A story arc (a contraction of "over-arching storyline") is a sequence of series installments, TV episodes, comic issues, or a certain period of time in a VideoGame that puts characters through their paces in response to a single impetus; basically, an ongoing storyline. This can be a few episodes, an [[LayoutOfASeason entire season]], or even the [[MythArc focus of the entire series]].

Arcs are not necessarily consecutive episodes. The story may reach a point where, although the arc is not completely resolved, it ceases to be of immediate concern to the characters, thus allowing the writers to intersperse (or [[{{Filler}} insert]]) non-arc episodes. This is the case whenever an episode or a series of episodes have self-contained storylines, which are then cut-off by a continuation of the arc. Usually, the filler/self-contained stories don't have any major effect on the arc itself, set up character development to be used in the arc, or show off character development displayed in an early storyline.

Writers may decide to use a stand-alone episode to [[BreatherEpisode lighten the mood]] during a dark arc, or to [[ADayInTheLimelight feature a character not involved in the arc.]]

Episodes that form a story arc cannot be run out of order, or at least they ''shouldn't'' be. Not that this always stops networks or syndicators from doing so.

While the SoapOpera has been exclusively arc-based since the beginning of television and before, the recent popularity of arcs doesn't seem to come from soaps. Back in the 90's when half-funny SitCom reruns and poorly constructed Saturday morning cartoons ruled with an iron fist, the consensus among writers was [[SeasonFluidity that casual viewers wouldn't be able to get into the show]]. ''HillStreetBlues'' was the first American prime-time drama to rely on arcs, and is probably when the term came into the American TV vernacular. British Shows have a longer-standing tradition of arcs (See ''Series/DoctorWho'').

According to ''Series/DoctorWho'' producer Creator/RussellTDavies, the term is not used by UK TV writers. However, it is becoming increasingly well known by UK ''viewers'', and UK ComicBook writers certainly use the term.

Story arcs also occur in most other serial media; SuperHero and {{dramedy}} comic series (especially [[WebComic online series]] in the latter case) are well known for them, and since they lack the seasonal format of most Western television shows, some of them take ''years'' to resolve.

For some specific types of story arcs, see WarArc, RescueArc, and TournamentArc.

See also MythArc, RotatingArcs, ArcWelding, HalfArcSeason, PlotThreads, SeasonFluidity, and AbortedArc.

Sometimes the term is interchangeable with "Saga", especially in shonen.

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!!Examples:

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder: Anime ]]
* The vast majority of {{anime}} series are built around arcs, which further distinguishes them from American cartoons, which are very often episodic (though less exclusively so as time passes on). In various {{Shonen}} series, the arcs are structured in a way such that the main characters face the minions of a BigBad first (sometimes from the lowest rank to the highest, if there is a hierarchy), and then the Big Bad himself/herself to settle the climax of that arc. And whenever a competition approaches, the episodes covering it are encased into a TournamentArc. Examples of series with these properties include:
** ''Manga/SaintSeiya'': Sanctuary (itself divided into [[TournamentArc Galaxian Wars]], Black Saints[=/=]Pope Ares' minions, Silver Saints and Gold Saints; the total is 73 episodes, and is the largest major arc in the series), Asgard (26 episodes), Poseidon (15 episodes), and Hades (13 episodes for Sanctuary, 12 for Inferno and 6 for Elysion; the total is 31).
** ''Manga/DragonBall'': The first quest for the Dragon Balls (Emperor Pilaf, 13 episodes), 21st Tournament (15 episodes), the second quest for the Dragon Balls (Red Ribbon Army, 17 episodes; General Blue, 12 episodes; Commander Red, 10 episodes; Fortune-Teller Baba, 16 episodes), 22nd Tournament (18 episodes), the third quest for the Dragon Balls (King Piccolo, 21 episodes), and 23rd Tournament (31 episodes).
** ''Anime/DragonBallZ'': Saiyan (39 episodes), Freezer (68 episodes), Garlic Jr. (10 episodes), Androids and Cell (84 episodes, including the Cell Games), Saiyaman and 25th Tournament (20 episodes), and Buu (72 episodes).
** ''Anime/DragonBallGT'': Black Star Dragon Balls (15 episodes), Baby (25 episodes), Super Android 17 (7 episodes), and Shadow Dragon (17 episodes).
** ''Manga/YuYuHakusho'': Spirit Detective (25 episodes), Dark Tournament (41 episodes), Chapter Black (28 episodes), and Three Kings (18 episodes).
%%** ''Manga/{{Naruto}}''
* In various {{Shojo}} series, since they tend to follow the MonsterOfTheWeek format, the arc sorting is based on which BigBad becomes the ultimate source of all the weekly monsters; so when that Big Bad is defeated, then the arc ends and another starts with another villain releasing their own weekly monsters. Examples of series following this style include:
** ''Anime/SailorMoon'': Original series (46 episodes, introduces the Inner Senshi: Sailor Moon, Mercury, Mars, Jupiter and Venus), ''Sailor Moon R'' (43 episodes, introduces Chibiusa and Sailor Pluto), Sailor Moon S (38 episodes, introduces Sailor Uranus, Neptune and Saturn), Sailor Super S (39 episodes), Sailor Moon Sailor Stars (36 episodes, introduces the Sailor Senshi from outside the solar system).
** ''Manga/CardCaptorSakura'': The arcs don't have any particular names, but they're sorted by season. The first one has 35 episodes, and focuses on Sakura sealing most of the stray cards with her power, starting with Fly and finishing with Fire. The second has 11 episodes, in which Sakura seals the remaining cards and initiates a Final Judgement trial with Yue. The last season has 24 episodes, and focuses on Sakura enhancing the cards' powers with a new incantation, followed by a climatic confrontation against Clow Reed.
** ''PrettyCure'', as a whole, has spanned ''eleven'' series, but only two of them are sequels to previous series.
** ''Anime/CorrectorYui'' has two. In the first, Yui's first priority is to reunite all Correctors and then eliminate the viruses originated from the BigBad, Grosser. The second season introduces a new villain, Bogles, as well as a new Corrector who is first introduced as an AntiVillain.
* ''Anime/{{Pokemon}}'', true to its original source, sorts the story arcs by league and generation, and some of them are long enough to span more than one season. Indigo (Generation I), Orange Islands (FillerArc), Johto (Generation II), Hoenn, Battle Frontier (both Generation III), Sinnoh (Generation IV), Unova (Generation V), Kalos (Generation VI). In the case of the Johto saga, there are several sub-arcs in which the main characters are looking for (or even helping) a Legendary Pokémon.
* ''The Melancholy of LightNovel/HaruhiSuzumiya'''s six-episode arc was broadcast with eight {{Breather Episode}}s that flashed forward to ''after'' the arc. It also successfully broke the rule of never showing a story arc out of order. Helped largely by Arc episodes being still in order, just with the Breathers inserted in-between.
* ''Anime/NeonGenesisEvangelion'' can be divided into four arcs:
** Prologue Arc, from the beginning to the Jet Alone {{filler}}. (Episode 1-7)
** Action Arc, starting with Asuka's introduction and ending with Iruel. Focus is on humor; this part is just like any other mecha series. (Episode 8-13)
** Descent Arc, ending with Zeruel. MindScrew kicks into high gear in this part and the viewer starts having an inkling things are not what they seem to be. (Episode 14-19)
** "The Bitter End". Even more MindScrew with a side order of NightmareFuel. The part that made the franchise famous. (Episode 20-24, 25-26/End of Evangelion)
* ''Manga/BlackLagoon'' is notable for having a story arc that ended up being '''33 chapters long.''' This wouldn't be very impressive if it weren't for the fact that it's a monthly series - so said arc lasted for nearly half the series at the time it ended.
* In ''VisualNovel/LittleBusters'', each girls' route (except Kurugaya's, as that one heavily revolved around her going out with Riki and so was [[CuttingOffTheBranches incompatible with Rin's route, the 'main' one]]) was adapted into a separate story arc of 4 or 5 episodes in a row. (Kud's arc is a minor exception, as it had a Rin episode in between the first and second episodes).
* The arcs in ''Manga/CaptainTsubasa'' are sorted by the teams Tsuabasa and his friends are playing for, as well as the competitions in which they are participating. The first arc has them play the national Japan tournaments; World Youth has Tsubasa play in Brazil, and later in Japan again for the AFC Youth Championship before moving to Spain to play for FC Barcelona (by this point, his friends join teams of other European teams); Road to 2002 has the characters prepare to play for the Japan national team in the 2002 edition of TheWorldCup.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Audio]]
* BigFinishDoctorWho has a mass of story arcs going on. With the Eighth Doctor there was the Anti-Time story arc, as changing history by saving his companion Charlotte Pollard was causing the Web of Time to break down. Finally the Doctor gets infected with Anti-Time, leading to the Divergent Universe arc where he travels into a different Universe to suppress the Anti-Time.
** There is the Viyran story arc, involving various strange diseases spread throughout time and the [[WellInentionedExtremist Viyrans]] trying to stop this.
** The most recent 8th Doctor stories show the opening stages of the Time War, with the Time Lords and Daleks working against each other and the Master being resurrected.
** This also ties into the Eminence storyline, involving a FogOfDoom who are so dangerous the Doctor is willing to help the Daleks against them, although the Time Lords are trying to help the Eminence in the hope they will prevent the Daleks becoming the supreme life form.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* ''ComicBook/CerebusTheAardvark'' is broken down into 10 major arcs: ''Cerebus'', ''High Society'', ''Church and State'', ''Jaka's Story'', ''Melmoth'', "Mothers and Daughters", ''Guys'', ''Rick's Story'', "Going Home", and "Latter Days." ''Church and State'' has two parts, and the arcs in quotation marks have two to four distinct sub-arcs fitting under the general title.[[note]]''Flight'', ''Women'', ''Reads'', and ''Minds'' for M&D, ''Going Home'' and ''Form and Void'' for "Going Home", and ''Latter Days'' and ''The Last Day'' for "Latter Days."[[/note]] Each arc and sub-arc tells a distinct story, lasting anywhere from 11 issues (''Flight'') to almost 60 issues (the entirety of ''Church and State''), and each is collected in its own TPB.
* Since most American comics are published with collected editions in mind, they tend to come out with five-or-six issue storylines that are usually connected to each other to tell a larger MythArc, but are just as easily read as their own self-contained stories.
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Fanfiction]]

