Best Example: 24

Sometimes location is key. After five near-flawless seasons, Counter-Terrorism agent Jack Bauer's (Kiefer Sutherland) sixth bad day was the most hotly anticipated yet, and it ultimately couldn't handle the pressure. After a solid premiere it crashed and burned quickly thanks to lame villains, tired execution of well-worn twists and tropes (how many times can CTU be invaded?!), and weird, jarring family melodrama, culminating with a depressingly non-suspenseful finale. The innovative thriller had fallen off, just one year after winning an Emmy for best series.

Then the infamous writer's strike happened, and the creative team that was used to drafting plots on the fly suddenly had time to sit back and think. The result was the first 24 season to be fully conceived before production, which meant no annoying filler episodes to stretch things out, nor absurd, nonsensical twists to keep things going. Everything makes sense for the most part, and Day 7 is on par with the quality offered in the earlier years of the series.

A key reason why it works so well? It's fresh. After six straight seasons of L.A. attracting more terrorists than aspiring actresses, the action shifts to the much more probable setting of D.C., where Bauer is standing trial for his controversial methods. CTU is gone, save for key members the show could not do without (Chloe), and Jack is called on to liaise with the FBI when a threat specific to his past arises. Of course, plenty of other elements went in to making the season a success, but the inciting decision to uproot Jack was the kick the writers needed to free themselves of the familiarity that was threatening to suffocate their series.