Created By: spyergirl4 on October 15, 2012 Last Edited By: Omeganian on November 23, 2013

Inter-Installment Downer

Between installments in a movie series, TV show, etc. things change for the worse offscreen.

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Rolling Updates, Needs a Better Description

This trope happens when in between installments in a series, be it movie, TV, or video game, something changes and makes things worse to set up immediate drama for the next installment. Bad changes that happen at the very end or beginning of a work do not count: they have to have happened offscreen, in the time between the events of the first and second installments.

Sometimes this is a symptom of the original work having been envisioned as a standalone story rather than a series, but Executive Meddling happened. Other times the writer had this in mind to begin with, possibly to reinforce a Crapsack World or make an intended Earned Happy Ending sweeter.

Supertrope to Downtime Downgrade, which is about relationships specifically, and Happy Ending Override, which is where the offscreen downer is set after an ostensibly happy ending. See also Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome, Sudden Sequel Heel Syndrome, and True Love Is Boring.

Examples:

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    Anime and Manga 
  • The second season of Code Geass starts off a full year after the cliffhanger ending of the original, during which most of the Black Knights have been captured and are on death row, their leader Lelouch has been captured and has had his memories altered via his father's geass, the people of Japan are in an even worse state, and Britannia is conquering EU nations.

     Film 
  • Star Wars: Between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, the rebels have evacuated Yavin IV due to an Imperial counterattack, and are now being hunted by the Empire even more than before. Han Solo has also had his time to pay Jabba back run out, which messes things up in the long run in Cloud City. Worth remembering that A New Hope started as a standalone movie rather than the enormous multimedia franchise it is today, and it ends on a high note.
  • Between the first and second National Treasure movies, the main character has randomly lost his girlfriend out of nowhere. Meanwhile Riley has (unknowingly) lost most of his share of the finders' fee for the Templar Treasure due to financial shenanigans by his accountant.
  • Between the first and second Terminator movies, Sarah Connor has been placed in a mental hospital for trying to blow up a building, and John is stuck with bad foster parents. And between the second and third ones, Sarah has died of leukemia, and John is living a sad life alone and off the grid.
  • Ghostbusters ends with the team successfully defeating Gozer the Gozerian and her giant Stay-Puft Man incarnation, preventing them from destroying New York City and the world. The sequel reveals that the citizens of the Big Apple decided the whole thing was a very elaborate show, and sued the team for damages to the city — to the point that the team has since broken up.
  • From The Wizard of Oz to Return to Oz, Oz has turned from a happy dreamland full of singing munchkins, not to mention the recent death of the realm's only true villains (known to the audience at the time) and the departure of its trickster, to a barren wasteland full of belligerent Wheelies, a head-stealing witch (Mombi), and ruled by a monster (the Nome King) who turns people (already the case with Dorothy's friends there) into stone.
  • Between Get Shorty and Be Cool (also in the original novels), Chili Palmer produced a hit movie Get Leo based on what happened to him in Get Shorty. Then the studio forced him to make a sequel, which flopped so badly Chili is considering leaving the movie industry. Also his girlfriend Karen Flores is nowhere to be seen in Be Cool.

     Literature 
  • The Helmsman Saga has it prominently between books 2 and 3. The second book ends with a war won. The third begins with the protagonist long since discharged due to the Navy being dominated by a pacifist/Dirty Coward organization (funded by the enemy). The same organization also reduces the Navy into a nearly complete uselessness and disguises the enemies' efforts in rebuilding theirs.
  • In Harry Potter, from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire forward, we see the wizarding world go further and further to hell in a handbasket. The Ministry actively covers up Voldemort's return between the fourth and fifth. Voldemort openly attacks wizards and muggles alike between the fifth and sixth. Things get so bad between the sixth and seventh that Harry's evacuating his foster family.
  • Between The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant: The Unbeliever and The Second Chronicles Of Thomas Covenant, in Covenant's absence, the Land, while never a happy-go-lucky place, has degenerated from having a benevolent ruler and a healthy environment, to being ruled by the evil Clave and cursed with the environmentally intolerable Sunbane, among other things.
  • In the Land of Oz books the downer is more gradual than in the movies, with the world degenerating from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz via introducing Mombi in The Marvelous Land of Oz, to finally introducing the Nome King and his wrath in Ozma of Oz.
  • Done repeatedly in The Chronicles of Narnia. Note that these are listed in in-universe chronological order, not publication order.