* The ''FanFic/PonyPOVSeries'' is built on interlocking story arcs -- freeing Trixie from her [[MindRape Discording]] [[spoiler: and her EnemyWithin]], rehabilitating Fluttercruel [[spoiler: and Fluttershy [[BreakTheCutie breaking]] into a [[SuperpoweredEvilSide Nightmare]]]], the origins of Celestia, Luna and Discord, various WorldBuilding threads, etc. -- that all together tell the story of the characters moving on from what Discord did to them... as well as a MythArc of [[spoiler: Discord planning his second escape]].
** There's also the Dark World Arc, which was originally just meant to [[EarnYourHappyEnding give closure]] to the BadFuture, but grew so large that it was eventually [[WordOfGod declared]] its own series, subdivided into its own story arcs: the [[HeelFaceTurn Redemption]] of the Elements Arc (up till the Duel of Tears and Rainbow Dash's redemption), the StormingTheCastle Arc (up till Pinkie's redemption), the Off The Rails Arc (up till [[spoiler: [[OneWingedAngel Odyne!]]Fluttercruel]]'s defeat), the End of Days Arc (up to and including the FinalBattle [[spoiler: with [[TrueFinalBoss Nightmare Paradox]]]]), and the [[spoiler: Alicorn Ascension]] Arc (which acts Dark World's GrandFinale).
** Dark World has a companion piece of sorts in the Shining Armor Arc, which was published alongside it (and is [[TimeyWimeyBall kinda-sorta]] connected to it). This arc is based on the basic premise of showing where Shining Armor and Cadence were during the rest of the series, as well as how their friendship developed into romance. It is also divided into two smaller arcs -- the first, and longer of the two, has Shining and Cadence's forces coming into conflict with the [[TakeOverTheWorld plans]] of [[GeneralRipper General-Admiral Makarov]] of the [[TheEmpire Hooviet Empire]]; after his defeat, the story moves back to developing their relationship, even as Shining seeks a way to escape the threat of [[ClockRoaches the Blank Wolf]].
** After the conclusion of Dark World and the SA Arc, the series returns to the Reharmonized Timeline with the Wedding Arc, which sees the Mane Six and their friends attending Shining Armor and Cadence's wedding, only for the presence of a [[KnightOfCerebus much more dangerous than canon Queen Chrysalis]] to turn it into a WarArc.
* [[Fanfic/RainbowDoubleDashsLunaverse The Lunaverse's]] first season, in addition to the overall MythArc of the struggle against [[AGodAmI Corona]] and standalone threats, is built around the manipulations of the [[DeadlyDecadentCourt corrupt Night Court]], which comes to a head in ''At The Grand Galloping Gala''.
** Season 2 deals with both Corona's forces and the Luna 6 developing alliances in preparation for the eventual final confrontation between the two sides.
* In ''Fanfic/ANewChanceSeries'', there are several story arcs ongoing, some of them originating in the first story of the series and continuing into the second:
** Larvitar's search for his mother.
** Team Rocket's plan for world domination involving capturing Legendary Pokemon with powerful Poke balls/
** Team Magma and Team Aqua's own respective plans for the world.
** [[spoiler: The plans of the being that killed the Father Latios and tried to destroy Altomare, as well the Father Latios' own revival and his efforts to stop his mortal enemy and reunite with the Eon twins.]]

[[/folder]]

[[folder:Film]]

* ''Film/StarTrekIITheWrathOfKhan'', ''Film/StarTrekIIITheSearchForSpock'' and ''Film/StarTrekIVTheVoyageHome'' form a story arc within the larger ''Franchise/StarTrek'' movie series centered around the Genesis device and the consequences of its use. All other ''Franchise/StarTrek'' movies have self-contained plots.
* The Film/JamesBond series does this twice. The first arc is the SPECTRE Arc, which lasted from the first movie, ''Film/DrNo'' (1962), until the seventh, ''Film/DiamondsAreForever'' (1971). The second encompasses DanielCraig's run as Bond, although this may have turned into an AbortedArc.
* The second and third ''Franchise/PiratesOfTheCaribbean'' movies formed an arc revolving around Davy Jones and the East India Trading Company. Originally the second half of a TwoPartTrilogy until the series continued afterwards.

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Literature]]
* ''Literature/GalaxyOfFear'' is a book series. Each book is self-contained, but the first six have an underlying plot about the connections between the BigBad, [[TheStoic Hoole]], and TheEmpire.
* The ''Literature/{{Animorphs}}'' series can neatly be divided up into a couple story arcs. The first arc concerns itself with the development of the children into soldiers and explanations about morphing, the Yeerk invasion, et cetera. The second arc concerns itself with the day-to-day missions, and is cut in half by what you could call Story Arc 2.5, which concerns itself with the seventh Animorph, David. The third story arc deals with the escalation of the war and the reorganization of the Yeerk Empire - the execution of Visser One, Visser Three's promotion, Operation 9366, et cetera. The final story arc begins when the Yeerks discover the kids' identities.
* Creator/JKRowling has stated that, unlike the first five books of ''Literature/HarryPotter'' which are thematically autonomous while still carrying over the overall continuity of the universe, the last two books (''Half Blood Prince'' and ''Deathly Hallows'') are meant to be two volumes of the same arc, which is evident not only through the fully interwined link between the end of the former and the start of the latter, but also through the plot devices that both books share, as well as the fact that both books heavily reference the events of the past five books to solve any pending plot point and then settle the climax of the story.
* ''Literature/TheBabySittersClub'':
** Some plotlines spread over a couple of books, such as Kristy adjusting to her stepfamily. At the end of the series Mary Anne's house burned down, which was the background for the ''Friends Forever'' spinoff.
** The Dawn-considers-moving-back-to-California plotline lasted for so many books that many fans were extremely glad when she ultimately did move back and she finally stopped agonizing about this decision.
* The ''Literature/EighthDoctorAdventures'' had two major story arcs--one leading into the other--and several smaller ones, as well as several individual character arcs for the Doctor and his companions. The first story arc, almost more of a MythArc, involved a massive, destructive, universe spanning temporal war (not actually the New Series's Last Great Time War) fought between the Time Lords and and an unnamed [[EldritchAbomination enemy]], and the fallout that affects the rest of universe after the Doctor [[spoiler:destroys Gallifrey (for the first time)]]. The second deals with an issue that arose as a result of the first--a time traveler called [[MeaningfulName Sabbath]] is worried that [[spoiler:with the Time Lords dead]], the universe is collapsing into chaos, and that the Doctor, by not doing anything about it, is harming the Web of Time by default. His attempts to fix this [[WellIntentionedExtremist by destroying alternate timelines]] are in fact what's causing the problem in the first place. The series also deals with smaller story arcs like Sam learning the truth about her MirrorUniverse counterpart, Compassion [[spoiler:becoming a TARDIS]], Fitz coming to grips with being a [[CloningBlues clone]] and having to face [[FutureMeScaresMe Father Kreiner]], and [[ArsonMurderAndJaywalking Anji's inability to get home]].
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Live Action TV ]]

