->''"Ben and I decided that we needed more strips and punchlines that only make sense to hardcore readers. Look forward to jokes so inaccessible even we, the authors, don't get them."''
-->-- '''Lewis''', ''Webcomic/TerrorIsland [[http://www.terrorisland.net/strips/200.html #200]]''

%% One quote is sufficient. Please place additional entries on the quotes tab.

The writers have let the mythos they've generated get so [[ContinuitySnarl thick and convoluted]] that a newcomer has very little chance of understanding the significance of ''anything''. They are 'locked out' of understanding the story by all the continuity.

This is one of the main bones of contention between creators and executives. Executives generally want each episode to potentially bring in a new audience. Creators generally want to [[PanderingToTheBase entertain the audience they have]]. In a rare case of this wiki taking the side of the [[ExecutiveMeddling executive meddlers]], we have to admit that continuity lock-out is never caused by the execs. It has to be written.

The standard answer to this issue is the PreviouslyOn segment: many shows open each episode with a short capsule summary of prior events. Of course, {{Previously On}}s have their own drawbacks, such as inadvertently providing {{spoiler}}s or flat-out not working (because it is impossible to explain everything adequately in the space of 60 seconds). Another answer is to create a JumpingOnPoint, where an episode or block of episodes that (at least for the moment) wraps up several long-running plotlines is followed by a block of episodes with relatively little dependence on prior continuity.

Why bother with the intense continuity at all? Simple: An intricate series-spanning plot often results in a stronger and more interesting overall show. You may not catch as many fans, but the ones you do get are yours for life. This does mean that you have be sure to rope in as many as possible early on before the Lockout effect takes hold to make the effort worthwhile.

Some long-running series and certain mediums (such as novels) are designed to be engaged within a linear multi-volume fashion over a period of time, and the authors can't reasonably be expected to keep everything entirely accessible to a newcomer if they want to engage in any meaningful plot or CharacterDevelopment; if you start reading a seven-volume series at volume five and find yourself hopelessly lost, then you arguably have only yourself (or in some cases [[KeepCirculatingTheTapes the publisher]]) to blame.

This is particularly prevalent in comic book series, more so than television or film, because while most TV shows run for a maximum of a few hundred episodes (most of which are easily obtainable one way or another) some comic book series run for much longer. (Like Franchise/{{Superman}}: Consistently in print since the ''1930s''). This, and the fact that comic books can be incredibly rare (with the auction prices this entails), ensures that most new readers are just going to either give up or ignore most of the last 70 years of continuity. In the past, it wasn't uncommon for long-running series to actually recycle storylines with little variation, in keeping with the SevenYearRule.

A CompressedAdaptation might cause this. In WebComics, this can be the impetus for an ArchiveBinge or a justification for ArchivePanic.

The rise of services like on-demand video have done wonders to push this toward DeadHorseTrope status, especially as more series move toward airing fewer episodes in order to put a higher production budget into each and making it easier to catch up (''Series/GameOfThrones'' is the most potent example of this.) The internet allowing for easy access of fan-made sources of information (see: TheWikiRule) has also made this less of an issue. Still, relying too much on prior material is seen as poor practice, particularly when it involves ExpandedUniverse stories in other media.



[[folder: Anime and Manga]]
* ''Franchise/{{Gundam}}'':
** This happened with the [[Anime/MobileSuitGundam original UC timeline]], which is one of the main reasons AlternateUniverse series were made. It was also a major driving force behind the creation of ''Anime/MetalArmorDragonar''; Bandai wanted to bring in fans who might have otherwise been stymied by the existing ''Gundam'' mythos and were ready to switch production to ''Dragonar'' if it outperformed ''[[Anime/MobileSuitGundamZZ Gundam ZZ]]''. It didn't, but remains a cult favorite.
** Somewhat remedied by the easy-to-follow-if-hard-to-grab-all-the-nuances ''Anime/MobileSuitGundamUnicorn''.
* Parodied in an episode of ''Manga/SayonaraZetsubouSensei'': Itoshiki was [[OnceAnEpisode driven to despair]] by, among other things, the fact that his own show had so many {{running gag}}s that it was impossible for new viewers to understand. Hence, he [[PaintingTheMedium changed the screen]] so that it displayed constantly changing information about all the characters and their personalities, and went on to explain several of the [[PunnyName nominal puns]] and running jokes.\\
It was also parodied in that they quickly grew tired of those longtime viewers who knew the show so well they saw all the jokes coming.
* ''Manga/FullmetalAlchemist''. Same goes for [[Anime/FullmetalAlchemist the 2003 anime adaptation]], especially if you're watching the {{OVA}} and didn't see the last few episodes.
* This is cited as a major problem with ''Anime/DigimonTheMovie''. Unless you're already familiar with the franchise, the overall plot will be all but incomprehensible, and the [[DubInducedPlotHole plotholes induced by the dubs edits]], resulting from decisions such as cutting down the Hurricane Touchdown segment to a third of its original running time and shoehorning it in with the other two segments of the film (albiet that was at [[ExecutiveMeddling executive insistence]]), despite barely relating to their events at all and [[RememberTheNewGuy having a whole new set of characters dropped on the audience]], aren't helping.
* ''Manga/DeathNote'', mostly due to the GambitPileup nature of the series. It's possible to jump in within the first ten episodes or so, but after Light and L actually meet each other, forget ''that''.
* Given that ''Manga/OnePiece'' has been running since 1997, Eiichiro Oda understandably tries to avoid locking out his readers, which can be difficult given the fact that almost [[ChekhovsGun everything]] and [[ChekhovsGunman everyone]] in the series is of [[KudzuPlot some importance]] even if you don't follow the series from the start. Given that collecting every volume of the story released so far will set you back a few hundred dollars, he understandably puts short flash-backs into the story as well as summaries of the various arcs. To offset this, volume 50 is clearly labelled as a good "starting point", complete with recaps, backgrounds and a new direction for the story.
* Would you believe a simple {{fanservice}}-laden UnwantedHarem show like ''Manga/ToLoveRu'' has this? If you only watch the anime, you'll never find out what's the deal with [[CheerfulChild Celine]], where did she come from, and why she's suddenly living with the main cast. Or, until the second anime season, where did [[CuteGhostGirl Oshizu]] get herself a new body. Also, the new manga ''Manga/ToLoveRu Darkness'' makes no effort of helping newcomers on telling who's everyone.
* ''Manga/TsubasaReservoirChronicle''. It is a MassiveMultiPlayerCrossover that requires you to read ''Manga/XxxHolic'' in order to understand what's going on in the background. Even then, you'd probably still be a little lost unless you also happened to have read ''Manga/CardcaptorSakura'' (which, admittedly, is probably the reason why you're reading ''Tsubasa'' in the first place), [[RunningGag AND]] ''Manga/{{X 1999}}'' [[OverusedRunningGag AND]] ''Manga/TokyoBabylon'' by extension. Reading ''Anime/{{Chobits}}'' also doesn't hurt.
** Though reading them all doesn't guarantee full [[MindScrew understanding]]. Not even Creator/{{CLAMP}} (the creators, mind you) [[CrowningMomentOfFunny understand it fully.]]
* ''Manga/PokemonAdventures'' has its instances of this, with current, important plot points coming from previous-generation chapters.
* Just about all the ''Anime/{{Pokemon}}'' movies are [[NonSerialMovie completely separate from the series and themselves]], so one needn't see them to understand something in the series. That said, they assume you're already familiar with the series itself, as they make little effort to establish who the main cast are or what they're even doing. The first few movies, particularly ''Anime/PokemonTheFirstMovie'', are even worse -- that one expects you to know what Pokémon are, who Giovanni is, why he's so important, and many other aspects someone unfamiliar with the franchise would be totally lost at.
* ''Anime/CodeGeass'': So many things happen in each episode, especially in the super-fast pace of R2, just skipping one episode would result in no understanding of the current plot. And it's difficult to understand the plot even while watching normally.
* ''Anime/GhostInTheShellStandAloneComplex'' can fall into this due to the episodic nature of its episodes.
** The first season isn't so bad. Its episodes are cleanly split between "Stand Alone" and "Complex" episodes. Stand Alone episodes are entirely self-contained storylines that are wrapped up by the end of each episode. They're not filler episodes (as they reveal background info for the characters, among other things) but they're not related to the main plotline that gets told in the Complex episodes.
** The 2nd season gets a little more complicated. Episodes are divided into "Dividual", "Individual", and "Dual" episodes. Dividual episodes seem to be like Stand Alone episodes, except all of them have some minor detail that becomes more important later on. All three episode types cover three different angles to an overarching storyline that eventually unfolds.
** Following along with the story can be quite confusing if you don't watch either season from the very start, or even if you end up missing even one episode, as the series doesn't use PreviouslyOn, and don't use {{Recap Episode}}s in the same obvious way that most series do.
*** ''And all of this headache isn't even including how the original manga and the Creator/MamoruOshii films are by themselves separate continuities that have nothing in common with each other.'' Anyone who's just starting into the series will inevitably ask what the correlation is between the manga, the movies, and the anime series.
*** This also proved to be one of the many problems with the 2017 live-action remake. The story ended up confusing fans with the changes made to the source material and also gave more casual audiences questions about references to the original story they didn't understand.
* Anybody introduced to the ''[[Franchise/DotHack .hack]]'' series as an anime can potentially run into a giant wall of Lock-Out. The two main anime series, ''Sign'' and ''Roots'', are actually ''prequels'' to the main stories of their respective MythArc which are told in two sets of [=PS2=] games, and thus (although the former does resolve its main story) don't resolve many of the major story-arc significant plot-points of the respective eras. Made worse with the second anime "Legend of the Twilight Bracelet" being the non-canon version of its respective manga, and ''Roots'' having been rendered non-canon, with most of its depicted story (though not its myth-arc) events suffering from CanonDiscontinuity to the point it's recommended to just skip those two entries entirely. The effect is even worse if you read the novels or manga, which are generally side stories (or for the novelizations/adaptations of the video games AlternateContinuity), with huge references to the main plotlines that aren't well-explained in that form. The games leave some things unexplained (the system restart during the climax of ''Quarantine'' comes off as an enormous DeusExMachina... unless you watch ''Liminality'', which explains why that happened), but left ambiguous enough that that section of the story such doesn't seem necessary. And that's not even getting into .Hack//Link which has its story tied to revisiting the stories of the past parts of the franchise, only for them to get many if not all of the details wrong. While the franchise DOES explain some events in brief that are expanded more on in other material so as to not leave a newer inductee completely lost (you can pretty much just pick up each of the two [=PS2=] game series stories and still get a complete story out of it), you may not fully appreciate this series unless you're prepared to read/watch/play ''all'' of it.
* Three words: ''Manga/HajimeNoIppo.'' The series has been running for decades and has already clocked in at over 1,000 chapters with no real end in sight. Sure, you COULD jump in later since it's about boxing and thus all you'd need to know is "this character won/lost some previous matches," but without knowledge of who certain characters are or how/why they box a certain way would make it difficult to follow.
* ''Anime/VisionOfEscaflowne'' is guilty of this, mostly due to focusing ONLY on its story and characters. It's carefully plotted and compressed, the content in the episodes always leads up to something, and there's absolutely NO filler in it (this would have been rectified had the producers had the necessary budget and amount of episodes they wanted), not that this prevented fans from loving it to death.
* The third ''Anime/RebuildOfEvangelion'' movie is next to impossible to follow if you haven't seen the [[Anime/NeonGenesisEvangelion original series]]. For one thing, the vast majority of the {{Continuity Nod}}s and {{Mythology Gag}}s make no sense otherwise, and the revelation that [[spoiler:Kaworu is the final Angel]] comes out of nowhere.
* ''Manga/JoJosBizarreAdventure'' averts this by splitting itself into parts (eight so far, the latest two happening in an AlternateContinuity), each one with a different setting and main character (though characters from previous parts may make appearances, Jotaro and Joesph being the biggest). Each time it reintroduces the concept of Stands and sometimes offers some cliff notes from previous parts when they become relevant to the story (though some continuity bits just get a vague explanation, like how Joesph got his prosthetic hand in Part 2). Thus, it's pretty easy to just pick a part and start from there (which worked for Creator/VizMedia initially licensed Part 3 before licensing the previous two parts). If you ask any established fan of the series, "where should I start?", they will usually say "Start from the beginning, and don't skip any parts" in order to discourage continuity lockout as much as possible.
* ''Franchise/KagerouProject'': The series' beginnings as a series of character-driven ([[HyperlinkStory and seemingly unrelated]]) songs - with only minimal information released by the project's creator - has lead to a lot of new fans feeling alienated due to the complexity of the whole plot (made worse by the fact that the songs don't have an official order), and the LoadsAndLoadsOfCharacters contained therein. Even the series' other adaptations provide issues, as the manga is still incomplete and the anime (while complete and comprehensive) leaves significant gaps and relies on viewers knowing at least a little about the project and its characters before viewing.
* Surprisingly averted by ''Manga/UQHolder''. Despite being a sequel to ''Manga/MahouSenseiNegima'', a lot of the plots and characters are new and stand apart from the series. When knowledge of Negima is required, concepts and relationship from the series are well-explained.
* ''Franchise/DragonBall'':
** With ''Anime/DragonBallZ'', Toonami made sure to avert this by constantly rerunning past episodes and storylines in order when they ran out of new episodes to run. At one point they ran the show 15 times a week, with 2 episodes every weekday: one new episode, and one rerun, both from different parts of the story, and then marathoning the 5 new episodes again on Saturday. The show was also made widely available on VHS and DVD in "saga" sets diving the show's almost-300 episodes into 14 chunks, making things a bit easier to follow. It apparently worked, because the show was a huge success in the US, despite very few American fans watching the show from the very beginning.
** Also, while it can be helpful, it's not necessary to watch the first ''Manga/DragonBall'' series before jumping into ''Dragon Ball Z''. Its important events are well-covered through flashbacks and verbal recollection. The series wasn't even properly exported to the US until ''DBZ'' became popular, and even now, only the more hardcore ''Dragon Ball'' fans are likely to have watched all of it. ''Anime/DragonBallGT'' however, is incomprehensible without prior knowledge of ''DBZ'''s storyline.
** ''Anime/DragonBallSuper'' has a minor case of this since the show starts on the assumption that the viewer is aware of the events of the Buu Saga. This has caused much confusion for many newer English fans who grew up watching ''Dragon Ball Z Kai'' which only went up to the Cell Games and ''Buu Kai'' didn't get an English premiere until ''Super'' was airing at the same time on Toonami. Also, since the show runs on nostalgia, all the {{Continuity Nod}}s and {{Call Back}}s can be hard to follow, especially the Future Trunks Saga that mixed important plot points from both the Cell and Buu Sagas. The show also assumes the viewer read or at least have passing knowledge of ''Manga/JacoTheGalacticPatrolman'', since it doesn't bother to explain where Jaco came from, how he knows the Briefs, when did Bulma get a sister, or who are the Galactic Patrol. Toei attempted to [[{{Averted}} avert]] some of this by retelling the movies written by Toriyama, so people didn't have to go out and buy the [=DVDs=] to catch up with the latest events. You can even skipped the retellings and jumped to Episode 28, the start of the Champa Saga, since Episode 30 is a RecapEpisode of everything that has happened up to the point. And though the Resurrection 'F' Saga draws a lot of parallels and plot points from the Namek/Frieza Saga, it's easy enough to follow since it is a basic revenge story.
* Being the GrandFinale of the Hope's Peak Saga, ''Anime/DanganRonpa3'' is ''full'' of this. Anyone who doesn't have acute and aware knowledge of ''VisualNovel/DanganRonpa'', ''LightNovel/DanganRonpaZero'', ''VisualNovel/SuperDanganRonpa2'' and ''VideoGame/AbsoluteDespairGirls'' is bound to get completely slipped up and lost over what the hell is going on.
* [[Anime/HyperdimensionNeptunia The Hyperdimension Neptunia anime]] seems to have been made with the assumption that the viewer has already played the games, and thus does little in terms of world building or establishing characters and their relationships. It's not ''impossible'' to follow along without having played the games, but important plot points, such as the alternate dimension Plutia and Peashy are from, recieve less of an explanation than one might expect.

[[folder: Audio Drama ]]
* Several of the AudioDrama/BigFinishDoctorWho releases circa the late noughties / early teens, to the point that once they managed to wrap up all the major ongoing story arcs they decided not to start any more and focus on stories that worked as standalones. Perhaps the worst offender is the Forge / Hex story arc: The trilogy of "Protect and Survive", "Black and White" and "Gods and Monsters" requires you to have heard the preceding trilogy of "Project: Destiny", "A Death in the Family" and "Lurkers at Sunlight's Edge", ''and'' that also needs the previous two "Project" stories ("Twilight" and "Lazarus") plus "The Angel of Scutari", "Arrangements for War" and "Thicker than Water" ''at the very least'' (you would ideally have also heard as many of Hex and Evelyn's previous stories as possible). Plus there's the Companion Chronicle "Project: Nirvana", which should ideally be listened to ''between'' episodes 1 and 2 of "Black and White".

