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  • Dexter
    • In the first episode or two, Lt. Laguerta is portrayed as an incompetent detective and glory hound who makes inappropriate advances on Dexter. The negative portrayal is consistent with the books, but the series diverted quickly from the source material and turned Laguerta into a sympathetic character. Her crush on Dexter becomes an Aborted Arc.
    • Dexter's M.O. is also different in the first episode. Rather than inject his victim with a sedative, he garrotes the man and forces him to drive them both to the kill site. He also digs up the bodies of his target's victims, something that the obsessively clean Dexter we know now would never do[1].
  • Star Trek can often fall victim to this. Either due to budgeting or being an analogue of the era that show was made in.
    • Star Trek: The Original Series:
      • In some early episodes, the Enterprise ran on lithium crystals (rather than fictional dilithium crystals) and the characters served under the United Earth Space Probe Agency rather than Starfleet. The United Federation of Planets wasn't mentioned until the end of the first season with the command posts being called "Earth bases". It also took some time to nail down the series' 23rd century setting: "The Squire of Gothos" suggested it was taking place in the 27th century.
      • It took a couple episodes at least to establish that Spock was half-human. In early episodes, he referred to having human ancestry, but didn't state outright that one of his parents was fully human. He also displayed emotion on occasion in the early episodes, something the later Spock would almost never do openly.
      • The Prime Directive took a while to be fully established. In "Errand of Mercy," Kirk and Spock openly beam down to a Bronze Age planet and offer advanced technology to the natives in exchange for using Organia as a forward base in their war against the Klingons.
      • The Klingons of the original series bear no resemblance whatsoever to those of every other incarnation, including prequel Enterprise. This is the case not only in characterization-- they were a Red Scare allegory instead of Proud Warrior Race Guys-- but even physical appearance, in which they lacked the trademark forehead. While the differing appearance was nicely explained, the personality shift has been less successful.
      • A meta-example: it's hard to imagine any Starfleet officer in Picard's era showing as much open racism as Dr. McCoy showed toward Spock in Kirk's day. Not just playful ribbing, mind you, but outright derogatory references to his Vulcan heritage and hybrid nature (which McCoy clearly saw in the same way that racists in the 1960's saw "miscegenation" between blacks and whites). Some early episodes even implied that the primitive Vulcans had been conquered by the technologically advanced humans but later gotten full rights. Later media was quite explicit in stating that the Vulcans got space travel first and that they helped out the humans.
      • And not just racism; the villain of "Turnabout Intruder", the last episode ever screened, is a woman who has taken over Kirk's body, but who makes increasingly irrational and emotional decisions, eventually collapsing in a puddle of feminine hysteria. Poor, silly woman, thinking she could command a starship! To make matter worse, Star Trek: Discovery established that one of Starfleet's most famous captains was female and had served but a decade prior.
    • Star Trek: The Next Generation had a lot of weirdness in early episodes that often had to do with recycled plots from the original series. This was, of course, before it grew the beard.
      • They also had skirts (including a few on men in the background crew). Troi's early skirt look and hairdo made her look like a cheerleader. Worf is considerably more feral than in later seasons. And it's easy to forget that Worf and LaForge were not always department heads.
      • This also applies to how species first appeared. The first Ferengi episode had them wildly hopping around the set like mad monkeys, and the pilot episode implied they ate people. The first time we saw Cardassians, they were wearing strange headgear which never showed up again. There was also an episode in which Picard said the Klingons had joined the Federation.
      • More weirdness: the policies of the Prime Directive had yet to be firmly established early in the series, so Picard and Co. often beamed down to planets with pre-warp civilizations that in later seasons would almost certainly have been protected by the Non-Interference clause of the Prime Directive. Also, before Data's backstory was established, his original, now non-canon backstory was that he was a product of alien biomechanical engineering, closer to a Ridiculously Human Robot than the fully mechanical "Tin Man" of later seasons.
      • When the Borg first appear in "Q Who," the presentation is much different from what we see later. A few points: Borg produce no life signs (in "I Borg," life signs are identified from the crash site even before they know it's the Borg). The Borg pointedly have no interest in organic life at all, only in technology (assimilation is introduced later as a unique case with Picard, before being broadened/retconned into their single and solitary purpose). The Borg ship is described as a completely undifferentiated construction (compare to Voyager's endless talk of central nexi and central plexi). Q describes a Borg as "not a he, not a she," implying that Borg are gendered neuter (perhaps cause for a rude awakening for Picard when he was assimilated). There's even "the Borg nursery," implying that, even if they aren't conceived in the typical way, Borg are produced and grown by other Borg. Once the assimilation concept took hold there was no need for Borg to be born.
        • The nursery would later be retconned into the Borg having captured infants on the assimilated starships and putting those infants into a forced growth chamber to get new drones.
      • Miles O'Brien was introduced as a conn officer, as in he flew the ship, before he transferred to the operations division and became the transporter chief.
      • The mechanics of the holodeck took a while to establish. A plot point in Season 2 was that holodeck matter cannot exist beyond the deck but some Season 1 episodes had water dripping out of it and holograms managing to exist outside for a few seconds.
      • Even Q took a while, his attitudes shifting wildly between episodes. This was a remnant of the original plan that all the members of the Q Continuum (of which there were to be only a handful) all wore the same face but acted differently.
    • The first season of Star Trek: Discovery suggested that Saru's homeworld was a dog eat dog type planet. The second made clear that there existed a fixed food chain.
  • Fringe started off as a primarily Monster of the Week show with hints at a government conspiracy and an FBI agent who possessed her dead partner/lover's memories (with the actor playing the dead partner in the opening credits of a dozen or so episodes). Now it's a heavily serialized show where the only government conspiracy is the government of one universe conspiring against the government of another, and no mention has been made of the dead partner/lover in years.
    • In all fairness, the major plot shift between seasons one and two probably had something to do with the frequent criticism the show garnered throughout the first season for basically being an The X-Files remake.
    • Early on in was implied that some shadowy organization(s) was the cause of the Pattern and that John Scott was somehow connected to it. Now it seems that the Pattern happened because reality is breaking down due to Walter's actions.
  • The general air of season 1 of Frasier was far more like '80s sitcoms such as Roseanne and Cheers (in that it was a spin-off of Cheers) — mainly, in its treatment of emotional issues in a comedy. The second and third seasons would perfect the show's trademark use of taking complex or emotional issues and events and making them funny through complications, character reactions, or exaggeration; rather than alternating between emotional character moments and shallow humor moments, which can come off as kitschy.
  • The first season of The Odd Couple used many characters from the original play and movie, was filmed using a single camera, and had canned laughter instead of a studio audience.
  • The early seasons of Newhart are much more realistic, and feature the character of Kirk and his depressing pining over the brilliant, beautiful, and warm-hearted (though not funny) Leslie. Eventually both Kirk and Leslie were written out and the more memorable Michael and Stephanie were written in as characters. The first season was also shot on video and looks noticeably different.
    • Of course, given the famous series finale ending, this may be justified.
