Sunday, July 13, 2014

Of Sharks And Beards

So it's summer time and that's when people go to the beach alot, and beaches are near oceans,
and oceans are where sharks swim, so that's the reason for this entry! I'm going to discuss fictional canons, series', and franchises that I'm familiar with and pinpoint where, in my opinion, Jumped the Shark (got weaker in quality beyond repair) or Grew the Beard (got better in quality). As you should well know, Jumping the Shark is a term that refers to a point where anyone and anything reaches a downhill slope in terms of quality, popularity, relevance, and overall value, and goes irrevocably bad.

There are two flavors of shark jumping: one where the jump is made because someone or something got shot in the foot in attempting to cling to quality and relevance, or one where the jump is made because something just went sour and got bad. In either case, the core problem is that the series, band, sport, person, you name it, did something that they should never have do. And thus they jump and land right over a shark. The term was coined due to the moment in "Happy Days" where Fonzie literally jumped over a shark while on water-skis, and still wearing his leather jacket too. There was
a limit to how cool he could be to audiences, and that's when he hit that limit, and this dumb moment reflected the downturn in quality of the show. Growing the Beard is essentially the exact opposite of Jumping the Shark, when the series/band/sport/person does something that was needed to be done in order to improve, and it works. It was coined with Lt. Riker of "Star Trek: The Next Generation", played by Johnathan Frakes, grew a beard for the second season, and that decision reflected the upswing in quality of the show. Sometimes something will Grow the Beard but then Jump the Shark later on, while other times it will Jump the Shark early only to rebound over the shark by Growing the Beard. In any event, this entry here is what I think about certain series' in regards to these tropes:

Disney Animated Canon: Never Jumped - Disney's had it's ups and downs over the years, it's high and low points. But it's always managed to make a comeback. It's did so with "Cinderella", it did so with "The Little Mermaid", and it did so with "Tangled". And for every "Fun And Fancy Free", "The Aristocats", "Home On The Range", and "Chicken Little", there's "Beauty And The Beast", "The Lion King", "Lilo And Stitch", and "Frozen" caliber films. So I doubt we'll ever see a jump from this studio.

Disney/Pixar Canon: Grew the Beard with Toy Story 2, an intended for DTV sequel released theatrically that was somehow able to strengthen the mythos of the original film, flesh out the cast of characters, and get more emotional responses from viewers that the studio's previous two films had. From there, Pixar delivered hit after hit until it finally Jumped the Shark with, ironically enough, Toy Story 3. Or more precisely, after it. The film itself was, like "Up" before it, as close to perfection as
a Pixar film can get. Considering it's the dreaded third installment in a trilogy, that's really something! So where could Pixar go after that? The atrocious "Cars 2", the sub-par "Brave", the equally subpar "Monsters University", and then a whole host of sequels to their pre-existing films: "Finding Dory", "The Incredibles 2", and yet another Cars sequel are in the works now. Meanwhile, their "Toy Story" and "Cars" properties are continuously whored out with shorts, merchandise, and even a spin-off "Planes" series. Weak. While Disney is back in top form, it's clear Pixar ain't what it used to be.

Winnie The Pooh: Grew the Beard with "The Blustery Day", which was just all around better than it's predecessor short and also introduced Tigger. It Jumped the Shark when it was kiddified! The fin was spotted when otherwise good Pooh properties such as "The New Adventures" and "The Book of Pooh" were being put out on Playhouse Disney. Then more and more Pooh stuff got aimed and marketed solely to kids rather than people of all ages. The introduction of the merchandisable Kid Appeal Character, Lumpy the heffalump, was the nail in the coffin. A CG series centering around Pooh and Tigger solving problems alongside Chloe Grace Moretz (in retrospect, her involvement in anything kid friendly becomes so wrong) only reaffirmed this. As of 2011, the short but excellent "Winnie The Pooh" film was released and Disney Junior began airing re-dubbed segments of the original Pooh shorts. But only time will tell if Pooh can maintain being treated with this respect.

Star Wars: Grew the Beard with "The Empire Strikes Back" - as much as I love the original film and consider it the best, the sequel is what raised the bar and proved that this saga had value as a series and franchise beyond one self-contained movie. Sadly, the franchise never appealed to me as much as the films themselves did. A fin was spotted when the prequel trilogy came out, introducing the notorious Jar Jar Binks among other things. But what truly made this franchise Jump the Shark was The Clone Wars. A cartoon short series, comic books, video games, a CG series - all sorts of different media dedicated to this one war that broke out between the end of Episode II and the start of Episode III. If it's not actually in the films, then why give it so much attention? And for Pete's sake, we do not care about Anakin! If he's not on the road to the Dark Side, he's not interesting. Here's hoping that Disney's complete overhaul of Star Wars can somehow save this dying galaxy.

Kingdom Hearts: Jumped the Shark with "Birth By Sleep - Blank Points/Reconnect" The fin was spotted when the three new games after KH2 were announced at once, one being an Organization XIII multiplayer starring the least interesting main character and featuring a fanfic character come to life in Xion, while the other was a bogus techno filler that spat on several things that had come before. The game "Birth By Sleep" itself is mostly a very solid one, but there are several problems hampering it, and they all came to a head in the secret ending titled "Blank Points." In this video, Ansem the Wise is miraculously still living and reveals to a weary, weepy Aqua that all hearts in the universe are waiting for Sora to come save them and take away "the hurt" and fill all worlds with light because he's the key or whatever. Then we see Sora ready to ditch Riku and Kairi in order to go fulfill this mission after Mickey's letter from KH2's ending supposedly told him about it. We're shown that this is the start of a new story phase titled "Reconnect." And if that wasn't enough, the ending to "Coded" that came out around the same time reiterated this same message and showed what Mickey wrote in his letter. And if that wasn't enough, the secret ending to "Re:Coded" tells us that Xehanort has risen from the dead due to some bogus and previously unheard of rule, so Yensid wants to resurrect an outdated tradition to force onto Sora and Riku. And to top it all off, Tetsuya Nomura then claimed that the entire series as we knew it had now become the Xehanort Saga, or the "Seeker Of Darkness Chronicle", one big convoluted shonen series-style saga that does not mesh together as a proper story at all. Our fears were confirmed when "KH: Dream Drop Distance" came out, proving to be the worst and most incoherent installment yet, with the Disney stuff, the original drawing point to the series, reduced to window dressing around the original characters plot. Xehanort became a Villain Sue of epic proportions, the entire main party of "The World Ends With You" guest starred, and Sora ditched his Disney friends in favor of ugly Pokemon rip-offs after failing to pass as a Keyblade Master. The kicker? It had been 8 years since KH2, and still no KH3 in sight. KH3's production comes far too late to save this series. The Disney magic it was once abundant in is gone.

