Created By: antialiasis on January 30, 2011 Last Edited By: MorningStar1337 on June 3, 2013
Troped

Sliding Scale of Continuity

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope
(Definitely Needs More Examples; this is just whatever first popped into my head for each one.)

Continuity is handled very differently between different works. Some writers take it very seriously, others really, really don't; some works need you to have been watching from the beginning while others just let you hop in and enjoy an individual story at any point in the series. Realizing where a work falls on the Sliding Scale of Continuity is often essential to being able to enjoy a series for what it is.

What this scale measures is: if you knew nothing of the series but the very basic premise and then happened to catch some random episodes in arbitrary order, how difficult is it going to be to understand and follow what's going on, compared to if you watched it in order from the beginning?

The answer doesn't have to be static within a series. When a work starts low on the scale and progresses upwards over time, that's Continuity Creep. Then, in many shows, especially those with a Half-Arc Season, the answer is different depending on which episode you're watching. If the shift is very pronounced, you can list it under both levels; otherwise, just put it where most episodes go and note the variance.

See also Season Fluidity.

Level 0: Non-Linear Installments

The different installments of the series are only nominally the same work; every new installment concerns different characters, or possibly the 'same' characters but in an Alternate Universe, such that the stories are explicitly disconnected and obviously not meant to be part of a continuity of any sort. Within any given installment, it can be assumed that every other installment either never happened or is at least completely irrelevant to the current one. What they share to make them a series is usually thematic, world or (for video games) gameplay elements, with possible minor recurring creatures, objects, etc.

Examples:

  • The Final Fantasy series. A couple of games had sequels or spin-offs; the others are each their own reality with their own characters, their own plot, their own setting... However, they share various nods to one another such as similar monsters, summons, chocobos, and characters named Cid.
  • Genre Anthology shows:
  • The seasons of Blackadder in relation to each other are this, the only similarities being the basic premise of "Blackadder surrounded by idiots" (and not even that considering the first season). However, the episodes within a season can be from Levels 1-2.
  • Neptunia: The second game Takes place in an Alternate Universe from the first and Victory involves the protagonist and her sister from the second game Trapped In Another Alternate Universe. Despite having the same characters, the games taking place in AU versions of the same world and with AU versions of the cast make this a level 0.
  • Each entry in the Escape Velocity series takes place in a completely different continuity from the others. EV Classic and EV Nova are tangentially connected because a Negative Space Wedgie kicked two Atinoda Kestrels from the Classic universe into Nova, but it's more of an Easter Egg than anything else and doesn't affect the plot.

Level 1: Negative Continuity

Continuity? What's that?

Sure, the episodes are clearly related, sharing characters and a basic setup... but ultimately, watching it out of order makes more sense than in order if anything. The show may cheerfully contradict itself and if something seems to have changed by the end of the episode, you can bet the next one pretended it never happened anyway, so it's hardly a loss if that's not the next one you watch. Usually done in comedy. When there actually is continuity of some sort, that very fact is probably a gag in itself.

Examples:

Level 2: Status Quo

Here Status Quo Is God. While there is an established canon and different episodes or installments will usually try not to contradict one another, there will be no, or next to no, changes in the setting that aren't reset before the end of the episode. There may be Continuity Nods, but if you haven't seen what is being referenced, they might as well just be Noodle Incidents. The basic situation at the beginning of an episode in season seven will probably be exactly (or almost exactly) the same as the situation at the beginning of an episode in season two, so that it makes little difference in what order you watch them.

Examples:

  • The main series Pokémon games mix this with level 0. There is continuity in the world, with references to events from previous games and some recurring characters, but every new game starts with you being a new rookie trainer in a new region fighting a new evil team, and knowing where the recurring characters came from is more a bonus than anything else.
  • Many Sitcoms:
    • The Simpsons: they're always the same family with kids of the same ages that have the same neighbors, etc. Lisa did permanently become a vegetarian, though, and some such minor happenings.
    • As it says on that page, Saved by the Bell was the king of the Status Quo Is God trope.
  • Star Trek: The Original Series adhered to this level of continuity well enough that with a scant few exceptions you can watch the series in any order and it generally makes perfect sense.
  • Most Kid Coms (iCarly, Hannah Montana, etc.) are level two.

