Deep-running continuity is both a blessing and a curse in television. It rewards long-time viewers with a satisfying story and the feeling that somebody really is paying attention. However, a series that weaves itself together too intricately risks making itself [[ContinuityLockout inaccessible to new viewers]] because "you really have to see it from start to finish."

Fear of [[LostInMediasRes being dropped into the middle of a plotline they'll never understand without information that's already been given]], or fear of investing their time in a series they'll [[EndingFatigue have to get through hundreds of episodes to get a satisfying ending from]] ([[TheChrisCarterEffect assuming it'll actually have one]]), can keep even the most interested hanger-on from tuning in, a risk that can keep a series with borderline UsefulNotes/{{ratings}} from reaching its full potential. Less common now in the days of DVD and Internet file sharing (and [[ComicBooks trade paperbacks]]), where back episodes are available to anyone with the time, money and/or bandwidth. Many networks are also making back episodes of their more popular shows available for viewing online. Yet even these resources may not be enough to attract a casual fan who still has to invest sometimes serious money and/or time (hours or even whole days) to catch up on a given plot.

Commitment Anxiety can also occur as a result of ContinuityLockout and {{Continuity Snarl}}s within the work; even with the ease of availability of this material, if the writers make the continuity too impenetrable or convoluted, it can cause people to give up in frustration.

Networks frequently try to draw new viewers despite this anxiety by using a RecapEpisode.

See also EndingAversion and ArchivePanic. For reluctance to commit to a new show lest it be ScrewedByTheNetwork, see TheFireflyEffect.

Not to be confused with CommitmentIssues which is about a character's fear of committing to a significant other.



[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* Pretty much most {{Anime}} series that aren't [[TwelveEpisodeAnime kinda short]]. Many {{Shonen}} shows are notorious for this.
** Especially ''Manga/OnePiece''. Seriously, you'll likely end up debating with yourself whether the sheer amount of time you'll have to wait for the end of the story (which is about two thirds of the way done) and the time it takes to tie up loose ends is worth the emotional investment. Take note: Toei is fully aware of this and puts out as many recap episodes and specials as it can to get new viewers up to speed, and that's not getting into the times where they put out reels of all the iconic moments to shorten ''that'' length as well. But even those get new content occasionally, which ironically just adds them to the overall episode count to understand the context.
** ''Manga/{{Naruto}}'' is a funny instance. Sure, the series pre-timeskip is about 200 episodes long... but barely over half of them are actually canon. This is an example where it's faster to just read the manga to get caught up on the main plot. And there's a good reason many fans referred to the second half of the first series as the {{Filler}} Hell.
** For a non-''Jump'' series, see ''Manga/DetectiveConan'': decades worth of murder mysteries, and few episodes in between that deal with the main plot. If one just wanted the plot-based episodes and important scenes, it would cut the mysteries down by half; but considering the 900+ episode count, that's not saying much. Even reading the manga will take long to catch up.
* The ''Franchise/MobileSuitGundam'' franchise is notorious for being rather unwelcoming to newcomers. The Universal Century timeline has been around since 1979, new installments of it are still being made to this ''very day'', and it's necessary to at least watch some of the earliest shows to really understand all the history, and the character dynamics in later parts. This can be a problem, since Gundam practically invented [[RealRobot Real Robots]] and the earlier series are seen as dated by today's standards, which means SeinfeldIsUnfunny is in full effect. Couple this with the fact that Gundam shows usually run up to 50 episodes, and it makes even the standalone AlternateUniverse shows a lot to commit to.

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* This is a complaint frequently brought against [[Franchise/MarvelUniverse mainstream]] {{superhero}} [[Franchise/TheDCU comics]], especially the [[ComicBook/XMen X-Titles]]. How bad is it? Let's put it this way: It's perfectly reasonable for a comic book fan to say to somebody trying to understand the latest issue of ''Uncanny X-Men,'' "Okay, so you've read every issue that's ever been published, and you remember them all perfectly. It's not like that means you'll understand what's going on." The tendency towards {{Continuity Snarl}}s does not help. Marvel produces special "Point One" (the number of the previous issue, with .1 added to the number) issues to address this problem. However, feelings are mixed. While some do a good job of introducing readers to a series, most fare far worse. Most of them occur right in the middle of a story arc, completely contradicting the point of the issue, are completely irrelevent, or just plain bad.

