->'''Sam:''' Remember when we used to just... hunt Wendigos? How simple things were?
->'''Dean:''' Not really.
-->-- ''Series/{{Supernatural}}''

Continuity creep is the tendency of a TV show or comic book that starts off with an episodic {{Sitcom}}, {{Adventure Town|s}} or MonsterOfTheWeek format, which then begins to accumulate more and more {{Continuity Nod}}s and ongoing storylines. Or if it starts off with each episode containing a single self-contained story, and ends up with sprawling plots that span multiple episodes, it has undergone continuity creep.

In a comedy show, this trope is often a symptom of CerebusSyndrome, but it can occur independently. In a dramatic or action-adventure show, it's often a sign of GrowingTheBeard. ArcWelding is this trope applied retroactively. "Too much" may result in ContinuityPorn. See also KudzuPlot, when instead of a series sprouting references to past events, it sprouts open-ended mysteries for use in future events. Often more noticeable in LongRunners. Generally averts AesopAmnesia and StatusQuoIsGod.

%%Don't remove the folders, they are the standard.


[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* ''Anime/WitchHunterRobin'' starts off as a fairly dull MonsterOfTheWeek affair; however, about halfway through, it suddenly develops an ongoing plot. Same with ''Anime/TheBigO''.
* The ''Manga/YuGiOh'' manga was about Yugi playing a Game of Shadows in every chapter until the author switched focus to the card game, at which point it gained an actual overarching plot.
* ''Manga/HayateTheCombatButler'' has a plot involving Athena, Mikado Sanzenin and Nagi's mother, the pendants, and Wataru's mother.
* ''Manga/{{Bleach}}'' did something similar to this for a while. For the first dozen or so chapters, it was a light horror-comedy with "[[MonsterOfTheWeek Hollow of the week]]" stories and some of Ichigo's friends getting attacked or empowered every so often, before becoming a straight action saga.
* ''Manga/TheWorldGodOnlyKnows'' started off as a GirlOfTheWeek story with Keima making a different conquest in each arc. After awhile, some of the girls become recurring characters, and once the Goddess arc begins, a few of the previous girls become major characters.
* ''Manga/RurouniKenshin'' was about Kenshin having sword fights and such in the Meiji era. Then the plot went further into his backstory, and while the series had never been lighthearted, it got a lot darker, including the death of his first wife [[spoiler:and the faked death of Kaoru]]..
* ''Manga/{{Trigun}}'' began as a progression through a series of AdventureTowns before the MythArc (only barely hinted at previously) kicked in around halfway through.

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* Creator/JhonenVasquez does this quite a bit.
** ''ComicBook/JohnnyTheHomicidalManiac'' began as a series of random, one-off strips. After a while, the comic evolved so that each issue told a longer story, and a full-fledged Myth Arc was in place by the end. This was deliberate.
** ''ComicBook/{{Squee}}!'' was intended as a return to one-off silliness, but ended up with an ongoing plot in the end.
* The comic version of ''ComicBook/SabrinaTheTeenageWitch'' started with one-off stories because Tania del Rio (the writer) had orders from her editor to do the stories ''Franchise/{{Archie|Comics}}'' style. However, she slipped in some continuity slowly over each issue. By the time she got a new editor (who also happens to run ''ComicBook/ArchieComicsSonicTheHedgehog''), the "Four Blades" plot was already underway.
* {{Lampshade|Hanging}}d in the between the chapter meta panels in ''ComicBook/{{Empowered}}''.
-->''But in the course of these throwaway "stories"... He says I developed a, quote, "personality"... and a boyfriend... and a nice set of body-image issues, thank you very much... and, well, voila... this goofy mess somehow wound up morphing into a, quote, "real comic". A "real comic" in which, you'll notice, I still seem to get tied up a lot. That's not my idea of a "real comic", but whatevs.''
* In Creator/NeilGaiman's ''ComicBook/TheSandman'', this is intentional from the start, but it's still rather odd to find out that a small event from the fourth comic ends up being important for the climax of the series.
* Creator/GarthEnnis's run in ''ComicBook/ThePunisherMAX.'' The CIA's disastrous attempts to recruit him in "In The Beginning" is brought up in "Mother Russia," and a couple of characters have very important roles in "Up is Down and Black is White", "Man of Stone" and "Long Cold Dark". Yorkie from "Kitchen Irish" crops up again in "Man of Stone" and "Long Cold Dark". "Mother Russia" is a crucial part of later stories "Up is Down and Black is White", "Man of Stone", "Long Cold Dark" and "Valley Forge Valley Forge." The events of "The Slavers" has a bearing on "Widowmaker."
* Creator/{{DC|Comics}} and Creator/{{Marvel|Comics}} superheroes can be considered this in general. Back in UsefulNotes/{{the Silver Age|OfComicBooks}}, every story was a self-contained plot. Over the years, comics added more and more continuity until the modern soap-opera style of storytelling resulted. This, of course, led to a large amount of ContinuitySnarl, more-so on DC's end than Marvel's, due to DC being an amalgam of characters from a myriad of authors and bought-out companies (most notably Charlton Comics), while nearly all of Marvel's A-list names spawned from the mind of Creator/StanLee (i.e. it was easier for the Generalisimo to recall and/or retcon stuff he himself had written than it was for DC authors who may have had to research character that DC themselves may have not created, like [[ComicBook/{{Shazam}} Captain Marvel]]).
* For the first several issues the ''Franchise/SonicTheHedgehog'' parts of ''ComicBook/SonicTheComic'' were mainly just full one-shots that never really related to one each other. Issue 8 started a sense of plot but it took several more issues of on and off one-shots until it came into full effect.
