Seasonal Rot

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

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

If the Seasonal Rot occurs because of a poorly-conceived major change to the status quo in an attempt to go in a new direction, it's a season-long Dork Age.

One reason that Too Good to Last series are so fondly remembered is that they never lived long enough for Seasonal Rot to set in. Compare Sequelitis and Sophomore Slump. Contrast with Growing the Beard.

Note that examples have to be specific seasons, otherwise it just becomes "Jump the Shark but you're allowed to add examples".

Examples of Seasonal Rot include:

Anime and Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

  • Pokémon: All of the arcs after the Orange Islands have taken flak for running on longer than necessary, though Johto and Sinnoh take more flak than Hoenn due to Arc Fatigue, whereas Hoenn was shorter in order to make room for Battle Frontier.
    • Averted so far with Unova, thanks to a much more concise pacing and good character development in-between (barring a big gap between the 3rd and 4th Gyms, which was intended from the start and has beefy material). Time will tell if it lasts however.
  • Rockman.EXE Stream, the fourth season of the Mega Man NT Warrior anime. Looked down on for turning the Mons on the internet premise into a Sentai show revolving around an ever-growing team of main characters with the ability to turn their Navis into super suits. The transition started with the previous season, but at least that mixed those segments in with segments that, um, actually focused on Rockman.
    • The main villains' (Duo and Slur) status as Villain Sue and Karma Houdini was quite annoying.
    • Supposedly the whole Cross Fusion business came about as a result of Executive Meddling, as the show's Axess timeslot onward was right before an actual Sentai show, and having resources and budget being shifted around to The Movie, not to mention incorporating said movie into the plot of the TV series itself, was probably responsible for the mostly abysmal art and a story that didn't know what to do with itself. That still doesn't excuse them for throwing out the entire purpose of the series, however.
    • If you apply the concept to just the video games, Mega Man Battle Network 4 is perhaps the worst in the series. The game had a, shall we say, developable plot about a net-connected Meteor threatening to destroy the Earth. Unfortunately this plot point is kept as a B-plot and about 80% of the game revolve about going from tournament to tournament, helping an adversary with his/her life problems, kick his/her butt, on and on. The meteor plot is solved at the very end of the game, very quickly and leaves little to no impression on the player. It's like a filler game, if that is possible.
    • The Mega Man Star Force anime had this to a lesser degree in that there was virtually no plot in episodes 31 on until the end of the first season. So it was more like half-seasonal rot. A condition which continued into the second season, with the addition of discarding almost every aspect of the game it was purportedly based on, up to and including The Rival becoming the polar opposite of his game self.
    • The Mega Man Battle Network anime also ran into this during its second season. First it threw in a ridiculous amount of filler before remembering it had a plot, then it wrapped up the plot before the season was even over, and then it filled out the rest of the season with more filler because they had literally run out of plot.
      • The last episode was particularly notable for this, being a blatant Shout-Out to Ghostbusters and famously consisting of, to quote a fansite, "twenty minutes of filler, a minute of eyecatches, and the entire plot crammed into the ending theme." To say nothing of the episode a few earlier that was a rather gimmicky race...
      • The last episode had the most insulting thing of all the anime - the last boss of the first game randomly pops up and it's defeated in less than a minute with barely any introduction.
      • Beast is widely considered by fans to be a huge improvement over Stream, but the sequel Beast+, the last series of the anime, is unfortunately this, as well as Post Script Season. While the first series, Axess, Stream, and Beast adapt the main series games, Beast+ attempts to adapt all of the spinoff material, such as Network Transmission and the cell phone games, but it is sloppily done, thanks to poor writing and pacing. The length of each episode was also reduced to ten minutes and the time slot was changed to give it a shared spot with another anime. Worst off, while each of the previous series had endings to their arcs, Beast+ just ends. As the Shooting Star Rockman anime was announced that it was going to be released before the game version, obviously they needed to wrap up EXE, but it really couldn't have been done worse.
    • The video game series itself is perhaps even more guilty; depending on who you talked to, the "seasonal" rot began either with the fourth or fifth game, but definitely while the series was still on the NES. Only with the latest entry of the series, Mega Man 9, is the series considered to have climbed out (incidentally, it returned to a "retro" 8-bit presentation). The Mega Man X series is almost universally regarded as entering seasonal rot after X5, especially because Keiji Inafune has moved on to the Mega Man Zero series.
      • It is worth noting that the 8th game in the X series is generally considered playable, or even fun.
      • Command Mission as well.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! GX, after a Mind Screw of a third season (which still proved to be entertaining and well-written), had the abysmal fourth season, which tried (and failed) to top the Mandatory Twist Endings of the previous season, and supposedly explain away the loose ends from the first season without actually doing so. The fact that they made the main villain a secondary character's Super-Powered Evil Side with a ridiculous agenda didn't help matters any.
    • Season 4's main failing seems to have been the case of it being rushed for the sake of a new series installment, not the fact that it wasn't properly planned-out to begin with. It managed to wrap up things quite nicely in regards to what would happen to the main characters (by making them search for their own paths and identities, without having to rely on Judai at every turn) and the Big Bad's ploy was not all that different to the conclusion reached by a well-known show who got nowhere near the amount of flak that GX did for the very same plot-point.
    • Season 2 is the worst. Transitioning from a (mostly) light-hearted first season into the very dark next two, this season is a weird in-between, poorly balancing an overarching plot of an evil destructive cult, and silly filler duels between kabuki fans and curry lovers.
    • The third season of Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's is starting to get this kind of flak; it's already been decried as unnecessary, what with season 2 ending with the original reason for the Five Dragons being resolved, but it's really hit a brick wall when the focus on the new Yliaster leaders and their plans keeps getting usurped by inexplicable and semi-unrelated subplots (among them: an Evil Counterpart to Jack, an Old West-style romp with our old friend, (former) Dark Signer Kiryu, and the introduction of our new stealer of the spotlight Bruno, though that last one does at least have some ties to the Three Duelists).
  • For some, the third season of the Slayers anime, Slayers TRY. What would've been an intriguing story was bogged down by poor characterization (the four heroes are Out of Focus and have no Character Development, a stark contrast to the previous season), a convoluted plot, stale humor, and too much focus on the Holier Than Thou Guest Star Party Member, the Big Bad, and his mooks.
  • Akazukin Chacha. The second season (of three) is best not watched. Or, at least have the remote handy to fast-forward through the several minute long transformation sequence sequence (yes, multiple in a row...).
  • The second arc of Death Note.After a Time Skip Light got two new opponents called Mello and Near, setting up a three-way cat-and-mouse duel. Unfortunately the story falls prey to Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy. Light comes across as a one-note villain and it's hard to cheer for Near, due to his spoilt ungrateful nature. Mello is interesting but is Out of Focus half the time, making the Light vs. Near conflict awfully similiar to Light vs. L. The Shinigami appear less and less and there are insane levels of Walls of Text.
  • With Digimon, general consensus holds that this applies to three specific series:
    • Digimon Adventure 02: Apart from the bucket of Fan Disservice that was the Distant Finale, the series seemed to change plots as often as someone changes clothes. This is especially poignant in the small (yet important) Holy Stones arc. These world-shattering sacred rocks were never mentioned until Mummymon casually talked about it in a 10-second conversation. There was little foreshadowing, and once they were all eliminated they never came up again. Additionally, most revelations about The Man Behind the Man seemed to come out of nowhere, and Chiaki Konaka's Cthulhutastic guest-writing episode - originally intended to set up another subplot - went completely unexplained, was almost never referred to again, and comes off as a Non Sequitur Scene. It generally reeks of a series where they had plenty of ideas, but perhaps had too many and were very careless and haphazard about how they applied them.
    • Digimon Frontier's main problem was the Royal Knights mini-arc (episodes 38 - 47, more or less). Almost ten episodes of the same formula (knights decide to absorb a certain area, kids try to stop them, kids are defeated, all of the kids are shown to be digital except Koichi, next episode). Minimal plot advancement, minimal character development, just... endless curb-stomp Padding. Secondary problems include the near-complete disregarding of the basic concept of the franchise, and the strangely high amount of Filler (read: complete-waste-of-20-minutes episodes), even before the Royal Knights arc, which is particularly unusual in that Digimon is historically (and has since continued being, save the below example) pretty good at avoiding filler or at least giving it tangential relevance.
    • Digimon Xros Wars: The Young Hunters Leaping Through Time quickly developed a severe reputation for this, despite being somewhat promising in premise. Not only was Tagiru the most obnoxious hero the franchise has ever seen, but the show derailed fan favorites from Digimon Xros Wars like Nene, who had become an Idol Singer by the time of her cameo. Worst of all, it consisted of almost nothing but Filler with nary a plot in sight, compounded by being the shortest series at only twenty-five episodes and thus giving itself no time to pace things out or get things started. Furthermore, much disappointment was voiced over it promising a Crisis Crossover setup starring prior heroes, then giving only the briefest tease twelve episodes in before seeming to completely forget about it; then having it in the last four episodes, with nearly all the prior heroes being Demoted to Extra the episode after so that Tagiru can end up saving the day with everyone else acting as a power-up for him.
  • Sailor Moon's fourth season, Sailor Moon SuperS, is usually regarded as one of the weakest of the series even though it has some of the best animation. In addition to leaving out the highly popular Outer Senshi introduced in the previous series, it consisted of mostly comedic filler episodes and deviated from the manga's corresponding and dramatic "Dream" arc. It also didn't help that a series titled Sailor Moon spent much more time on ChibiUsa than on its main heroine. The final season, Stars, wasn't much better and by this point the series ratings had plunged, though by the end of Stars they recovered. Fans are generally at least a little warmer to the season than SuperS, though it mostly depends on how much they like the gender-bending Sailor Starlights (which is a mix of hating new characters, and hating transgender individuals.) It also left out vast chunks of the manga compared to previous series, and many, many manga characters did not appear at all in the Stars anime.
    • Many people also felt the Stars manga was the weakest arc, however, due to the fact that the first five chapters of the arc just kill off the main Sailor Senshi save for Sailor Moon without them even putting up a fight, there's Loads and Loads of Characters who show up for one chapter and die, and the ending actually makes very little sense and raises more questions than it answers. The biggest sin is how it quickly disposes of Mamoru within a single chapter, after the last chapter of the Dream arc had implied that he was going to be extremely important. He's killed without even getting a chance to fight back by Galaxia not one chapter later.
  • In Bleach, many fans are critical of developments past the start of the last Ichigo vs. Ulquiorra fight, citing a one-sided battle that turns a complete 180 after Ichigo dies and is returned in an upgraded version of his hollow form and the revelation that Yammy is Espada 0 and the deaths of the top three Espada.
    • Most fans cited the Bount Arc as the weakest part of the anime, and the worst of three major filler arcs, due to factors like length, poor characterization and borrowing from the Chapter Black saga of Yu Yu Hakusho. Then a fourth major filler arc came along called the Invasion Arc, and that now seems to be the most reviled part of the anime, particularly because the arc rewrites canon history setting that has a major impact on the backgrounds of a couple of canon characters, the complete character degredation of canon main characters (for example, both Rukia and Orihime spend several episodes as background characters that get either no lines at all or one or two out-of-character comments), and the creation of three main filler characters that have become central to Thirty-Sue Pileup accusations with power levels that even outstrip the canon superweights Aizen, Yamamoto and Ichigo himself.
    • Many people also dropped it at the beginning of the Espada arc because it signaled the start of yet another Rescue Arc.
    • For many fans, the X-Cution Arc that follows the Espada Arc managed to counteract a lot of the seasonal rot from the lengthy and poorly written Espada Arc. A Time Skip and a complete restart with a whole new set of characters with new powers and a new agenda for the old characters to cope with breathes new life into the series. Some feel it's the saving of a series that was expected to end with Aizen's defeat; for others, it's damn annoying that the characters who were just built up over several years were completely wasted in the denouement.
      • By the time the anime reached the Fullbringer arc, it became more and more obvious that both the animators and the voice actors were putting less and less effort into it, ultimately culminating in the anime being unceremoniously swept aside to make room for a Naruto spinoff.
  • If things can be divided by story arcs for this, Otogi Zoshi noticeably suffers in its second arc. The pacing is poor compared to the first, the artwork (generally quite nice to look at for the first half) has a considerable quality drop, plot points don't link as clearly to the conclusion, and much of it slips into predictable mystery of the week stuff. If the page for Otogi Zoshi itself is to be believed, Executive Meddling in the form of a tight schedule, tight budget, and the presence of 14 directors is very likely to blame.
  • Want to know a good way to introduce Seasonal Rot? Make eight versions of essentially the same episode with the only differences being the characters outfits and the numbers mentioned in the exposition in a fourteen episode season. Especially when the original novel didn't do this, they simply told the story once, period. Like anyone sane and non-trolling would do.
  • The filler arcs of Naruto very often have fans pulling the Ruined FOREVER alarm.
    • In particular, the massive block of over 100 filler episodes that made up the space between Naruto and Naruto:Shippuden is not well regarded. Besides the unGodly length of time, the episodes themselves simply tended to be lower quality or have Idiot Plots.
      • Said filler has earned a special hatred among Toonami fans, as the endless filler killed ratings, and eventually got Toonami canceled.
      • There were some good arcs among all the drivel, but the fact remains that it was an indiluted block of waste which didn't contribute to anything (especially after the epic "Sasuke Retrieval Arc"). The lack of character consistency (especially with Sakura) didn't help. Which is the most likely reason Shippuden spreads Filler out more across the storyline, rather than shoving it together the way the original series did.