* The canonical British TV show with a StoryArc is ''ThePrisoner'', which was created from the get-go with a beginning, middle and end, and is also used as an example of the TV Novel.
* ''Series/TheXFiles'' (see MythArc)
* ''Series/{{Alias}}'' -- So heavily, in fact, that there was significant ContinuityLockout experienced by casual viewers.
* ''Series/BabylonFive'' (another MythArc)
* ''Series/TheAdventuresOfBriscoCountyJr.'' had two intertwining story arcs throughout the series (The Search for The Orb and The Capture of the John Bly Gang).
* ''Series/StarTrekDeepSpaceNine'' has several, featuring battles against the Maquis, the Jem'Hadar, and finally the Dominion as a whole. The characters also grew and changed and grew over time far more than in any of the previous shows. Most of the characters are very different by the end of S7 to how they were in S1.
* ''Series/StarTrekVoyager'' found a middle ground between [=DS=]9's arc driven plots and characters and [=TN=]G/[=TO=]S's more episodic formats, though this was more through network pressure than creative choice. There were only a few narrative story arcs, such as th early integration of the Maquis crew with the Voyager crew and the ongoing conflicts with the Kazon. Though character growth could be inconsistent, the Doctor and Seven of Nine are regarded as being some of the most developed characters in all of Star Trek due to their arcs.
* Previously episodic in format, ''Series/StarTrekEnterprise'' introduced an epic story arc with the Xindi war in season three, before settling into a series of loosely-related smaller story arcs in season four.
* Each season of ''Series/{{Lost}}'' has a main StoryArc, each with numerous subplots and mini-arcs, and each contributing to the MythArc (which can best be summed up by the question "Why are these people on the Island?"). Each season's StoryArc also has a central conflict and/or division:
** Season One is about the Losties learning how to survive on the Island and dividing into two camps: one on the beach and one at the caves.
** Season Two is about finding the Hatch, pushing the button and the psychological effect of it; the Tailies, another group of plane survivors, are introduced.
** Season Three reveals a lot about the Others, the Island's native inhabitants, and builds towards a confrontation between them and the Losties.
** Season Four [[spoiler:is about the arrival of the "Freighter Folk", who are supposedly offering rescue, while [[FlashForward flash-forwards]] show that some of the Losties eventually leave the Island, only for their lives to completely fall apart.]]
** Season Five [[spoiler:is split between those Losties left behind on the Island, who start [[TimeTravel jumping to different points in the Island's history]], and the "Oceanic 6", who set about returning to the Island.]]
** Season Six [[spoiler:is about Jacob and the Man in Black recruiting the Losties for a final conflict, and finding out the true purpose of the Island.]]
* Two of the same writers behind ''LOST'' created ''Series/OnceUponATime'', which follows the exact same structure of arcs and mini-arcs per season contributing to the overall MythArc.
** Season One follows [[Literature/SnowWhiteAndTheSevenDwarfs Regina the Evil Queen]] casting the Dark Curse and sending fairy tale characters to a town called Storybrooke in the real world, where they remain trapped and without the memories of who they really are, and how it's the destiny of Snow White and Prince Charming's daughter, Emma Swan, to be "the Savior" and break the curse. The mini-arcs are Emma accepting her role as mother to her newfound son Henry and her place in Storybrooke, ultimately becoming sheriff after the old one is killed (episodes 1-9); an amnesiac Snow and Charming having an affair that creates trouble with the wife Charming has in Storybrooke, who then goes missing leaving Snow the prime suspect (episodes 10-18); and Emma being made to believe in her true identity and destiny by both a mysterious writer named August and Rumpelstiltskin, [[MagnificentBastard the mastermind behind everything]] (episodes 19-22).
** Season Two follows how all the people of Storybrooke cope with the curse being broken and their memories restored but still being trapped in the real world, which now has magic in it thanks to the machinations of Rumpelstiltskin. And [[ArcWords magic always comes at a price.]] The mini-arcs are Emma and Snow being transported to the Enchanted Forest and teaming up with Literature/SleepingBeauty and {{Mulan}} to find a way back to Storybrooke, which Charming is now in charge of (episodes 23-31); Emma helping Rumpelstiltskin finally find his long-lost son Baelfire while Regina's [[EvilerThanThou even wickeder mother]] Cora plots to obtain ultimate power (episodes 32-38); and two anti-magic zealots from the real world infiltrating Storybrooke in order to destroy it (episodes 39-44).
** The first half of Season Three follows Emma, Snow, Charming, Regina, Rumpelstiltskin, and Captain Hook traveling to Neverland to save Henry from PeterPan, who enacts dark and twisted schemes on all of them that forces a character study of who they really are inside.
* ''Series/DoctorWho'' has a few, used for combo DVD sets, when a clear follow-on is present.
** Season 8's arc introduced the Master, who was a common villain in each serial and was captured by UNIT in the SeasonFinale.
** Season 12 has a loose arc where all of the adventures take place in the same area of space but at different times, with the exception of Pertwee-era hangover "Robot" and the WhamEpisode "Genesis of the Daleks".
** ''The Key To Time'' arc (all of Season 16) - the search for pieces of a CosmicKeystone.
** ''The E-Space Trilogy'' (''[[Recap/DoctorWhoS18E3FullCircle Full Circle]]'', ''[[Recap/DoctorWhoS18E4StateOfDecay State of Decay]]'' and ''[[Recap/DoctorWhoS18E5WarriorsGate Warriors' Gate]]'')
** Following directly on from this was the season-crossing ''Return of the Master'' trilogy, comprising ''[[Recap/DoctorWhoS18E6TheKeeperOfTraken The Keeper of Traken]]'', ''[[Recap/DoctorWhoS18E7Logopolis Logopolis]]'' and ''[[Recap/DoctorWhoS19E1Castrovalva Castrovalva]]'', released as ''New Beginnings'' on DVD as it also took in the Fourth Doctor's [[TheNthDoctor regeneration]] into the Fifth.
** ''The Black Guardian Trilogy'' (''[[Recap/DoctorWhoS20E3MawdrynUndead Mawdryn Undead]]'', ''[[Recap/DoctorWhoS20E4Terminus Terminus]]'' and ''[[Recap/DoctorWhoS20E5Enlightenment Enlightenment]]'') - involving Turlough's relationship with the Black Guardian.
** ''The Trial of a Time Lord'' (Season 23 -- the first 12 episodes consisted of three distinct stories with a common FramingDevice, which took over as the main story for the two-part SeasonFinale)
** In addition, thematic arcs showed up in the classic series: season 18 concerned the theme of entropy and decay, in preparation for the regeneration in the final episode; each serial of season 20 involved the return of a classic enemy, building up to the movie-length special "[[Recap/DoctorWho20thASTheFiveDoctors The Five Doctors]]".
** Seasons 25 and 26 had a story arc of "The Cartmel Masterplan", implying the Doctor had some great secret. The series was cancelled before this could conclude, but some elements made it into the Virgin New Adventures. Here it was claimed the Doctor might be the reincarnation of a mysterious figure from the Dark Times of Gallifrey. However there was also a story arc of Fenric, in "Silver Nemesis" the Doctor seems to be playing chess with an unknown opponent, leading to "The Curse of Fenric", where it is revealed an evil being from the Dawn of Time had been manipulating the 7th Doctor's adventures. This involved ArcWelding with "Dragonfire" in Season 24, revealing the time storm that sent Ace to Iceworld was caused by Fenric so she would travel with the Doctor.
** There was a loose story arc from "Destiny of the Daleks" to "Remembrance of the Daleks" involving the Dalek/Movellan War and Davros attempting to regain power over the Daleks.
** Since the revival, the series has opted for season-long loose arcs, mostly linked together through [[MeaningfulBackgroundEvent recurring phrases and motifs]], though usually unnoticed and not really interfering with the episode's main plots. Series 6 adopted a tighter arc format, though the [[MonsterOfTheWeek episodic format]] remained.
*** Series 1: [[spoiler:'Bad Wolf' was either mentioned or written in the background in every episode apart from "Rose", "World War Three", and "The Empty Child". It was discovered that this was a link between the Doctor and Rose, written through time and space; by the time vortex itself.]]
*** Series 2: [[spoiler:'Torchwood', like Bad Wolf, was incorporated into the Christmas special, and nine of the 13 regular episodes, unbeknown to the main characters. It was discovered in the finale that Torchwood was in fact an organisation devoted to anything alien, but fuelled by their eagerness to catch the Doctor.]]