* Creator/BrianAzzarello's ''ComicBook/OneHundredBullets'' starts off as a fairly straightforward VictimOfTheWeek series about a shady government agent named Agent Graves, who offers wronged people a chance at taking consequence-free revenge with a handgun and 100 untraceable rounds of ammunition. Initially, Azzarello just uses unrelated standalone stories to examine the moral dilemmas inherent in the concept of revenge, with Graves as the only reappearing character. As the series goes on, though, some of the previous [[VictimOfTheWeek Victims of the Week]] return to become recurring characters, and a sprawling MythArc gradually becomes apparent as the characters figure out their connections to one another and work to uncover Agent Graves' motivations for seeking them out.
* Attemped in-universe in '''Mazing Man''. Comic book writer Denton Fixx attempts to create continuity in the "Adventures of Zoot Sputnik" series' he's been assigned to write, but his editor/publisher insists that continuity doesn't matter because nobody reads more than one or two issues anyway.
* The three first ''ComicBook/{{Noob}}'' comics consisted of short gags and short stories, some of which would need to be affected by NegativeContinuity for the timeline to make sense. Comics 4, 5 and 6 all had a single comic-spanning story and comic 7 caught up with the franchise MythArc just in time to cover a franchise-wide WhamEpisode.

[[folder:Fan Works]]
* ''Marvel/DC After Hours'' ([=AKA=] ''WebVideo/ImAMarvelAndImADC''), an online video series, started out as a simple parody of the "Buy a Mac" ads with Franchise/SpiderMan and Franchise/{{Superman}} discussing the relatively sorry state of movies based on DC characters compared to Marvel's. Gradually more characters were introduced until it completely morphed into a story-driven and occasionally quite moving piece of work, all while keeping the comic-based humor intact as various characters continue to praise or lament their latest films.
* FanFic/AGrowingAffection starts each book with a series of shorter arcs which lead into a longer arc at the end. The exception is book 3, which is a set of four medium length arcs.
* ''WebVideo/FriendshipIsWitchcraft'' is another comedy achieving this status through reoccurring jokes. The first episode is little more than a collection of random gags with some amusing quips about the source episode's plot. Over time however, many of its best early jokes were referenced such as Fluttershy's status as a cult leader with Rarity as a follower, Applejack's war crimes, Pinkie's gypsy powers, Sweetie Belle is a robot, Twilight's villainous plans etc, and crafted a fairly coherent story with distinct characters. All while warping the original episode's plot into something barely unrecognizable from its source.

* This is true to a certain extent in ''Literature/TheDresdenFiles''. The first few books introduce us to the various factions and old friends of Harry whom we've never met before; but it gets to the point that they can play off each other, and you can have complex stories with multiple enemy factions each seeking something and getting in each other's way. This was a deliberate choice for the creator.
* The first two ''Literature/HarryPotter'' books were standalones. The third one seemed to follow this, but then [[spoiler:Pettigrew escaped]] at the end, forming a SequelHook. From that point on, each book followed an ongoing StoryArc which only concluded with the end of the series.
** This was intentional on the creator's part, as the books were planned as a seven-book arc from the beginning, which meant that many events in the first two books integrated seamlessly into the overall MythArc (the biggest one being Tom Riddle's Diary was actually [[spoiler:a Horcrux]].
** The first two books being almost stand-alones are more because not enough of the background had been established for the over-arching plot Rowling had intended from the beginning. It wasn't until ''Prisoner of Azkaban'' that enough had happened that the plot that had been developing since chapter one of ''The Philosopher's Stone'' could show itself.
* The first few books of ''Literature/ASeriesOfUnfortunateEvents'' were narratively and geographically discrete, and had only a handful of recurring characters; then ''The Austere Academy'' introduced the Quagmires and VFD and sent everything in a significantly more arcish direction.
** The first few books were later retconned into the story arc by the Unauthorized Autobiography.
** Initially the series was only supposed to be four books, but when Snicket decided to extend the series he needed a larger story arc to connect the books. Enter VFD.
* ''Literature/{{Discworld}}''. In the first few books, Ankh-Morpork was a generic fantasy city that Creator/TerryPratchett could burn down for the sake of a gag, and Bad Ass was "a village in the Ramtops" with no suggestion of any further society. Now it's impossible to set a book in Ankh without worrying about the Watch, the ''Times'', the wizards and CMOT Dibbler, and the Kingdom of Lancre is just as narratively dense, if still more sparsely populated.
** The wizards are a specific example. In the early books the UU had a different Archchancellor every time we visited, and the faculty were just whatever random characters the plot required (and the Librarian). Then he introduced Ridcully, and with him the Bursar, the Dean, the Senior Wrangler, the Lecturer in Recent Runes, and Ponder Stibbons. Paradoxically, this stability means that the UU has changed ''more'' in the later books, since it's got a fixed point to develop ''from''.
*** A (common) moment of genius on the part of Pratchett though - in the earlier books the wizards all had names, and consequently died. Then he introduced the usual suspects, didn't give them names, and they became recurring characters. The only exceptions - Ponder Stibbons (who's too smart and cowardly to die), Ridcully (who's too stubborn to die) and Rincewind (who's too fast to die, and in any case isn't so much a wizard as a wizzard) all, in some way, behave very differently from the standard Discworld wizards. The in-universe justification is that all of the old-school wizards killed each other off.
* The Vlad Taltos novels, set in Literature/{{Dragaera}}, were originally supposed to be able to stand alone, and aren't written in chronological order. Author Steven Brust admitted that this becomes less realistic as he continues to develop the series.
