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Chaos Architecture
Apparently Peach renovates as many times as she gets kidnapped.

Maria: It's strange... this castle is different than I remember it.
Alucard: This castle is a creature of Chaos. It may take many incarnations.
Maria: Then I can't rely on my memories, huh? Oh well, I'll do my best. Good luck.

A TV show usually has a number of recurring locations: the protagonist's house, his workplace, the Local Hangout, you name it. Soon enough, the appearance of these locations becomes very familiar to the viewer... until this trope happens.

This is sort of a The Other Darrin, but for sets: a location, which is said to be the same we know is now represented by a different set. It goes beyond a simple redecoration: the interior is completely different, as if someone destroyed a building from the inside and rebuilt it with a different layout in mind. And for more cognitive dissonance, there is no explanation for the change, the outside shot remains the same and the characters act like they don't even notice it.

This often happens between an unaired pilot and the actual pilot (no examples for this case, please), between the pilot and the second episode, and between a season finale and the next season premiere.

This trope can also be seen in Video Games when a location that is available in multiple games in one series changes considerably between two games without any in-story justification. This is one of the Acceptable Breaks from Reality as no one wants to explore the same actual area game after game (unless the gameplay is focused away from level layout). A clever game designer make things look different by changing the various Insurmountable Waist Height Fences and Invisible Walls, but often it's as if someone just tore down buildings and geography and rebuilt them from scratch, in different locations. If a Justified Trope, it's because something changed (or blew up) the world on a fundamental level.

For aversions, see Remixed Level, Hard Mode Filler, and good old fashioned Backtracking.

Rogue-like games usually feature Chaos Architecture as part of the genre, in the form of randomly generated dungeons.

See also Bag of Spilling, Expansion Pack World. Do not confuse with Bizarrchitecture or Alien Geometries (though the latter may be used as an in-universe justification). Not related to The Maze.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Film 
  • When a new director took over on The Film of the Book of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, he disregarded everything shown in the first two movies, and Hogwarts' architecture and layout was suddenly wildly changed. While Hogwarts has a mild bit of Chaos Architecture going for it in-universe, one would think someone might remark on things like the fact that Hagrid's hut is in a ridiculously different location than previously shown. Though the majority of the fandom agreed with the changes and considered the new, more visually-interesting architecture an indicator of the series Growing the Beard. Also, since the rest of the films kept that layout, the architecture of the first two films ended up looking like early installment blandness. A full list of changes:
    • Second film: The sand pit around the Quidditch pitch is replaced with a trench. The hospital wing is changed.
    • Third film: The location of the Fat Lady's portrait is changed (as is the Fat Lady). Hagrid's hut is moved next to a newly-added giant sundial, which is accessed across a newly-added bridge attached to a newly-added courtyard at the foot of a newly-added Clock Tower. The hospital wing is moved to the top of this tower. The Whomping Willow position has changed: it's still very close to the woods, but now it's farther away from the main building and in a more mountainous area.
    • Fourth film: The entrance hall is replaced with an entrance courtyard.
    • Fifth film: The Potions classroom (unseen since the first film) uses the set built in the second film as Snape's office. The giant sundial introduced in the third film disappears, although the bridge, courtyard, and clock tower remain.
    • Sixth film: The Astronomy Tower is a new set after being represented in the third film as a redress of the Dumbledore's Office set.
    • Final film: The viaduct connecting the entrance courtyard to the other side of the castle is reangled so that it instead connects the entrance courtyard to a cliff in front of the school.
  • The look of Gotham City in Batman is drastically different than in Batman Returns, despite having the same director. Gotham in Batman Forever has a noticeably different design ćsthetic, where Art Deco is taken to surreal and impractical extremes. Then that's turned up to 11 for Batman & Robin. Also, the buildings surrounding previously seen buildings change.
  • This also happens between Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. In Begins, Gotham is much more Gothic/fantasy-looking. In TDK, it looks like...Chicago. Justified, since the most surreal vistas belong to the Narrows, an area based on the slums of Hong Kong, which is effectively destroyed at the end of Begins. Other than that there is no great change between the films.
    • The skyline in The Dark Knight Rises plays this straight. It was filmed in Pittsburgh and New York City and makes no attempt to disguise the fact. We see the Empire State Building, the Brooklyn Bridge, and the Freedom Tower in the backgrounds.
  • There are at least three irreconcilably different versions of Metropolis in the five Superman films, despite the fact that in all five Metropolis is New York City in everything but name.
  • The bridge of the Enterprise seems to change for every one of the Star Trek movies featuring the classic crew. It wasn't that noticeable in the first three movies, which only featured different color schemes and different placements of the various workstations, but the bridges in the second three movies (featuring the NCC-1701-A) were each so different that it's hard to believe they were supposed to be the same ship. There have been fan suggestions that the bridge is a plug-in module that could be easily changed between each movie, but that doesn't really explain how the turbolifts moved.
  • In 2010: The Year We Make Contact, the Discovery is completely different from that in 2001: A Space Odyssey, since the original set pieces were destroyed to prevent them from being used in other movies.