  • The pilot of Father Ted is the episode in which Jack "dies" (the 6th episode broadcast) and there are notable differences -- the parochial house is different, Dougal swears, Ted quotes James Joyce, and at the end they plot Father Jack's death.
  • Anyone going back to watch series 1 of the Britcom Peep Show will notice the, frankly, ridiculous music the show opens to.
  • At the start of Thirty Rock, Jack was a Pointy-Haired Boss (he's now an Eccentric Mentor) and Jenna was Liz's neurotic best friend (she's now an insane, egotistical Attention Whore). Also, the show was more... well, not realistic exactly, but certainly less surreal than it is now.
  • The first two seasons of Sex and the City seem a little less "chick show" than the later ones, with stories about male, non-love interest friends of theirs, a somewhat more cynical attitude and a lot less emphasis on fashion. The episodes would have one scene of people on the street giving their opinion on the topic of the episode, and Carrie herself broke the fourth wall a couple of times by directly speaking to the audience.
  • Try watching the first couple of episodes of House, particularly the pilot, after having watched more recent episodes. You'll find that the pacing is a bit different, and the CGI "Journeys Into The Patient's Body" bits are far more common.
    • The lighting for the show has also changed drastically, possibly due to the show being filmed in HD. Earlier episodes are tinted towards very warm colors-- the pilot is almost orange-- but current episodes are very stark and slightly green. The pilot was filmed in black and white.
  • Lost's first season is a collection of character stories with the supernatural elements hidden in the background, few cliffhangers or continuing arcs, and an incredibly slow pace. Which is unfortunate because of how much the style of the show encourages re-watching earlier plot points.
    • The first two are justified by the fact that they weren't sure the show would be renewed, so had to keep the mythos simple enough to resolve if it ended up with just one season. Then came season 3, which while slower paced than seasons 4-6, are thematically a lot closer.
  • Victorious: Most characters are fairly different from how they were in the pilot.
    • Trina devolved into "untalented" from her initial characterization of "talented, but not enough to justify her ego."
    • Jade was significantly deepened, saving her from just being another Alpha Bitch. Mind you, if the script needs an Alpha Bitch, she'll step up to the plate.
    • Robbie, while still not suave, became capable of normal conversation with the opposite sex. Rex's design is very different from the pilot, including paler skin, a thinner body and neck, paler complexion, and smaller eyes/mouth.
    • Cat's hair was curly in the pilot.
    • Tori's hair was flatter in the pilot and she spoke in a lower register until about halfway through the first season. Probably the biggest change however is that she no longer seems romantically interested in Beck. Not directly related to the pilot, Tori was more of a Deadpan Snarker and wasn't really shy to let the gang know what colossal idiots they were, not unlike Victoria Justice's earlier role of Lola Martinez, until about halfway through the first season, though this could be Character Development.
    • Even though the group is one of the best examples that there is of The Friends Who Never Hang, the pilot made it rather clear that André, Cat, and Robbie did not consider Beck and Jade to be their friends.
  • In the first season of Merlin, especially towards the beginning, the writers set up Prince Arthur and the Lady Morgana as having a potential romantic relationship. Later, this was abandoned to avoid the creepy incest vibe on a family show -- since Morgana is basically Arthur's adopted sister. This caused a good bit of fan outrage in some circles, however, since Incest Is Relative, and they felt Arthur had much less chemistry with Gwen.
    • The very first episode, in particular, is a bit different. Arthur's behaviour is considerably more immature (possibly justified by a combination of Merlin being a good influence in later episodes, or even just getting to know him better), some of the humour is kind of strange (as pointed out on the audio commentary - what was the point of the thing with the sandwich and the porridge?) and Merlin's ability to slow down time has hardly been seen since. As well as this, the brief glimpse of Merlin's home would suggest that it's not quite so poverty-stricken as is shown in later episodes. And, to follow on from the example above, the romantic relationship between Gwen and Merlin was abandoned very early on.
      • Also of note is that his innate magical ability doesn't require any incantations. This is quickly abandoned after he learns some spells and has to whisper them in order to avoid being executed as a magic-user. His original ability just has him look at something.
  • In The West Wing, the first mention of the first lady involved press inquiries over her use of a Ouija Board. This was never mentioned again, and seems quite out-of-character for the first lady we eventually meet (who is a surgeon and a Harvard Medical School professor). Presumably the original character design was less "Hillary Clinton" and more "Nancy Reagan".
  • Watch the later season one episodes and onwards of Supernatural and remind yourself that at the time of the Pilot, Dean and Sam haven't seen each other in four years and are not on good terms.
  • Doctor Who:
    • The show was originally conceived of as a strictly children's program with a strong educational component. Several early episodes take place in a "real-world" historical setting, with the only "sci fi" element being how the characters got there. The Doctor was prone to making speeches about how things work, often directed spoken to the camera. This has all but disappeared even a few seasons in, with it becoming a pure adventure show.
    • To elaborate, the Doctor was originally intended to be a borderline antagonist that kept getting the heroes into trouble. Indeed, in the second episode he almost brains a caveman to death with a rock, only to be stopped by Ian at the last second. It was Ian who was intended to be the show's main protagonist, and his and Barbara's professions (teachers, the former science and the latter history) are clear indicators that it was supposed to be an Edutainment show. Susan was to represent the viewing audience.
    • In particular, have a look at the pilot episode, which was later remade in its entirety. Had it been retained, the programme would have been rather different. Details at http://www.bbc.co.uk/doctorwho/classic/episodeguide/pilotepisode/detail.shtml
    • The second serial "The Daleks", have the moral "War and genocide is bad. And so is pacifism!". This was before the Doctor became a Badass Pacifist.
      • Likewise, as regeneration had not yet been established, Susan worried that the Doctor would genuinely die as a result of the radiation. Some later EU media would try and explain this as the radiation interfering with the regeneration process.
      • The Daleks themselves were fairly different from later portrayals. While still evil, they had more individuality and were more talkative. Their main reason for killing wasn't superiority but making the environment more suitable to them. Exterminating the Thals was just a pleasant side-effect. They also said "Exterminate" less than five times and ruled among equals rather than having a Supreme Dalek (though one would be retconned as existing). It wasn't until "The Daleks' Master Plan" that they began to have the personality they'd be famous for.
    • Though it is established many important details about the Time Lords and their society, "The Deadly Assassin" had two major discrepancies with later lore. It first implied that when a Time Lord reached their thirteenth body, their body took on a charred appearance which later stories dropped like a hot potato. Engin also tells the Doctor that the Lord President is a Puppet King at best with the real power resting with the High Council when all later media, even the next episode to focus on Gallifrey, would establish that the opposite is true.
  • The first five episodes of The Dukes of Hazzard look very different from the rest, because they were actually filmed in Georgia. In addition, there were more "rowdy" scenes at the Boar's Nest, mild profanity was used more freely, Daisy was often more scantily clad than in episodes from Season 2 onward, and the character of Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane was a fairly serious one and not the dimwitted man-child that defined his character.