* The Literature/EighthDoctorAdventures tie-in novels began in early 1997 with a MonsterOfTheWeek format, albeit, one with lots of references to the show. However, starting with the 6th novel, Lawrence Miles' ''Alien Bodies'' later that year, the seeds of a MythArc were sown, and by the 23rd novel, Kate Orman and Jonathan Blum's ''Unnatural History'', published in 1999, the series was in full on ContinuityLockOut with story lines that wouldn't be sort of-tied up until 73rd and final novel, Lance Parkin's ''The Gallifrey Chronicles'', published in 2005.

* The original ''Film/ANightmareOnElmStreet1984'' takes place in an unspecified location ("Every town has an Elm Street.") and antagonist Freddy Krueger is a mysterious figure, with his ability to terrorize in dreams left relatively unexplained. A very effective Horror film in its own right, the sequels (of varying quality) developed the mythology around the character, gradually revealing the central location as Springwood, Ohio, as well as Krueger's history and tried to provide some detail as to how he gained his ability to enter dreams. They also eventually confirmed the original implications that he was a pedophile, which the earlier films could not explore. (This was all, of course, coupled with the more [[{{Flanderization}} familiar incarnation of "Freddy" as a comedic killer]], so hardly perfect.)
* The ''Franchise/{{Halloween}}'' underwent this, with the [[Film/Halloween1978 original film]] being an effective and suspenseful Horror film on its own, and the [[Film/HalloweenII1981 first sequel]] continuing the story, intending to conclude the Michael Myers storyline, while revealing that [[spoiler:Laurie Strode is Michael's long-lost sister, who doesn't know about the familial relationship between them]]. When later films returned to the character, they tried to add increasing complexity that many audiences felt reduced the menace of the central character. Although the series has since been rebooted more than once, the reveal has long been respected as canon, and elements of the fourth through sixth films, such have been alluded to as well.

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* ''Series/{{Smallville}}'''s first season is mostly made up of [[MonsterOfTheWeek freak of the week]] episodes, and generally becomes more arc-based.
* ''Series/StargateSG1'' has generally gone for a HalfArcSeason format, but as it went on, the arc episodes became more numerous, and the standalone episodes got rarer and rarer. The Anubis arc was a particularly notable example, as it lasted for several seasons.
* ''Series/{{Friends}}'' started off as a series of one-off episodes that didn't really affect each other. As it went on, continuity became more important, partly with Monica and Chandler's evolving relationship but especially Ross and Rachel's.
* ''Series/BoyMeetsWorld'' went through a similar evolution.
* A typical ''Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer'' season starts off with MonsterOfTheWeek episodes and gradually builds up to the finale Boss Battle. Ensuing seasons were increasingly storyline-based -- the final season was notably DarkerAndEdgier, with barely any standalone episodes.
* Its spinoff ''Series/{{Angel}}'' went through the same evolution, ultimately having a giant epic storyline that lasted 3 seasons(!). ''Angel'' then proceeded to devolve back into the much lighter monster of the week episodes in season 5 (including one which turned Angel into a puppet), before going back to an overreaching storyline about half way through.
* ''Series/StarTrekDeepSpaceNine'' had this happen progressively over its run, starting out with mostly standalone episodes with a few arcs in the background and getting more and more serialized over time. ''Series/StarTrekEnterprise'' had this happen too, but more suddenly: its almost completely standalone format was abruptly changed to a serialized year-long story arc for its third season. The fourth season dialed it back down to HalfArcSeason levels, but at the same time kept the serial nature of the show by making most of the standalone stories into two- or three-episode "mini-arcs".
* ''Series/{{Dollhouse}}'' had a similar evolution to the two Joss Whedon shows above, starting with generally stand alone episodes and not really delving into the series long BigBad until the last two episodes of the first season. One might wonder if this is Joss's preferred method of story building.
* ''Series/{{Reaper}}'' started off as a [[MonsterOfTheWeek Soul of the Week]] show, but about halfway through season one it started with the demon rebellion arc and examining the thorny questions of who Sam's dad is [[spoiler:most likely candidate is The Devil himself]]. Simultaneously GrowingTheBeard and developing CerebusSyndrome.
* ''Series/{{Farscape}}'' fits this trope perfectly, as nearly the entire first season was a series of stand-alone, FishOutOfWater stories focusing on John fitting in with the crew with an extremely loose over-arching story that almost never came into play. This changed drastically in ''Nerve'' the 19th episode, which introduced [[BigBad Scorpius]] and got the actual story moving. The continuity began to creep in more and more in Season 2 and eventually took over in Season 3 where every episode helped forward the overall story. Sadly, this ended up being the death of ''Farscape'' as the show developed ContinuityLockOut and failed to bring in any new viewers between Seasons 3 and 4, causing the network to cancel them.
* ''Series/DoctorWho'' began as a series of isolated stories set in various AdventureTowns in time and space (although the characters did evolve throughout the season). However, the second season saw its first major reference to the past in the form of the return of the Daleks, after they had all died, with the HandWave explanation that this adventure took place ''before'' their destruction. This and future seasons saw an increasing number of recurring elements and characters. It wasn't until the seventies that the narratives started to become definitely interconnected, and in the eighties this turned into ContinuityLockOut and ContinuityPorn. The new series, while still containing series and multi-series long arcs (with a few stand-alones) has dialed back on the ContinuityLockOut, if not completely. That is until Creator/StevenMoffat took over New Who in season 5. Since then, all of the seasons have been connected by a long over-arching story about the identity of the Doctor and new orders and secret organizations seeing him as a threat. The show returned to the series long arc format once the Twelfth Doctor took over.
* ''Series/{{Torchwood}}'' started off with MonsterOfTheWeek style for 2 seasons. Season 4 is the longest single story in the entire Whovian universe. Think about that.