    Literature 
  • The geography of Arda (particularly Middle Earth) changes significantly several times between (and within) The Silmarillion and The Lord of the Rings. The world is said to have suffered severe alterations during the struggle between Melkor and the Valar (including the catastrophic destruction of two mountains at both ends of the world, which in turn led to widespread destruction by fire, and the desolation of the original homeland of the Valar; the destruction of Melkor's first fortress also had severe consequences). The War of Wrath at the end of the First Age led to the continent of Beleriand being almost completely ruined and sunken (only a small portion of its eastern edge remained). And the most severe modification was towards the end of the Second Age, where not only was the island of Númenor sunk (which in turn caused severe seismic effects across Middle Earth), but the actual shape of the world was changed; the continent of Aman was removed from Arda, and the formerly Flat World was made into a sphere.
  • In Piers Anthony's Xanth series, the Good Magician Humfrey's castle presents new challenges to each person who arrives with a question for him, frequently changing structure drastically (for instance, in Centaur Aisle it appears as a glass mountain). In the book Question Quest, which focuses on Humfrey's life, he reveals that the castle was built with all these different structures and then magically compiled into one. Humfrey takes his challenges seriously.
  • In the first Harry Potter book, it's stated that the architecture of Hogwarts magically changes around from time to time - staircases move, steps vanish, doors don't always open and sometimes pretend to be solid walls. J. K. Rowling has explained that she established this early on as a ready-to-fire justification in case this problem ever manifested itself, which, of course, it did. See the Film entry above.
  • The Chronicles of Amber: Lords of Chaos use the spatial properties of their realm to build transient habitats for themselves in accordance with their current architectural tastes.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer
    • In season seven, the Sunnydale High School basement keeps shifting, rendering maps useless.
    • Damn Hellmouth kept altering things, seeing as it was right there. Must have made it heck for any janitors to find the broom closet.
    • As a purer example of the trope the whole town changed radically from season to season, and no-one ever remarked on it. For example, it had a seaport in earlier seasons and is completely landlocked by the finale.
    • An entire castle appears out of nowhere when Dracula comes to town.
    • The Bronze, the town's one bar/nightclub/hangout, has a different floorplan in almost every episode. Even the beverage menu changes frequently, occasionally becoming a coffee bar.
  • The Wolfram & Hart building in Angel has no less than three completely different versions of its interior. While the first transformation (between the season 4 episodes "Habeas Corpses" and "Home") is somewhat justified and certainly noticed, the second one (between the season 4 finale "Home" and the season 5 premiere "Conviction") is not.
  • Nearly every series of Red Dwarf alters the architecture of the ship.
    • Starbug, while still rather claustrophobic, is far bigger in series 6 and 7 than earlier series, apparently growing a few new rooms; in 7, this is justified by the battle with the Future Dwarfers warping the structure of the Bug to TARDIS proportions. And let's not even get into the Blue Midget and its legs (though the latter was apparently justified by Nanomachines rebuilding Red Dwarf).
  • Caprica City looked quite different between Battlestar Galactica (Classic) and Battlestar Galactica (Reimagined). Some of the building models remained but as a whole, the whole skyline was different.
  • The hospital in Scrubs looked completely different between the pilot and second episode. Interestingly, the same building is used in a number of other shows, notably Childrens Hospital note  at the moment. They've remodeled the inside and avoid shooting rooms in the same way Scrubs did to avoid it feeling too similar.
  • Ben's house on LOST changes layout multiple times between it's first appearance in season 3 and it's last appearance in season 6.
  • Both the model house and Lucille's apartment in Arrested Development have different layouts in the pilot.
    • In seasons 1-3, the corridor outside Lucille's apartment is an L-shape, with Lucille's door at the corner and Lucille 2's slightly down one corridor. In season 4, the corner has disappeared and the two Lucilles are now at the end of the hall.
  • In Charmed, Piper got a job in an Italian restaurant in the pilot, but from the second episode onwards she works in a different restaurant named "Quake". While both the set and the outside shots are different, it is implied to be the same place.
  • The interior of the local high school changes completely between seasons 2 and 3 of 8 Simple Rules. Changes in layout are particularly noticeable during the scenes in the principal's office.
  • Eureka had the inside of Global Dynamics change MASSIVELY between the pilot and the actual series.
  • Zordon's Command Center looks very different in Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers than it does in The Movie. The Power Chamber also looks completely different in Zeo than it does in Turbo.
  • The break room in NewsRadio was a control room in the pilot.
  • The interior of the Millers' house in Still Standing is completely different in the pilot.
  • The Hub in That '70s Show was just not the same place in the pilot.
  • The living room and the kitchen of the Banks' house in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air completely changed after the first season - most notably they were no longer seperated by a door, the living room was much larger, and both rooms now had an exit to the garden.
  • Maxwell Sheffield's house in The Nanny is different in the pilot.
  • The sets for The Odd Couple and Happy Days were completely changed when they went from a Single Camera setup to Filmed Before A Studio Audience, without the characters moving to a different apartment/house (also Arnold's Drive-In on Happy Days - the other permanent set). Oh, and one time Justified when Arnold's burned to the ground and they built a new Arnold's.
  • The pilot of The Cosby Show used a very generic living room set, although the adjacent kitchen and other rooms are the same as used in the rest of the series, with a bit of redecorating.
  • The architecture of CTU in 24 changes several times over the course of the series.
    • During the jump from the pilot episode (which was filmed months before any other episodes were commissioned) to the entirety of season one, the office added several more cubicles and additional rooms that weren't previously seen.
    • During the jump to season 3 to season 4, the entire layout of the office changes into a much more open-space setting, with a situation room located right next to the office cubicles (instead of in its own wing, as before), and different layouts of video monitors, decor and architecture.
    • It’s potentially justified in regards to the interior of CTU LA. The building takes heavy damage from a bomb during Day 2. There was a three year Time Skip going into the third season with the building mostly the same. It's not until Day 4 that the building has been fully changed. One fan theory is that it was renovated over time and that due to the nature of it being the regional headquarters of a major government building that it wasn't as simple as shutting the place down and relocating during the work. From the fourth season until the final season in Los Angeles the main CTU set was unchanged and remained consistent. Special note should be given to the situation room and the office of the agent in charge. The locations of both places on the main floor of CTU have been consistent since Day 1. A straighter example of this trope comes into play when you look at the exterior of the building. At some times CTU has had a typical multistory garage. At others it's had a fairly wide open parking lot.
  • A few sets have been changed radically on Neighbours, most obviously Number 30 Ramsey St, which was rarely seen in 1985 and seemingly unoccupied until 1988. Another was Daphne's restaurant which was completely changed at the start of 1986. Both examples are the result of the sets being destroyed after Channel 7 cancelled the series, although the main three houses at the time were recreated more closely by Channel 10.
  • In Doctor Who the huge and mostly unseen TARDIS interior changes shape, as can be most clearly seen by comparing the various different appearances of the control room. The exterior, despite being stuck as a police box, also undergoes minor changes like altering the window size. The changing interior is eventually explained as The Doctor occasionally altering the TARDIS' desktop theme, as well as the destruction and repair of old rooms.
  • Minor example: in the American version of The Office, a new office appeared behind Creed's desk right after Jim got promoted to co-regional manager. It's Darryl's now.
  • Next time you have a marathon of the once popular Diff'rent Strokes pay attention to the door, or blank wall, or staircase in the back left of the apartment, which sometimes goes nowhere, sometimes goes to Ms.Garret's room, sometimes connects to the bedrooms upstairs, or...hell, whatever the writer needed that part of the apartment did.