Harry Potter: Grew the Beard with "The Prisoner of Azkaban", which elevated the novel series to something above simple page-turners. The same can be argued for the movies. However, I disagree!

Pokemon: The game series Grew the Beard with the Yellow Version, which refined and polished everything about the Gen I games while also incorporating elements from the then popular anime series in it's Kanto arc. A fin was spotted (literally on Sharpedo and Kyogre) in Gen III: the Pokemon began to look uglier and less creative, the region had too much water, the bad guys were idiots, remakes of Gen I were made, and Junichi Masuda took the helm from Satoshi Tajiri. The shark began to circle in Gen IV, where for everything wrong about Gen III that was fixed, something else was done even worse, with all of it tied to a mythology that went from intriguing to up it's own ass by the end. The series finally strapped on it's water skis in Gen V, where Black and White, like "Toy Story 3", was close to perfection and hard to top in how mold-breaking they were. Then it Jumped the Shark twofold with Black 2 And White 2 + X And Y. The former were made as two versions rather than a Gray Version for a cash grab, and featured a story that underperfomed in it's potential when compared to it's predecessor but also had the World Tournament, which brought all five generations together in a move that warranted a series finale. But instead, we got a sixth generation and I've covered this one. The names, the Pokemon, the over-idealism, the plot, the villains, the Legendaries, the pandering, the recycling, the Fairy types, the fucking Mega Evolution, the pointless and almost insulting resurrection of the "Gotta Catch 'Em All!" tagline? All of it textbook Shark Jumping. So what's next for the games? Gen III remakes featuring Mega Evolution! Oh, you're so dead to me.

Pokemon (anime): The anime adaptation Grew the Beard with Episode 9 of the original series. Everything seemed to click, it had Giselle in it, and the show finally found it's footing afterwards. But
it rather notoriously Jumped the Shark with what is known as The GS Ball Fiasco. After Ash got the GS Ball from Professor Ivy, Brock left the group, the cast crashed in the Orange Islands, we met Brock's bland stand-in Tracey, and we were made to endure a badly paced filler arc. This was a surefire shark warning, but there was still hope for the show to rebound once the Johto saga came along. What actually happened was far from that. Ash gave the GS Ball to Kurt in Azalea Town...
and then the plot point was dropped from the show, never to be brought up again. Head writer Takeshi Shudo had intended for the GS Ball to be what kicked off a real story arc for Johto that involved Celebi being inside it, Giovanni and Team Rocket stepping up as main villains, and us finally meeting Ash's father. But since his plans got axed, what did we get instead? Lots and lots and lots of filler. Worse, it was formulaic filler because the writing staff found it easier to write with a defined pattern, and used the show's nature as a global hit among kids as an excuse to sanitize it to the point where it scarcely resembled what it began as. Shudo then got demoted and after making his final efforts to the show, flat out quit. It's never been the same since. The following incarnations of the anime have failed to satisfy, with the current series being worse than the anime's ever been.

Pokemon Adventures: After some kinks in Volume 1, this manga Grew the Beard in Volume 2.  
We met Green, the Team Rocket conspiracy thickened, and a greater sense of plot continuity and character development was formed. The beard was fully grown out by Volume 3. The entire original arc can be seen as an exercise in beard growth, really! Two fantastic arcs followed before the manga finally Jumped the Shark with the fourth arc, specifically Groudon vs Kyogre. Not only does Kyogre have a literal fin, but this clash of titans went on and on and on AND ON until I got sick of looking at those things. The events that transpired during this time were weak as well: characters almost died, characters really died, Courtney got a bullshit backstory, Ruby and Sapphire got a bullshit backstory, Archie and Maxie went crazy, and it all concluded with a truly horrid Dues Ex Machina moment. The arcs afterwards have varied in quality, but the release schedule has become devilishly slow, to the point where it becomes an on-again, off-again affair. It's still a quality manga, but just not the same.

Avatar: The Last Airbender: Grew the Beard with the twelfth episode, The Storm. While one could say this show was born with a beard, it wasn't really fully formed until this episode, which showed us important backstory information for both the main protagonist and the main antagonist, tying them both together in an impressively dramatic way. The series and franchise finally Jumped the Shark, oddly enough, After The End. The show avoided the shark in it's entire run from 2005 to 2008. Then in 2009, James Cameron's wretched film "Avatar" came out and suddenly the title was copyrighted by him even though this show had used it for all those years before this movie ever came out. In 2010, M. Night Shyamalan released his embarrassingly sub-par live action movie adaptation, "The Last Airbender", which bombed like mad, killed the director's career, and gave the source material a bad thing to be associated with. In 2011, the sequel series that was supposed to come out, "The Legend Of Korra", got delayed for a whole 'nother year! In 2012, we not only got some disappointing graphic novels picking up where the show left of, but "Korra" turned out to be a letdown itself. Thus:

The Legend Of Korra: Had it's first run-in with the shark in only it's fifth episode, The Spirit Of Competition, which introduced a needless romantic subplot that took time away from better things that could have been focused on, while also dragging out the now bland pro-bending subplot. But the jump was truly made three episodes later in Out Of The Past. The love triangle became flat-out intrusive to the plot, Mako's character drastically changed into a lovestruck cheating cad, Korra did not get in touch with Aang's spirit or learn airbending like she was set up to do, Tarrlock's plans crumbled far too easily, and the Equalists had officially been simplified into soldiers of evil who wanted to take over the city. This was followed by a climax and finale of inconsistent quality, and concluded in a downright terrible ending for Book One to go out on. When the first six episodes of Book Two turned out to be poorly written, poorly animated drivel, it seemed this show was dead for good. Then, miraculously, it Grew the Beard with the two-parter titled Beginnings. This tale told of the origins of the Avatar, bending, and the separation of the physical and spiritual worlds. It also introduced the plot point of Harmonic Convergence, which turned out to be a literal game changer for plot, characters, and quality! The finale for Book Two ended up being everything the previous book's finale wasn't (weaker villains aside), and this directly led us into Book Three, which has so far recaptured the charm and glory of both this series' predecessor and the earlier Book One episodes, fittingly starting with an episode titled "A Breath Of Fresh Air." The narrative flows better, all the characters are endearing (even Bolin and Mako!), the new villains are awesome, and thank Raava there's no forced romantic drama in sight. Keep this up, and it will be smooth sailing for Book Four!

Batman comics: Grew the Beard in The New Look Era. After too many weird, bogus, and downright stupid stories, Batman's mythos got revamped so that there was a better balance between what was campy and what was dead serious. An overall good quality kept up until the comics finally Jumped the Shark Post No Man's Land, when Dennis O'Neil left the Batman titles. Batman became a totally unlikable, sociopathic jerkass Marty Stu who could never truly be brought down, Tim Drake became as big a prick as Jason Todd had been, Stephanie Brown became a Robin only to get brutally fridged, and the rogues' gallery kept suffering from derailment right and left. Can we skip to Batman's funeral?