* ''Franchise/PowerRangers'' began as a very episodic show, with the only continuing plot of note in [[Series/MightyMorphinPowerRangers the first season]] being the [[SixthRanger Green Ranger]] arcs. Season 6, ''Series/PowerRangersInSpace'', brought the continuity creep in alongside a year-long CrisisCrossover. Every season of the show since then, while self-contained and having brand new casts yearly, continues to focus on hefty plots. It really started earlier, right around season 3, which featured very few standalone episodes, almost every plot being multi-parters that each also connect into overarching plots. For example, in the arc that introduced Katherine, she helps Rita and Zedd capture Ninjor, the Falconzord, and Kimberly's pink power coin. While the power coin plot was resolved by the end of that arc, the other two aren't resolved until the later "Master Vile and the Metallic Armor" arc. And one stand-alone after that, the season saw the Alien Rangers arc, which helped to really shake things up.
* ''Series/ThePretender'' did start out teasing some over-arching mysteries (Jarod's origins and who killed Miss Parker's mother), but early episodes were largely episodic - focusing on Jarod's pretends and Miss Parker's pursuit. By Season 2, these and newer storylines started to gain prominence alongside the existing formula. By the last season, most episodes featured something that would be relevant to another or hint at something larger in store for viewers.
* ''Series/TerminatorTheSarahConnorChronicles'', starting about halfway through its second season, when it starts to transition away from [[MonsterOfTheWeek Terminator of the Week]] format.
* ''Series/{{Supernatural}}'' was originally a pure MonsterOfTheWeek with enough ongoing storyline to tie it together, but with each season that storyline has mutated more and more into an increasingly complex MythArc, to the point where everything in the protagonists' lives has been part of a greater celestial plan (which are in turn part of even greater plans, which are in turn part of even ''greater'' plans... Because destiny).
* ''Series/{{Journeyman}}'' was [[http://www.aintitcool.com/node/37863 headed this way]] before it was axed.
* ''Series/{{Chuck}}'' started off as a MonsterOfTheWeek show, but then introduced Fulcrum as the season enemy in the second season. This trope really kicked in during the last third of the second season and has kept up since then.
* Despite its roots as a spinoff of ''Series/{{Dallas}}'', ''Series/KnotsLanding'''s first season was largely episodic, with more of a family/neighborhood drama than a soap. In fact the first season of ''Dallas'' was episodic, as well.
* Season 1 of ''Series/AgentsOfSHIELD'' started out episodic, but later incorporated more {{Call Back}}s and continuous plots.
** The first midseason finale, "The Bridge", reveals that [[NebulousEvilOrganisation Centipede]] was the same group controlling Akela Amador via ExplosiveLeash, and they're now using the same technology to control their {{Super Soldier}}s.
** Two episodes later, we find out that recurring, seemingly independent, villain [[CorruptCorporateExecutive Ian Quinn]] is actually working for The Clairvoyant, the mysterious BigBad behind Centipede.
** The last several episodes of the season tie into ''Film/CaptainAmericaTheWinterSoldier'' with a story arc that is the culmination of much of what has happened on the series since episode 1.
* ''Series/AmericanHorrorStory'' started off with no continuity between seasons, but in the later seasons ''Freak Show'' has links to ''Asylum'', while ''Hotel'' has links to the very first story ''Murder House'' and had a character from ''Coven'' [[BackForTheDead reappear to get killed off]].

[[folder:Video Games]]
* The first ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZelda'' games had so little of a connecting storyline, that most fans thought it was just the same story, retold over and over and over (a misconception still held by some today). Then came ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaOcarinaOfTime'', which had an implicit connection to ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaALinkToThePast's'' Imprisoning War (later confirmed in the 25th anniversary encyclopedia ''[[AllThereInTheManual Hyrule Historia]]'' to be the result of [[AlternateTimeline one of three possible aftermaths]] of ''Ocarina''s story where Link is defeated). ''[[VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaTheWindWaker Wind Waker]]'' also had a direct connection to ''Ocarina'', the first game to explicitly confirm a timeline with more than one Link, with two sequels, ''[[VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaPhantomHourglass Phantom Hourglass]]'' and ''[[VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaSpiritTracks Spirit Tracks]]'' clearly following this story too. ''[[VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaTwilightPrincess Twilight Princess]]'', though mostly only seen through hints in-story, was confirmed by WordOfGod and ''Hyrule Historia'' to follow the "child" AlternateTimeline at the end of ''Ocarina'' (a different one to the one ''Link to the Past'' follows).
* ''Franchise/SonicTheHedgehog'': The games went from being almost completely separated to being connected all over the place to the point where it no longer makes sense sometimes.
* The ''VideoGame/{{Mega Man|Classic}}'' series almost never has a storyline to speak of. The ''VideoGame/MegaManX'' series, especially later on, tend to have self-contained plots with a ContinuityNod here and there and CharacterDevelopment. The ''VideoGame/MegaManZero'' series quite clearly continue one from the other, with major references to the previous games, the series' own convoluted backstory, a couple to the X series and a nod or two to points from the Classic series. Between the two ''VideoGame/MegaManZX'' games there's a pretty significant TimeSkip, but both games are also heavy on nods to all the past series. ''VideoGame/MegaManBattleNetwork'' and ''VideoGame/MegaManStarForce'', being {{R|olePlayingGame}}PGs, naturally are more story-heavy to begin with.
* The ''Franchise/TombRaider'' series initially had little or no connection between the games, but since Crystal Dynamics took over things have gotten more unified and focused.