     Live-Action TV 
  • Sherlock: Between series one and two, John loses his girlfriend Sarah despite there being no obvious reason why.
  • Between seasons 1 and 2 of Falling Skies the Second Mass loses nearly half its members off screen.
  • At the start of Season 3 of The Walking Dead it's clear that Rick and his group barely made it through the winter and are now close to starving. In addition, Andrea is deathly ill.
  • Between seasons five and six of Red Dwarf, the titular ship has been stolen and the crew have been in stasis/offline for 200 years in the landing craft Starbug, while the android Kryten searched for the Dwarf's trail.
  • The Dresden Files: Between "Changes" and "Ghost Story," while Harry takes a brief (to him) sojourn to the afterlife's waiting-room as a prologue, Chicago is wracked by months of violence, supernatural invasion, abductions and an unending winter.

     Video Games 
  • In The Legend of Spyro, in the three years separating The Eternal Night and Dawn of the Dragon, the Big Bad has taken over the Dragon Temple, destroyed the swamp, and is on the verge of destroying the entire world.
  • Final Fantasy XIII has a Bittersweet Ending, but it is made an outright Downer Ending by the sequel's time travel-induced Cosmic Retcon: not only are Fang and Vanille turned into crystal for eternity, but Lighting is swallowed by a time rift just as Serah comes back to life.
  • Things get pretty bad between Modern Warfare 1 and 2: the anti-Western Ultranationalist faction wins the civil war in Russia, Zakhaev's Dragon Ascendant is very, very angry at everyone who was responsible for the former's death, and the US and Russia are on the brink of war.
  • Done three times in the X-Universe series. Between X3: Reunion and the expansion Terran Conflict, diplomatic relations between the Terrans and their long-lost brethren the Argon have severely deteriorated thanks to the Terrans' xenophobia and the Argons' fear of the Terrans' superior military. By the time of the second expansion Albion Prelude, the cold war has exploded into an all-out hot war. After Albion Prelude the jumpgate network is shut down by the Ancients, causing the collapse of all interstellar governments and setting the stage for X Rebirth.
  • Between the two parts of Super Robot Wars Z 2, ZEXIS pretty much falls apart, Celestial Being gets destroyed, many ZUETH members end up joining OZ or MIA, Dr. Saotome causes immense havoc, and in general the world goes to pot.
  • Star Wars games:
    • The canonical ending of Knights of the Old Republic has the Jedi win, but in the five years between KOTOR 1 and 2 the Republic is falling apart from the costs of the war (both in money and lives). To make matters worse much of the Jedi Order was destroyed by a trio of Sith Lords and the survivors were forced into hiding.
    • Star Wars: The Old Republic offers conclusion to several plotlines from the original Knights of the Old Republic games but said conclusions are revealed to be mostly tragic (the Exile was killed by the Emperor, Revan spent three centuries in mental torture, the people you led to the Promised Land survived the destruction of Taris only to slowly die out, etc.).
  • One of the reasons Chrono Cross has one of the biggest Broken Bases in gaming is because of the sheer number of screwjobs done to the original cast of Chrono Trigger over the 20 years between the first game and the next. At one point in the sequel, we find out that the Power Trio was killed off five years after the original's conclusion, had their peaceful kingdom destroyed and taken over by a minor villain and small nation in the original game, had all of their accomplishments overwritten by the Big Bad to the point that in the end they only made the villain stronger, and we're also told that changing time (like you did in the last game) isn't actually possible, and that all you actually do is create a new Alternate Timeline that dooms the original one (and its inhabitants) to a dark oblivion. And if that was bad, you witness the deaths of a few characters from the first game with your own eyes through various means of Time Travel.

Indexes: Sadness Tropes, Sequel, Tragedy

Community Feedback Replies: 68
  • October 15, 2012
    McKathlin
    The best help I've found for learning formatting is to go to any sufficiently-developed trope page, click Edit Page, and look for the formatting in the text you see. I've added some formatting to what's here so far.
  • October 15, 2012
    McKathlin
    Often overlaps with From Bad To Worse.
  • October 15, 2012
    pcw2727
    Between seasons 1 and 2 of Falling Skies the Second Mass loses nearly half its members off screen.