Level 3: Subtle Continuity

There may be developing minor subplots or Character Arcs, the status quo may gradually change over time, and prior events may be casually referenced, but major changes generally don't happen. If you watch a season two episode and then a season five one, you may think, "Wait, when did they get together?" or "Whoa, Alice and Bob moved?", but chances are if you then watch a later season five episode you'd never know you skipped seven episodes in between, and the plots of the individual episodes you watch will always be resolved by the end.

Examples:

  • Sitcoms that aren't level 2 tend to be this, e.g. How I Met Your Mother and Friends.
  • Forensic Dramas, Monster of the Week shows and other basically episodic, plot-based genres with no Myth Arcs also usually fall here.
  • The first three Harry Potter books' storylines don't directly depend on the stories of the previous books; they each explain basic premises like the wizarding world, Voldemort, Harry's backstory, etc., Harry continues to live at the Dursleys', go to Hogwarts every year, have friends named Ron and Hermione, etc., and the actual events of the first two books don't matter by the third. The rest of the series, well...
  • A Series of Unfortunate Events is much the same as Harry Potter, with the first four books or so being mostly independent, starting off with the Baudelaires being adopted by a new guardian and carefully explaining who the characters are to potential new readers, but later on the continuity creeps and the reader starts to need to have read the previous books to make sense of all this stuff about VFD and Beatrice and so on.
  • The Ace Attorney games have a stronger (level 4) continuity between cases within each game, but are this with respect to one another, featuring the same characters (bar Apollo Justice) and explaining things like spirit mediums at the beginning of each game but otherwise having independent stories and not depending on the player knowing the previous games.
  • Firefly's episodes can pretty much stand on their own in a mostly arbitrary order, though this may largely be because it never got the chance to go anywhere with the hinted Myth Arc.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation generally operated at this level.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic is a level 3, there are Continuity Nods and Call Backs to previous episodes but with the exception of certain two-part episodes All the episodes are stand-alone.
  • Left 4 Dead is level 0 without DLC, but jumps to level 3 with it. Left 4 Dead 2 is pretty firmly level 3.
  • Superman is a Level 3 in at least The Silver Age of Comic Books -- while Mort Weisinger was the editor, his supporting cast, Rogues Gallery, and mythology were slowly built upon, without readers requiring to have read any previous stories most of the time.
  • South Park is normally Level 3 but occasionally goes into Level 4, especially when a major event happens or characters go through major Character Development.
  • The Legend of Zelda. The games tend to be stand alone but there are three timelines that diverge at ''Ocarina of Time. Yet the games only get a Continuity Nod or Mythology Gag at best and can be played with any knowledge of the other games.

Level 4: Arc-Based Episodic

These works do divide into episodes or installments with each (usually) introducing and resolving its own mini-plot, but there is a continuous ongoing storyline going on in the background. While most episodes may be enjoyed individually, any watching out of order will probably leave you wondering where characters who died three seasons ago are, or why they're suddenly having dinner with the guy they had sworn to defeat in the last episode you watched, or who the hell this new villain they're talking about is, even if you can follow the actual plot of the episode. Shows often try to combat the resulting Continuity Lockout - with varying degrees of success - with Previously On recap openings.

Examples:

  • Most of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, though it started to edge towards level 5 as the series went on.
  • The Dresden Files slides quickly from level 3 to here as the books become less 'investigating a case' and more 'investigating something deeply connected to just about everything else while dozens of old characters reappear and stuff that happened five books ago suddenly turns out to be vitally important', though there is still a plot with its own resolution in each book.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender is mostly like this - while the Gaang is always traveling the world to find bending masters to teach Aang and there are plenty of Fillers that belong on level 3, there are pretty steady continuous developments on the villainous side that would be very jarring to anyone who just watched individual episodes here and there.
  • Fringe.
  • Doctor Who.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and the series that followed it, Voyager and Enterprise, wavered between this and level 3, but their use of longer-running arcs (compared to previous series) bumps them up the scale.
  • Glee is level four.
  • One interesting example is Stand Alone Complex, which explicitly identifies each episode as either "Stand Alone" (episodic) or "Complex" (part of the series arc). The episodic ones rarely contain any reference to other episodes.
  • Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis follow this model. Each show has multi-season Myth Arcs but the individual episodes are pretty self-contained, and they usually have a Previously On segment in the continuity-heavy episodes.
  • Most of the Discworld books are Level 4.

