Erik Darling shows us a case where the same query can be nice and fast, but change one parameter and suddenly performance goes out the window:
In the original plan, the TOP asked for rows, and quickly got them.
In the second plan, the TOP kept asking for rows, getting them from the Votes table, and then losing them on the join to Posts.
There was no parameter sniffing, there were no out of date stats, no blocking, or any other oddities. It’s just plain bad luck because of the data’s relationship.
Read the whole thing.