    Multiple Media 
  • BIONICLE suffered from this a lot.
    • Kini-Nui, the Great Temple: in the Mata Nui Online Game, it's a solitary structure in the middle of a forest, sitting atop a slightly raised platform, approachable from all sides. In most other depictions (including the MNOG II), it's surrounded by rocky cliffs and is made up several structures: the temple itself which is situated on top of a mountain and has a single staircase, a bridge connecting it to the Amaja-Nui sandpit, and on the opposite side of the scene is a giant stone carving of a face. The Mask of Light movie replaces the lower ground with a river and waterfall. Also, the temple itself (essentially, four monoliths and a shrine in the middle) can be towering and enormous, or just big enough to fit a group of characters.
    • Some online content, such as the pretty lame Mata Nui Explorer, make every village, no matter how elaborately and creatively designed, into a simple collection of random, blob-shaped huts scattered in some empty area.
    • Onu-Koro is an underground village inside a closed, pitch black cavern with a river flowing across it. In the canceled The Legend of Mata Nui game, it was to be in an open cavern, with brown instead of black huts. In the Mask of Light movie, the huts look totally different, and some are built into the walls. The cavern is way bigger, gigantic stalagmites appear in the town center, and sunlight is coming in from the ceiling.
    • Most of the villages are greatly redesigned in MNOG II. These changes mostly make sense, but some are very radical.
    • Mangaia, the Makuta's lair:
      • In the MNOG, a giant, bluish outer chamber with many mechanical control towers, and a circular slide-up door leading to an empty, red central chamber where Makuta lives. On the other side of this chamber, another door leads to the Bohrok nests.
      • In The Legend of Mata Nui game, the outer chamber leads to the Bohrok nests immediately, the control-tower chamber is replaced with an elevated platform with a drop-down at the end, and the central chamber is a separate place entirely, accessible by teleportation.
      • In the first book, there are no control towers, and the central chamber leads to the surface.
      • In the Rahkshi promos, Makuta's chamber has lots of carved blue stone pillars reaching up to the ceiling. The center of the floor has a symbol of the island on it.
      • In the Mask of Light movie, the chamber is filled with green gas, the pillars are hollow and made of a green crystal-like material, and in the middle of the floor is a pool of Energized Protodermis in the shape of the "three virtues" logo. The outer chamber is a simple cave, no control pillars, the door is a stone gate, and on the other side of the chamber is a giant carving of a mask, hiding a doorway which leads to a subterranean sea.
      • In one of the comics, Mangaia is a simple room with windows.
    • The environments in BIONICLE: The Game don't follow any of this, and make up everything (save for Kini-Nui) from scratch. Along with the environments of the BIONICLE: Heroes game, these are non-canon.
    • The Coliseum in Metru Nui is a giant, tubular tower flanked by several equally huge triangular structures in some media. In others, these side-structures are gone.
    • The Ko-Metru towers are giant crystals in most early media. In the Legends of Metru Nui movie, they sport elaborate, geometric patterns and spherical structures on the sides.
    • Roxtus is built inside a Humongous Mecha's head, but the head looks different in every media.
    • The Great Beings' fortress looks like a giant, erect LEGO Technic pin made of stone, but in one of the comics, it's drawn like a shiny, semi-spherical metal observatory built atop a mountain peak.
    • The Bohrok Nests have a common design template across media, but still, in MNOG, the stacked-together Bohrok canisters are hexagon-shaped and see-through at the top, whereas other depictions are more like the actual toy containers in looking like rounded-off parallelograms from the top. Even so, in the CGI ads, they look like green organic cocoons, whereas in the comics they're gray and metallic.

