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Thread: When was the exact moment the Simpsons lost its way?



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  1. #1
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    When was the exact moment the Simpsons lost its way?

    I think I'd have to place it exactly at Lisa the Vegetarian.

    Her character gets thrown under the bus. Soon after, we have a slew of poor episodes cropping up (Marge Be Not Proud, "Scenes from the Class Struggle in Springfield," "Homerpalooza")

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    When You Dish Upon a Star was the point of no return.
    Favorite and least favorite by season
    1. Krusty Gets Busted There’s No Disgrace Like Home 2. Bart Gets an F Dead Putting Society 3. Homer at the Bat Like Father, Like Clown 4. Brother From the Same Planet Krusty Gets Kancelled 5. Cape Feare Lady Bouvier’s Lover 6. Homer Badman Another Simpsons Clip Show 7. King-Size Homer Lisa the Iconoclast 8. Homer’s Enemy El Viaje Misterioso de Nuestro Jomer 9. Bart Carny The Trouble With Trillions 10. Thirty Minutes Over Tokyo Homer Simpson in: “Kidney Trouble” 11. Guess Who’s Coming to Criticize Dinner? Hello Gutter, Hello Fadder 12. HOMЯ Tennis the Menace 13. Tales From the Public Domain She of Little Faith 14. The Dad Who Knew Too Little Helter Shelter 15. I, Annoyed Grunt)-bot Bart-Mangled Banner 16. A Star is Torn On a Clear Day I Can’t See My Sister 17. My Fair Laddy Bonfire of the Manatees 18. The Haw-Hawed Couple You Kent Always Say What You Want 19. Funeral for a Fiend All About Lisa 20. Gone Maggie Gone The Good, the Sad and the Drugly 21. The Bob Next Door The Color Yellow 22. Donnie Fatso Love is a Many Strangled Thing 23. The Falcon and the D’ohman A Totally Fun Thing That Bart Will Never Do Again 24. Hardly Kirk-ing Moonshine River 25. The War of Art What to Expect When Bart’s Expecting 26. Sky Police Let’s Go Fly a Coot 27. Halloween of Horror Lisa With an ‘S’ 28. There Will Be Buds Moho House 29. Springfield Splendor Throw Grampa From the Dane


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    I'll never understand why people think Marge Be Not Proud is poor. It's an excellent episode.

    Anyway, I don't think there's one exact moment. I think the "seeds of change" were sown as early as Season 8, but then Season 9 cemented the change for good (mainly by introducing "jerkass Homer").
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    Marge Be Not Proud is a fine episode, but I do understand people’s disdain for it, as it doesn’t have much in the way of subverting tropes in that classic Simpsons style. It kind of plays into them and doesn’t have as much satirical bite to me.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Financial Panther View Post
    When You Dish Upon a Star was the point of no return.
    great episode

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    Administrator Sam's Avatar
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    also @op go away


  7. #7


    Season eight really isn't that great toward the end. Overall, it's kind of a strange and uneven season. It has some great episodes (You Only Move Twice, The Springfield Files, Homer vs. the 18th Amendment) and some are very high on Homer's enemy (I like it myself). But it also has a number of episodes that aren't that good by classic era standards (Burns, Baby Burns; The Twisted World of Marge Simpson; Simpsoncali; My Sister, My Sitter; The Canine Mutiny; The Old Man and the Lisa; The Secret War of Lisa Simpson).

    The last six episodes of the season are three of the ones I mentioned in the last sentence, In Marge We Trust, Homer's Enemy and The Smpsons Spin-off Showcase. The next season starts off well with The City of New York vs. Homer Simpson, but the second episode is the much-maligned The Principal and the Pauper. After The Cartridge Family, the show came out with Bart Star, the episode where Apu gets married, Realty Bites and Miracle on Evergreen Terrace to finish off 1997.

    To answer the question: I'd say that if there's an exact moment, it falls some time in the year 1997. I started watching The simpsons regularly in late 1996, so it declined soon after I started watching it, but I was able to watch re-runs of classic era episodes on a regular basis before it entered the Scully era, which made for good viewing.


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    It depends.

    The Show's best period ended as Scully hit his stride.

    The show became a chore after S15.

