Upping the Ante

So, typically, a TV show is structured in such a way that new challenges can always be introduced for the characters and there’s definitive ending in mind, at least not until ratings start to fall or the cost gets too high and writers are told on short notice that they have to wrap things up. There are all kinds of exceptions to this, but generally that’s the case. So every season a show gets renewed the writers have to come up with a new challenge or villain for our heroes to face.

One mistake writers often make though is feeling they have to just continually raise the stakes or up the ante, as in we’ve just got to have a villain even more powerful than the ones we’ve seen before. If last season you had a villain as powerful as 1000 tons of TNT, then this season we’ve gotta have a 50 megaton nuclear bomb!  Of course you see the problem – once you’ve done the nuclear bomb thing there’s not much left after that.

Take Buffy the Vampire Slayer. She’s introduced as the only one with the strength to fight vampires, and in the beginning that’s what we see her do. By the last season though, it’s clear that the vampires couldn’t even threaten a toothless rabbit yet alone a Slayer, so to keep things interesting now she has to fight actual goddesses and the embodiment of evil itself.

Now I personally was a fan of BtVS when it was on.  We even named a dog after her. But maybe there are better ways to keep something interesting other than just turning the power levels up to eleven?

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