Batman (TV): Jumped the Shark after The Movie. The show's second season resorted to more novelty gimmicks and celebrity guest stars to keep itself alive, since everyone now wanted in on the Batman fad. The third season just killed it by bringing in Batgirl, casting Ertha Kitt as Catwoman, and having plots as dumb as the comics that the show was supposed to be spoofing in the first place. Ironically, Batman had used a Bat-shark repellent to ward off a shark in The Movie, but apparently that shark came back to bite him by the time he got into a surfing contest with the Joker. Yeesh!

Batman: The Animated Series: Grew the Beard with the episode "Heart of Ice". The earliest episodes had trouble finding the show's groove, but this one really hit it out of the park. It won an emmy for a reason. It Jumped the Shark when it got revamped and re-branded The New Batman Adventures, which is now known as the fourth season of the show. Nostalgia Critic did a video that covered the good and bad points of this show, so it wasn't godawful or anything - it just wasn't the same as the original. Batman Beyond had potential as a sequel, but it vanished past it's first season.

The Batman: Grew the Beard with the Season 1 finale. After fun but poorly written, amateurly directed, and formulaic structured episodes that seemed designed to sell toys to the target audience, the first season ended in a double-whammy that had the Joker breaking cop Ethan Bennett's sanity and exposing him to Joker puddy fumes, turning him into Clayface. It was a majorly unexpected development and made for a solid, well written, well executed, awesome two-part finale. The quality continued through the mostly great second season, the fun grab-bag third season, and the excellent fourth season. One could argue that it finally Jumped the Shark by bringing in the Justice League for the fifth and final season, but even that was worth it for the series finale, so I say it ended just right.

Dragon Ball: Grew the Beard with The Red Ribbon Saga. After a saga that could have carried a self contained manga and a martial arts based arc that followed, the series finally found it's footing in this saga, which seamlessly combined the dragon ball hunting antics of the first saga with the martial arts battles of the second, and also giving us our first serious threat in the character of Tao Pai Pai. Toriyama had the downright miraculous ability to avoid the shark even when it surfaced so many times, particularly the infamous "longest five minutes ever." But towards the very end of it's run, the series finally Jumped the Shark with Majin Buu's wall-shattering scream. Toriyama had literally written himself into a corner since Piccolo, Gotenks, and Buu were trapped in the time chamber for eternity. But Buu gets screaming at the top of his lungs, the vibrations breaking the wall so that he can escape through it. To add further insult, Piccolo and Gotenks then also have to scream in order to get out, but too late to save their allies from being killed and eaten by Buu. Eaten! Oh, and Gotenks jumps a level and goes Super Saiyan 3 for no good reason, finalizing the absolute pissing
on the concept of a Super Sayian that this saga had done. This then was followed by Buu absorbing Piccolo and Gotenks into himself, using this new power to defeat and absorb Gohan, who was being set up as the hero who'd defeat Buu this whole time, Goku and Vegeta stealing the spotlight by fusing and fighting Buu, then de-fusing and going inside of Buu, Kid Buu blowing up the entire Earth for no reason, a ton of forced moments happening in the final battle on the Kai's homeworld, Goku defeating Buu instead of Gohan (YAWN), and a cheap-ass epilogue where Goku pointlessly goes off to train Buu's pointless reincarnation and a big deal is made out of him leaving even though he could just instant transmission back to everyone. Whut? And all this happened in the span of the last one and a half volumes of the manga. It's so clear that Toriyama just gave up trying. And so did the franchise, which proceeded to give us crap like "Dragon Ball GT" and numerous cash-in video games, not to mention bad attempts at live action movies such as "Dragon Ball Evolution." The occasional TV special, "KAI", new movies, and "Super" anime cannot make up for that.

Legend Of Zelda: Grew the Beard with A Link To The Past, which was first to give the games real story rather backstory and make the characters seem like actual characters, as well as perfecting the gameplay of the original. The franchise Jumped the Shark because of That Screwy Timeline they decided to introduce. The games are perfectly good on their own without one big timeline connecting them all: all the timeline did was make things more confusing. The Hyrule Historia has thankfully mended the timelines of the games at last so that it's more coherent, but will this last?

Super Mario: Grew the Beard with Super Mario Bros because you should know damn well why.
It Jumped the Shark when there came to be Too much Mario upon the jump from 2D to 3D games.

Spider-Man: Grew the Beard with Annual 1, the first formation of the Sinister Six. This is when Spider-Man comics made the transition from being fun to being awesome. After many years of quality comics, we finally spotted a fin after Peter and MJ got married, when the comics started telling dark and angsty stories such as Kraven's Last Hunt, The Mad Dog World, The Child Within, Lifetheft, Pursuit, Beware The Rage Of A Desperate Man, and anything involving Venom and Carnage, all designed to turn Spidey into a mental case who declared "Peter Parker is dead: I am the Spider!" It culminated in the undeniable Jump the Shark moment for the comics, The Clone Saga. Originally meant to run for a few months, it actually ran for two agonizing years, and amounted to "we thought Ben Reilly was the clone of Peter, but the Peter we've been following for so long is actually the clone and Ben Reilly is the original Peter - oh wait, no, nevermind - our first assumption was correct after all, Ben's the clone. And then he dies. And Norman Osborn comes back to life. But it's over, so yay?" It was a hall of fame shark jumping for comics in general, and Spidey was never the same again. The franchise as a whole got it's own shark jump with One More Day, and then again when the only good Spidey property still left, "The Spectacular Spider-Man", got unfairly cancelled. Spider-Man is dead!

Yu-Gi-Oh!: Grew the Beard with the Death T arc. The first arc was standard "villain-of-the-week" fare until it's end when Shadi came along to give Yugi and his friends a big challenge to overcome. The hair started growing there and the beard formed in the next arc where a previous one-shot antagonist returned with a vengeance and set the good guys up in his theme park of death, fully intending on murdering Yugi for revenge. The stakes, action, and emotions were high in this arc, and it wrapped up spectacularly. The manga was officially one of the best shonen series around at this point and it ended that way, never once going over the shark even when it surfaced once that children's card game overtook the story. It's anime adaptation, on the other hand, majorly Jumped the Shark with what I call Noah's arc. The anime was reaching what was THE climactic point in the manga, the Battle City finals. All of a sudden, the blimp crashed and everyone got sucked into the virtual world ruled by Seto's stepbrother Noah Kaiba and the treacherous ex-board of directors of Kaiba Corp., all to delve further into the studio's pet character's backstory while giving us more card games! This filler arc killed the momentum of the series with it's blatant cheap writing and marketing ploys, and the anime never recovered. When we finally reached Alcatraz Tower, the final duel between Yugi and Marik was delayed for a tacked-on Kaiba vs Joey duel (in which Kaiba unfairly wins, big surprise). The Battle City saga was followed by a convoluted filler arc that nobody liked due to all sorts of potential it wasted, and that was followed by a dumb short filler arc centering around a card game tournament filled with cultural stereotypes. Even the final arc got screwed over halfway through when Seto Kaiba showed up in Memory World and events got drastically changed around. The final ceremonial duel was satisfying, yet not worth the fatigue. The franchise afterwards continued to plummet with the bad spin-offs: "Yu-Gi-Oh! R", "Yu-Gi-Oh! GX", "Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds", and worst of all "Yu-Gi-Oh! Zexal".

