Created By: 411314 on March 27, 2012 Last Edited By: Arivne on November 24, 2014

Sub-series

A series that is entirely part of another series.

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Trope
A sub-series is simply a series that is entirely part of another series. If every entry in series B is also an entry in series A but the reverse is NOT true (i.e. series A also contains many entries that are not part of series B), then series B is a sub-series.


Examples

Literature
  • The Videssoos series by Harry Turtledove includes the Tale of Krispos and Time of Troubles subseries and a sub-series called The Videssos Cycle.

Live-Action TV

TV Tropes

Video Games

Web Video

Western Animation

Community Feedback Replies: 49
  • March 27, 2012
    randomsurfer
    • Many Amreican Comic Books are (or have recently been) presented this way; issues 144-149 will be "The X Adventure" parts 1-6, or whatever, then 150-155 will be some other story, 156-61, 162-67, etc. Arguably making the whole series a series of miniseries, but without a miniseries' name or numbering pattern. See Writing For The Trade.
    • Books 14-16 of the Gor series are about a new character, Jason Marshall. Most of the other books are about Tarl Cabot, with the occasional one-off book told from the POV of a slave girl.
  • March 27, 2012
    ironlunch
    How is this different from Spin Off?
  • March 27, 2012
    fulltimeD
    It's not Spin Off. If I understand it correctly, this would include such things as "The Ambiguously Gay Duo" and "The Ex Presidents" along with other animation shorts, and famous recurring sketches as a Sub-Series of Saturday Night Live. Interesting idea. I'm not sure if it may be too broad, as this would then include any recurring sketch on any sketch comedy show.
  • March 27, 2012
    fulltimeD
    A better example might be "Math Net" (a live action, math-themed police procedural parody) as a Sub-Series of Square One TV, a math-themed children's edutainment show from the late 80's-early 90's. Confirming its status as this, some TV stations have even broadcast the "Math Net" series on its own, outside of its Square One TV origins.
  • March 27, 2012
    WackyMeetsPractical
    So if this is just about recurring segments from a Variety Show, why not just call this Recurring Segment or Recurring Sketch? The current name is just confusing.
  • March 27, 2012
    fulltimeD
    That's the question I am asking: would this be broad enough to include recurring segments or sketches or is this intended to be narrower (for example the Math Net example I mentioned would probably make it because of the way it was conceived and treated by the network (running just the Math Net serials by themselves), but not just any recurring sketch or segment; it has to be seen as this either in-universe (like a Show Within A Show) or by the fans, the creators, or both.

    So considering all that, what do we with think the parameters of this trope ought to be?
  • March 27, 2012
    JonnyB
    Dexters Laboratory had Justice Friends and Dial M For Monkey as series within the series.
  • April 5, 2012
    411314
    @Wacky Meets Practical: It's not just meant to be about reccuring segments on a variety show, it's meant to be any series that's entirely part of another larger series.
  • April 5, 2012
    WackyMeetsPractical
    ^ With that broad of a definition, it becomes indistinguishable from a Spin Off. It'll be better to have the more specific definition that I suggested earlier.
  • April 5, 2012
    tdgoodrich1
    I would advise altering the laconic description. My immediate reaction on seeing it was "We already have 'Show Within a Show'"
  • April 5, 2012
    randomsurfer
    ^^This is categorically not Spin Off.
    Spinoffs are when part of a successful show...are taken and given a second show of their own.
    This is where a "part of a successful show" are NOT given a show (or book, or videogame series, or what-have-you) of their own but instead are given a segment of the parent show (etc.) on a regular basis.

    The That Guy With The Glasses example is a perfect representation of this. Doug Walker has several different series: Nostalgia Critic, Ask That Guy, etc. But "Old vs New" is not a separate series, it is a part of the Nostalgia Critic series.

    • In Marvel Comics' Thor comic book series there was an ongoing "Tales of Asgard" series which ran in the back pages of Thor's comic.
  • April 6, 2012
    MorganWick
    I don't think the comic book example in the first reply is really an example.

