Upping the Ante Cont’d
Following from an older post, my opinion is that it’s in fact almost never necessary to just keep raising the stakes in a series. Just building a bigger and bigger Death Star really doesn’t make it any more interesting.
Or sticking to sci-fi, I’ve heard Doctor Who fans comment that while a single Dalek can be a serious threat, a whole fleet of Daleks is really just a nuisance. That’s because in the later case the only way The Doctor can defeat those odds is by pulling some deus ex screwdriver out of his arse, thus rendering the whole thing pointless and boring.
The secret to the success of really long running series like Star Trek and Doctor Who is that they keep changing – constantly introducing new different kinds of mystery and threat for the characters to deal with, not necessarily just bigger and badder than what came before. Sometimes it’s a powerful enemy, sometimes it’s just intelligent and cunning, sometimes it’s a sentient grain of sand that’s taken over the science lab somehow. The point is though is that instead of just a more powerful bad guy, it’s almost always better to just have different types of villain and challenges to overcome to keep things interesting.