[[folder: Comic Books ]]
* This was the reason given for DC Comics' first CosmicRetcon, ComicBook/CrisisOnInfiniteEarths, back in 1985: that things were getting too confusing for the fans (in actuality, it was getting too confusing for the ''writers'' but they didn't want to admit it).
* Creator/ChrisClaremont took this to eleven with his out-of-continuity miniseries ''ComicBook/XMen: The End'', which tries to bring ''every subplot of 30 years'' to a satisfactory conclusion.
** During his run on ''X-Men'', Creator/GrantMorrison stated that he wanted to make the book more accessible to new readers by avoiding mentioning past storylines beyond [[BroadStrokes vague summaries]]. Once he left the book, the subsequent writers went right back to the older, continuity-heavy storytelling style.
** [[Film/XMen1 The first movie]] did far better business than expected. A number observed that not only were the comics mired in their own complicated storylines and prominently featuring non-movie characters instead, but that Marvel didn't even try to tie-in to the movie - which is understandable, since film adaptations of comic books are generally considered to be aimed at a distinct audience and exist within their own continuity anyway. Consequently, the comics saw no boost in readership as the movie raked in millions, so the trope was cited. Crossover traffic may not have happened regardless and this next part may not be true, but the trope is widely believed to be the reason why Bob Harras was fired from Marvel.
* Fred Perry's ''ComicBook/GoldDigger'' has a degree of Continuity Lockout nearing that of Franchise/TheDCU, despite having only existed since the early '90s and consisting only of one main title, a short-lived spinoff, and a few early crossovers with ''ComicBook/NinjaHighSchool''. Miss a few issues and you're likely to be met with a ''completely different set of cast members some of whom haven't shown up for a few years'', sometimes not even mentioning the main characters.
** He is trying to combat this with the 10''1''st color comic, set a few years after the 100th and having some new archaeologists under the tutelage of Gina. Who is also a professor.
* The Creator/GailSimone run on ''WonderWoman'' was pretty continuity-heavy and sales fell sharply during it, with the writer herself later lamenting that her run might have been confusing to new readers. DC hired Creator/JMichaelStraczynski to replace Simone and bring in new readers with a highly-publicized storyline that took place in a more accessible AlternateContinuity. Brian Azzarello took Wonder Woman back to a more classic take, but he has said he will be making a deliberate effort to avoid bringing up past storylines and characters so as not to alienate new readers.
* ComicBook/UltimateMarvel was created starting with ''ComicBook/UltimateSpiderman'' in 2000 to avert this very trope offering a clean slate for new readers who otherwise couldn't be bothered to dig through decades of continuity in the regular universe to get the gist of certain characters and stories. Nonetheless however, the UltimateUniverse eventually fell victim to this trope despite a few efforts to relaunch it in its later years following the much reviled ''ComicBook/{{Ultimatum}}'' (which curiously was its own attempt to provide a clean slate for the Ultimate Universe). Namely why certain characters were dead and why [[spoiler:the Reed Richards of this universe went crazy and became an outright villain known as "The Maker"]].
* ''Comicbook/UntoldTalesOfSpiderMan'' came about in particular, because at the time (1995) the Spider-Man books were in a state of continuity lock with the Spider-Clone Saga and Marvel wanted a book for fans who wanted a Spider-Man book that did not require buying EVERY Spider-Man book being published, in order to understand what was going on.
* According to Creator/JephLoeb, this is the major reason why Linda Danvers, the 90's Comicbook/{{Supergirl}}, was benched so that DC could bring back the original [[UsefulNotes/TheSilverAgeOfComicBooks Silver Age]] Supergirl. His argument was that Linda's origin was far too confusing and tenuously-tied to the Superman mythos to make sense to casual fans, which is hard to argue. After all, "Kara Zor-El is Superman's teenage cousin who survived the destruction of Krypton while in stasis" is a far more coherent origin story than "Linda Danvers is a teenage Earth-born Angel of fire who merged with a protoplasmic creature from another dimension to become the new Supergirl".
* ''ComicBook/UncannyAvengers'' has been said to have this. Unless you have read ''Uncanny X-Force'', don't expect to know what's happening beyond the introductory arc. The villains themselves are the result of a story arc from ''Uncanny X-Force'' and Wolverine's son is reintroduced with no explanation for who he is or his history for new readers, as are his associates. Unsurprisingly both ''Uncanny Avengers'' and ''Uncanny X-Force'' have the same writer.
* ''The New 52'' had this happen to many of the writers, who have talked in interviews about the lack of consistency on the editorial staff while it started up, with no creator able to learn about other books' upcoming plotlines, yet still having to work interactions between them in each month's CrisisCrossover. It happened in record time, too.
* Archie Comics was forced to do this to ''ComicBook/ArchieComicsSonicTheHedgehog'' thanks to the ScrewedByTheLawyers that lead to the CosmicRetcon. However, [[WordOfGod Ian Flynn]] has said that while the first 251 issues have happened (and issues 248-251, part of ''ComicBook/SonicTheHedgehogMegaManWorldsCollide'', will happen as it's part of the future) they have no bearing on the comic after #252. Just a few years later, the comic went into indefinite hiatus and was ultimately canceled entirely.
* The Boom Kids comics based on the old [[WesternAnimation/TheDisneyAfternoon Disney Afternoon]] shows. Due to massive ContinuityPorn, they'll only make total sense to people who've seen the shows -- which Creator/{{Disney}} has barely aired at all in the past decade and not at all since 2006. If you're under ''20'', chances are you'll be confused from Issue One.
* ''ComicBook/DCRebirth'': Knowledge of ''ComicBook/{{Flashpoint}}'', ''ComicBook/{{Watchmen}}'', the Jamie Reyes "Reach invasion" arc of ''ComicBook/BlueBeetle'', and so on are required for anything to make sense. God help you if you are a casual comic reader who's heard of this major DC Comics un-reboot and is trying to use this as an introduction to the DCU.
* One of the possible reasons Patriot has been ExiledFromContinuity while the rest of the ComicBook/YoungAvengers have thrived is because Eli's origins are closely tied to ''The Truth: Red, White & Black'' and ''The Crew'', two lesser-known miniseries that have been out of print for over a decade, whereas almost all the other Young Avengers have much vaguer ties to the rest of the Marvel Universe.
* ''ComicBook/{{Runaways}}'' has long been prevented from experiencing a proper revival due to its format being such that it's very hard to explain the team's history in only a few sentences, especially when its members include the descendant of an ancient clan of dark wizards, the half-human son of Ultron, and a possible demigoddess from 19th-century Switzerland.
* ''ComicBook/{{Vampirella}}'': Happened with the Brandon Jerwa run of Vampirella in Dynamite. Ben introduced many characters from the old Warren and Harris comics which Dynamite fans would not have been familiar with as well as a cosmic conflict between Order and Chaos that involves science fiction elements as well as time travel. This resulted in the GainaxEnding of the first Dynamite series and a complete continuity reboot.

%%[[folder:Fan Works]]

* ''The Two Jakes'' was a sequel to ''Film/{{Chinatown}}'' that almost required viewers to know everything from the first film, such as why Katherine Mulray was so dang important. Despite arguably being just as good as the first time (and DirectedByCastMember), it left theaters quickly. It caught on when it was VindicatedByCable.
* ''Franchise/StarWars'' might be the quintessential example of this. Even on its own terms, the original 1977 film (''Film/ANewHope'') has a fairly convoluted, confusing plot until Obi-Wan Kenobi shows up about a half-hour or so into the picture [[MrExposition to explain everything you need to know]], and even then there is much that [[TropesAreNotBad (necessarily)]] remains inaccessible to the viewer. The iconic character of Boba Fett, who is "officially" introduced in ''Film/TheEmpireStrikesBack'' (1980) but had actually appeared earlier in (now almost impossible-to-find) ''Film/TheStarWarsHolidaySpecial'', is never even named on screen (except for a brief scene in ''Film/ReturnOfTheJedi'', and that is in the middle of a firefight where it's all but impossible to hear anything); therefore, when we meet that character's father, Jango Fett, in ''Film/AttackOfTheClones'' (2002), we have no way of knowing, outside of the immediate context, why this character and his son are so important, and must rely on the franchise's [[AllThereInTheManual large amount of supplementary material]]. In fact, you don't even learn the name of "The Emperor", the entire series' primary antagonist, until ''Film/ThePhantomMenace'' (1999), with the result that many first-time viewers had no inkling - until it was revealed at the climax - that [[ItWasHisSled "Senator Palpatine" is also Darth Sidious, let alone that he would become the head of the Galactic Empire]].
** As of 2014, resulting from Disney's acquisition of Lucasfilm and the edict therein, the lock-out has been broken due to moving nearly every piece of media ever released for ''Star Wars'' into an AlternateContinuity. The Expanded Universe is being rebuilt under Disney's lead with new works and information that will align with their sequel trilogy and associated works.
* The ''Film/HarryPotter'' films have had this problem in an unusual way. Each individual movie became more or less incomprehensible without reading the books (or indeed, seeing the previous films).
** Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs. ''[[Film/HarryPotterAndThePrisonerOfAzkaban Prisoner of Azkaban]]'' never says who they are. Then, Harry calls Pettigrew "Wormtail" in the ''[[Film/HarryPotterAndTheGobletOfFire Goblet of Fire]]'' movie without explanation. And Sirius is called "Padfoot" in ''[[Film/HarryPotterAndTheOrderOfThePhoenix Order of the Phoenix]]''.
** ''Film/HarryPotterAndTheDeathlyHallowsPart1'' relies heavily on a shard of a magical two-way mirror as a visual and plot device - despite the fact that said mirror had never appeared in the movies before. [[spoiler: Sirius had given a gift to Harry as a gift at the beginning of book 5, and Harry forgets about it because he is worried it is something that could get Sirius into worse trouble. Harry finds it again after Sirius's death and unwraps the mirror - one part of a two-way communication device which Harry could have used to verify Sirius was okay, thus potentially saving Sirius's life. Harry breaks the mirror in frustration and finds the shard as he cleans out his trunk a year and a half later at the beginning of Book 7.]]
* The ''Franchise/StarTrek'' movies (to a large extent) avoided this, save for ''Film/StarTrekFirstContact'' (which assumed the viewer had some knowledge of the "Best Of Both Worlds" two-parter and ''Series/StarTrekDeepSpaceNine'' for Worf's location during the cube battle). However, the latter really isn't ''that'' important and only requires a single line by Picard to establish Worf wasn't with the crew anymore, and Lily is an AudienceSurrogate who becomes a sounding board for Picard's frustration. Several other examples are peppered throughout the films:
** Data's emotion chip is an interesting example. ''Film/StarTrekGenerations'' and ''First Contact'' both have Data mulling over whether to use the chip or not. New viewers to these films won't understand much of what Data's talking about unless they've seen the earlier seasons of ''TNG'' (specifically the fourth- and fifth-season episodes regarding Data, Lore and Dr. Soong). Not that viewers of the show are much better off, [[ContinuitySnarl since the end of "Descent Pt. II" had the chip irreparably damaged before it shows up again in]] ''[[ContinuitySnarl Generations,]]''[[ContinuitySnarl apparently fully-functional and represented by a prop that looks nothing like that used in the series.]]
** ''Film/StarTrekInsurrection'' averted this trope. According to Michael Piller's unreleased book, ''Fade In: The Making of Star Trek Insurrection'', at least one plan was to have Picard and his crew look for a Federation traitor (a la Heart of Darkness) against the backdrop of the Dominion War (during the point when the Federation was losing ground against the Jem'Hadar). This plan was scrapped due to concerns that theatregoers wouldn't understand the references (which didn't stop them from referencing the aforementioned Deep Space Nine and "Best of Both Worlds").
** The 2009 ''Film/StarTrek'' also largely averted this - seeing as it specifically sets itself as an origin story in a clear alternate continuity (if HandWaved connected to the original through use of the TimeyWimeyBall). However, the tie-in comic, ''Countdown'', is the canonical last appearance for many of the ''TNG'' characters, as well as the only way you'll get to find out the backstory for Nero and his ship (which, in turn, references past elements of the franchise, all the way back to [[Film/StarTrekTheMotionPicture V'Ger]]).
** ''Film/StarTrekIITheWrathOfKhan'' can be a little confusing for viewers not familiar with the episode "Space Seed," which introduced Khan and established his rivalry with Kirk. The movie does give a basic overview of their history, but it's in tiny chunks scattered throughout several different scenes, so a first-time viewer would be excused for not totally grasping why they hate each other.
* Movies based on comics start with the premise that the movie requires no knowledge of the comic since it's telling its own version of the story. That premise is quickly violated.
** Example: ''Film/XMenOriginsWolverine'' could have used footnotes to explain the significance of its story elements. Since the Weapon X scene was so brief, it could have said "To learn more, please read ''Weapon X'' by Barry Windsor-Smith." One benefit is that you get to spend more time with your non-comic-savvy friends explaining the plot. Whether they'll care or not is another story...
** Probably the worst is ComicBook/{{Hawkeye}}'s appearance in ''Film/{{Thor}}''. Non-comic fans are left clueless why the movie spent five minutes bringing in a [[Creator/JeremyRenner big name actor]] to play a random wisecracking guy with a bow and arrow, who never appears in the film again, though this made sense when ''Film/{{The Avengers|2012}}'' came out.
* The Film/DCExtendedUniverse seems to be doing this. A major criticism of ''Film/BatmanVSupermanDawnOfJustice'' is that certain parts of the movie make no sense to people who haven't read the comics, and are likely to be expanded upon in future installments.
* This is definitely one of the reasons why the second and third chapters of ''Franchise/TheMatrix Trilogy'' are so polarizing. It is [[ItMakesSenseInContext better]] to watch [[BetterOnDVD all three movies on consecutive nights]] rather than four years between the first and second movie.
* Peter Greenaway's Luperverse movies, ''The Falls'', ''The Tulse Luper Suitcases'', ''Drowning by Numbers'' and several short films, are a deliberate appeal to this trope. His main character, Tulse Luper, generates so much writing and ancillary material about himself (both in canon, and, via Greenaway, In Real Life as well) that no one can write his definitive biography. {{Lampshaded}} in his very first appearance in ''Vertical Features Remake'', where a team of academics utterly fails to recreate a lost film Luper made while relying on vague notes and the memories of his collaborators.
* Creator/RalphBakshi's take on ''WesternAnimation/TheLordOfTheRings'' seems to assume you are already familiar with at least the bare bones of the story, since they refuse to explain anything beyond "And so it was that..."
* In a bizarre instance where the first sequel has Continuity Lockout, ''Anime/FinalFantasyVIIAdventChildren'' is nearly incomprehensible unless you've played the game.
* The M. Night Shyamalan film ''Film/TheLastAirbender'', based off the TV series ''WesternAnimation/AvatarTheLastAirbender'', takes most of the key plot points of the series and represents them in a movie format. This trope happens because of the compressed timeframe to tell the story. You never really understand how Aang is trapped in an iceberg, why Katara decides to leave with Aang dragging Sokka along and the nature of why Aang "glows up" in stressful moments is never explained (admittedly, the [[SuperMode Avatar State]] isn't fully explained until the second season, but it happened enough times in the first season to understand its purpose). If you're familiar with the series most everything fits into place (though very poorly, due to [[AdaptationInducedPlotHole plot holes caused by the changes in the story]]).
* The M. Night Shyamalan film ''Film/{{Split}}'', released in 2016, has a TwistEnding that's ''only'' a twist to the viewer if [[spoiler: they've seen ''Film/{{Unbreakable}}'', a movie of his that came out in 2000. Otherwise, the viewer might not know the significance of David Dunn (Bruce Willis) showing up]].
* One of the many reasons why ''Film/TheGodfather Part III'' is polarizing was because of its complete inaccessibility to audience members who had not seen the previous two movies. Wrote Roger Ebert at the time "It is, I suspect, not even possible to understand this film without knowing the first two." However, Ebert still enjoyed the movie and rated it higher than he did ''Part II''.
** In what is something of an irony, the producers and executives were a little wary of applying ''Part II" to the second movie partly because they were concerned that people might get the impression they needed to see the first movie in order to understand the second one, which might turn off new audiences. The second movie, however, is generally more accessible, and in general started the trend of NumberedSequels.
* David Lynch's adaptation of ''Film/{{Dune}}'' is nigh-impossible to comprehend without reading the book, particularly its last forty minutes or so which are an incredibly rushed depiction of ''two-thirds'' of the book's length. Especially bad is the scene where Paul decides he needs to ride a sandworm to properly lead his new army, despite the fact that the Fremen ride the worms never having been referenced. In 1984 audiences were even handed ''playbills'' before entering the film to explain the plot they were missing. The extended cut DVD release restored several missing scenes and pieces of exposition and is considerably easier to follow.
* The second ''Film/MortalKombat'' film ''Film/MortalKombatAnnihilation'' has a huge number of plotholes unless the viewer knows the mythology of the video games. Sub-Zero and Scorpion both die in the first movie and they're back alive here. What the film doesn't explain is that Sub-Zero is merely a title, and the Sub-Zero from the first film was the brother of the one in the second film. Scorpion is, in fact, undead. Fans of the games on the other hand would most likely know all of this.
** The film does have a (throw away) line about being the brother of Sub-Zero, and being that the first movie showed Scorpion removing his mask to show a ''fire-breathing skull'' him coming back to life isn't sharp leap. Watching the second movie and not the first, however, would still count as a lockout, but that can be said for any time someone [[WhatAnIdiot watches a sequel without seeing the previous works]].
* ''Film/DieHardWithAVengeance'' (1995) has a memorable allusion to [[BuffySpeak "that thing in the building in L.A."]], which knowledgeable viewers will recognize as a ContinuityNod to the attempt by Hans Gruber and his gang of thieves to rob the Nakatomi Plaza tower in the original 1988 ''Film/DieHard'' movie. Even though there's a brief flashback to the climax of the 1988 film within the 1995 sequel, it can be difficult for first-time viewers to understand why Simon Gruber (Hans's brother) is so consumed with the desire to exact revenge on John [=McClane=], the series' hero. The 1995 film even has an offscreen conversation between John and his ex-wife Holly, who was a major character in the first ''Die Hard'' (and is mentioned again in the fourth movie, ''Film/LiveFreeOrDieHard'', in 2008) and is the subject of the '95 film's closing punchline, which seems to come out of nowhere and make for a somewhat confused ending if you are new to the franchise.
** Although [=McClane=] does briefly explain to Zeus that he dropped Simon's brother off a building not long after TheReveal.
* ''Film/{{Rambo}}'' (2008), the fourth film of Creator/SylvesterStallone's ''Film/FirstBlood'' franchise dating back to 1982, opens with John Rambo working in the Southeast Asian country of Thailand as a trapper of poisonous snakes. It's soon mentioned in the dialogue of the movie that Rambo is an ex-Green Beret who fought in the UsefulNotes/VietnamWar, but that dialogue skips over the events of the three previous movies (with which [[YouShouldKnowThisAlready longtime viewers should be familiar]]) during which Rambo returned to the United States and later went to Afghanistan to fight the Soviets, with no reference point except for a brief montage during which Rambo flashes back to the events of the original ''First Blood'' (1982) and imagines himself screaming "Nothing is over!" The naive viewer will be forgiven for assuming at first that Rambo has remained in Southeast Asia for the past 40 years. This is lampshaded in a conversation he has with one of a group of missionaries who have come to enlist him in a rescue mission.
-->'''Sarah:''' Where are you from?
-->'''John:''' Bowie, Arizona.
-->'''Sarah:''' Why'd you leave?
-->'''John:''' I got drafted in 'Nam.
-->'''Sarah:''' And you just stayed?
-->'''John:''' It's complicated.
* Very few would argue that ''Film/XMenDaysOfFuturePast'' strikes with full impact if one has skipped some or all of the other X-Men films. At the very least ''Film/XMenTheLastStand'' which explains Logan spazzing out over the random redhead [[spoiler:(a very much alive Jean Grey)]] at the end and ''Film/XMenFirstClass'' (which explains... pretty much everything else).
* The Franchise/MarvelCinematicUniverse:
** [[http://whatculture.com/film/marvel-cinematic-universe-10-things-that-could-prematurely-end-it.php/6 This article]] warns that this trope might happen to the franchise if it expands itself too much too quickly.
** It's possible to enjoy ''Film/{{The Avengers|2012}}'' if you haven't seen all the individual movies beforehand, as long as you've got a rough idea of who everyone is (e.g. Steve is a FishOutOfTemporalWater, Thor is a Norse god with an almighty hammer, etc.), but if you want the backstory of each character you'll have to watch five other movies.
** During production on ''Film/AvengersAgeOfUltron'', Creator/JossWhedon said that he wanted to make sure it was accessible enough that it could be understood even if you'd only ever seen the previous ''Avengers'' movie. This proved to not be the case, as there are cameos (some of which are very relevant to the plot) from characters that had previously only ever appeared in non-''Avengers'' films, and a key plot point [[spoiler:involving the Infinity Stones]] really only makes sense if you've seen ''Film/ThorTheDarkWorld'' and ''Film/GuardiansOfTheGalaxy''.
** Prior to the release of ''Film/CaptainAmericaCivilWar'', Creator/TheRussoBrothers stated that they'd made the film on the assumption that most of the audience had already seen the previous Marvel movies. It shows. The movie is virtually incomprehensible unless you've not only seen the [[Film/CaptainAmericaTheFirstAvenger previous]] [[Film/CaptainAmericaTheWinterSoldier two]] ''Captain America'' movies (though that should be obvious since they're in the same series), but the previously mentioned ''Age of Ultron'' as well. Certain key scenes also rely on the audience having knowledge of ''Film/IronMan3'', ''Film/AntMan'' and ''Film/{{The Avengers|2012}}''. In an example of TropesAreNotBad, many critics and fans praised the way the film applied this trope to Comicbook/SpiderMan. The movie doesn't explain his origin or reveal too much about his backstory, as there was an unspoken assumption that most of the audience already knew the character from any of his previous five movies or numerous TV shows.
** Quite a number of things in ''Film/ThorRagnarok'' will make more sense if you've watched the previous ''Thor'' movies and ''Avengers: Age of Ultron'' beforehand. Otherwise, you won't really understand why Thor and Loki's relationship unfolds as it does in the movie and Bruce Banner's own subplot in the movie.
** This is the general explanation for why none of the characters from the present day TV shows (''Series/AgentsOfSHIELD'', ''Series/Daredevil2015'', ''Series/JessicaJones2015'', ''Series/LukeCage2016'' and ''Series/IronFist2017'') appear in the movies, even the ones involving {{Crisis Crossover}}s. The movies generally have a wider audience than the TV shows (and are released in certain countries where the shows don't even air), and the creators don't want to have to spend time explaining who the hell these people are for the benefit of audience members who might not be familiar with them.
* There is so much omitted from the [[Film/{{Watchmen}} movie adaptation of]] ''ComicBook/{{Watchmen}}'' that even the character motivations and progression of plot from one to the next are removed, not to mention the total removal of ''Tales of the Black Freighter'' [[ShowWithinAShow comic book within a comic book]] that explains Ozymandias's state of mind. In order to enjoy the movie to its fullest extent, the viewer must already be aware of the events of the comic book. Although the 3 1/2 hour 'Ultimate Cut' fixes most of this.
* The ''Franchise/BackToTheFuture'' sequels get into this.
** If you haven't seen the first movie, ''Film/BackToTheFuturePartII'' is easy enough to get into in the first couple of acts (barring the occasional CallBack to events in the first movie), but the 1955 events in the third act are entirely dependent on the viewer's knowledge of events in the first movie.
** ''Film/BackToTheFuturePartIII'' gets snippets of exposition in the first few minutes in the forms of Marty screaming and Doc's letter, but it's a LOT tougher to get into if you aren't familiar with the first two movies. ''Especially'' the first movie's climax, which is reworked into Part III's intro.