    At the start of Season 3 of Walking Dead its clear that Rick and his group barely made it through the winter and are now close to starving. In addition Andrea is deathly ill.
  • October 16, 2012
    Koveras
  • October 16, 2012
    Koveras
  • October 16, 2012
    longWriter
    Kind of like an inversion of The Resolution Will Not Be Televised? Bad things happen offscreen before the beginning of the season, instead of good things happening offscreen after the end of the season?
  • October 16, 2012
    ShadowHog
    Ghostbusters ends with the team successfully defeating Gozer the Gozerian and her giant Stay-Puft Man incarnation, preventing them from destroying New York City and the world. The sequel reveals that the citizens of the Big Apple decided the whole thing was a very elaborate show, and sued the team for damages to the city - to the point that the team has since broken up.
  • October 16, 2012
    KTera
    • Things get pretty bad between Modern Warfare 1 and 2: the anti-Western Ultranationalist faction wins the civil war in Russia, Zakhaev's Dragon Ascendant is very, very angry at everyone who was responsible for the former's death, and the US and Russia are on the brink of war.
  • October 16, 2012
    spacemarine50
    Very easy to mix this up with They Changed It Now It Sucks, which covers the same thing. Assuming they're not the same.
  • October 17, 2012
    m8e
    They Changed It Now It Sucks is not the same thing. They Changed It Now It Sucks is when a work is changed(remake of a movie, book is translated or turned into movie, manga turned into a anime series/ova, the cast or something else in a series changed etc). The work itself now sucks.

    Changes For The Worse Between Installments is when the life of the protagonists(or their side or maybe everyone's) have changed for the worse.
  • October 17, 2012
    Omeganian
    The Helmsman Saga has it prominently between books 2 and 3. Second books ends with a war being won. The third begins with the protagonist discharged due to the Navy being dominated by a pacifist/Dirty Coward organization (funded by the enemy). The same organization which also reduces the Navy into a nearly complete uselessness and disguises the enemies' efforts in rebuilding theirs.
  • October 17, 2012
    TBeholder
    Sequel Sinker? As something that pulls a Sequel Hook down. :]
  • October 17, 2012
    Arivne
    Related to the Left Turn Sequel YKTTW proposal from May 2011. It was about sequels that massively changed the situation from the end of the previous work, for good or bad (a Super Trope of this proposal).

    You could mine it for examples and descriptive text.
  • October 17, 2012
    sgamer82
    • In Harry Potter, from Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire forward, we see the wizarding world go further and further to Hell in a handbasket. The Ministry actively covering up Voldemort's return in between the fourth and fifth. Voldemort openly attacking wizards and muggles alike between the fifth and sixth. Things get so bad between the sixth and seventh that Harry's evacuating his foster family.
  • October 28, 2012
    spyergirl4
    How exactly does one remove a tag? I want to remove the "Better Name" tag, but I can't remember how.
  • October 29, 2012
    Koveras
    ^ Only the one who added the tag can remove it, apparently. If that was you, you just have to click on the tag icon next to it.
  • October 29, 2012
    Lophotrochozoa
  • October 29, 2012
    KevinKlawitter
    ^No. And the use of But More Specific and But Less Specific to claim something is not a trope is bullshit anyway.
  • October 29, 2012
    NimmerStill
    Possibly one of the most dramatic examples I've ever heard of, although justified by extensive exposition. If anyone remembers the books a bit better, please elaborate.
    • From The Wizard Of Oz to Return To Oz, Oz has turned from a happy dreamland full of singing munchkins, not to mention the recent death of the realm's only true villains (known to the audience at the time) and the departure of its trickster, to a barren wasteland full of belligerent Wheelies, a head-stealing witch (Mombi), and ruled by a monster (the Nome King) who turns people (already the case with Dorothy's friends there) into stone.
    • The parallel progression in the books is somewhat more gradual, with the world degenerating from The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz through introducing Mombi in The Marvelous Land Of Oz, to finally introducing the Nome King and his wrath in Ozma Of Oz.
  • October 29, 2012
    NimmerStill
    Incidentally, it might be useful to include in the description the near-universal role of exposition in establishing this trope.
  • October 29, 2012
    captainpat
    This sounds like a Super Trope to Downtime Downgrade.
  • October 29, 2012
    NimmerStill
    Actually, this may be rather common in Fish Out Of Water-type fantasy:
    • Between The Chronicles Of Thomas Covenant The Unbeliever and The Second Chronicles Of Thomas Covenant, in Covenant's absence, the Land, while never a happy-go-lucky place, has degenerated from having a benevolent ruler and a healthy environment, to being ruled by the evil Clave and cursed with the environmentally intolerable Sunbane, among other things.
  • October 29, 2012
    spyergirl4
    Video Games:
    • Done twice in the X3 trilogy. Between X3: Reunion and the expansion Terran Conflict, diplomatic relations between the Terrans and their long-lost brethren the Argon have severely deteriorated thanks to the Terrans' xenophobia and the Argons' fear of the Terrans' superior military. By the time of the second expansion Albion Prelude, the cold war has exploded into an all-out hot war.
  • October 30, 2012
    NimmerStill
    • Has happened between The Lion The Witch And The Wardrobe and Prince Caspian too, where Narnia has been taken over by an evil ruler.
    • Perhaps "outsider returns to a fantasy land to find it taken over by an evil ruler" is some sort of subtrope? Or do we have that already?
  • October 30, 2012
    Irrisia
    ...Sequel Sinker, to me, sounds more like something happening that stops any kind of sequel being feasible (see, League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen).
  • October 30, 2012
    StarSword
    No, that's Franchise Killer or Stillborn Franchise. Though I agree the name could be better.
  • November 1, 2012
    spyergirl4
    The tag thing is not working. I click on it but nothing happens. But anyway, about the name - if anyone has a better suggestion, please let me know. Otherwise, Sequel Sinker should, do, at least for the moment.
  • November 1, 2012
    NimmerStill
    It Got Worse For The Sequel? Maybe a bit too long though.
  • November 1, 2012
    robinjohnson
    • Between seasons five and six of Red Dwarf, the titular ship has been stolen and the crew have been in stasis/offline for 200 years in the landing craft Starbug, while the android Kryten searched for the Dwarf's trail.
  • November 1, 2012
    NimmerStill
    I don't know if you wanna get technical, but the Rebels' losing their Yavin base after A New Hope was kind of inevitable since the Death Star had followed the Falcon there, and since obviously Vader and some others escaped and could tell the rest of the fleet where it was. But the rest of the decay is indeed offscreen; they could have just found another good secret base right away in the time it would take the Empire to regroup.
  • November 1, 2012
    Earnest
    Cartwright Curse is often involved in romantic breakup aspect.
  • November 2, 2012
    TBeholder
    @Irrisia: maybe. Sequel Undertow?
  • November 2, 2012
    GoldenDarkness
  • November 2, 2012
    StarSword
    I doubt it. Sequel Sinker seems more like a Super Trope to Happy Ending Override, since SS doesn't specify whether the end conditions of the prequel were good or bad.
  • November 4, 2012
    TBeholder
    Merge it in then.