Comics[edit | hide]

  • Spider-Man comics were consistently popular and well-received for over 30 years until the Clone Saga of 1994-1996. The storyline initially featured decent sales figures, but by the end, not so much. The negativity was largely because the Clone Saga JUST. WOULDN'T. END. After it was all over, the newer storylines were seen as an improvement, but the harm was done with sales still in deep trouble. Executive Meddling led to those storylines being cancelled, two of the four titles being outright cancelled, the remaining two being rebooted and a deeply unpopular era overseen by Howard Mackie and John Bryne.
    • And yet again With One More Day/Brand New Day, which has the wider rot problem of the sales of the franchise pretty much going straight into the toilet, even with Marvel cancelling all satellite Spider-Man books and upping Amazing Spider-Man to three times a month publication.
      • Marvel's currently hyping Amazing Spider-Man #647 as "the end of Brand New Day," but in truth they are simply changing the release schedule to twice a month in order to try desperately to stop the bleeding as sales have pretty much hit new all-time lows due to the unpopular new direction.
        • Although one must take this info with a grain of salt. Even though this troper is no fan of OMD or even the follow up BND and Big Time, even he will admit that ASM has been doing pretty well in the rankings. The book is always in the top 10 or top 20, and it does get favorable reviews from time to time. So, the sales of the book are hardly going into the toilet.
  • While the X-books have had their share of up and down periods, it could be said that the former flagship title Uncanny X-Men experienced a decline in quality starting with 1998's "Hunt for Xavier" arc, from which it did not recover fully until the end of Chris Claremont's third run on the title in 2007, when Ed Brubaker took over the book.
    • Another common view is that the franchise became a directionless mire of unresolved storylines, inconsistent characterization, tangled family trees, alternate universes and angst shortly after the end of Claremont's first run. 1998 did indeed mark the beginning of a severe creative decline that exacerbated these issues and alienated both dedicated and new readers. Either Joss Whedon or Grant Morrison is said to have heralded a brief return to the quality and relevance of the mutants' heyday.
    • There was also a more recent period of rot that just ended in 2011, though fans are divided on when it started. Some place the beginning as far back as 2005 and House of M, the aftermath of which left mutants a Dying Race and the "struggle for survival" aspect of the comic being played up repeatedly and Anviliciously. Others are more generous and say the rot didn't kick in until 2009, with Matt Fraction's run (often considered the second-worst in the book's history) and the "Utopia" storyline. Thankfully, things seem to be getting back on track; the return of the Xavier Institute, gone since 2008, has been particularly praised.
  • Depending on who you ask, the seasonal rot for the Sonic the Hedgehog series started either after issue 50 (the appropriately-titled "Endgame" arc), or after the Bem/Xorda arc . Exactly how long the Seasonal Rot lasted (or indeed, if it ever did end) also depends on who you ask.
  • This seems to be happening with the "second season" of Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane, since the writer and the artist both left and they subsequently hired new people. The writing and art style shift is... jarring, to say the least.
  • The "Reads" arc of Cerebus, largely due to consisting mostly of an extended Author Filibuster.
  • The first half of 2009 issues of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8 Comic-Book is vastly considered to be the weakest point of the entire series so far. The second half of 2009 is also considered sub-par by many, though not to the same extent.
  • When Claremont took over writing duties for Exiles, it was with the editorial edict passed down upon him to get rid of the mainstay characters and replace them with variations of his pet characters (such as a spoiled brat version of Rogue, a gender-flip version of Mystique, a generic teenage version of Shadowcat, etc. Needless to say it didn't take well with fans.
  • Robert Kirkman's run on Ultimate X-Men is generally thought of as a bit of a low point for the series.


Film[edit | hide]

  • Prior to the prequel trilogy, most fans viewed Return of the Jedi as the weakest Star Wars film. Although Jedi is still considered the worst of the original trilogy, it is well-liked, and is easily accepted with the other two as a great film. However, after the prequels were released, The Phantom Menace is often cited as the worst Star Wars movie, even with the prequel trilogy's mixed reception. That said, there's a small but growing group of fans who now consider Attack of the Clones to be the worst, mainly because of the half-baked Anakin/Padme love story, Anakin's general emo-ness in that film in particular, and the percieved stiffness of Hayden Christensen's performance.
  • While Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is the weakest Indiana Jones film critically (although the strongest commercially) there is a heavy debate among fans as to whether it is better or worse than the series' previous worst film Temple of Doom (which was the weakest commercially, for whatever that's worth). Fans of Doom claim that the fourth film was too campy and over-the-top, even by Indiana Jones standards, and that too much the series was altered in this film (having aliens instead of mysticism powering the object, Jones marrying Marion at the end, him having a son etc.). However, the equally vocal Skull fans claim that Doom was too dark and gritty compared to the other movies' lighter tone, it had copious amounts of Squick for no real reason other than to be edgy, and replaced the beloved characters Marion and Sallah with the more despised Willie and Short-Round.
  • While both Matrix Sequels are hated by the fandom, The Matrix Revolutions is considered the weakest for its lame ambiguous ending and forced metaphors taking control of the story.
  • While every sequel to the original Planet of the Apes suffered from both continuing when the previous installment was meant to be the last and a smaller budget than the previous one, the last one, Battle of the Planet of the Apes, is widely considered the absolute nadir.
  • While every Highlander sequel is viewed as a poor follow-up to the original (at best), Highlander II the Quickening currently holds the typical title of worst in the franchise and a shining example of how not to do a sequel.
  • Of the two MGM distributed Dark Shadows films in the early 1970s, the second, Night of Dark Shadows is generally considered the weaker for several reasons, including the fact that it was not directly based on any plot arc from the anchor series and the fact that executive meddling led to a re-editing that left the continuity of the plot somewhat choppy and confusing. Add to that the absence of Jonathan Frid as fan favorite character Barnabas Collins (though Frid had been in the first film, and the second featured the as popular David Selby as an alternate version of his regular Quentin Collins character) and the fans stayed away in droves. This killed all hopes for a third film in the series.
  • James Bond has a few contested titles, but the most unquestionable ones are The Man with the Golden Gun (whose sole saving grace is Christopher Lee), Moonraker (so outlandish that the follow-up. For Your Eyes Only, toned it down considerably), and A View to a Kill (where Roger Moore realized he was too old for the role). Die Another Day sometimes gets lumped there too for the same reason as Moonraker.


Literature[edit | hide]

  • Tom Clancy himself admitted that he had run out of good candidates for villain nations by the mid-1990s, which resulted in a pair of suicidally outmatched opponents for the United States in Debt of Honor (Japan fights Round Two...) and Executive Orders.
  • The tenth book in Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series falls under this due to excessive use of Padding and Purple Prose. The average rating on Amazon.com is 1.5 stars. Most fans see some manner of seasonal rot setting in anywhere between books 4 and 9 already, but it's disputed where it really went downhill. Either way, book 11 was a significant improvement, resolving several plots and paving the way for the final book with, by WoT standards, barely any padding at all. (Though it does focus inordinant attention on bondage situations with the Aes Sedai and a lot of dumb moves by characters, even for them).
  • Stephen King's The Dark Tower runs at a strong pace until crashing in a brick wall in Wizard and Glass. Shortly after introducing us to the world of The Stand (a storyline with promise), all we get is a flashback sequence that doesn't flesh out the narrating character any more than the previous books had. Six hundred pages later, we return to the story, which culminates in an Anticlimax as the Big Bad was reduced to a gibbering lunatic with a handful of grenades, his Magnificent Bastard Dragon was offed by his actual bastard Scrappy and the ultimate fate of the protagonist was left uncertain, but hopeful.
    • What makes Wizard and Glass so painful is the focus of the story. Two stories are happening during the flashback: The War and The Town. One is about the huge shadow-war that is being fought between the armies of the Crimson King and the Gunslingers. This is the one about mythical battles and powerful artifacts being brought to bear against nightmarish demons and mechanical abominations as the world is quickly being brought to the cataclysm that framed the past three books. The other is about Roland's first girlfriend. Guess which gets the book and which gets the chapter.
  • Naked Empire, the eighth book of the Sword of Truth series, is commonly thought to be the weakest part of the series by even people who like it as a whole. Yes, this is the book with evil pacifists. Afterward, the series gains back some of its momentum in the three last books.
  • The Shelters of Stone, book five in Jean M Auel's Earth's Children series. Boring repeats of the same kind of issues the characters have faced in the past, Ayla and Jondalar become Mary Sue characters 100%, no real drama or storyline to carry through the book, retconning... Basically a boring read about two Mary Sue characters who have the same discussions with people as they've had for two books already. The fact that it was published more than a decade after book four might have had something to do with Auel losing her style.
    • The Land of the Painted Caves, last installment of the series, manages to be even worse than Shelters.
      • Specifically, Land of the Painted Caves had the same conversations repeated almost word for word about six times throughout the novel—every time Ayla met someone new, the same conversation went on about how she acquired Wolf. Plains of Passage, with the whole story being one long journey and a six page sex scene every five pages, got pretty boring, too.
  • In James Patterson's Maximum Ride, the first three books (Subtitled The Angel Experiment, School's Out Forever, and Saving The World And Other Extreme Sports) Were all well, engaging action-y novels, if increasingly showing the fact that the author doesn't so much have a plan as more that he's making it all up as he goes along. The fourth book (The Final Warning) is a 200-something page Author Filibuster on why global warming is bad.
  • In Death series: A number of readers would argue that this has occurred for this series, but where did it happen is debatable. Still, the book New York To Dallas has a number of reviewers feeling that the series is going to come to an end soon.
  • Sisterhood series by Fern Michaels: This trope most certainly occurred after the book Free Fall. The author herself said that she was only planning on writing 7 books for the series...at first. Then she decided to write more books. This resulted in 13 more books, and the storyline eventually just dragged on. That, and a number of flaws that had been present in the first 7 books became glaringly obvious, and the final book Home Free did have an ending that likely left readers feeling that the series ended not with a bang, but a whimper!


Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer inspires a lot of arguments on this topic. It's widely agreed that there was Seasonal Rot but less clear which season it was. Season 6 in particular is a case of Love It or Hate It; Many revile it for levels of gloom bordering on Wangst, The pathetic-ness of the Trio of as Big Bad, plot elements such as the widely-detested "magic addiction" arc and an inconsistently written romance between Spike and Buffy. On the other hand, some praise it for the attempts at emotional depth and character development, a change of pace from the relentless Sorting Algorithm of Evil, and individually beloved episodes like "Tabula Rasa" and "Once More With Feeling".
    • Perhaps lampshaded in this scene:

Buffy: Giles, everything's just been so... Xander left Anya at the altar, and Anya's a vengeance demon again... Dawn's a total klepto ... money's been so tight that I've been slinging burgers at the Doublemeat Palace ... And I've been sleeping with Spike.
Giles starts to laugh

  • Angel, much like Buffy, is subject to a lot of argument over this. Many fans found Season 4 to be extremely hard-going, thanks to a Bait-and-Switch Villain, a hefty portion of Squick, and the continually annoying Wangst of Connor. Summed up nicely by Gunn's description of the season thus-far as "a supernatural soap-opera." Nearly everyone agrees that Season 4 was a nadir, but opinion is divided on whether the show improved when Season 5 came around.
  • Xena: Warrior Princess's fandom generally agrees that either Season 3 or Season 4 suffered from this; Depending on the side of the arguement you take, Season Four suffered for being unable to pass the high standards set by Season Three, (Gabrielle's pacifism phase is often cited as the primary downfall of the season), or Season Three's "Rift" arc (which lead to the critically acclaimed Musical Episode "The Bitter Suite") being disliked by certain fans.
  • If and how much this happened to The Red Green Show over its fifteen season run is debatable, but writer and star Steve Smith was aware of this happening, which is why he chose to end the show on its 300th episode.
  • Double the Fist was originally displayed as a reality TV show where the main characters antics towards an episodic goal were reported on by Steve. Series Two, while good in its own right, got a lot of hate for instead choosing to have a complex plot sprawling the entire season.
  • Six Feet Under: most fans agree that the fourth season is the worst one, and the creators themselves tend to agree. Character-arcs tended to become redundant, out-of-place, irrelevant, or overly gratuitous in their content; it was at that time that the scenarists understood they could not keep using the same characters forever and decided the next season would be the last. Nevertheless it's still top-quality television, but watching it you really do feel the writers were starting to get a bit confused. It's also compensated by the fact both the beginning and the end are top-notch ; the fifth season also did a good job explaining the relevance of more controversial plotlines introduced during season four.
  • Star Trek:
    • Star Trek: The Original Series: The hastily Uncancelled third season. The slashed budget did not help matters.
    • Star Trek: The Next Generation: First season, which tended toward the Anvilicious. Season two, while generally considered an improvement, isn't very well-liked either; Dr. Pulaski was meant to be The McCoy, but she came across as cold. Some of the later seasons may have descended back into Seasonal Rot, though it's hard to get any agreement of which ones. The show really took off starting with the third season, displaying a case of reverse Seasonal Rot in that the show actually started poorly and rose in esteem later.
      • Season Seven is the most popular candidate for worst later season. The plots were getting stale and repetitive, the writers had decided to pair Troi and Worf, and much of the A-team was working on other projects: Deep Space Nine was well underway, and Star Trek Generations was in pre-production.
    • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Season three is distinctly weak, due to two factors: the departure of Peter Allan Fields (who was responsible for the first two seasons' best writing), and an increasing reliance on Ferengi-centered comedy episodes. It was back on its feet by season four, though. Season seven receives this accusation by some fans due to (allegedly) lower quality stories and Ezri Dax.
    • Star Trek: Voyager: Depends who you ask, but Season 2 is frequently chosen. It contained some of the show's least popular storylines (with fans and eventually writers) and famously led longtime Trek reviewer Tim Lynch to stop watching. The show improved steadily from here, beginning by leaving Kazon space behind.
      • A sizable number of fans, however, would argue that (far from steadily improving), Seasonal Rot set in around Season 4 or 5.
    • Star Trek: Enterprise: Season two, which lacked both the novelty of the first season and the ambition of the third and fourth seasons. What is widely regarded as the show's worst episode ("A Night In Sickbay") was produced that season, along with a rather desperate and ill-advised appearance by the Borg.
  • The West Wing: Everything post-Aaron Sorkin, but mainly the fifth season.
    • Attitudes to series six and seven are generally split pretty evenly down the middle; on one hand the actual West Wing was sidelined, but at the same time the plot tried something new and focused on the presidential election. The main problem with series five was that it tried too hard to top the previous series by introducing too many new constitutional challenges (the 25th amendment invocation, the federal government shut-down etc.).
  • Red Dwarf gets this a lot.
    • Either the sixth, seventh, or eighth series; which one qualifies best, or rather worst, as the seasonal rot depends on who you talk to.
    • While fans differ as to where it began exactly it's generally agreed that the period in between Series 3 and 6 was its peak, with the rot starting depending on personal impression. However the rot became obvious after Rob Grant and Doug Naylor split. With Doug Naylor choosing to revive the series and turn it into a comedy/drama with no studio audience for Series 7 and a new Kochanski and getting the backlash that followed. Despite returning to a pure comedy format and shot in front of an audience for Series 8 the response was similarly poor, due to the jarring change of premise to a prison comedy with the old crew brought back to life as opposed to the more natural progression from series 5 through 7.
  • Sliders: Universally, season three, during which Maggie was introduced, Professor Arturo had a bridge dropped on him, and Quinn Mallory ceased being the genius he once had been. The debate is how much the show recovered, if at all.
  • Doctor Who seasons 22 through 24. Season 22 was the first full season featuring the Sixth Doctor (Colin Baker) and with that a lot of problematic storytelling. Season 23 is derided as much as season 22, possibly due to it being mindscrewy. Additionally, both seasons are notable for being the point where Continuity Lock Out and Continuity Porn are particularly bothersome. Season 24 introduced the clownish and goofy (at first) Seventh Doctor (Sylvester McCoy), ramped the Camp Up to Eleven and introduced the world to Keff McCulloch and his disco-aerobics brand of incidental music. Really, the show seems to be called on this one with every season, with symptoms ranging from regeneration to shifts in tone by new production teams to questionmark lapels appearing.
    • In the new series, despite the great performances of the cast and the occasional great episode, series 2 (season 28) is considered the least-well written of the first five by the fandom, and certainly overall worse than Eccleston's sole series, due in part to an over reliance in the romance of the Doctor/Rose ship and acting a little on the goofy side even for Who, despite Tennant's Doctor being in some ways darker than Eccleston's.
      • To add to the above example, despite the poor reception of Tennant's first tenure, it is also considered that Tennant's performance as the Doctor was fantastic, as it showed he could handle the revived role that Eccleston had set the bar pretty high for, as it catapulted him to star status and made him the most popular Doctor since Tom Baker, another positive is the finale, which had Daleks vs Cybermen and was a very satisfactory ending that wrapped up all plot points from the first two series.
      • To further add to the above, this is actually something a hot button issue among New Who fans as to whether or not series 3 was actually worse than series 2. Many fans didn't like the change from Rose to Martha as Companion (although that is also a hot debate topic in the fandom), the episodes "Daleks in Manhattan" and "Evolution of the Daleks" are especially hated by fans as the point the Daleks became overused and undergoing Villain Decay, and Jon Simm's portrayal of fan favorite villain, The Master, is either one of the greatest things ever or a horrendous insult to the character depending on who you ask (made no better by his Deus Ex Machina defeat in the finale).
    • General mileage varies, but series 6 has undergone accusations of this. Many fans complained that the constant twists marred the overall story arc, causing odd swerves in tone and character development. Other than that, there are a whole host of reasons as to why certain fans disliked it. Some accused the River Song arc of being a Romantic Plot Tumor. Some just hated River in general. Others thought that the overall story arc was far too convoluted. Others still found the story arc to be too simplistic. Whatever the reason, the general consensus among fans is that the series had some good ideas that were marred by shaky writing.
    • While general consensus is still being debated many fans found Season 17 (the season Douglas Adams script edited) to be ultimately lackluster. While City of Death is considered one of the best episodes out there, it doesn't make up the poorly written episodes Destiny of the Daleks and The Horns of Nimon, the Anvilicious Nightmare of Eden, or the fact that the entire season was cut short by a poorly timed crew workers strike.
  • Some people felt that Kyle XY began to suffer when it became less about Kyle himself (as in Season 1) and more about the evil Mega Corp that was pursuing him (as in Seasons 2 and 3).
  • X-Files: Season 9. There's some disagreement as to exactly when the show took a wrong turn and started going downhill, but many agree that by season 9, at least, major problems had set in. Although the replacement of Mulder with John Dogett in season 8 at least had a mixed reception, the same can't be said of season 9 where Scully is in the process of being phased out in favor or Reyes, a real Replacement Scrappy, and the conspiracy arc was seen dragging on for far too long, leading to a series finale that offered very little resolution.
    • The finale was intended to be a set-up for a series of feature films that would finally start resolving the Mytharc, but that ultimately didn't come to pass.
  • Monty Python's Flying Circus: John Cleese left the show after the third series. Without his rigorous quality control, the fourth season, renamed simply Monty Python, featured way too many half-baked ideas and thin premises stretched well past breaking point, resulting in a horribly uneven batch of episodes.
  • 24: The fourth series of the show is markedly different from the preceding three seasons; Jack is effectively deposed as head of CTU operations, the building itself has undergone a makeover, and just about everyone from the previous season is gone without explanation. It's not surprising that, by the end of the season, almost all of the major surviving characters from the series were brought back into the fold. Alternately, season six starts out promising, and then becomes mired in a complex, ridiculous family drama filled with plot points ripped haphazardly from previous episodes.
    • Season 6 is the only season that was hated by almost everyone; even the writers admit it was incredibly subpar.
    • Since Seasons 2, 3, 5 and 7 are generally considered some of the best seasons (obviously debatable, but at least S5 is universally acclaimed), a distinct pattern can be seen: all non-prime-numbered seasons are subpar.
  • While not every fan of the prison drama Oz agrees that the final two seasons were the worst, it's hard to argue against the fact that storylines became increasingly outlandish and implausible during the show's final years, which involved, among other things, accelerated aging drugs, a dog-training program in a maximum security prison and a prison guard being signed by the NBA. This all in stark contrast to the gritty realism of the show's early seasons.
  • Smallville: While the fourth season brought us Impulse and Krypto, its primary plot was magic stones and reincarnated witches. The writers clearly didn't know where they were going and way too many conspiracies made it hard to keep track of where it had been, especially with Jason and his mother, whom the writers couldn't decide if they were working together or apart, or if they wanted Lana alive or dead. It also had a butchering of Mxyzptlk preventing a more traditional (i.e. having any qualities even remotely resembling Mxyzptlk) version from showing up in the future.
    • Most fans complain about season 8. Mostly due to the increasingly poor plots (Clark always rushes in at the last minute to save the day and it's starting to bug everyone), bringing Lana back again, dialogue filled with needless Purple Prose, and not moving forward at all with the plot.
      • Lana returning easily derailed the entire season, putting all the established plotlines (which were well-liked) on hold in favor of milking the guest star, who was already the most hated character on the show thanks to previous seasons. The butchering of Doomsday didn't help either, especially since unlike Mxyzptlk he was a regular. The sad thing is, the first half of Season 8 was universally beloved and halfway into the season fans and critics were already praising it as one of the best seasons yet, and it successfully breathed enough life back into the show to allow it to last a few more seasons. Then the Lana plot arrived mid-season and all the momentum was thrown off course. It seems that a LOT of the fans never completely forgave the showrunners.
      • And the Season 8 finale, 'Doomsday', was derided. And Season 9 is also turning into a Base Breaker, with its bigger Recurring Character cast and desire to use more canonical characters.
  • Lost has had this, although the matter is debatable. What's known for sure is that season 2 lost many viewers because of an overly large Kudzu Plot. The first six episodes of season 3 (the "pod") were widely panned and turned off a lot of fans (who would then go on to miss episode 7, "Not in Portland," considered one of the show's finest, and the nearly unbroken line of incredible episodes that followed it). Fortunately, now that the series' end got scheduled to the sixth and final season years in advance, seasons 4 and 5 have started expanding the context of the story and tying together some of the various loose ends.
  • Power Rangers: The fans near universally hated Power Rangers Turbo (season 5), due to it being a serious story at odds with the tongue-in-cheek Carranger footage, not to mention Justin as The Scrappy. The Crisis Crossover season Power Rangers in Space picked up the slack and won everyone back over.
    • Well, people have mellowed out a little in regards to Turbo both due to it improving midway through as well as the fact that, despite its flaws, it did lead directly into one of the most popular seasons of the series. Nowadays Power Rangers Operation Overdrive seems to most occupy the designation of "worst season" among the fanbase.
  • The last couple seasons (starting point depends on the viewer) of MacGyver aren't viewed as favorably as the first couple seasons due to the Genre Shift of the show. By the last season, it was practically little more than a soapbox for the major issues the writers viewed as important. Most of the elements that made the show successful toned down or phased out in favor of Anvilicious issue-of-the-week episodes.
  • The fourth series of the British series Teachers. The surrealism that had always bubbled under in the earlier series before coming to the fore in the third series got a little too out of hand, the dramatic elements almost entirely vanished, as did most of the better characters, to be replaced by pale imitations. One of the standout characters in the previous series had been Bob, a lovable loser, but for the fourth series he was flanderized into a Butt Monkey with a cheating Thai bride completely unaware of his status as the Butt Monkey. It might actually be possible that this is the way it always was, but we only noticed when the plots went downhill...
    • Series three is also a good pick. Few shows can survive the loss of their three most developed characters without taking a nosedive, and series 3 demonstrated why; Brian and Kurt were great background characters, but in no way were they capable of leading a series, and as a result the writing took massive drop in quality.
  • Batman: Despite the stereotype, this series' first season had fairly good balance of drama and farce, but the subsequent seasons lost it with Season 2 becoming primarily ridiculous while Season 3 was both embarrassingly cheap and ridiculous.