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    If I had to pick one episode its The Principal and the Pauper. I don't even mind this episode that much, but their was quite a huge decline in most of the episodes that came afterwards. Then season 15 or 16 was the last of the shows ''silver era'', where most episode were still enjoyable to watch. The movie might've been a great way to end the show at that point. Season 17+ has gotten very hit & miss with a lot of forgettable episodes and unfunny jokes.
    Episodes rated best and worst from each season:
    1: Krusty Gets Busted/Homer's Night Out 2: The Way We Was/Bart's Dog Gets an F 3: Colonel Homer/Dog of Death 4: Marge vs. The Monorail/So It's Come to This: A Simpsons Clip Show 5: Cape Feare/Bart Gets An Elephant 6: Treehouse of Horror V/Another Simpsons Clip Show 7: Mother Simpson/Homerpalooza 8: You Only Move Twice/The Canine Mutiny 9: Lisa's Sax/The Two Mrs. Nahasapeemapetilons 10: Lisa Gets an A/Sunday Cruddy Sunday 11: Behind The Laughter/Beyond Blunderdome 12: Trilogy of Error/The Computer Wore Menace Shoes 13: I Am Furious Yellow/Homer the Moe 14: The Dad Who Knew Too Little/Large Marge 15: The Way We Weren't/Diatribe of a Mad Housewife 16: Thank God Its Doomsday/Mommie Beerest 17: Marge's Son Poisoning/Bonfire of the Manatees 18: Marge Gamer/Revenge is Best Served Three Times 19: Treehouse of Horror XVIII/That 90's Show 20: Gone Maggie Gone/Coming To Homerica 21: O Brother, Where Bart thou?/The Devil Wears Nada 22: Homer Scissorhands/The Fool Monty 23: Holidays of Future Passed/Moe Goes From Rags To Riches 24: Adventures In Baby-Getting/Whiskey Business 25: Brick Like Me/White Christmas Blues 26: Bart's New Friend/The Musk Who Fell to Earth 27: Halloween of Horror/Every Man's Dream 28: There Will Be Buds/Moho House 29: Gone Boy/Throw Grampa from the Dane

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sam View Post
    also @op go away
    No, U.

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    Stonecutter ComicBookGal's Avatar
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    actually to be honest I really feel the show jumped the shark when they did Homer's enemy, I mean Homer has had enemies before but this is the first time that someone actually really did have a problem with Homer that wasn't related to him (Family wise). I mean Burns vowed revenge before but he never really did go through with it did he?

    I don't really mind Principal and the pauper that much considering that it developed Skinner and Agnes in this one, but this was when Agnes really started to turn into a control freak

    I have positive things to say about seasons 8 and 9 because I liked how they switched things up and blowing winds of change
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  14. #12
    Up an atom. Ramier Wolfcastle's Avatar
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    Homer Simpson in: "Kidney Trouble"

    Homer was such a jerkass to his father in that episode. Although I felt the show had a "renaissance" of sorts from seasons 13-16 before going bland in season 17.

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    Trash of the Titans.

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    U2 ruins yet another great thing

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  20. #15


    Alone again, just seemed like a mean way to kill a character.
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    Alone Again is nothing special, but I’ve seen more disdain for it than usual recently. It has some good moments in it: I like the opening with the bear, and I enjoy the video Homer makes about Ned. I’m also guilty of liking Homer’s line about parking in the ambulance zone.

  22. #17


    Bart to the Future
    This is where the show started adding formula to the storylines allowing the writes to start coaxing. To be specific if Bart doesn’t change his ways he will have a bad future became bart’s future is entirely sided by the traits he has as a 10 year old. Lisa’s positive and negative traits don’t affect her future. Then they added kids to mix making Homer not effected by his negative traits (its not that ab and homer were abusive kids just naturally like their grandparents better).

    The girl power episodes became so rigid that they accidentally started proving that men are indeed better then woman.

    They kept doing marriage problem episodes and the sheer number of them combined with the increasingly petty reasons marge was angry started to make her come across as the abusive one. Bart to the Future marked a laziness in the writers that they seem to be unable to fix.

