Around about the time I stopped thinking Rambo was great and needed more from a movie than jungle villages being blown apart (no, it wasn't last week. It was when I was a kid!) I have been conscious of the elements of movies or books that I love.
To me balance seems to be very important. Take Heroes - the first season was so original that I loved it. But as the show devolved into a case of the right character with the right power to advance the plot... I realised they didnt expect the show to be a great success. It survived to season four on consumer loyalty, in my opinion. Lost kept people invested because of our need for truth... we needed those damned answers. Again, I feel the show was never expected to be such a hit. Did the show deliver in the end? No, but by then the fanbase just loved time alone with their favourite characters.
Prison Break... because his cause was true and we wanted him to save his brother and get the fuck out of there! Shawshank was great for that reason also. When it became another "government agents are total bastards" tv show only fans could stay true...and I am fairly sure they would have liked the span of the show to be based in fox prison.
X men fell to the same flaw as heroes - the uber superpowerful mutant trumps all. Its the playground equivalent of someone who mimics an explosion and smugly says "grenade beats rock, paper and scissors" and considers himself the true victor.
GRRM's books stand alone in this consideration. They possess a delicacy in a world that other authors have tainted by dropping dragon-nukes in fist-fights. The characters are so damn real I can feel their views. His characters can taunt you with your naive black and white sense of right and wrong and prove that such simplistic moral virtue would be your undoing in the world he creates. I long ago gave up asking for the happy ending for all my favourites in the series. I am a silent passenger simply wondering where the fuck I will be taken next... and I love it. The show whilst not being as the book would have it (necessarily so) will prove to program makers that they have an intelligent viewer base waiting for more rich and complex stories. It will change the quality and variety of story telling forever.
On the other end of the spectrum is the Harry Potter series - J K Rowling hooked me because of the way her universe was so plausibly written into reality. It lies just out of sight of us muggles. But its a world where all have the powers (which you think would have killed it) and yet the things that govern the world isnt the magic - but the human drama.
Meh, thats your lot. As always, its what I reckon.