  • Early on Dollhouse was mostly episodic, giving way to longer story and character arcs. This isn't quite Cerebus Syndrome---the early episodes were still serious, but they focused more on the Dollhouse's clients and were meant to explore what kind of "desires" (sexual or otherwise) people would be willing to pay for. Though most fans think the later episodes are better, Joss Whedon has commented he thinks the change made the show lose some of its original point. A section of fans underestimates how important these early episodes were to establishing the series premise and introducing us to the various personalities that Echo would later switch into.
  • The first season of The Sopranos is played much more like a lampoon of the gangster genre. It emphasizes the zaniness of Tony's two lives as a family man and a "family man." His wife gets this treatment as well. In one scene she expertly cocks and loads an M-16 when she thinks there's an intruder. The supporting gangsters are also constantly quoting famous mob movies, showing that modern mob culture is partially based on imitating fiction. This all gets dropped during the show's run to a much more straightforward drama.
  • NCIS: The differences aren't quite as noticeable as other examples, but watching a current episode back to back with one of the first few episodes can be a little jarring - the director isn't a major part of the activities, making just a couple appearances over the course of season one, Gibbs is a little more... sociable, there's the mysterious redhead he occasionally hitches a ride with, Tony's regularly the sole butt of jokes (no McGee for him to pick on), Abby's voice is a little huskier, Ducky's assistant is a man named Gerald, and, most jarring of all, Tony does not constantly make movie references, even being confused by one made by a guest character. By the end of the first season, though, things have just about settled in to something close to what we get now.
    • Speaking of Abby, in addition to her voice being different, she started out with a relatively normal level of energy. By season 3, it went to above normal, and now it's just ridiculous. Her hair/makeup/wardrobe was also noticeably toned down over the seasons. Though she still frequently wears her hair in high ponytails or braids, we haven't seen anything like her hairdo in the pilot (there were five or six ponytails) since season one. Her makeup is much more natural now, where in the first season she wore pretty much exclusively black or dark red lipstick, and after the first couple of seasons, she started wearing colors other than black, and occasionally, outfits with no black in them at all. Other than being a goth, Abby was also much less quirky in the first season.
    • In the first ten or so episodes of the first season, there was something resembling sexual tension between Gibbs and Abby. By the second half of the first season, it had been completely dropped, and by the beginning of the third season, the writers had really started to capitalize on their father-daughter relationship.
    • This is really the nature of the beast when replacing a major character, but seasons one and two with Kate had a noticeably different tone than seasons three onward with Ziva.
  • The first series of Blackadder is different from the latter three (and the specials) in a number of ways.
    • The character of Blackadder is almost always referred to as Edmund, Duke of Edinburgh. "The Black Adder" is a nickname that only he himself uses.
    • Although he is sometimes shown as fairly rational and progressive regarding such topics as witchcraft and superstition, to the extent of being the Only Sane Man in the Witchsmeller episode, Edmund is generally portrayed as a bumbling, uncharismatic fool, a far cry from the Magnificent Bastard of later seasons.
    • The show also differs in its general feel: It had a greater budget than its successors, allowing larger sets, location shooting and a far greater number of actors and extras. When budget cuts were made for Blackadder II, the writers (now including Ben Elton) compensated by putting more emphasis on dialog and characterization, which most fans agree was beneficial for the show as a whole.
  • The first two Super Sentai shows, Himitsu Sentai Goranger and JAKQ Dengekitai, did not have the giant robots from subsequent shows. For a while they were not even considered part of the franchise, although this was mainly due to right disputes between Toei and Goranger/JAKQ creator Shotaro Ishinomori. Also, in Battle Fever J, the third series, the mecha fights were kick-started by the human-sized monster calling his 'little brother' (a giant robotic duplicate) to avenge him as he was dying, and the Battle Fever Robo was not made from separate vehicles, but was a non-transforming robot stored on a non-transforming airbase. Make My Monster Grow and Combining Mecha debuted in the following shows.
    • While the uniforms of Goranger and JAKQ are very different from later uniforms, they still somewhat resemble the traditional concept of a Super Sentai uniform. Battle Fever J on the other hand, featured face-shaped helmets with two-eyed visors and sculpted noses (a style which was only reused for a One-Shot Character in Hikari Sentai Maskman). Miss America wore a blond wig on her helmet and Battle Cossack is notable for being the only main member on a Sentai to wear orange. The goggle-like visors were not introduced until Denshi Sentai Denziman and the scarfs were eliminated after Dai Sentai Goggle Five.
    • Chouriki Sentai Ohranger: Olé vs. Kakuranger, the first film in the Super Sentai Vs. Series (not counting the earlier J.A.K.Q. vs. Goranger movie), had a slightly different title format than the subsequent Vs. films and the Kakuranger's giant robots are not even present.
  • Mighty Morphin Power Rangers had a lot of weirdness early on. The unmorphed fights scenes were slower and had a few goofy moves, Alpha 5 had a teddy bear, Zordon had a British accent, etc. Once the show got its Sixth Ranger, and grew out its beard, the show had found its identity, and most of the weirdness was ironed out. "It's morphing time" (with a G) was first said by Zordon, and wasn't something the Rangers always shouted - it was just a Title Drop and a mention that morphing was what it was time to do. It took a few episodes for "It's morphin' time!" to become an obligatory pre-morph call stated by the Red Ranger (though sometimes taken over by the spotlight Ranger). The posing-routine-with-name-shouting wouldn't be established for many years and then was still rarely used until Wild Force, though there were a few instances of sentai posing footage finding its way into MMPR episodes, with new dialogue and often going unnoticed due to the fact that all ranger movement is exaggerated while suited. Most notably, the zord summoning throughout season two was a standard roll call in Zyuranger.
    • In the greater Power Rangers universe it's interesting to see MMPR characters returning for a Reunion Show taking place later and with newer conventions that the series adopted, such as the elaborate movements made with the morpher. In Power Rangers in Space "Always a Chance" had Adam making dramatic arm movements with the old "belt buckle" morpher (though it is appropriately dramatic for the scene, where morphing could kill him), where all they did in the show was put a hand behind their back as they say "It's Morphing Time!" (as though to retrieve their morpher from their back pocket or something). Jason in Power Rangers Wild Force "Forever Red" had a similar morphing pose that he never did before, and fight scenes done with the MMPR Red Ranger costume had never been done with wire work before.
  • In the first few episodes of Family Matters, the front door of the family house opened out into a corridor, suggesting that they lived in an apartment block. Later on, it opened onto a front porch, suggesting a house.
  • The first season of Babylon 5 is very different from the rest of the show. There's a different commander in the first season, far more focus on the criminal underworld in Brown Sector, and Delenn still looks completely Minbari. A viewer who started watching the show from season 2 onward might also be put off by G'Kar being a Smug Snake and something close to a villain in most of the first season.