*** Series 3: [[spoiler:Mr Saxon was mentioned in the episodes set in the present, plus "42", once again, not to the attention of the main characters. Mr Saxon was the new, present prime minister; who is also one of the Doctor's greatest enemies - The Master]]
*** Series 4: [[spoiler: Missing planets, bees disappearing, memory loss, Doctor Donna, building up to a Human Time Lord metacrisis between Donna and the Doctor, Donna being {{Mind Rape}}d by the Doctor, and Davros and the Daleks building a reality bomb out of 27 planets.]]
*** Series 5: [[spoiler: Based around the phrase 'The Pandorica will open'/'Silence will fall' from the very beginning, which was spoken as a warning from many of his foes/friends. The Pandorica was revealed to be a giant box designed by 'the Alliance' to contain the Eleventh Doctor.]].
*** Series 6: [[spoiler:The Doctor's (ultimately faked) death, the identity of River Song, Amy's pregnancy, the Silence, and The Question: Doctor Who?]]
*** Series 7: [[spoiler:The identity of the Doctor's new companion, Clara Oswald, who he met in different identities twice before, and The Question (which is none other than "Doctor Who?").]]
* Surprisingly, ''TheBeverlyHillbillies'' used story arcs in a Network SitCom all the way back in the early 1960s.
** Mrs. Driesdale's multi-episode psychotic breakdown after living next to the Clampets, combined with the Clampets' attempts to "help" her.
** The Clampets' acquisition of an English Manor and their subsequent "War of the Roses" with their alcoholic neighbor. This was spread over several seasons.
** Ellie May's engagement to a "Naval Frogman" and Granny's belief that this means he turns into a frog from the bellybutton down when he gets wet. Lasted most of a season.
* ''BarneyMiller'' had several subplot story arcs running over several years. The most memorable is Ron Harris' development as a published author, which lasted most of the series.
* Probably the oldest one in television is ''Series/ILoveLucy'', which featured several long-running arcs. The most famous is Lucy's pregnancy, which took up a full season from her first learning of it to giving birth and bringing Little Ricky home. Subsequent seasons followed the Ricardos and Mertzes on long trips through Europe, the US, and a stay in Hollywood.
* The re-imagined series of ''Series/{{Battlestar Galactica|Reimagined}}'' had plenty of story arcs, particularly in the first and second seasons, which led to ExecutiveMeddling in the third season for more standalone episodes so that new viewers were not alienated. As a result, the third season is generally not as well liked, and the fourth and final season has resumed a more arc-based approach. The main arcs throughout the series are:
** Finding Earth.
** Roslin's Cancer.
** Baltar's Treachery.
** Starbuck's Destiny.
** The Identity and Origins of the Humanoid Cylons.
* BritCom ''Series/AlloAllo'' might be the most humorously convoluted example of this and certainly for a Sit Com, being a comedy gave the writers numerous excuses to resolve them in absurdist manners.
* ''Series/{{Supernatural}}'' has one every season so far, generally building on the previous arc and moving toward the series' overall MythArc.
** Season One has the boys' search for their father, and the demon that killed their mother by extension.
** Season Two is essentially the same as the first season, save for the fact that they Brothers Winchester are now searching solely for the Yellow-Eyed Demon, [[spoiler:who has now killed John as well.]]
** Season Three deals with the repercussions of [[spoiler:Dean's deal with the Crossroads Demon, Sam's attempts to get Dean out of this deal, and the rise of Lilith later in the season.]]
** Season Four begins to really wrestle with the MythArc, with the boys [[spoiler:trying to prevent Lilith from breaking the 66 Seals and the rise of Lucifer]], and introducing [[spoiler:angels, Dean's own destiny and Sam's growing demon powers.]]
** Season Five is, so far, all about [[spoiler:preventing the Apocalypse now that Lucifer has risen, Sam and Dean's destinies as the true vessels for Lucifer and Michael]], and to a smaller extent, [[spoiler:rebuilding the brothers' relationship]].
** Season Six has multiple interconnected plot lines: [[spoiler: the loss and return of Sam's soul (and in turn, the potential return of his memories of Hell), the civil war in Heaven, Crowley's search for Purgatory, and the coming of the Mother of All to Earth.]]
** Season Seven deals with the fallout from [[spoiler: Castiel opening Purgatory]] at the end of the previous season, primarily the release of the [[EldritchAbomination Leviathans]] and their plans to TakeOverTheWorld.
** Season Eight deals with an attempt at closing the gates of Hell ''forever''.
** Season Nine has multiple plot lines dealing with the fallout from the previous season -- [[spoiler: Dean trying to save Sam's life and the consequences, Castiel dealing with the loss (and eventual regaining) of his grace, the civil war among the angels cast out of Heaven, Metatron acting to secure his place as new ruler of Heaven, and the power struggle between Crowley and Abbadon for control of Hell.]]
* In any given season, ''TheWire'' [[ViewersAreGeniuses tends to have half-a-dozen story arcs at one time. At least. And they are all awesome]].
* Disney's {{Zorro}}, which ran in the late 1950s was organized into arc stories, rather than simply being episodic. Each episode set up a new set of troubles that Zorro would have to deal with in the next episode in logical, linear fashion.
* Each season of ''Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer'' has an arc spanning [[HalfArcSeason half its run.]]
** Season 1: The Master's attempts to escape his [[SealedEvilInACan can]] and [[TheEndOfTheWorldAsWeKnowIt open the Hellmouth]].
** Season 2: Technically the fights between Buffy and Spike count as an arc, but the ''real'' arc doesn't start until [[FaceHeelTurn Angel loses his soul]] and becomes [[EnemyWithin Angelus again]].
** Season 3: The Mayor's plans to become a pure demon, and [[DarkActionGirl Faith's]] [[spoiler:[[FallenHero fall from good]] and her eventual FaceHeelTurn]].
** Season 4: Buffy adjusting to college life and dealing with [[GovernmentConspiracy The Initiative]], whose experiments ultimately lead to the rise of [[HalfHumanHybrid Adam]].
** Season 5: Buffy dealing with Dawn's arrival, [[spoiler: Joyce's]] death, and [[PhysicalGod Glory's]] plans.
** Season 6: Willow dealing with her addiction to magic, and Buffy trying to provide for Dawn while also getting tormented by the Trio.
** Season 7: [[MadeOfEvil The First Evil]] attempts to [[TheEndOfTheWorldAsWeKnowIt open the Hellmouth]], while Buffy builds an army of Potential Slayers to fight it.
* Spinoff ''Series/{{Angel}}'' also had several storyarcs per season:
** Season 1 focused on Angel's first attempts of going against the law-firm Wolfram & Hart while also growing accustomed to his new "family" of Cordelia, Doyle, and later Wesley.
** Season 2 featured Wolfram & Hart using Angel's old flame Darla in a plan to cause him to cross the DespairEventHorizon, with a shorter sub-arc at the end featuring the Angel Investigations team having to travel to Lorne's home dimension to rescue Cordelia.
** Season 3 had Angel becoming a father while an enemy from his past arrived in the present Day to try and get his final revenge on the vampire.
** Season 4 focuses on the now broken Angel Investigations team [[PuttingTheBandBackTogether joining up again]] to ultimately go against a threat has ties with Angel's son.
** Season 5 features the team now taking control over of Wolfram & Hart while Angel suffers an internal HeroicBSOD that makes him question what he's fighting for that's brought upon thanks to the arrival of Spike.
* ''Series/{{CSI}}'' did one with the "Miniature Killer", so called because they would leave a perfect scale model of the crime scene there, and which served as the set up at the end to put one of the regulars [[PutOnABus on a bus]].
* ''Series/{{Dexter}}'' has naturally fallen into this, as its entire first season was an adaptation of one novel. Subsequent seasons have each carried their own story arc.