  • The Los Angeles season of The Apprentice. It would have probably been fine if the location was the only thing that changed, but in the face of steadily declining ratings, the show added a number of gimmicks. Viewers saw former viceroys Carolyn and George replaced by Trump's children (Granted, Carolyn had quit the show to focus on her own career and George had pretty much become The Ghost in the previous season due to his other work, but the replacement choices stunk of nepotism to many viewers.) The show's focus shifting toward boardroom and interpersonal drama at the expense of the task (which generally got no more than ten minutes of screentime per episode), the week's losers having to live in tents, the winning Project Manager staying PM until a loss, said PM getting to sit in on boardroom elimination discussions, an entire team getting immunity for a week and as a result the losing team being split into two groups that had to compete against each other, and the final challenge pitting two teams of two instead of just two finalists. This resulted in a winner that never served as Project Manager. This led to poor ratings and a near-cancellation — Three "celebrity" editions and dropping the aforementioned gimmicks seem to have kept the show afloat for now; the tenth season returned to regular folks, but ratings were even more dismal than the L.A. season, so the eleventh season will feature another batch of celebrities.
    • With the UK incarnation of the show, the second season is generally agreed as the worst, with the very competent candidates in the previous series replaced by a bunch of complete morons (with the obvious exception of Ruth Badger). Depending on who you ask, the third season was either when things got back on track, or the year when the show went all icky and "mainstream" on viewers.
  • Season 2 of Heroes. Half the characters had boring storylines, one of the more interesting ones was mostly off screen, and Maya Herrera. Cut short by the writers' strike, and acknowledged by the writers as inferior to Season 1.
    • The first half of Season 3 was arguably worse. The writers heard the complaints that Season 2 was too slowly paced, and lacking twists. Their answer? A Random Events Plot and one Aborted Arc after another. Fans could no longer say it was predictable or slowly paced, but the result was even worse. The show mostly returned to form with the second half of its third season and the fourth and final season, though fans argue by how much.
  • Desperate Housewives: The season five time jump aborts numerous storylines such as Bree and Orson being new parents while the relationship between Mike and Susan once again got haphazardly changed in order to drag out the "Will they or won't they" drama.
  • Saturday Night Live: Just about any season depending on who you ask (with the popular answer being that the show hasn't been good since the original cast was on it in the 1970s), but the sixth season (1980-1981) stands out as uniquely awful. The entire cast and writing staff left in 1980, but the network insisted that the show continue along anyway; new producer Jean Doumanian knew nothing about comedy (on a special about SNL's history in the 1980s, Gilbert Gottfried, a cast member around that time, went on record in saying that Jean Doumanian was so clueless about comedy that she would root for Margaret Dumont in a Marx Brothers film), having been previously in charge of booking musical guests. As a result, the musical guests were fantastic, but the rest of the show was barely watchable (including Weekend Update, which Lorne Michaels invented as a way for viewers to at least find one funny moment in an episode that they didn't like because of the host or if the writing was a little flat that week). More to the point, Doumanian passed up a lot of potentially talented would-be cast members (Jim Carrey being one of them), misunderstood a lot of obvious punchlines, thought that Refuge in Vulgarity was what made the sketches funny (as opposed to Refuge in Audacity) -- which became the show's downfall when Charles Rocket said, "I wanna know who the fuck did it" at the end of the Charlene Tilton episode, and focused more on humorless character pieces (some of which were intentionally not funny, like the one from the Karen Black/Cheap Trick episode in which Gilbert Gottfried played a stroke victim laid up in the hospital while everyone around him—except his true friend, Rachel [Denny Dillon] -- mocked him). Finally NBC stepped in and fired everyone except Joe Piscopo and some kid named Eddie Murphy that was hired mid-season and was showing a lot of promise...
    • Season 11 (1985-1986) counts as Seasonal Rot and an Old Shame, in the eyes of NBC, Al Franken, and Simpsons writer George Meyer. One would think that a season in which one of the original producers (Lorne Michaels) returns to try and rebuild the show to its former glory would be welcomed with open arms by fans, right? Not really. The writing was okay (a little weird for its time, but critics didn't complain about the writing), but the cast was filled with semi-famous people who may have given good performances, but really didn't gel into that ensemble cast that SNL had in its early days. This, coupled with the mediocre premiere hosted by Madonna and the fact that critics and fans alike were getting sick of SNL and you had all the ingredients needed for Brandon Tartikoff to plan SNL's cancellation (though, unlike season six, season 11's "Weekend Update" was somewhat enjoyable, thanks to the hiring of Dennis Miller, whose snarky delivery brought back memories of Chevy Chase as the show's very first Weekend Update anchor). (Un)Fortunately, this didn't happen, as Lorne Michaels fired most of his season 11 cast (leaving behind Jon Lovitz, Nora Dunn, and Dennis Miller) and hired a new crew of up-and-coming cast members (Dana Carvey, Phil Hartman, Jan Hooks, Kevin Nealon, and Victoria Jackson). Those who weren't completely turned off by SNL in its 11th season rejoiced.
    • The 20th season (1994-1995) also stands out as particularly bad. Between Phil Hartman's departure, the popularity of the O.J. Simpson murder trial (which SNL repeatedly wrote sketches about during this time—when it didn't write sketches laden with Ho Yay or Overly Long Gags disguised as sketches with some semblance of a plot), and cast and crew tensions backstage (particularly with Janeane Garofalo, who hated the juvenile humor of the show and left mid-season), it's really not hard to see why some critics and fans have compared season 20 with season 6 in terms of sheer unwatchability (though, like season 11, Weekend Update was considered a bright spot in an otherwise messy season—this time, with Norm MacDonald as the anchor, though even Weekend Update suffered from being weak and repetitive just like the rest of season 20).
  • Supernatural:
    • Season 3: Executive Meddling led to Bela and Ruby, the audience was always Anviliciously reminded that Dean only had one year to live, and the season premiere ("The Magnificent Seven") was too bright and shiny. Season 4 has been a grittier improvement, but Genevieve Cortese is generally reviled in her portrayal of Ruby throughout the fanbase, and many fans really miss Katie Cassidy. Fans that weren't nearly so loud when she was actually onscreen. Season 3 was also weakened by the Writer's Strike, which cut it down from 22 episodes to 16 - thus making the storylines of the last 4 episodes rushed and abandoning great ideas, like the return of Ellen Harvelle (it was pushed back to Season 5). It had good ideas with Bela and Ruby, but over-focusing on the two - over the brothers - led to fan derision and may have contributed to Bela being killed off.
    • Season 4 and Season 5, with their considerable retooling of the Myth Arc, heavy use of Christian mythology, and larger cast, are looked upon more favorably by newer fans, and generally less so by older ones. This turned out in favor of the newer fans, as Season 4 boosted the show's sagging ratings enough to ensure there would be a Season 5.
    • And now Season 6, with its "return to form" approach, may have pleased some older fans with its drastically pared-down cast and concentration on the Winchester brothers' newest trust issues, but turned off newer fans. The ratings aspire to be Season 3. To a good number of the fanbase, the meta episode "The French Mistake", where the Winchesters somehow stumble into the actual set of the show, proved that the writers were clutching at straws after abruptly abandoning the soulless-Sam plotline. It didn't help that the episode was right after a far too peppy "monster of the week" plot (not dissimilar to those that permeated earlier, less angsty seasons) and the introduction of a new, somewhat derivative Big Bad...after more than half the season was over.
    • While season 6 had its flaws, and definitely suffered the loss of the original show runners, season 7 has had Supernatural showing its age badly. Concurrent with Castiel's abrupt death, the Leviathans were pretty much pulled out of the show's continuity's ass, don't bring anything new to the table, and their plotline is going nowhere fast, resulting in a lot of filler episodes instead, since the writers apparently can't think of anything to do with them other than using their leader as a source of rather juvenile political TakeThats. The other monsters are barely menacing, Bobby dies, Crowley makes a scant few appearances before vanishing from the story, and the Dean/Sam drama has gotten so overplayed that half of the dialogue is about how overplayed it is. At this point, the chemistry between the show's leads is about all it has left.
    • Season 7 was boring largely because of They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot with Castiel and Crowley and instead substituted the Leviathans, who are seen as the most boring villains in the show's run: the abrupt dropping of the very-promising-sounding Cosmic New Order at the beginning of the season (Castiel was going to be the new God, while Crowley was already the king of Hell), was disappointing. This storyline (just imagine the awesomeness of Sam and Dean being caught up in a cold war between Cas and Crowley while desperately trying to get Cas to return to sanity) had the fans pumped and excited, and one really wonders just what the hell the writers were thinking when they threw it out. Castiel was killed off, and Crowley just vanished from the plot with absolutely no explanation, and hasn't been seen or mentioned since, despite having been an important character. And who takes their place? The Leviathans, who were a complete Ass Pull, and remained extremely vague in their abilities for several episodes. The writers themselves apparently couldn't figure out what to do with them, so they had them disappear for long stretches of time while still trying to make them out to be this huge threat...except that their goals were completely undefined, resulting in a sense that Vagueness Is Coming. Eventually they had an episode where their leader becomes a Strawman Political Corrupt Corporate Executive so they could do a poorly-written Take That on conservatives and libertarians (which only served to offend some of the fanbase). Then the Leviathans disappeared AGAIN for an even longer stretch of episodes. They weren't doing very much onscreen, but Sam and Dean's dialogue constantly exhorted the audience to remember that Vagueness Is Coming. The fandom also was deprived of Bobby and the Impala for most of the season, resulting in further dissatisfaction towards an already-boring season. Really, the introduction of Plucky Comic Relief character Garth may have been the season's only decent contribution.
  • The last two seasons of The Drew Carey Show changed so much that the show was nearly unrecognizable.
  • Season 8 of The Amazing Race was a "Family Edition" which was utter crap, and even the production team later said that It Seemed Like a Good Idea At the Time but turned out badly. The intra-team drama invariably became parents yelling at kids, having children restricted international travel, teams of 4 also restricted international travel (as the show already requires a huge travel budget with teams of 2), the challenges had to be watered down for the families, and so on. The entirety of the race ended up taking place in North and Central America, and viewers watched families turning seemingly dysfunctional while being challenged to such difficult tasks like pitching a tent in exotic Pennsylvania. Its main shining moment was the injection of Unfortunate Implications Narm of an African-American family having the surname of "Black" (leading to such captions as "Black Family: Last Place" with narration to match). Thankfully, season 9 returned to the original format.
    • And now Season 15, which had a whiny, mediocre cast full of pseudo-celebrities running on a subpar course. It did not help either that three teams essentially quit the race when they came up against something too difficult (which included, of all things, going down a waterslide and unscrambling the name Franz).
  • Sea Quest DSV stopped playing to its strengths in Season 2; the writers introduced a lot of weird sci-fi elements that were out of place on a submarine show. The Season 3 Retool did a lot to fix this, but it came too late to avert cancellation.
  • Although still popular, Seinfeld in seasons 8 and 9 was notably different from the former ones. This is because the showrunner Larry David left the show after season 7, leaving Jerry Seinfeld as the new Executive Producer. With the remaining writing staff left to its own devices, these seasons featured faster-paced, "wackier" episodes with many references to previous episodes, and attempts at running gags. Characters also slightly de-evolved, especially George, and Kramer's stunts became ever increasing. Still, the series continued to enjoy ratings success and a tenth season was proposed, until Seinfeld declined.
    • Also, the first and second seasons of Seinfeld (mind you—these two made about 15 episodes total) were very bland, slow and generically sitcom-y. The only thing that saved it from being cancelled was the opinion of a few execs that the scripts were funny, if not good, and that the characters showed promise. The Growing the Beard episode is accepted as season 2's "The Chinese Restaurant," where the characters do nothing but stand around in a restaurant waiting for a table for 23 minutes (in Real Time, no less), a move unprecedented in TV history.
  • Season 2 of Veronica Mars: Not merely content to have an underwhelming Red Herring-laden season-spanning mystery, it dragged several of Season 1's plot elements down with it (most notably Ret Conning the resolution to Veronica's rape storyline). Not to mention having Aaron Echols' hamfisted Karma Houdini-turned-Karmic Death. Season 3 went downhill even further with the overall story arc reduced to several mini-arcs and the Flanderization of important characters. To this day, there's a Broken Base regarding seasons 2 and 3- those who liked 2 tended to hate 3, while those who hated 3 tended to like 2.
  • While still probably the best adaptations out there, The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes and The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, the sixth and seventh series from the Granada Sherlock Holmes adaptations were marked by increasing (sometimes justified, othertimes... just weird) deviations from the Canon. This was mostly due to Jeremy Brett's worsening health, and the planned filming of the entire Canon was cut short by Actor Existence Failure.
  • Season Five of House. Plot points that were never brought up again, Wilson and Cuddy acting like bigger asses than House was, an overemphasis on Foreteen and giving Foreman all the big plotlines, Chase and Cameron being very rarely seen, the medicine being even worse than before, House turning pathetic and rather stupid and Kutner's dumbass suicide made this season even worse than Season Three in the fans' eyes.
    • Season Six isn't exactly liked either. Removing almost all of the character traits from House that made him a compelling character in the first place is a prime example of doing it wrong.
    • Season seven...dull. House and Cuddy's relationship, dull. The prodigy chick? Dull. For longtime fans, if season five or six didn't deter you, seven definitely will.
  • Sanford and Son subverted this earlier in its run with Fred being Put on a Bus a few times because of Redd Foxx's contract disputes. However, the supporting characters were strong (and plentiful) enough to hold up the show along side Lamont. One stretch of episodes even had Grady functioning as the second main character and it actually worked! Then real seasonal rot kicked in the final two seasons that had an increased focus on As Himself guest stars (who inexplicably showed up at the junk yard), a Vacation Episode to Hawaii and a bizarre episode that featured Fred entering a Redd Foxx look alike contest that were all very out of character for the show. On top of that, Foxx and costar Demond Wilson were both engaged in contract battles with the network that hurt their work on camera and ultimately caused both to leave the show thus ending it. The less said about the After Show The Sanford Arms (sans Foxx and Wilson) and the Revival Sanford (sans Wilson) that NBC tried to cash in with, the better.
  • Arrested Development, while generaly considered to be Too Good to Last, had a weaker story arc involving Charlize Theron. Acknowledged by the creators in the episode "SOBs":

