the time they don't even bother with him hiding how he figured everything out. His ability is also an in-universe artifact, as the only reason he's allowed to work with the police in the first place is how powerful his "psychic" abilities are. Of course, years later, his track record is pretty much proven and he could probably drop it and still work on his merits. The case in question much have already been settled by now. Juliet was still very displeased when she found out.
  • QI:
    • The original idea was that there be two teams, Clever, led by Stephen Fry, and Stupid, led by Alan Davies, and the show hosted by Michael Palin. When Palin decided not to take the gig, Stephen was made host instead, and the idea of Teams was abandoned. Alan was kept as permanent panelist, though, with pretty much the same job, to make sure that obvious answers were given.
    • Also in very early episodes, in the first half of the show Fry directs questions to specific panelists, then in the "general ignorance" section questions are open to all. Very soon all questions became open to all, so the "general ignorance" section is no different from the rest of the show, yet its start is still announced every episode and it serves a more of a "quick-fire" questions round.
  • Both Holly and Cat became Artifact characters by the fifth series of Red Dwarf: Cat still got a decent number of lines and such but had lost a lot of his feline personality and mannerisms, while Holly's role had decreased significantly (mostly due to Kryten taking on most of the exposition) to the point where she was lucky to get one decent scene per episode. The solution taken in Series VI was to write Holly out of the show and expand Cat's role in a new way (thus he became the main pilot of Starbug and was given his superior "smelling" skills). Holly eventually came back in Series 8, at the cost of reverting much of Kryten's character growth.
  • Little John, Allan-a-Dale and Much were pretty much pointless throughout all of season three of Robin Hood, and kept on simply because they were the famous characters of legend (though they fared better than Will Scarlett, who was Put on a Bus at the end of season two and never seen again). A typical B-plot had Much, Allan and John merely walking across the countryside in the search for water during a drought, and the crisis only ending thanks to Robin's activities in the A-plot. Eventually actor Joe Armstrong (who had a huge role in season two, and was the show's Breakout Character) asked the writers to kill off Allan, simply because he was bored with playing a character that no longer did anything. The writers gave him a Red Shirt death, which speaks volumes about how unimportant he was at that stage.
  • Saturday Night Live's catchphrase "Live, from New York, it's Saturday Night!", came about because when it first premiered, there was already a television program called Saturday Night Live that aired on ABC, which, unlike the NBC version, had a permanent host in the form of Howard Cosell, whom, at the time, was also serving as a color commentator on Monday Night Football, and also aired in prime time instead of late night, so the show was called NBC's Saturday Night during its first season. Ironically, after the ABC version was cancelled, cast members Bill Murray, Brian Doyle-Murray, and Christopher Guest and associate producer Jean Doumanian all later worked on the NBC show at different times, and Doumanian, in fact, later replaced SNL creator Lorne Michaels as producer when the latter left to work for Paramount.
    • SNL's 90-minute runtime could also be considered an artifact. When it premiered in 1975, SNL was a replacement for reruns of The Tonight Show, which at the time was a 90-minute program. Eventually, The Tonight Show was reduced to 60 minutes, while SNL remains approximately 90 minutes long.
  • In an intentional example, Hooper's Store on Sesame Street retains its name long after its original owner has died.
    • The Fix-It Shop came during a time where it was a lot cheaper to get a household appliance repaired by hand rather than buying a new one. The producers tried revamping it in the 2000s as the Mail-It Shop, but it failed after a few years.
    • Cookie Monster's Extreme Omnivore tendencies is mostly due to not originally being established as Cookie Monster when he first appeared on the show. Instead he was a nameless, voracious monster whose main trait was to devour nearly everything in sight. Even long after he's been established as "Cookie" the extreme omnivorous aspect still stands.
  • In The 700 Club's case, the fact that it still airs on Teen Drama-heavy Freeform makes it The Artifact for CBN, the channel Pat Robertson built and sold off. This one is justified, however; Robertson wrote a clause into his contract that required the show to be given a permanent time slot and Protection from Editors, plus a lengthy telethon on the last Sunday in January, no matter who the station would be sold to in the future.note  This does say something for his lawyers, as not even Disney could worm out of it. The show also contains an example of Artifact TitleThe 700 Club refers to Robertson's first 700 donors.