* ''VideoGame/{{Touhou}}''. The first few games had no continuity, to the point that no one is entirely certain whether the sixth is a ContinuityReboot or not. The next few included characters from and references to earlier games, and were accompanied by some [[Manga/TouhouSangetsusei manga]] and [[Literature/TouhouKourindouCuriositiesOfLotusAsia short stories]] in the same setting, but it still didn't amount to much. Then we got some serious attempts at world building around the time of the tenth game, and the plots of official releases, videogame or otherwise, have been increasingly linked since.
* In a way, the "Zenithia trilogy" of ''VideoGame/DragonQuest'' (games IV - VI). Despite large differences in the world maps of the games, the lack of connections between the games' plots, and there being very few ties between IV and V and almost none between VI and the other two, fans did argue that there were faint clues that the three games took place in the same continuity (like the Loto/Erdrick trilogy that comprises the first three games). This was even after [[WordOfGod series creator Yuji Horii said in an interview that]] the three games were intended to only be linked by the recurring appearance of a heavenly location named Zenithia. However, with the DS remakes, it's now official that the three games do take place in the same continuity, especially with [[spoiler: a bonus quest in VI spelling it out that IV and then V take place in the future after VI]].
* ''VideoGame/KingsQuest'' wound up with this. The first two or four (depending on your point of view) games were pretty episodic. But then you have ''VideoGame/KingsQuestVAbsenceMakesTheHeartGoYonder'', where the BigBad is motivated by revenge for events from ''VideoGame/KingsQuestIIIToHeirIsHuman'', and the ending of ''VideoGame/KingsQuestVAbsenceMakesTheHeartGoYonder'' directly leads to ''VideoGame/KingsQuestVIHeirTodayGoneTomorrow'', which makes a ''lot'' of references to ''King's Quest III'', and includes anm incriminating letter linking three of the series villains to the same secret society. ''VideoGame/KingsQuestVIIThePrincelessBride'' hits, and the plot of that game directly ties back to ''VideoGame/KingsQuestIVThePerilsOfRosella'' ...And it all resets to NegativeContinuity with ''VideoGame/KingsQuestMaskOfEternity'', but few even consider that to be a KingsQuest game.
* ''VideoGame/SpaceQuest'' had the same progression. The first three games were quite episodic, but the fourth game? The villain from the second game is now a VirtualGhost and a little ticked off about being killed by a janitor. TimeTravel gets involved, and soon Roger is up to his eyeballs, going back to the first game and getting asked about the slot machine he broke, going to his future and getting punished for something he technically hadn't done yet, and finding out about his KidFromTheFuture and future wife. Well, that leads into the fifth game where he tries to better himself by going to the space academy, and meets said future wife. If she dies, it's a NonStandardGameOver for Roger due to temporal paradox. The sixth game mostly stands alone, but Roger is shown to have a collection of inventory items from previous games.
* Although the ''VideoGame/MarioAndLuigi'' games have never had any overarching plot line, they've gradually accumulated enough {{Continuity Nod}}s that there is a clear serial progression between games. ''[[VideoGame/MarioAndLuigiPartnersInTime Partners in Time]]'' has the least amount of references to its predecessor, ''[[VideoGame/MarioAndLuigiSuperstarSaga Superstar Saga]]'', with a cameo appearance by TheDragon of the previous game being the only significant plot connection. ''[[VideoGame/MarioAndLuigiBowsersInsideStory Bowser's Inside Story]]'' had many more connections, with the aforementioned Dragon becoming the BigBad and the plot of ''Partners in Time'' being mentioned several times in side quests. ''[[VideoGame/MarioAndLuigiDreamTeam Dream Team]]'' has the most connections with its predecessors, with the FairyCompanion of ''Bowser's Inside Story'' filling the role once again, the Block-like Broque Monsieur and Broque Madame revealed to be members of an entire Brock race, Beanbean Kingdom races being prominently featured again, Bowser retaining his leitmotif and VacuumMouth from the previous game, and the RunningGag about Bowser being unable to remember Luigi's name finally getting resolution by the end. ''[[VideoGame/MarioAndLuigiPaperJam Paper Jam]]'' dials back some of this but does make reference to games outside the Mario and Luigi series (Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker for example), brings back characters that have not appeared for a while (Toadette and King Bomb-omb) and gives some of them a lot of characterisation like the Koopalings (in comparison to past portrayals anyway). The games also have a minor character arc for Bowser where he goes from a HarmlessVillain in ''Superstar Saga'' to the BigBad of ''Paper Jam''. Luigi also goes through minor character development, becoming a little more bold and not ''quite'' as cowardly as the series progresses.

[[folder:Web Comics]]
* ''Webcomic/TheOrderOfTheStick'' started off with just the gang being in a typical D&D dungeon, which became a simple storyline about defeating a BigBad, and has since branched off into multiple long-running, complex storylines to the extent that individual strips are all but incomprehensible unless one reads the [[ArchiveBinge whole archive]]. (The book collection even added more strips at the beginning to make the story fit together more smoothly.)
* ''Webcomic/CtrlAltDel'' began as a gag-a-day strip, but soon developed into a series of multi-month-long stories divided by one-off gags.
* Honestly, this trope describes whatever the hell happened with ''Webcomic/BobAndGeorge'' about a thousand times better than CerebusSyndrome.
* Sort of example: ''Webcomic/{{minus}}'' was usually standalone strips that occasionally had pieces stretching over multiple strips. However [[http://www.kiwisbybeat.com/minus106.html this strip]] started a series of events that [[spoiler:caused the death of everyone on Earth]] and went on for 25 strips until the end of the entire comic!
* ''Webcomic/UnicornJelly'' started as a simple, cute fantasy tale of a witch and the transgender blob who loved her. It has hit major CerebusSyndrome, and spawned not just a universe with its own well-defined but very alien physics and BizarreAlienBiology, but a [[TheMultiverse Multiverse]] of AlternateContinuity and [[Webcomic/PastelDefenderHeliotrope several]] [[Webcomic/ToSaveHer spinoffs]]. [[http://www.pasteldefender.com/226.html This diagram]] is supposed to explain the various alternate universe and TimeTravel plots in JDR's webcomics; good luck making sense of it...