    • The pilot movie is officially set in the same universe as the rest of the series, but in order to digest this, viewers need to apply Broad Strokes. Specifically, Delenn and G'Kar's alien makeups are very different from their later appearances, with flashbacks contradicting the pilot and supporting the rest of the series (in fact, Delenn was originally meant to be a male character played by a female actor with her voice digitally altered; this was changed last-minute, and Delenn's character was made female). The technology used by Earth Force is slightly different, with huge surf board-like plasma rifles. And we NEVER see a Minbari with clan tattoos again outside of the pilot. We're also meant to believe that an energy being like a Vorlon can become infected by a poison, and that their biology includes cellular structures (to be fair, it wasn't established until much later that Vorlons were Energy Beings).
  • Early episodes of MST3K were pretty noticeably different from the 'golden' later seasons. The riffing came at a much slower (and poorer) pace, and it wasn't until about mid-Season 2 that the quality really picked up. (This is because the early episodes were riffed Improv-style, with little preparation and rehearsal beforehand) Also, in the first few Comedy Central episodes, the focus of the series seemed to be more on the Mads than the Satellite of Love crew.
    • The characters were also very flat. Dr Forrester in particular was stuffy, officious and serious later on developing his mincing high energy more violent persona, possibly influenced by the replacement of colleague Dr Earhart with the buffoonish sidekick Frank. Tom Servo's personality changed considerably too around this time but this was due to the change of voice actor (from Josh Weinstein, who also played Earhardt, to Kevin Murphy.)
    • Season seven has an odd case of this with Pearl Forrester, Dr Forrester's mother introduced to replace Frank for the six episode season. She played a frumpy older character during that season before switching to a younger character closer to her real age for the remaining seasons when she took over the lead Mad spot from her son. As well, early on Joel Hodgson played Joel Robinson as "sleepy,' which many viewers interpreted as "stoned." This was soon abandoned. Word of God is that Hodgson actually was only half-awake in the first episode, and he decided to incorporate that into the general characterization for a time.
  • The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air is a good example. In the first season, the show clearly hadn't found its feet yet, and many of the early episodes seem rather awkward and forgettable compared to the later episodes.
    • And the indoor set for the house was completely different from how it would be in Season 2 and the remainder of the series.
    • The iconic Theme Tune Rap included an extra verse in the first season.
  • On Everybody Loves Raymond, the early seasons did seem to have a different feel from the later seasons. However, some people like the tone of the early seasons better, when the comedy seemed a bit more subtle, and Debra wasn't mean (yet). In the earlier episodes, Ray and Debra were in it together against Ray's marauding parents and brother. In the later episodes, the show was more or less a collective of neuroses played up against each other -- Ray was more of a mama's boy and idiot, and Debra became meaner and nastier.
  • In the first season of The Avengers, John Steed's partner was a man (Dr. David Keel, played by Ian Hendry), and tone tended more toward gritty crime drama. Few people know this because most of those episodes are lost.
  • Very early on in Are You Being Served, Mrs. Slocombe was attracted to Mr. Lucas. For the rest of the series (until he was Put on a Bus, anyway) Mrs. Slocombe couldn't stand Mr. Lucas.
  • Saturday Night Live when it first started came off as more of a variety show (despite the original idea of making SNL different from the variety shows that were prevalent at the time). In the premiere episode, host George Carlin had several stand-up comedy pieces interspersed with the sketches but didn't appear in any of them, and there were two musical guests with two songs each, two stand-up comedian guests (including Andy Kaufman), and a performance by the Muppets (these Muppets weren't the ones like Kermit and Miss Piggy; these were ones specifically made for SNL that no one -- not even the writers -- liked). The second episode, hosted by Paul Simon, was nothing but musical acts (except for Weekend Update). However, before the first season was over the sketch comedy element of the show came to dominate.
    • Some of SNL's recurring sketches and characters have this:
      • The first sketch for "Appalachian Emergency Room" (a sketch from seasons 29 to 31 about rednecks explaining to the receptionist their Amusing Injuries) took place in a clean, white, free clinic-type waiting room instead of a cabin version of the aforementioned waiting room.
      • Stefon (Bill Hader's Camp Gay city correspondent with a knowledge of New York City's weirdest clubs) was originally Ben Affleck's long-lost brother and screenwriting partner in a one-shot season 34 sketch. Season 35 (on the episode hosted by Gabourey Sidibe and the season finale hosted by Alec Baldwin [2] saw Stefon as a Weekend Update correspondent who was still weird, had a voice that ranged from being "No Indoor Voice" played straight to "No Indoor Voice" averted, didn't openly hit on Seth Meyers (though he did suggestively eye him), and Hader didn't crack up as much when describing the bizarre clubs and activities. Come season 36 (and continuing in season 37), Stefon had a very effeminate whisper to his voice, frequently hits on Seth Meyers (who constantly has to tell him that he has a girlfriend), and with every passing Weekend Update segment, Hader has had to count on Stefon's character tic of covering his hands with his face to cover up the fact that he's Corpsing.
      • Gilda Radner's character Roseanne Roseannadanna was another character who started out in a one-off sketch (Hers was a fake commercial called "Hire the Incompetent") and became a Weekend Update fixture later on.
      • "Celebrity Jeopardy!" started off with realistic categories and questions. Eventually, the sketch developed the ongoing gag of making the questions so ridiculously easy that it would seem impossible to get them wrong ("The Beatles' White Album is this color.") and yet the celebrities inevitably do so. Concurrently, Alex Trebek (as played by Will Ferrell) became a long-suffering Straight Man. Also, the sketch was originally conceived as a vehicle for Norm Macdonald's Burt Reynolds impression, but when Norm MacDonald got fired from SNL in the late 1990s, Darrell Hammond stepped in and played Sean Connery as Trebek's mortal enemy.
    • Despite being considered one of the worst seasons in the show's 30+ years on the air, the 1980-1981 season (season 6) had a very interesting real life Early Installment Weirdness in the form of cast member Gilbert Gottfried. Imagine if you will, a Gilbert Gottfried who doesn't squint, has a full head of curly, Jewish hair, and didn't always talk in the grating, screechy, obnoxious voice that would later be associated with him.
    • The early "Jared's Room" sketches had Chris Parnell as the college roommate that Jared (Jimmy Fallon) and Gobi (Horatio Sanz) would always prank. When Chris Parnell left the show in season 27 (and was brought back months later), he was replaced by Jeff Richards, and a Dumbass DJ character named DJ Johnathan Feinstein (played by Seth Meyers back when he actually was in sketches) was introduced.
  • The first season of Bones featured the "Angelator," a volumetric imaging system that can show 3D recreations of victims and how the murder occurred. It functioned as an alternative to showing flashbacks, as a way to visually show the audience the team's deductions about a murder. It was originally used in every episode, but was seen less and less in seasons two and three, without explanation as to why it wasn't being used anymore.
  • Amazingly, there was a time when Jerry Springer was as tame as shows like Oprah and The View. Before adopting its format of showcasing bizarre people and their torrid antics (often related to sexual matters, like infidelity, weird fetishes, sleazy sex jobs, and transsexuality), and codifying the Point and Laugh Show, it tackled political and social issues in a straightfaced manner. Compare this to its recent episodes.
  • Early episodes of the first season of How I Met Your Mother, and a handful from the second, display this for many. One readily apparent example is that the main cast sit at a table in their favorite bar - rather than what became their regular booth in future episodes.