  • On Six Feet Under, the show opened every episode with an onscreen death. Early in the show, the dead character would often play a major role in the story, sometimes even having conversations with the undertakers (in their imaginations). As the show went on, many of these death scenes were related to extremely minor plot points, and the trope seemingly continued only out of habit. However, a lot of the deaths continued to carry a thematic connection to the plot of the episode.
  • When Oliver Queen in Smallville dressed up as Green Arrow, his costume included a computerized voice modifier that lowered his voice, helping to preserve his secret identity. Early in Season 10, Queen revealed his dual identity at a press conference. Yet anytime he became Green Arrow after that, he still had the voice modifier on even though it's no longer necessary.
  • The Sopranos:
    • At the start of the series, Tony's sessions with Dr. Melfi were central to the plot. But as time went on, they became less and less central with Dr. Melfi not even appearing in some episodes. By the final season she's mostly relegated to being an audience surrogate.
    • Uncle Junior, despite being a central character early on and the primary antagonist to Tony in season 1, became less and less essential to the point that in the final batch of episodes he only appears 2 or 3 times.
  • On So Random!, the performers still go by the character names from when it was a Show Within a Show on Sonny with a Chance.
  • In Stargate SG-1:
    • Teal'c's personal arc was basically over after the defeat of the Goa'uld in season 8, but he stayed anyway for the two Post Script Seasons — and was often left with nothing to do except, being The Big Guy, shoot at things. They actually created plots involving him and the Jaffa political situation, but those plots just made it worse by reminding viewers how nonsensical it was for Teal'c to stay with SG-1 when he was so frustrated by the incompetent Jaffa leaders.
    • Another Artifact is Teal'c's staff weapon. When Teal'c was first introduced, it made sense for him to favor and keep using a staff weapon—he had no experience with Earth weapons. Over the years, Teal'c was shown more and more at ease with using normal guns, but his default weapon when leaving on a mission remained a staff weapon despite the fact that guns are deadlier and that his strength let him go Guns Akimbo. After the loss of his symbiote and the growth of hair, the staff and the gold marking was essentially all that remained of Teal'c's early "alien" days.
    • Staff weapons themselves became harder to justify with the increasing prominence of zats, which were far smaller, less unwieldy, and more reliable. A later justification was that staff weapons were designed more for instilling fear into the primitive humans than actual combat, but that didn't explain their use by supposedly Elite Mooks out in the field.
      • Part of the staff's continued relevance was handwaved in later episodes by it also being an effective melee weapon and all staff-like weapons being integral to Jaffa martial arts.
    • The Stargate itself, especially on later seasons of SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis. In early seasons, episodes revealing a malfunction or quirk of the gate were common, and the gate featured prominently in several episodes. As later seasons came and spaceships became common, with the heroes acquiring and later building their own, the gate took to the background, to the point where several episodes do not feature a Stargate in them at all. Stargate Universe's gate is pretty much a prop to remind you that, no, really, it is a Stargate series.
      • So much so that what was meant as the finale of the various arcs along with the intended grand finale (prior to the two Post Script Seasons) were deliberately written to feature the Stargate heavily in their resolutions. In the former, it is used to save the galaxy. In the later, it's the MacGuffin driving much of the time travel plot. It was decided that if the show was to end there, then the gate should take part in the plot. Then the show was renewed, and well, so much for that.
      • Continuum, which ends up being the Grand Finale though more had been planned at the time, ends up featuring the Gate about as much as the early seasons did, though not to the degree of the intended grand finales that went out of their way to feature it in a big way. The final round against Baal has all the hallmarks of any major Goa'uld battle - including the gates that remain their preferred method of getting around.