    But since it was found just now, let's farm for a good redirect name anyway.
  • November 4, 2012
    StarSword
    Film:
    • Between Get Shorty and Be Cool (also in the original novels), Chili Palmer produced a hit movie Get Leo based on what happened to him in Get Shorty. Then the studio forced him to make a sequel, which flopped so badly Chili is considering leaving the movie industry. Also his girlfriend Karen Flores is nowhere to be seen in Be Cool.
  • November 4, 2012
    SharleeD
    • Between Changes and Ghost Story, while Harry takes a brief (to him) sojourn to the afterlife's waiting-room as a prologue, Chicago is wracked by months of violence, supernatural invasion, abductions and an unending winter.
  • November 4, 2012
    DracMonster
    Installment Transition Devastation? (Most other synonyms like catastrophe make it sound like complaining about a sequel.)
  • November 7, 2012
    0blivionmobile
  • November 7, 2012
    saintdane05
    This does need a better name. "Sequel Sinker" makes it seem along the lines of a sequel being canceled. Off Screen Downer?
  • November 8, 2012
    robinjohnson
    I like Offscreen Downer but it isn't clear that the downer specifically happens between instalments/seasons or even episodes. Sequel Downer?
  • November 8, 2012
    ShadowHog
  • November 8, 2012
    robinjohnson
    Mid-sequel would be halfway through the sequel itself. Intra Installment Downer?
  • November 9, 2012
    dvorak
    how is this in any way different from Franchise Killer?
  • November 9, 2012
    ShadowHog
    This is about in-universe changes for the worse in between installments. Franchise Killer is when an entry is so bad, it puts an end to any and all sequels, short of a reboot. They're nothing alike.
  • January 12, 2013
    StarSword
    Bump. Also, I think what robinjohnson was aiming for is more like Inter-Installment Downer. ("inter" = between, "intra" = inside)
  • January 12, 2013
    rodneyAnonymous
    Adding a hat means you think it is ready to launch. The two-sentence description has a "Will need a better description" disclaimer on it. This has five hats. Seriously?
  • January 12, 2013
    Larkmarn
    Sequel Sinker is an awful name. Both it and the Laconic make it sound like something behind the scenes like Franchise Killer. Robinjohnson was completely wrong, but I don't blame him because the description is awful.
  • January 12, 2013
    SharleeD
    Between-Season Downer? Interlude Downturn?
  • January 13, 2013
    robinjohnson
    ^^^^ Ah, I guess that's right, although inter- is more commonly used in English (maybe not Latin!) to imply travel between or spanning over things rather than being actually situated between them - for example, "international" means operating in more than one country or moving from country to country ("international celebrity", "international travel") much more often than it means being geographically between countries ("international airspace"). So if something's described as "inter-season", I think that's more likely to be taken to mean cropping up in lots of different seasons. So yeah, "between" is better.
  • June 2, 2013
    Koveras
    • Star Wars The Old Republic offers conclusion to several plotlines from the original Knights Of The Old Republic games but said conclusions are revealed to be mostly tragic (the Exile was killed by the Emperor, Revan spent three centuries in mental torture, the people you led to the Promised Land survived the destruction of Taris only to slowly die out, etc.).
  • June 2, 2013
    StarSword
  • June 2, 2013
    Koveras
    ^ That's what I would search for if I had this in mind.
  • June 2, 2013
    KingZeal
  • June 2, 2013
    SeptimusHeap
    Pulled a hat. It took a forum post to explain that this isn't a complaining YKTTW; the name sounds completely unrelated.
  • June 2, 2013
    StarSword
    Is anyone actually running this thing or should I take it over?
  • June 2, 2013
    Koveras
    I bumped this after almost half a year of inactivity, so unless the OP shows up until tomorrow, I think it's safe to assume that this YKTTW is orphaned and urgently Up For Grabs.
  • June 2, 2013
    StarSword
    Mine, then. I'll slap on IID as the title and start with the Rolling Updates.
  • June 2, 2013
    azul120
    • The second season of Code Geass starts off a full year after the cliffhanger ending of the original, during which most of the Black Knights have been captured and are on death row, their leader Lelouch has been captured and has had his memories altered via his father's geass, the people of Japan are in an even worse state, and Britannia is conquering EU nations.
  • June 2, 2013
    StarSword
    Rolling Updates applied. Can I get some hats back and some description advice?