  • Soul Train's first couple of seasons used a far different intro animation, featuring a childishly cartoony multi-colored train, rather than the classic big gray one, and the set invoked an old "juke joint" rather than the discotheque/dance club-type sets of the majority of the run. The 1971 pilot in particular seems odd: In addition to the above, there was a completely different announcer (with a higher voice and a more excitable style), the editing seem to borrow more from Laugh In than its counterpart, American Bandstand and instead of showing short clips the musical guests in the intro , there the guests (Gladys Knight & The Pips, Eddie Kendricks, The Honey Cones and Bobby Hutton) were shown dancing among the rest of the "Soul Train Gang"
  • Battlestar Galactica, the 2004 series, originally showed Cylons' spines glowing when they got really... excited. Apparently the directors decided that this was too much of a dead giveaway (or just too silly) and dropped it. The miniseries also included "Lords of Kobol!", and even an improvised "Jesus!" from Michael Hogan, as religious exclamations before the writers settled on Greek polytheism as the Colonial religion.
  • Even Game Shows can go through this:
    • Match Game and its sister show Tattletales exhibited different style questions in their early seasons - MG featured tamer questions similar to the series 60s incarnation, while TT featured jump in questions which required the celebs to relate a story about their personal lives. Also, the overall feel of both shows was much more sedate compared to the (often alcohol-induced) zaniness that Match Game was known for in its prime.
    • The first season of the Alex Trebek version of Jeopardy! was quite different from later seasons. As was the case in the Fleming era, contestants could ring in as soon as the clue was revealed, and the buzzers made noises to indicate that someone had rung in. Trebek reportedly found the buzzer system a nuisance, and many contestants were screwed over by knee-jerk buzz-ins, so the buzzers were re-tooled to allow a ring-in only after the clue was finished. Also, early gameplay was much more relaxed (lots of chatter from Alex in particular), and the clues were more straightforward compared to the mix of humorous clues and Moon Logic Puzzles of today. On top of that, Alex's hosting style has become a lot more casual, with far more playful barbs at the contestants.
    • Wheel of Fortune was a far more relaxed game into the late 1980s, with a typically mellower contestant base, very short puzzles and few gimmicks. Also, contestants spent their winnings in a "shopping" round that ate up a lot of time. Come the 1990s, the show became faster once the shopping rounds were ditched, and they began trying more and more esoteric categories (some of which even offered bonuses for answering a question related to the puzzle) and new gameplay gimmicks such as the Wild Card, Free Play, Prize Puzzle, etc.
      • The earliest NBC daytime Wheel episodes have their own weirdness: A "Buy a Vowel" space (on which contestants had to land in order to buy a vowel), contestants almost always playing a puzzle out to the last letter (to gain as much money as possible to satisfy Lin Bolen's desire for "shopping") and so forth. By September 1975, the game had progressed to the point where it remained for the rest of the original daytime run.
    • The Price Is Right was a very staid, low-key affair for its first few years: almost all of the contestants were housewives, the set was brown and the pricing games were very simple (one was literally "guess the right price in seven tries"). When it was apparent the show was going to be a hit, the show began adding new games, often those requiring more host-contestant interaction, and the Audience Participation increased, with audience members shouting out bids and advice to contestants. Also, Johnny Olson (and his successors) began appearing on camera often, and even participated in humorous skits related to the Showcases.
    • Really, any game show that lasts for more than a couple seasons will have this. Keep in mind that for the first season or so, contestants are dealing with a generally new format, so they're not really likely to play to their fullest abilities. Also, there are possibilities that the producers haven't yet worked out all the kinks in the rules. Among other examples:
    • Originally on the Chuck Woolery version of Lingo, the Bonus Round involved making 5 in a row on a Bingo board to win a prize. Each correctly-guessed 5-letter word won a ball that would go on the board, and only two were needed to win. After one team got only one ball and another team got none, the rules were changed so that the marked-off spaces on the board formed a pattern where 5-in-a-row could be made one one draw. Doing so won a grand prize, and doing so on the second or later draw won a smaller one. Also, for each 5-in-a-row Lingo made in the game, the winning team also got bonus letters to use if they got stuck.
    • Over time, Pyramid evolved significantly. The early episodes often have teams struggling to guess 2-3 words per round, and sometimes having to guess an entire phrase. Come the 1980s, the game was so streamlined that nearly everyone was getting all 7 words, making it all the more intense if someone bobbled.
      • Also, the judging in the Winner's Circle (convey six categories to your partner using only a list) got increasingly strict — no hand movements, no prepositional phrases, and an overall higher regard for precision. The high stakes and difficulty on the 1980s $100,000 Pyramid, combined with the skill of its celebrity partners, often made for exciting TV.
    • Password similarly became more and more difficult as its contestants and celebrities got more experienced with the game. However, this zig-zagged with Password Plus, which reverted to slightly easier passwords, but also made it so that points were scored for guessing what each round's Passwords had in common and adding a 10-in-60-seconds Bonus Round. (All of this carried over to Super Password.)
  • Survivor has changed drastically over the ten years of its run-- not only have they added Tribal Switches, Exile Island, and Hidden Immunity Idols, in the second season, the final vote being read out live was a big twist.
    • The first season, while not overly different from what followed, had a number of elements that were downplayed in future seasons. Notably, the cast of Borneo made numerous mentions of the fact that they were playing a game, and how their actions would be judged by the "audience" watching at home. Contestants were also eliminated for making alliances instead of voting emotionally - you'd be hard-pressed to find an instance in the later seasons where the contestants didn't forge alliances in the first couple days of the game.
    • In the first season, host Jeff Probst didn't have the show's terminology down correctly, and would often mix up the names of the various stages. The contestants were also confused about the name of the voting ceremony and the challenges.
  • This is quite common on panel shows where the format gets mixed around quite a lot in the early days and not every component remains. The first episode of Have I Got News for You featured eight different rounds, only four of which survived to the show's better-known format.
    • The first two series of Would I Lie to You featured more rounds and questions, a completely different set and the deadpan Angus Deayton as host. The show didn't really achieve success until it cut out the less amusing rounds, got a set with a brighter colour scheme and the more lively Rob Brydon as host.
    • Very much played in the first two series of Mock the Week, in which Rory Bremner's impressions are a key part of the comedy before being dropped once he left the show.
  • Early seasons of Sesame Street were much slower-paced, and frequently relied on lectures (such as this really long, calming one about how milk is made), making it more in line with competitors such as Mister Rogers' Neighborhood and Captain Kangaroo. Also, some segments tended to repeat at least twice, since they acted like TV commercials. They abandoned this around the mid 1970s.
    • Characters looked very different, too. Oscar, for example, was orange, and only his head was visible. Big Bird missed most of the feathers on his head, and had the mindset of a dim-witted adult bird rather than a child. Plus, Grover was green.
    • Animated segments outnumbered Muppet segments, too. Also, the characters broke the fourth wall more frequently, addressing their audience as well as introducing and commenting on segments, as if they tied into each other more.