  • Star Trek, in all of its incarnations:
    • Depending on who you ask, Yeoman Rand's slow fade from Star Trek: The Original Series during the first season was an example of this. She was originally supposed to be Kirk's love interest on ship, but it was soon decided that it would be better if he didn't have one, and without anything for her to do they phased her out to the point that she only appears in the background of one scene, without any lines, in "The Conscience of the King". This decision may have been helped along by the severe drug and alcohol addiction Grace Lee Whitney had at the time, which William Shatner and others claim was the main reason Rand was dropped.
    • The design of the Enterprise-D and other Galaxy-class starships on Star Trek: The Next Generation. It was designed the way it because it was thought that its saucer separation abilities would arise frequently, but it took too long, and it was used only three times on the show: the pilot episode "Encounter at Farpoint", "The Arsenal of Freedom" (also from season 1), and "The Best of Both Worlds: Part II" from season 4, before being used for the last time in Star Trek: Generations. It didn't help that except for the last time, when the battle section was destroyed, there really wasn't a reason to use this capability. The first time, the ship was in danger and Picard wanted to get the civilians out of the way, only the ship is very frequently in danger and always has civilians on board, so either you do the saucer separation every time things get hairy, or you just live with the risk. And in the battle with the Borg...it was hard to see an actual point. They could attack from two directions, but that didn't do the fleet much good, and the uniform design of the Borg cube meant that an attack from one direction was like an attack from any other.
    • The concept of the "captain's yacht", a personal shuttle that was intended for use as a luxury craft. It was written into Next Generation, but almost no one ever made use of it, and it only appeared in an episode where Picard and the archeologist Vash used it to travel to a dig site. Despite having no discernible purpose beyond the standard shuttlecraft, and taking up a large chunk of space on the underside of the ship, it was included in the designs of starships seen through later series, and was even infamously brought back in Star Trek: Nemesis for no other reason than because it looked cool.
    • Jake Sisko on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. After how badly Wesley Crusher was received on Star Trek: The Next Generation, Jake was conceived almost as the anti-Wesley, i.e., a perfectly normal child, and it was his friend Nog that got into Starfleet Academy whereas Jake became a writer. Unfortunately, around the time Nog left for Starfleet, tensions between the Federation and the Dominion were worsening before erupting into the Dominion War, which occurred right around the time Nog graduated from the Academy. So Nog got more to do while Jake, as a civilian, got very little to do in the later seasons. This got egregious in the final season, as Cirroc Lofton, Jake's actor, appeared in very few episodes whereas recurring characters like Weyoun and even Morn appeared in more episodes than him.
    • Harry Kim's ensign rank on Star Trek: Voyager made less and less sense as time went on. In the early seasons, he was simply a low-ranking officer who was more or less permanently stuck on the ship, and fulfilled his ensign's duties as needed. Come later seasons, he not only becomes acting captain on several occasions, but actively solves several plots in various episodes, yet never receives a promotion or commendation for his work besides a standard line of thanks from Janeway and the crew. While any such promotion would presumably be subject to review on their return to Starfleet, this doesn't stop her from making a number of field promotions for other characters, nor does it stop her from giving him an official reprimand in one episode for Boldly Coming. Supposedly, producer Rick Berman justified to Garrett Wang that Kim would always remain where he is because "well, someone's got to be the ensign".
  • 3rd Rock from the Sun. Classic, very egregious example. It was only to be expected that no matter how stupid or naive the aliens were they would eventually become conversant with Earth culture after living there for years. It was also to be expected that you can only do really ridiculous science-fiction-esque gags involving the "home planet" for so long before it gets old. Still, watch a later-season episode and see if you can find any clue at all that the main characters are extraterrestrials rather than just a family of weird, quirky people - any clue other than the increasingly incongruous sci-fi-themed opening credit sequence, of course. This is occasionally Lampshaded by having the aliens wonder if they'd become "too human".
  • The end credits of Twin Peaks continued to use the photo of Laura Palmer as a background, long after her murder was solved and a new plot arc was picked up. The opening credits also showed the Packard Sawmill long after it burned in the first season finale.
  • Ashley Jensen's character Christina McKinney on Ugly Betty. In the early days, Christina was Betty's only friend at MODE with its catty fashionistas. As the show went on, said fashionistas gradually warmed up to Betty, making Christina's role rather pointless. Jensen left the series towards the end of its run.