Level 5: Full Lockout

If you haven't seen the whole series so far, or at least the entirety of the current season, you're screwed. Each installment expects you to have seen every previous installment; though it may make some effort to try to clue you in if you haven't, you will probably be thoroughly confused, and there is no guarantee there will be any sort of resolution to anything by the episode's end - in fact, it's quite likely to end with a Cliffhanger. Often Better on DVD.

Examples:

  • ReGenesis, through all its interwoven multiple-episode story and character arcs, is probably impossible to understand episodically despite the lengthy Previously On recaps.
  • Each season of 24 is a continuous real-time story arc.
  • A lot of Anime, e.g. Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, especially as it goes on (though the Parallel Works are level 0).
  • Lost is a frequently cited example of Continuity Lockout because of this.
  • Homestuck.
  • Babylon 5.
  • The King of Fighters currently has four arcs: The Rugal Saga (the first title, '94), The Orochi Saga ('95-'98), The NESTS Chronicles ('99-2002), and The Tales of Ash (the present-day saga, having started in 2003). While it's not too bad with The NESTS Chronicles (as the protagonist of those titles, K', distances himself from previous hero Kyo despite being genetically-engineered with his DNA), The Tales of Ash almost requires that you played the first four games. This is made worse if you look past the main plot and focus on the supporting cast, as you then have to deal with allusions and plot points carried over from Fatal Fury, Art of Fighting, Ikari Warriors, Athena/Psycho Soldier, The Last Blade, Savage Reign/Kizuna Encounter, Buriki One, etc. While it's Continuity Porn and Fanservice for those who have followed SNK Playmore since its heyday, it's borderline-Continuity Lockout for anyone else. Remember that this series originally existed as a storyless gathering of fighters.
  • The re-imagined Battlestar Galactica
  • Kingdom Hearts. From the second game onward the games head straight into Kudzu Plot with any detail potentially Foreshadowing future games (Xigbar's cryptic lines in II being an example). Dream Drop Distance has "memoirs" thought that record the plots of the preceeding games and unlocks them when a Continuity Nod/Call Back to the respective game first occurs. Making the games a Level 4 at least. (though without that game it still remains at 5)
  • Both Higurashi and Unineko When They Cry count. Ye gads, get out of order or miss a segment or two in either, and you can end up so lost. And, this is the same, whichever medium you're playing/ watching/ reading them in.
  • Damages is level 5, due to the Anachronic Order and following the case instead of a Monster of the Week format.
  • Stargate Universe was heavily arc-based, which had the misfortune to occur at the same time Syfy changed its scheduling strategy to where it would air part of a season, then replace it with another show, then bring the first show back, and so on. The SGU showrunners partly blame the series' cancellation on the resulting confusion driving away viewers.
Community Feedback Replies: 70
  • January 30, 2011
    morenohijazo
    Where would a Half Arc Season fall on this scale?
  • January 30, 2011
    antialiasis
    Depending on the scale and importance of the arc and how many episodes it is referenced in, either 3, 4 or fluctuating between the two.
  • January 30, 2011
    fulltimeD
    Fringe is a level 4.
  • January 30, 2011
    SithkingZero
    While Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann itself is an example of level 5 without a doubt, the spin off Parallel works are most definitely type 0.
  • January 30, 2011
    randomsurfer
    Would anthologies like The Twilight Zone be level 0?
  • January 30, 2011
    Crinias
    Homestuck is a level 5, due to its heavy continuity.
  • January 30, 2011
    NateTheGreat
    Don't forget to add Babylon 5 to level 5. That's why I could never get into that show.
  • January 30, 2011
    Earnest
    I think this may already be covered by Season Fluidity.
  • January 30, 2011
    NoirGrimoir
    I think I would fuse level two and level three.
  • January 30, 2011
    jate88
    This reminds me of Season Fluidity as well but I like your description better.
  • January 31, 2011
    antialiasis
    Hm. I didn't know of Season Fluidity, which is definitely similar, but it appears to be more about episodic/arc-based than continuity per se, so the concept is a bit different. (Though actually, I'm having a bit of a hard time getting a clear idea of what that scale means - the description is kind of long and vague and makes it sound like it's about how different seasons are from one another, except it's about episodicness, except a series with negative continuity can still be high on the scale if there are sharp transitions between seasons...? Is it just me or might that page need a rewrite to make it more obvious what it's about?)