    Video Games 
  • The Trope Namer is Castlevania, where it was explained that Dracula's Castle itself was a "Creature of Chaos", constantly changing for different people. This also explained how NPCs got to areas it took the player special abilities to get to. Heck, that's how the castle changes every game.
    • One odd result of this pops up in the Chronicles of Sorrow duology. As a result of the events of Aria of Sorrow, the Castle is permanently sealed away. In Dawn of Sorrow, the place you explore is stated to be an "exact replica" of Dracula's Castle. How can you build an "exact replica" of something that has no constant, definitive shape?
  • Mega Man Battle Network is a curious example of this trope, as Lan's hometown stayed the same between the first three games. Then, starting with the fourth, all the buildings and the school's location were changed around. It then stayed like this until the end of the series. The Internet in said games, however, changed every time. Just like in real life, the Net is ever changing.
  • Ultima:
    • Actually, it had three continents disappear after the first game, with the geography more or less stabilizing by the fourth game. Nevertheless, the mere passage of centuries does not explain how the individual towns do not resemble each other in the slightest. Castle Britannia, for example, is constantly adding and removing floors throughout the games.
    • The disappearance of at least one of the continents, the Lands of Danger and Despair, is explained when you visit it in Ultima VII Part II - Serpent's Isle.
    • Lord British says they rebuilt the castle in U7. Also, he's the sovereign, near-immortal and possess vast magic powers - who's to say that he doesn't just enjoy rebuilding the castle?
  • Knights of the Old Republic II averted the trope by revisiting Dantooine, a key planet in the original game, and leaving the area almost identical to the way it was in the original game, though the Jedi Academy is now in ruins, and the colony's other buildings were repurposed by new colonists. The player's ship, the Ebon Hawk, was also identical to its original appearance. Players complained about BioWare reusing maps, even though the sequel was made by Obsidian Entertainment, and it made perfect sense for them to do so.
    • The re-purposed buildings are, however, much closer together than they were in the first game.
    • Korriban was also the same, with the Sith Academy in ruins. The grounds outside Korriban, however, were very much smaller then they were in the first game.
      • The Valley of the Dark Lords on Korriban changed between game series, too. In Jedi Academy, chronologically much later, it was in ruins, but that could not explain the changes of layout, especially inside the tomb of Marka Ragnos or that the other tombs around it are not visible. Of course, these games were otherwise unrelated, set thousands of years apart, of different genres, and not made by the same people. A good comparison is on this page of a Knights of the Old Republic II Let's Play.
  • World of Warcraft:
    • Many environments in World of Warcraft look nothing like the way they appeared in the RTS games, and the geography of the world itself was fundamentally altered over the course of the series (ironically, the geography of Lordaeron and Draenor/Outland ended up closer to Warcraft II than Warcraft III, which can be explained by assuming that the loading screens in the latter are massively stylized). The geography of Azeroth has also changed within the game itself over time:
    • The release of the 1.8 patch replaced the Silithus region with an entirely new zone of the same name.
    • The Burning Crusade drastically reshaped Quel'Thalas and added a bunch of islands to the southwest of Teldrassil seemingly out of nowhere — to serve as starting zones for the blood elves and draenei respectively.
    • Wrath of the Lich King changed the geography of the Eastern Plaguelands, adding a coastline and the ruins of previously-unseen towns — a non-instanced version of the death knight starting zone.
    • Cataclysm explicitly justified a major reshaping of Azeroth's geography, as Deathwing's emergence caused devastation on a vast scale. The developers also used it as an opportunity to revamp quest flow, resolve/introduce storylines, and enable flying mounts in the original zones.
  • Final Fantasy X-2:
    • Mostly averted, which used largely the same areas as Final Fantasy X, but removed the Insurmountable Waist-Height Fence from certain places. Most new areas are the result of further exploration of areas left largely unmapped in FFX.
    • Further, the one area from the first game that was completely made over had a perfectly logical reason: In the first game, you get there right as the place is wiped off the map, and by X-2, they've rebuilt it.
    • Water Areas are removed however. You can't swim though the path Wakka takes Tidus to get to Besaid the first time or out at the beach. Justified as you only have one character with that sort of lung capacity from the first game in your party, and she can't go where her allies can't follow.
  • Ditto with Baten Kaitos Origins — same towns and world map as the first game, but most of the dungeons from the first game are inaccessible and new ones can be found in areas that were empty or inaccessible in the first game.
  • Averted in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots. Shadow Moses Island is largely the same as it was the first time, save for cosmetic makeovers to fit the new generation of consoles, some blocked paths, some expansions, and a couple new areas.
    • Outer Haven is explained to be the same class of ship as Arsenal Gear from the end of Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, but the overall layout is not nearly as trippy and confusing as it was back then - then again, when we see profile shots of the ship, it also looks nothing like what we've been shown a normal Arsenal Gear looks like, so it could be differences between the prototype and production models.
  • In Creatures 2, there has apparently been a massive volcanic eruption, accounting for the planetary facelift.
  • The .hack// installments that occur after //tasogare no udewa densetsu make use of a second The World after the first crashed permanently — with all new versions of old areas.
  • Mostly averted in Fallout 2, in which the entire game map is set above the map for the original Fallout with only a little overlap; only a handful of locations on the top of the original map reappear here and for the most part they have been justifiably altered since decades have passed between the two games.
    • One particularly egregious example where this trope fits is Vault 15. In the eighty years since The Vault Dweller came here, a mountain has inexplicably come into existence.
  • In the first three Police Quest games, the layout of the Lytton police headquarters (and the city itself) changed considerably between each game. The VGA remake of the first game is based on the third game's layout.
  • Kingdom Hearts II
    • The game re-used many of the same "worlds" as the original, but with radically different layouts. Even specific locations within the worlds, such as the Bazaar in Agrabah, are redesigned.
    • 358/2 Days is entirely made of recurring worlds, often with somewhat different layouts (read: smaller, but with more platforming), though Twilight Town is near identical to the original, and Neverland is entirely different (because it actually takes place in Neverland this time, instead of Hook's Ship and London).
    • The world for the page quote, however, is partially justified. Hollow Bastion was a Doomed Hometown, and the past residents had spent the year in between games moving back in and renovating.
    • In Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep, a prequel to the first game, Neverland, Disney Castle (though it's more of the town), Radiant Garden, and Castle Oblivion are very different from their prev... uh, future incarnations.
    • One of the gates (the one opposite the Coliseum itself) in Olympus Coliseum leads somewhere different in each game.
    • The Cave of Wonders never looks the same way twice. Kinda justified seeing as how, y'know, a Genie used to live there. Who KNOWS what kind of crazy magic that place has?
  • The eponymous city in Neverwinter Nights 2 looks nothing like it did in the first game; this is largely justified by the near-total destruction of the city at the end of the first game, though even buildings that were left intact have changed noticeably.
  • Golden Sun:
    • Averted in the RPG games, where the first opus only takes place on one and a half continents, while the second one takes place all over the world except those one and a half continents.
    • There is one small strip of coast on the original continent accessible in the second game, but the dungeon involved wasn't accessible in the original.
    • Actually, there's quite a bit of Gondowan accesible in both games, just not the same parts. Well, mostly not the same parts, anyway.The area just west of Tolbi seems to be an exception...wait, that's Angara, too!
    • Happens in the third game, Dark Dawn. The geography of Angara and presumably all of Weyard is radically altered by the events at the end of The Lost Age. This conveniently solves the problem of the entire world being more or less explored out by the end of the GBA games. How come we didn't see all these ancient kingdoms in the previous games? The Golden Sun did it.
      • It's a bit more justified than that. The Golden Sun effectively overdosed the world on magic. When that happened, everything changed. Mountain ranges shot up, an active volcano was bulldozed by its power, waterfalls between different levels of the same ocean sprung up... and a good portion of the eroded world was restored. It's implied that all of the old technology was excavated from the restored lands following the Golden Sun's rise.
  • Seen in any The Legend of Zelda game that happens in the Kingdom of Hyrule: the overworld retains some details yet is always different.
    • This was actually done fairly well between The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, with the kingdom simply being a bit larger and the places more evenly distributed. The game also justifies why Midna wouldn't recognize the Palace of Twilight, her own home, by her commenting that Zant's dark magic warped it.
    • One exception: Zelda II: The Adventure of Link had the "original" Hyrule of the first game recreated at the far southern end of the map, though it looks a lot smaller than in the first game; each tile represents a bigger area in II compared to The Legend of Zelda I.
    • It's also averted in The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, where the world matches up quite well with the world from A Link to the Past.
    • This is possibly justified by the fact that with the exception of direct sequels, all Zelda games are centuries apart, allowing the kingdom's borders to shift, settlements to change, and rivers to change course.
  • Justified in season two of the Sam and Max adventure game from Telltale Games. The neighborhood was rearranged violently by a giant robot in the opening scene of episode 1.
  • Mostly justified in the Exile/Avernum series.
    • The general layout of the caverns remains the same, with key places being revisited in each adventure; seismic activity explains many of the changes that are present. That being said, the game doesn't really explain why the buildings keep shuffling around every twenty years... Furthermore, the Tower of The Magi is notable for appearing pretty much the same in each game - despite the fact it routinely gets wrecked by demons.
    • And then the Avernum series got its fourth installment. The new engine must have come with a trash compactor, because suddenly everything became much closer together.
  • In Dreamfall: The Longest Journey, the sequel to The Longest Journey, Zoe goes to the starting area of the first game and it is very similar in layout to the old game except with a bit more details that would supposedly have been between the area transitions of the first game. Most other changes were justified by the fact that the neighborhood since the first game also went from being a bohemian artsy neighborhood to a run down slum in the 15 years between Dreamfall and The Longest Journey and what made that area interesting was seeing how it changed. We also go to see the upper floors of the border house, April Ryan's home in the first game.