* Starting well before most webcomics did, ''Webcomic/SluggyFreelance'' could be the UrExample. It has some stories that last ''months''. And a collection of looser storylines that run parallel to each other, alternating from the sidelines to the foreground but never completely ending, for '' ''' years.''' '' And this is talking about a webcomic that updates daily with barely a single interruption. The ArchivePanic is heart attack-inducing.
%%* ''Webcomic/DresdenCodak'' and the Hob storyline.
* The first three story arcs of ''Webcomic/TheInexplicableAdventuresOfBob'' (that is, the first three ''years''' worth of stories from the strip's heyday as a weekly printed strip at Penn State) have negligible continuity with each other. It's only in the fourth story arc that the various threads start intermingling into an elaborate world full of space empires, dragons, and artificial life forms.
* ''Webcomic/IrregularWebcomic'' originally had unrelated gags in each theme, then an ongoing story in each theme, and is eventually had a massive ongoing story involving almost every theme. Mentioned in the rerun commentary:
-->Continuity tends to grow as works of fiction mature and get more of a history behind them.
-->Maybe I should start a new webcomic which ''begins'' with a rich story-based tapestry with a detailed background, and then devolves into disconnected gags with no ongoing story or continuity.
* {{Invoked|Trope}} in ''Webcomic/SkinHorse'', which was pretty continuity heavy from the start, but nonetheless took the time to {{lampshade|Hanging}} it (the "simple" beginnings they refer to, in addition to not being that simple, are actually only the first ''week'' of strips):
-->'''Shaenonn''': Remember when this was a simple strip about transvestites psychoanalysing lions?
-->'''Jeff''': I go where the muse takes me.
* ''Webcomic/{{Sinfest}}'' had little to no regard to continuity in its earlier years. But extended story arcs began taking shape before so long. And old throw-away gags from earlier days have also been brought back and expanded upon, including Squigley's ability to [[WrongContextMagic fly his couch while high]] and Criminy not thinking to call Amber back after their date.
* ''Webcomic/{{Nebula}}'' was mostly self-contained and humorous antics early on, though by #7 the different comics were interconnected enough (with on-going and complex storylines) that the authors started including links to prior installments in TheRant.
* ''Webcomic/{{Adventurers}}'' was a simple gag comic about RPG clichés at first. Continuity creeped in little by little, starting with introducing more party members for the team, and later with story arcs about the Eternals, Khrima's generals, and the elemental relics. Minor characters who seemed to exist only for simple jokes (Gildward[[note]]who initially didn't even have a name[[/note]], Spybot, Chookie, Cody, Argent[[note]]whose proper name was never revealed[[/note]], etc.) started recurring and became significant, and many had backstories revealed.

[[folder:Web Original]]
* According to WordOfGod, the Literature/WhateleyUniverse started out like this. Six authors writing inter-related short stories about their characters. It evolved into over a dozen {{Canon}} authors and ongoing arcs.
* Ostensibly, one of the reasons Rooster Teeth ended ''Machinima/RedVsBlue: The Blood Gulch Chronicles'' at Episode 100 was to put an end to the continuity creep and continue writing for the series from a point where newcomers could enjoy the show without ContinuityLockout. While they succeeded, the series from that point forth became [[CerebusSyndrome much more plot based]], and a good number of the [[CallBack Call Backs]] still require familiarity with all the older episodes (as opposed to just episodes from the most recent trilogy, ''Recollection'').
* Franchise/TheSlenderManMythos initially just consisted of a few blogs and Website/YouTube series that were all independent of each other as far as continuity went. The only links were Slender Man's appearance and his attributes, [[DependingOnTheWriter and the latter tended to be somewhat subjective]]. But with the accumulated references to previously made blogs and the development of the Core Theory, the continuity of the Mythos now is quite impressive. [[ContinuityLockout Newcomers may actually feel overwhelmed by how much they have to keep up with]].
* Wiki/SCPFoundation started off just with pages on the various, isolated [=SCP=]s, but the site has developed stronger continuity thanks to stories about the Foundation members themselves and, especially, thanks to later [=SCP=]s being used, collected and/or produced by various anti-Foundation organizations such as the cult of the Serpent's Hand, rich people club Marshall, Carter, and Dark Ltd., and AlternateUniverse institute Alexylva University.
* The ''Roleplay/GlobalGuardiansPBEMUniverse'' began as just one guy telling stories about a single group of superheroes. Granted, the backdrop for these stories was a well-conceived and constructed world filled with dynamic characters that allowed huge changes to occur. Skip ahead fifteen years and there's close to thirty story-tellers all adding to the mythology of the series through the actions of nearly three hundred characters.
* ''WebVideo/AtopTheFourthWall'' started out as a series of text reviews looking at bad comics before transitioning to a standard video review show. Eventually it started gaining storyarcs that occurred in conjunction with the reviews, Linkara started receiving a regular supporting cast, and some events from the storyarcs even ended up affecting the reviews.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* ''WesternAnimation/InvaderZim'' became more and more self-referential after the episode "Tak, the Hideous New Girl" (especially since [[spoiler:Dib got a spaceship]] at the end which he would later try to continually replace). If it wasn't cancelled, it would have developed a MythArc about Operation Impending Doom 2 failing at the hands of the [[LaResistance Resisty]], and the story would have culminated in a movie.