  • The first season of Boy Meets World included several secondary and tertiary characters that disappeared within a few episodes, or at least by the end of the season. Also, Shawn had a sister, Stacey, who was never mentioned again.
  • In the pilot of 3rd Rock from the Sun, Tommy and Dick use some kind of telepathy on each other so that Tommy can demonstrate the disgusting thoughts which puberty is causing him to have. For the remainder of the show's run, this ability is never mentioned again and the aliens appeared to lack any kind of "powers".
    • Also from the pilot, Dick, wanting to get rid of Ms. Dubcek, pushes her out a door that would later lead to his bedroom.
  • The very first Puppy Bowl didn't have a Kitty Halftime Show.
  • The first two series of Red Dwarf featured much more complex plots and Myth Arcs, mainly concerning strange alternate universes and Lister's relationship with Kochanski. This was mostly dropped for series three in favour of a Monster of the Week format. Kryten only appears as a guest, and the Cat doesn't spend that much time around the other characters preferring to wander around alone.
    • The first appearance of Kryten in series 2 has him as a very English robot butler in a suit who is obsessed with cleaning. He's not very intelligent and his only personality quirk is that he's oblivious to the fact his crew have died. His personality, voice and appearance are entirely different to the Kryten who would appear from series 3 onwards (he's played by a different actor). Because of this, it's explained that Lister helps him break his programming, and presumably rebuilt him. This is lampshaded in series 8 where Kryten is (briefly) restored to his factory settings and behaves just like he did in his first appearance.
  • The Office (US) with its chubby, balding Michael Scott, random background deskworkers, and straight-laced Kelly Kapoor in its short first season. This is because the first season is a nearly gag-for-gag recreation of the UK version. The US version didn't get its own identity until Season 2.
  • Billy Mays' earliest ads have him speaking in a relatively normal voice, instead of the excited shouting he was famous for.
  • The first few seasons of the British Whose Line Is It Anyway have a much different feeling from later ones. This is mostly because barrister Clive Anderson is getting used to his role, and later show staples Colin Mochrie and Ryan Stiles do not make consistent appearances while John Sessions appears in almost every first and second season episode. The show hits its stride by season four or five.
    • The first season of the American version did not have Wayne Brady as one of the permanent cast members alongside Ryan and Colin. It can be jarring watching one of the early episodes and not seeing Wayne at all.
  • In the unaired pilot for I Love Lucy, Lucy and Ricky live in a dingy apartment consisting solely of the bedroom and a bathroom, Fred and Ethel Mertz do not appear at all, and the people recording used kinescope instead of the Three Cameras method they would later popularize. Some people even remember Lucy and Ricky having the last name, "Lopez." (The re-recorded opening narration used on DVD calls them, "Lucy and Ricky Ricardo," like the actual show.)
    • When Desilu reused the pilot's script for the episode, "The Audition," not only did Lucy and Ricky use the same apartment and surname they usually have, but Fred even got to make an appearance, sharing a conversation with Ricky that he originally had with his talent agent.
  • In early My Name Is Earl, the Camden police dept. are actually a competent, normal, small time police force. Later on in the series it becomes one fat guy on a bike, and his sister. Also Crab-man is just a generic, if slightly brighter, trailer park-type resident, later on he will become a a quirky-genius ex-spy who is in witness protection.
  • This happens fairly frequently in That 70s Show. In the early episodes, Hyde has a crush on Donna. This only lasts a little while before that subplot was thrown out, although, unlike many of the other examples on this page, it wasn't entirely forgotten.
    • That's just a plot point that wasn't gelling well. Some examples that might be more fitting (features that became staple later but wasn't present at the start) are the lack of Idiosyncratic Wipes (they didn't start using the wipes of the cast dancing in front of the trippy backgrounds until the second season) and a different version of "That 70s Song" (sounded like a version taken from a live concert vs. a studio cut; this was also changed from the second season onwards).
  • The early episodes of Malcolm in the Middle have Hal and Lois being very comfortable with nudity (with Hal being shaved during breakfast with only a newspaper covering him and Lois answering the front door topless and Lois's nonchalant attitude about her breasts). Later on, however, they treat nudity the way most parents would.
    • Additionally, the premise shifts from Malcolm-centric to the entire family, with later episodes following the Two Lines, No Waiting formula to accomodate. Several episodes don't even have Malcolm as the focal point of either plot. Malcolm was originally the Only Sane Man but that's pretty much gone by the end.
  • Mash originally started as a lighthearted "wacky" comedy set in a war hospital, very much in the vein of The Movie it was based on. After a few years, the laughs became balanced with hard-hitting looks at the horrors of war.
  • Season 1 of 3-2-1 Contact was hosted by three college-age students in a campus workshop, as opposed to the junior high kids in a basement playroom cast of subsequent seasons. To some, it was First Installment Wins.
  • The first season of Saved by the Bell is totally different from the rest of the series. Instead of being a high school in California, it's a middle school in Indiana. The students are a supporting cast and their teacher, Miss Bliss, is the main protagonist. This is the case because originally, the show was called Good Morning, Miss Bliss, and that was the premise. They changed this after realizing the kids had more potential for comedy plots. Possibly even a really weird inversion of this trope.
  • The first few episodes of Twenty Four differed greatly from the rest of the season, and had many off-kilter moments that don't fit with what followed:
    • The first season had a title card that read, "Events occur in real time." This was jettisoned after the first three episodes (although it did make an appearance in the second- and third-season premieres, which were aired commercial-free). In addition, the first season is the only season to use the word "midnight" instead of "12:00 AM".
    • The pilot episode had several sequences that emphasize ticking clocks (and the "real-time" aspect of the show). In addition, the "ticking" noise played during the pilot is different from every other episode.
    • In the second episode of the series, Jack drives down an L.A. street distraught after Richard Walsh's death. During this sequence, Jack's perspective shows a time-lapse cityscape perspective - this is the only time such a scene appeared in the series.
    • The pilot is the first (and only) episode to feature a shot of something happening in outer space (a satellite passing over Kuala Lumpur).
    • The first few episodes don't have Jack narrating ("I'm Federal Agent Jack Bauer, and this is the longest day of my life."). The opening narration also changes several times throughout the first season.
    • CTU's design greatly changed between the pilot and the second episode (due to switching from an actual location to a soundstage).
    • The fifth, sixth and seventh first-season episodes are the only time in the series when the sun rises in a realistic fashion (it takes just under two hours to go from night sky to full daylight). Later seasons had it transition from night to day almost immediately.
    • A number of bizarre elements in the pilot and second episode (Tony's exaggerated accent, Mandy's meditation scene in the desert) were never referenced again.
    • The first-season finale (where Jack cradles Teri's body while remembering her) is the only time a flashback was used in the series.
    • In season two, the ticking clock was integrated with the commercial breaks, and reminded viewers that time was still progressing in the show. This format never appeared in any other season afterwards.