George Sr.: Hey, we can have some celebrities in. Oscar winners, like Nicole Kidman...
Michael: I don't want to just round up a bunch of famous people that have nothing to do with our family as some sort of cheap stunt. What's that got to do with us?

    • Part of the reason season 3 suffered was having only thirteen episodes. Many plot points seem rushed. George is put under house arrest with no explanation for why he didn't get sent back to jail.
  • Survivor: Season 5 ("Thailand") seems to be considered by most fans to be the worst season, an opinion also shared by host Jeff Probst, who referred to it as "mean-spirited" and "ugly" and called the final four contestants of the season the least likable ever.
    • Season 14 ("Fiji") isn't highly regarded, either, due to a poorly thought out "Haves Vs. Have-Nots" twist where one tribe was initially given a much superior camp, then, predictably, rolled off a string of victories up until the merge.
    • Seasons 22 and 23 also have a mixed reaction, with the underwhelming Redemption Island twist (where a voted out player could return to the game... often to be immediately voted out again), and bringing back two Creator's Pet apiece and giving them the majority of screen-time. It didn't help that both seasons featured an extended Pagong-ing of one tribe over the other in the middle of the season.
  • Season 5 of Three's Company is when Suzanne Somers' infamous salary dispute took place, which put the show through hell that year. The show effectively became "Two's Company" for a while when Suzanne refused to show up on several tape days and had to be hurriedly written out. Chrissy was eventually replaced in the apartment for the rest of the season with her cousin Cindy (a character that many fans seem to dislike), and was only seen herself over the phone in the one-minute tag scene at the end of each episode, before disappearing completely without explanation the next season.
  • Friday Night Lights: Season 2, which bafflingly changed gears from the first season's subtle, understated, and authentic portrait of small-town life to Landry murdering a rapist and hiding the body, Matt having a sexy affair with his grandmother's live-in caretaker, and Tim Riggins running afoul of Dillon's dangerous local meth dealer. Many fans feared that the show had Jumped the Shark only for it to return for a brilliant third season once again in the best spirit of the shows original intentions and with even less filler than the already-brilliant first season. Some have called the ongoing season 4 the best yet.
  • Oh, Twin Peaks. The first season and the beginning of the second were a cultural phenomenon, considered by critics to be some of the best television ever created. Then, creator David Lynch succumbed to Executive Meddling and revealed Laura Palmer's killer, who until that had been the major driving force of the plot, and in so doing left the show directionless. To make things worse, Lynch suffered some serious Artist Disillusionment after this and left the show, leaving it in the hands of writers who really didn't know what to do with it. The episodes post-Lynch were pure filler, and ratings plummeted, leading to its cancellation at the end of the second season. Luckily, there was a brief upswing in quality once the replacement writers got their game together, and Lynch came back to direct the (awesome) series finale.
  • Robin Hood. There was still time to save it even after the horror of the season two finale (in which Marian was killed off), but a number of contributing factors ensured that the third season not only earned the hatred of the fans, but the cancellation of the show. This included the new writers who apparently didn't bother to watch the previous two seasons, the dropping of long-term storylines from the show, the complete lack of mention of Will Scarlett and Djaq (who were abandoned in the Holy Land), the reimagining of Friar Tuck as a Magical Negro, the introduction of the horrid Kate as a love interest for Robin, the reduction of the outlaws into bit-parts (whose only job was to babysit Kate and talk about how great she was) the abandonment of the "rob from the rich/give to the poor" premise, the painful introduction of Guy and Robin's half-brother in an attempt to set up Robin Hood as a Legacy Character for a proposed Season Four, and finally, the mass cast exodus of all but two of the original cast members (who were disposed of in some of the worst deaths conceivable), who certainly weren't shy in voicing their displeasure at the direction the show had taken.
  • Chef ran three series in the early 90's. The first two are sharp, witty, and a wonderful vehicle for Lenny Henry. The third series... it's almost impossible to believe it is the same show.
  • The fourth season of Due South. Several problems contributed to this: the season premiere (Doctor Longball) is not nearly as memorable or exciting as the others from seasons past, the episodes go back to the well of "unmentioned friend/colleague from Fraser/Stanley's past is in need of help," there are no real guest stars or memorable episodes (until the finale), and there's an increasing reliance on Fraser's spiritual conversations with his dead father. The loss of Paul Haggis as a contributor also meant that a lot of the imagery, themes and quotable lines that were prevalent in the first two seasons also disappeared. Luckily, the series slightly rebounded with the excellent 2-part finale, "Call of the Wild."
  • Degrassi the Next Generation had a few weak seasons, the two that get the most flack are Seven and Eight. Between completely overhauling the cast (Seven started culling out older cast memebers, Eight finished it by having only five original S1 cast left), a very weak power couple for season Eight (Peter and Mia changing into rockstar and teen model), and overall poorly handled plotlines. Adding to the fact S6 killed off a beloved character, nobody loves those two seasons. The only good to come out of those two seasons is that Season Nine has (for the most part) been solid, and those two seasons were used to hand over the main cast to the new roster.
    • Season 9 ended up being this too. Most fans seem to think that Degrassi was at its weakest when trying to juggle the kids actually going to Degrassi, and the kids who've already graduated. In fact, it seems to be the conclusion that in general seasons 6-9 (sometimes this even extends to the second half of Season 4) were pretty weak compared to the previous seasons, due to the aformentioned character juggling, but also the increasing production clout The N had over the series and how the series became even more overly-dramatic. Then season 10 happened. And now, it would seem that we are in the "Degrassi Renaissance".
  • All fans agree M*A*S*H had Seasonal Rot, but depending on who you ask, it starts at season 4, 5, 6 or 8. And for some, it's seasons 1-3. Season 4 saw Henry Blake and Trapper replaced by Colonel Potter and B.J., and the series started moving from its tone firmly from comedy towards more drama. Head writer and developer Larry Gelbart left after season 4. After season five, Frank Burns was replaced with Charles Winchester, executive producer Gene Reynolds was replaced by Burt Metcalfe, and Alan Alda (who played Hawkeye) got more control over the series, with the anti-war message becoming more and more Anvilicious. Radar O'Reilly disappeared from the series in season 8, by which time the entire original writing staff had been replaced.
    • Harry Morgan (who played Colonel Potter) has said in interviews that he felt the cracks were starting to show by Season 9.
  • Season 5 of The A-Team had this, with the A-Team being caught and forced to work for the government (and most closely with Robert Vaughn), and then with the addition of Frankie Santana, an annoying mechanic who added nothing but minimized B. A.'s role. Even the opening theme got messed with—they did away with the opening monologue altogether and changed the theme's sound from orchestral/electric guitars to an almost entirely synthesized remix. This unfortunately led to the series's cancellation.
  • Gilmore Girls is a rare show that was able to survive the transition from high school to college because of the strong mother-daughter dynamic and quirky town of Stars Hollow... give or take a season or two. Then season six would introduce Cousin Oliver April, who was universally loathed, made Rory into a delinquent and had whole episodes where the girls didn't interact with each other, and extended the Will They or Won't They? even further after a fake-out resolution. Come the CW merger, creator Amy-Sherman Palladino and her husband were basically forced to leave the show and many fans had abandoned the show. It was clear that whoever was left in charge had no idea how to continue a successful long-running series.
  • Prison Break fans either cite the third or fourth season as the show's worst. For season 3, the Sona prison turned out to be much less scary than the ultra-creepy penitentiary viewers spotted in the season 2 finale, the plot suffered from the usual Padding and brave-step-forward-two-steps-back plotting that affected the other seasons, the new plotlines regarding the Company gave them a dose of Villain Decay, and Sara's death upset the fanbase tremendously. Sure, Sara came back in one piece for season 4, but the Mission-Impossible-meets-A-Team Retool sent the series' signature ridiculousness to levels beyond recovery. The fact that the convicts-turned-fugitives get captured by police so quickly to assemble a secret agent squad contradicts their mostly successful evasion for most of season 2. In addition, the once scary Company continues to get neutered by Villain Decay, and the sideplots only get crazier and more illogical. And then there's the ending, which almost every Prison Break fan hated.
  • Oddly enough, the very first series of Blackadder seems to suffer this. It's almost universally panned and rarely shown in syndication. In fact, the show was actually canceled after the first series due to it not being well-received. It was only after Elton and Curtis stripped it down and made it into one of the cheapest production value shows on the BBC that the show was given a second chance, heavily retooled, and made into the Blackadder we all know and love.
  • Highlander takes a steep dive in Season 6. The first two episodes complete an arc centered on a Zoroastrian demon, whereas in previous seasons all "supernatural" elements were debunked (save the Immortals' existence). Thereafter, the main character and supporting cast disappear most of the time, and different Immortal women are "auditioned" for a possible spin-off series. Of the 13 episodes, only "Indiscretions" and the two-part series finale are worth watching.
  • Charmed fans are pretty much divided on where the show started to go downhill with many hardcore Prue fans villifying the seasons without her. However a lot fans dislike the second season for its lack of magic and overemphasis on drama in the sisters' lives plus the pointless love triangle between Dan, Piper and Leo. Seasons 3 and 4 are generally accepted to be the best of the show. Season 5 is Love It or Hate It but Season 6 is definitely the most despised season of the show with the Piper/Leo drama, the too light and childish storylines and awful characterisation of Phoebe. Season 7 is much like Season 5 in terms of fans and the last season is largely despised because of Billie but it has its fans.
    • Season 5 was arguably the weakest of the lot - Phoebe's sudden Jerkass ways began there, fan-favorite Cole was suddenly written as a Designated Villain, a lackluster one hundredth episode, and a return to episodic storytelling after two seasons of arc-driven stories.
    • Actually quite some people think that Season 6 is one of the best. It's a return to the arc-based storytellng, has future Chris, and an epic two-parter finale.
  • The Wire's fifth season. The sideplots of the previous seasons were fascinating and expanded the strong ensemble cast, to the point that they could practically carry the show by themselves when the main cast were absent from an episode. In Season 5, though, the newspaper sideplot feels extremely superflous. Seen as a severe Author On Board moment on the part of David Simon, it didn't introduce any memorable or compelling new characters, and the whole "serial killer" plot line came across as implausible, getting away from the "true to life" feel of the show. It may also have been sinking under the weight of the sheer number of characters and plot lines of the first four seasons (in fact, the fifth season is saturated with cameos by characters from past seasons, and they don't serve much purpose). Reducing the episode count to 10 (as opposed to the normal 12-13 per season) did not help matters either. It's still good television, but it is an enormous dropoff for arguably one of the best TV dramas ever.
  • iCarly's fourth season. Season 2 was the Growing the Beard season, season 3 looked to be setting up the show for more mature characterization, continuity and a resolution to the Shipping aspect of the show. However, Season 4 started poorly, became reliant on Guest Stars where the show hadn't really used them at all in the past, the jokes haven't been funny, the addition of Gibby to the main cast wasn't done well and the shipping arc was handled extremely poorly, with one of the cast suddenly being 'in love' and having a computer program reveal it without any clear foreshadowing.
    • This happened because of new Nick show Victorious. The same production company and show runner produce both. Limited resources meant that at the time they couldn't film both at the same time. It led to a yawning gap of months and months in airings of iCarly episodes. There is also a distinct impression that the best ideas of the production group are being used on Victorious. There are also annoyed fans who dislike how obvious the push over the new show over the old one has become. One major example of this push is that the Crossover between the two shows used 3 episodes out of the 13 that had been budgetted for iCarly Season 4 despite revolving around the Victorious cast.
      • Season 5 has taken the show to new lows of ratings and quality. While Seasons 2, 3 and 4 were all roughly similar rated on average, Season 5 with its Seddie arc dropped the average of the other 3 seasons by millions, and the final episode of the Seddie arc, iLove You, was at the time the 2nd lowest rated episode ever.
      • The rot continued into Season 6. It began with iApril Fools, a nonsensical episode with no storyline that rated poorly. An over hyped One Direction guest episode rated meh at best, coming short of 4 million viewers (for the show's standards). Only 2.8 million viewers watched iOwn A Restaurant, making it the worst rated episode in the history of the show, and the iHalfoween episode that came shortly after it only had 2.9 million.
  • Speaking of Victorious, most fans have claimed season two to be inferior to season one, due to the Flanderization of Jade's character as well as the dumbing down of Cat, and the excessive focus on Tori.
    • Season three is either the Growing the Beard season that's made the show better than ever with things such as more serious character development and funnier plots, or even worse due to exaggerated character depths and over-the-top plotting.
  • The third season of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (during which the approach was changed to ride the coattails of Batman, which also affected The Girl From U.N.C.L.E.) is hated by most fans - two lowpoints: Kuryakin riding a bomb full of essence of skunk that's falling onto Las Vegas and Solo dancing the Watusi with a gorilla - and considered to be the season that killed the show, although it did get an abbreviated fourth season that tried to reverse the damage (too little, too late - and as Jon Heitland's book on the series pointed out, if the third season was too comical the fourth season was too serious).
  • Ghost Hunters has the end of Season 4 or the end of Season 5 being this point for some fans. Even Jason and Grant seem bored while investigating locations. Part of the issue is the similarity of everything from episode to episode as well as the lack of evidence found (especially in relation to shows like Ghost Adventures where they seem to capture far more shadow figures and physical apparitions). Another issue is that the show and the TAPS group has seemed to become more popular as opposed to the next door neighbors they started out as.
  • Whether Chuck decreased in quality in between seasons 2 and 3 is up for debate. On the other hand, season 4 is regarded as a large step down by both fans and critics. This may have largely been due to the fact that both seasons started out with thirteen episode orders and a sense that the show's perpetually low ratings would force it into cancellation, thus necessitating the writers to write episode 13 of each year as a potential series finale. But then, the show would inevitably get an extension from that original order due to its ratings being "good enough" amid the endless ratings bloodbath at NBC, thereby forcing the writers to somehow extend a season arc that had already (and in season four in particular, hastily) been wrapped. Season four in particular was rough on this, given that it was extended ELEVEN EPISODES from that original thirteen episode order, forcing the writers to do several standalones (albeit ones that were received rather well by the fanbase) between the end of the Alexei Volkoff arc and the beginning of the Vivian Volkoff arc. Vivian's arc in particular suffered from poorer character development than Alexei, and the perception that Lauren Cohan wasn't enjoying herself in the role as much as Timothy Dalton was. This latter point got to the extent that both Dalton and Ray Wise had no problems at all upstaging Cohan onscreen despite Vivian supposedly being the driving force of the second-half arc (until the focus whiplashed back to Alexei after it was revealed that his entire persona was a creation of an old version of the Intersect that had gone haywire and submerged his original persona, Hartley Winterbottom)