* Larry Niven's Ringworld books pretty much ARE this trope
* ''Literature/TheElderScrolls'' novels are based on the video game series, and if you don't know the continuity and lore then most of the events of the novel will sound like an AssPull when it actually does [[ItMakesSenseInContext Make Sense In Context]].
* In another example of a creator locking himself out of his own continuity, Creator/JohnVarley, in an introduction to one of his ''Eight Worlds'' novels, admits that he's long since lost track of all the background details of the series, and has given up trying to make the later novels fully consistent with the early ones.
** Creator/TerryPratchett said much the same in the introduction to the first edition of ''The Literature/{{Discworld}} Companion''. Although he does still make the effort; if necessary consulting with {{Big Name Fan}}s who actually know more about the Discworld than he does, such as the ''Companion'' co-author Stephen Briggs.
*** Pratchett wrote his way out of having to be consistent; all errors are blamed on the fact that even the History Monks can't quite always get time back exactly the way it should be after the magical disruptions that occur.
* As the Literature/TheWheelOfTime series progresses, and both the cast and pagecount swell, individual characters get less and less face time. It's sometimes several hundred pages between a character's appearances, even for ''main characters''. Two of the main characters, Mat and Perrin, have even been left out of a book at one point or another. Worse, the characters have often been active in that time, leaving the reader to infer what happened since they were last seen. Not that we're bitter. In fact, it is quite clear that till the 4th book or so, each book provided info from previous books, including character development history and some important pieces of lore. However, by the 5th book, no more "backward compatibility" is provided and the writer assumes that readers have read the previous books. To the point of removing anyone 3 books or older from the glossary. Readers may have trouble remembering which of the 20 A-named female channelers was Aes Sedai, Rebel Sedai, Aeil, Seachan, or Dark-aligned. They tend to blur together after 10,000 pages or so.
* Creator/IsaacAsimov put the ''Literature/{{Foundation}}'' series on a decades-long hiatus in the 1950s in no small part because he found it tedious to work a synopsis of the previous stories in so that new readers would know what was going on. He also got fed up with having to reread the material himself to keep it consistent, not that it did him much good. A fan later handed him a long list of inconsistencies within the ''Foundation'' stories.
* ''Literature/TheDresdenFiles'' became this from [[WhamLine the very first sentence]] of ''Changes''. Even beforehand, there were plots that were foreshadowed over the course of several books, characters who were introduced and left only to come back five books later, an overarching war in the background, significant changes that impact how Harry treats certain characters, and many short stories that get a passing reference in the novels.
* ''Literature/HarryPotter'': If you start reading anywhere from books 1-3, then you'll be fine, since character backstories, running plot devices, past major events and such are usually given a short explanation, treated as a NoodleIncident or just aren't relevant to the actual conflict ([[ChekhovsGun for now]]). However, after the WhamEpisode from Goblet Of Fire, books 5 onwards have problems keeping the continuity intact, since it's very difficult NOT to talk about the events of the fourth/fifth book. It got to the point where the last book in the series became impossible to read because of the spoilerrific nature of the story and continuity becoming prevalent.
** JK Rowling herself stated she was invoking the trope from about book 4 onwards, remarking that anyone starting a 7-book series halfway through shouldn't really be surprised when they find themselves confused by the continuity.
* Trying to get into George R.R. Martin's ''Literature/ASongOfIceAndFire'' involves going through five (eventually, seven) DoorStopper novels, each with so much continuity that it's no wonder the man is taking ages to continue the series. If he creates a plot hole, [[FanDumb someone's going to try to call him on it before the book gets to the editor.]]
** Interestingly, the author later wrote two prequel novellas (with a third on its way), starting with ''The Hedge Knight'' which essentially reproduced the Ice and Fire themes about power and politics down to a much smaller and far easier-to-digest form, and radically less intimidating to newcomers, particularly the graphic novel adaptations.
* Creator/StephenKing hired author Robin Furth to be his archivist and continuity editor to assist him in writing the final books of ''Franchise/TheDarkTower''. She compiled an encyclopedia that King referred to during writing that was published itself as Stephen King's The Dark Tower: The Complete Concordance. He says in the foreword to that book that there was no way he could have completed the series without such a document. And sadly, it shows. Many of the books most important plot points are mentioned only in passing, which can result in a whole mess of confusion even for those who have read all the books in order.
* Literature/PerryRhodan has a real problem with this. With a backstory of over 2500 issues in the main series alone that might become relevant for the current plot at any time and story arcs that last for 50 to 100 issues it can be quite hard for new readers to break into the series. Nowadays they take some pains to make the round numbers a good place to start, without too much pre-knowledge. Also, in each issue there is a small glossar explaining plot-relevant background that a new reader might not know (or an old reader might not remember).
* ''Literature/WarriorCats'': It is possible, if not a bit difficult, to start reading the second series without reading the first series. However, by the third series, things apparently get nigh incomprehensible for people who haven't read all of the previous books. The fifth series is a prequel, which could be read without reading the other books, but the prologue and first chapter or so of ''The Sun Trail'' would be kind of baffling (and very spoilery) for a newcomer.
* Katherine Kerr's 15-book ''{{Literature/Deverry}}'' series is divided into four parts; starting at the beginning of any one of the three latter will cause you to only miss '''half''' of the significance of what's happening... The Dragon Mage (3rd series) is probably the worst offender, since it tells about the end of the civil war, which has been earlier covered in three other books.
* To keep up with all the various plots and LoadsAndLoadsOfCharacters in ''Literature/HonorHarrington'' by Creator/DavidWeber, you not only need to read the mainline titles, but the sub-series and short story collections, which are ''themselves'' not in chronological order. [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honorverse#Stories_listed_by_internal_chronology Go here for a reading order]].[[note]]You ''could'' skip the first book, ''On Basilisk Station'', and start the second, ''The Honor of the Queen'', and still '''mostly''' understand the plot -- but after that, you haven't got a chance.[[/note]] The books are mostly free, so it won't set you back much. That said, the ''Literature/StephanieHarrington'' SpinOff series generally averts this, thanks to a time shift of several hundred years into the past, before Manticore became enthralled in transgalactic political espionage and warfare. It's also written for a YoungAdult audience, so its action is pretty much confined to Sphinx.
* Creator/EricFlint's ''Literature/SixteenThirtyTwo''-verse is a "shared universe" open to anyone who wants in. In other words, any fan of the series can write their own contributions to it and have them entered into canon if they pass muster with a review board for the series. Flint and his co-writers then tend to take characters introduced in these stories and work them into the main series. Thankfully, the short stories that have the most impact on the main story have been collected into their own "Ring of Fire" anthologies.
* Various ''Franchise/StarWarsExpandedUniverse'' works assume the reader has at least basic BroadStrokes knowledge of important EU events and don't even try to make sense otherwise. Amazingly, other works still manage to remain accessible, though the knowledge of the movies is still required.
* The ''Franchise/Babylon5'' novels are plagued by this, because while some of them are noted as taking place after the events of specific episodes, they aren't necessarily sequential, and are all written by different authors.
* The ''Literature/ThursdayNext'' books by Jasper Fforde do a brilliant job of constantly inventing new concepts, settings and characters whilst referencing and being consistent with previous books. But if you read them out of order they'll make almost no sense at all.
* L. Frank Baum's Literature/LandOfOz books could get like this. Not only did he assume a lot of memory of Ozian geography and politics, any time he liked a character, he'd just keep them hanging around the Emerald City for later use. In the last few books in the series, there were entire chapters devoted to choosing which of the series' LoadsAndLoadsOfCharacters would be going on the novel's adventure. There was Button-Bright, Ojo, Cap'n Bill, Uncle Henry, Tik-Tok, The Patchwork Girl, the Frogman, The Woggle-Bug, the Hungry Tiger... The Lion, Scarecrow, and Tin Man would almost always be there, and the Wizard usually put in an appearance, but anyone who knew the movie and wanted to give the books a shot could easily become very lost.
** Baum himself could get lost in the character mess. In one novel, he has The Shaggy Man and Polychrome meeting for the first time, apparently having forgotten that he introduced them in the same book.
* Both the series of post-TV-show prose ''Series/DoctorWho'' spin-offs from the "wilderness years", the Literature/DoctorWhoNewAdventures and the Literature/EighthDoctorAdventures, suffered badly from this, with many novels from both series being '''completely''' incomprehensible if you hadn't read earlier books in the StoryArc. And preferably watched some of the less-regarded episodes of the series, possibly while taking notes of every throwaway line that mentions an alien race.
* The ''Franchise/StarTrekExpandedUniverse'' novels can be similar, especially the "Relaunches", which are frequently telling one long story, and don't believe StatusQuoIsGod, so even a committed ''Series/StarTrekDeepSpaceNine'' fan who's seen all the episodes might be confused by jumping in to the middle of the ''Literature/StarTrekDeepSpaceNineRelaunch'' series.
* ''Literature/{{Goosebumps}}'': The ''[=HorrorLand=]'' series debuted nearly 10 years after the ''2000'' series, and featured a CrisisCrossover with many heroes and villains from the original series, published long before their target audiences were even around. In order to alleviate the lock out, every book came with a reprinted edition of the classic book the new one continued, or at least one that was thematically similar.