  • The original Degrassi franchise could be considered this. The Kids Of Degrassi Street (and its immediate telefilm predecessor, Ida Makes a Movie) were about elementary-school aged kids, quite young ones at first and lacked much of the complex morality was a staple of the franchise while even Degrassi Junior High sometimes relied on unbelievable conceits - the show ended with an explosion in the school's boiler room forcing all the students to evacuate and change campuses. Compared to Degrassi High, which made the material Darker and Edgier, cut out most of the Anvilicious dialogue and became less heavy-handed, Junior High looks downright quaint. Degrassi the Next Generation's early episodes also lacked many of the shock-value storylines that would define its later run.
  • The early episodes of the 1980s War of the Worlds series lacked much of the strong narrative tales that defined the latter half of its first season. Norton Drake had an exaggerated Jamaican accent, Harrison Blackwood had a girlfriend who was set up as a supporting character, the villains were generic Irish terrorists with modulated voices and the plots went from "stealing alien war machines" to "infiltrating a location-of-the-week".
  • The first episode of The Wire has two such moments: the "camera" sequence in the elevator (where Jimmy McNulty is seen, from the perspective of a security camera, waiting in an elevator) and the flashback sequence at the end of the pilot (which reiterates why the informant was killed). David Simon is on record as saying HBO mandated the "flashback" sequence because they felt viewers wouldn't understand what was going on, and it's never been used again. Another minor example is the use of a backing track to underscore certain scenes (such as Avon Barksdale's walk into The Pit), which ran counter to the general tone of the show (no music used at all, except when it was played via a car speaker or music player and in the end-of-season montages), and were never used again after the first season.
  • The pilot of Seinfeld:
    • Kramer, then called "Kessler", was introduced by having him knock on Jerry's door instead of his classic Dynamic Entry.
    • Jason Alexander portrayed George Costanza as a Woody Allen wannabe until he realized that the character closely resembled his creator Larry David, and subsequently made the character angrier and meaner.
    • The original pilot's female regular in the form of a waitress at Monk's (well, actually not Monk's. The diner was different too), but she was pretty forgettable. Most bizarre, however, was the fact that the show wasn't even called "Seinfeld", instead being titled "The Seinfeld Chronicles"[3], and that the famous trademark slap-bass theme tune wasn't there. Instead it had a more conventional electronic keyboard theme. Elaine was added in the second episode because the network felt the show lacked a prominent female character, which turned out to be for the better.
  • The first few episodes of Miami Vice form a conventional Five Episode Pilot, which focuses on Crockett and Tubbs (who have just been paired up) working to find Columbian druglord Jose Calderone. The biggest difference in these five episodes is the character of Lt. Rodriguez, Sonny's (original) commanding officer who got directly involved in the action on a weekly basis. Other elements were significantly toned down after the first few episodes, including the length of the montages, Tubbs' heavier accent (seen in the first couple episodes), Zito and Switek's comedy routines (which used to take up entire segments of the show) and the length of the before-credits teasers.
  • Compare the first (six-episode) season of Parks and Recreation to the second and onward, and they almost seem like two different shows - during the first few episodes, Leslie Knope is awkward, overbearing, and somewhat incompetent; Andy is a lazy Jerkass rather than the affable Adult Child of the later seasons; Ron has almost zero personality quirks of his own; and there's a heavy focus on the government aspect of the show.
  • Gilmore Girls
    • It's particularly jarring re-watching the first season after finishing the final season: the dialog in the beginning was a lot slower paced than in later seasons. The DVD even has a special where the actors comment on how the speed of dialog delivery, which is a famous aspect of Gilmore Girls, has evolved to the point where it's faster than the actors themselves can think.
    • In the unaired pilot, Sookie was played by Alex Borstein. She couldn't stay a regular on the show because of her commitment to MAD TV, but she did play two recurring characters on the show. She played the Independence Inn's harpist, Drella, and Miss Celine, Emily's personal fashion adviser. Drella mysteriously vanishes after the first season with no explanation.
    • Luke's Diner is in a completely different location in Stars Hollow and looks mostly different inside, as well.
    • Emily's hair, makeup, and wardrobe was noticeably drab in the first few episodes. You can still tell from a scene that remains in the show's opening. In the later seasons, Emily is more of a Hot Grandma.
    • Dean was more of a loner, particularly in the first season, having only recently moved to Stars Hollow with his family. His tastes were also more in line with Jess's. As the show went on, he became more of a jock while those attributes became part of Jess's character.
    • Paris, Madeline, and Louise were a lot more harsh and petty. Paris in particular was only going to be on the show for a few episodes as a way to introduce Rory and the audience to the highly competitive environment at Chilton, but her role was greatly expanded.
    • It's also odd to see Sean Gunn playing two characters who were, although very similar to Kirk, separate characters. Fanon likes to think they're all Kirk, anyways.
  • In a first season episode of The Nanny Fran celebrates her 30th birthday. Shortly afterwards her refusal to admit to being older than 29 became one of the show's biggest running gags (Maxwell says at one point even the FBI couldn't figure out her real age).
    • In the pilot, the stairs and front door are in a different location. There's also at least one early episode where there was a pantry between the kitchen and the dining room which eventually disappeared.
  • During the first season of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Sweet Dee's character was meant to be the female voice of reason to her male friends' idiocy. It was only with the second season that she began matching her friends' depravity.
    • Not to mention the lack of Frank.
  • In the pilot of CSI, cases are posted on The Big Board Homicide-style, Brass is a shouting hard-ass with scant respect for the CSIs' work, the ME isn't Doc Robbins, and Grissom flirts personably with co-workers and plays practical jokes.
    • There's also a heavier emphasis on story arcs at the outset; the first handful of CSI episodes started with a "Previously On...", something that now feels jarring for what the audience expects from an episodic Forensic Drama these days.
  • Like The Big Bang Theory? Go back and watch the first episode again. It has Sheldon laughing fairly normally (at a joke he shouldn't even think is funny), and Sheldon knocking on Penny's door -once- and waiting for her to open it, and just generally acting only about half as Sheldon-ish as normal. It's even implied that he has A Date with Rosie Palms on the reg, something later Sheldon is never established as indulging in.
    • Seasons 1 and 2 of the show have a much different feel than Season 3 onward.
  • One of Ghostwriter's most distinctive traits is that outside a computer, he can only write by rearranging letters others have written -- a trait completely absent in the first two parts of "Ghost Story." (Especially strange since the scene establishing it takes place only hours, if not minutes, after the last scene that shows its absence.)
  • All in The Family changed quite a bit from the time it was shopped to studios in 1968 (under the title "Justice For All") to the time it debuted on CBS in 1971. In the original unaired pilot, Carroll O'Connor wore a toupee, Mike and Gloria were played by different actors, and Mike was Irish instead of Polish. When the show was officially picked up to series, several things changed between the official pilot and the rest of the episodes. While O'Connor and Rob Reiner had their roles nailed down, Jean Stapleton used a very low, non-shrill voice for Edith, Sally Struthers' Gloria was much more sexually provocative (and was prone to wearing short skirts instead of her more conservative attire later on) and the entirety of the early episodes focused on a single argument between Archie and Mike (with no B-plots). The series also debuted with a "Presented For Mature Audiences" disclaimer (which was jettisoned after a few episodes because there was no audience complaints).