    Perhaps the episodic/arc-based distinction could be deemphasized here in favor of being tackled there, while making this scale more strictly continuity-related, in the sense of measuring essentially how necessary it is to watch the series in order from the beginning? So we could put it more as something like...

    • Level 0: non-linear installments (episodes irrelevant to one another)
    • Level 1: negative continuity (episodes are related, but make more sense out of order if anything)
    • Level 2: consistent but stagnant (episodes are related and maintain continuity but have barely any real continuous developments that aren't reset before the end of the episode and can thus be watched in arbitrary order)
    • Level 3: self-contained plots but minor elements continuous (episodes maintain continuity and have minor continuous elements, e.g. romantic subplots, but the actual plots don't depend on what came before)
    • Level 4: steadily progressing overarching plot but divided into individually comprehensible episode plots (can enjoy individual episodes on their own, but there will be significant gaps in your understanding if you haven't seen everything, and jumping back and forth will be confusing)
    • Level 5: total continuity lockout (nothing really makes any sense whatsoever unless you've been watching in order from the beginning)
  • January 31, 2011
    X2X
    So then, are we still going with this? If so, I think I have a pretty good example for Level 5 that I'll list below.

  • January 31, 2011
    shimaspawn
    Level 0

  • February 1, 2011
    TTurtle
    Level 4 covers a lot of ground, doesn't it? For instance, it seems to me that X Files would fit there, as it was a series with a lot of filler (some of which was very good in itself), but when you DID get to the myth-based episodes, you really needed familiarity with previous seasons. On the other extreme, there are some series where you have only a very loose myth arc that provides the excuse for the series's premise. Most episodes don't advance that overall plot, but the plot is there. If both such scenarios fall into level 4 -- and it looks like they do -- it seems to me that the description for this level ought to acknowledge how broad it can be.
  • February 1, 2011
    youngcosette
    I believe this fits under both the original and definition and antialiasis's definition.

    The seasons of Blackadder in relation to each other are at Level 0 the only similarities being the basic premise "Blackadder surrounded by idiots" (not even that considering the first season). However the episodes within a season are at can be from Levels 1-2.
  • February 1, 2011
    jate88
    Is a Zenos Race the opposite of a Continuity Creep

    Level 2
  • February 1, 2011
    NerdaRena
    Doctor Who is about a level 4.
  • February 8, 2011
    antialiasis
    Added the examples in the replies and tweaked the definitions like I noted. Is this good to launch or is it too similar to Season Fluidity?
  • February 8, 2011
    Pyroninja42
    Don't forget Arrested Development; that show is the Most Triumphant Example of Level 5.
  • February 8, 2011
    BuckRivera
  • February 8, 2011
    antialiasis
    How is HIMYM level 4? I listed it under level 3, where it seems to me to belong; romantic entanglements, jobs, decisions to have babies, etc. develop continuously, but the state of all such things is explained explicitly at the beginning of episodes where it matters, each episode is usually very self-contained, the basic setup of five friends who hang out at a bar has been static since episode one, and what has changed (Lily and Marshall getting married, Ted and Robin breaking up, Barney and Robin getting together and then breaking up, etc.) doesn't warrant a "wait, what?" so much as an "oh, huh". I'd wager it's perfectly watchable completely out of order.
  • February 9, 2011
    BuckRivera
    While it can be watched out of order, episodes are not really completely self-contained as Ted's relationships typically last several episodes and a single episode's theme might be "beginning of a relationship" or "Ted realizes that well-known character X is more than a friend" or "we finally learn what happened after well-known event X", always relying on previous episodes. If you go back to an early season from watching recent episodes, you'll have trouble getting all the girlfriends straight and figuring out why it was again that Ted was with that girl instead of that other one etc. Also, the show is defined by "a continuous ongoing storyline going on in the background" (level 4) in addition to level 3's "minor subplots and character arcs". Also, if you watch the episodes out of order, you'll miss a lot of Continuity Nods. I say it's at least 3.5.