Banjo Kazooie: Jumped the Shark with the Switch to Microsoft. After Nintendo and Rareware gave us three good games, we got the shark jump with "Banjo Pilot" and the crash landing with "Banjo Kazooie: Nuts And Bolts." Banjo ended his career where he began: at his vehicle racing roots!

Digimon Adventure: Grew the Beard with Episode 21. While there was much to enjoy in the Devimon and Etemon arcs of the first 20 episodes and the hair was already growing fast by the epic Episode 20, it was the second half of the Server saga that turned the series into something great. We got bigger and better digivolutions, more character development, a thicker and more gripping plot, and the best villain in the series, Myotismon. The Dark Masters arc that followed was just as epic, retroactively making throwaway things from the first two arcs entirely worth it. The shark popped up when the series' final boss came right out of left field, but since he was just there to be the final boss, a jump was prevented. A grand finale ensured this was a quality show from start to finish.

Digimon Adventure 02: Jumped the Shark in it's second half, after the defeat of the Digimon Emperor and the introduction of DNA Digivolution. After Paildramon's first battle, Izzy spouted out clumsy and convoluted exposition that made no logical sense and only put this sequel series' warts on full display. What followed was the dismal Destiny Stones arc, the aimless World Tour, the botched involvement of the Daemon Corps, more clumsy retcons, character derailment, wallbangers, and all around bad writing, all culminating in a finale where the final boss is a hideously designed butchery of a once great villain who gets killed by the power of children's hopes and dreams, and then we see a distant finale epilogue that absolutely no one liked or defended. And during all this time, Dagomon gets teased at again but never shows up. It started out well, but ended as a mess.

Digimon Tamers: Grew the Beard when we Meet Impmon. The first five episodes hook you in well enough, but something about this unexpectedly pivotal character's introduction marks an upswing in the episodes, characters, and overarching plot's quality. And once it got started, it never stopped.

Digimon Frontier: Grew the Beard once we were introduced to The Evil Warriors besides the one-note neanderthal Grumblemon. These characters made an otherwise mediocre series an affair worth watching. Once the last of them, Mercurymon and Duskmon, were taken care of, the series Jumped the Shark big time when It Became The Takuya and Koji Show. While Takuya and Koji were fighting their final battle with Velgemon, the others were preoccupied by a wacky Trailmon filler. During the big battle with Cherubimon, none of the kids but Takuya and Koji made any difference. The much hyped Kouichi turned out to be nothing but a tool for powering up Takuya and Koji in their plots. The Royal Knights arc was simply rancid, with Takuya and Koji fighting and failing to defeat the Royal Knights over and over and over again for about 10 episodes straight! And even when the majestic Lucemon was out and about, Takuya and Koji were the ones to fight him, with Kouichi literally dying to give them their ultimate spirit evolution! The series finale was actually a very satisfying one that finally shook off this problem, but that couldn't save the show from sinking.

Digimon Savers: Grew the Beard with Falcomon and Merukimon's arrival. After a string of one-shot episodes where humans' deadly sins were taken advantage of by evil Digimon and the spotlight got eaten up by Marcus and Agumon, this was a very welcome moment. An actual plot started building: the seven deadly sins was a factor for a reason, Merukimon and his forces wanted to attack the human world, they had someone named Keenan in their employ, who turned out to be the son of the Crier family who'd been on a Digital World expedition with Spencer Damon and his partner Akihiro Kurata many years ago. Add some actual solid character development for Yoshi and Thomas along with better team synchronization, and throw in Saberleomon for extra drama, and you get an exciting arc. Then Kurata turns up as the true villain of the piece and things only get more intense from there! Finally Kurata reveals his ace - Belphemon, who's outright stated to be one of the seven demon lords of the Digital World. That means once Belphemon and Kurata are finished, we'll finally get back to that plot point of the demon lords and their sins, right?  Nope! Instead, the series Jumped the Shark with King Drasil's Decision, which was actually one of the worst writing decisions ever. Drasil, God of the Digital World, decides that humans are harmful creatures based on the actions of Kurata alone, so he sends his forces to attack the human world and wipe out humanity - which is retreading what Merukimon already tried! And it's also what the D-Reaper wanted in "Tamers." And Drasil turns out to be a celestial creature voiced by Mona Marshall who has the Royal Knights at his service, just like Lucemon in "Frontier!" The waste of potential and recycling of ideas was astounding. Like the previous series' final arc, it's hard to sit through until the finale. And even that isn't too good!

Digimon Fusion: Grew the Beard with the introduction of DarkKnightmon (or AxeKnightmon in the dub.) The moment this bastard came on to the playing field, the stakes were raised, the action and excitement grew, and the plot really started to thicken. It lasted all the way through the Death Generals arc and to the explosive epic grand finale which is pretty much the pinnacle of the entire franchise. So what follows it? Jumping the Shark with the "Young Hunters" spin-off, which is likely the biggest jump in the franchise's history, even worse than the above series'! Mikey Kudo was shoved aside as protagonist in favor of an unbearably obnoxious,annoying, idiotic, and absolutely wretched character named Tagiru, who stole the spotlight from everyone in his quest to be an all-star. The show had next to no plot: just one big competition filled with zany antics and episodic fillers. But that wasn't even the worst part! The worst part was that it all culminated in a story made to celebrate the franchise's milestone anniversary, in which all the past series' leaders and some of their friends joined together to battle an evil known as Quartzmon. How did they screw up this big epic crossover event? By having all these heroes get taken out so that Tagiru could AGAIN steal the spotlight, this time from all the past leads! He wasn't representing "Fusion" now: he was representing Digimom! So he saves the world...all in the name of becoming an all-star. This was despicably bad writing and proved that Tagiru was a complete Mary Sue: some little boy's fanfic hero come to life to upstage the pre-existing canon characters we all knew and loved and had wanted to see. This series ended on an anti-climactic note, and thus the franchise has essentially been killed. And it's a good riddance!

Sonic The Hedgehog: The games Jumped the Shark by making the Jump from 2D to 3D. You should know this one already. Even though the blue blur's had some better games recently, he'll never have the same luster and appeal he had in his time, the 90's. And yet he has a rabid fanbase!