    • Only the first season featured background music, and in the second episode "Writing the President", there's even a daydreaming sequence - the only time the series ever went inside a character's head.
  • Season 1 of The Amazing Race had a couple of features that were changed in later seasons, the most notable being that Phil only showed up at the mat to greet the last team instead of being there to greet every team like he would in every season thereafter. Also, the first episode was edited challenge to challenge, meaning each task was shown to completion before moving onto the next one, making it impossible to tell what order the teams were in; the route flags were yellow and white instead of the yellow and red of later seasons (the yellow and white flags would be brought back for Family Edition, and in countries such as Vietnam, that have a yellow and red flag); and poor course planning resulted in two of the final four teams falling hopelessly behind with no chance of catching up to the two lead teams, something that the producers have taken steps to avoid since then.
    • The first four seasons as a whole had a lot more exposition than later ones, with teams (and Phil) talking about things like rules (both written and unwritten), money usage, travel, and how each little move affected their placement in the Race. Such exposition was cut out in later seasons as that information was expected to be common knowledge among fans by then. Many episodes in those seasons would also start with shots of the teams interacting at the Pit Stop, and Confession Cams were done solo instead of in pairs.
    • Originally, penalties were issued at the beginning of the leg following when they were earned (unless the penalty eliminated the team, then Phil would call the penalized team and the last team to check in into a meeting to tell them the new results). However, after Season 4, the rules were changed so that teams could not check in until all earned penalties had been served.
  • Community is generally considered to have hit the ground running in terms of quality, but -- hard as it may be to believe now -- it actually started off as a fairly realistic sitcom. Sometime in the first season, the show took a sharp left turn into ultra surreal weirdness and, by the end of that season, it had developed its meta-on-top-of-meta-on-top-of-meta identity.
    • Barring Shirley and Abed, the characters were very different in the pilot. Jeff was much more of a jerk and wore sweat pants, Britta was sane (something Jeff lampshades in later seasons), Annie was rather overtly aggressive and the Odd Friendship was being pushed between Troy (who was much more of a Jerk Jock and barely more intelligent than an animal) and Pierce (who was more the Casanova Wannabe).
  • The Spanish Siete Vidas was originally about David, a guy who had just woken up from a coma after several years, and his experiences as he rediscovered his sister, his neighbours and his old love interest. By the second season, the focus had largely moved to the sister and the neighbours, so David and his girlfriend were Put On A Plane and never heard of again except for Christmas specials.
  • Spitting Image: The first season pales compared to later seasons. The pilot episode had a laugh track (which was abandoned quickly from the next episode on). Certain puppets look and sound different because the voice actors didn't always comically exaggarate the voices of the lampooned celebrities in the first season. Many episodes in the first season follow plot lines that are continued like a chronological series, while later seasons were always stand alone episodes.
  • In the pilot episode of Burn Notice Michael's mother Madeline is a hypochondriac, and Michael mentions sending money to her regularly to help pay for all the examinations and treatments for medical problems which are not there. This character trait never shows up after the pilot.
  • Wizards of Waverly Place has a very different feel in season one. It is very episodic and feels more like a typical light hearted Kid Com than the darker arc based show it would become. Alex is more nice and more of a typical teenaged girl, and while lazy and not interested in learning, is a pretty far cry from the anarchist she would become. Justin only uses magic when necessary whereas later on he's full out Mad Scientist. Professor Crumb's school isn't around and it seems as if Jerry (and other Wizard parents) are solely responsible for assessing their kids' progress and policing their kid's actions. The Sub Station is more populated and seems as if it is actually somewhat successful (a running gag in later seasons is how it's always empty). Spells are longer and rhyme whereas they would eventually require only one or two words. Also, Zeke is stated to be older than Justin whereas they seem to be the same age later on and it's implied that Justin has a few years on Alex rather than of simply being one year her senior.
  • The first few episodes, or in general the entire first season of True Blood are quite different from the series onwards. For one, the setting was much more dreary, gloomy and more horror-esque, the characters were more realistic in their emotions and vampires seemed to be more archaic, rule-bound and "cool". The first season resembled the first Sookie Stackhouse novel quite well, and followed the books' mystery structure. The second, third and fourth season have since discarded the first season's gloom and have become even sexier, gorier, bloodier - and yet, also much more like a soap opera, with Loads and Loads of Characters having their own issues - many of them not even supernaturally related. In addition, the structure of the books was ignored in favor of very loosely adapting plot elements. The True Blood fandom remains divided over which version of the show was better; the dark, brooding first season, or the action-packed, character-focused later ones.
  • Early episodes of Kamen Rider were more sci-fi horror than the conventional toku we know today. The famous Rider Kick hadn't even been established yet, and thus Hongo would defeat his enemies with really anything, including a "Rider Throw".
  • The pilot of Sherlock suggested that the title character's Sherlock Scans usually missed a detail or two. By episode two, it was clear that he missed nothing.
  • Brooklyn Nine-Nine:
    • The pilot has a third detective, Daniels, alongside Hitchcock and Scully who is dropped after that scene.
    • Until about halfway through Season 1, Rosa had a much lighter speaking voice, similar to her actress' natural speaking voice.
    • Holt mentions in Season 1 that he follows Boyle's foodie blog. In Season 2, he says that, if he could, he'd subsist only on plain flavourless blocks that provided him the basic nutrients that his body needed.
    • Some episodes of the first two seasons suggest that Amy and Rosa all but hated Gina before Season 3 established that she was well-liked by the whole of the precinct.
  • The first season of Friends was very different than the other nine, featuring much more references to the show's New York setting, some holdovers from The Eighties, they all dressed differently, and even had a few hints that Monica was the lead.
  • Arrowverse:
    • Early Arrow is fairly different from later seasons. Not only does Felicity not appear until about halfway through, but Oliver has several Inner Monologues. And as metahumans and aliens hadn't been established yet, the overall show has a very grounded and gritty feel.
    • As a result of the Channel Hop, the first season of Supergirl is very different from those that followed. Cat Grant is still running CatCo and the DEO operates from the desert to name just two.
  • A few characters in Sabrina the Teenage Witch were fairly different in Season 1.
    • Sabrina herself was a Shrinking Violet rather then outspoken.
    • Harvey genuinely thought Libby was a nice person and was terminally stupid. By Season 2, it was clear that Harvey knew Libby was cruel and, while he wasn't a genius, was decently smart.
    • Zelda was Season 1's Only Sane Man. By Season 2, she was Not So Above It All.
    • Some episodes of Season 1 suggested that Libby, while a bully, only picked on the lowest rungs of the social ladder. Season 2 established her as a textbook Alpha Bitch (for which she was the former Trope Namer) who worked with the higher-ups to make anyone's life as miserable as possible.
  1. This is Dexter's actual M.O. in the books
  2. which came after the infamous Betty White episode
  3. These days, that episode's title is "The Seinfeld Chronicles"
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