    Maybe it's on level 4 in terms of story-telling and on level 3 in terms of its general Sit Com make-up.
  • February 9, 2011
    NativeJovian
    This is just Season Fluidity. We don't need two articles on identical topics. If you want to make major changes to Season Fluidity, take it to Trope Repair Shop.
  • February 10, 2011
    BuckRivera
    I think this is better and more accessible than Season Fluidity which also is based on seasons rather than episodes (episodes are a more basic unit and provide a better distinction between types of shows in most cases, I think). Also, the sliding scale of continuity directly relates to the concept of continuity (and subconcepts) while Season Fluidity rather creates a more or less self-serving metaphor (fluid). I think it should be replaced.

    One issue with the title: a sliding scale implies a continuum rather than levels. It should be possible (and encouraged) to identify a show as a "high four" or "almost two" for example.
  • February 10, 2011
    fulltimeD
    The 2000's Battlestar Galactica is definitely a level 5.
  • February 25, 2011
    BuckRivera
    Is this dead? That's a shame. I think it would be a great idea.
  • February 25, 2011
    TTurtle
    Ditto the "it's a shame to let it die" thought. I found this much clearer and more useful than Season Fluidity.
  • February 25, 2011
    cheeseypoofs
  • February 26, 2011
    Dcoetzee
    One interesting example is Stand Alone Complex, which explicitly identifies each episode as either "Stand Alone" (episodic) or "Complex" (part of the series arc). The episodic ones rarely contain any reference to other episodes.
  • February 28, 2011
    Euodiachloris
    Both Higurashi and Unineko no Naku Koro ni count. Ye gads, get out of order or miss a segment or two in either, and you can end up so lost. And, this is the same, whichever medium you're playing/ watching/ reading them in. And, I'm not sure how the heck you'd class them, as, they are different tales, yes: but, they are still continuity linked... eeek.
  • February 28, 2011
    Euodiachloris
    BTW - I seriously think this is better described and more nail-on-the-head than Season Fluidity - if there is cross-over, I suggest it dies a death, instead, as using the good old 'Sliding Scale' descriptor and format works far better.
  • March 9, 2011
    TTurtle
    Bumping this. I really would hate to see this one abandoned, because it is so much clearer than Season Fluidity. If it's a question of what to do with Season Fluidity, can we take that to the TRS?
  • March 9, 2011
    artman40
  • March 10, 2011
    BuckRivera
    Supportsupport.
  • March 10, 2011
    WhyDoIHaveToRegister
    Damages level 4 or 5
  • March 24, 2011
    BuckRivera
    Resurrecting this for, what, the fourth time? Some people seem to think that this is far better than Season Fluidity, including me. I'd be willing to help develop this but I'm a bit of a noob. Anybody willing to help?
  • March 24, 2011
    TTurtle
    I really don't want to see this die, either, but I'm worried that it may overlap with Season Fluidity, so I don't think this should be launched yet unless that's sorted out.
  • March 26, 2011
    BuckRivera
    Okay, so how do we sort that out?
  • March 26, 2011
    TTurtle
    I was hoping someone who'd been around longer than I have could chime in! Okay, looking back over the comments, I think that what we would need to do is take Season Fluidity to the Trope Repair shop to see if it could be revised to incorporate the best aspects of this.
  • September 23, 2011
    antialiasis
    Whoa. I happened to recheck this on a whim only to find quite a bit of support for it in the comments from after I kind of gave up on it. So I thought maybe it would be worth it to resurrect this again.

    Looking at Season Fluidity, especially as it's phrased right now (I don't remember precisely how it was phrased when I originally proposed this), it is about transitions between seasons or arcs, not about episode-to-episode continuity at all. The main reason it seems to bring up episode-to-episode continuity, in fact, if I'm understanding it correctly, is that very episodic shows where Status Quo Is God generally also don't have very sharp distinctions between their seasons/arcs, but that's a correlation, not an equivalence; heck, the high end of that scale is explicitly where different seasons are practically reboots, which actually belongs on the lower end of this scale. I therefore propose that Season Fluidity have the bits that appear to be about continuity specifically reworded to concern seasonal distionctions and this be launched as the continuity trope; the pages could then reference one another. Anyone in favor?
  • September 23, 2011
    Lydia55
    As someone who has worked a lot on the Season Fluidity page both on this account and my old one, Erda, I have to agree with antialiasis that we should create a separate page for this trope rather than change the Season Fluidity one. Episodic continuity is a criterion used to determine a series' season fluidity, but it is not the point of that trope - which is how seasons flow together. In fact, if you look at the page you'll notice that the series with the most continuity tend to fall right in the middle of the scale (since there are distinctions between seasons that you don't have with Negative Continuity, but they're not as stark as a series that reboots with each new season). Re-working Season Fluidity around this new trope will just be confusing; it really should have a separate page.

