Created By: Psi001 on November 23, 2011 Last Edited By: thewriter on February 14, 2012

Installment Order Disorder

Erratic events or changes occur due to the unexpected release order of a running series

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The large majority of fictional series develop in at least some minor manner within the course of their run. Characters are introduced, designs and concepts are altered, new pivotal plotlines are made forming a continuity. At times however the series is intended to be released in a particular order it is produced, with the final release order clashing with those plans, leading certain installments to come out in the wrong order, continuity is screwed up, changes in cast and scenario come and go and strange undeveloped elements seen in earlier installments suddenly reappear.

This can also occur due to communication difficulties with the creators. When a project is handed to numerous groups of staff, particular members may be late or earlier on the ball for new changes or alterations made to the story, leaving rather different results from different teams.


  • The pilot episode of The Simpsons "Some Enchanted Evening" was the final episode to be aired in the first season. This can be somewhat jarring due to the cruder animation and voice work compared to later produced episodes aired beforehand (part of the reason Groening was reluctant to air it beforehand).
    • Also the third season episode "When Flanders Failed" was intended to be for the second season. Die hard fans may be able to notice the subtle differences in animation quality as well as the credits sequence.
  • Similarly, the pilot episode for Sonic Satam "Heads Or Tails" was aired after the rest of the first season, particularly jarring due to using many undeveloped designs for characters and scenery (particularly Rotor and Sally) and story points that were altered later on (eg. Sonic's dog Muttski, who is not refered to in any later episodes).
  • In a flip flop of this, the TaleSpin pilot "Plunder And Lightning'' was aired first as intended, but actually produced midway through the series. This results in several backstory plot points that are never refered to again in "later" episodes (eg. Kit's background with the air pirates).
  • Both Sonic the Hedgehog 2 and Sonic CD began development around the same time. While CD was released last, it is much more akin to the first game, with similar graphics and physics. Perhaps most interestingly is Tails' absense outside a hidden easter egg image with the message "See You Next Game". Whether this was intended to be a promotional image for the earlier released Sonic 2 is unknown.
  • Crash Purple/Fusion and Spyro Orange/Fusion uses characters from the then-in production Crash Twinsanity and A Hero's Tail. This causes oddities given how some were only given a proper introduction in the later titles (as well as the Fusion games completely improvising their personalities and roles).
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  • November 23, 2011
    • The 1988 season of Doctor Who was rearranged so that a particular episode would air on the show's 25th anniversary. As a result, the final aired episode of the season has a scene where Ace adds a new decoration to her jacket, but it's already been seen on her jacket in some episodes aired earlier.
  • February 7, 2012
  • February 7, 2012
    I believe the original Star Trek aired the episode where the Klingons used Romulan ships before the episode where Klingons were first written. So the episode assumed the audience knew who Klingons are, and tried to explain why they didn't have ships that no audience member had seen anyway.
  • February 7, 2012
    • Clerks The Animated Series aired out of order, so when the Clip Show episode was shown it contained flashbacks to an episode that hadn't aired yet. Then again, it was actually funnier that way.
  • February 7, 2012
    A Very Special Episode of Fringe (Season 2 - Episode 11 "Unearthed") briefly features a character that had been killed off earlier in the season. [Apparently they slotted a "lost" episode in on an unusual time slot in order to fulfil contractual obligations despite the apparent discrepancy.]
  • February 7, 2012
    (It wasn't a Very Special Episode... it was a below-average one that was cut from the otherwise mostly excellent first season and re-aired during the hit-or-miss 2nd Season)... but the trope is still in effect
  • February 7, 2012
    Literature example: Alan Dean Foster wrote The Tar-Aiym Krang in 1972, followed some short time later by Bloodhype. The first book (chronologically) in the "Pip-and-Flinx" series is For Love of Mother Not, which came out in 1983. Of note: Bloodhype takes place 2 or 3 books from the end of the series. Word Of God states that both books contain plenty of Early Installment Weirdness, as well as elements he wishes he could Retcon.
  • February 7, 2012
    • Series IV of Red Dwarf was supposed to end with "DNA", in which the crew stumbles upon a machine that, amongst other things, turns the android Kryten human. (This was to get the actor out of having to apply a considerably heavy and uncomfortable amount of make-up for each shoot.) However, the episode was aired second, resulting in a Snap Back for the third episode and the character remaining an android for the rest of the show's run.
  • February 8, 2012
    In the final season of Homicide Life On The Street, Mike Giardello quits the FBI in protest of the Bureau's undermining his father at the behest of a Ken Starr-inspired special prosecutor. A couple of weeks later a shown-out-of-sequence episode shows him negotiating with a father who's taken his kids hostage in his capacity as an FBI agent.
  • February 8, 2012
    ^ x 7 @arromdee: It was actually Romulans in Klingon ships, in the third season episode "The Enterprise Incident". The explanation was that the Romulans were using Klingon ship designs.