    • The mass writer exodus during and after season three (Matt Miller and Zev Borow went to Human Target, Scott Rosenbaum to the V remake, Alison Adler to No Ordinary Family and Phil Klemmer to Undercovers) certainly didn't help, given that all of these departures were veterans of the original staff, who had helped shape the show in a very particular way up to that point.
    • Season 5's plot seemed to be about how nothing that had happened in the series (FULCRUM, The Ring, Shaw, etc.) was a coincidence and that Chuck was being manipulated from the start. But then it turned out that Decker was just working for Shaw and any implication of some Myth Arc disappeared. Then the season meandered before introducing the rather unsatisfying Nicholas Quinn in the last few episodes. Also, a lot of people didn't like that Morgan became the Intersect because it was said numerous times that Chuck is special and is the only one who could handle it. His brief stint as the Intersect at the beginning of the season was also debatably pointless.
  • The last two seasons of 3-2-1 Contact. They rearranged the opening theme to the chagrin of many, used many recycled segments from the first two seasons, relied more on individual hosts rather than a team, and the Bloodhound Gang was absent (except for a few repeats).
  • Many fans would agree that Glee, a once promising show, showed a steep decline in its second season with characters constantly changing motives and personalities, character development going backwards, plots coming out of nowhere, and the show becoming the preachy Public Service Announcement it used to mock.
  • The British children's series Bernard's Watch started out as just a simple series about a boy with a magic watch that could freeze time, which he used to fix various problems he ran into. But post-revival the show focused mainly on Bernard's misadventures in school, and the series now seemed to have some kind of misogynistic agenda, as now all of Bernard's problems were caused by the Alpha Bitch who was constantly bullying him and his teacher who hates boys and gives special treatment to girls (especially Alpha Bitch).
  • For Babylon 5, the consensus is that the fifth and final season suffered this badly, particularly during the "Telepath Arc". Mainly due to the show's original cancellation at the end of the fourth season, which caused many plot arcs destined for the fifth season to be crammed in early, leaving relatively little for the last season to work with.
    • To a lesser degree, Season 4 gets this as well, also due to the plot cramming, which caused weird pacing issues.
      • Granted, there are also many fans who argue that the first season was considerably weaker than the later ones due to slow pacing and (depending on who you ask) hammy acting from Michael O'Hare's Jeffrey Sinclair.
  • Oxygen's show Hair Battle Spectacular is currently suffering this with its second season. While the first season had a So Bad It's Good vibe to it that was zany, the second season screwed the show over, dropping everyone except for the queertastic mentor Derek J. The main problem was that it dropped the likable Brooke Burns in favor of Eva Marcille, therefore removing the main reason why the first season was better than Oxygen's previous attempt in the 'hair competition' genre Tease.
    • Also, the second season allowed two fat chicks in the competition as stylists. These are not 'Hollywood Fat' fat, but 'morbidly-obese' fat: A sure-fire ratings killer!
  • Series 4 of Skins is considered by nearly all fans and critics to be the worst series so far - the debate is over whether it was wholly bad or whether there were some good episodes in the middle to make up for the way the series started and (especially) ended.
  • With The L Word, the later seasons in general are often accused of this, but particularly the final season - which is so universally hated that some fans prefer to pretend it didn't happen.
  • Series 14 of Top Gear is generally considered one of the weakest seasons of the show, with an over-reliance on scripted gags, rehashed jokes/challenges and focusing more on the characters of Jeremy, James, and Richard, instead of the actual presenters. (By which I mean, the caricature-like versions of the presenters, i.e. Jeremy being a ham-fisted oaf, rather than Jeremy's own personality.) Thankfully, the quality of later seasons (especially 17) is on the rise.
  • All Irwin Allen series. Each one starts off with an interesting premise, a serious tone and good production values, but by season three the cast is fighting giant carrots. Fans have long noted that the quality of his series is inversely proportional to how long they lasted -- Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea managed four seasons and by the end most episodes practically had chorus lines of big lipped alligators; Lost in Space went for three and was transitioning from campy to bad by the end, while Land of the Giants lasted two and stayed So Bad It's Good. The Time Tunnel, which got canned after just one year, was only beginning to show signs of decay by the end of its run.
  • All in The Family had ended its 8th season with Norman Lear departing as executive producer and the Stivics being Put on a Bus to California which resolved the core premise for the series and provided an emotional Tear Jerker of a finale. Unfortunately, Carroll O'Connor accepted a huge salary increase that led to the show limping on another year that saw the introduction of Edith's young niece who was abandoned by her alcoholic father that the Bunker's took in. This failed to replace the tension that Archie had with Meathead in the first 8 seasons, and while there were still some funny episodes, Lear's creative guidance was sorely missed.
  • Season 5 of How I Met Your Mother, which came packed full of Flanderization, terrible handling of a romance plotline, piling on the Denser and Wackier for an already Dense and Wacky series, far fewer of the show's signature Flash Forwards or Flash Backs, and a focus on random hijinks repetitively lampooning the characters' personalities instead of the first four seasons' emphasis on Future!Ted needing to explain a lot of seemingly-random hijinks in order for the crucial elements of the main plot to make any sense. After Barney and Robin's breakup, the characters had basically no development whatsoever for the rest of the season, which basically crippled the show's ever-present character-driven momentum. However, it never actually jumped the shark by doing anything criminally stupid, so the writers could make do with what they had by using season 6 to undo most of season 5's damage and introduce lasting change to the characters (especially Marshall and Lily's attempts to conceive), and giving season 7 a very focused, plot-driven direction with a great deal of foreshadowing, the "bride" mystery, and the Barney/Robin Will They or Won't They? arc.
  • The Restaurant, season 3. Clearly made on a tighter budget than the previous seasons, but what really did for it was the poor quality of the contestants and the favouritism shown toward eventual winners JJ and James.
  • Happy Days is thought to have gone completely downhill in seasons 8-11 after Ron Howard left with the show's seventh season and the focus shifted firmly to Fonzie's antics and is said to have gotten worse as it dragged on with the introduction of Chachi, Ted McGinley and a slew of other unliked characters.
    • However, the trope naming shark jump occurred in the show's fifth season and a slew of other episodes with ridiculous or narmy plots popped up around this time. As such, some believe of the show's 11 seasons only about 4 and a half are actually worth watching.
  • For fans of Laverne and Shirley the show went downhill when the main characters moved to California after the 5th season. Even those who still liked the show after the move were put off when the final season took the series to Franchise Zombie levels by featuring Laverne... without Shirley.
  • With Dexter, this is generally held to have set in around season 5. Season 1 and 2 are held in very high esteem, while season 3 just divided the fans a bit. Season 4 received perhaps the most acclaim from both fans and critics of any season thus far, especially for John Lithgow's performance. Season 5 however gets a lot of flak on account of the Lumen character, the weak resolution of many of its plotlines, and overall dissapointment at the entire season finale. Season 6 is now also largely considered this, due to poor pacing and writing problems and severe character derailment. Sometimes within the span of two episodes, such as with Quinn and Travis.
  • Merlin is getting this accusation as of season 4.
  • The Price Is Right twice fell prey to seasonal rot. Seasons 18 and 37 are generally regarded as the weakest seasons on the show, for various reasons. Bob on some episodes looked lost and likely was bored. There were other issues with Season 18, though, YMMV. Season 37, however, was worse. It added a lot of oddball showcases, the pricing games' difficulty spiked, pricing games vanished without a trace, and a couple infamous special guest appearances. (One of which likely led that episode to be put on the DO NOT RERUN list).
  • Wheel of Fortune as well. Some fans criticize Season 14 for a large number of changes (most prominently, using only one Wheel template for the entire game as opposed to each round having its own set of dollar figures; adding several new categories, which some feel make the game too easy; and changing from a mechanical puzzle board to an electronic one). Others point to Season 26 (an increase in contrived puzzles, particularly in the form of too-specific Prize Puzzles and Fake Difficulty in the Bonus Round; less energy in the studio; general decline in contestant quality; sloppier production; and addition of a $1,000,000 cash prize in the Bonus Round).
  • The decline of Jeopardy! is pinned to one of three seasons: 1997-98 (a change to a more bombastic mix of the iconic Think! music, the widely-panned "sushi bar" set which was kept until 2002, the first video clues read by celebrities, and an increase in punny category names); 2001-02 (introduction of the Clue Crew, a set of Lovely Assistants who present more video clues, the doubling of point values, and Alex Trebek shaving off his iconic mustache); 2003-04 (removal of the five-game cap, followed within mere months by Ken Jennings' amazing 74-game run, combined with what many viewers perceive as a gradual decline in clue quality following the death of longtime writer Steven Dorfman).
  • Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? changed formats in the 2008-09 season, adding a timer to the questions — and stupidly, the timer counted down while host Meredith Vieira read the question instead of after she finished, thus whittling down the seconds. Any banked time was saved up for the million-dollar question, and the Lifelines changed. It changed again in the 2010-11 season to a "shuffle" format which has also been heavily criticized as straying even further from original Millionaire format.
  • When The OC premiered in 2004 it became a pop culture sensation overnight. Critics praised the show for its clever dialogue, excellent writing, and interesting characters, and it was one of the highest-rated television shows in its time slot. For its second season Fox moved the show to a competitive Thursday night time slot, which ended up costing it viewers. There's also a general agreement among fans that the quality of the show declined in the second season, although it was still pretty good. Season 3 is almost universally considered to be the show's worst season due to it introducing several new characters who were disliked by fans as well as the overall tone becoming more serious and angsty, thus causing the ratings to drop even further. When Season 4 rolled around the show began to improve in quality, returning the focus to the main cast members and bringing back the comedy. Unfortunately, by that point most people had given up on The OC and it was cancelled due to low ratings.
  • For fans of the original run of the Gothic soap opera Dark Shadows, the fall seems to have started anywhere between the over-extended 1897 arc and the modern-day Leviathan Cult arc that immediately followed it. Some have said that the 1840 arc toward the end of the series nearly revitalized things, but once the transition was made into 1841 Parallel Time, things were pretty much over.
  • Some Gossip Girl fans would place this in season three with its poorly received NYU plot and the way the writers sabotaged Chuck and Blair's relationship. Generally though season four is considered to be this trope. Far too much focus on guest stars and the show becoming more and more plot driven at the expense of characterization were the initial reasons, followed by sidelining Chuck and Serena in uninspired subplots in order to isolate Dan and Blair so they could become friends. The Dair storyline is subject to debate in this regard since some fans felt the show got much better but there are just as many fans who hate the pairing with a passion and feel the show has been Ruined FOREVER.
    • Season five is shaping up to be the worst. Far too much focus on Louis and the Blair/Louis engagement was probably not a good idea when the majority of the fans are either passionate Chair shippers or passionate Dair shippers and both sides hate Louis. The season quickly turned into "Blair and all the men who love her", making Serena almost irrelevant and Blair herself rather unlikeable. You'd be hard pressed to find a fan who's really enjoyed the fifth season.
      • Admittedly season six is the last for which the actors were contracted, but as a result of Joshua Safran's insistence on turning it into Everybody Loves Blair And So Will YOU, Dammit (result? Some of the show's lowest ratings ever) it's definitely the final season and a reduced season at that. Wow, that worked out well didn't it?
  • Boy Meets World: Season 7. It had a few good episode and some very memorable moments (i.e. "Playswithsquirrels"), but it was not very good overall. It had many wacky and cartoonish plotlines that didn't fit with the series, tons of Mood Whiplash between the wacky plotlines and serious plotlines, Flanderization up the wazoo, especially with Eric who went from being ditzy to being mentally insane, and just not as many laughs to be had. Fortunately, this was the final season and the finale ended the series on a good note.
  • Two and A Half Men Season 9, oh where to begin? Let's start with Ashton Kutcher's character Walden, he dosen't fit into the show well at all, he's too much like Alan (only rich and even more of a Man Child) so he's not very interesting and his interactions with other characters feel very akward, it's not so much Kutcher's fault, as he looks like he's really trying, it's the material he's given that's the problem-the writing has taken a sharp drop in quality from the last season, Flanderization has hit the characters hard: Alan is still a mooch and even more immature, Jake is even dumber and doesn't seem to do much of anything except smoke pot, Rose is more of a bitch (did the writers really have to her kill Charlie off? Couldn't they have just said that he dissapeared in Paris or something like that?) Lindsay is crazier, etc. The entire tone of the show has also changed and not for the better, there's now a much greater emphasis on Toilet Humor which is more gross then funny (like the episode "Not In My Mouth" which was overloaded with vomit gags) and the character interactions mostly feel unnatural, and with the entire premise of the show changed, it's really tough to care about any of the characters. At this point, unless Sheen somehow returns to the show, it's difficult to see it getting any better.
  • After the second series of Primeval, the reactions to the show have been very mixed. Critics appear to dislike the fourth series the most, with the fans mainly targeting their hate towards 3 and 4.
  • Arguably, The Dukes of Hazzard began to rot when Bo & Luke exited and replaced with Coy & Vance. But even after Bo & Luke returned, the show had already shown its age. We already know that the Dukes clan was all goody-goody. It got to the point where you were no longer booing and hissing the star villains Boss Hogg & Sherrif Coltrane, but looking forward to their stark contrast to the Dukes' personalities, and relishing in their comic-relief antics. Especially since Roscoe Took a Level in Badass downgrade to become more of a 12-year-old who lives for "hot pursuit." ("Good news, good news! yuk yuk yuk!")
  • Although some may have disliked the Ori arc in later season of Stargate SG-1, it's the sixth season which is generally considered the worst. It's telling that the three episodes of that season which are considered the best are the ones which guest-starred Michael Shanks.
  • Most fans would agree that the American version of The Office should have ended after Steve Carell left the show and his character moved to Colorado.
  • Community looks to be hitting this with season 3, with several episodes poorly handling the characterization and several times up and making previously entertaining characters like Jeff, Annie, Chang, and even Abed completely unlikable, and an increased emphasis on the gimmick episodes which was growing since late in the first season. With creator Dan Harmon leaving as showrunner, possibly because of his real-life feud with cast member Chevy Chase, it looks like the rot may be getting even worse for season four.