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* The ''[[Franchise/StargateVerse Stargate]]'' franchise has been accused of this. A newbie coming it at the eighth season of ''Series/StargateSG1'', for instance, is going to need some help understanding who and what all those species are meant to be about. Some people almost gave up after sitting through the ''first episode'' -- without seeing the movie first. "Who are all these people?!" Somehow it did not occur to the writers that it carried over a whopping six characters from the movie without bothering to give them any proper introduction, ''in addition to'' introducing five new major characters in this episode alone. The fact that they moved through Abydos and Chulak in large crowds didn't help. Starting with "Emancipation," when it became obvious that they were focusing on a four-person team, things started to look more manageable.
* ''Series/OnceUponATime'' seems to be heading this way. Watching one of the later episodes without being caught up will be totally incomprehensible, since it has no consistent structure and the episodes build on what has happened before. There are around [[LoadsAndLoadsOfCharacters ten or so main characters, and literally dozens of significant/notable characters,]] and at least two plots running simultanously due to the switches between real time and time in TEF.
** It got so bad that the premier of the second season was prefaced by an hour-long program with the sole purpose of catching up the viewers on the various plot threads and backstories (something that happened in each subsequent season as well, probably in hopes of averting this.)
* ''Series/BabylonFive'' freely admitted that it was a "novel on television," and no one starts reading a novel in the middle. Creator/JMichaelStraczynski said he dislikes the use of PreviouslyOn segments, preferring instead to have characters recap the plot with AsYouKnow speeches, which is arguably worse.
** JMS was one of the first people to realize the Internet's potential in directly communicating with fans. Among other things, he would sometimes post messages stating "If you've got friends who you've been trying to talk into watching the show, the block of episodes coming up should help catch them up on events."
* Most of the jokes on ''Series/ArrestedDevelopment'' barely make sense unless you have an [[CallBack intimate knowledge of the episodes that have come before]] (and, [[CallForward in some cases,]] [[RewatchBonus the ones that come after]]). This is why the show developed something of a cult following once [[BetterOnDVD it was released on DVD.]]
** The promotional efforts for season four do very little to convince those who didn't watch the first three seasons they should watch the fourth due to it revolving around {{in joke}}s which are PanderingToTheBase.
* So bad in ''Series/TheXFiles'' that even a paperback fan book couldn't sum up the mythology of some of the episodes in less than three pages. It doesn't help that [[TheChrisCarterEffect the show's continuity is all over the map]].
* The 2000s ''Series/{{Battlestar Galactica|2003}}''. The series premiere follows immediately from the events of the pilot miniseries, which was not initially included on the Season 1 [=DVD=], and any given episode relies on the viewer being aware of plot details introduced several episodes or seasons earlier.
* ''Series/{{Lost}}''. There's dozens of major and minor characters, all of whom have their own unique and complicated backstories. The fact that these backstories often intersect in unlikely (and often downright implausible) ways makes things even more confusing. Many people who started watching halfway through the show found a little humor in the fact that the show was ''called'' "Lost".
** The season 5 premiere features Hurley giving a hilarious rant about EVERYTHING that happened in the first four seasons, which is quite fun to watch with people who haven't seen anything else about the show.
** By the final season ABC was running multiple clip shows per season plus weekly reruns with the important continuity details annotated on-screen.
* ''Series/{{Farscape}}''. The show would have been more successful if this trope hadn't intersected badly with GrowingTheBeard. According to articles, the network executives cancelled ''Farscape'' precisely because of the ContinuityLockout.
* HBO's ''Series/TheWire'' offers very little exposition to explain or remind the audience of past events that are referenced or provide context for the current scene. Even in the first season it would be almost impossible to truly understand everything that is going on without having watched from the beginning.
* Try watching ''Series/{{Glee}}'' mid-season without the "previously on" segment to clue you in. The pregnancy plot was confusing enough in context. One can only imagine trying to watch an episode that contained that plot without knowing the context. Averted in the second season, however.
* ''Series/DoctorWho''
** This trope is often blamed as one of the contributing factors to the cancellation of the original series. Amongst a lot of other issues that the show was facing at the time, the fact that a fairly large portion of the stories broadcast during the early-to-mid 1980s seemed to hinge upon the audience being aware of characters, events and storylines which hadn't been seen for upwards of ten or even twenty years didn't make the show any easier to watch. Matters weren't helped by the fact that this was well before VHS and DVD was prominent enough to allow [[ArchiveBinge people to catch up on the old stuff]], ''and'' that a lot of this old stuff had been deleted from the archives anyway, meaning that even if the technology had existed, the original material didn't (one of the worst offenders being the 1985 serial ''Attack of the Cybermen'', which requires intimate knowledge of two sixties serials which were completely or partially missing at the time). While the show eventually got better about this and later stories tended to either downplay the continuity references or incorporate them more effectively (particularly during the 1987-1989 seasons), the damage had arguably been done since the ratings had fallen drastically by this point.
*** The show did an entire season as one fourteen-part serial for 1986, ''The Trial of a Time Lord''. The producer was aware that viewers might find this difficult to follow and wrote recaps for the continuity announcer to read out before each episode, although due to a mistake these weren't used for the first few episodes (and on the first episode to use them the wrong one was read out).
** In the new series of ''Series/DoctorWho'', the later into any given series an episode occurs, the lower the likelihood of a casual viewer having any clue who the characters are or what is going on, at least in terms of ongoing story arcs (individual episodes tend to remain stand alone). Some episodes also make references to events/characters from the classic series, though rarely in any fashion that would "lock out" first-time or casual viewers.
** Also one of the problems with [[Recap/DoctorWhoTVMTheTVMovie the TV movie]]--they'd included enough from the old series without properly explaining it that it wasn't going to make nearly as much sense to anyone unfamiliar with ''Doctor Who''. Given that this was long prior to [=YouTube=] and BBC America, most Americans knew little to nothing about it, and while it tossed in all kinds of plot-points from the series it failed to give them nearly enough context. This is mentioned specifically on the movie's DVD commentary. Creator/SylvesterMcCoy and Creator/PaulMcGann in particular thought that the first act of the movie should have opened up with the TARDIS landing in San Francisco (sans interior shots), thus saving the whole BiggerOnTheInside thing as a big surprise for the audience during the later scene where Chang Lee steps into the TARDIS. Instead, we see the large TARDIS interior right off the bat, with no context.
** The franchise has sometimes used "continuity lockout" concerns to its advantage in terms of merchandising. For example, around the time the Sontarans were reintroduced into the series during the 2008 season, a DVD box set of all four original-series stories featuring them was released.
** Back in the early days where the story format was the multi-part serial, showing up in the middle after having skipped a couple of episodes often meant you would have no idea at all what was going on. This got a lot easier to deal with as the writers (starting from around the Pertwee era) became better at structuring serials and having characters quickly and organically recap events. Initial US syndication of the series got around this by having a narrator provide recaps before every episode.
** In the Modern Era, the showrunners explicitly consider introductory episodes featuring new Doctors to be jumping-on points, requiring no previous knowledge of the show beyond the basic concept. The introduction of a new companion is likewise often also treated in this fashion. '''However''', while Nine and Eleven's debuts follow this concept to the letter, Ten and Twelve's don't quite do so:
*** "The Christmas Invasion", the Tenth Doctor's debut and the bridge between Series 1 and 2, assumes familiarity with Rose, Jackie, and Mickey's specific relationships to the Doctor -- who is sidelined for much of the story due to regeneration sickness, leaving them to carry the action. Also, the significance of Ten's choice to bring down Prime Minister Harriet Jones at the end means more to those who saw "Aliens of London"/"World War III" and know that she ''was supposed to'' lead Britain into a new Golden Age according to Nine. A newbie might be better off skipping to the first episode of Series 2, "New Earth", as a jumping-off point (it does feature the return of a villain from Series 1, but their concept and significance are quickly summed up).
*** "Deep Breath", Twelve's first story and the Series 8 opener, not only carries over Eleven's companion Clara Oswald but also the Paternoster Gang: a motley trio of a Silurian woman, her human wife, and a {{Cloudcuckoolander}} Sontaran who becomes their butler, who all live together in Victorian England where the Silurian is a consulting detective for the police! This and the next episode ("Into the Dalek") are also problematic for newbies because this Doctor is one of the [[GrumpyOldMan grouchier]], [[NoSocialSkills less socially skilled ones]]; those unaware of Clara's past with the amiable Eleven may well ask why she travels with Twelve. However, Episode 3 ("Robot of Sherwood") is a BreatherEpisode where his more whimsical, likable side is first seen at length and the opening scene sums up the show's premise to boot.
** Occasionally, mid-Doctor-run episodes feature content that avoids continuity lock-out by organically incorporating dialogue and scenes that help explain the show without stopping the story. A recent example is the Series 9 two-parter "[[Recap/DoctorWhoS35E3UnderTheLake Under the Lake]]" and "[[Recap/DoctorWhoS35E4BeforeTheFlood Before the Flood]]", which runs down most of the concepts of the series -- ranging from why the TARDIS is bigger on the inside and the relationship dynamic between the Doctor and his companion to discussions about paradoxes and fixed points in time. (Reminding audiences of the latter also helped cut down on extensive exposition in that season's finale, "Hell Bent", which "Before the Flood" turns out to foreshadow.)
** [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O13nhFS4nDo This video of fan reactions]] during the 50th anniversary can demonstrate this beautifully. Long time fans recognized the voice of Creator/TomBaker almost immediately, while newcomers mistook him initially for Creator/PeterCapaldi until they saw the face.
** After several seasons' worth of this trope the Series 10 premiere -- actually titled "The Pilot" -- is specifically intended as a fresh start for new or lapsed viewers after Series 9 tied up or paused some ongoing storylines. It introduces the first new "traditional" companion since Series 7 and much of it is devoted to her learning who the Doctor is and how his adventures work. The first teaser for the season even had the tagline "See the universe anew".
* An early version of ''Series/TheSarahJaneAdventures'' story "Secrets of The Stars" would have featured aliens named the Mandragora who had last appeared on ''Series/DoctorWho'' in the 1970s. This was one of the reasons why they were replaced with the Ancient Lights in the final product; the story would have been relying too much on one from around 30 years ago and thus locked out the young target audience.
** Though that didn't stop episodes being produced that featured characters like the Brigadier and Jo Grant, in particular Jo, who hadn't even been mentioned on ''Doctor Who'' for ''nearly 40 years'', yet much of the episode "Death of the Doctor" required familiarization with the character to truly appreciate -- though short of not doing the story at all, this is unavoidable.
** In another episode, Sarah Jane hacks a probe on Mars to redirect it just as a pyramid was about to come into view. The only explanation Sarah offers viewers and her sidekicks is that there are some things man wasn't meant to find. Only someone familiar with "Pyramids of Mars" during the days of the 4th Doctor would know about Sutekh the Destroyer.
* The ''Series/DoctorWho'' spinoff ''Series/{{Torchwood}}'' is sometimes reliant on continuity from its parent show, and its writers stubbornly refuse to explain the connections any more than is absolutely necessary.
** ''Torchwood'''s main character, Captain Jack Harkness, is shrouded in mystery. Some of his backstory is revealed on ''Doctor Who'', while some remains hidden. A viewer of ''Torchwood'' alone could wait forever for explanations that already happened on another show. The same is true of the Torchwood Institute itself.
** The Series 1 episode "Cyberwoman" assumes a familiarity with the ''Doctor Who'' Series 2 finale episodes for viewers to understand why the villain is so frightening. Without that information, viewers would be baffled by references to recent historical events that bear great significance to the plot.
** Series 1 never really explains why Jack is taking loving care of an amputated hand, either.
** The reason behind Jack's jarring personality shift at the beginning of Series 2 is only vaguely alluded to within the actual series. The viewer would have had to have watched the three-part ''Doctor Who'' Series 3 finale to understand this.
** Ditto for Jack's brief cameo in the ''Doctor Who'' special [[Recap/DoctorWhoS30E17E18TheEndOfTime "The End of Time"]]. You would have had to have seen ''Series/TorchwoodChildrenOfEarth'' to understand why he was drinking away his sorrows on a space freighter rather than fighting aliens in Cardiff. This was especially an issue given how [[DownerEnding seriously]], [[KillEmAll seriously]] non-child-friendly ''Children of Earth'' was.
* ''Series/{{Heroes}}''. Good Lord, ''Heroes''. The writers really wanted to give the impression that there were characters with powers ''everywhere'', which is one of the reasons it was so interesting and complex. On the other hand, even viewers who watch every week could be confused with all of the new characters and [[PutOnABus old characters simply disappearing]]. Plus all of the {{Face Heel Turn}}s and {{Heel Face Turn}}s. Just [[BetterOnDVD buy the DVDs]]. It's more comprehensible that way.
* ''Series/{{Angel}}'', from the end of the first season on, became increasingly arc-driven, to the point that season four required that you be familiar with many of the developments of the past two years to grasp the complexity of [[BigBad Jasmine's]] advance planning. Network execs reacted to this by insisting that season five be much more [[MonsterOfTheWeek typical]], revamping the entire location of the show and substantially modifying the mission of the main characters.
* The ''Franchise/StarTrek'' franchise was reset precisely because of this trope. The original series and ''Series/StarTrekTheNextGeneration'' and ''Series/StarTrekVoyager'' largely averted this by focusing on "crisis-of-the-week" standalone episodes that could be watched in (almost) any order, without sacrificing narrative. By the time ''Series/StarTrekDeepSpaceNine'' was knee-deep in the Dominion War arc, you'd have to have watched the prior seasons to understand the main conflict and the various interpersonal conflicts. ''Series/StarTrekEnterprise'' also took this trope to an extreme point by having many episodes only serve to tangle up continuity even further by trying to resolve plot holes and conflicting elements from previous series.
** The "Mirror Universe" episodes in ''[=DS9=]'' and ''Enterprise'' assume you have knowledge of the MU episodes from the original series (and, in ''[=DS9=]'''s case, the earlier seasons). Granted, that's one of the original series' most iconic episodes, but it's not as if everyone watching the modern ''Star Trek'' shows had seen the original.
** A large reason why the ''Enterprise'' series finale, "These Are The Voyages", was such a polarizing episode was due to the B-plot (which was a concurrent side-story to the ''Next Generation'' seventh-season episode "The Pegasus" - if you've never seen the episode, you're lost as to why Riker is mulling over a decision to tell Picard about his involvement with an [[spoiler:illegal Federation]] cloaking device).
* Series/InTreatment really requires the viewer to watch every episode in order, even if you don't like one (or more) characters and want to skip them from week to week. If you do not view every episode, you won't understand what's going on later in the week or in the series.
* ''Series/{{Buffy|The Vampire Slayer}}'':
** The show could be somewhat guilty of this, especially during the fourth season and onwards. The most egregious example comes during "This Year's Girl"/"Who Are You", where Faith re-appears. It's assumed that the viewer knows her history, and despite this being lampshaded by newcomer Riley ("Who's Faith?"), very little explanation is given, and you'd better be watching the [[Series/{{Angel}} spin-off]] too, 'cos otherwise you won't see the end of this mini-arc ''or'' know what to make of Angel's appearance a few episodes later.
** Interesting is that this trope functions in-universe too. The Scoobies are a very self-contained group with their own in-jokes and insider information that makes getting close to them very difficult and makes miscommunication practically a given.
** And God help you if you pick up the Season Eight comics after a substantial time away from the show. [[spoiler:Why is Dawn a giant? Why does Xander only have one eye? Why is there an army of Slayers running around? How did they become a paramilitary organization?]]
** Lampshaded again in a hilarious, fast-paced exchange between Buffy, Giles, and Principal Wood in season seven while discussing all the things that have happened to Spike.
** Happens in-universe when Joyce has to learn what it means that her daughter's a slayer.
** The resolution of the final episode also hinges significantly on a plot device that originated on an episode of ''Series/{{Angel}}'' and only found its way to ''Buffy'' via a crossover episode on the other show. Good luck making sense of what was going on if you weren't watching both shows religiously.
* ''{{Series/Dollhouse}}.'' Creator/JossWhedon loves this trope. This was particularly true of the s2 episode "The Attic": the concept of the Attic had been mentioned only once since the previous season, and there was no explanation of who Mr Dominic is (and he hadn't been seen or mentioned since season 1, either).
* It's ''possible'' to watch Seasons 1 and 2 of ''Series/AshesToAshes'' without first seeing ''Series/{{Life On Mars|2006}}'' - which introduces you to [[NobleBigotWithABadge Gene]], [[TheDitz Chris]], and [[CowboyCop Ray]], and tells [[FishOutOfTemporalWater Sam Tyler's]] story - but if you haven't seen [=LOM=] by the time [=A2A=] hits Season 3, you're almost completely lost. Sam and what may or may not have happened to him play a huge part in [[spoiler: the ongoing battle between Gene, Alex, and [[BigBad Jim]] [[MagnificentBastard Keats]], and virtually all of 3x05 - the return of DCI [[InSeriesNickname "Bastard"]] Litton - is nigh-incomprehensible if you haven't seen [=LOM=]. Fully understanding 3x07 and 3x08, which pull a CosmicRetcon on [=LOM=] and cause anyone who watched it to immediately start second-guessing everything they know? Forget about it.]]
* ''Series/{{Weeds}}'' tends to reveal major plot points in the current arc each episode, making it very difficult to get on track if you miss even one episode. Watching an episode in the middle of the season with no previous context will make no sense.
* ''Series/{{Smallville}}'', particularly in the final season.
* Hong Kong or Taiwan serials can stretch for hundreds of episodes and rarely pause to recap who's who.
* ''Series/{{Supernatural}}'', especially since season 4, when the angels started getting involved. Considering the show's high HSQ, watching a newer episode without following the story makes for bizarre and incoherent viewing. Take season 4, episode 16: "So, the guy torturing that dude who looks like a paedophile is the good guy? What are the angels stabbing each other over?"
* ''Series/{{Fringe}}'' avoided this problem during seasons one and two, thanks to its heavier focus on self-contained MonsterOfTheWeek plots, with the occasional WhamEpisode for the longtime fans. According to JJ Abrams and the other ''Series/{{Fringe}}'' producers, they specifically wanted to make the show more accessible and avoid the impenetrable-for-newbies style progression that ''Series/{{Lost}}'' did. However, by the time season three came around, the plot became too tough for new viewers to follow, so the show's structure became far less episodic. It's understandable though, as the more procedural feel of the first two seasons would have watered down the major plot developments (with many of them reaching MindScrew territory) that season three unraveled.
* Around 20-25% of ''Series/HowIMetYourMother'' consists of flashbacks -- not just distant flashbacks to the characters' youth, but flashbacks that occurred during the show's run, during distinct canonical periods of the show's run, and precise episodes or even ''scenes'' of the show's run -- and is full to the brim with {{running gags}}, {{in joke}}s, [[ContinuityPorn huge quantities of detailed backstory]], and plot elements and assumptions that are rarely if ever lampshaded and utterly inexplicablerly inexplicable if you haven't seen the previous (or sometimes, like ''Series/ArrestedDevelopment'' above, even future) episodes (or flashbacks, or flash''forwards'') that explain them. The only reason the show isn't the most insular and locked-out show ever broadcast is because of Future!Ted's narration, which [[AsYouKnow reminds viewers of events or situations relevant to the episode at hand and often recaps essential plot points with a quick "Kids, remember how I told you about..."]] so that at least the plots make sense, even if many of the jokes and character reactions will leave new viewers scratching their heads in bewilderment.
* ''Series/MadMen'' suffers from this in spades. The episodes are generally not self-contained, and most of the subtext is built upon episodes from previous seasons. The problem is that this series built on subtext. Viewers must watch from the absolute, S1E1 beginning. The PreviouslyOn segments absolutely do not help.
* ''Series/KamenRiderDragonKnight'', the adaptation of ''Series/KamenRiderRyuki'' suffered from this. Why? The writers wanted to tell a complex story as befitting the source material (which is immensely convulted) instead of the self-contained MonsterOfTheWeek episodes of, for example, ''Franchise/PowerRangers''. The problem [[note]] among the number of TroubledProduction issues, ExecutiveMeddling and just plain tough calls [[/note]] was that the show was targeted towards children who probably thought they could skip an episode and catch up the following week. This had caused viewers to become confused and the ratings dropped and eventually the show was ScrewedByTheNetwork to the point that the final two episodes ''NEVER'' got to air on American television.
** Speaking of ''Kamen Rider'', there's ''Series/KamenRiderDecade'', which has the titular rider visit alternate versions of the 9 past Rider Worlds. This might not sound so bad, except key plot details are kept the same - while the main rider in the alternate version of a world is not the main rider from the world represented by that series, chances are that if you've seen an AR version of one of the 9 previous Kamen Rider series, you can figure out what was the plot twist in the original version.
** ''Series/KamenRiderExAid'' has this pop up about three times ''in-universe'', with different characters being away from the story on some of its key events for some reason [[note]] ([[BreadEggsMilkSquick not introduced yet, busy elsewhere, dead]])[[/note]] and it shows. It can also induce this in viewers, but they at least have the episode recaps and outside sources.
* ''Decade's'' [[Franchise/SuperSentai Sentai]] counterpart, ''Series/KaizokuSentaiGokaiger'', zig-zags this trope. While the series isn't a sequel, and it doesn't involve the alternate world plot that ''Decade'' has, it does feature all 34 previous sentai teams. However, like ''Decade'', representatives from the previous 34 sentai teams show up[[note]]while every team receives at least 1 representative, not every ranger returns, for a number of reasons - i.e., [[Series/HimitsuSentaiGoranger Kiranger]]'s actor [[AuthorExistenceFailure committed suicide]], [[Series/MiraiSentaiTimeranger TimeRed]] reportedly considers his role an OldShame[[/note]], except these versions are the canon versions of the rangers, although much like ''Decade'', there are tribute episodes to certain Sentai. How much of a lockout depends on the tribute episode in question - some, such as [[Series/GekisouSentaiCarranger Now More Road Safety]] and [[Series/HyakujuuSentaiGaoranger Lion, Run]] will not spoil the corresponding sentai if watched before said sentai; others, however, such as [[Series/SamuraiSentaiShinkenger The Serious Rebellion and The Guaranteed Showy Samurai]] and [[Series/ChoujinSentaiJetman Wings are Eternal]], on the other hand, contain characters related to a major twist near the end and mention that plot twist. Interestingly enough, [[Series/PowerRangersMegaforce it's American adaptation]] averts this trope.
* Later entries in the ''Franchise/UltraSeries'' tend to be guilty of this. ''Series/UltramanMebius'' is the biggest offender as viewers will need to be familiar with the Showa series in order to understand many of the references to past events the series makes. Many other entries (like ''Series/UltramanOrb'', ''Series/UltramanGinga'', ''Series/UltraGalaxyMegaMonsterBattle'', and ''Franchise/UltramanZero'''s stuff) tend to feature monsters and Ultras from older shows, so some degree of familiarity with them is needed with the major entries of the franchise. The ''Ultraman Zero'' movie ''Film/UltramanSaga'', for instance, contains spoilers for ''Series/UltramanDyna'' and ''Series/UltramanCosmos''.
* This is a common failing of soap operas, and considered a reason for their near-extinction today; it was and remains very difficult for casual viewers to "jump in" and figure out what's going on, especially in older soaps, some of which ran for more than a half-century. And due to the [[ArchivePanic thousands if not tens of thousands of episodes produced of some shows]], with many early episodes lost, the BetterOnDVD option simply doesn't exist (the sole exception being the original ''Series/DarkShadows'', which ran for more than 1200 episodes, all of which (save a single lost episode) are on DVD).
** Oddly averted by the cheap soaps such as ''Hollyoaks'' and ''Neighbours''. These have so few plots that you can watch an episode, wait several months, watch another and see exactly the same situation (although often with different characters taking the roles).
* {{Brit Com}}s in general suffer from this due to the pervasiveness of {{Historical In Joke}}s in British humor; Brits have a ''lot'' more history than Americans, are ''much'' better educated in it - and dearly love making fun of it. Fortunately, thanks to BritishBrevity, it's easier to catch up on British shows on DVD or your favorite streaming service than it is with American shows. For instance, while you won't understand "The Reichenbach Fall" without seeing every other episode of ''Series/{{Sherlock}}'' beforehand, catching up will take you a grand total of seven and a half hours.
* ''Series/BreakingBad''. Miss one episode? You're screwed! [[{{Filler}} Except for]] [[BottleEpisode "Fly"]].
* ''Series/OrphanBlack'' has a complex network of conspiracies, hidden agendas within hidden agendas, a fair number of {{Walking Spoiler}}s, and a plot that progresses at break-neck speeds. Missing any individual episode may mean missing a crucial [[TheReveal plot twist]], or even several of them. Also, many of the characters are not what they seem, so you have to pay close attention their HiddenDepths and CharacterDevelopment to understand their actions.
* ''Series/{{Quantico}}'' relies heavily on plot twists and serialization, not to mention tracking two time periods (the past, where Alex Parrish and the other characters are training at the FBI Academy, and the present, where Alex has been accused of [[PostNineElevenTerrorismMovie blowing up Grand Central Terminal]]) that trade off every twenty minutes or so, and the OpeningNarration mostly only introduces the premise. Good luck keeping track of what's going on if you miss an episode.
* ''Series/SonsOfAnarchy'' is heavily serialized. Essentially, Seasons 1-3 and 4-7 have largely continuous plotlines.
* ''Series/GameOfThrones'' is absolutely unforgiving of latecomers. Even with the recaps that start each episode, there's not much that can be done to help somebody who is forced to remember events from Season 1, Episode 1 to make sense of half of Season 6, Episode 6. For their part the producers realize this and so the Blu-ray releases include optional on-screen concordances to help bring viewers up to speed on characters and locations.
* Following on from ''Series/GameOfThrones'', the Shondaland {{SharedUniverse}} is ''particularly'' notorious for this, perhaps moreso than ''Series/GameOfThrones''. Examples include:
** ''Series/GreysAnatomy''. It's a LongRunner now in its 13th season, and ''very'' continuity-heavy for a medical drama due to its LoadsAndLoadsOfCharacters, mythos and the [[AnAesop regular aesop-driven storylines]].
** On a related note, try to watch ''Series/TheCatch'', a CriminalProcedural, which is part of TheVerse for Shondaland shows (and within the same canon as ''Series/GreysAnatomy'' without having seen a previous episode first. It'll be confusing. Although each series is only 10 episodes long (roughly about as long as a typical ''Series/BetterCallSaul'' or ''Series/StrangerThings'' run), you have to know what came before to see an episode - it is not like ''Series/CSICrimeSceneInvestigation'' where there is a VictimOfTheWeek. ''Series/TheCatch'' ''does'' have a VictimOfTheWeek, but it's got a main StoryArc, RotatingArcs, LoadsAndLoadsOfCharacters, and a ''lot'' of CharacterDevelopment, along with side plotlines following ConMan characters. It's not quite got as many characters as ''Series/GameOfThrones'' but it can be confusing for new viewers - yet this isn't a Marvel show like ''Series/AgentsOfSHIELD'' or a historical epic drama like ''Series/Outlander'' (which also has the same ContinuityLockout problem).
* In more recent seasons, since Creator/TheBBC did a soft ContinuityReboot of ''Watchdog'' in 2015, a consumer-focused show, this is a rare example of a consumer show/documentary having ContinuityLockout which means that new viewers won't always know what's going on and may have to resort to the iPlayer to understand. This is a show where there is NoAntagonist (apart from human nature as the antagonist) and the only StoryArc is consumer issues.
* Generally, any procedural that focuses on season-long cases rather than episode-long cases runs a risk of this happening. ''Series/TheWire'' and ''Series/TheCatch'', amongst others, have already been mentioned; ''Series/{{Bosch}}'', ''Chance'', and ''Series/DirkGentlysHolisticDetectiveAgency'' are also examples. Of course, the first of these is an Creator/{{Amazon}} production, the second of these is a Creator/{{Hulu}} production, and the third is co-produced by Creator/{{Netflix}}, so they were presumably created with binge-watching in mind in the first place. This isn't a criticism; TropesAreTools, after all.
* ''Series/{{Community}}'' can sometimes fall into a sort-of meta-example of this trope; something of a TroubledProduction, its tendency towards LeaningOnTheFourthWall meant that it often referenced the behind-the-scenes issues it faced in the form of {{Take That}}s and BitingTheHandHumor. However, since it ''also'' had a tendency to lay the meta-humor on a little thick and really go to down with OTT and out-there plots and jokes, this could all become a little overwhelming and off-putting for viewers who weren't aware of and[=/=]or didn't care about Dan Harmon's various issues with the network he was working for and just wanted to watch a half-hour sitcom.
* Franchise/MarvelCinematicUniverse:
** ''Series/AgentsOfSHIELD''. Although it's not mandatory to have seen all of the Franchise/MarvelCinematicUniverse movies, there's quite a bit in this series (Coulson's resurrection, the events of the episode "Turn, Turn, Turn", etc) that makes a lot more sense if you've seen the movies. Also, if you do plan on watching the movies, do that first, otherwise they'll be spoiled (especially ''Film/CaptainAmericaTheWinterSoldier'').
*** This trope is why Whedon says the actual agents themselves have yet to appear in any of the films. He claimed that providing a satisfactory storyline featuring the Avengers learning that Coulson is still alive and running S.H.I.E.L.D. would essentially hijack the story and distract from the ''actual'' plot.
** Likewise, the Netflix shows are independent of the movies, but it's important to consider that the events of ''Film/TheAvengers2012'' are responsible for a number of things happening in them (like Wilson Fisk profiting off the reconstruction contracts in ''Series/Daredevil2015'', or an "Incident" survivor in ''Series/JessicaJones2015'' becoming a fantastic racist who tries to kill Jessica just because she's gifted).
** ''Series/Daredevil2015'' season 2 requires watching season 1 as a prerequisite.
** The first season of ''Series/LukeCage2016'' essentially requires watching season 1 of ''Series/JessicaJones2015'' as that show introduced Luke and many plot points that are of relevance in Luke's own show (such as Reva's death and his past). To a lesser extent, the first two seasons of ''Series/Daredevil2015'' are also a prerequisite, if one is to make sense of Blake Tower's appearance during Diamondback's hostage situation or a number of references to Wilson Fisk's downfall.
** Mostly averted with ''Series/IronFist2017'', that serves as an alternate introduction to the evil organization known as The Hand if viewers missed how they first appeared in the second season of ''Daredevil'' (even if there's a CallBack to that said by Claire Temple, the only character present in all the Netflix series).
** ''Series/TheDefenders2017'' is the Netflix equivalent of ''The Avengers'', but requires much more backstory, given characters from all the four series show up.
* ''Series/LegendsOfTomorrow'' can be very difficult to follow if you haven't watched ''Series/{{Arrow}}'' and ''Series/TheFlash2014'', the shows it [[SpinOff spun off from]], first. Most of the main characters debuted on one of those two shows, where their {{Super Hero Origin}}s, the important relationships in their lives, and major life events (like Sara's death and resurrection, or Stein's previous Firestorm partnership with Ronnie) were all established, with ''Legends'' itself only explaining those events briefly.
** Goes to another level in Season 2, where the Legends are fighting a VillainTeamUp of bad guys who are ''also'' all from ''The Flash'' and ''Arrow'', a new main character is introduced who's the ancestor of the hero from ''WesternAnimation/{{Vixen}}'', and the show's first full crossover with ''Arrow'', ''The Flash'', and ''Series/{{Supergirl}}'' occurs.