  23. #18
    Junior Camper Captain Wacky's Avatar
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    I've often viewed the show's decline as more of a slope than an abrupt dropoff, as tends to be the case with most forms of seasonal rot (I doubt that monstrosities like Moonshine River and the Elon Musk episode could easily arise in S14 or 15, let alone S9 or 10). As the decline of the show as a whole plays out more as a disintegration of the qualities that elevated it to its incredible solidity during the classic era, there seem to be individual 'points' of downfall dispersed throughout S8 to the HD era, including:
    Lisa the Vegetarian: The first use of extraneous guest stars portrayed in a softer light (the McCartneys, albeit their appearance here is far from bad). The first instance of flanderized Lisa (although the episode wisely contextualizes it as an issue).
    Homerpalooza: The first episode to carry the feeling of being a typical TV season finale 'stunt' as opposed to a story the writers organically wanted to tell (as evidenced by the large number of guest stars, despite the episode at least justifying this by cementing them into the Hullabalooza context, and the episode's emotional core, which comes up slightly short in the third act), despite the episode in question once again being decent.
    The Homer They Fall: The first appearance of the infamous 'bizarre third-act plot twist' that dominates the Scully era.
    Hurricane Neddy: The bizarre revelation of Ned's past is essentially a harbinger for Armin Tamzarian, the Simpson gene and a multitude of other random 'shocking' character revelations the show would pull in subsequent seasons.
    The Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie Show: The Bart/CBG scene (in which the fandom is depicted as owing the show's crew regardless of the quality of output in a mostly unironic way) is the foundation which later worse episodes such as "Saddlesore Galactica" are built upon.
    The Canine Mutiny: The first episode with a substandard plot/to lean into mediocre territory, thus marking an end to the surprising consistency of classic-era OFF.
    In Marge We Trust: The first third-act climax to be truly absurd and over-the-top in a less than desirable way.
    Homer's Enemy: The show becomes self-aware and thus enters the slippery slope of self-parody. The blueprint for the 'Jerkass Homer' of the Scully and Jean eras is set.
    The Principal and the Pauper and Lisa the Simpson: The 'shocking character revelations' twist fly out of control and ultimately damage the show's formerly grounded cast, most obviously in the former, but also significantly in the latter episode (apparently Homer's stupidity is caused by an inherited gene which takes hold over time and Bart is doomed to successively greater idiocy, therefore rendering 'Bart Gets an "F"' even more unnecessarily depressing? What?).
    Bart Star: Jerkass Homer's first full-fledged appearance. The departure of Brad Bird also causes the storyboarding and visuals to acquire a flatter, broader, less compelling quality which persists today.
    Realty Bites: The first episode to feature a wacky, Homer-centric subplot with no real satirical purpose.
    Trash of the Titans: The show begins to center its focus on Homer above the remainder of the cast whilst simultaneously solidifying his indestructible and egotistical Scully-era persona.
    The Trouble with Trillions: The first episode to concentrate on random Homer antics over a solid plot.
    Lost Our Lisa: Apparently, Homer Simpson, a lethargic, gluttonous average working-class American family man now actively behaves stupidly to throw himself into wacky adventures. That sounds completely like the Homer from the previous 8 seasons all right.
    When You Dish Upon a Star: As FP said, the show's point of no return. The genesis of the celebrity worship that dominates the show's later seasons.
    The Wizard of Evergreen Terrace: The first episode where the entire narrative is laser-focused onto Homer acquiring a strange new profession and acting like a maniacal cartoon character in that capacity.
    Homer Simpson in "Kidney Trouble": An obvious one.
    Viva Ned Flanders: Homer is apparently now a universal self-help guru who aids others in living compelling lives despite being an average blue-collar couch potato... that's definitely not hard to buy...
    Sunday, Cruddy Sunday: The first episode to feature the HD-era comprehension of a 'plot': a collection of setpieces and lame jokes masquerading as something more coherent.
    Monty Can't Buy Me Love: The first episode to significantly flanderize a secondary character (Mr. Burns), whilst the Loch Ness Monster stretches the show's reality to a breaking point.
    Beyond Blunderdome: The predecessor to "Lisa Goes Gaga" and the Elon Musk episode, with virtually every joke in the episode focusing either on praising a celebrity or the flanderized character of the focal Simpson.
    Take My Wife, Sleaze: The motorcycle swordfight, y'all.
    Saddlesore Galactica: The show is effectively a zany cartoon series by the point of the jockey elves' reveal.
    Alone Again, Natura-diddily: The show loses any remaining heart in favour of accentuating Jerkass Homer at his most unfunny and sociopathic. The first major episode to fail in upending the status quo (Apu's octuplets appear so infrequently that they scarcely qualify).
    Bart to the Future: The first episode to feature virtually no redeeming qualities and a lazy, disappointing atmosphere.
    Kill the Alligator and Run: Random, incoherent nonsense which hurled the show off the deep end and buried the quality of the 'travel episode' for the most part.
    Homer vs. Dignity: The entire episode's painful (for the vast majority) lack of good comedy (including the panda assault scene) is essentially a solidification of the show's devolution.
    Brawl in the Family: The writing team adopt the viewpoint that the Simpson family is, as a majority, adversarial and hate-filled towards one another as opposed to behaving akin to an actual flawed but close-knit nuclear unit, thus setting the stage for the Jean era's worst episodes.
    Large Marge: Proof that the writing team have lost grip on Marge's character.
    Barting Over: Proof that the writing team have lost grip on Bart's character.
    Three Gays of the Condo: The first episode to fall into the 'asinine Jean-era marital crisis' category.
    Co-Dependant's Day Confirmation that the writers view Homer as a despicable sociopath as opposed to a dimwitted and selfish but well-intentioned family man.
    My Big Fat Geek Wedding: The beginning of the Jean era's absurd insistence on maintaining the status quo above innovating and remaining fresh.