Sonic Archie comics series: Grew the Beard with Issue 25, a story based on the great "Sonic CD" game. After this issue, the next 50 paid more mind to plot, character development, and the ongoing continuity of what it now the original Robotnik saga, made up of these issues and all the tie-in spin-offs that got released at the time. We spotted a fin after the "Endgame" story arc that ended in Issue 50. The following stories just felt underwhelming after that. But the comics officially Jumped the Shark by Issue 100. Any potential for interesting storylines was crushed in favor of borrowing from the games and mixing them into this continuity, making the series an overwrought mess. And the art style changed a lot too, sexualizing the furry characters more than they should be! Eventually the series got a complete overhaul/reboot, and I don't even care. And yet he still has a rabid fanbase!

Superman: Superman is not a very complicated character, so his comics were never all too complicated either. And yet they definitely Jumped the Shark when He Became Superman Blue. This was a boneheaded decision to revamp Superman for "the next century" by turning him into a blue energy being with a totally different look. The way this was handled made it seem like DC had every intention of this change being permanent. A massive Dork Age followed, and this new look was a big contributor to it. It was like the New Coke of Superman: fans demanded the classic look back. Well, he got it back, and just in time for Lex Luthor to take the White House! Yeah, so done with this. Superman as a whole seems to have Jumped the Shark with "Man Of Steel", when he kills a man!

Smallville: This live action drama of Clark Kent in his younger days Jumped the Shark in Season 4, with a drastic re-establishing of the status quo following the big events of the third season finale, Lois Lane coming to town and meeting Clark, Lionel turning good before turning bad again, Lex under suspicion of going bad, Pete Ross being nowhere in sight after his departure, bad episodes featuring Krypto and foreign exchange student Myxzptlk, the fridging of the interesting Alicia Baker, and an ongoing plot centering around Creator's Pet Lana and her involvement with the Teague family, who turns out to be descendant from witches and looking for these magical stones, and Lana herself gets possessed by a witch and whatever crap that has little to do with Superman. The following season was much better, but clearly where the show was set to end. Johnathan Kent died, Clark found the fortress of Solitude, Lex became an enemy, Brainiac and General Zod were brought in, and since High School had ended, people were ready to leave Smallville behind in favor of pursuing work in Metropolis. Jimmy Olsen showing up at the end was another sign that Clark was almost ready to embrace his destiny as Superman - except then the show continued for another five seasons, mostly set away from Smallville. Thus "Smallville" became "Young Superman". Not what we signed up for!

Spongebob Squarepants: Grew the Beard in Season 2, Jumped the Shark After The Movie. Series creator and producer Steve Hillenburg intended for the movie to be the series finale, but Nickelodeon wasn't willing to part with their cash cow property so they kept renewing for more seasons. By the fourth season, Hillenburg and creative director Derek Drymon had left altogether, the less talented Paul Tibbit and Vincent Waller taking their place. The show lost it's clever humor and adult edge, becoming childish, stupid, mean-spirited, and filled with gross-out humor and black comedy where heart used to be. And the occasional good episodes don't make up for all the tripe.

Gargoyles: Jumped the Shark with "Season 3". More precisely, because we never got Season 3! Greg Wesiman had to leave the show in the hands of less talented writers and Disney executives, who instead of giving us a third season, gave us a rebranding call "The Goliath Chronicles." The Nostalgia Critic pointed out everything that was wrong here, even making a joke about "Shark Jumping And You." The series finale was particularly atrocious, turning John Castaway into a one-dimensional supervillain who forgot what he was even fighting for, having all racial prejudice against the gargoyles go away because they save one train full of civilians from the eeevil Quarrymen, and topping it off with Goliath waxing nostalgic about how understood and accepted his kind had been in the old days, which anyone who'd seen the first freaking episode of the show would know is flat out untrue! Years later, the real third season's story was released in a comic series and Quarrymen aside, it was much better. Too bad it got abruptly discontinued because it came out way too late!

Final Fantasy: Grew the Beard with Final Fantasy IV, the first FF game to really deliver on everything that would become known as the franchise's trademarks. It Jumped the Shark when Sakeuchi left upon the Square-Enix merge. The last FF game released under Squaresoft was Final Fantasy X. All games after it were colossal letdowns. XI was a dud, XII was mediocre, XIII and XIV were abhorrent, and all the compilations and cash-grab side games Square Enix keeps forcing down our throats just aren't working out. At this rate, they'll come full circle and file for bankruptcy!

Neon Genesis Evangelion: Grew the Beard with Rei 1, but Jumped the Shark when Anno's Creator Breakdown reached it's peak. The latter half of the series was being made while Anno was in therapy and Studio Gainax's budget was running low, resulting in a notorious mind screw narrative and an infamous low-budget non-resolution series finale. "Congratulations", you Jumped the Shark!

Duck Tales: Jumped the Shark when Bubba and Fenton joined the cast. These characters might have been good for carrying TV movies, but as regular supporting characters, they were obnoxious. Ironically, Scrooge even told Bubba in one of his earlier appearances "Ya ruined me! RUINED ME!"

Yu Yu Hakusho: Grew the Beard when Yusuke's team formed to enter Maze Castle, a story arc with the highest stakes yet and one that firmly established our main heroes and the dynamics they would come to share. It Jumped the Shark big time with the Three Kings Saga, the saga at the end of the series. A saga following the Chapter Black saga was already a risky move, but the execution of this one made it worse. Not only does Yusuke's demon ancestry turn him into a literal demon for some reason, but we're led to think the arc would be about a war in Demon World only for it to turn into Demon politics, character backstories, and then finally...a tournament! WHAT? So all that build-up for a war just for the political disputes to be settled by a tournament? After the Dark Tournament, we had enough of those! Worse, it robbed Kuwabara of any sort of role in the plot, which is unforgivable!

Death Note: Jumped the Shark when L died and was replaced by Near and Mello. From the start, the main conflict of the series was set up as a battle of wits between Light Yagami and L. No sane person would want Light to win, but for a moment it seemed like he did when he finally got L killed and took his place with the Kira investigation, ensuring he'd never be caught. But then we find out that L had been grooming two successors that we'd never seen or heard of before, the less engaging Mello and Near. Since they were carrying on L's investigation, it's as if Kira VS L never ended, just L himself wasn't around anymore. So...what was even the point? The story proceeded to get too bland and way too convoluted before finally reaching it's end. This is why I prefer the movies' version!

Rugrats: Jumped the Shark when Dil joined the cast after The Movie. You should know this one.

Doug: Jumped the Shark when Disney made it "Brand Spanking New!". While the quality varied, the overall feeling you got from it was that Doug wasn't meant for a full half-hour story format.