[[folder: Newspaper Comics ]]
* Nearly every Newspaper Comic in existence is written under the belief that not everyone gets the newspaper every day, so most of them are of a Gag-a-Day format to avoid this. However...
** Both Floyd Gottfredson's Mickey Mouse daily strips and Ward Greene's ComicStrip/{{Scamp}} daily strips began as essentially one continuous story, but both eventually shifted to gag a day formats.
*** That also makes them particularly tricky to separate into individual stories for reprinting in comic book form (besides the obvious fact that they have to make up a meaningful name for the story arcs), for example, Gottfredson's ''WesternAnimation/MickeyMouse as the Monarch of Medioka'' (printed in WDC #593-599) starts off with a conversation referring to the immediately preceding adventure, and the plot is set in motion by spending of the money they made off of said adventure. The preceding story, ''In Search of Jungle Treasure'' was printed in issues ''4 and 5'', so unless you have a complete collection, you have to take their word for it.
** Modern newspaper strips with running plots generally get around this by [[DecompressedComic decompressing]] the plot so much that every minor detail happens over at least 3 days. This also means you have to read several months' worth of strips to get anything meaningful out of it.
** However you were on your own with regards to older-style serialized stories that offered little by way of recaps or "previously ons". If you didn't follow a story from its beginning, you often had a hard time figuring out the plot. This was intentional as the purpose of the comic strip serial format was to ''sell newspapers.''
* ''ComicStrip/{{Fleep}}'' was an OntologicalMystery, so the entire story was progressed through clues slowly gained over the various strips. It was canceled for being too confusing.
* ''ComicStrip/{{Candorville}}'' is doing its best to avert this, sometimes filling a panel with AsYouKnow dialogue, but it's been steadily failing ever since it started introducing monsters and prophecies. Now there are 2-3 factions trying to TakeOverTheWorld, and a new reader may not initially realize that ''any'' of them are present.
* ''ComicStrip/BloomCounty'' [[LampshadeHanging hangs a lampshade]] on the concept [[http://www.gocomics.com/bloomcounty/1988/05/21/ in this strip]].
* ''ComicStrip/{{Doonesbury}}'' is a victim of this. 40 years of strips with close to 100 characters, around 30 or so who appear on a regular basis.

* ''Any'' band that's been around more than five years or so. You can get into and like the music with any band, but if you're seeking to get into the fandom side or be seen as anything but a {{noob}}, much less knowledgeable and intelligent, if a band's been around longer than five years, you'll need to check out ''all'' of their work, engage with active fans that were around from the beginning (or at least, themselves read up on the fandom lore) and be a lurker until you know what you're talking about to avoid FlameWar.
* Influences and inspirations for songs, lyrics, stage presence, or more, which can change your opinion or liking of a song or even a band.
* Go on, try to understand [[MindScrew what's going on]] in a Music/CoheedAndCambria song if you've never read the comic books.

* ''Toys/{{Bionicle}}'' eventually got this way, especially after the introduction of the on-line serials. The main story arcs tended to avoid this, but when former main characters that had been cast aside for years got back on stage, even that went messy. The whole storyline balanced on a thin line between trying to please the older fans and bring in fresh blood. This was probably one of the main reasons Franchise/{{LEGO}} decided to put the line on hiatus and bring in ''Toys/HeroFactory'', which was much lighter on the story and had little to no continuity; and when [[Franchise/{{Bionicle2015}} it was brought back]] it was given a ContinuityReboot to help clear things up.
** An additional problem was that much of Bionicle's story was told in online media, from games to animation to web serials (written or read as audio files), and so much of the media just did not exist anymore or was no longer up for new readers to catch up on.
* This can be a problem with online roleplays that have gone on for years. When a new member wants to join up they have to verse themselves in everything that's happened before.
** Roleplay/{{Glowfic}} likes to make its characters explain their own backstory and [[TheMultiverse universe]] to other characters who they meet for the first time, as well as playing with this trope in-universe because new [[AlternateSelf characters]] constantly join an [[AllianceOfAlternates organisation/group/collective]] and have to be caught up, and (sometimes) they are caught up onscreen, via some old character explaining it to them in conversation.
* Depending on the extent of {{Fanon}}, this can happen - a lot of fandom members tend to assume everybody is on board with their fandom lore, the running gags, the personalities invented (and accepted) by them or have read all the popular fanfiction recommendations. This can lead to some new fans wondering where on earth this is coming from.
* Many [[TheMovie films based on a TV series]] fall into this trap, as they continue from events in the TV series and assume viewers are already familiar with them. How severe this trope can be depends on its connection to those events, as well as the setup of their respective series: a film with a self-contained story can easily be enjoyed by unfamiliar viewers as a standalone work, whereas one with a complex mythos and already-established characters will leave them completely lost.
* {{Pinball}} is an entire ''medium'' that has fallen victim to this. Every pinball machine released since ''Pinball/TheAddamsFamily'' has assumed the player knows how to start a game [[note]]You push the Start button, located at the front next to the coin slots[[/note]], pushing the Start button multiple times will begin multiplayer [[note]]This dates back to before electronic displays, when there was literally no alternative. Provided you have enough credits or the games are free, each push of the button at the beginning of a game will add one more player[[/note]], what locking balls do [[note]]Locked balls build towards a multiball mode. Once enough balls have been locked that's equal to the number of balls in multiplayer, multiball will immediately begin[[/note]], how the ball count works when you win extra balls [[note]]The ball number--Ball 1, Ball 2, etc.--will only go up when a ball drains without any extra balls[[/note]], what the loud knock from inside the cabinet means [[note]]It comes from a device called a knocker, which signals you've won a free game[[/note]], what "VUK" means [[note]]"Vertical Up-Kicker," a solenoid in a hole that catapults the ball out of the hole, usually straight upwards[[/note]], how many balls are in a standard game [[note]]5 for those made before 1980, 3 for those made in 1980 or later[[/note]], what a "ramp" is and what makes it different from a "lane" or an "orbit" [[note]]A ramp is a path steeper than the playfield made out of metal or plastic, a lane is completely on the playfield surface, and an orbit is the leftmost or rightmost path and usually, but not always, collectively make up the perimeter of the playfield[[/note]], what a "bonus multiplier" is [[note]]The multiplier is applied to the end-of-ball bonus, a series of awards given when you drain a ball[[/note]], the existence of match games [[note]]Once a game ends, the machine will display the last two digits of your score and a semi-randomly generated number. If these numbers match, you win a free game[[/note]], that most modern machines will give you a free ball if you drain too quickly [[note]]This is known as a "ball save"[[/note]], what it means when the "Shoot Again" light is flashing and what it means when it's continuously lit [[note]]A flashing "Shoot Again" means the ball save is still active, and a continuously lit one means you have at least one extra ball[[/note]], and that "Score #1" is actually the second-best score after Grand Champion [[note]]Most pinball machines record the top 5 scores, with Grand Champion at the top and Score #4 at the bottom[[/note]]. People who have been playing pinball for years will know these things, but a beginner likely won't, and will instead do things like mash the Start button to begin a game, as that's how it's done in video games, and unintentionally and unknowingly start maximum-player games.

[[folder: Professional Wrestling]]
* Usually avoided in pro wrestling, since most of wrestlers and such (at least if they fall between the two extremes of "irrelevant" and "universally popular") will switch from {{Heel}} to {{Face}} and back again (or vice versa) quite a few times over the course of their part in an angle, with their contemporaries [[ThreeMonthRule all but forgetting]] about the bad deeds they committed as Heels or the good deeds they committed as Faces (unless a wrestler is [[RememberWhenYouBlewUpASun explicitly confronted with his/her past]]). However, since [[Wrestling/{{WWE}} World Wrestling Entertainment]] has a video archive going back to the ''1960s'' and everything (or almost everything) that occurred since 1983 is regarded as {{canon}}, it often becomes helpful to play vintage video clips in the montages in order to bring everyone up to speed. (Anything that happened in the 1950s or earlier is, for the most part, written off as being the province of the wrestling "territories", ultimately embodied by the Wrestling/NationalWrestlingAlliance, which has an ongoing history dating back to the late 1940s - and yes, all of those 60-plus years are NWA canon - but from which WWE's original incarnation, Capitol Wrestling Corporation, broke away as early as 1953.)
** Incredibly, there was at least one WWE personality whose exploits stretch back all the way to the outbreak of UsefulNotes/WorldWarII, well before the beginning of WWE ''or'' NWA: Wrestling/MaeYoung (1923-2014), the former United States Women's Champion (a now-defunct title) who appeared on ''Monday Night Raw'' as late as March 2013. With an in-ring career spanning literally six decades, Young was generally referred to in BroadStrokes whenever WWE programming discussed her incredible history, usually being hailed as the first nationally prominent female wrestler (not true, although she was alive when first nationally prominent generation was active) and a morale-booster for Americans on the home front during the war in the 1940s (true this time). Attempts have been made to construct a title archive for Young, but so many of her victories happened so long ago and were so spottily recorded that this task has proved frustrating; indeed, it's doubtful if Young herself could remember everything.
** WWE fired their continuity editor for pointing out the millions of continuity errors. His job was specifically to point out and edit "[[InsistentTerminology storylines]]" to make sure the continuity worked.
** This has increasingly become an issue in the 2010s, when WWE started signing more wrestlers who first achieved popularity in the independent/international scene. The rivalry between Wrestling/SamiZayn and Wrestling/KevinOwens, for example, takes on greater depth when one is also familiar with their previous backgrounds in Wrestling/RingOfHonor and Wrestling/ProWrestlingGuerilla. And while WWE has done a good job so far establishing the relationship between Wrestling/AJStyles, Wrestling/KarlAnderson and Wrestling/LukeGallows, to casual viewers the connection between the three men and Wrestling/FinnBalor is not readily apparent unless they also looked into the history of the Wrestling/BulletClub, a heel stable that was created in [[Wrestling/NewJapanProWrestling a completely different promotion on the other side of the Pacific]].
* WWE onscreen commentators both past and present (Matt Striker, to give one noteworthy example) can boast an encyclopedic knowledge of 20th-century wrestling lore, being able to cite references to things that happened long before they were born - and since there isn't time in the middle of a match to bring everyone up to date on what all these references mean, anyone who happens to be casually tuning in to WWE programming is certain to be all but lost, even when it comes to references to events that happened as recently as a few months ago.
* This was a problem for IWA Puerto Rico's English feed on Fox Sports Net. While cutting out all the promos and video packages and going straight to the matches was refreshing in a way, it was hard for someone casually tuning in to know exactly who everyone was or appreciate their motivations, which was a problem because IWA's big angles at the time revolved around abuse of power, attempted corporate takeovers and their rivalry with WWC, which anyone not up to speed with IWA would know even less about. Competing directly for viewership with ''Wrestling/{{TNA}} Impact'', who happened to be signing names already known to the English speaking audience such as Wrestling/SamoaJoe while similar such names like Bison were leaving IWA gave people even less incentive to sit around and figure out what IWA was all about.

[[folder: Tabletop Games ]]
* This is a general property of TableTopRolePlayingGames. Most have highly detailed universes which are contained in DoorStopper books. A good GameMaster and group of players will help a new player considerably. Put succinctly, a new player has to learn the mechanics of most games (crunch) as well as the setting (fluff). Despite the name, learning the "fluff" is not always easier - some games have really simple rules and terribly complex ideas behind them. Smart companies design their products around this problem.
* Additionally, a new player joining a game that has been in progress for months or years can find themselves not only lost in terms of the core game, but in the no doubt hundreds of clashes, allies, enemies and in jokes a group will have created over the years.
** TabletopGame/DungeonsAndDragons and by extension TabletopGame/{{Pathfinder}} get a bit of a break, as D&D has fertilized so many video games and other fantasy works that some of the material comes off as a cliche within the genre. Despite this, there are literally hundreds of books for the various D&D settings, optional guides, and so forth, spread through so many editions, that without a patient group it can be very overwhelming for a new player.
*** TabletopGame/ForgottenRealms alone published dozens of books and boxed sets with every edition.
*** Paizo's TabletopGame/{{Pathfinder}} Adventure Paths try to get around this by offering free books which brief the players on the adventure to come and what to expect. They're "only" roughly 15-30 full-size pages, and they still require a decent knowledge of the rather complex Pathfinder setting.
*** D&D and Pathfinder have the ContinuityLockOut problem in their crunch as well. As they constantly release new books with new mechanics, a new player can have five to ten rulebooks of material to sort through. For example, Pathfinder initially had one Core Rulebook, but by mid-2013 now has expanded to include dozens of minor splat books and at least seven that could be considered "options for players." The Core book is about five hundred pages, and each other major book is about two-hundred and fifty.
** The TabletopGame/WorldOfDarkness, [[TabletopGame/OldWorldOfDarkness Old]] and [[TabletopGame/NewWorldOfDarkness New]], were prone to this. The typical rulebook was 250 pages of fluff, 50 of mechanics, so a new player would have an immense buy-in in terms of learning the game's feel. Additionally, there were multi-year long metaplots, constant expansions, and a splat book for everything. And the lines all overlapped at least a bit. Fortunately, playing someone brand new to the supernatural world was pretty much the norm, so the ''characters'' would be unlikely to know much about the setting.
*** The New World of Darkness shies heavily away from the dense metaplot of the Old World of Darkness, where sourcebooks were like comic book issues: collect them all to have a hope in hell of understanding anything that was going on. While the New World of Darkness does have some metaplot elements, they are dramatically toned down from previous iteration.
** TabletopGame/ShadowRun requires a pretty good grounding in UrbanFantasy and CyberPunk, plus is full of its own quirkiness. It's not the easiest setting to initially buy into.
** TabletopGame/CallOfCthulhu is a bit difficult to follow if one isn't overly familiar with the Cthulhu Mythos.
*** This is a problem of many games which license another setting, such as Franchise/StarWars, Literature/ASongOfIceAndFire, TabletopGame/TheDresdenFiles, and VideoGame/TheWheelOfTime. Presumably, someone wanting to play these games wants to enjoy settings from other media they like. If they invite other friends who aren't familiar with the setting, the new player has to adapt to all the new rules, mindset, and the setting.
*** Star Wars games often use the [[Franchise/StarWarsExpandedUniverse Expanded Universe]]. Given how much of it there is, that can really be overwhelming if all you know are the movies.
** ''TabletopGame/{{Warhammer}}'' and ''TabletopGame/{{Warhammer 40000}}'' are fairly approachable as straight war games without any over-arching fluff, but their various role playing incarnations like ''TabletopGame/DarkHeresy'' require a massive amount of detail about their settings. The war games do a fairly good job of giving a feel for their worlds, however, with rule-books that are about a hundred pages of rules and three hundred pages of fluff and model galleries.
** ''TabletopGame/{{Paranoia}}'' subverts this. You're neither expected to know the rules nor the setting going in. If you are caught knowing the rules or setting, it's treason. Friend Computer assures you that knowing the rules or setting are not vital to your success in this mission. Report immediately to Brain-Scrub Room Zeta 462 to have this treasonous information purged from your brain or be executed for treason. Have a pleasant daycycle.
* All the above problems apply doubly-so for the GameMaster, who has to know (or fake) the setting to the satisfaction of the players.
* Many games release a "beginner's version" to try to compensate for this problem, allowing new players to sample the game at a minimal layout before deciding whether they want put down their hard-earned money and then spend time working through the game at all. Sample adventures which hold the players' and GM's hands a great deal are also used to this effect.
** Making many new characters naive about the setting is another effective tool to combat this problem, since the player and their character learn together. This is very effective in TabletopGame/UnknownArmies, TabletopGame/WorldOfDarkness, TabletopGame/CallOfCthulhu, and other settings where there really isn't a good reason for the character to know much about the setting. When TheMasquerade means new characters are naive, the player can be almost as surprised as their character when they discover something new.