    Would Mighty Morphin Alien Rangers count?
  • April 6, 2012
    Koveras
    The current laconic sounds misleadingly similar to Show Within A Show.
  • April 7, 2012
    fulltimeD
    ^ agreed
  • April 7, 2012
    fulltimeD
    Would Terrence and Phillip from South Park be an example? They were promoted from Show Within A Show to something like this by virtue of having their own TV special at least once.
  • April 11, 2012
    411314
    @Wacky Meets Practical: Let me give you an example of something that is NOT an example, then. Angel obviously takes place in the same universe as BuffyTheVampireSlayer and has some of the same characters, but episodes of Angel are generally not considered episodes of Buffy. They are classified as separate shows. Episode guides for Buffy never list episodes of Angel as also being episodes of Buffy. In contrast, the Paper Mario games are on most lists of Mario games. If game is a Paper Mario game, it will also be considered a Mario game, but Angel episodes are not considered to also be Buffy episodes. Therefore, Paper Mario is a sub-series of Mario and Angel is a Spinoff of Buffy but not a sub-series. In order for any series B to a Spinoff of A, B must be classified as a completely separate series from A that just happens to borrow characters or settings from A.

    @fulltimeD: If there are multiple Terrence and Phillip specials that are still considered episodes of South Park, then yeah, that'd count. If not, then I don't think so, but it's hard for me to say since I don't know much about South Park.
  • April 12, 2012
    fulltimeD
    @411314 Makes sense. You should add the "Math Net" example though, that seems to be exactly what you're going for. I'll be honest, except for the Scientology episode, I haven't watched South Park since I was 13.
  • April 12, 2012
    WackyMeetsPractical
    ^^ Personally, I've always considered the Paper Mario series to be a Spin Off Series of the main Super Mario Bros series (And the pages for both Paper Mario and Super Mario Bros call the series a spin off). Video game series don't function exactly the same as a television series, with each game usually considered as an individual entity whether than just as an episode in a longer series, unless it's an Episodic Game. For something like Paper Mario, or any of Mario's role playing games, are so vastly different from the more traditional platforming games, that it's hard to think of them as being in the same series, though they'd exist in the same franchise.

    Examples like Math Net and Nostalgia Critic's Old Vs New are more clear cut, being portions of the larger series whether than existing separately like the Paper Mario series from the other Mario games.
  • April 24, 2012
    411314
    @Wacky Meets Practical: That's a good point about how the line is blurier for video games than it would be for a TV series. I suppose we could forbid video game examples. On the other hand, I suppose one could think of anything and its spinoffs as all being one series (e.g. Buffy and Angel could collectively be thought of as the "Buffy and Angel series" with each show being a sub-series) and in that case the Paper Mario games and other Mario games would all be part of the same series.

    I think it'd make more sense, though, something can only be listed if it's a sub-series of something that is itself offically considered part of a series. In other words, the sub-series would have to have an official title that applies to every entry (such as Old vs. New) and the series it's part of would have to have an official title as well (Nostalgia Critic).

    @fulltimeD: I've added the example, I don't know much about Math Net or Square One TV as a whole. Since there are probably many examples I'm not familiar with, everyone here should feel free to add examples and even elaborate if they'd like.
  • May 10, 2012
    fulltimeD
    bump
  • May 10, 2012
    fulltimeD
    ^^ in that case you are free to use the words I used to describe the Mathnet / Square One example. I don't like to edit other people's YKTT Ws.
  • May 10, 2012
    Shnakepup
    A literature example:

  • May 15, 2012
    kaloo
    People are saying it's too much like Spin Off, but a lot of spin offs are things that started out as sub series, so it's not really that surprising
  • May 16, 2012
    HaggisMcCrablice
    Common among series with an Ensemble Cast. May dovetail with A Day In The Limelight.

    Toonsylvania had recurring bits like "Melissa Screetch's Morbid Morals" and "Igor's Science Minute". Sometimes the Deadman family shorts were replaced by spoofs of bad old fifties sci-fi movies.
  • August 30, 2012
    jbrecken
    Similar to Square One's Math Net, 321 Contact had its own mystery subseries The Bloodhound Gang.
  • August 30, 2012
    TonyG
    I think we need to clarify what constitutes a sub-series, because so far many of the examples seem to be all over the place. Would a recurring sketch on a Sketch Comedy or a Variety Show count? Or a segment of an Anthology?
  • August 30, 2012
    GreatHylianKing
    The Sarah Jane Chronicles and Torchwood are both TV shows that take place in the Dr. Who universe and feature either villians very similar or the same to those the Doctor fights. Also, the main characters of said shows (Sarah Jane and Captain Jack respectively) were both companions of The Doctor at one point.
  • August 31, 2012
    Xtifr
    ^ That's just a straight Spin Off.