** Season 1 focuses on the hunt for the ruthless Ice Truck Killer, who is revealed in the end to be [[spoiler:Dexter's lost brother Brian Moser.]]
** Season 2 revolves around [[spoiler:Dexter's victims' bodies being discovered. Miami Metro Homicide names the mysterious serial killer the Bay Harbor Butcher and, with the help of the FBI, begins their hunt for him. This means Dexter needs to be a step ahead of his team at all times, particularly Doakes, who already suspects him. Paralleling the story is Dexter's relationship with Lila, his sponsor at Narcotics Anonymous.]]
** Season 3 introduces Miguel Prado, who ends up [[spoiler:discovering Dexter's secret. The next few episodes explore the consequences of this discovery.]]
** Season 4 centers around Dexter's life as [[spoiler:a family man; fathering Harrison, living with Rita and the kids, etcetera, while in the meantime Miami is visited by a serial killer called "Trinity". Dexter ends up befriending him while secretly investigating him.]]
** Season 5 pits Dexter [[spoiler:and his new partner Lumen]] against a gang of serial rapists led by [[spoiler:motivational speaker Jordan Chase.]]
** Season 6 opts for a religion-centric plot, where a mysterious force dubbed the Doomsday Killer strikes in Miami and uses his victims' bodies to enact tableaus from the Book of Revelations. It also sees the [[spoiler:promotion of Debra Morgan to the position of Lieutenant, and further explores her relationship with her brother.]]
** Season 7 opens with [[spoiler:Deb having walked in on Dexter having killed Travis Marshall. The rest of the season deals with Deb's loyalty to Dexter being tested. [[FromBadToWorse Especially when her Captain LaGuerta comes across a blood slide on the crime scene and starts trying to look into the Bay Harbor Butcher again, believing Doakes to be innocent.]]]]
* ''{{Weeds}}'' contains over-arcing storylines, although they aren't necessarily clearly-defined between seasons, and they sometimes aren't so much resolved as they are escaped from. This gives it a quality of drifting from situation to situation that fits its stoner subject matter, while characters from unresolved plotlines sometimes resurface later.
* ''Series/{{iCarly}}'' has an arc that started from the final episode of Season 4, titled ''iOMG'' and continues in the first four episodes of Season 5, dealing with Sam's feelings for Freddie. Notable in being one of the only examples of a KidCom having a StoryArc, especially for the big two of DisneyChannel and {{Nickelodeon}}.
* ''Series/{{Seinfeld}}'', despite being a "show about nothing", did have a few plotlines that ran in the background of several seasons: Kramer writing and publishing a coffee table book ([[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin about coffee tables]]), Jerry and George writing a [[ShowWithinAShow TV pilot]], George's engagement to Susan, etc.
* ''WizardsOfWaverlyPlace'' is known for its many story arcs. Each season had quite a few of them, most of them running concurrently.
** Season 2: The "Wizards vs. Vampires" arc, which dealt with Justin's relationship with Juliet and her parents.
** Season 3: The "Chronicles of Moises" arc, which dealt with Justin becoming a monster hunter, and Max releasing his conscience. This arc ended with Juliet being captured by the mummy. The next arc in Season 3 was the "Wizards vs. Werewolves" saga, which detailed Alex's growing relationship with Mason, and eventually tied itself with the "Chronicles of Moises" arc. The "Stevie" arc followed, and dealt with Stevie's arrival in New York and her wizard revolution. The "Wizards Exposed" arc came next, where the Russo's are captured and taken to a government facility.
** Season 4: The beginning of Season 4 continued the "Wizards Exposed" arc, which ended with Alex and Justin having to start over in the wizard competition, and Alex deciding to get back in so she could be with Mason. The next arc was the "Maxine" arc, where Max was transformed into a little girl named Maxine. It began with "Three Maxes and a Little Lady", and concluded with "Back To Max". The "Maxine" arc ran concurrently with the next major arc, the "Wizards vs. Angels" saga, which dealt with the Angels of Darkness. The last major arc was the "Apartment 13B" arc, starting with "Wizards of Apartment 13B" and ending with "Wizards vs. Everything". The last arc merges the "Wizards vs. Angels" arc with the "Wizards vs. Werewolves" arc.
* Each season of ''RoundTheTwist'' has a different arc. The first two seasons contained different [[UnfinishedBusiness ghost stories]], [[WidgetSeries for Season 3 it was a Viking Love Book]], and Season five concerned a mysterious knight [[spoiler:from Atlantis]].
* Each of season ''WhiteCollar'' revolve around a specific overarching storyline that continues from the previous one
** Season 1: Neal's search for Kate and [[spoiler: the music box that would lead to her]].
** Season 2: [[spoiler:The mystery of Kate's music box, and its connection to [[BigBad Vincent Adler]].]]
** Season 3: [[spoiler: Vincent Adler's U-boat treasure that the box hid, Matthew Keller's return, and Neal's commutation.]]
* ''TheWestWing'' had plenty of story arcs, though they didn't always break down along the lines of a season (for example, the arc about Bartlet being investigated by Congress for [[spoiler:hiding his multiple sclerosis]] began late in season 2 and carried on into the first half of season 3, and the re-election arc stretched from late season 3 to early season 4). Even the Democratic party's primary (for more on what that is, see [[UsefulNotes/AmericanPoliticalSystem here]]) to nominate their candidate to succeed Bartlet was an arc stretching across the second half of the penultimate season. The final season was mostly one long arc about the election of the next president, though that season did have a few other arcs as well.
* ''Series/TwentyFour'' has one constant ongoing storyarc per season, each of which can also be broken up into 3-4 sub-arcs.
* The major story arc for the first four seasons of ''Series/{{JAG}}'' was Harm’s search for his long lost father, although it was latent in most episodes not directly addressing it.
* ''Series/OnlyFoolsAndHorses'': First done due to RealLifeWritesThePlot in series 4, the first three episodes of which saw Grandad's death and Uncle Albert's introduction to the family. The show started doing full story arcs after the the ReTool, with series 6 encompassing Rodney and Cassandra's relationship and marriage, series 7 featuring the troubles of the same relationship alongside Raquel's re-introduction and subsequent pregnancy, and the 1996 and 2001-2003 trilogies both containing their own Story Arcs.
* ''Series/AgentsOfSHIELD'' has a storyline that cleverly evolves over the course of the season: Initially, it's about Coulson's team investigating and combating the machinations of [[NebulousEvilOrganization Project Centipede]], but about halfway through, the group is all captured, save for their [[TheGhost mysterious]] leader, [[BigBad The Clairvoyant]]. The series then becomes increasingly about the hunt for the Clairvoyant, until near the end of the season, when he's revealed to be [[spoiler: one of [[Film/CaptainAmericaTheWinterSoldier HYDRA's moles in SHIELD]]]]. After this, the remainder of the season is dedicated to [[spoiler: the CivilWar between the loyal SHIELD agents and their HYDRA counterparts]].
* ''Series/{{Arrow}}'', due to essentially running two shows simultaneously (the present day and flashbacks to Oliver's time on the island), manages to have two distinct, but usually [[ArcWelding connected]], story arcs per season:
** Season 1: The flashbacks are about Oliver first arriving on the island and becoming caught in a fight against [[PrivateMilitaryContractor Edward Fryers]]' mercenary forces; the present day storyline is about Oliver returning to Starling City, first becoming a vigilante, and uncovering the truth of [[BigBad Malcolm Merlyn]]'s conspiracy to [[spoiler: destroy the Glades]].
** Season 2: The flashbacks are about Oliver and his allies facing off against [[MadScientist Dr. Ivo]] for the [[PsychoSerum Mirakuru]] [[spoiler: and Slade's FaceHeelTurn]]; the present is about Oliver trying to become a true hero, while dealing with the schemes of [[DarkMessiah Brother Blood]] [[spoiler: and [[TheManBehindTheMan Slade]]]].
* ''Series/{{Veep}}'':
** Season 1: Selina's attempts to pass the "clean jobs" bill, and the political fallout when it falls through.
** Season 2: The hostage crisis in Uzbekistan and the resulting Presidential scandal.
** Season 3: [[spoiler: Selina running for President]].
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Newspaper Comics]]
* ''BeetleBailey'' doesn't usually have much continuity, but over the decades, there have been a handful of arcs connecting the strips (actual longer stories for albums notwithstanding), including at least "Beetle arrives at college," "Beetle joins the army," "Beetle goes home on holiday alone," "Beetle goes home on holiday with Sarge," "Beetle goes on holiday at home with Sarge and Otto," "Zero goes on holiday home with Beetle and Sarge," and "Sarge briefly tries to leave the army but comes back."
* ''CalvinAndHobbes'' has several, some of them connecting into larger arcs, like the ones involving different uses of the same invention (all of which inventions tend to be the same cardboard box in different positions anyway).
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Video Games ]]