  • Phantasy Star 1, 2 and 4 fall under this trope with regards to Motavia and Dezolis. Motavia, though, has a logical explanation: the introduction and destruction of Mother Brain. Subtly averted in PS IV, where the inner Air Castle is identical in layout to the one in PS I, although it's hard to tell because the dungeon exploration in the first game took place in first person view.
  • Pokémon Gold and Silver
    • The player can go to Kanto from the first generation (Pokémon Red and Blue). Most of the changes are at least somewhat feasible: lots and lots of Insurmountable Waist Height Fences are destroyed, for example, as well as a family relocated due to the construction of a bullet train (Shinkansen) system. Others, such as Mt. Moon changing from a labyrinth to a path with a single fork and Viridian Forest becoming a hedge maze, are just a little impossible. The most memorable change is perfectly possible, but hilariously crass: Pokémon Tower gets changed from a solemn, haunted graveyard for Pokémon to a radio tower. Apparently the three floors or so of graves were relocated to Mr. Fuji's tiny basement.
    • There's also Cinnabar Island. Everything was destroyed in a volcanic eruption; all that's left is a rebuilt Pokémon Center, with the gym relocated to the Seafoam Islands. Cerulean Cave is also entirely inaccessible, though since it's likely the work of the Mewtwo that had been there in Gen I, if you look around where the entrance should be you can find a special item, the Berserk Gene.
    • Viridian Forest was fixed in HeartGold and SoulSilver, as were the Seafoam Islands and Cerulean Cave, thanks to the greater amount of data storage the Nintendo DS provided over the Game Boy Color.
    • Cerulean Cave itself has had its layout changed in every single game it's appeared in (excluding the Gen I remakes, which reuse the layout from the original Red & Green - which still counts for non-Japanese players, since they never got those). The only consistent bits between them is that the cave has two floors and a basement, the second floor is a maze, and the basement has a Mewtwo at the end of it.
  • Silent Hill:
    • The events that happen in the first game occur in the newer part of town, north of the lake. In the second game, and in the third game when you do visit the town proper, your character is in the older part of town south of the lake. Of course this just accounts for the time when the town is being remotely normal. When your character slips into the Other side of the town, just be glad if you're still standing on something solid...ish.
    • The hospital in the first game grows an extra fourth floor as you shift to the nightmare dimension.
    • At the end of the first game, an... event... causes the architecture of both the "real" and "unreal" sides of the town to topple into an unnerving mishmash, where familiar environments connect to each other in new and bizarre ways. Your save file, which always keeps you apprised of where you are, will helpfully tell you that your current location is "Nowhere".
    • The Order's church at the end of the third game is a similar mishmash.
    • Another example occurs in the hotel of the second game, the "normal" version is how James saw it three years ago, then its alternate form is a mishmash of its present day appearance (burnt and flooded) and a Dark World version (doors that warp between each other, a hallway that doesn't exist in the real world, otherworld decor, etc.)
    • The historical society abyss, where the space-time and real-otherworld continuums are also out of whack, i.e. descending a thousand feet via the many holes, only to find oneself back at ground level outside.
    • In Homecoming, Alchemilla Hospital looks vastly different and is a mental hospital as opposed to a normal hospital, probably because the game was made by a completely different developer.
    • One of the crazier examples would be Shattered Memories, where whenever you enter the nightmare world, everything freezes over and the architecture goes completely insane. It's most obvious during the mall and pawn shop levels, the former of which features the buildings on the street doubling on top of each other, and the framework for further building on top of that, such as the hardware store and cafe becoming veritable towers of ice. In the latter, what was once a small pawn shop, about the size of a two-story, two bedroom house is now the most ridiculous Escher-esque Magical Mystery Doors Mind Screw you're likely to see.
  • In the 4X game Civilization, buildings in the cities would change their places during time. In some cases this might be justified - but with Wonders of the World?!?
  • Pikmin:
    • The main setting of the games, the "Distant Planet," changes rapidly and radically between the two games... which is rather conspicuous, considering that Olimar apparently departed for the planet again immediately upon returning back to his home planet of Hocotate. He makes mention of this a handful of times in his journal entries about the treasures and creatures he encounters.
    • Same goes for the Forest of Hope, now Awakening Wood; and Distant Spring, now Perplexing Pool. While the basic layout is the same, the actual features are different. May be justified as Olimar and his Pikmin are only the size of a penny, so minor changes to us would be huge changes to them. The many caves of Pikmin 2 are much more noticeable, though, as they change every time you leave and reenter.
    • Also of note is that in Pikmin 2, it's made far more blatant that the "Distant Planet" is Earth than it was in the first game. Accordingly, many of the changes seem to be clear signs of human development encroaching on the former wilds. As for the time scale, it's somewhat implied that the Distant Planet is distant enough for the trip to take quite a while.'
  • The labyrinthine catacombs to Hell with their dead ends and lava caves under the cathedral in Tristram in Diablo weren't built that way. They were perfectly normal catacombs that just happened to imprison a Prime Evil, who took over.
  • When you go back to Tristram in Diablo II, it's mostly the same, though the bridge is ruined so you can't get across the river. Even Wirt's body and Cain's cage are in roughly the same place the characters were in the original game. In Diablo III, however, the locations of a number of structures change places from where they were in D1.
  • The Grand Theft Auto series has three Liberty Cities: the one from the original game, the one from Grand Theft Auto III and Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories, and the one from Grand Theft Auto IV. All are supposed to be New York City stand-ins.
    • For that matter, Vice City was also a level in the original GTA, it's nothing like in the eponymous game. San Andreas appeared in the first GTA, too, but that one is obviously not referring to the same place as in GTA: San Andreas, as the former is a city and the latter is a state. Such naming conflicts are Truth in Television. Grand Theft Auto V takes place in a new Los Santos that, while retaining a few locations from the GTA: SA version as Mythology Gags, is otherwise completely different.
    • It's completely justified in the fact that they all take place in different canons.
  • Played realistically straight in Golden Eye 1997. You visit the same place twice. It's seven years between visits, so naturally they've added extensions to the place, but the old parts of the building remain the same, so much so that when you navigating your way round with relative ease, your companion asks if you have been there before.
  • Mostly justified in City of Heroes, where zone overhauls are either works in progress (Faultline) security countermeasures (Rikti Warzone), or were there all along (universities).
    • The exception is door missions, which are assigned a random map each visit. You can exit part one of a two-door mission, turn around, and enter THE SAME DOOR to access a completely different map.
    • Praetoria mostly averts this, as specific missions with specific maps are tied to specific doors (I.E. A mission directing you to the Ministry of Technology will always send you to the same building). Of course, Praetoria also lacks random missions, which means that random door assignment isn't necessarily needed.
  • The various sequels to the game Skate justify it being set in the same city of San Vanelona, yet with radically different architecture and layout, by claiming that the city had to be rebuilt after a series of earthquakes.
  • The 'underground Church', a notorious location in the television show Buffy the Vampire Slayer is far, far different in the video game. Of course, video games don't have a special effects budget but... its canon earthquakes screw with the place all the time (it is in California).
  • Resident Evil. Many of the games criss-cross the same territory covered in previous missions and or games. Different branching paths are explained by the after-effects of previous zombie battles or the puzzle-mad craziness of the city's founders.
  • Tales of Symphonia:
    • While it's perfectly understandable that the world map itself would've changed between and its sequel, Dawn of the New World, individual cities have also changed.
    • The Chaos Landscape between Dawn of the New World and Tales of Phantasia may seem extreme, as Olive, the desert oasis town in the latter game, is nowhere near Triet's location in the former, instead ending up somewhat closer to Asgard's location, but 4,000 years is a pretty long time for things to happen, especially given the climatic and ecological changes that accompany a society of iron age or higher. It would be stranger if nothing had changed at all- just look at the past four millennia IRL.
      • There is also the case of the meteor strike and mana cannon powered destruction between games.
    • Also averted at the same time. Most of the dungeons you visit in both games have near-identical layouts, right down to the puzzles used. The only differences occurring for the most part are those required due to changes in the gameplay mechanics.
  • The second Jak and Daxter game established the layout of Haven City and the location and layout of Haven Forest. The third game left the dock the same, radically redesigned the rest of the city in ways you can't justify with the massive destruction going on (come on, a relatively pleasant area with canals suddenly materialising?), and moved Haven Forest right up next to the city with significant redesign. Although it may simply be a different area of the forest, this doesn't explain how the center of the city was given a massive urban beautification program in the middle of a three-way war, while chunks of the palace were still falling.
    • The city's Absurdly Spacious Sewers get it even worse, apparently sprouting massive branching paths and entirely new entrances in the span of a few months. What was once a relatively small area is now nothing short of a massive underground labyrinth.
  • Mostly averted in Banjo-Tooie. Spiral Mountain and Gruntilda's Lair from the first game are accessible and remain mostly the same. The only difference is that an earthquake caused by Gruntilda's sisters plowing through a wall in the Hag 1 and also their troops ravaging the area have added a lot of debris and caused a cave-in in the lair, making sure the game-designers didn't have to recreate the entire overworld from the first game.
  • Super Mario Bros.:
    • Nearly every single game in Super Mario Bros., Paper Mario, Mario & Luigi, Mario Kart, Mario Party and all spinoffs takes place in the Mushroom Kingdom. You however would not know it, since whole towns apparently appear, disappear and get moved around, places like Peach's Castle, Luigi's Mansion and Bowser's Castle get completely rebuilt once per game, and various landmarks can appear one game and be gone the next.
    • There -are- a few things that carry over between games. Peach's Castle typically has a town of some sort around it where all the Toads seem to live, though its layout and what it's actually called vary. Bowser typically resides in a place with a ton of Lava, and Luigi's Mansion can rebuild itself... It doesn't explain anything else though. Many newer Mario Games avoid this by moving to new locations, like SPACE.