    One solution to the dilemma here might be to make this the supertrope of Spin Off (though straight examples like the one above should just go in that trope). I think there's also a trope about an author retroactively making a work a part of a series. I know of at least one case where an entire series was retroactively included (retconned) in a larger series, and I think that would count as a subseries.

    It may also overlap with Show Within A Show, in cases like Itchy And Scratchy, where the S-W-A-S is developed enough to count as its own show.

    Literature:
    • CJ Cherryh's Alliance Union series contains a couple of sub-series: the Chanur Saga, the Morgaine Cycle, and the Ariane Emory series (Cyteen and Regenesis).
    • The Discworld series has several sub-series: The Rincewind series, the Three Witches series, the City Watch series, the Death/Susan Sto Helit series, and the Tiffany Aching series.
  • August 31, 2012
    polarbear2217
    Hall of Horrors is the third storyline arc in the Goosebumps Horror Land series but are titled as if from a separate series. The first two storyline arcs (Panic Park and Chiller House) are just titled "Horrorland"
  • September 1, 2012
    Rognik
    @Tony G I think the confusion stems mainly from the fact that they don't understand the difference between the two. A Spin Off is a separate show with a completely different time slot using at least one character from the old series, such as Fraser to Cheers. A subseries, however, occurs within the same time slot and has storylines distinct from the rest of the segments. I think Math Net to Square One TV and The Bloodhound Gang to Three Two One Contact are the best examples for that; they were segments that worked basically like a weekly miniseries, with a 5-part mystery that ran at the end of every show. It's not long enough to be a full show, and it was always a part of the original work.

    • Pinky And The Brain started off as a sub-series before becoming a proper Spin Off from Animaniacs. Animaniacs had a bunch of discrete segments, though, so it'd be hard to say if every one of them can count as sub-series or not.
    • I'd say the "TV Funhouse" segment of Saturday Night Live counts as a subseries. It's a series of animated shorts that are periodically run. The segments themselves have nothing in common with each other except being animated, though.
    • From the third season onwards of The Electric Company (the new version), there are two subseries, one about pets and one about monsters. I don't watch that show a lot myself, though, so I forget what they're called. They both have proper intros, though.
  • September 1, 2012
    Xtifr
    ^ Trying to describe it in terms of "time slot" doesn't make a bit of sense when you're talking about Manga, Comic Books, Film, Literature or Video Games.

    Speaking of Comic Books:
    • The Fables series has a couple of subseries (as well as a Spin Off listed at that page): Cinderella: From Fabletown with Love and Cinderella: Fables are Forever.
  • September 2, 2012
    Rognik
    ^For a manga or comic book, it'd be within the same issue. (By that standard, I suppose Sabrina The Teenaged Witch and Josie And The Pussycats are subseries of Archie.) For literature, it'd be in the same book; I doubt this would have any examples, though. Similarly, subseries in a film or theatre production would be within the presentation period. For a Video Game, I think they'd be called minigames (any side game you play outside the primary narrative) and don't need to be included here. Frankly, I don't see this being a trope outside of a TV show, with the exception of comics I mentioned earlier.

    To make the distinction clear, using both Math Net and The Bloodhound Gang as the basis, a subseries is: 1) composed of a different cast, or has a distinctly different format from the rest of the show/media. 2) a regular part of the series in question. Doesn't have to be in every episode/issue, but something that appears frequently enough to be considered regular. Using these elements, it should prevent things like the Celebrity Jeopardy skits from Saturday Night Live from being called a subseries (since it uses the same cast as other SNL skits).
  • September 2, 2012
    Xtifr
    ^ Then you're getting away from the common-English definition of sub-series, which is probably a bad idea, unless we pick a different name.

    And that still doesn't help with Film, Literature or Video Games.
  • September 3, 2012
    Rognik
    ^First off, I presented a suggestion or solution to every genre applicable: Video Games get minigames instead of subseries, Literature has to be within the same novel (or perhaps series for the Discworld examples), and Film has to be within the length of the film. You, on the other hand, have not provided any suggestions one way or the other. Present an argument to define a subseries, and I will tell you if it seems to work or not.