* Several games with multiple playable characters provide a complete campaign for each of them, in which not only there might be unique storylines, but also aspects that are benefitial to the gameplay (i.e. the character has special abilities or weapons that have to be exploited to tackle their corresponding levels or chapters). ''VideoGame/JetForceGemini'', for instance, has Juno's, Vela's and Lupus' routes, followed by a quest to repair an ancient ship, and then the FinalBoss battle.
* ''Franchise/ResidentEvil'':
** ''VideoGame/ResidentEvil2'': Leon's and Claire's campaigns.
** ''VideoGame/ResidentEvil6'': Leon's, Chris's and Jake's campaigns, followed by Ada's campaign which is available after all others are completed.
** In ''VideoGame/ResidentEvil4'', there are two characters and each has a campaign as well, but the second character's (Ada) is more of an AnotherSideAnotherStory variation, available after beating Leon's campaign (itself divided into three arcs based on the major locales of the setting: Village, castle and military island, in that order).
* The ''Franchise/SonicTheHedgehog'' series has had a three-game Story Arc dealing with Shadow. It started in ''VideoGame/SonicAdventure2'', continued in ''VideoGame/SonicHeroes'' and resolved in ''ShadowTheHedgehog''. ''[[VideoGame/SonicTheHedgehog2 Sonic 2]]'' and ''[[VideoGame/Sonic3AndKnuckles Sonic 3]]'', and ''[[VideoGame/Sonic3AndKnuckles Sonic & Knuckles]]'' were also part of a StoryArc called the "Death Egg Saga", as the games deal with Sonic's attempts to stop Dr. Eggman from launching the Death Egg. ''VideoGame/SonicTheHedgehog4'' is a continuation of the "Death Egg Saga", since Eggman launches the Death Egg mk II in ''Episode II''. An in-game example is the character-based arcs in ''VideoGame/SonicTheHedgehog2006'', which has Sonic's, Shadow's and Silver's routes, followed by Last Story which is only playable when all others are completed.
* In ''CityOfHeroes'' series of missions are actually referred to as story arcs, another way to capture the feel of comic books.
* Each of the original games in the ''Franchise/WhenTheyCry'' series are their own arc. Later remakes tend to have multiple arcs in one game though.
* ''VideoGame/TheKingOfFighters'' splits up its [[VideoGameLongRunners ongoing]], [[ContinuityCreep sometimes confusing]] plot into arcs, each with [[CommutingOnABus rotating]] [[TheProtagonist protagonist]] duties. ''[='94=]'' was a stand-alone title meant to kick off this MascotFighter, but is now commonly referred to as "The [[StarterVillain Rugal]] Saga." ''[='95=]'' simultaneously ends this story with [[BloodKnight Rugal's]] KarmicDeath via SuperpowerMeltdown and begins "The {{Orochi}} Saga", which climaxes in ''[='97=]'' when [[TheHero Kyo Kusanagi]] [[MegatonPunch literally]] [[DidYouJustPunchOutCthulhu punches out Orochi]] with help from [[TheRival Iori Yagami]] and [[BarrierMaiden Chizuru Kagura]]. ''[='99=]''-''2001'' was "The [[NebulousEvilOrganisation NESTS]] Chronicles", chronicling an evil cartel's [[TakeOverTheWorld plans for world domination]] using the DNA of a captured Kyo to create human bioweapons. One of these "Kyo clones" [[note]][[CloningBlues "clones"]] in this case referring to [[CloneByConversion regular humans injected with the DNA of another person]]; there ''are'' more traditional clones in the series, but most adhere to the former definition[[/note]] is [[AntiHeroSubstitute K']], a [[TheStoic stoic]] KnightInSourArmor who ends NESTS' ambitions by defeating their top-ranked executives. ''2003'' started "The Tales of [[TheTrickster Ash]]", detailing Ash Crimson, [[HiddenAgendaVillain a enigmatic man]] [[ManipulativeBastard who uses others for his own purposes]], and [[StandardEvilOrganizationSquad Those From the Past]], a mysterious cult intent on [[SealedEvilInACan unsealing]] Orochi. ''XIII'' seems to be the conclusion for this part of the story, as [[spoiler:Ash, a GuileHero, enacts a [[CosmicRetcon time-rewriting]] HeroicSacrifice to stop Those From the Past and [[BigBad their leader Saiki]].]] Fans can generally expect a new arc to pick up if the last title was a DreamMatchGame.
* The ''Franchise/{{Kirby}}'' series had a StoryArc nicknamed the "Dark Matter Trilogy" consisting of ''VideoGame/KirbysDreamLand2'', ''VideoGame/KirbysDreamLand3'', and ''VideoGame/Kirby64TheCrystalShards'' because all three deal with Kirby and his animal friends dealing with the threat of Dark Matter on Pop Star and its solar system. These games were not produced by Creator/MasahiroSakurai but Shinichi Shimomura. This is noticeable because all three share a puzzle-solving structure instead of the more combat-oriented structure of the other games.
* ''VideoGame/{{Xenoblade}}'' has five story arcs. The first one is the Xord arc, where the heroes first leave their attacked hometown and have their first encounter with a talking Face Mechon. The second arc, the Prison Island arc, continues their search for Metal Face, the Mechon that destroyed their hometown, climaxing with a battle at the titular Prison Island. The third is the [[spoiler:Mumkhar]] arc, in which Metal Face's true nature and intents are discovered and he is stopped once and for all. The fourth arc is the Egil arc, when the heroes infiltrate Mechonis to fight against Egil, the leader of Mechonis. After the Mechonis Core event, the final arc is the [[spoiler:Zanza]] arc, where [[spoiler:the Monado[=/=]Zanza takes over Bionis and threatens to destroy everything]].
* The ''Franchise/{{Castlevania}}'' series is often organized into two-part arcs which take place during one generation of [[BadassFamily Belmont]]. For example, ''VideoGame/CastlevaniaI''/its remakes and ''VideoGame/CastlevaniaIISimonsQuest'' consist the story of Simon's attacks on {{Dracula}}, and the ''[[VideoGame/CastlevaniaChroniclesOfSorrow Sorrow]]'' duology is an arc that deals with Soma Cruz and his attempts to escape his supposed destiny as the reincarnation of {{Dracula}}.
* The ''SilentHill'' series has the Harry Mason / Alessa Gillespie story arc in ''SilentHill1'', ''3'', and ''Origins'' (a {{prequel}}).
* In ''VideoGame/{{Earthbound}}'', the game has two main goals: Enhance Ness's power by finding eight melodies and shattering a "nightmare rock," then defeat [[BigBad Giygas]]. However, Giygas causes many sub-plots that break into two major story arcs. The first is the Eagleland arc, which has four sub-arcs and mainly deals with the illusion device known as the Mani Mani Statue and the growing threat of one of its victims, [[spoiler: Pokey/Porky Minch.]] After destroying the Mani Mani Statue and the Clumsy Robot, the bodyguard of the Statue's last victim Geldegarde Monotoli, there is a small interlude involving obtaining the fourth melody which leads to the Summers-Scaraba-Deep Darkness arc, involving the mysteries presented about a pyramid in Scaraba and a swamp called Deep Darkness, which is revealed to guard the last two melodies. After all eight melodies are gathered, one small, last story arc begins: the completion of the original two goals given, which is accomplished by defeating Ness's Nightmare inside his mind and then defeating Giygas [[spoiler: and Porky]] after travelling to the past.
* In ''VideoGame/{{Okami}}'', the game is neatly divided into three story arcs: The Orochi story arc regarding the release of Orochi and the terror he tries to release upon the world, the Capital Arc regarding a strange mist covering the capital of and the threats of the Water Dragon terrorizing the seas and the Dark Lord that seems to be the mastermind behind everything, and the Kamui Arc, which takes place on the northern, frozen mountains of Nippon and several mini-arcs take place as different plot points are solved so there's nothing undisclosed by the end of the story: The backstory of Issun and his hometown, the threat of two twin demons in the shape of mechanical owls that plan to freeze the land of Kamui over, the true backstory of the first arc and, finally, the appearance of TheVeryDefinitelyFinalDungeon and every aspect related to it (its origin, the fate of its former inhabitants, and the nature of the TrueFinalBoss in the form of [[spoiler:Yami, the Lord of Darkness]]).
* Some ''Franchise/TheLegendOfZelda'' titles start with a story arc that involves exploring a trio of dungeons to find PlotCoupon tools that may help Link defeat Ganon, or another villain, the easy way. When plans don't work as intended or something unexpected happens, then Link has to reconsider his plans and then it's when he tries to do what it takes to defeat the BigBad the hard, but more effective way. The games that follow this pattern are ''[[VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaALinkToThePast A Link to the Past]]'', ''[[VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaOcarinaOfTime Ocarina of Time]]'', ''[[VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaTheWindWaker The Wind Waker]]''[[note]]in which, uniquely for the series, just looking for the Master Sword after collecting all three Goddess Pearls and then use it to rescue Aryll and confront Ganon spans an entire arc on its own. There is another dedicated to finding and assembling the Triforce of Courage, too.[[/note]], ''[[VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaTwilightPrincess Twilight Princess]]'', and ''[[VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaPhantomHourglass Phantom Hourglass]]''. ''[[VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaSkywardSword Skyward Sword]]'' follows a similar pattern, except the unexpected twist comes ''before he even attempts to get rid of the villain'' (during the first third of the game, his only objective is to find Zelda; in the second, he seeks to create the Master Sword ''just to manage to reunite with Zelda again''); only after six dungeons, eight boss battles and lots of adventuring, it's when he finally starts a new quest (long on its own) to get rid of the BigBad once and for all.
* ''Franchise/KingdomHearts'' has 8 whole games, from the original to the long-anticipated ''VideoGame/KingdomHeartsIII'', forming what Creator/TetsuyaNomura refers to as the "Xehanort Saga" or "Seeker of Darkness Chronicle." Also, ''VideoGame/{{Kingdom Hearts|I}}'', ''VideoGame/KingdomHeartsChainOfMemories'' and ''VideoGame/KingdomHeartsII'' in of themselves form a story arc of Sora, Donald and Goofy attempting to save the universe while seeking to reunite with their friends (Riku, Kairi and King Mickey).
* ''VideoGame/KidIcarusUprising'' is split into multiple arcs. It starts with the Medusa arc, which spans the first nine chapters. [[spoiler:But then the game pulls a YourPrincessIsInAnotherCastle and Hades shows up, and Viridi a chapter later. Those four chapters deal with the three-way war of the gods. Then we get three chapters of an alien invasion. Then the Chaos Kin throws the story off the rails, and that arc lasts for five chapters. After a one chapter arc of getting Pit back into shape, it takes one more three chapter arc for him to get the necessary equipment to take down Hades once and for all.]]
* The ''{{Descent}}'' trilogy has a continuous arc, each sequel directly continuing from the previous game.
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Webcomics ]]