    • Note that these games don't actually have any continuity. This is official.
    • One thing that seems to be becoming consistent in the Mushroom Kingdom is the front garden of Peach's Castle. Super Mario 64, Mario Kart 64, and Super Mario Galaxy all feature nearly identical versions of the front garden, except that in Galaxy, some of the further back parts are closed off and the cannon is gone.
    • And the house of the Mario Bros. stays mostly consistent through all the RPGs, starting with the first and up to Super Paper Mario.
    • Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon actually subverts this trope - the house shown in the opening cut scene is the D Rank new mansion from the first game, though the paint's starting to peel.
  • A rather weird example appears in the game Hitman: Contracts: several of the missions are re-hashed versions of missions which originally appeared in an earlier game in the series, Hitman: Codename 47. The layout of individual buildings and overall levels is of varying difference to the original missions. However, it's not the case that the protagonist is re-visiting these locales: they merely appear to him in flashback as he sleeps. It also helps that he's remembering them incorrectly.
  • Largely averted in Deus Ex. Locations retain their models between visits, with all changes being justified and generally minor(-ish). The second game has you return to both places from the first game and the same locations within the second game; changes are foreshadowed and logical blatantly made to work with the low ram system the game was built for.
  • Similarly, in the prequel, locations you can visit more than once change very little between visits. The largest changes are probably in Detroit, due to an anti-augmentation riot outside the Sarif Industries building.
  • Halo
    • The series makes you go through the control tower on Installation 04 three times. The first time you're ascending it to place Cortana there, two levels later you back to rescue Cortana (and your own ass). The level is gone never to be seen again...Or is it? The very last level of Halo 3 has you returning to the control room where you intentionally activate the ring to stop the Flood. In the first game, the tower and the surrounding area is pretty much the same both times, albeit in a state of decay after the Flood hits it. In the third game the tower and control room are identical to how it was in the first game, but the surrounding area has changed quite a bit. For example, that walkway on the mountains wasn't there the first time. Justified though, since this technically isn't the same place, but a rebuild of the old place, since Master Chief obliterated the original structure in the first game.
    • Somewhat justified in the case of High Charity, as it's been mostly converted by the Flood when you return to it, but the remaining original structures look rather different as well.
    • New Mombasa got changed the most between Halo 2 and Halo: ODST, with the city being far more realistic and detailed in the latter. This is because of the updated game engine of ODST, as well as the fact that ODST's entire setting is in the city, whereas New Mombasa took up all of two levels in Halo 2.
  • In Chunsoft's Mystery Dungeon games, the eponymous mystery dungeons are known to reconfigure themselves each time they are explored. This is why their layouts in-game are randomly generated.
  • Usually averted in The Elder Scrolls series, due to each game taking place in a different province. However, the first game, Arena, allowed the character to visit every province, and some of them look quite a bit different when revisited in future titles.
    • The Warp in the West is a Cosmic Retcon used as A Wizard Did It, is usually used.
    • The Dragon Born expansion did this with Solstheim in a number of respects. There are significant differences in the architecture of the Barrows (which were largely simple stone caves with exteriors composed of megaliths in Bloodmoon), the terrain has become much different, in ways that can't simply be explained by the eruption of red mountain and glaciers, and the Thirsk mead hall has completely lost its second floor. The Skaal village has also moved in between Skyrim and Bloodmoon, and there are now Dwemer ruins on Solstheim when there weren't any before. (which is especially strange in the case of Nchardak, which is at sea and could not have reasonably been hidden underground)
  • Starcraft
    • When you recapture Korhal in the Zerg campaign of the expansion, Mengsk specifically says he's putting his capital in the same place as before, but the missions there are on very different maps.
      • Korhal is harder to justify; but if you squint really hard, the final terran stronghold at the bottom left edge of the map in mission 4 of the Zerg campaign sorta looks like the top right edge of Mengsk's base in terran mission 5 (where his command center is at).
    • The Brood War Overmind's location in Brood War changes completely from map to map. In Protoss 5, it is below a large cliff, on a large flat area, with a lava river northwest. In Terran 8, the Overmind is on top of a large plateau, with no terrain changes or lava for some distance. In Zerg 8, it is on a small, north/south oriented plateau.
      • Somewhat justified after the Protoss mission; you can temporarily kill the Overmind, and it might have respawned in a different spot without Khalis as a beacon.
    • The Area where the overmind sets itself up at the end of the original game zerg campaign is very different from where the protoss fight it in their campaign.
      • Well, it did come down as a meteor, perhaps the strike was powerful enough to reshape local geography.
    • One exception: There is a bit of continuity with the Xel'Naga temple. Looking carefully at the mission 8 map, the Protoss staging area from mission 3 has now become a zerg base and the top edge of the temple island is what you originally invaded in the former mission. Why the Zerg have retaken the temple from you in the intervening time or why you're attacking from the other side is never addressed though.
      • Both the Zerg taking over and the absence of a Protoss base in the old position can be justified by the coup which took place in the meantime.
  • Ancient Domains of Mystery has considerably more depth than your standard Roguelike game, and provides a plot explanation for the in-game Chaos Architecture. One particularly Chaos-ridden dungeon actually has no bottom, and it continues to evolve for as long as you care to explore it.
  • Very, very, very much so in The Godfather: The Game and its sequel. The first game had a distinctive Wide Open Sandbox layout that covers all five boroughs, with the Corleone compound set in a very secluded section of Little Italy, surrounded by trees on prime real estate. The sequel, on the other hand, completely does away with the first game's layout, totally redesigning the New York area, limiting you to only a small section of the inner city and adding an airport connecting you to the similarly limited Miami and Havana areas. The compound itself, previously set apart, is also heavily redesigned and positioned a stone's throw away from the downtown/Manhattan/Brooklyn(?) buildings.
  • So many places in Final Fantasy VII between the original game and the Compilation. Kalm town. The Shinra Mansion, especially the basement... there are probably more.
  • Justified in Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3, with Tartarus, as it, like the shadows, breaks down at the end of every midnight hour, and thus comes back at the start of the next midnight hour, meaning that there is a likely chance of the tower, besides important points such as the entrance, will completely change in their layout. They also state/imply (could be wrong on this) that the tower is a shadow as well, and that would add a more reasonable justification for the change, as all shadows are based on human emotion and events day to day change there would be reason for the tower, one of the largest shadows, to change.
  • Donkey Kong Island went through some minor changes between Donkey Kong Country and Donkey Kong 64, being a bit scaled down and empty due to technical limitations but still clearly the same island. Then Donkey Kong Country Returns made a huge change to the place, removing the likeness of DK's face from the mountain, melting the icy summits and adding a huge volcano and prehistoric world.
  • Can be seen in a variety of areas between the original Tomb Raider game and Tomb Raider Anniversary. One of the most striking is a fire puzzle in Midas' Palace: what was little more than a sewer with a few flaming pillars that were laughably easy to hop across in the original, became a gigantic room filled with ornate rotating platforms spewing jets of flame in all directions. A more jarring example: Lara's mansion looks quite different in every game, ending up looking something like The Movie version in Tomb Raider Legend.
  • Maniac Mansion and its sequel, Day Of The Tentacle, both take place in the same mansion. However, the mansion (which has been owned by the Edisons for at least 200 years) has less floors in the sequel than it does in the original. Even stranger, Day of the Tentacle has you going back 200 years and forward 200 in time, and the mansion is laid out roughly the same in both of those time periods, too!
  • Portal 2 shows a much different and more complex version of the Aperture Science Enrichment Center than in the first game. Of course, it's been a very long time between games and much of it has fallen into ruins, but the game also shows that the entire Enrichment Center is composed of mobile, infinitely reconfigurable test chambers, so the trope is explicitly justified.
  • The video games of each Harry Potter movie - as the technology has gotten better and the games have changed to follow the respective storylines, things in the sandbox style Hogwarts of Chamber of Secrets, Prisoner of Azkaban and Order of the Phoenix are very different (Philosopher's Stone and Goblet of Fire were more level based games).
  • Dragon Age: Origins and Dragon Age II more-or-less avert this; the sequel takes place in an entirely separate part of the world, pretty much a kingdom and a half away. Dragon Age II features not one but two timeskips, and most of Kirkwall stays the same with just minor changes (for instance, a manor that had the north wing blocked off now has the south wing blocked off, etc.) This includes certain things you'd EXPECT to change... Fenris, for instance, never bothers to so much as pick up the scattered debris — or even corpses — from "his" house's previous owner's hasty exit.
  • Guild Wars and Guild Wars 2 take place in the same world, with lots of locations shared between the two. Landscapes have changed and some small villages (notably Beetletun) have prospered between games. Changes are largely justified though - 250 years have passed between games, and the rise of the Elder Dragons have caused shifts to the layout of different regions. Lots of newly-named areas exist, but when comparing the maps from the two games, many are found in areas that weren't accessible in the first game.
  • Fort Schmerzen in Medal of Honor: Allied Assault is very different from its incarnation in the original game, mainly due to the much more advanced engine.
  • Borderlands 2 averts this at the very end: one of the final areas of the game (Arid Nexus: Badlands) is actually the first area of the original ''Borderlands, with any changes justified by the fact that the local Mega Corp. took over the area.
  • This is mostly averted in the Mass Effect series, where successive games almost never revisit areas from previous games. One glaring exception is the Citadel space station, present in all three games, but in-universe, the station is huge and you visit different areas of it in different games. One exception to that, however, is the human councilor's office. In Mass Effect 2, it is the same room as the human embassy in Mass Effect 1, and the surrounding scenery matches as well. But in Mass Effect 3, it is a different room in a previously unseen part of the Citadel.
    • This is somewhat justified in-universe with the explanation that the keepers on the Citadel will periodically reorganize rooms or alter architecture. Apparently it can sometimes be annoying for the people living on the Citidel, since the keepers do this without notice or explanation.