    EDIT: Added a paragraph for OOC reasons the trope might be used.
  • June 2, 2013
    KingZeal
    • One of the reasons Chrono Cross has one of the biggest Broken Bases in gaming is because of the sheer number of screwjobs done to the original cast of Chrono Trigger over the 20 years between the first game and the next. At one point in the sequel, we find out that the Power Trio was killed off five years after the original's conclusion, had their peaceful kingdom destroyed and taken over by a minor villain and small nation in the original game, had all of their accomplishments overwritten by the Big Bad to the point that in the end they only made the villain stronger, and we're also told that changing time (like you did in the last game) isn't actually possible, and that all you actually do is create a new Alternate Timeline that dooms the original one (and its inhabitants) to a dark oblivion. And if that was bad, you witness the deaths of a few characters from the first game with your own eyes through various means of Time Travel.
  • June 2, 2013
    StarSword
    ^Did those all happen between installments? If not, that's Not This Trope.
  • June 2, 2013
    KingZeal
    Yes, all of it was between installments. A few of the characters from the first game are killed onscreen, but you only witness it through various means of time travel.
  • June 2, 2013
    crazysamaritan
    I'm not sure the Star Wars example fits, since we have already had the events foreshadowed. V ends on a rather low note and VI just starts a little more cheerful.

    National Treasure can add the fact that the sidekick has lost pretty much his entire share due to taxes.

    V- ah, misread that, sorry >.<
  • June 2, 2013
    StarSword
    ^^Quite a large example, then.

    ^Nothing in the trope says it can't be foreshadowed. But we're talking about A New Hope and Empire, not Empire and Jedi.
  • June 2, 2013
    Ryusui
    Don't we already have this with Happy Ending Override?
  • June 2, 2013
    StarSword
    ^We went over that earlier. Happy Ending Override requires the previous installment to end on a high note. This doesn't, making it the supertrope.
  • November 23, 2013
    DAN004
    • In Mega Man ZX Advent, which takes place 4 years after the first game, Prometheus and Pandora stole Vent/Aile's 4 Guardian Biometals (i.e the ones that aren't Model X or Z) and gave them to 4 new Biomatches, who are participants in Albert's Game of Destiny.
    • In Mega Man Zero series, which takes place about a century after Mega Man X series, there's the Elf Wars which, in 4 years, managed to decimate 75% of the world's population, thanks to Dr. Weil's machinations. Then X formed Neo Arcadia on top of the ruins of the world and ruled it for some time before getting tired and used his body to seal the Dark Elf (which is what Weil used in the Elf Wars).

    Typically many shows with Time Skip will have this happen in one way or another.
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