    Also, I think Glee is a level 3 rather than 4. While subplots, like the romantic ones and preparing for competitions, can be continuous, the main plot or "theme" of an episode is usually contained in that episode.
  • September 23, 2011
    azul120
    Would Ghost In The Shell be a 3 or 4?
  • September 24, 2011
    antialiasis
    Agree strongly with Lydia55.

    azul120, are you referring to Stand-Alone Complex, the movie or the manga? I've only seen Stand-Alone Complex, which I'd call Level 4 for at least the Complex episodes.
  • January 29, 2012
    MagicalDragon
    LegendOfZelda would be a level 0, AmericanDragonJakeLong would be level 3, Merlin season 1-3 would either be a level 2 or a level 3. The StatusQuo doesn't change, except between the seasons. In season 4 it chages into a level 3.
  • January 30, 2012
    yogyog
    Interesting side note: Widget Series + Continuity Level of 4 or 5 = Cerebus Syndrome. Most times anyway.
  • January 30, 2012
    JobanGrayskull
    Left 4 Dead is level 0 without DLC, but jumps to level 3 with it. Left 4 Dead 2 is pretty firmly level 3.
  • January 31, 2012
    Westrim
    I'm one day late, but I'd like to say happy birthday to this YKTTW.
  • February 1, 2012
    NESBoy
    Superman is a Level 3 in at least The Silver Age Of Comic Books -- while Mort Weisinger was the editor, his supporting cast, Rogues Gallery, and mythology were slowly built upon, without readers requiring to have read any previous stories most of the time.
  • February 1, 2012
    NESBoy
    Superman is a Level 3 in at least the Silver Age -- while Mort Weisinger was the editor, his supporting cast, Rogues Gallery, and mythology were slowly built upon, without readers requiring to have read any previous stories most of the time.
  • February 11, 2012
    SeptimusHeap
    Bump
  • February 11, 2012
    ZombieAladdin
    South Park is normally Level 3 but occasionally goes into Level 4, especially when a major event happens or characters go through major Character Development.

    Should there be a Level 6 beyond this, where continuity exists across multiple series or media, and simply experiencing a series in order is not enough to understand it? The Dot Hack series is like this, spanning at least four anime series, three manga series, five games, too many light novels to count, some audio drama CDs, and now a trading card game. None of them tell anywhere close to a complete story; one has to follow all of the media. It's also still ongoing.
  • February 26, 2012
    Westrim
    bump
  • February 27, 2012
    Rognik
    How I Met Your Mother is definitely a 4. A high 3 at the lowest. You want to watch an episode on its own, it has enough of a self-contained plot to entertain a casual viewer, but this thing has near-lockout continuity. Terms like "But um...", "Where's the poop?" and even recently "Drunk Train" make no sense if you did not see the episode where it gets introduced. Changes happen midseason all the time, like Ted's long-term girlfriends. Ted and Robin have a serious case of Will They Or Wont They, despite knowing they won't. It's a 4.

    I think level 3 needs a rewrite. I agree there is a level between Status Quo and Arc-Based stories, but calling it "Subtle Continuity" is a touch vague. Even level 2's can allude to a past episode or two, but more as a wink and a nod than any real development. I don't know if Phineas And Ferb is quite level 2 or 3, but it's slowly building its own continuity and yet still finding ways to ignore it completely (with anachronistic ordering).
  • February 27, 2012
    benjamminsam
    With respect to How I Met Your Mother - and I guess exposing a wider issue - there should be some caveat perhaps made to shows with lots of Continuity Nods. In terms of episodic, arc-based storylines, I don't think HIMYM is really any more than a run-of-the-mill 3. The little catchphrases and (sometimes excruciatingly) subtle winks to older episodes don't necessarily make the show impossible for casual fans to enjoy, and in fact, I'd say they're more of a reward for the most dedicated fans. Additionally, most of the bigger in-jokes and plot arcs are periodically re-introduced by the narrator or explained in-universe.