  • Ultra Series:
    • Ultraseven is an abnormality among "Ultra hero" shows in that the title character isn't called "Ultraman Seven". The thing is that when the series was being produced there was never intended to be any connection to Ultraman beyond the "Ultra" title, hence why Ultraman and Science Patrol are completely unmentioned and Doctor Who and Star Trek-styled aliens are the main foes of Ultraseven rather than kaiju. This is also why Seven has a rather Non-Standard Character Design for an Ultraman, notably in that he has no Colour Timer. Canon Welding in Return of Ultraman connecting Ultraseven to Ultraman has since resulted in some strange continuity errors.
    • Return of Ultraman, despite its name, features a completely new Ultra hero named Ultraman Jack rather than the original Ultraman. The non-indicative title was a leftover of the series' extremely early developmental stages, as franchise creator Eiji Tsuburaya wanted to do a revival of his classic series, only to suffer from Author Existence Failure. As a result, his son Hajime Tsuburaya retooled the series to star a new Ultraman and a new cast of characters. However, the title stuck, and in the show Jack is only referred to as just Ultraman, even when Ultraman himself shows up. In fact, Jack was not his designated name until 1984 (nearly 15 years after the show ended!), with the rest of the Showa series calling him "New Ultraman", "Returning Ultraman", and even "Ultraman II".
  • In The Vampire Diaries the fact that most of the characters are high school students eventually turned into this, as the focus of the show moved away from teen drama (with vampires) towards supernatural power struggle. Even scenes of the characters talking in the halls becomes increasingly rare, and the usual mechanic for getting the cast in one place is replaced with the constant all-ages town events. Once the need for it passed Stefan simply drops out, but since the rest of them are real teenagers they don't have the option. By five, only Jeremy is still in high school and that is because the other characters will not allow him to drop out. He even lampshades this as, when berated for his poor performance, he points out that he has legitimately bigger problems to worry about and can hardly ask for an absence to be excused because the current Arc Villains are plotting against the good guys.
  • Leena in Warehouse 13 steadily became this, rarely contributing to the episodic plots let alone the Myth Arc, but always hanging around and aiding the Agents because she's the owner of the inn where they live. This is best signified by the fact that we got the fairly extensive backstories for all of the cast except Leena. The writers had originally intended her to be more important and play a big role in the plot, but Executive Meddling struck and resulted in her being Demoted to Extra. Eventually the writers caught on that she was becoming pointless, so they ended her Artifact nature permanently by having the Evil Artie kill her as a Sacrificial Lion in order to further raise the stakes in an already intense Wham Episode arc.
  • In early episodes of Weeds, the writers got a considerable amount of comedic mileage out of Nancy's maid Lupita. She was a regular fixture at the Botwin home, a reliable source of comic relief, and occasionally a source of drama. Hence, it was a pretty big bombshell when Lupita found out about Nancy's marijuana business and used it to blackmail Nancy into keeping her employed. Unfortunately, this also meant that she was basically stuck at the Botwin home with nothing left to do but collect paychecks, and she gradually became less necessary for comedy as Nancy's developing drug business spawned plenty of dark laughs on its own. The writers finally figured out a way to get rid of her early in Season 3, when Nancy had to cut costs after winding up in debt to U-Turn, and she told Lupita that U-Turn would kill her if she ratted her out.
  • Vanna White, the Lovely Assistant on Wheel of Fortune. In 1997, the show traded out its mechanical puzzle board for a set of video monitors, thus making Vanna's job redundant (she touches the letters now instead of turning them, but the board is run remotely for filling in the answer instantly when a puzzle is solved and, since 2000, revealing letters randomly in Toss-Ups). However, she's become such a pop culture icon that removing her would cause an outcry.
  • Whose Line Is It Anyway?'s tradition of having the performers read the credits might seem strange for a TV show to have until you find out that it started off as a radio show. The credits readings endured the change in format to the point where it's one of the defining features of the show; the US version's attempt to remove it only lasted for a single season.

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