    The Klingons and the Romulans both originally appeared in 1st season episodes: the Klingons in "Errand of Mercy", and the Romulans in "Balance of Terror".
  • February 8, 2012
    Okay, I was thinking of that but I could swear there was a comment in "The Making of Star Trek" or something similar about how they were first introduced in ships that weren't their own because the episodes were out of order. If they really first appeared in the first season I wouldn't have known that.
  • February 8, 2012
    • A minor example in Community which is usually pretty good at catching these things. The episode Physical Education has Jeff mentioning meeting Leonard's son at the Family Day picnic, but the picnic isn't shown until the next episode in Basic Genealogy.

  • February 9, 2012
    The original Cartoon Cartoon pilot for Dexters Laboratory was later incorporated into Episode 4 of the series. The most noticeable difference is that in the pilot there's no wall between Dexter's bedroom and his lab.
  • February 11, 2012
    This happened in the Pokemon Trading Card Game during the one time it tried to establish continuity between sets: "Legend Maker" is supposed to be about a group of explorers trying to find Mew, with the folowing set, "Delta Species" about said explorers establishing a city in the area. "Delta Species" and the following two sets were supposed to be about Delta Species Pokemon, who were disturbed and mutated by the city's electric fields. However, due to translation issues, "Delta Species" was released outside of Japan before "Legend Maker," so there was suddenly this set about a bunch of scientists and researchers and bizarre Pokemon right before a set about explorers and a peaceful forest with undisturbed Pokemon.
  • February 12, 2012
    ^^^^, ^^^^^, ^ x 12: @arromdee: I looked up "The Enterprise Incident" on The Other Wiki and found the explanation.

    "Elaan of Troyius" was the first episode to show Klingons using a Klingon ship. "The Enterprise Incident" showed the Romulans using Klingon ships. However, while "Elaan of Troyius" was created before "The Enterprise Incident", it was shown after it. This meant the audience saw Romulans using Klingon ship designs before they saw Klingons using them.

    It therefore does fit the trope.

    Live Action TV
    • Star Trek The Original Series. "Elaan of Troyius" was the first episode to show Klingons using a Klingon ship. "The Enterprise Incident" showed the Romulans using Klingon ships. However, while "Elaan of Troyius" was created before "The Enterprise Incident", it was shown after it. This meant the audience saw Romulans using Klingon ship designs before they saw Klingons using them.
  • February 13, 2012
  • February 13, 2012
    ^ You're supposed to explain why it's an example.
  • February 13, 2012
    You know, I was pretty sure we had this one, and it was named after Firefly.
  • February 13, 2012
    This happened when an episode of Bones was held back due to the Virginia Tech shootings. Things with the Angela/Jack relationship had changed a bit by mid season 3, and despite some awkward editing attempts, it was still not quite right.
    • There was also small amounts of this during season one in general, due to Fox screwing with the episode order several times.

    Merlin-the episode "Queen of Hearts" in season 3 was held back for sweeps week, swapped with "Castle of Fryien". This resulted in Gwen finding out about Morgana's treachery in the 'Castle' ep, but appearing not to know about it in the 'Queen' ep.
  • February 13, 2012
    This happened with the X-Men 90s cartoon series, as a result of production problems with a couple episodes. Notably an episode that revealed Jean Gray was alive after the Phoenix Saga aired a season later, far after the Dark Phoenix Saga aired.

    I do note we have an Out Of Order trope.
  • February 13, 2012
    Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season 3: the Season finale and another episode ("Earshot") were delayed due to the Columbine shootings, which happened just before the Earshot was to have aired. The finale aired before Earshot (which involved Jonathan in a bell tower on campus with a super-powerful rifle), which happened while they were still in school. It also set up a moment in the episode before the finale where Jonathan gave Buffy an award as "class protector" at the prom.
  • February 14, 2012
    ^^ This looks like Out Of Order to me as well.