[[folder: Video Games ]]
* ''VideoGame/StarCraft'':
** ''VideoGame/StarCraftII'' is a slight example of this. There are summaries on the website and the installiation process shows off a recap of what went down in the original games, but otherwise you have to read the novels to know anything about Valerian, Tychus, Matt Horner.
** Plot advances going unexplained in-game during the 4-year TimeSkip between ''[[VideoGame/StarCraftBroodWar Brood War]]'' and ''[[VideoGame/StarCraftIIWingsOfLiberty Wings of Liberty]]'' caused a disconnect for people as well. If you were hoping for a continuation of where ''Brood War'' left loose ends off, prepare to be extremely disappointed.
** You'd have to dig into the franchise's ExpandedUniverse to understand why Raynor is all of a sudden longing to be with Kerrigan again at the start of ''Wings of Liberty'' despite his last appearance in ''Brood War'' having his classic character defining moment of vowing to kill Kerrigan someday. We're suppose to believe that he got over his ploy for revenge during the 4-year intermission, but how he got over it went completely unexplained in the game; leaving many players confused as to why Raynor's suddenly in a different emotional state.
** You'd have to read the ExpandedUniverse to understand how the Dominion are all-of-a-sudden the top dogs again despite being on the recieving end of many {{Curb Stomp Battle}}s in ''Brood War''. The player's WillingSuspensionofDisbelief really comes to question here as to how the Dominion achieved such a miraculous recovery; including how Korhal instantly turns into a planetwide megapolis come ''Wings Of Liberty'' despite being a desert wasteland 4 years prior in ''Brood War''.
* ''Franchise/MetalGear'' slowly rose from humble origins, into the self-sequels ''VideoGame/MetalGearSolid'' and ''VideoGame/{{Metal Gear Solid 2|SonsOfLiberty}}'', had a brief blip for the stand-alone ''VideoGame/{{Metal Gear Solid 3|SnakeEater}}'', and then gunned the canon whole-heartedly into the massive continuity snarl-ups of ''[[VideoGame/MetalGearSolidPortableOps Portable Ops]]'' and ''VideoGame/{{Metal Gear Solid 4|GunsOfThePatriots}}'', both of which only a very serious and dedicated fan would be able to [[ContinuityPorn understand]].
** As a sort of alternative, the ''[[VideoGame/MetalGearAcid Ac!d]]'' games happened in an alternate universe, but they still expected a familiarity with the main phase series with its {{spoiler}}rific character cards. In the first game's story, a lot of hints about Snake's identity and motivations require some knowledge of his main phase {{canon}} {{backstory}}, such as his sterility.
** ''VideoGame/MetalGearSolid3SnakeEater'' is an interesting exception in that while the story can be completely enjoyed and understood on its own it's packed with {{Continuity Nod}}s and back story for characters in the other games.
** ''VideoGame/MetalGearSolidGroundZeroes'' is not only based on the PSP game (with a [=PS3=]/[=X360=] HD rerelease) ''VideoGame/MetalGearSolidPeaceWalker'', but on a PlayableEpilogue ending that many people missed. Few people seem to care.
* ''BioShockInfinite/BurialAtSea'', Episode 1 will, right up to the ending, actually make ''more'' sense to someone who's only played ''VideoGame/BioShock1'' than it will to someone who's only played ''VideoGame/BioShockInfinite''. Booker and Elizabeth's connection has no real importance until the end, and this is an alternate Booker, so the only real connection to ''Infinite'' is Elizabeth ability to open Tears, and the basic gameplay controls. In a storyline sense, it's more like a DLC to the original Bioshock series.
* ''VideoGame/WorldOfWarcraft'' is like this at times. Events happen outside the game's continuity that still affect the game. Why is the king of Stormwind back for Wrath of the Lich King, and where was he? Why is [[spoiler: Cairne]] dead in Cataclysm? Op, better [[AllThereInTheManual read the expanded universe material]] to find out! To be fair, the games never leave you completely out of the loop, but you might have to dig for those tidbits. It's just the basics, not the complete story.
** Blackwing Descent, one of the tier 11 raids, is home to Deathwing's son Nefarian, who is running experiments on different kinds of dragons. Except Nefarian was already killed several years prior to the ''Cataclysm'' expansion. Playing through the game alone, you'll never find out how Nefarian came BackFromTheDead, what the purpose of his experiments was, or how they tied into Deathwing's plan since the raid doesn't address it and neither Nefarian nor his experiments ever appear or are mentioned outside of Blackwing Descent. Were it not for the [[Franchise/WarcraftExpandedUniverse Expanded Universe]], the entire raid would be a BigLippedAlligatorMoment.
** Nozdormu, Aspect of Time and leader of the Bronze Dragonflight, was missing in action during classic [=WoW=] and the first two expansions. It was a bit of a plot point that the rest of his flight didn't know where he was or what he was doing. Then, in Patch 4.2, he shows up during the Elemental Bonds questline. No mention of him having been gone, where he was, or when he got back was made, and everyone just acts like there's no reason he wouldn't be there. Turns out his return was covered in the ExpandedUniverse novel ''Thrall: Twilight of the Aspects''... Which, when 4.2 first launched, ''wasn't even out yet''
* The ''Franchise/KingdomHearts'' series [[note]]''[[VideoGame/KingdomHeartsBirthBySleep Birth by Sleep]]'' is the main exception, by virtue of being a prequel[[/note]]. Starting from any game from ''[[VideoGame/KingdomHeartsChainOfMemories Chain of Memories]]'' and onward will get confusing. To make things worse, the continuity is spread over multiple handheld systems, including the GBA, DS, PSP, and the 3DS. 3 out of 4 of these are Nintendo systems. The [=PS2=] remake of ''Chain of Memories'' alleviates the confusion slightly for those without Nintendo handhelds, but they'll need to get a 3DS to get [[VideoGame/KingdomHearts3DDreamDropDistance Dream Drop Distance]], which will tie together the previous three hand-held installments ([[VideoGame/KingdomHearts358DaysOver2 358/2 Days]], [[VideoGame/KingdomHeartsBirthBySleep Birth by Sleep]] and [[VideoGame/KingdomHeartscoded coded]]) ''and'' the inevitable ''Kingdom Hearts III''. Likewise, those with Nintendo handhelds, but no [=PS2=] or PSP... you get the picture. CrackIsCheaper than playing the entire series.
** It also doesn't help that the [[UpdatedRerelease Final Mixes]] in the series [[NoExportForYou are unavailable outside Japan]], despite containing critical plot points. This makes it difficult to follow the [[KudzuPlot already complex plot]] of the series, unless you look up fan translations.
** Luckily, Square-Enix released ''[[CompilationRerelease 1.5]]'' worldwide for the [=PS3=], containing ''[=KH1=] Final Mix'', ''Re:Chain of Memories'', and an abridged, cutscene-only version of ''[=358/2=] Days''. Then they released ''2.5'', containing ''[=KH2=] Final Mix+'',''Birth By Sleep Final Mix'', and an abridged version of ''Re:coded''. Eventually, they released [=PS4=] versions of both collections, after a third collection containing ''VideoGame/KingdomHearts3DDreamDropDistance'' along with "VideoGame/KingdomHearts02BirthBySleepAFragmentaryPassage" and "VideoGame/KingdomHeartsX" as a movie, before the release of "VideoGame/KingdomHeartsIII" on [=PS4=], ensuring that the entire series, absent playable versions of the DS games, is playable on one console.
** ''VideoGame/KingdomHearts3DDreamDropDistance'' had a recap-like [[http://kh13.com/forum/topic/30377-memoirs-feature-in-kingdom-hearts-3d-explained/ "Memoirs" feature.]] The generally bare-bones entries and hyper-complicated plot make the memoirs more useful for fans needing a refresher, though.
* The ''Franchise/AceAttorney'' series goes out of its way to avoid this, to the point of characters avoiding references to other games even when it would make sense to do so. See: Miles Edgeworth in ''VisualNovel/AceAttorneyInvestigations'' constantly mentioning that he no longer follows the von Karma way without mentioning the fact that [[spoiler:von Karma murdered his father and raised him that way as revenge for a small courtroom slight...at least until the second ''Investigations'' game, which features Gregory Edgeworth's last case as a playable segment, but that was only released in Japanese and many Western fans haven't played it.]] He also refuses to ever refer to Phoenix Wright (who doesn't appear in the spinoffs outside of two hidden cameos) by name, which gets pretty hilarious after a while.
* Continuity in ''Franchise/TheElderScrolls'' games works in a similar way to avert lockout. For example, you don't NEED to know about the [[VideoGame/TheElderScrollsIIDaggerfall Warp in the West]] to play and enjoy ''[[VideoGame/TheElderScrollsIIIMorrowind Morrowind]]'' -- but if you'd LIKE to know how the previous game's multiple endings were resolved, just read the in-game book about it! Business and technical challenges sometimes force some bizarre contortions of continuity, but those are [[RetCon covered]] [[CosmicRetcon by]] [[EarlyInstallmentWeirdness other]] [[CharacterizationMarchesOn tropes]].
* ''VideoGame/MeltyBlood'' assumes you already know all the characters and their relationships to each other. If you're completely unfamiliar with ''VisualNovel/{{Tsukihime}}'', it feels like a massive InJoke.
* The ''VideoGame/LegacyOfKain'' series is hard enough to follow even if you play them all. If you missed one, you have no chance. Well, you'll probably be alright if you miss ''Blood Omen 2'': it gives some back story for the Hylden, but nothing terribly important that can't be gleaned from ''Soul Reaver 2''.
* ''Franchise/BlazBlue'' takes the cake. Let's try and break down the storyline: no matter which character you play through the arcade mode with, each of them all end up having the same ending in which they just simply cannot stop the BigBad from unleashing his ultimate creation and getting one step closer to destroying all existence. But the thing is, each of these character endings all happened at the same time, because the BigBad is manipulating the laws of space and time to reset time over and over again, each time creating a new dimension in which he hopes the parameters will be just right where he can carry out his ultimate goal. Confused yet? It gets worse. On top of all those endings all happening at the same time, an overarching storyline continues to unfold in which each character has their own goals that they want to achieve. Some characters are just trying to live peaceful lives, some have become bounty hunters while trying to hunt down the most notorious criminal in the world, while he himself is just looking for someone's ass to kick, namely the BigBad. One girl is trying to figure out who she is, and eventually finds herself as the very center of all the crap that is happening. Meanwhile, the bad guy is trolling each and every last one of them, manipulating many of them and corrupting their ideals, making friends distrust each other, betray each other, and pull everyone's strings to the extent that everyone is about to just go straight up crazy. Somehow the main characters figure out the plot, band together, and defeat the big bad, but this was all part of his plan to make what is a computer equivalent of GOD overlooking the entire universe to divert its attention long enough for the big bad to take it over and advance his plan yet again.\\\
All of that was the outcome of just the first two games '''alone'''. Read the character pages for the game and just see how many spoilers there are. It'll take a long while before you can start to make sense of it. It's not like playing the first game will help better explain anything either. You'll be just as confused if you just bypass the first game altogether and start with the second. This isn't even counting the numerous spin-off games for multiple portable platforms like the PSP and DS, assuming that the game even gets exported over from Japan in the first place!\\\
Worse still, there is an exorbitant amount of [[AllThereInTheManual side materials]] which all manage to tie into the main plot. Whereas you could largely get by in ''VideoGame/GuiltyGear'', ''[=BlazBlue=]''[='s=] predecessor, without these, they are ''crucial'' to understanding the ''[=BlazBlue=]'' universe. For starters, if you want to know why Hakumen is the man he is today and how [[spoiler:Hazama is able to prey on Tsubaki's jealousy of Noel]], that's where ''The Wheel of Fortune'' [[AudioAdaptation drama CD]] comes in. The ''Phase Shift'' light novels build up the underlying story of the Six Heroes and details the exploits of the Dark War's unsung hero, [[spoiler:a time-displaced Ragna the]] Bloodedge, not to mention that the fifth novel throws in [[SequelHook a hook]] for [[VideoGame/BlazBlueChronoPhantasma the third game]]. Even the overly {{fanservice}}y ''Remix Heart'' manga might end up influencing things down the road given the main character's friendship with three of the games' more prominent females, her status as [[spoiler:one of the Duodecim (the twelve families Jin, Tsubaki, and ''CP'' newcomer Kagura belong to)]], and [[spoiler:some rather MindScrew-laden visions of the future in later chapters]]. Luckily, members of the fandom have managed to translate and give synopses of these works, but if you don't bother doing your homework, you're going to have a hard time making sense of some of the more cryptic allusions. Central Fiction adds Naoto Kurogane, who was in the Bloodedge Experience light novels, Es from the ''VisualNovel/XBlaze'' games, and Mai Natsume from the ''Manga/BlazblueRemixHeart'' manga. If you haven't read Naoto or Mai's stories (most likely not, as they were Japan-only) or played ''[=XBlaze=]'' light novel games, you won't realize why they're in the game.
* In ''VideoGame/{{Touhou}}'', this wasn't much of a problem during the PC-98 era and the first few games of the Windows era, since the plots of those games were largely self-contained. However, after ''Mountain of Faith'' the ContinuityCreep starts to take place, and now it's much more difficult for newcomers to understand what's going on since each game builds upon the previous one. Comments by ZUN suggest that [[TrollingCreator he feels a certain level of inaccessibility]] is core to the ''Touhou'' experience. The various manga and {{Universe Compendium}}s don't really help either, since all the manga series assume that one is already familiar with the games and their lore and the {{Universe Compendium}}s have some [[UnreliableNarrator Unreliable Narration]] at work.
* ''Franchise/MassEffect'':
** Happened with ''VideoGame/MassEffect2'' when it was ported to the [=PlayStation=] 3. Because of licensing issues, the first game couldn't come to that console, until the ''[[CompilationRerelease Mass Effect Trilogy]]'' arrived five years after the first game's release. People were worried that new players wouldn't get the whole story, so Creator/{{BioWare}} created an interactive comic that, admittedly, tells the story from a somewhat awkward perspective. It glosses over Feros completely, leaving some players in the dark about Shiala, the Feros colony, et. al. Even worse, as Admiral Hackett doesn't appear in the sequel outside of passing mentions and a letter, his significance in the ''Arrival'' DLC is completely lost on players who didn't experience the first game.
** Averted in ''VideoGame/MassEffect3'' with the DLC plots from ''Mass Effect 2'', as the game has alternate scenarios in place if the player didn't do the DLC missions. For example, Shepard is incarcerated at the start of the game for working with Cerberus rather than [[spoiler:causing hundreds of thousands of batarian deaths]], as the situation in ''Arrival'' is handled instead by Alliance soldiers and Liara defeats the Shadow Broker with a ton of hired mercenaries.
** There are two small cases in the second and third games. Unless you've played ''Mass Effect: Galaxy'', you won't know how Jacob knows Ish on Omega. People who haven't read the novels also won't know where [[TheDragon Kai Leng]] came from.
* Anyone playing ''[[VideoGame/EndlessFrontier Super Robot Wars OG Saga: Endless Frontier EXCEED]]'' would be left confused if they did not first play ''[[VideoGame/SuperRobotWarsOriginalGeneration Super Robot Wars Original Generation Gaiden]]'', as two characters in the playable cast who were supposedly KilledOffForReal in the [[VideoGame/SuperRobotWarsOriginalGeneration main series]] winds up in the [[VideoGame/EndlessFrontier spin-off series]]. In fact, the developers make it a point players ''must play the previous games'' occurring in main continuity to know what's remotely going on if they decide to start somewhere in the middle.
* Playing a VideoGame/LEGOAdaptationGame, apart from the ''Lego Batman'' games (which are original stories) and the ''Lego Marvel Super Heroes'' game (also original), make very little sense if you haven't seen/read the source material they are based on, [[http://archive.li/nXSGG as this blog demonstrates.]]
* ''VideoGame/MetroidOtherM'' is frequently accused of this. While most of the references make sense to a casual fan, the use of this trope single-handedly turned the Ridley scene into one of the most despised scenes in the series history. This plot point came from an obscure manga that was never released outside of Japan, where Samus has already feared Ridley since he [[YouKilledMyFather killed her mother]] and led a massacre of [[DoomedHometown her home planet K2L.]] About the only indication people get is a [[MakesJustAsMuchSenseInContext nonsensical shot of Samus turning into her child self]], rather than actually showing the ravaging of [=K2L=] for context.
* It is possible to understand and enjoy the plot of ''VideoGame/SuikodenIII'' without playing the first two games in the series, but the reveal of the Masked Bishop's identity (a pivotal moment in the story) will not make any sense.
* ''VideoGame/BatmanArkhamOrigins'' suffers quite a bit from this, as there are a lot of references to old Batman stories (most notably, when Joker flashes back to his Red Hood costume from ''ComicBook/TheKillingJoke'') that are pure fanservice to old hands make no sense whatsoever to new players. Though The Killing Joke segment takes place [[ThroughTheEyesOfMadness entirely in Joker's head]], so it doesn't have to make much sense.
* ''VideoGame/SaintsRowIV'' has many missions and jokes that refer back to the previous games, especially ''VideoGame/SaintsRow2''. If you haven't played those earlier games, the significance of certain events is decidedly lost (especially since ''Videogame/SaintsRow1'' was exclusive to the Xbox 360, meaning a large section of the fanbase hasn't played it). Amusingly, ''VideoGame/SaintsRowTheThird'' was supposed to be an aversion, barely bringing up the Stilwater adventures so as to not alienate new players.
* ''VideoGame/TheWarriors'' tries to avoid this - and mostly succeeds - both by recreating the opening scenes of the [[Film/TheWarriors 1979 film]] at the very beginning (although some crucial dialogue is edited out) and by making the game a prequel of sorts, beginning about a year (1978) before the events of the film and firmly establishing the personalities of the nine major characters long before the actual content of the movie becomes playable. The numerous cutscenes, heavy chunks of dialogue and constant updates on the radio (the gang has one in their training studio) by the famous lady DJ about what's happening throughout the city help a great deal.
* The ''VisualNovel/ZeroEscape'' franchise has an up-and-down relationship with this. The first sequel, ''VisualNovel/VirtuesLastReward'', more or less tells its own coherent story, although a couple of characters will only be fully understandable with having played the first game, ''VisualNovel/NineHoursNinePersonsNineDoors''. The final game, ''VisualNovel/ZeroTimeDilemma'', instead commands fairly intimate knowledge of '''both''' previous games in order to make any sense of what's going on.
* A comparatively minor example in ''VideoGame/FalloutNewVegas'', but the Courier will have a hard time answering the questions to prove you're an NCR citizen without having played ''{{Fallout}}'' and ''VideoGame/{{Fallout 2}}''. The only question you can answer based on what's in ''New Vegas'' is the one that asks what's on the NCR's flag. The answers to the other two questions, which ask what the NCR's original capital city and its most popular president are, are not found in game.
** The villainous nature of the Enclave in ''VideoGame/Fallout3'' can seem odd without having played the previous game, ''Fallout 2''. To a new player, the Enclave is simply the remnants of the American government who provides patriotic music and occasional radio broadcasts on their radio station (at least until they [[spoiler:kill your father and take control of Project Purity]]). However, ''Fallout 2'' revealed that the Enclave is the descendants of an elite billionaire class secretly running the American government, incredibly human-supremacist, and wants to eradicate all radioactively mutated beings from the Wasteland, which in ''Fallout 2'' includes most of the people living in the Wastes, but is relegated to just Super Mutants and Ghouls in ''Fallout 3''. (Knowing this also explains the psychopathic experiments of the Vaults - Vault-Tec was run by members of the Enclave, and was intended as a proof of concept that humans could survive under various, often torturous conditions (including isolation, radiation, artificially created caste systems, and so on) to later be used for space flight. Without this knowledge, however, most Vaults and their experiments will seem more like mad science run rampant than for an actual, if not completely justified, cause.) However, this backfires, as it's never really explained how the Enclave could exist in D.C. if they'd all been evacuated to an oil rig off the coast of California soon before the bombs fell.
** The sudden appearance of the Prydwen and the Brotherhood of Steel in ''VideoGame/{{Fallout 4}}'' can appear as a DeusExMachina without having played ''Fallout 3''. They're only mentioned in the game before this if you manage to listen to the easy-to-miss military signal and rescue Danse and his squadron at the Cambridge Police Station, and the Power Armor helmet on the front is implied to be the player's Power Armor, not belonging to the Brotherhood like on the covers of ''Fallout'' and ''Fallout 3''. Then, after completing Act 1's boss battle, the Sole Survivor emerges from Fort Hagen to see a giant airship and several Vertibirds flying around, announcing the Brotherhood of Steel's presence to the Commonwealth. While most companions are at least familiar with the Brotherhood (Danse and MacCready the most), Codsworth, the Sole Survivor, and any new player will be thoroughly confused.
*** Similarly, Madison Li's side quest to rejoin the Brotherhood of Steel is rather nonsensical without playing ''Fallout 3''. In ''Fallout 3'', she works with the Brotherhood of Steel to finish Project Purity. However, in the 10 years between games, she makes her way to the Commonwealth and eventually joins the Institute, which is where the Sole Survivor finds her. The Brotherhood's motivations for wanting her back hinges on the player's knowledge of this - otherwise, it seems like they threw a dart at a board of Institute scientists and chose her.
* [[ZigzaggedTrope Zigzagged]] with the ''VideoGame/{{Neptunia}}'' series. The canon games (the ones that further the storyline) open with both {{Narration}} and one of the main characters BreakingTheFourthWall to explain how the world works, who the main characters are, important plot points from previous games, etc. The non-canon spinoff games, on the other hand, seem to expect you to have played the canon games and know who the characters are, since they liberally use concepts and terminology from TheVerse with little explanation.
* The ''Videogame/{{InFamous}}'' series largely averts this trope. While there are certain things that make much more sense when you play the first game (Cole's issues with Zeke, his hatred of Kessler, the characters' knowledge of the Beast, and the Beast's identity), the story of ''Videogame/{{InFamous 2}}'' doesn't require too much knowledge of the first entry to fully enjoy. The next entry, ''Videogame/InfamousSecondSon'' is more of a SpinOff than a true sequel. It takes place nearly a decade after the second game and features a new protagonist in a new location and a new supporting cast, so Cole's adventures are largely unimportant to the story (what details are necessary, such as how Conduits came to be, why they are so disliked by regular humans, why there is a military force hunting them down, etc. being explained thoroughly to new players).
* ''VideoGame/SouthParkTheStickOfTruth'' generally averts this; despite being full of ContinuityPorn, most references to the show are more or less used as one-off gags that don't impact the plot to a significant degree. ''VideoGame/SouthParkTheFracturedButWhole'', on the other hand, has its plot so closely integrated with the show (''especially'' seasons 19-21, the most recent three at the time of the game's release) that the vast majority of the jokes and references that the plot relies on will end up completely lost on those who haven't been following the show religiously.
* ''Franchise/TheWitcher'' games zigzag this trope on account of serving as a continuation for a series of books that were virtually unknown outside of Poland for the longest time. The first game manages to avert through the process of making Geralt an amnesiac who doesn't remember what happened in the books. This has the effect of turning him into an AudienceSurrogate who's as familiar with the world, characters, and backstory as the player is. The sequels, however, play it more straight. On top of building upon the games' ever-growing narrative, characters and story elements from the books become even more prominent, making it all the more imposing for newcomers to jump in.

