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Sequel Timespan Delay
The differing lengths of time that can pass in-universe between a work and its sequel(s)
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(permanent link) added: 2013-09-06 13:00:31 sponsor: Bisected8 (last reply: 2013-09-11 03:57:27)

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Many successful works will have some sort of sequel. This trope is about the different lengths of time that can pass between the events of the original and them;

  • Prequel in the Lost Age - The extreme end on the "short" side of the spectrum. Works which go here exist in the same setting, but occur long before the events of the original. They might cover the origin of some sort of plot element from the original (e.g. the origin of the MacGuffin or Bigger Bad - or the current Big Bad's Predecessor Villain), but otherwise have no real connection to it. They will generally have barely anything to do with the characters from the original either (unless one of them is The Chosen One, in which case you can expect this to be the Origin Story of their predecessor or progenitor).
  • Prequel - A prequel is set before the events of the original work take place. Unlike the previous category, they generally have more to do with the original's plot. Interquels also go here (since they're still essentially the prequel to one of the previous works in the series).
  • Parallel Sequel - Right after prequels, are sequels that take place during the events of the original work. This can involve Another Side, Another Story or a P.O.V. Sequel. It might also involve a Day in the Limelight, but this is far more commonly used for Spin-Off stories than direct sequels. This also covers sequels which "sandwich" the original work (by beginning as a prequel and having a Time Skip which covers the events of the original part way through).
  • Sequential Sequel - The middle part of the scale; The sequel begins where the original ended. This includes almost all cases of an Immediate Sequel, however it can cover longer lags in time. What actually matters is that the situation the protagonists are in hasn't changed. For example, if the last instalment ended with The Hero setting off to return a MacGuffin and the sequel begins with them arriving at its intended destination (after an uneventful journey) it falls on this part of the scale no matter how long it took. This is also the stage which is the least likely to introduce a new protagonist.
  • Time Skip Sequel - This occurs a while after the events of the original, when the characters have moved on from them. As with the sequential sequel, the circumstances of the characters are more important than the actual passage of time. If the gang's split up it's a fairly good sign you're here (and there will probably be a bit of Putting the Band Back Together).
  • Distant Sequel - Finally, on the other end of the spectrum, we have this; a sequel set long after the events of the original. The characters haven't just moved on; they've likely passed on (although this isn't a sure thing; some might pop in for a cameo or two, and even serve as a mentor...or villain) and have been replaced by a new set. The events of the original might be legendary, misremembered or simply forgotten. As with the previous stages, it's the characters situation (or possibly lack thereof in this case) which defines it - horror movies or movies set in educational institutes tend to have sequels which fall here despite only being set a decade or two later.

When the earlier parts of the spectrum confuse continuity, you end up with a Non-Linear Sequel. The Stealth Sequel will typically inhabit the extreme ends of the scale (it's much easier to avoid running into the protagonists before the plot needs you to, that way). Compare Dashed Plot Line (when there are considerable narration time skips within the same work), Alternate Continuity, (when a given work is related but exists outside the other work's timeline completely) and Spiritual Sequel or Continuity Reboot (which essentially discard all the previous works rather than following them up).
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