    With such intricate continuity, HIMYM presents a problem on this scale, but I think if this scale were narrowed to plot arcs and the Continuity Nod were explained or left out, it would be better. Thoughts, anyone?
  • February 27, 2012
    JobanGrayskull
    ^I definitely think the scale needs to be tweaked, because HIMYM does sort of break it. As it exists, the difference between 3 and 4 primarily deals with whether the show has villains and deaths or not (note that the questions raised in a level 3 show are "when did they get together?" or "when did they move" compared to a level 4 "where is this person who died?" and "who is this new villain?"). HIMYM is a somewhat atypical for a sitcom, because it is bound by a series-spanning plot (even if it's ignored at times in filler episodes). It also uses multi-episode arcs very frequently.

    I think another issue with the scale (at least levels 3 and 4) is the basis on how much a casual viewer can enjoy the show if they just sit down and watch a few single episodes out of order. That's highly YMMV. Personally, I find it very difficult to watch an episode of any show without knowing about the characters and background details. Someone who can enjoy HIMYM from watching a random episode might say it's firmly a 3, and a long-term fan like me might say it's firmly a 4; my opinion is that the show loses a lot of its value if you don't understand the jokes and continuity nods.

    Anyway, that's my two cents.
  • February 29, 2012
    PsiPaula4
    Where would the MOTHER Series fit on this? You can play the games without picking up ones before it first, but there are a few things that would be a little more clear, mostly with the last 2 games. Each game has different main characters, but the villain appears in the next one in some way or another. The main villain from the first one is the villain in the second except that he looks completely different, then The Dragon from the second game gets corrupted by him and is the villain in the third. Essentially, the first game explains the villain from the second game's backstory.
  • March 5, 2012
    morenohijazo
    Bump.
  • March 5, 2012
    ZombieAladdin
    So...should I add a Level 6, "Multi-Series Continuity"? Or should Level 5 be expanded to include such franchises?
  • March 21, 2012
    Westrim
    It seems like it would be so rare that inclusion in level 5 should be enough.
  • February 3, 2013
    Westrim
    Two year old YKTTW, I'll take a look at making sure the scale is well defined.
  • June 2, 2013
    StarSword
    L0, Video Games:
    • Each entry in the Escape Velocity series takes place in a completely different continuity from the others. EV Classic and EV Nova are tangentially connected because a Negative Space Wedgie kicked two Atinoda Kestrels from the Classic universe into Nova, but it's more of an Easter Egg than anything else and doesn't affect the plot.

    L4, TV:

    L5, TV:
    • Stargate Universe was heavily arc-based, which had the misfortune to occur at the same time Syfy changed its scheduling strategy to where it would air part of a season, then replace it with another show, then bring the first show back, and so on. The SGU showrunners partly blame the series' cancellation on the resulting confusion driving away viewers.
  • June 2, 2013
    1810072342
    Most of the Discworld books are Level 4.

    I hope this doesn't die on us now.
  • June 2, 2013
    StarSword
    Westrim seems to be taking this over.
  • June 2, 2013
    MorningStar1337
    I believe that Neptunia is level 0 and My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic is level 3
  • June 2, 2013
    StarSword
    ^And both of those are Zero Context Examples. Come on, guys.
  • June 2, 2013
    MorningStar1337
    ^ Alright then.

  • June 2, 2013
    MorningStar1337
    There another level 4 or 5 example.

    • Kingdom Hearts. From the second game onward the games head straight into Kudzu Plot with any detail potentially Foreshadowing future games (Xigbar's cryptic lines in II being an example). Dream Drop Distance has "memoirs" thought that record the plots of the preceeding games and unlocks them when a Continuity Nod/Call Back to the respective game first occurs. Making the games a Level 4 at least. (though without that game it still remains at 5)
  • June 3, 2013
    MorningStar1337
    Added my examples (and they have context thanks). Can I launch the trope. the YKTTW has all 5 hats and nether the sponsor, previous editor or Westrim seem to noticed.
  • June 3, 2013
    StarSword
    First grab the rest of the examples out of the comments.
  • June 3, 2013
    MorningStar1337
    ^ done, launching now.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=8t3l1eds3405dqknolgf39b5