Much of the time after a paradigm is very full is spent attempting to reframe the overgrown system it in simpler terms.
The long death cycle of Ptolemaic Astronomy, as described by Kuhn, was all about describing the same things either more closely, or more simply. And the push toward simplicity eventually moved people like Kepler to consider astronomy that admitted conic sections. The conic sections fit perfectly with a quadratic theory of gravity, and we could imagine a single set of rules that described both celestial mechanics and ordinary ballistics, setting the groundwork for Galileo, and his theories of uniform motion and acceleration.
So all of that thrashing about trying to simplify, eventually bore fruit, even though all of it was perfectly pointless and never accomplished anything itself. It shifted the focus around enough to free up the paradigm to shift. Loss of precision and minimalism came to be seen as an acceptable price to pay for a less cluttered model.
Physics appeared to be headed into such a state right before quantum dynamics was discovered. So it was spared this experience once. But it is now largely in the same place. And we have seen other sciences come through such spaces and grown on their account.
The alternative versions involve different extraneous furniture, and then we can see whether those things correspond to reality, or not, if we can't tell. If they do, we are actually discovering things that may eventually be useful. But if we can't tell, that may be even better, because we can describe our physics in simpler way, without losing anything. String Theory will never net anything new. By design, it can't. But it may simplify physics in the long run. We may never need to know all the ways our space might have been, but by discovering the set of parameters, we might be able to describe what actually is in a more general and equally meaningful way that will be easier to preserve and pass on.
There is also a distinct possibility that physics will be spared the inward spiral once again. The stuff currently arising out of the integration of physics and information theory, and the problems the two have agreeing on what happens at black holes could easily net another branch of physics like quantum mechanics, and we can move from cleanup and reframing operations into a whole new realm.
At first blush, quantum mechanics seems useless, as it describes mostly what we cannot do, or can't understand. It arose out of a sort of desperate mopping-up approach to the last unsolved problems of classical physics. Planck, its originator did not see it as a realistic approach to anything, despite the fact it solve the problem of the 'ultraviolet catastrophe' in black-body radiation. But it was. It took over. And it has given us the nuclear age and things like semiconductors.
Information physics could be a crazy obsessive little corner between thermodynamics and relativity, or the new quantum mechanics.