    Web Animation 
  • Homestar Runner:
    • The cartoons rely heavily on Geographic Flexibility, to the point where even interior layouts vary; the house of the Brothers Strong, in particular. For example, the TV room is sometimes implied to be part of a finished basement; other times it is treated as if it were on the main floor.
    • Additionally, Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People uses a consistent layout... that contradicts most if not all of the toons. The most egregious example is putting the entrance to Strong Bad's computer room on the opposite side from where it has always been (first runner-up is probably making Strong Mad's room only accessible via the bathroom, which defies all known laws of building design in addition to continuity).
      • The game lampshades this almost immediately in the first episode: As you learn about new locations, you're allowed to place them anywhere you like on the map. Strong Bad's house can be next door to or far from any other location without affecting gameplay.
      • In the second episode, the map is taken away, and Strong Bad switches to using the discarded game board from a Risk-esque strategy game. This time, though, the placement of locations matter. But since when was the King of Town's castle visible from Marzipan's back yard?
  • Madness Combat:
    • Where do we even start? There are random BUILDINGS falling out of the sky (by the command of an insane zombified clown, no less), fortresses that can be summoned out of the ground, and absurd amounts of perfectly square buildings, rave rooms, department stores and hot dog stands. The entirety of Madness Combat can be summed up as this trope.