* [[,%20Robert%20Jordan.htm This old review]] of ''Literature/TheWheelOfTime'' argues that the book series' ridiculous length [[ArchivePanic makes it very hard for it to ever gain any new readers]].

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* ''Series/TwinPeaks'', as it's the usual Creator/DavidLynch insanity spread across various episodes to improve the anxiety.
* ''Series/{{Lost}}'', with many {{Foreshadowing}} elements, and an [[KudzuPlot ever-complicating plot]].
* ''Series/TheXFiles''. The series is nine seasons long plus two movies, and the "arc episodes" are spread along MonsterOfTheWeek ones.
* ''Series/BabylonFive'', less because of length than because of [[ContinuityLockout very tight continuity]] that makes it inadvisable to skip the [[EarlyInstallmentWeirdness weak first season]].
* ''Series/TheWire'' HBO series, notorious for being nigh-impossible to follow if you didn't start from the beginning.
* ''Series/GameOfThrones'': A complex plot and LoadsAndLoadsOfCharacters means that you've at least got to read some summaries of the earlier seasons if you start watching the show at a later date. It's based on ''Literature/ASongOfIceAndFire'', so reading the books also works - though [[DoorStopper each book ranges from 800-1000 pages long.]]
* ''Series/{{Heroes}}'', with its LoadsAndLoadsOfCharacters and an infamous SeasonalRot reputation.
* Ron Moore has cited fear of this syndrome as being behind the {{Breather Episode}}s on the new ''Series/{{Battlestar Galactica|2003}}''.
* ''Series/StarTrekDeepSpaceNine'' for most of its run. Seasons one and two were rather diligent about sticking to ''Series/StarTrekTheNextGeneration'''s MonsterOfTheWeek Formula with the Gamma-quadrant and Bajor-Cardassia back stories being secondary to what ever conflict came through the wormhole that week. Once [[{{TheEmpire}} The Dominion]] was introduced, every episode had to start with a recap.
* ''Series/TerminatorTheSarahConnorChronicles'' was doomed after two seasons by its interesting but "narratively inhospitable" (to new viewers) tight story arc.
* ''Series/VeronicaMars'', which abandoned the season-long mystery arc in season three, but never made it to season four.
* ''Series/FlashForward2009'', which avoided this by inserting a special episode just before it came back from its mid-season hiatus. That's ''one whole hour'' for just thirteen episodes.
* ''Series/ArrestedDevelopment'' was a rare SitCom example for the time.
* The prospect of watching ''{{Series/Doctor Who}}'' in its entirety is terrifying if you're a completist. [[note]]And if you gained consciousness at some point after 1964, it's also [[MissingEpisode impossible.]][[/note]] (This is mostly an irrational phobia, though. The pre-1989 show very rarely did long-term plot arcs, and they lasted a season at most. Even the post-2005 show tends to wrap up all its arcs and start completely new ones whenever there's a change of showrunner.)
* ''Series/BreakingBad'', given it's five seasons long and deals with really dark themes.
* ''Series/NightAndDay'' may well have suffered from this. Unusual for soap in that it demanded not only that viewers turn on each week, but that they pay reasonably close attention, especially in order to follow the central plot surrounding Jane Harper's disappearance. Character motivations and plot points are often glossed over or otherwise obscure - sometimes seemingly for stylistic reasons, and other times as a result of the condensed night-time omnibus, which would often by necessity do away with scenes from the daytime version that provided helpful, if not crucial, context.

* This is regarded as one of the reasons why {{LEGO}} canceled ''Toys/{{Bionicle}}''. Little kids that got into the toys just couldn't be expected to read up on the preceding 8-9 years worth of continuous backstory and [[LoadsAndLoadsOfCharacters characters]]. Especially since it was told through several different media, [[NoExportForYou most of which weren't even made available everywhere]].