Music[edit | hide]


Tabletop Games[edit | hide]

  • Dungeons & Dragons had this problem late in the 2nd edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons days, though it was a different sort of rot than usual. Rather than a drop in quality, it was a drop in usability; too many products came out which were not marketable to a general audience, resulting in declining sales and the eventual death of TSR. When WotC took it over, the quality went up, as did the marketability, but 3rd and 3.5 edition suffered greatly from wanting to advance the game towards where it needed to go, while simultaneously trying to avoid annoying the old fans. This resulted in a system which lacked the charm of the older editions, while simultaneously greatly magnifying the issues of Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards. It took 4th edition before WotC finally took the steps necessary to truly fix the game, resulting in a great deal of angst from certain players. Those players however, will contend that it is 4th edition which falls to seasonal rot, as while it did balance the game the balance came at a massive reduction in character building options.
  • Paranoia started off as a darkly humorous award-winning game with a few awkward mechanics, which was refined into mindless fun in the highly-acclaimed Second Edition. Rot started when publisher West End Games started releasing game modules in interconnected Story Arcs, especially the Great Crash and subsequent Reboot of Friend Computer. Things got worse with the release of the "5th" Edition; Executive Meddling replaced the dark humor with cheap satires of pop culture, while poor artwork, poor production values, and the near-total departure of the original writers doomed the series. After West End Games went bankrupt, the series was resurrected as Paranoia XP, whereupon the (original) writers promptly declared everything from the story arcs onward as CanonDiscontinuity.
  • Warhammer Fantasy had this in 7th edition rules set. Initially everything was fine with the Orcs and Goblins and Empire releases and while people started to cry foul during the High Elves release, the crunch was essentially accepted. Problems started to creep in with the 7th edition Vampire Counts book, which had several absurdly broken abilities and rules, and became an easy go-to army for people who wanted to win tournaments. Then Daemons of Chaos came out and everything went straight to fucking hell. Daemons were, put simply, unstoppable. Even the widely accepted 2nd place army (Dark Elves, released soon after) and 3rd place Vampire Counts couldn't begin to compete with them. Every new army book that was released ramped up their abilities to 11 to try and compete, but nothing was working and this began to leave older armies increasingly in the dust. Eventually Games Workshop decided 'Fuck it' and after an incredibly underpowered Beastmen release, grabbed the rules set and shook it so hard that 8th edition came out. 8th edition completely revamped a lot of rules, such as how breaking, charging and magic worked, and while far from perfect, at least managed to restore a lot of the balance. Of course a lot of players still hate 8th Edition.