[[folder: Web Animation]]
* ''WebAnimation/HomestarRunner''. It's not a very continuity-heavy site really. But there is large reliance on in-jokes and running gags. The toons are sorted in to different categories so you're not even sure where to start. However, it has a wiki that is so helpful and comprehensive... it's a little scary. [[http://hrwiki.org/wiki/All_Toons This]] is the only place you'll find a chronological list of the toons and games.
* ''WebAnimation/TheTransformersCombinerWars'' manages to do this despite being set in its own exclusive continuity and only a half hour long. It constantly flings about references to prior ''Transformers'' lore without ever stopping to explain what it all means. Even worse, ''Transformers'' is a franchise that relies heavily on alternate universes and continuities and elements vary greatly from series to series, meaning [[UpToEleven even hardcore fans had trouble telling what was supposed to be going on]].
* ''WebAnimation/TheMostPopularGirlsInSchool'': The number of views of each consecutive episode on Website/YouTube decrease sharply because of this trope; this comedy series had evolved into a plot-heavy {{Dramedy}} by the start of Season 3.
* ''WebAnimation/DrHavocsDiary'': Just like Mark and Carlo's [[WebAnimation/TheMostPopularGirlsInSchool first show]], you ''really'' need to keep track of the continuity regarding Dr. Havoc's misadventures, or else the plots and jokes will make little sense.

* ''Webcomic/SluggyFreelance''. Trying to understand the significance of things without going through an ArchiveBinge... just doesn't work. ''Sluggy Freelance'' may be the only webcomic where the creator forgot his keys and locked himself out of his own continuity. In his defense, the writer has become aware of this trope and provides relevant links at the bottom of the strip for anyone who hasn't gone through the eight plus years of continuity.
** To its credit, it does have a lot of humorously-framed recap strips in which characters rant about important past events while other characters {{Lampshade}} the exposition. Eventually however, the continuity became so long and tangled that in-comic narration wouldn't cut it anymore (and in Sluggy Freelance, an ArchiveBinge -- or even an ArchiveTrawl -- will [[ArchivePanic take weeks unless you read for several hours a day]].)
* ''Webcomic/{{Megatokyo}}''. If you haven't read it from the beginning, you can forget about understanding the story. This is largely due to its character driven nature. If you haven't witnessed every second of Piro and Kimiko's courtship, or taken notes on each tiny nuance of the Piro/Miho dynamic, you aren't going to have any clue what's going on. Even then you might still have trouble, but that's [[KudzuPlot another]] [[CerebusSyndrome trope]] [[WebcomicTime entirely]]
* ''Webcomic/DominicDeegan'', making the sheer dedication of the {{Hatedom}} all the more puzzling.
* ''Webcomic/PennyAndAggie'' is a tapestry of numerous characters and subplots and overarching plots and rivalries... just read it from the beginning and you'll understand it better. The website now attempts to help those not planning on an ArchiveBinge by displaying a summary of the current plotline and the characters involved. The reader is still missing out on a wealth of backstory and characterization if they rely on that alone.
* ''Webcomic/ScaryGoRound'' was brought to [[http://sgrblog.blogspot.com/2009/07/end-beginning.html an end]] due, in part, to its massive archive keeping new readers at bay. The following strip ''Webcomic/BadMachinery'' is set in [[TheVerse the same world]], but with new characters, two supporting characters, and some other characters from ''Scary Go Round'' for which backstory is not needed to understand their new role.
* ''Webcomic/GirlGenius'' has so many characters who can be summarized as "MadScientist", many of whom disappeared for several years and then resurfaced, that even after reading the entire archive it's hard to keep track of what's going on now.
* ''Webcomic/GeneCatlow'' has spent many years on a single, complex arc that seems to have important roles for dozens of characters.
* Any [[Webcomic/MSPaintAdventures MSPaint Adventure]], but particularly ''Webcomic/ProblemSleuth''. Even people who have read every single page in order occasionally need to sit back and think "Wait, what's going on?" If you have a good grip of the story, even skipping a few pages will mean you won't understand a CallBack or five.
** Generally, webcomics having {{call back}}s isn't so rough because of their archives, but ''MSPA'' is one of the few webcomics (except, perhaps, the Webcomic/WalkyVerse) that requires you to read unrelated webcomics to get all the jokes. Want to understand why Jade is making jokes about pumpkins in ''Webcomic/{{Homestuck}}''? What's up with Ace Dick's extended sideplot in the ''Webcomic/GameOfLife''? Well you had better read every badly-drawn, nonsensical corner of ''Webcomic/JailBreak''!
** The author acknowledged the need for think-time during ''Webcomic/ProblemSleuth'' by having not one, not two, but ''three'' recap comics throughout its run, the first of which is simply devoted to explaining where everyone ''is'' and [[ItMakesSenseInContext how many versions of each character exist]].
** ''Webcomic/{{Homestuck}}'', ''Problem Sleuth'''s successor, has a [[KudzuPlot very]] [[ContinuityPorn very]] [[MindScrew very]] [[ChekhovsArmory very]] [[OverlyLongGag very]] convoluted plot. One can spend hours trying to fit all the pieces together, and chances are that you've probably ''still'' missed something that the fandom hasn't. And then there's the tangentially related pages such as the ''Midnight Crew'' and ''Webcomic/SweetBroAndHellaJeff'', which somehow weave through and permeate the entire plot even though they're in [[GuideDangIt rather... inaccessible locations]].
-->[[http://www.mspaintadventures.com/?s=6&p=003574 This link]] is the in-comic recap of the first year.
* ''WebComic/EerieCuties''[=/=]''WebComic/MagickChicks'':
** It was originally intended for newer readers to be able to follow ''Magick Chicks'' without it being necessary to read both comics. But between their SharedUniverse, two major [[{{crossover}} crossovers]], along with several cameos and certain events overlapping, they became so intwined that it was no longer possible.
** The writers eventually realized it themselves, which lead them to do [[http://www.pixietrixcomix.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=563524#p563624 a "soft reboot"]] of both series, to make things easier to follow.
* ''Webcomic/TheOrderOfTheStick'' is not quite long enough to invoke this yet, but it's well on its way there, as any strip past the 300-strip mark has a 80% chance of [[ItMakesSenseInContext making no sense whatsoever]] to anyone who hasn't read through the whole archive. It's exactly like joining a RPG campaign in the middle: you'll still get the gamer jokes, but who are all of these [=NPCs=]?
* Occasionally there are ''Webcomic/ArthurKingOfTimeAndSpace'' strips that don't make sense unless you [[http://www.arthurkingoftimeandspace.com/1338.htm know the running gags]] and continuity points. As with many meta-concepts in ''AKOTAS'', {{Lampshaded}} via [[http://www.arthurkingoftimeandspace.com/0985.htm Arthur's webcomic]].
* ''Webcomic/UnwindersTallComics'': author Eli Parker [[SelfDeprecation calls attention to it]] in TheRant for [[http://tallcomics.com/?id=121 page 121]]. "I was doing such a good job of producing comics that were newcomer-friendly, and then I had to go and do this. I apologize to any newcomers who showed up and saw this."
* ''Webcomic/ElGoonishShive'': Author Dan Shive tries very hard to avert this but he has lampshaded it in the past like in [[http://www.egscomics.com/?date=2006-02-24 this]] comic's title or [[http://www.egscomics.com/?date=2013-03-25 this]] one's commentary. Like ''Webcomic/SluggyFreelance'', he has taken to providing relevant comic reference links at the bottom of the strip just above the commentary for anyone who hasn't gone through the ten plus years of continuity recently.
* ''Webcomic/WapsiSquare'' has been running since 2001, has over 2000 strips, and has heavy enough continuity that you can't merely skim read if you want to be able to understand what is going on.
* Given the sheer amount of content within ''Webcomic/{{Endtown}}'', this is bound to happen. Fortunately, you can go on an ArchiveBinge, but a person who starts reading now would be most likely confused.

[[folder: Web Original]]
* Given the vagueness of the plot and the fact that all the episodes are online, ''WebVideo/Lonelygirl15'' would probably not be an example of this, if it wasn't for the [[CallBack tendency]] of seemingly irrelevant, blink-and-you'll-miss-it background details to become crucial [[ChekhovsGun Chekhov's Guns]] several hundred episodes later.
* Happens in ''Roleplay/SurvivalOfTheFittest'' a great deal. Sometimes, even starting at the beginning of the ''current'' version/season isn't enough - references will be made to scenes or characters in previous versions. It's often very bewildering for people seeing the [=RP=] for the first time.
* Arguable with the ''Literature/WhateleyUniverse'', since it now consists of over a hundred stories, most of them novel or novella length. Every major protagonist has a backstory, and girls of Team Kimba all have {{backstory}} ''novels''. Diving in with current stories means you may not get the in-jokes, or the references to prior stories, or what's going on with recurring characters, or some of the ongoing plotlines, like Ayla's blackmailer or Jade's quest, or the people who may be after Toni. It's assumed that you already know what the main characters' powers are.
* Also arguable, Website/ThatGuyWithTheGlasses, especially with how many multi-video {{running gag}}s, crossovers, story arcs, and {{callback}}s to past videos they use. Most hardcore fans of the site were lucky to find the WebVideo/TheNostalgiaCritic's stuff on Website/YouTube before it grew into a critic community, so they have a leg up on knowing each RunningGag. Watching individual reviews on the site, it seems fairly accessible, but understanding something like ''WebVideo/{{Kickassia}}'' is impossible unless you have a good understanding of the group's dynamic, and the use of past characters.
** [[WebVideo/AtopTheFourthWall Linkara]] is definitely one of the worst with his ongoing story arc, but to his credit, he has posted on his own website [[http://atopfourthwall.blogspot.com/2011/01/atop-fourth-wall-storyline.html every arc-related episode in chronological order]]. There's also a more recent [[http://thatguywiththeglasses.com/videolinks/linkara/at4w/30735-storyline-recap recap video]]. His storyline being intimately intertwined with [[WebVideo/TheSpoonyExperiment Spoony's]] doesn't help.
*** Made even worse by Spoony no longer being on the site. Newcomers won't be able to follow it anymore unless they do some off-site research.
** ''WebVideo/SuburbanKnights'' was specifically written to avoid this, however. You'll definitely get more out of it if you're a fan of the site (especially regarding the use of Ma-Ti) but the story is perfectly comprehensible to someone coming in cold.
** WebVideo/ToBoldlyFlee wasn't shy about being a ContinuityPorn send-off for WebVideo/TheNostalgiaCritic, but you needed to know his issues and backstory, Spoony spooning everyone, Linkara's running at the time StoryArc of getting worse as a person and the PsychoticLoveTriangle between Chick, Todd and Lupa.
* Ostensibly, one of the reasons Rooster Teeth ended ''Machinima/RedVsBlue: The Blood Gulch Chronicles'' at Episode 100 was to prevent ContinuityLockout. While they succeeded, the series from that point forth became [[CerebusSyndrome 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 is slowly becoming this, particularly WebVideo/EverymanHYBRID with its AlternateRealityGame elements and the miscellaneous Core Theory blogs. Aggravated by the occasional Administrivia/DeadLink.
* The [[http://unshavedmouse.wordpress.com/ Unshaved Mouse]]'s love of {{Running Gag}}s and story arcs can cause this for new readers who don't start reading from the very beginning and wind up scratching their heads over why "Bahia" is mentioned so often or why there are all these talking maps of continents around. He lampshaded it in his ''Disney/{{Fantasia 2000}}'' [[http://unshavedmouse.wordpress.com/2013/10/03/disney-review-with-the-unshaved-mouse-38-fantasia-2000/ review]] in which a lengthy sequence of him being put on trial by a vengeful Comrade Crow with Antarctica as his attorney (a subplot that was set up two reviews earlier in ''Disney/{{Mulan}}'') was followed by a photo of a confused reader with the caption "I just came to this blog because I was told there were Disney reviews here and I have no fucking idea what all this bullshit is."
* DiscussedTrope in ''Blog/TheComicsCurmudgeon'', where Josh criticises a ''ComicStrip/{{BC}}'' strip for being [[http://joshreads.com/?p=6329 totally incomprehensible to new readers]], before realising that he came into ''BC'' late enough that the RunningGag in question was never actually explained to him either, but he picked it up somehow. He then follows it up with "a couple of comics and commentaries thereupon that probably wonít make any sense if you arenít a regular reader of this blog!" (One about Kaz's "sex dojo" in ''Gil Thorp'' and one about "Finger-Quotin' Margo" in ''ComicStrip/ApartmentThreeG''.)
* ''Podcast/TheBlackGuyWhoTips'': Since all but the last ten episodes are behind a paywall, most of the show's injokes and references are lost on newer listeners. (Example: You would have to be a regular listener since 2013 to know what "The Dudebros" is all about). Though Rod and Karen will occasionally re-explain some things (Like what "Bulletball" is).