* You'd be hard pressed to find a ''SluggyFreelance'' strip that doesn't lead up to or follow up on another strip. Most of them do both. Even if you counted sub-chapters (technically called stories, so calling them arcs as well is a bit redundant) or even chapters for "episodes", there are still storylines arcing over those, up to MythArc level. Even the FillerStrips often come in series (of stories, not just strips): The Return of Stick-Figure Week!
* In the tradition of old-style NewspaperComics serials (the author/narrator has mentioned a fondness for [[MandrakeTheMagician Lee Falk's]] catchphrase, "Next--New Adventure!"), the story arcs in ''TheInexplicableAdventuresOfBob'' each have a clear beginning and ending, usually with a couple of [[BreatherEpisode stand-alone]] strips in between arcs. These arcs run for months, although they usually only cover a day or two in-universe.
* Everything except filler in ''Webcomic/ElGoonishShive''. Also has a MythArc, though it has spent the past few years lurking in the background.
* LivingWithInsanity used to be a comic strip with the occasional story arc, but now is mostly story arcs.
* Both [[http://www.drunkduck.com/Dragon_City Dragon City]] and WebComic/{{Jix}} both started off as a gag-a-day strips, despite having an ongoing story, but both became arc based. This is because the writer has a hard time writing jokes without having a story in place to joke about.
* ''Webcomic/ThePackrat'' had only one StoryArc so far, and that was the time travel story from January 2011 to February 2012.
* Webcomic/TheBugPond has the Masquerade Mayhem story arc.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Web Original]]
* The web fiction serial ''Literature/DimensionHeroes'' has an ongoing story arc, broken up into several smaller books.
* The Website/EpicTales series Shadow Hawk has an ongoing arc about Shadow Hawk wanting to get revenge on the Shapeshifter, who killed his father. It also has a subplot arc about how he got a girl pregnant in the first story.
* Each 'chapter' of TheMadScientistWars is usually a self contained storyline- but as the gae has been going on, more and more storylines will run somewhat through other chapter. For instance, 'Chic's Family' has been going on since the Mad Sci Con chapter.
* WebVideo/AtopTheFourthWall has had these ever since Mechakara's introduction.
* WebVideo/TheNostalgiaCritic's had a long-running, slightly YoYoPlotPoint one about his love/hate relationship with his job.
* WebVideo/TheNostalgiaChick's had a few, the most obvious being the Dark Nella Saga.
* WebVideo/DemoReel had Donnie's DarkAndTroubledPast, a SWAG leader wanting to destroy the production team and general learning-from-your-mistakes.
* Although the setting in Roleplay/WeAreOurAvatars is easily changed with some effective roleplaying, some longer arcs have been implemented. After the move to Role-playing, there's always been one.
** Also, an Alternate Universe resolution to the final conflict of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha Striker S tied in to @/{{Mapi}}'s Mega Crossover fanfic.
** A truly epic arc concerning vampires, which began with the introduction of an Alternate Universe Future Badass version of Flandre Scarlet and came to its conclusion with the defeat of none other than The Lord of Evil, Dracula himself. The more over-arcing Are machines sentient? arc, began with the freeing of Dee and her sister Bit.
** One of the largest involved [[Manga/FullmetalAlchemist Father]]'s attemps to remake the multiverse, and destroy the Fourth Wall.
** Anyone who wants to can usually kick off an arc, and several plots sometimes run at once. Fortunately, this doesn't seem to have become too confusing.
* ''Roleplay/PokemonDigimonMonWars'' is divided into three arcs so far;
** Orange Islands Arc: Based on the FillerArc and Pokemon2000 from the {{Pokemon}} anime
** Myotismon Arc: A variation of Myotismon's invasion of Tokyo, but instead on a large chunk of kanto
** Dark Masters Arc: Current arc, with the Dark Masters merging the digital world with Johto and Orre into Spiral Mountain
* ''Roleplay/WeAreAllPokemonTrainers'' has numerous arcs brought into several sagas:
** J-Team Assemble Saga: The assemblage of the J-Team and its codification as a concept, consisting of the Sinnoh, PMD-1, Unova-1, Ranger, and Gold Conference Arcs.
** Upheaval Saga: The AU Arc.
** Aftershock Saga: Dealing with the aftermath of the AU and consisting of the OI, Hoenn, and Infinity Keystone and Kanjoh-1 arcs.
** Paths Saga: The PMD-R and Kanjoh-2 arcs, taking place partially concurrently.
** Cipher Saga: The J-Team's fight against Cipher, consisting of the Unova-2, Holonquest, and Orre arcs.