Arthur: Jumped the Shark when Baby Kate and Pal started talking. While the show never seems to run out of interesting subject matter for plots, it was running out steam by having same characters to focus on over and over again. So it decided to make Baby Kate and the dog Pal POV characters in episodes where they could talk to each other, with Pal sounding like freaking Stewie Griffin, too! The show just lost a lot of it's luster after this. While I enjoy focus on Nadine, Kate and Pal, the Tibble Twins, the Molina family and the Compson family in doses, they don't work as characters you see regularly. The core cast wasn't exactly broken, but they just needed a little fixing, that was all!.

Hey Arnold: Jumped the Shark the moment Spencer Klein voiced Arnold. The theme song changed (though I do like the changed theme song just as well), Arnold and Helga stagnated as characters, the plots got less creative save for a few occasions, and that bullshit Arnold/Helga/Lila love triangle from just one episode before refused to die. The "Arnold Saves The Neighborhood" movie was given an unintended theatrical release, and the series finale "Jungle Movie" ended up not happening at all! While "Arnold Betrays Iggy" may have invited the shark over, this was the jump.

The Powerpuff Girls: Jumped the Shark, where else, After The Movie. The character designs and animation style changed for the worse, the writing got weaker, the jokes got less funny, and the fun appeal of the show just got totally lost. The best thing in this new style era was the musical episode series finale, but that would be because it was an idea conceived back when the show was still good.

Looney Tunes: Grew the Beard in the Chuck Jones era. No one before or after could take quite
as perfect an approach to these cartoon characters. They Jumped the Shark with Space Jam in the 90's, the first of many attempts to reinvent and modernize the Looney Tunes in an effort to appeal to today's kids. It also gave us Lola Bunny, a terribly boring character until "The Looney Tunes Show."

The Slayers: Jumped the Shark after Hellmaster Phibrizzo was defeated. Twice in fact! Both the light novel series and the anime franchise were never able to regain their original groove after this.

El Hazard AND Tenchi Muyo: Jumped the Shark with the crappy spin-offs to the originals. DUH!

One Piece: Grew the Beard with The Buggy arc. While the first chapters were solid enough, this arc is where the series showed itself to be very fun, awesome, and even emotionally involving. This was only reaffirmed by the Kuro arc and the Arlong arc later on. We spotted a fin after the Alabasta arc, which was the most epic and hard to top arc to date, and many things just not working in the Skypea Saga. But the manga truly Jumped the Shark in the CP9 Saga. Many fans, particularly in Japan, seem to disagree, but I just do not care for the "pirates VS government" angle the series has gone for. Not to mention the series went waaaay longer and further off the rails from what Oda initially envisioned it as, to the point where they've crammed too many characters and too much of the world on the Grand Line and it's just stupid. After Blackbeard's introduction, I was ready for just one more big saga. We didn't need this much more, especially when the writing and handling is now so bad.

Haruhi Suzumiya: The light novel series Jumped the Shark when we met the Nega-SOS Brigade. The characters and their story on their own weren't a problem at all. Unfortunately, their proper introduction marked the moment when publication of the series went to heck. The tenth book ended up being split into two parts when it finally came out, and it told a story that felt very climactic to the ongoing Haruhi saga. We might as well skip to the end now, but no such final book, or any book since then, has come out, so it might as well BE the end now. As for the anime, it had a notorious shark jumping with Season 2. Aside from the Tanbata episode that set up The Movie, we were given atrocious Endless Eight episodes and the unpleasant story behind the making of the SOS Brigade's student film from way back at the start of the first season. This was not necessary or welcome at all.

Sailor Moon: The manga was a pretty consistent thing, so it never jumped. The anime, however, Jumped the Shark in the "R" series when Usagi and Mamoru broke up and got back together. While "R" was mostly an excellent series, it's one major drawback was a subplot that persisted during the Rubeus and Four Sisters arc where Mamoru had dreams where a voice told him to break up with Usagi or something terrible would befall her. So he did just that - without telling Usagi why. And then he wallowed in his Man Pain, even whilst causing poor Usagi even greater pain. This was the cause of much forced melodrama and angst until the two decided to risk getting back together
at the start of the Black Moon Family arc. And then we later find out that the voice making Mamoru break up with Usagi was actually Mamoru's future self, King Endymion, imposing a test that Mamoru failed. So no matter what way you slice this, Mamoru comes out of it looking like a complete jerk! Allegedly, this was part of the new director's agenda because he hated Usagi and Mamoru together, preferring lesbian couples. Though the rest of "R" was satisfying, this event ensured the anime was never the same again. The following three series kept slipping downwards in quality, with "Stars" being the worst of all. Here's hoping nothing like this disaster happens in the new "Crystal" anime.

Gundam SEED: Jumped the Shark with the sequel, SEED Destiny. You should know this one.

Gundam 00: Jumped the Shark in the second season. Never too good to begin with, this show at least had interesting ideas. The second season threw it all out the window by turning our terrorist anti-heroes into true heroes, making the villains as evil as 40 Hitlers, derailing or killing off characters needlessly, making Setsuna a Mary Sue Jesus worse than Kira, and having some bad guys' souls get saved by magic space dust. Top it all off with a laughably bad movie, and the jump is complete.

Naruto: Grew the Beard with Kakashi's introduction, giving us a character who was both interesting and not annoying and kicking off an actual story shortly afterwards. We spotted a fin when a timeskip occurred and the series was re branded as "Shippuden", but it's initial arc wasn't too bad. But then Sasuke returned and the series Jumped the Shark big time. Bad plot after bad fight after bad characterization after Uchicha spotlight stealing and glorification after sexism after bullshit villain redemption after Mary Sue-topia followed, and it's currently one of THE worst shonen series there is!

Bleach: Grew the Beard with Uryu's introduction, bringing in a much needed antagonistic character for Ichigo to contend with. We spotted a fin when the evil mastermind of the Soul Society Saga, Sosuke Aizen, escaped from a big fight waiting to occur, and soon after we met the irritating Vizards. The series Jumped the Shark when we entered Hueco Mundo, and we've never seen the end of the bad writing since. It's almost up there with "Naruto" in how utterly destroyed this series has become.

Shaman King: Grew the Beard with Tao Ren's introduction, but Jumped the Shark when Hao Asakura screwed over the Shaman Fight and eventually ended up becoming the Shaman King.

Zatch Bell: Grew the Beard with the England episodes, the first continuing storyline since the series began. It established that Folgore and Kanchome, and Tia and Megumi, were recurring characters, we got to meet Kiyo's father, and it ended with the reveal of both how Zatch lost his memories and his treacherous twin brother, Zeno. It Jumped the Shark after the Milordo Z arc ended. After such an epic, gripping, emotionally investing arc, the initial magic of the series just faded. The Faudo arc wasn't bad, but it just wasn't the same. And let's not even get started on the waste of potential that was the King's Battle arc in the manga. The story ended well enough, at least.