* ''WesternAnimation/JusticeLeague'' initially had two- and three-part episodes which didn't really affect each other (except for the recurring villains). Then they started throwing in short arcs that built on the plot of previous Franchise/{{DCAU}} series, such as the season two premiere, which was a follow-up to ''WesternAnimation/SupermanTheAnimatedSeries'''s finale. And then, even the completely standalone episodes would still have brief moments suggesting continuity: the slow buildup of {{U|nresolvedSexualTension}}ST between John Stewart and Hawkgirl, and the very subtle bits of foreshadowing pointing towards the season two GrandFinale. Then ''Justice League Unlimited'' went all-out and used overarching plots that took half the season to resolve--CADMUS in the first two seasons, then the Secret Society in season three. It's generally agreed that the growth in continuity was concurrent with [[GrowingTheBeard an upswing in quality]].
* ''WesternAnimation/BatmanTheBraveAndTheBold'' also started off as a series of done-in-one stories (with the occasional two-parter). Then in the second season, the [[ExecutiveMeddling toy company demanded]] an [[MerchandiseDriven arc concerning Starro]], which was told through the [[TheTeaser Cold Openings]] before being resolved as a two-part episode. To a lesser extent, the final season does this with Equinox, who was supposedly killed in the first season, but returned to seek vengeance on Batman and the [[Comicbook/JusticeLeagueInternational JLI]].
* ''WesternAnimation/CodeLyoko'', once enough episodes were in circulation for viewers to know what the hell was going on. It actually started with an unexplained OneWePreparedEarlier opening.
* ''Franchise/{{Transformers}}'' continuity became substantially stronger after the animated movie. ''Headmasters'' continued this trend with episodes that, while for the most part self-contained, were intended to be shown in a particular order. ''Masterforce'' then had a full-on MythArc.
** ''WesternAnimation/BeastWars'' started out episodic, but after the first season final it developed continuous {{Story Arc}}s.
** ''WesternAnimation/TransformersAnimated'' began with almost entirely self-contained episode, and while it has yet to get a continuous StoryArc, [[HalfArcSeason more and more episodes became continuations of previous ones]]. Story editor Marty Isenberg says this is his preferred form of writing.
* ''WesternAnimation/TheVentureBrothers'' started off random adventures parodying Johnny Quest, by the second season it all became interlocking and connecting stories, some of which purposely aired out of order.
* ''WesternAnimation/{{Daria}}'' was completely episodic in its first three seasons, with only an occasional ContinuityNod. Then the season three finale saw Jane get a steady boyfriend, and the remaining two seasons and two movies turned into an occasionally quite moving examination of this change to the status quo as well as Quinn showing some HiddenDepths.
* ''WesternAnimation/TheFairlyOddParents'' fell into this for a period, when they realized they had enough previous material to do so, with multiple episodes featuring Timmy's previous wishes gone wrong returning for revenge on occasion. This is especially prevalent in the episode concerning Unwish Island, as well as Timmy's Secret Wish and the Wishology trilogy. Since around the latter, however, these stories have declined back to the more familiar episodic structure with relatively little ongoing continuity, save a few references in the tenth season to Timmy's Dad suddenly becoming rich.
* From the first few episodes of the third season onward, ''WesternAnimation/PhineasAndFerb'' had finally became a show all about referencing itself.
* ''WesternAnimation/ReBoot'' was episodic until ABC canceled it. The move to another network allowed the writing staff far more freedom, and this trope followed suit.
* ''WesternAnimation/AdventureTime'' began going in this direction after second season finale, although the process was relatively gradual at first, with mythology episodes being separated by relatively typical adventures by the show's standard By the fifth season, however, the series began to suffer from a severe case of CerebusSyndrome and building up a long list of {{sequel episode}}s as well as flashbacks and ongoing story arcs, with fewer episodes able to stand on their own, culminating in three mini-series - Stakes, Islands and Elements.
* ''WesternAnimation/TeenTitans'' started off as mainly just self-contained episodes sans a 4-5 episode StoryArc but around the 3rd or 4th season references to events in past seasons started to be made. Culminating in the final season becoming almost completely serialized.
* ''WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic'' has experienced an increased level of continuity in season 3. While {{Continuity Nod}}s were common in previous seasons, and were able to make nods to very small details, several season 3 episodes have plots that act as outright continuations of of previous episodes, such as "Magic Duel" to "Boast Busters" and "Keep Calm and Flutter On" to "The Return of Harmony". Continued in season 4 with the season premier being a direct sequel to the previous season finale, and the Equestria Games mentioned in "Games Ponies Play" coming back as a recurring story arc.
* ''WesternAnimation/RegularShow'' remained episodic for most of its run, but began to revisit previously established plot elements and build upon them more readily after its second season. There was a much larger emphasis on story arcs concerning character relationships since the fourth season. The final season, "Regular Show InSpace " was fully serialized.
* ''WesternAnimation/TheAmazingWorldOfGumball'' tended to [[NegativeContinuity avoid continuity]] for much of its first two seasons, with the exception of "The Finale", where they point this out, causing [[ContinuityCavalcade everything to come back at once]]. During the course of Season 3, however, continuity became a regular thing, most notably after "The Shell" in which [[spoiler: Penny breaks out of her shell and [[RelationshipUpgrade starts her relationship with Gumball]]]], altering the status quo for the first time. Since then, the show has had its fair share of {{Call Back}}s, {{Sequel Episode}}s and even some inter-episode {{Foreshadowing}} and {{Cerebus Retcon}}s, but the large majority of episodes still work as standalone stories.
* ''WesternAnimation/WanderOverYonder'' Season 1 is comprised of goofy standalone stories with a just pinch of continuity present in a few episodes, mainly the later ones. Season 2 has a MythArc that primarily occurs over four episodes, but still concerns many of the self-contained stories as well, without causing ContinuityLockout .