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Western Animation ]]
* In ''WesternAnimation/FamilyGuy'', Peter's cut-away-battles with the giant chicken eventually form an arc, of sorts.
* The first season of the ''WesternAnimation/{{Dilbert}}'' animated series had a story arc regarding the company's new flagship product: The Gruntmaster 3000. It covered things such as producing, marketing, and site-testing. The story was frequently broken up with non-arc episodes.
* ''WesternAnimation/ExoSquad'' had not only the primary story arc (the struggle between the Terrans and the [[DesignerBabies Neo Sapiens]]), but it was also broken into smaller four or five episode long mini arcs, with the action typically focusing on a particular theater of the war. On the DVD release, each mini-arc gets its own name in addition to the episode titles.
* ''WesternAnimation/JusticeLeagueUnlimited'' had one in the second season, dealing with the fight between the League and Project Cadmus, and another in the third season focusing on the Secret Society''/''LegionOfDoom.
* ''Franchise/{{Transformers}}: WesternAnimation/BeastWars'' had arcs a-plenty. The first season often leaving a viewer wondering WhatHappenedToTheMouse, until, several episodes later, just when they'd almost forgotten, it was revealed. The second and third seasons, however, are more serialized. Skip an episode, and you'll miss at least one thing that's worth knowing later. You won't be left completely hanging, but you won't get what's going on as well as a more devoted viewer, either.
** The SequelSeries, ''WesternAnimation/BeastMachines,'' has some of the [[ContinuityLockout strongest continuity]] of any cartoon ever aired. The whole thing is a series of Arcs.
** ''WesternAnimation/TransformersAnimated'' follows arc structure as well, with Season 1 focusing on Megatron's attempts to rebuild his body (with his eventual success covered in the finale), and Season 2 dealing with the Decepticons' plot to build a space bridge to Cybertron. Season 3 is a bit more fluid, possibly because a lot of loose ends are getting tied up.
* Though his [[ExecutiveMeddling higher-ups]] demanded a strictly MerchandiseDriven series, story editor John Semper managed to "sneak in" overarching storylines and development into ''WesternAnimation/SpiderManTheAnimatedSeries''. Naming each season and referring to episodes as "chapters" probably didn't hurt. By the time they realized what he had done, and despite limited animation and extremely restrictive censorship, the show had become the number 1 cartoon in America. Nonetheless, they still didn't let him join in on the ''WesternAnimation/SpiderManUnlimited'' spinoff, which was primarily stand-alone format and petered out after barely reaching 13 episodes.
** ''WesternAnimation/TheSpectacularSpiderMan'' also has story arcs: four per season (with one arc having four episodes and the rest having three.) Each episode in an arc has a ThemeNaming title.
* The ''WesternAnimation/{{X-Men}}'' cartoon of the 90s did this as well, going through a number of arcs that were featured in the comic books, including the Phoenix and Dark Phoenix sagas.
* The 1981 ''Spider-Man'' cartoon (the solo one, before ''[[WesternAnimation/SpiderManAndHisAmazingFriends Amazing Friends]]'') had a story arc, stretched across five episodes, surrounding Doctor Doom's attempts to conquer the world and the developing situation in his home country of Latveria.
* ''WesternAnimation/{{Gargoyles}}'' had a subtle arc about Brooklyn's coming of age that became a flaring beacon of story awesomeness in the episode, "Kingdom," when you realize this is what the previous Brooklyn stories have been building toward. Also, there are multi-episode arcs that are more blatant, most infamously the "Avalon World Tour".
* The second season of ''WesternAnimation/SonicSatAM'' started off more continuity-based to begin with, then kicked into full-on, development-a-week arc mode with the launch of the Doomsday Project.
* ''WesternAnimation/IronManArmoredAdventures'', in addition to its main MythArc, features other story arcs, usually following a specific character over the course of the show (for example, the Living Laser's origin and him figuring out what to do with his new powers and then his eventual downfall). These story arcs also end up combining and become more narrow as the show goes on (The Living Laser story arc ends up fusing with the A.I.M story arc later on).
* ''[[WesternAnimation/AvatarTheLastAirbender Avatar: The Last Airbender's]]'' MythArc is divided by its three seasons, which are titled "books". Book 1 is Water, Book 2 is Earth, and Book 3 is Fire. As the names suggest, each arc deals heavily with Aang mastering the elements involved. Also, while Book 1 was more or less one whole arc, each half of Book 2 and Book 3 could be divided into arcs: the Earthbending Training arc, the Ba Sing Se arc, the pre-Solar Eclipse Invasion arc, and the pre-Sozin's Comet / Firebending Training arc.
* ''WesternAnimation/TheSecretSaturdays'' has this:
** Season One: The Kur Stone Puzzle
** Season Two: Finding Kur
** Season Three: [[spoiler:Zak IS Kur]]
* Though ''WesternAnimation/BatmanTheBraveAndTheBold'' mostly uses stand alone stories, they do occasionally throw in hints of story arcs, such as [[spoiler: Equinox, the Starro story arc and the arrival of {{Darkseid}}]].
* Each ''WesternAnimation/TeenTitans'' season has an overarching plotline, related to one of the core characters:
** Season One focuses on Robin, with [[ManipulativeBastard Slade]] as the BigBad; the story is mostly about how the two characters are and aren't NotSoDifferent.
** Season Two focuses on Beast Boy and moreso on [[spoiler:{{Sixth Ranger Traitor}}]] Terra, who is [[spoiler:manipulated by Slade to become TheMole and ultimately TheDragon]].
** Season Three deals with Cyborg and his escalating enmity with [[DiabolicalMastermind Brother Blood]], who has stolen and abused Cyborg's own technology.
** Season Four is about Raven and her attempts to avert her destiny- opening a portal to allow her demonic father Trigon the chance to escape his [[SealedEvilInACan can]] and conquer the universe.
** Season Five focuses on the team as a whole and their efforts to stop [[LegionOfDoom the Brotherhood of Evil]] from wiping out a generation of superheroes.
* ''WesternAnimation/JackieChanAdventures'' and its seasonal arcs.
** Season One: The search for Shendu's talismans.
** Season Two: Defeating Shendu's demon siblings.
** Season Three: Finding the animals with the talismans' powers.
** Season Four: Finding the Shadowkhan masks.
** Season Five: The search for the chi of the demon sorcerers.
* Each season of the ''TotalDrama'' series is essentially this, with a different cast lineup, elimination order, and winner in each one.
* ''WesternAnimation/SouthPark'' has had several story arcs along with multi-part episodes. Season 3 brought a three-part story arc often called "[[FanNickname The Meteor Shower Trilogy]]", in which each episode was a seperate story about different members of the main cast which all take place on the same night. A three-part mini-arc in season 4 involved Mr. Garrison coming out of the closet, and an arc lasting through the entirety of season 6 involved the absence of Kenny and attempts to replace him.
* The first season of ''WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic'' has a loose arc about the Mane Six preparing for the Grand Galloping Gala, culminating in them attending it in the season finale. It's only mentioned in about [[HalfArcSeason three or four episodes total in the season]], but that's still more acknowledged continuity than the show normally has.
** Season 3 begins featuring an arc concerning the Equestria Games that's continued into the fourth season, with a few episodes featuring the cast preparing for it.
** At the end of the Season 4 premiere, the Mane Six receive a mysterious box [[spoiler: from the Tree of Harmony after giving up the Elements of Harmony]] with six keyholes in it. Then, over the course of the season, each of them minus Twilight has at least one focus episode that ends with them receiving a gift that [[{{Foreshadowing}} gives off a rainbow glow]]. The season finale reveals that these are the keys in disguise, with Twilight receiving hers just in time to open the box and use its contents [[spoiler: (the [[SuperMode Rainbow Power]])]] to defeat the finale's BigBad, [[spoiler: [[VileVillainSaccharineShow Lord Tirek]]]].
* ''ScoobyDoo'': ''WesternAnimation/{{The 13 Ghosts Of Scooby Doo}}'' has Scooby, Shaggy, Daphne, Scrappy and newcomer Flim Flam charged with returning 13 ghosts to a chest of demons, [[CutShort unfortunately it ended prematurely after only thirteen episodes and only 11 ghosts returned]].
** ''WesternAnimation/ScoobyDooMysteryIncorporated'' has the gang unraveling the mystery of a cursed treasure and has since uncovered the whereabouts of the previous Mystery Inc. gang.
* ''WesternAnimation/AmericanDad'' has several...
** The infamous "Golden Turd" saga, which was seen in "Homeland Insecurity" and "Failure is Not a Factory-Installed Option" before concluding in "Rapture's Delight".
** Then there's the arc about Hayley's relationship with Reginald the koala.
** Another began when Roger tricked Jeff into being carried off into space at the end of "Naked to the Limit, One More Time", which led to Hayley coming to terms with his loss in "Spelling Bee My Baby" and "The Missing Kink" before Jeff returns in "Lost in Space".
* At first glance, ''WesternAnimation/AdventureTime'' appears to deal almost exclusively in goofy one-off episodes -- but within that format are multiple complex arcs. Many relate to the origins/histories of Ooo and its different inhabitants, but their ongoing relationships and possible destinies have become more dominant since the end of season three (which introduced the show's first real villain, the Lich). The show also makes prominent use of [[TheBusCameBack returning buses]], and just about everything is guaranteed to become a RewatchBonus at some point.
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