Code Geass: Grew the Beard with The Battle of Narita, which marked the point where the high school life and battle life started to get better balanced and the plot and characters started to get more engaging. It Jumped the Shark with the Euphinator incident, which not only a badly written Diablos Ex Machina and fridging for poor Euphie, but a lazy way out of potentially interesting story and character ideas that were being set up. The season finale was good, but the event that had directly led to it lost much of the audience and set the tone for the death and angst filled R2 season.

Gurren Lagann: Grew the Beard with Kamina's Death. Though it came a few episodes too early, it was still the game changer from the show, giving it a more serious edge instead of the pure camp and silliness that came before. It Jumped the Shark with the Timeskip. Suddenly, things got too grim and serious! While the reveal that the Spiral King and the beast men were trying to appease an even greater force wasn't surprising, they chose to paint it as the beast men having been trying to protect humanity...through oppression. Nope, not working! We then got Nia getting possessed and practically raped by the Anti Spiral, Rosieou betraying and attempting to execute his former friend, Kittan dying like a psycho trying to invoke Kamina's sacrifice (minus the beard growth), the Anti-Spiral spouting out crap that's clearly wrong wrong wrong, and even after an over-the-top epic final battle, Simon still didn't have enough power in him to save his beloved. Thus Nia chooses to die after her marriage to Simon, Simon chooses not to save her, and everyone lives rather dismal futures, with Simon walking the earth as a hobo waiting to be reunited with Nia in death. The best thing we got out of this was Viral's redemption, but otherwise it's an unpleasant betrayal of the series' themes.

Inu-Yasha: Jumped the Shark when Naraku just refused to DIE! You really should know this one.

Ranma 1/2: Jumped the Shark when that cock-tease main romance came to be waaay too much!

Rurouni Kenshin: Grew the Beard with the Aoshi arc, but Jumped the Shark after the Kyoto arc's end. And this one applies to both the original manga and the anime! Shishio just couldn't be topped!

Toradora: Grew the Beard when we met Ami Kawashima, the series' resident shit starter. but it Jumped the Shark in Season 2, where things got increasingly angsty and unpleasant and bland.

A Song Of Ice And Fire: Jumped the Shark with the Red Wedding. "Wait, the Red Wedding?" you're thinking "But that was such a brilliant event in the story!". Yes, it was, but the problem is that George R.R Martin's ability to continue writing the series at a good pace literally declined when he wrote this event...because it was the last chapter of the third book he wrote. He had planned for something like it to occur since he began the series, but when he finally had to write about it, he got a bit sick to his stomach. So he put it off for later and wrote other chapters instead. Finally, the only thing left to write for the third book was the dreaded Red Wedding. He's gone on record saying it was the hardest thing he's ever written. And thus his writing, and his series, was never the same since. The following two books were less plot driven and more about world building, often featuring POV chapters of characters we do not give a shit about. Dany and her dragons no closer to Westeros and the Others are no closer to breaking out from beyond the Wall. And now, the "Game Of Thrones" TV series is actually likely to get ahead of it's source material in terms of plot advancement. Weiners!

Game Of Thrones, meanwhile, Jumped the Shark at around the same time period, but not after the Red Wedding - rather, the aftermath of the Purple Wedding. Losing Joffrey, an antagonist iconic for how detestable he was, was followed by Jaime's "accidental rape" of Cersei, a scene that destroyed Jamie's integrity as a character and the credibility of his redemption arc. And that was only the top of the downhill slope, as more needless, often detrimental alterations were made to the story after. Shae's characterization was assassinated for no good reason, the plots for Stannis, Arya, and Jon got stretched out to the point of boredom, and we didn't get time for important stuff while still having time to hear Tyrion ramble on about beetles. The final nail in the coffin was the loss of Charles Dance as Tywin Lannister. While inevitable, it signified that this show's best days had left it.

Sherlock Holmes: Grew the Beard with "The Adventures", Jumped the Shark with "The Return".

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Grew the Beard in Season 2. While the first season was an enjoyable affair, Season 2 really took this show to a whole new level. As Spike put it, "less ritual and more fun!" After the nigh-perfection of Season 3, we spotted a fin when the cast graduated High School (and blew it up), and Cordelia left town along with Angel. The show Jumped the Shark in Season 4, or as the official Jump The Shark book put it, with "Riley and the Initiative." The government military conspiracy underneath the college, the bland new love interest for Buffy, Willow's sudden sexuality change, Oz's departure, Spike's chip, Faith's body switching antics, and a weak Big Bad all signified the jump here. Season 5 reaffirmed this with Dawn, but also gave us a good enough story and good enough note for the series to end on. And then the sudden renewal and move to UPN happened.

Heroes: Jumped the Shark in Season 2. Does anyone NOT know this one?

Once Upon A Time: Jumped the Shark when Emma dated a flying monkey. Even for a fairy tale-based show, this was a stretch too far into absurdity. That the flying monkey in question got killed off immediately after the reveal and we later found out he the Wizard of Oz makes this even worse. And the story arc that this was at the start of was really underwhelming and not thought through nearly enough in both writing and execution. We had heroes who often failed because they acted like idiots, a villain who often succeeded despite acting like an idiot, a forced ascent to glory for Regina Mills, a forced romance between Regina and Robin Hood, a major character getting killed off too soon, the Charmings having a new baby, Belle being useless, Oz getting wasted, and Rumple's beautiful character arc getting horrifically undone and reversed. All for the sake of PLOT PLOT PLOT! The teasing of Elsa of "Frozen" fame at the last seconds of the season finale only reaffirmed our fears. The magic this show once had was gone, and we could see the wizard behind the curtain.

X-Men: The comics Jumped the Shark when Chris Claremont Syndrome kicked in. This one's another no-brainer, seeing as the convoluted and often pretentious nature of this ruined the comics.

The Simpsons: Everyone agrees that it Jumped the Shark, but it's hard to pinpoint exactly where. I'd pick either Maude Flander's death or Homer getting raped by a panda. Both were awful!

Family Guy AND Futurama: Both Jumped the Shark with the Uncancellation. Both shows just ceased to be as entertaining afterwards, and in Family Guy's case, it was downright horrendous.

Reboot: Grew the Beard with Season 2, which integrated more continuity into the stories until the season ended in a whammy that lead us into the epic Season 3. Loose ends were tied up nicely in "Daemon Rising", but then it Jumped The Shark in "My Two Bobs". What WAS that? It's the end?

Kim Possible: Jumped the Shark with "So the Drama", where Kim and Ron get together. They even lampshaded this one in the first episode that followed it! Ron: "Water Ski-ing over a shark!"