    Web Comics 
  • The interior of the Upton house in Misfile. It seems to change every 3rd or 4th time we see it.
  • In 8-Bit Theater, this is mentioned by name, as quite a dramatic change has ensued: "Garland's Clubhouse", as it appears in the beginning, has restructured itself into a true "Temple of Fiends" with Drizzl leading the Dark Warriors. Black Mage analyzes and controls the magic that dictates the architecture when he becomes leader of the Dark Warriors, as well, giving himself his own comfortable bedrooms while the other members get virtual torture chambers.

     Web Original 
  • In the Metamor Keep story-verse, the universe's namesake is this. The keep itself was hard to map, because it's always changing. It's often played for laughs, too, since some of the more humorous sections of the verse joke that giving directions to one's room in the keep is worthless since they'd always be invalid by the end of the week.
  • Happens in-universe in the Gearworld, where space does not mean quite the same thing as elsewhere. In the journal, the first hint the characters have of this is that they keep finding new rooms in already-explored areas. At first they aren't sure if the rooms are appearing, or if they somehow missed them previously.

    Western Animation 
  • Family Guy:
    • Once in a while the Griffins' house experiences an architecture shift for no reason. For example, when Peter catches a bullfrog to make Chris feel better, but then has to throw it out because he accidently killed it, the door which he came from disappears and reappears as a window where he throws out the frog http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DXHaCEhOiWU
    • Averted in one episode with Peter's "Thinking Grenades". Seth MacFarlane's commentary on the scene says that he originally planned to have the scene in the bar, but there was no window by their table.
  • The interior of the protagonists' rocket ship in Futurama seems to change from episode to episode.
  • Spongebob's pineapple, Squidward's Easter Island home, and Patrick's rock are constantly subject to change depending on the episode. Patrick's rock is justified on account of Patrick making most of the furniture out of sand.
    • The interior of the Krusty Krab is rather consistent, though.
  • Daria's house constantly changes throughout the series due to animation errors.
  • Thomas And Friends suffered from this due to its use of live model animation. As each set was dismantled at the end of a season's filming, it would be reconstructed for the next one with whatever changes were required. Certain geographical locations that couldn't be dismantled, like Gordon's Hill, vary wildly from season to season.
  • The Simpsons household is somewhat notorious for this, particularly one door below the stairs which can be a closet or the basement depending on the episode. The upstairs floor plan is also difficult to work out.

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