    I could continue beyond S15, but it's mostly agreed that the show had entered a major decline by S16.
    Last edited by Captain Wacky; 02-07-2019 at 01:37 PM.


  24. #19
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    That’s a really good analysis of various points of the show’s decline. I don’t agree with all of them, but I can see your point in all of them.

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    This was very well thought out and written.

  26. #21
    Stonecutter ComicBookGal's Avatar
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    uh but what happened with Maude was an accident though I do feel that what happened to Maude probably was unavoidable because even if Homer didn't bend down to pick up a bobby pin considering the mass of the shirts if they were enough to take down Maude, it could have had them hit homer causing him to lose his balance and go backwards into Maude

    Also a couple of years ago (likely after the Elon Musk episode aired) I made a discussion about are the episodes that are guest star centered any good? (and by guest star centered I mean, the episodes where the guest stars play themselves) It was kind of mixed.
    Last edited by ComicBookGal; 02-07-2019 at 02:27 PM.

  27. #22
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    First I have to say that I hard disagree that the show went sour in season 7 (and with an episode like Lisa The Vegetarian' which is a really good one) is completely ridiculous to me. I don't understand all the bitterness and negativity the season has gotten as of late (I do remember it being much more beloved a few years ago with incredibly little to no criticism).

    I am in the camp that would say the downward spiral was rather gradual and has had it's highs and lows so it wasn't a simple, clear drop off. I'd say the show started getting really wobbly and iffy with season 10 when the Scully era kicked into high gear and things started to get really ridiculous and formulaic with all the wacky Homer misadventures and whatnot but got better with season 12, improved quite a with the entrance of Jean and the early Jean seasons before dropping again at the HD era with the Jean-run going on for way too long (maybe if had gotten someone else to take over it could have benefitted; I think that what the show needed was a switch of showrunner after a number of seasons to keep it from going stale).

    Still, even with the later and lackluster 2/3rds of the show and all it's faults I never thought it has gotten unforgiveably bad yet; some episodes here and there are really terrible but it's mostly mediocre and bland overall with some bright spots and runs of episodes coming off as pretty good. It's such a mixed bag (having both meh, bad and really goodepisodes) and that's what I'd call it rather than just "Zombie Simpsons" with bad and completely forgettable episodes everywhere.

    (Also, I doubt that if they had kept all of those involved with the classic eight first seasons it would have kept on being just as great as it would inevitably have dropped in quality no matter what; a show can only be really good for so long so maybe it would have been better off having been wrapped up after those seasons, but then we would have missed out on all the good post-classic stuff we've gotten).
    Last edited by CousinMerl; 02-09-2019 at 08:39 AM.


  28. #23
    Proud of Being Lame Nitsy's Avatar
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    @captainwacky I think "Strong Arms of the Ma" is a better example of the writers losing their grip on Marge's character than "Large Marge". That one deserves a call out as one of the worst episodes in the series.

  29. #24
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    Some excellent examples so far. I'm inclined to agree that the decline was gradual, though once the Scully era was in full swing, it was a clear point of decline/jumping the shark. I'd also agree that Season 14/15 was another milestone in the show not being what it used to be.

    In particular, I feel like the time around Seasons 14-15 marked the moment when the show was really struggling to stay relevant and on top of pop culture. The cracks had been appearing in seasons prior to that, but that's when it felt like the writers were - to use some imagery from the show itself - Homer slapping on a Rastafarian hat and trying to be a part of the young crowd. They're not completely out of touch, but there's an element of "Hello, fellow kids" about it.
    A little less Generic than before.


  30. #25


    I think the show's decline in quality was definitely gradual and took almost two years to fully set in. Season eight would have been a great point to end the series. By that time, there were more episodes exploring secondary characters, experimental plots, and an overall feeling that the show was starting to become more self-aware. That mentality is what you can see in the last two episodes that Oakley & Weinstein produced as showrunners, because one of them has this really experimental concept ("The Principal and the Pauper") and the other one gives us insight into why the Simpson family turned out the way it did ("Lisa the Simpson"). I don't think season eight was the beginning of the end as everyone thinks, but because the show never ended, people point to certain things that happened in that season as a sign that the show was beginning to fall off.