[[folder: Western Animation ]]
* One of the many complaints people had about ''WesternAnimation/BeastWars'' is that when it aired, it had the strongest continuity ever seen in a cartoon on American or Canadian TV. As a result, a new viewer jumping in partway through is going to be quite perplexed by what's all going on. Then its sequel ''WesternAnimation/BeastMachines'' one-upped it.
** Ironic with WesternAnimation/BeastMachines, since they were originally trying to ''avert'' this trope by ignoring most of ''WesternAnimation/BeastWars'', only to end up with a stronger version of the trope in its own series.
** ''WesternAnimation/TransformersPrime'' ran into similar issues. There's one episode fairly late in the series' run that references nearly every episode that had come before it in some way, ranging from what an item in the background is to why one of the characters is a zombie now; Wiki/TFWikiDotNet continuity notes begin by saying that this would be a tough episode to start watching the series. This may be why [[WesternAnimation/TransformersRobotsInDisguise2015 its sequel]] is using more of an episodic MonsterOfTheWeek approach. However, some knowledge of TheMovie GrandFinale of Prime is required [[spoiler: to explain why Bumblebee is speaking to the spirit of Optimus Prime in the early episodes of the series. While it is possible to follow coming in cold, this holds more significance for those who have seen the later episodes of Prime before this series; which connects the two]].
* ''WesternAnimation/StarWarsTheCloneWars'' was often comprised of episode arcs rather than as a typical serial. For casual viewers, missing a new episode could lead to getting confused if they don't recover and instead choose to continue to the next episode without context. This actually ended up being a problem for the show's ratings over time in combination with the CerebusSyndrome (meaning it turned away younger viewers, who are the target audience since the show aired on Cartoon Network), which eventually led to the show's cancellation before the Disney buyout. This is why its sequel, ''WesternAnimation/StarWarsRebels'', tends to avoid arcs and seeks a balanced CerebusSyndrome that won't turn away the younger audience as time goes on.
** You may still be locked out of ''Rebels'' however, especially if you've never watched ''The Clone Wars'' due to continuing off of characters and plots from that, such as Ahsoka Tahno, Rex, Gregor and Wolfe the Clone Troopers, [[spoiler:and a very alive ''Darth Maul''.]] Also, ''Rebels'' is also similar to its predecessor in that ''every'' episode counts towards [[ChekhovsGun something later on]], no matter how how small or big the impact is.
* Later episodes of ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons'' suffer from a mild case of this condition at times (though it's understandable for a series that is about to begin its 29th season). One particular gag involved Homer (accurately) daydreaming about a "think-tank", a joke which is probably funnier to longtime viewers than new ones.
-->'''Homer''': What, I'm not allowed to get one right?
** Many of ''The Simpsons''' minor characters are completely bizarre without context, yet the show takes it for granted that the audience can recognize and appreciate most of them without any sort of perfunctory introduction or explanation. Examples would include Bumblebee Man, Sideshow Mel, Duffman, the Sea Captain, or Disco Stu, or even Krusty, all of whom are long-running continuations of one-off gags from many, many years past. One gag even relies on the viewer recognizing Duffman's voice, when he himself neither appears nor even gets mentioned in the episode.
*** This is Lampshaded when Marge gets amnesia one episode. She finds all the side characters confusing and creepy and is incredibly disturbed when Homer says they're his and Marge's close friends.
* ''WesternAnimation/TheAvengersEarthsMightiestHeroes'' has subplots that span several episodes, or start off one week and get picked up again much later. The second half of season 2 was mostly changed to stand-alone episodes, as Marvel TV head Creator/JephLoeb claimed that the show's mediocre ratings might have been the result of the series being inaccessible to new viewers. Even then, viewers jumping in at this point would probably still feel confused.
** This was then used as part of the justification behind ending ''Earth's Mightiest Heroes'' and launching ''WesternAnimation/AvengersAssemble'' as a replacement.
* ''WesternAnimation/PhineasAndFerb'' might have a bit of this, given how much of its humor relies on {{Continuity Nod}}s and [[PlayingWithATrope playing with]] their [[StrictlyFormula usual formula]]. Still, this affects plot less than gags.
* There's are no fewer than six episodes of ''WesternAnimation/CodenameKidsNextDoor'' that start off with the [[DesignatedHero KND]] trying to steal the birthday cake of the [[DesignatedVillain Delightful Children From Down The Lane]] with no explanation for a new viewer as to why exactly the DCFDTL are supposed to deserve this. Included in the six are the first episode, and the final episode.
** Aside from this episode, there are many episodes that continue off of each other, numerous {{Myth Arc}}s, newly introduced KND members, and other organizations or subfactions of the KND themselves.
* ''[[WesternAnimation/{{Thundercats 2011}} [=ThunderCats (2011)=]]]'' is heavy on its HeroicFantasy plot, but this makes it fairly difficult to leap in halfway and know what's going on. Some episodes don't really ''end'' as much as they just ''stop'', only to pick up right where they left off the next week, which lends to the show being more accessible [[BetterOnDVD in large chunks]].
* As the ''Franchise/{{Ben 10}}'' franchise went on, it became harder for audiences to become invested in the arcs and growing cast of characters. The fact that the films and crossovers that the franchise have spawned are ''all canon''[[note]]Even ''Race Against Time'' is acknowledged by one dimension traveling character as being an alternate continuity[[/note]], meaning that those disinterested may have to watch them anyway. ''{{WesternAnimation/Ben 10 Omniverse}}'' promised to be a good starting point, though it still required a good deal of understanding of the three previous shows to understand jokes, characters, and even certain story arcs. ''Omniverse'''s poor ratings led to the franchise being [[ContinuityReboot rebooted with a new continuity]] a few years later.
* Like Thundercats, ''WesternAnimation/YoungJustice'' also falls into this. The second season even more so due to [[LoadsAndLoadsOfCharacters much larger cast]] and [[TwoLinesNoWaiting regularly jumping around to accommodate them]].
* For that matter, ''WesternAnimation/GreenLanternTheAnimatedSeries'' falls under this starting with the Manhunter and Anti-Monitor arc in the second half. That's pretty impressive for a series that only lasted 26 episodes.
* ''WesternAnimation/TheVentureBrothers'' series creators, Doc Hammer and Jackson Publick, actually discuss this trope when they hosted the season four finale ''Operation PROM'' on Creator/AdultSwim. They appeared in a series of videos leading into and coming back from commercial breaks during the initial airing of the episode, and in one of them, discussed how self-referential this episode in particular was. The series in general, at least after the first season, can have this effect as well, as the episodes are packed with references to things that happened previously, not to mention that it gets weirder and ''weirder'' with each passing season.
* ''WesternAnimation/TotalDrama'' has been getting less and less elaborate on its past as the series goes on. The latest season, ''All Stars'', begins with no real recap of any of the show up to that point (aside from the characters quickly bringing up certain moments), so anyone who hasn't seen the episodes beforehand would be much more confused than those who had, which makes sense because PSN does not have the ''Island'' special, all of ''Action'', and all of ''World Tour'', creating weirdness concerning Sierra's crush on Cody, and Alejandro being in a robot suit among others.
* ''WesternAnimation/AvatarTheLastAirbender'' and ''WesternAnimation/TheLegendOfKorra'' suffer this problem due to having detailed storylines in a complicated universe, with every episode either moving the plot forward or developing its increasingly complex main characters. This is especially true for ''Korra'', which unlike its MythArc-driven predecessor, is heavily serialized, with each season-long story arc directly leading into the next and PreviouslyOn segments only explaining what happened on the prior episode alone. People who watch the show casually or missed early episodes may be lost later on, when things get heavy and the characters are well-established.
* With each episode of ''WesternAnimation/{{Detentionaire}}'', the plot becomes more and more intricate as either new characters are introduced, old characters change, or some important plot point is revealed. As a result, jumping into the series without starting from the beginning, or missing one episode entirely, could result in a lot of confusion as to what is occurring, even with the recap at the beginning of each episode.
* ''WesternAnimation/GravityFalls'' was pretty tightly packed with continuity, especially during it's [[CerebusSyndrome second]] [[DarkerAndEdgier season]]. The series had long-running plot arcs concerning mystery objects, major changes that tend to [[AvertedTrope avert]] StatusQuoIsGod, and important call-backs that could be confusing for new viewers. Although season one was largely stand-alone, it still had episodes that introduced characters or certain plot-elements that would [[ChekhovsGun reappear or]] [[ChekhovsGunman become important later on]]. It's not so bad that some of the show's younger audience may not be entertained just by the jokes and the action elements of the plot, but the show's older PeripheryDemographic is unlikely to include anyone who hasn't watched it from the first episode, and the GrandFinale is completely inaccessible for anyone not familiar with the show.
* Apparently Creator/LaurenFaust wanted a season-long story arc about [[StarterVillain Nightmare Moon]] in ''WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic'', which the [[ExecutiveMeddling higher ups vetoed]] specifically to avert this trope. The series eventually moved away from this, with later seasons having such story arcs.
** "The Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000" wasn't aired in the UK, due to cider more commonly meaning hard cider there, causing some confusion for viewers who only watch the show on TV when Flim and Flam reappear in later episodes.
** WordOfGod states that while the [[ComicBook/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagicIDW comic book series]] and ''WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyEquestriaGirls'' are canon[[note]]Due to having a different creative staff than the show and Equestria Girls, the animated works overrule the comics when there's a conflict[[/note]], references to these works are explicitly avoided to prevent this trope.
* With each passing season of ''WesternAnimation/LittlestPetShop2012'', protagonist Blythe Baxter continues to move up in the fashion world and becomes increasingly famous, and those seasons' episodes that focus on that aspect of her are written with her then-current status in mind. There are also a handful of episodes that have the Biskit Twins as the antagonist with no explanation given as to why they are the DesignatedVillain; knowledge of their repeated attempts to sabotage Blythe is required.
** There is an episode in Season 2, "[[Recap/LittlestPetShop2012S2E11BlythesBigIdea Blythe's Big Idea]]," which exists solely to set up the rest of the season. This includes the introduction of the Pet Jet (which allows Blythe to travel to other countries, which would become a recurring theme from then on), Blythe acquiring her kiosk store, and details about the Pet Fashion Expo to be used in the [[Recap/LittlestPetShop2012S2E25TheExpoFactorPart1 season]] [[Recap/LittlestPetShop2012S2E26TheExpoFactorPart2 finale]].
** Season 3 also gets a MidSeasonTwist: [[spoiler:Blythe's best friend, Youngmee, has been clued in to Blythe's ability to communicate to animals]]. Season 3 also had a case of continuity lock-out that, due to the episodes airing OutOfOrder, inflicted this upon everyone following the show as it premieres: At the end of Season 2, the Biskit Twins' butler, François, was fired, but he was suddenly back with them early into Season 3. It turns out that the ChristmasEpisode had François re-hired to serve the family, but this episode was pushed back to, unsurprisingly, the holiday season and was skipped during the season's initial run. Hence, every viewer who saw him suddenly back were confused as to what happened.
* This happens to a certain degree in ''WesternAnimation/AdventureTime''. From season 3 onward, the show starts to do more world building, character arcs, and building up a continuity with very deep lore. One could still watch many episodes with little to no context, but to really enjoy the series, one must either have a good knowledge of the lore of the Land of Ooo, or watch the whole series from the beginning (which, given that the show has been running since 2010, [[ArchivePanic could take a while]]).
* ''WesternAnimation/StevenUniverse'' is developing what's perhaps the most continuity-heavy cartoon series since the above mentioned ''Beast Wars''. With only eleven minutes per episode, the show tells an increasingly dense narrative by bringing up small details that get referenced and expanded upon with the expectation that the viewer will recognize and connect previous foreshadowing in a show that just doesn't have the time to recap them.
** The first half of season one isn't too bad as it's episodic enough that watching in broadcast order isn't strictly required to understand the premise; Steven is a young boy with magical powers that come from a pink quartz gem on his belly button and has adventures fighting Gem monsters with his maternal family of guardians called the Crystal Gems. Everything after [[WhamEpisode "Mirror Gem"]] however, and you'd better have a working knowledge of the show's mythology to grasp the significance of characters' actions.
** After season one, if you've not seen every episode by this point, you're going to be lost as the show expects viewers to recognize locations and plot points that might have only appeared once, dozens of episodes previously. It's to the point where most fans suggest newcomers not to watch Cartoon Network, as it's all too easy to be highly confused by random episodes.
** For example, season three features its premiere two-parter reintroducing [[spoiler:the watermelon Stevens, the Malachite fusion of Lapis Lazuli and Jasper fully formed and emerging from the ocean, Steven's empathetic powers and mental contact, the Alexandrite fusion of all three of the Crystal Gems, and the threat of the Cluster hatching in the Earth's core]], the last of these being the only event to feature a back-to-back plot.
* Understanding the plots of some episodes of ''WesternAnimation/StarTrekTheAnimatedSeries'' requires having seen at least the majority of ''Series/StarTrekTheOriginalSeries'', as several of them allude to the events of the original live-action series, such as Cyrano Jones' first encounter with the crew of the Starship Enterprise and Harry Mudd being asked how he escaped from his imprisonment at the end of the original series episode "I, Mudd".
* ''WesternAnimation/RegularShow'' has fallen into this. Seasons 1-3 were pretty much stand-alone, but the premiere of Season 4, "Exit 9-B", involved almost every character who appeared in the show to that point. It arguably got worse with seasons 5 and up, with many episodes involving characters returning, and ongoing story arcs. There are still enough stand-alone episodes so it's not that bad, but to get the full experience you'd have to watch the earlier seasons (or at least the relevant episodes).
** It got really bad with the UK airings of "Merry Christmas Mordecai" and "Sad Sax". The UK gets the episodes a few months after they first air, but since Cartoon Network UK will only air Christmas episodes around Christmas, when they got to that point in the season, they skipped over MCM and went right to Sad Sax, despite the fact that Sad Sax is a direct sequel to MCM, likely confusing some viewers.
* ''WesternAnimation/SouthPark'' for the most part, was very light in continuity, with at least one HalfArcSeason. Then along came Seasons 18 and 19, which have ongoing season-specific storylines yet still maintaining episodic plots, with Season 18 having a BizarroEpisode with an ending that has no bearing on the rest of the series. Season 20, however, is all FourLinesAllWaiting, with every episode dealing with continuous subplots spanning across multiple episodes like a gender war, a regular character becoming a notorious Internet troll, a RomanceArc, and the 2016 presidental election. Season 21 tones this back down reasonable levels, as the episodes stand alone for the most part, and the President isn't shown on screen or referred to by name, likely preventing new viewers from wondering why Mr. Garrison is the President instead of UsefulNotes/DonaldTrump.
* People watching ''WesternAnimation/TheLoudHouse'' who missed the first ChristmasSpecial might be wondering why Mr. and Mrs. Loud are no longer TheFaceless in later episodes.
* In ''WesternAnimation/TheVentureBros'', the cause of Dean's emo phase through the fifth season was explained in the Halloween special which aired before it. Not helped by the fact that the special is included on the season box set as a bonus feature, meaning a lot of people will watch the main season first.
* ''WesternAnimation/TheAmazingWorldOfGumball'' was never a continuity driven show to begin with, but there are more than a few episodes that have some lock-out if you're not totally familiar with the series (such as "The Finale", which had just about every CallBack to all the times the Wattersons have caused some sort of damage to the city or a character in particular, and "The Shell", in which [[spoiler:Penny breaks out of her shell, reveals herself to be a shapeshifting fairy, and finally becomes Gumball's girlfriend]]).
* ''WesternAnimation/DannyPhantom'' had a bit of lock-out in its second and third seasons, particularly in regards to Danny receiving new powers (such as his ghostly wail and cryokinesis), the introduction of new characters (like Dani Phantom and Frostbite), [[CallBack references to previous episodes]], [[AntiHero Valerie Grey]]'s story arc, and [[BigBad Vlad Masters]] becoming the mayor of Amity Park. (Much of the confusion in the third season, however, could at least partially be blamed on Nickelodeon's airing staff, as the episodes wound up premiering out of order with no regard to StoryArc.)
* An interesting case with ''WesternAnimation/{{Archer}}''. While the over all plots of most later episodes can be viewed and understood without having seen earlier episodes, much of the show's ''jokes'' are call backs and references to previous running jokes (such as Archer asking "why aren't we doing "phrasing" anymore?") or require long-time understanding of each character's foibles to get the full humor (such as Pam's history as an underground pit fighter/drag race champion). So while someone jumping in late in the show will have a basic understanding of what's going on, they may wonder what the joke is supposed to be when Archer keeps saying "danger zone".
* ''WesternAnimation/RickAndMorty'' is a unique example; given the nature of the series. While it is still possible to enjoy most of the jokes on their own; all three seasons so far have stories that connect in some way or another, despite its episodic story structure. Notably, the season 3 premiere does make a fairly entertaining episode on its own; though humor does require knowledge of the character dynamic and how subtle details from previous seasons become key to the story. This can largely be attributed to how many events and lines, no matter how insignificant they may seem at first glance; play a part in the show's MythArc.
* Explicitly lampshaded in the ''WesternAnimation/AquaTeenHungerForce'' BigDamnMovie. The opening musical number tells you upfront that the movie is celebratory affair with a lot of ContinuityPorn, so if you haven't watched the show you'll be totally lost. It also gently deconstructs this a bit, pointing out that if you're jumping in this late and skipping all the previous episodes, you really have no one to blame but yourself for being confused.
-->"Do not explain the plot! If you don't understand, than you should not be here!"
* ''WesternAnimation/HeyArnoldTheJungleMovie'' is ''very'' heavy on continuity, even picking up from where the intended finale of ''WesternAnimation/HeyArnold'', "The Journal", left off (granted in a dream but still). As well as containing callbacks to several previous episodes of the series. Older fans will likely love it, but those just joining in without proper knowledge might be a bit confused considering the real life 13 year gap between this and the series. Especially considering the show only airs on [=TeenNick=] now, which not everyone would have access too and if they do, it airs during hours in which most people would be asleep. Some reviews have stated it was probably a good thing ''The Jungle Movie'' didn't go to theaters for this reason (ironically enough) as the movie [[WesternAnimation/HeyArnoldTheMovie that did]] was more a standalone adventure.
* When making the move from Cartoon Network to Netflix, ''WesternAnimation/DragonsRidersOfBerk'' had to leave behind its Cartoon Network seasons and start fresh as ''Race to the Edge''. Even though the setup deliberately tries to be fairly self-contained, it is still a continuation of the previous show and references to past events may go over the heads of fans who only started watching from Netflix.
* While ''WesternAnimation/ReadyJetGo'' is not a heavy story arc-driven series like ''Beast Wars'' or ''Steven Universe'', it does have continuity. If you stumble upon a random episode, you may think that the Propulsions are a weird, stupid human family when they are really aliens. And if you do discover that they are aliens, you may wonder why they need to keep their identity a secret, or why a little kid in nerd glasses is spying on them.
** Face 9000 gets an upgrade in "Face on the Fritz", so new viewers who see a post-FOTF episode, and then see a pre-FOTF episode might be confused.
** WordOfGod says that [[spoiler: Mindy will turn 5 in season 2, and will go into space]]. Most likely, fans who watch an episode where [[spoiler: Mindy goes to space]], and then watch an episode where Mindy stays on Earth will be confused.