W.I.T.C.H: The comics Jumped the Shark when the writers changed. And that included the original creators! Suddenly we see Prince Phobos, he has a plan that was not hinted at before, Elyon is rushed to the side of good, and Caleb is introduced as a forced love interest. Such potential wasted.

Foster's Home For Imaginary Friends: Jumped the Shark with the episode "Imposter's Home For Make 'Em Up Pals." I'm sorry, but there's only so much cruel torment that characters can take!

Adventure Time: Jumped the Shark with "Fiona and Cake." It wouldn't have been so bad as a one-time thing, but they just had to pander to the fans by bringing it back on other occasions. Soon the show found itself settling with an odd tone where some things would get better but then other things would get worse, and sometimes what got better would go bad and what got worse would get better. It's just a really uneven show now, and the departure of the regular director makes it worse.

Ben 10: Grew the Beard with "Kevin 11". Unfortunately, it also Jumped the Shark with him. Twice. First was with the very start of the "Alien Force" sequel series, where Kevin 11 became a good guy
and got a crush on Gwen out of nowhere, and then the continuity and characters of the original series were constantly altered or ignored because they just didn't care. Then the sequel Jumped the Shark with the two-parter "Absolute Power", in which Kevin had gone back to his pure evil psychopath self only to be forcibly re-redeemed so that everything went back to the status quo in the end. Boo! This got followed by a horribly grim final season of "Ultimate Alien", followed by the "Omniverse" series that went too far the other extreme in being dense and wacky. This franchise crashed and burned.

Xiaolin Showdown: Jumped the Shark with Season 3, in which the gimmicky Wu-Dai power-up was brought in, characters (especially Omi and Jack) became completely Flanderized, and an evil bean with a Southern accent was built up as an ultimate evil yet went nowhere. Years later, the series got revived and rebooted with "Xiaolin Chronicles", which is a godawful disgrace to the original.

The Fairly Odd Parents: Jumped the Shark after "Abra Catastrophe". The plots, characters, and humor grew to be truly horrible. Timmy became a completely selfish brat, Cosmo became an idiotic jerkass manchild, Wanda became a shrill nag, Timmy's parents became despicably abusive parents, Vicky became an over-the-top evil caricature who set out to torment kids for the evulz and even had her own parents afraid of her, Trixie Tang became a total bitch, Chester and AJ became stereotypes, Jorgan Von Strangle became obnoxiously overbearing, and Mr. Crocker became a hyperactive loon who talked of nothing but FAIRIES! and giving all his students F's! About the most decent character left was freaking Mark! The birth of baby Poof seasons later was the nail in the coffin for this shit.

Danny Phantom: Jumped the Shark after "The Ultimate Enemy". Not only did that special's plot make little sense upon analysis, but where do you go after you've fought an evil version of yourself who's literally called your "ultimate enemy?" Down, that's where! WAY down! The second seasons' next half was filled with terribly written episodes, the introduction of Danielle Phantom, and the forcing of the chemistry-free Danny/Sam pairing down our throats. And the third season was even worse, particularly in what it did to the show's most interesting characters like Vlad, Valerie, and Jazz. And in the series finale, Vlad dies, Tucker becomes mayor, Danny becomes a global hero, and he and Sam finally hook up as a couple as they fly into the sunset together. Oh, if only I cared!

Scooby Doo Mystery Incorporated: Grew the Beard with Episode 12. After underwhelming episodes that squandered the series' initial potential, we finally spotted hair growth in the tenth episode when we met Professor Pericles in the present day and the Shaggy/Velma/Scooby triangle was put to rest. The beard was fully formed at the end of the twelfth episode, when the Mystery Inc. kids reconciled and discovered documents connecting the mystery that the original Mystery Inc. was following when they disappeared to the history of Crystal Cove itself. From there, it was non-stop epic quality in the next half of the first season and all throughout the even better second season. And the beard growth point and the series' brilliant ending had one thing in common - Harlan Ellison!

Total Drama: Jumped the Shark with the sophomore slump that was "Action". The reality show spoof was underplayed in favor of movie parodies, the characters got Flanderized, and the show just wasn't as fun. The following "World Tour" season seemed to get the series back on track, only for it's own shark jump in the episode "I See London". In that episode, Duncan, a character no one wanted back on the show, was brought back on and the team that found him won the challenge, while the team that actually completed the objective of the challenge...lost the challenge. The Hell? And Noah is the one who got booted off in favor of Duncan. And then Duncan cheated on Courtney with Gwen, starting a nasty love triangle drama. All this happening in the second half of the season just killed it, and even after the satisfying resolution of Alejandro vs Heather, it all ended with "rocks fall, everyone dies!" A bunch of new seasons came out afterwards, but they're a dime a dozen. All humor, no soul.

The Nostalgia Critic: Grew the Beard with the NC vs AVG feud, and later Jumped the Shark, rather infamously, with The Review Must Go On. After the NC had a clear ending to his character in the "To Boldly Flee" special in which his being merged with the Plot Hole and he finally found peace and a happy ending, having become the Big Good adult, this got undone when the replacement series "Demo Reel" bombed due to people either not liking it as much or just being displeased with the NC's sudden death and replacement. This forced Doug Walker to resurrect the quirky critic in a special video that revealed that Donny Dupree, the protagonist of "Demo Reel" also played by Doug, was actually the Nostalgia Critic stuck inside a Plot Hole created purgatory where he was being punished for his caustic criticism. He returned to being the NC, vaulting his career over the shark. The show was revamped, the videos nearly a full half hour, the reviews constantly interrupted by cutaway gags or skits done with his "Demo Reel" actors, and many subtle hints at how he wishes things had gone the way he intended so that he'd still be doing "Demo Reel" instead of this job he now hates. It's the funniest goddamn shark jumping ever. Now all Doug can do is face a camera and freak the f**k out!


  1. I'm gonna have to disagree about Clone Wars, I think it actually fixed a lot of problems with the prequels, there was chemistry within the cast and good voice acting in contrast to what we got in the prequels. Anakin was also much more likable in contrast to the prequels and had a more natural fall to dark side.

    1. OK, this depends on what Clone Wars you're talking about. There was so much of the damn thing in different media that I stopped caring. All I know is that the CG series didn't really do Anakin's turn to the dark side much favors, especially since there was apparently a story where the living embodiment of the dark side persuaded Anakin to avoid turning to the dark turning to the dark side. WHAT?

    2. It isn't so much he tells Anakin to avoid turning to the dark turning to the dark side you will destroy the Sith Lord in charge of the Republic.

      Anyways the worst of the Clone Wars multimedia project would be the Karen Traviss books: Blatent use of Mary Sues, author tract because the author really hates Jedi, rampanant spotlight stealing squad in order to glorify her favourite characters.

      This had actually gotten to the point where the developers of the CG series had to retcon all her book canon.

    3. Karen Traviss' work on Star Wars has always been generally awful.