Toys[edit | hide]

  • The 2005 "Toa Hordika" story arc of Bionicle tends to come up as the worst year in discussions, at least it's more universally disliked than some other unpopular years, such as 2009 and 2010. Even the writer himself feels it felt tacked on—which it basically was. So much effort was put into designing the 2004 setting (Metru Nui) that the guys at LEGO wanted to do more with it, even though the story was arleady fully wrapped up in the previous year. Thus along came the second Metru Nui arc, during which the protagonists turned into hideous beasts (whose toys were also quite unspectacular and bland), the story got needlessly dark and confusing, and due to Executive Meddling, the main hero had such a sudden Out of Character-moment that the writer detests his part of the story to this day. The only good things to have come out of the story were the character Roodaka (who quickly became a fan-favorite) and the book Time Trap, but only because its plot was completely unrelated to the bigger arc.


Web Comics[edit | hide]

  • Xkcd in recent years has come to this according to many fans.
    • The "One Two" (aka the "Primitive Cultures develop Sesame Street") and "Anatomy Text" strips are considered the major points of contention, as the first is considered the point where Randall's (somewhat hypocritical) contempt for non "hard science" majors became overbearing, and the Anatomy strip is just considered offensive in general.
  • Sluggy Freelance lost a lot of its readers during the massive plotline known as "Oceans Unmoving," mainly because the plot's only relevance to the series was showing what happened to BunBun after Holiday Wars. It took what should have been a a very short, sweet explanation and turned into into a one year plotline that constantly stopped the action because it had to cram in as much exposition as possible about the cosmology. For many people, the comic never recovered from it. Others like to just pretend it never happened.
    • Still others found it a fairly interesting change of pace that had a lot of wasted potential. Unfortunately, forcing it upon the readers with only a tangential relation to the rest of the canon was not a smart move on Pete's part.
    • One more take: "Oceans Unmoving" would have been a great thing to release all at once, say as a book. It drew more resentment because it came at the expense of the regular cast, and the cool concepts weren't well served by a one-day-at-a-time schedule. People forget that a lot of Sluggy stories felt overlong and tedious at the time, but read well in the archives.
  • Abnormality mentions it, along with Franchise Zombie and Early Installment Weirdness tropes.
  • Survivor Fan Characters: Season 8 is widely considered by fans to be its worst season due to its suffering from an overabundance of Flat Characters and plain unlikable characters, the shafting of Character Development for bland strategy and repetitive jokes, and a finale that came across as "Isn't this Boring Invincible Villain awesome, and aren't these two guys utter tools who exist just to make her look even more awesome?" to many readers. Most fans agree that the series recovered with Season 9, however.
  • Sabrina Online had the "Sabrina creates a Mary Sue webcomic" arc. It was pretty self-referential and got old pretty fast, but as of june 2012 seems to be over when Sabrina quit the comic after losing interest.


Web Original[edit | hide]

  • Fans of I'm a Marvel And Im ADC have come to anticipate an engaging, dramatic story arc spanning the fall, winter, and spring of every year. However, fall and winter of 2011, and spring of 2012, only brought videos in which the heroes spout some one-liners. None of them exceed two minutes, either. Fans find this especially frustrating because the arc that began in December 2009, "Zero Hour", still doesn't have a proper conclusion.


Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • The fifth season of Aqua Teen Hunger Force. Largely after the writers were given free rein contentwise, meaning we got a ton of overtly gross-out storylines with rotting corpses and severed penises, as well as Master Shake murdering a cat.
    • Season 3 is the beginning of the show being less consistently good, and Season 4 is when the plots, on average, became much more visceral and dark.
  • Winx Club, Seasons 3 and 4:
    • Season 3 is generally hated for wasting many good plots, like the Stella vs Chimera feud, Layla/Aisha's arranged marriage, and the possibility of seeing the girls' home worlds (we only saw a Solaria and a bit of Linphea). There's also Valtor's massive Badass Decay.
    • Season 4, like season 3, also started really strong, but then they started to introduce many subplots that were obviously for merchandise purposes and had nothing to do with the main plot. The consequence of this was that they had to rush the last part of the season in order to clear all the loose ends, resulting in the weakest season finale.
  • The final three seasons of the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles show (Seasons 8, 9, and 10, also known as the "Red Sky Seasons"), which Retooled the show, removed many characters, replaced the main villains, and generally tried way too hard to be Darker and Edgier.
    • Even fewer fans liked the "Vacation in Europe" side-season, which had terrible animation, had loads of They Just Didn't Care when it came to European culture and history, and barely fit in with the series' continuity.
    • While we're on Ninja Turtles, Season 6 is generally considered the weak point of the 2003 series, due to being much Lighter and Softer than previous seasons, sending the Turtles to the future for no apparent reason, introducing a Scrappy supporting cast member in the form of April and Casey's Child Prodigy great-grandson, and, oh yeah, the fact that, on the order of the toy company executives, the writers were forced to skip directly from Season 4 to Season 6 due to the executives feeling Season 5 wouldn't sell toys as well. This was particularly painful because Season 5 contained the resolution of the show's Myth Arc. And once Season 5 did finally come out to much acclaim, the executives' orders seemed even more nonsensical; wouldn't characters like the Acolytes, the true forms of the Foot Mystics and Ninja Tribunal, the Tengu and his demonic minions, and the Turtles' dragon forms have made great toys?
  • Drawn Together, the first half of Season 3, when the show became too dark for its own good.
  • Season six of South Park, largely due to the backlash against Parker and Stone retiring Kenny and their plans for Butters being the new Butt Monkey being changed by Comedy Central and fans rescuing Butters from the Scrappy pile. Needless to say, ever since that season, Parker and Stone have openly threatened to quit production of the show (to the point that Parker almost bailed entirely midway through season eight).
    • Fans also say that seasons 12 and 15 are suffering rot as well, the latter for deliberately derailing the characters for a melodramatic two-parter that ultimately went nowhere.
  • Code Lyoko fans consider Seasons 3 and 4 (or if not that, just Season 3) to be inferior to the first two story-wise (though far superior stylistically). While Season 2 involved and ended with an exploration into the computer's past and the progression of the major romance arcs, the next two seasons shunted that to the side in favor of episodic filler, which was more often than not dedicated to the increasingly-unfunny escapades of the comic relief characters, particularly Jim.
    • Well, the halting of the romance arcs was probably a good thing since according to Word of God, it got a lot of negative reception in France amongst audiences due to the endless, annoying Unresolved Sexual Tension between Ulrich and Yumi.
  • Season Three of Danny Phantom suffered from this due to Executive Meddling.
  • Total Drama Island's second season, Total Drama Action was received quite poorly by its viewers, half the original fan base of TDI don't watch it at all. Why? Well, for starters they removed almost half of the original cast, including popular characters (at the time) Cody and Noah, completely flanderized the remaining characters, kicked off most of the fan favorites (again, at the time) such as Gwen, Trent, and Bridgette early, oversaturated Owen again, had Chris become such a huge Jerkass that it wasn't even funny anymore and overall, it lacked the charm that made TDI so popular.
  • Ben 10 Alien Force was contested as is, but its third and final season, featuring an ungodly villain decayed Vilgax as the Big Bad, is considered much weaker than the first two, which both shared the Highbreed arc. Ben 10: Ultimate Alien, on the other hand, got the Seasonal Rot going in its second season, with tons of filler episodes, characters further acting like idiots, and a convoluted main arc plot involving the Forever Knights which, after Season 1's menacing main threat, just can't measure up. Its last episodes fortunately corrected in later episodes, as said arc turned to also involve an Eldritch Abomination and Vilgax turning back into an actually dangerous, Manipulative Bastard villain.
  • Season 7 of Family Guy, due to the amount of episodes focused on Brian's political views, as well as a few terrible episode premises (i.e. "Not All Dogs Go To Heaven"), massive Flanderization of the whole main cast (i.e. Peter's reckless behavior in "Baby Not on Board"), and, of course, a five-minute long Conway Twitty cutaway. Part of the reason behind the seasonal rot can be attributed to the 2007-2008 WGA strike that plunged a lot of shows into getting canceled, going on hiatus, or suffering through seasonal rot.
  • Season 4 of SpongeBob SquarePants due to the show never being the same; Stephen Hillenburg notably changed his position in the production after The Movie which was supposed to be the finale.
    • It should be noted that the post-movie seasons are seen as being anywhere from watchable to actually good depending on the episode, barring season 5 and 6 and mostly anything by Casey Alexander and Zeus Cervas, which most people wouldn't disagree fits here.The show has also gotten much more grotesque compared to the earlier seasons.
  • Chris Savino's run of Dexter's Laboratory (seasons 3 and 4) and The Powerpuff Girls (seasons 5 and 6) were heavily criticized by fans due to the fact that these seasons made without the original creators after the shows were Uncancelled due to boring plots, ungodly amounts of Flanderization, and a really unfitting art style. Plus, with Dexter's Laboratory, they got rid of the Justice Friends and Dial M for Monkey segments.
  • Fans of The Simpsons have wildly varying opinions on which seasons were good and which ones sucked, but you will find very few supporters of Season 11.[1] It was, for lack of a better way to put it, sort of the bridge between "Old Simpsons" and "New Simpsons"—for fans of the former, it was the season that killed the satirical, yet heartwarming humor of The Simpsons in favor of being a Lighter and Softer (yet still wacky and crude) Family Guy clone. For fans of the latter, it was an uncomfortable in-between season which was trying way too hard to decide whether it should go back to being the way it was in its early days or go in a new direction. To this day, it's still trying to decide.
  • While Futurama is consistently good, it has an in-universe example in the form of Everybody Loves Hypnotoad, which has been going downhill since season three.[2]
  • Teen Titans fans generally consider Season 3 to be this, since they changed the Big Bad from the awesomely creepy Slade, who was Robin's archrival but still had personal beef with the rest of the Titans, to Brother Blood, who started off perfectly menacing but spiralled into Villain Decay quickly, and had limited interaction with any of the Titans besides Cyborg, and having a weak story that only got two episodes and a two-part finale worth of exposure.
    • And, to a lesser extent, Season 5, probably due to it coming directly after the extremely well-received Season 4. It's still generally accepted, though, mainly due to its awesome Grand Finale (the two-part final battle, not the controversial actual last episode.)
  • To some, season two of X-Men: Evolution is this, thought YMMV. Over focus on romantic side plots, less focus on their battles and less action. Thought the ending managed to fix that by revealing The Masquerade, leading to it Growing the Beard in Season 3.
  • Even the most staunch of its fans will admit that so far, season 5 of Robot Chicken has been complete and utter garbage. Apparently, it's not enough to deter the execs, who have already ordered a season 6 against the wishes of many people who would rather see that time and effort put towards a second season of Titan Maximum, the show Seth Green unceremoniously self-cancelled to increase his focus on Chicken.
  • During the third and fourth seasons of KaBlam!, the production company for Sniz & Fondue went bankrupt and more one-shot shorts were produced, with mixed to negative receptions among the fandom, though the remaining regular shorts were claimed to be even better that season.
  • Phineas and Ferb is still popular, though there are many people who think that the show's quality has been going downhill during Season 3.
    • More accurately, the episodes from the middle of the third season just haven't been as good as episodes from the second season and the first half of the third. That said, the show is still quite good - it just seems to have peaked in quality sometime around the Big Damn Movie, Phineas and Ferb The Movie: Across the 2nd Dimension.
  1. (For reference, this is the season that killed off Maude Flanders, had Barney give up drinking, made Apu and Manjula the parents of octuplets, and presented whimsically self-referential episodes like "Saddlesore Galactica", "Missionary: Impossible", and "Behind the Laughter".)
  2. according to someone immune to the mind control which is its main draw, anyway