    Also, I'm assuming this is Up For Grabs, since the first few posts are months old.
  • September 3, 2012
    randomsurfer
    See also Wheel Program.
  • September 4, 2012
    TonyG
    I'm going to list a few items and you tell me if they count as a sub-series or not:

    Also, a sub-series may become a Spin Off if it gets split from the original show (Pinky And The Brain from Animaniacs, The Simpsons from The Tracey Ullman Show)
  • September 4, 2012
    Xtifr
    ^^^ My suggestion (which I thought I'd already presented), is to use the common English meaning of the term. To have a sub-series, it has to be A) a series, and B) part of a larger series. Anything which doesn't match those two doesn't count. Minigames within a video game wouldn't count, for example, because a video game is not a series. Nor would something "within the length of a film", because a film is not a series. (On the other hand, a series of minigames that appear within a series of games would qualify, but the minigames would have to meet some reasonable definition of series--and I don't think I've ever seen such a thing.)

    I think this is primarily a literature, comic book, and manga trope. TV series rarely have sub-series because of the whole time-slot thing. And film and video game series are rarely big enough to have sub-series. On the other hand, I think it's common in an Expanded Universe. A sub-series doesn't necessarily have to be in the same medium as the main series. For example, the Star Wars: Clone Wars tv series would a sub-series of Star Wars. It's not exactly a spin-off because it's very much part of the main series, set right inbetween the prequels and the original trilogy.

    I think Itchy and Scratchy qualifies, and I also think that every literature example mentioned so far qualifies. I'm dubious about several of the TV examples that have been suggested, but a couple might qualify. I agree with Tony G that a sub-series can evolve into a spin-off.
  • September 5, 2012
    Xtifr
    Note that this also may be caused by Canon Welding, as with the first example below:

    Literature:
    • Poul Anderson's Technic History series includes the Polesotechnic League series and the Dominic Flandry series. In fact, the series were merged by Canon Welding, and more stories in the broader universe were added later.
    • Technically, the Miles Vorkosigan stories are a sub-series of the Vorkosigan Saga, even though they constitute the great majority of the books in the series. Still, there's four books (including the book that started the series) that don't feature Miles (although he's a fetus in one).
    • Larry Niven's Known Space series includes the Ringworld series of novels and the Gil Hamilton series of short-stories.
    • Steven Brust's Dragaera series includes the Khaavren Romances and the Vlad Taltos series.
  • September 5, 2012
    TonyG
    I don't think Mater's Tall Tales and Toy Story Toons are sub-series of the respective movies; in that case they are more like Spin Offs. They can, however, be considered sub-series within the Pixar Shorts.
  • September 5, 2012
    ScanVisor
  • September 5, 2012
    Xtifr
    ^ all of those need more details so we know what you're talking about, and especially to establish that they are series.

    The second one sounds more like a spin-off, since it's non-canon.
  • September 17, 2012
    411314
    @Tony G: What you said is correct, but you misuderstood what I meant. Toy Story is a series that incudes all three movies and the shorts. Since the shorts have a colective title of their own - Toy Story 'Toons, they can be seen as a series within the larger Toy Story series. Likewise, Mater's Tales is not a sub-series of the Cars movies, but it is a sub-series of the larger cars series which aso INCLUDES the movies. As for your earlier list, a Show Within A Show doesn't count, but the other three examples on your list do.

    @Rognik: I'd say Pinky and the Brain and TV Funhouse were both examples before they became spin-offs. I'd also say that any reccuring segment onn a variety show coud count. Can't tell if The Electric Company ones count since I know othig about that show.
  • November 23, 2014
    Illa
    Wikipedia calls "The Clique Summer Collection" a subseries of The Clique.

    Do parts of The Baby Sitters Club series like the Mysteries and Super Mysteries or the Portrait Collection count as subseries?
  • November 23, 2014
    DAN004
  • November 24, 2014
    Koveras
    • The Gold Box series contained three sub-series: Pool of Radiance, Savage Frontier, and Dragonlance (as well as some standalone games).
  • November 24, 2014
    AP
    • This is essentially the concept behind the Marvel Cinematic Universe series. Each solo hero has his or her own series that intertwines in the larger mythos.
  • November 24, 2014
    Arivne
    • Examples section
  • November 24, 2014
    Duncan
  • November 24, 2014
    StarSword
    Literature:
    • The X Wing Series is informally subdivided into the "Rogue Squadron" series (books 1-4, 8, and 9) and the "Wraith Squadron" series (5-7 and Mercy Kill).

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