    Season nine definitely should have been the end of the series, because to me, the decline starts here. Homer is slowly beginning to descend into the asshole he would remain as for at least a decade, the stories aren't as grounded in reality as before, and you can tell the writers are starting to lose their grip on what makes The Simpsons work. This is also an odd season because even though Mike Scully took over as showrunner, there are episodes produced by all of the former showrunners here (except for Groening, Brooks, and Simon). It definitely wasn't intentional, but it's interesting that it happened in this season. Also, the series reached 200 episodes. What more could it say at that point?

    Season ten was the clear point of no return. It's starting to become obvious that the show isn't finishing up, but the episodes are making less and less sense each week. Characterization stops being a priority, plots have much less cohesion to them, there is now more of a reliance on random gags, and Homer has fully devolved into Jerkass Homer. Once "Kidney Trouble" comes in, it's clear that the original magic is gone completely. The series can still pull off a funny joke, and the occasional episode is still entertaining, but the quality will never be consistent again.

    And just in case the series hadn't yet made it clear to you that it has nothing left to say, season eleven will remind you by shouting at you with a bullhorn.


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    I'm baaaack! Patches O'houlihan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dr. Nihilistic View Post

    And just in case the series hadn't yet made it clear to you that it has nothing left to say, season eleven will remind you by shouting at you with a bullhorn.
    Sadly, there's a lot of fans that think S11, and up, are how the Simpsons are SUPPOSED to be.


  32. #27
    don't quite cover all CousinMerl's Avatar
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    I haven't seen many of those fans at all to be honest; most fans seem to agree that the show was great up until season 8 or at least 10 (the latter I still have a hard time understanding as the show was going through a clear shift by then as said).

    Those that think that S11 and up are the true Simpsons are probably from newer generations who cannot get into the classics, I guess much like those who crap on the original Star Trek series and say that Star Trek: The Next Generation is the start of the true Trek series'.
    Last edited by CousinMerl; 02-14-2019 at 04:59 AM.

  33. #28
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    It's not really an exact point, as has been said before, it's gradual and... I'm gonna say it started around Season 7 but, and I really gotta stress this point, it ain't for season 7 itself, it's probably one of my favorite seasons. It's kinda like how, say, Shrek, was a really good movie itself but really dragged down animated movies as we got dreck like Chicken Little and all the other things that wanted to be Shrek. Sometimes a good thing could do possibly more damage than a bad thing on its own.

    The plots got a bit more out there and experimental, between it and 8 we had things like Homer unwittingly working for a supervillain, Bart losing his soul, a Pretzel business being propped up by the mafia and Sideshow Bob trying to nuke the town because he hated television. They definitely weren't as grounded as the stuff before it, especially seasons 1-4, but it was still very good and still downplayed a lot of the wackier elements but it's also easy to see the staff looking at it and thinking "okay, do this, but even bigger!" and before you know it, it's jumped the rails and we have Jockey Elves.

    Okay I have a personal dropoff point where I really started getting more jaded and critical but the above is way earlier and a lot more objective...


  34. #29
    Have Brain, Will Travel Wile E. the Brain's Avatar
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    Of all the responses that came out on this thread so far, I think I agree the most with @CousinMerl. For me, this is season 10 (though I still find it's a very good season, the last one very good in my opinion; I also agree the decline is gradual, and had its highs and lows) that shows us a more inconsistent series with the emergence of problems that will affect the show afterwards, more wacky stuff, more inconsistency...

    But actually, the trully start of what became a pretty bland series was season 17 for me. Seasons 10 through 16 are certainly part of the more mixed stuff but there are still a number of highlights that I consider they're worthy of any toplist. From season 17 (and even if some episodes remain really good afterwards), that's the big drop for me. But, once again, I do totally agree with CousinMerl's response : I never thought it has gotten unforgiveably bad yet either. The writers had lost a part of their groove and there are indeed some really awful episodes, but overall, it's more mixed to me, filled with both good, bad and bland/average/forgettable stuff.
    Last edited by Wile E. the Brain; 02-14-2019 at 06:15 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Venomrabbit View Post

    Okay I have a personal dropoff point where I really started getting more jaded and critical but the above is way earlier and a lot more objective...
    IIRC, the first major staff turnover was during season 5. It may have just taken a moment for those "waves" to manifest in S7 and 8.



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