* ''WesternAnimation/LittlestPetShop2012'' has a pretty pronounced case. Season 1's episodes are all completely independent of each other, with continuity limited to featured characters making background appearances later on. Later seasons would have episodes that build upon previous episodes, most notably "[[Recap/LittlestPetShop2012S2E11BlythesBigIdea Blythe's Big Idea]]", which serves mainly as setup for at least five episodes later into the season. In addition, each season finale has Blythe make a leap in her status in the fashion world, and the following season's episodes are written with that in mind. By Season 4, the entire season would become one big StoryArc with numerous references to the previous three seasons.
* ''WesternAnimation/SamuraiJack'' had little continuity before its cancellation in 2004. It mostly followed the StrictlyFormula of Jack either trying to go back to the past (and failing), defeating merceneries sent by Aku or resolving a local problem. In fact, the Scottman was the only recuring character besides Jack and Aku. When the show was revived in 2017, it became a serial story with many characters returning.
* ''WesternAnimation/AllHailKingJulien'' started out as a comedic series of stand-alone episodes with some callbacks and continuity. The end of the second season introduced a dramatic cliffhanger that led to a mini-arc regarding Julien's parents the following season. After that, a seemingly-minor BrickJoke ended up becoming a major plot point in the last few episodes of season four, which ended in another cliffhanger that sets up the fifth season, ''Exiled'', which features a large StoryArc that resolves said cliffhanger.
* ''WesternAnimation/StevenUniverse'' began as a fairly episodic MonsterOfTheWeek show where Steven and the Gems fight creatures, solve mysteries, and deal with personal relationships. As the first season continued a MythArc started to build with the mid season finale hinting at a greater plot. From there the plot has grown exponentially, with various character moments coming back and several innocuous background events gaining greater relevance. The protagonists meet more concrete recurring antagonists and even creatures like the monster defeated in the pilot make a few returns to further explore the show's backstory.

* ''WesternAnimation/SouthPark'' is a very unusual example. While most famous for [[TheyKilledKennyAgain killing off the same character repeatedly in amusing ways]] despite all continuity, early seasons actually had a number of small continuity nods, as well as ongoing storylines concerning teacher Mr. Garrison, which often played as subplots in otherwise standalone episodes. After the sixth season, which featured multiple minor arcs, the show began veering a little closer to StatusQuoIsGod although still with the occasional CallBack or RunningGag scene. More famously, however, it experimented with ongoing storylines from the eighteenth to twentieth seasons.
** The sixth season, again, was particularly filled with story arcs, mostly relating to the fallout from Kenny's "permanent" death the previous season and the boys' efforts to move past it by hanging out with Butters, Tweek, and eventually Kenny's spirit trapped in Cartman's body. Another storyline considers the death of Ms. Choksondik and Mr. Garrison's promotion to Fourth Grade Teacher as he comes to terms with his sexuality and finally discards his SentientPuppet Mr. Hat.
** The second half of the twelfth season featured a few common threads, with the main boys confronting their own unpopularity at school across four episodes in "Breast Cancer Show Ever", the "Pandemic" duology, and "Elementary School Musical". None of this is intentional, and the episodes stand on their own.
** The eighteenth season unintentionally fell under this. "Gluten Free Ebola" only happened to carry from the previous episode for convenience, but a RunningGag involving Randy Marsh lying about knowing the musician Lorde, and being forced to impersonate her, was mistaken by a journalist for suggesting he and Lorde were one and the same. The next episode featured a reporter by the same name uncovering that Lorde is indeed Randy's alter-ego. This became a running gag throughout the season, and ArcWelding brought this and many other gags together for the season's final two episodes, which tried to create a cohesive storyline. Multiple episodes also happened to comment on issues in technology as well. Matt and Trey flat-out admit on the commentary this all happened accidentally at first. (So, really, the first eight episodes can mostly stand on their own.)
** The nineteenth season featured heavier continuity, introducing new character PC Principal to kick off an overall arc about PoliticalCorrectnessGoneMad - however, again, the first seven episodes mostly focus on their own subject matter and stand alone, with topics such as the upcoming presidential campaign and Yaoi fan art. Like the previous season, the final three episodes of the season tried to tie everything together into one cohesive storyline, though the final episode maintains its own theme on gun rights as well. The season is often described as serialized due to the ongoing themes.
** The twentieth season was infamously fully serialized, with one long storyline broke up over ten episodes, with only a few carrying individual identity. The concept proved too ambitious for its own good, especially when [[RealLifeWritesThePlot the actual presidential election]] messed up the creators' planned story line, resulting in an AbortedArc and a conclusion for the other threads that many did not find satisfying. Even the final two episodes themselves made fun of the show's serialization
** Season 21 seems to have returned to the show's StatusQuoIsGod days, with one RunningGag but little else for continuity.
** The episodes "200" and "201", as well as ''VideoGame/SouthParkTheStickOfTruth'' were all willing to utilize {{Continuity Cavalcade}} to their full advantage as love letters to the shows' fans, and the latter was seen as driving the show's swing towards serialization.
* Craig Gerber's two shows, ''WesternAnimation/SofiaTheFirst'' and its spin off series, ''WesternAnimation/ElenaOfAvalor'' , both follow this. Regarding the former, it started out with simple one and done stories with the occasional callback. Most episodes from season 2 onward build off of previous episodes in some way. This is taken up to eleven in seasons 3 and 4, with the Secret Library and Mystic Isles arcs. In the case of the latter, though it maintains the same TV-Y rating as Sofia, it has a much tighter story arc starting at the beginning. It has standalone episodes, but sequel episodes and continuity callbacks are increasingly more common.